February 26, 2014 posted by Charles Brubaker

Let’s Watch: “The Gutsy Frog” (1972)

gutsy-frog101One of the landmark shows for the Tokyo Movie Shinsha company was Dokonjo Gaeru (aka The Gutsy Frog), which aired for two years in the early 1970s. Based on a manga that ran in the Shonen Jump magazine, it featured a boy who got a live frog pasted on his shirt. I wrote about this series at length in my first post on Cartoon Research last April.

A while ago it was announced that an American CGI/live-action remake of the series is in the works, with one of the Jonas Brothers playing who I presume is “Hiroshi” (or whatever his American counterpart is called).

I have no idea why anyone would a 1970s anime that was never released in the ‘States, or when and where it will come out (Disney Channel?), but I figure I’d show episodes of the original Japanese show (in Japanese, no subtitles, sorry) from the ’70s as a way of letting you know what to expect. This has always been one of my favorite cartoons (whether American or Japanese). The characters all play off each other well, and it’s a great example of how to utilize limited animation.

gutsy102Dokonjo Gaeru (1972-1974) data:
Aired October 7, 1972-September 28, 1974 on Asahi Broadcasting Corporation (ABC)
103 episodes (each split into two segments, except for the 100th episode which was a full half-hour story)

Created by Yasumi Yoshizawa (serialized in Weekly Shonen Jump & Monthly Shonen Jump)
Directed by Eiji Okabe (1-8), Tadao Nagahama (9-103)
Animation Directors: Osamu Kobayashi and Tsutomu Shibayama
Art Director: Shichiro Kobayashi
Music: Kenjiro Hirose
Produced in Association with A Production (animation), Eion (camera), Tokyo Laboratory (film lab)
Produced by Asahi Broadcasting Corporation & Tokyo Movie Co. Ltd.

EPISODE 21-A: “Splendid Transformation”
Original Airdate: March 3, 1973

Written by Yutaka Kaneko
Storyboards: Satoshi Dezaki
Key Animation: Seiji Okuda, Kazuo Imura

Kyoko, tired of not getting any attention from Hiroshi, agrees to get prettied up when the department store asked for a volunteer to give a cosmetics demo. Not only does Hiroshi start paying attention to her, but so does numerous other guys, even older men (despite Kyoko only being around 13-14 years old). This leads to Kyoko getting a spot on a TV commercial, but is it what she thinks it is? The episode shows that guys are just as shallow when it comes to the kind of women they desire.

EPISODE 25-A: “Smooch, Smooch, Kiss Mark”
Original Airdate: March 31, 1973

Written by Yoshiaki Yoshida
Storyboards: Tameo Kohanawa
Key Animation: Yoshiyuki Momose, Masayuki Uchiyama

Pyonkichi gets a kissmark on his cheek after Misako (Goro’s girlfriend) bumps into him. Hiroshi decides to prank him by not telling him about it when he goes to see Maria, Pyonkichi’s feline friend whom he has a crush on. Things escalate from here.

Suicide as humor has been in cartoons for generations, from the classic Warner Bros. Cartoons (“Now I’ve seen everything!”) to modern-day adult shows like South Park, and it’s present here as well in the end of the episode, where Hiroshi tries to stop Pyonkichi (then a bunch of cats) from jumping in the water. Of course, it was all a misunderstanding, and as Pyonkichi points out, killing yourself by drowning isn’t an effective tactic if you’re a frog.

The animation of Pyonkichi somehow getting Hiroshi’s entire head into his mouth is something to be seen.

EPISODE 27-A: “Oh, That Dumb Frog”
Original Airdate: April 14, 1973

Written by Yoshiaki Yoshida
Storyboards: Yoshiyuki Tomino (credited as Minami Asa)
Key Animators: Nobuyoshi Sasakado, Ikuo Fudaki

Hiroshi’s mother sends Pyonkichi out to buy meat from a store. However, it turned out that the store owner moved his business to Osaka. Even though he could have gone to another place that sells meat, Pyonkichi gets into an argument with the sushi maker and decides to go to Osaka and buy it from him at his new location, wanting to prove that he’s not stupid. Of course, this tactic just made him look like an even bigger idiot.

EPISODE 34-A: ”You’re Now a Dog”
Original Airdate: May 26, 1973

Written by Tomoaki Inoue
Key Animators: Masami Abe, Yoshinori Kaneda

After seeing a man hypnotize a person into thinking he’s a dog on TV, Gorilla Imo decides to try it out on Hiroshi. It doesn’t work on him, but it does to Pyonkichi, who goes on a rampage during school. Hiroshi’s teacher, however, saw the same program the night before, so it’s now up to him to reverse the spell. Will it work?

Ecchi humor has, stereotypically, always been considered an recurring device in anime, but “The Gutsy Frog” was probably the first show to really do this. Throughout the episode Pyonkichi, thinking he’s a dog, goes around chasing girls and grabbing their skirts, making everyone think he’s being a big perv.

This is one of the several episodes where no storyboard artist is credited. Presumably the lack of credit is because series director Tadao Nagahama did them himself. Typically in anime, if there is no storyboard credit, it means the director did them, although I have no idea if that’s the case here.

Yoshinori Kanada (1952-2009) is a notable name here. He was a highly regarded animator who worked on numerous shows and films, working with Hayao Miyazaki on films such as “Princess Mononoke”.

EPISODE 38-B: “Pyonkichi, Don’t Come to School”
Original Airdate: June 30, 1973

Written by Yoshiaki Yoshida
Storyboards: Yoshiyuki Tomino (credited as Minami Asa)
Key Animators: Takeshi Osaka, Keizo Shimizu

After making a rude drawing at Mr. Minami on the chalkboard, he has decided to ban Pyonkichi from his classroom. The students fight back by sneaking him in, whether is by have everyone wear T-shirts with the likeness of the frog, or by wearing the shirt backwards. Finally fed up in the end, Mr. Minami gives the ultimatum: the next person who brings Pyonkichi in will go on a bathroom duty for an extended period of time. But as the clever students demonstrate, he should have worded his threat carefully.

EPISODE 41-A: “It’s a Pick-Up Truck Pool! Yay!”
Original Airdate: July 21, 1973

Written by Toshifumi Ishikura
Storyboards: Yoshiyuki Tomino (credited as Minami Asa)
Key Animator: Hiroshi Kanazawa

Here we have Hiroshi and the gang trying to go to the pool on a hot summer day, but as it turns out, there’s a huge line and the pool is so crowded you can’t ever see the water, so they decide to head up. However, it just so happens that a truck driver, driven from thirst, crashes into Hiroshi’s home and smash their outdoor faucet. Hiroshi’s mother refuses to let the truck driver return the truck, which leads to the driver going through a Wile E. Coyote-style routine with the kids, who started using the back of the truck as a swimming pool.

The original manga this episode was based on has some changes. In the comic, the truck driver crashed through the home because the driver was asleep on the wheel. In another, Hiroshi empties the gas tank, rather than have Kyoko pop the tires with nails in the animated version. There was also another gag where the driver uses a giant magnet in order to steal the truck back, but it ends up grabbing other cars that was driving by instead.

EPISODE 42-A: “Spooky Hall Duty”
Original Airdate: July 28, 1973

Written by Yoshiaki Yoshida
Key Animators: Seiji Okuda, Kazuo Imura

In Japan, a teacher would be assigned to go on a night hall duty at their school, inspecting the halls and making sure there is no funny stuff from students In this episode, Mr. Minami has to go on a duty, something he dreads because everytime he does this, Hiroshi, Pyonkichi, and Goro set up a booby trap and prank him. Can he avoid them this time?

There’s a funny in-joke where the kids are watching a TV show called “Dokonjo Kujira” (“The Gutsy Whale”), which is about a girl with a whale on her shirt. Boy, that premise sounds familiar.

Another episode without storyboard credit.


  • Thanks for uploading these they’re really fun to watch even without subtitles. It’s clear that this show was a big artistic inspiration to Hiroyuki Imaishi especially for his new series.

    I stumbled upon news of that live action series last year and was also left baffled as to why it exists. The last thing I’ve read about it was that it’s currently being shopped around so who knows if it’ll ever see the light of day.

    • These things happen and usually it never outdoes what came before.

  • A while ago it was announced that an American CGI/live-action remake of the series is in the works, with one of the Jonas Brothers playing who I presume is “Hiroshi” (or whatever his American counterpart is called).

    5 cents says they’ll call him “Henry!”

    I have no idea why anyone would a 1970s anime that was never released in the ‘States, or when and where it will come out (Disney Channel?), but I figure I’d show episodes of the original Japanese show (in Japanese, no subtitles, sorry) from the ’70s as a way of letting you know what to expect.

    It prevents people for being clueless when the ratings come in to show the results. They’ll know the reason.

  • much thanks for going above and beyond and posting these cartoons! I’ve seen the dvd set for this series for sale, but it’s pricey. getting to view these will help me decide if I want to invest in it.

    in related news – I recently got my hands on the dvd set for “goku’s big adventure”, which you mentioned in your 01/08/14 post. the series is very well made all the way around … story, designs, animation, use of color, etc. are all excellent. this series’ high level of quality is quite a departure from the television anime that came before it. I’ve only watched the first 4 episodes, and i’d say the level of drawing and animation slipped a bit on the 4th episode. i’m not sure if the first 3 episodes had extra work/money put into them, or if there were different teams working on different episodes and episode 4 had a lesser team working on it. i’ll have to watch more episodes to get a better idea.
    for me personally, goku’s big adventure isn’t as a appealing as earlier series such as pikkari bee, wolf boy ken, and fujimaru because there is less of a nostalgia factor. when I watch the very early black and white anime series I like to imagine what it must have been like for a kid back then getting to see these for the very first time, AND what it must have been like for those animators getting to be a part of the birth of this art form. goku is so slick and polished that it doesn’t evoke such thoughts.

  • I love the artwork here. It is a fun and appealing art style. The posing and expressions are fun to watch, even if I can’t understand what is being said.

    • That’s what’s lacking in modern anime as I see it.

  • To me as a Japanese who watched this series when I was a kid, it still works. Drawn are plenty of “good old Showa days” – everyday life of Japanese kids of forty years ago, the atmosphere of families, neighbors, streets, jobs, electronics, and many more.

    • I’m sure today’s Japanese children can’t think of a time when their grandparents didn’t always had it as easy as they did. Certainly had to live with what you got.

  • The Gutsy Frog is now airing stateside! It comes on digital channel 18.2 in Southern California, where I live, at 10:30 AM PST.

  • i lovve anime only fynnyer is gusty frog is haalirous

  • At the end of the part B appears the iconic word TSUZUKU (to be continued). At the end of the last episode appears the word OWARI (the end).

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