LOST PLANET ANIME
July 2, 2013 posted by Charles Brubaker

Mini-Anime: 1961-1970

Most TV shows air once a week, that’s a fact just about everywhere. However, schedules can be flexible if channels desire them to be, and that includes Japan as well. Most anime are shown as weekly half-hours, but there has been shorter programs (usually 3 to 6 minutes long) airing every weekday. This is an off-shoot from made-for-TV short cartoons that American studios produced for syndication – cartoons such as Clutch Cargo, Colonel Bleep, and Joe Oriolo’s Felix the Cat were broadcast in Japan as “strips,” with one short airing Monday to Saturday (or Monday to Friday). Eventually Japan studios followed suit and did their own “mini-anime”. More often than not, these early mini-anime were made by smaller, second-rate animation studios, although there are exceptions.

I’ve decided to try and document all of those mini-animes, just so there are some information available in English. Because most of them were never re-released, however, some information will be spotty, having to rely on written materials available. I will try to give out as much information as I can locate them.


Instant History
instant_history200Aired May 1, 1961-February 24, 1962 on Fuji Television, Mon-Sat at 5:47-5:50 pm
Produced by Otogi Production; 312 episodes
Created by Ryuichi Yokoyama

This is the first made-for-TV anime series, predating Astro Boy by two years. Each three minute short features characters learning about important historical events that occurred that day. Often featured photographs and film footage taken from the Mainichi Shinbun newspaper, where Ryuichi Yokoyama’s comic strip was running at the time.

Otogi Manga Calendar
Aired June 25, 1962-July 4, 1964 on Tokyo Broadcast Systems (TBS), Mon-Sat at 6:55-7:00 pm
Produced by Otogi Production; 312 episodes
Created by Ryuichi Yokoyama

A continuation of Instant History, this time airing on TBS.

Kaito Pride (Dr. Zen)
Aired May 31-November 4, 1965 on Fuji Television, Mon-Fri at 6:07-6:15 pm
Produced by Japan Tele-Cartoons (TV Doga); 105 episodes
Created by Kazuhiko Okabe
Voices: Hôsei Komatsu, Sumiko Shirakawa, Toshiko Fujita, Isamu Tanonaka, Kôji Suwa

A cliff-hanger show, with each story starting on Monday and concluding on the following Friday. The cartoon was about a thief who goes around stealing riches. A group of kids, a talking female bee, and a scientist must go and stop him whenever possible. This was produced by the same studio that did Marine Boy.

There was an attempt to release this in America, dubbing some episodes as “Dr. Zen,” but it didn’t happen beyond the sample episodes. Here’s one:

Monoshiri Daigaku Ashita no Calendar (Monoshiri University: Tomorrow’s Calendar)
Aired July 1, 1966-August 2, 1970 on Mainichi Broadcast Systems (MBS), Mon-Sat at 6:55-7:00 pm
Produced by Otogi Production; 1,274 episodes
Created by Ryuichi Yokoyama

Another continuation of Instant History with new title. This time it was sponsored by Kirin, a brewery company in Japan.

Tobidase! Bacchiri (Jump! Bacchiri)
bacchiri200Aired November 14, 1966-April 17, 1967 on Nippon Television (NTV); Mon-Sat at 6:35-6:45 pm
Produced by Nihon Hoso Eigasha; 132 episodes
Created by Koki Okamoto
Voices: Sumiko Shirakawa, Kinya Aikawa, Jōji Yanami, Midori Katô

About a boy working for a poorly run detective agency, run by boss Gappori and head detective Chibisu. Bacchiri is assisted by a pair of funny animals: donkey named Roba, who wears an overall, and a parrot named Benko. Second series to be produced by Nihon Hoso Eigasha, which changed its name two more times before the company shuts down after less than a decade. One of the first TV anime to be photographed in color.

Sample Episode

Boken Shonen Shadar (Boy Adventurer Shadar)
Aired September 18, 1967-March 16, 1968 on Nippon Television (NTV); Mon-Sat at 6:35-6:45 pm
Produced by Nihon Hoso Eigasha; 156 episodes
Created by Koki Okamoto
Voices: Michiru Hojo, Sumiko Shirakawa, Kenji Utsumi

About a boy fighting against a villain named Gostar, using a magic sword. Think He-Man if made back in the 1960s. 26 storylines split into six cliffhangers.

Theme Song

Yuyake Bancho (Ringleader of the Sunset)
yuyake-bancho200Aired September 30, 1968-March 29, 1969 on Nippon Television (NTV); Mon-Sat at 6:35-6:45 pm
Produced by Tokyo TV Doga; 156 episodes
Created by Ikki Kajiwara and Toshio Shoji
Voices: Midori Katô, Kiyoshi Komiyama, Junko Hori, Takeshi Aono, Kaneta Kimotsuki

A boy named Akagi transfers to a new high-school, which is overrun by a youth gang. Each story focuses on him fighting the gang leader in a variety of sports, such as kick boxing and karate. Co-created by Ikki Kajiwara, manga writer famous for writing sports comics such as “Ashita no Joe” and “Kyojin no Hoshi” (both later turned into popular anime). 26 storylines each split into six cliffhangers.

Tokyo TV Doga is Nihon Hoso Eigasha under a new name. In 1972 the company would change the name again as Nippon TV Doga, which made the first “Doraemon” anime.

Theme Song

Johnny Cypher in Dimension Zero
johnny_cypher200Aired October 21, 1968-March 29, 1969 on Fuji Television; Mon-Sat at 6:55-7:00 pm
Produced by Oriolo Film Studios, Children’s Corner, and Japan Tele-Cartoons; 130 episodes
English Voices: Gene Allen, Paul Hecht, Corrinne Orr

Adventures of a scientist who can travel through dimensions with an assistance of Zena and Rhom. A USA/Japan co-production, this was spear-headed by Joe Oriolo and syndicated in America by Seven Arts in 1967. It aired in Japan one year later.

Sample Episode

Sobakasu Pucchi (Freckled Pucchi)
bacc200Aired March 31-September 27, 1969 on Fuji Television; Mon-Sat at 6:55-7:00 pm
Produced by Fuji Television Enterprise; 162 episodes
Created by Takashi Aoki
Voices: Sachiko Chijimatsu, Kôji Suwa, Hiroshi Ôtake, Jōji Yanami, Takuzô Kamiyama

Adventures of a little boy who goes on adventures, fighting bad guys with a help of a talking parrot and a friendly monster. 27 storylines split into six cliffhangers. Comedy.

Roppo Yabure-kun (Six Broken Codes)
yabure-kun200Aired April 28-September 26, 1969 on Nagoya Television; Mon-Fri at 11:10-11:15 pm
Produced by Tokyo Movie (TMS Entertainment); 110 episodes
Created by Sen Saga
Voices: Kei Tomiyama, Kôichi Chiba, Shûsei Nakamura

This satirical series focuses on six legal codes in Japanese law (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Six_Codes ) and how it can be broken, using Mr. Yabure as an example of what not to do. Because this aired late-night and was made for adults, this show is more risque than a typical anime of the time, with sexual innuendos and other adult situations being a common plot device. Based on the works of Sen Saga, a Japanese prosecutor and author.

Theme Song

Otoko Ippiki Gaki Daisho (Boys’ Gang Boss)
otoko-ippiki200Aired September 29, 1969-March 28, 1970 on Nippon Television (NTV); Mon-Sat at 6:35-6:45 pm
Produced by Tokyo TV Doga; 156 episodes
Created by Hiroshi Motomiya
Voices: Kei Tomiyama, Toshiko Maeda, Makio Inoue, Ben Hiura, Yuzō Hayakawa, Reiko Mutō

Junior High School student Mankichi Togawa sets out to become the number one gang leader in Japan. This is the first anime to be based on a comic published in Shonen Jump, which began just a year prior. 26 storylines split into six cliffhangers.

Theme Song: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NDmdhYZ6yTc

Pinch & Punch
PINCH_PUNCH200Aired September 29, 1969-March 28, 1970 on Fuji Television; Mon-Sat at 6:50-6:55 pm
Produced by Fuji Television Enterprise; 126 episodes
Created by Takashi Aoki
Voices: Sachiko Chijimatsu, Jōji Yanami, Kazuko Ute

Mischievous twins causing problems for adults. Comedy.

Dobutsu-mura Monogatari (Tales from the Animal World)
Aired March 30-July 21, 1970 on Nihon Educational Television (NET); Mon-Sat at 7:40-7:55 am
Produced by TCJ Doga Center (Eiken) and Otogi Production; 100 episodes
Created by Ryuichi Yokoyama
Narrator: Fuyumi Shiraishi

A series of different stories starring animals set to piano music. A children’s series that aired in the mornings.

Sample Episode

Itazura Tenshi Chippo-chan (Chippo the Mischievous Angel)
Aired March 30-December 31, 1970 on Fuji Television; Mon-Sat at 6:50-6:55 pm
Produced by Fuji Television Enterprise; 240 episodes
Voices: Nobue Ichitani, Nobuyo Ôyama, Midori Katô

Angel named Chippo goes down to Earth to cause mischief. Comedy.

Manga Jinbutsushi (Cartoon Human History)
Aired August 3, 1970-September 30, 1971 on Mainichi Broadcast Systems (MBS); Mon-Sat at 5:55-6:00 pm
Produced by Office Uni; 363 episodes
Voices: Yasuo Hisamatsu, Shinsuke Chikaishi

Sponsored by Kirin Brewery, each segment featured two people talking about an important historical figure (whether Japan or worldwide) and their impact. Similar to Shamus Culhane’s Professor Kitzel, the historical information is told through still illustrations, with animation wrap-arounds of the two people.

Otoko do Aho! Koshien (Foolish Boy! Koshien)
Aired September 28, 1970-March 27, 1971 on Nippon Television (NTV); Mon-Sat at 6:35-6:45 pm
Produced by Tokyo TV Doga; 156 episodes
Created by Mamoru Sasaki and Shinji Mizushima
Voices: Makio Inoue, Katsuji Mori, Kiyoshi Komiyama, Masashi Aonomori, Kazuko Sawada, Jyunko Hori

A baseball manga featuring Koshien in a high-school team.

7 Comments

  • It’s after your 1961-1970 time period, but “Urikupen: Animal Rescue League” (“URIKUPEN Kyujotai”) was the type of anime that you talk about. Do you have any episodes of this? It aired September 30, 1974 to March 29, 1975 on Fuji TV; Monday-Saturday at 6:55 to 7:00 p.m. It was produced by Tatsunoko Production Co.; 156 five-minute episodes; created by Mitsuru Kaneko; directed by Hiroshi Sasagawa and Seitaro Hara. The only voice credits that I have are Rokuro Naya as the narrator, Michie Kita as Seitaro the rabbit (the main character, if there was one), and Tetsuo Mizushima as the wolf (the main villain). The theme song was composed by Shunsuke Kikuchi, who was more famous as the composer of many of the dramatic giant-robot theme songs of the 1970s.

    This was one of the stranger programs that I ever saw in the early days of anime fandom. The C/FO video-copied it from the local Japanese-community channel. It was the only anime cartoon that was ever started and then removed from the air because it was illegal in the U.S. – and it was only a funny animal cartoon for little children.

    ‘Kyujotai’ means ‘Rescue Team’. “Urikupen” was made up from the first syllables of usagi (rabbit), risu (squirrel), kuma (bear), and penguin; the four main animals on the team.

    The Animal Rescue League consisted of a half-dozen animals; the rabbit, squirrel, bear, penguin, boar, and deer, with a juvenile koala trainee, plus a lion commander, and a seagull (or pigeon? we were never sure) secretary who kept aerial track of the team and reported back to the lion at headquarters. They were opposed by a wolf and his henchmen, notably a vulture and a crow, and their minions.

    The story was that on Mondays the League would get a new report of some animal in danger who needed rescuing. The lion would send the team to the rescue, but not united. Each member also raced against the others to be the first to reach the victim and perform the rescue. Every day the seagull would observe their progress (short, as these were five-minute episodes), which kept changing with one animal and then another in the lead as they met various obstacles, including the sabotage attempts of the wolf and his lieutenants. The lion at headquarters would get the seagull’s daily report and mark the team’s progress on a large map by moving chesslike markers with the heads of each animal. On Saturdays the rescue would be completed, and there would be a big celebration back at headquarters, with the whole team happily congratulating whoever was the winner that week.

    The gimmick was that the program was designed to be sponsored by a local merchant, preferably a drugstore, toyshop, or five-and-dime store. The viewing children would send in a postcard each Monday with their guess as to which animal would win that week. The pink rabbit with black eyes, Seitaro, was the main character of the program, but each of the six animals were given equal time so the viewers could not tell who might win. On Saturday, the local host (dressed as a clown or cowboy or whatever) would draw a name from the postcards naming the winning animal. The lucky child would win a dish of ice cream or some cheap toy. Each five-minute episode would also have some promotion from the local sponsor.

    The program was designed to promote a local community’s sponsor, not a national sponsor such as a product manufacturer. But it turned out that a TV program combined with a contest is illegal in the U.S. The Japanese-community channel (in Los Angeles, at least) thought that it could avoid breaking the law by just showing the program without holding the contest or promoting any community sponsor, but apparently this did not work. The program was cancelled after just a couple of weeks.

    “Urikupen” faded into ancient history for us, but in 1991 Saban Entertainment obtained the worldwide rights to the program outside Japan. The 156 five-minute episodes were edited into 26 half-hour episodes, removing all references to a contest. The characters were renamed in English Rhonda Rabbit, Scooter Squirrel, Barney Bear, Pete Penguin, Donny Deer, Harry Hog, Petulia Pigeon, and King Leo.

    But Saban never made a U.S. sale. The only country that bought it was Germany, where it was broadcast as “Die Dschungelpatrouille” (“The Jungle Patrol”), weekly from January 8 to July 22, 2000.

    http://www.animated-divots.net/urikupen.html

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pspQ_MUK5NU

    • I should add that the only sample that I could find is one of the half-hour German-dubbed episodes, which does NOT have the original Japanese music or sound effects. They made “Urikupen” much more lively and enjoyable

    • This is the most information I’ve ever received on this anime. I’ve heard of it, and seen German clips, but never seen it in Japanese. If any of those video tapes still survive, let me know. That’s fascinating to learn about the sponsorship, and how it was broadcast. Too bad it didn’t work out in the ‘States.

      Speaking of Tatsunoko, I am planning to write about “Kabatotto” and “Kaiketsu Tamagon”, their other mini-anime that aired Mon-Sat. Unlike “Urikupen”, I actually watched episodes of those shows in Japanese/

    • Fred said…
      “But it turned out that a TV program combined with a contest is illegal in the U.S.”

      Makes me think of the original concept behind “Wacky Races”.

      Charles said…
      “This is the most information I’ve ever received on this anime. I’ve heard of it, and seen German clips, but never seen it in Japanese. If any of those video tapes still survive, let me know. That’s fascinating to learn about the sponsorship, and how it was broadcast. Too bad it didn’t work out in the ‘States.”

      At least Saban saw potential in re-editing that to something it could sell internationally (no doubt that package deal with Tatsunoko paid off somehow).

      “Speaking of Tatsunoko, I am planning to write about “Kabatotto” and “Kaiketsu Tamagon”, their other mini-anime that aired Mon-Sat. Unlike “Urikupen”, I actually watched episodes of those shows in Japanese”

      For me, it was seeing whatever Saban did with them from a show called “Mad Scientist Toon Club”.

    • Hi Fred! Interesting comment about “Urikupen Kyujotai” – I learned a lot of details from it that I didn’t know. Especially interesting that the show had to be cancelled in the U.S. because it wasn’t allowed to feature contests! I just wanted to correct a few details: The Youtube video which you link to – which was uploaded by me – is not dubbed in German, but in Norwegian! It’s from a Norwegian VHS edition (there were several) released during the early-to-mid 1990s. Yep, that’s right – the show was both released commercially on video and aired on TV here in Norway before that 2000 German airing that you mentioned. In Norway, the show was titled “Jungelpatruljen” (directly translated: ‘The Jungle Patrol’) though the on-screen title which Saban had obviously given the series in English was “Jungle Tales”. Below is all the Norwegian-dubbed episodes that I’ve uploaded (in other words, the complete VHS tape), under their English-language episode titles. The VHS edition was titled “Jungelpatruljen – Jungelens helter” (directly translated: ‘The Jungle Patrol – Heroes of the Jungle’).

      “Rescue at Highwater Dam”: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-iQ65_BsyFg (includes the English “Jungle Tales” title logo and the complete Saban intro, albeit lyric-less on this VHS).
      “The Doomsday Flower”: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jPhPB5KxBYU
      “Koko – Kidnapped”!: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jPhPB5KxBYU (includes the Saban end credits, also lyric-less on this edition).

      Now, regarding why I uploaded these VHS episodes to YouTube… It’s actually not because of nostalgia, but because the Norwegian dubbing on this particular VHS is so atrocious! It’s hilariously bad. Obviously, this isn’t very noticeable to non-Norwegian-speaking viewers… but let me tell you, if you WERE Norwegian, you’d notice immediately how incredibly amateurish and weird this dubbing sounds. The characters literally sound retarded. That’s what appealed to me when uploading this: It’s so bad, it’s good. You say that Saban’s music and sound effects make the show more enjoyable. That might very well be, but from my perspective, having only watched Norwegian-dubbed Saban episodes (and coming at it with no nostalgia, as I discovered the show at age 21), I must admit that this seems like a pretty terrible cartoon series in my eyes. :P The characters are unappealing and often unsymphatetic, the plots idiotic, the villains uninteresting… in short, the kitch factor has pretty much been the only thing making this interesting to me. That being said, I’m VERY interested in seeing the original Japanese version of the show for comparison (I’ve so far had no luck in tracking this down), so any uploads of this is most welcome. :)

      To get back to the Saban version of the series: You’re definitely the expert on the show’s Japanese history, but I’ve found info several places which disagrees with your statement that “The only country that bought it [from Saban] was Germany.” I started doing my own online research back when I uploaded the series to YouTube, so I thought I’d try and give a brief overview of what I’ve found regarding the Saban version (I ‘ve actually found out a little more than before just during my writing of this post):

      Obviously, Norwegian VHS distributors bought the series from Saban, as proved by the Norwegian-dubbed VHS episodes I’ve uploaded. But the show also aired on Norwegian television sometimes during the 90s – and according to all info I’ve found, that airing mainly took place on Saban’s own kids’ network ‘Fox Kids’ (where else?). I’m not sure exactly how widespread the Fox Kids channel was in the 90s, but I understand that it was a very popular children’s network in many European countries (I never had it myself growing up, but a lot of Norwegian kids did). And the Scandinavian countries Norway, Denmark and Sweden used to have the same airing schedules and programming. This indicates that “Jungle Tales”/”Jungelpatruljen” was also dubbed to Danish and Swedish, and possibly to the local languages of many more European countries, through its airings on Fox Kids.

      One of the strangest details regarding the show’s Norwegian history is that “Jungle Tales” actually had different dubbings made for the VHS editions and TV airings! I guess this might have happened because it was cheaper for VHS companies to produce their own dubs rather than buying the rights to the more costly made-for-TV dub. (Or, maybe the Norwegian VHS dubs were actually made BEFORE the Fox Kids dub. A fan site dedicated to Fox Kids in Norway actually claims that the series started airing on the channel in 1998: http://www.home.no/knappe-lill/rama/jungelpatruljen.htm)

      Whatever the reasons/chronology, I have so far tracked down no less than three different Norwegian dubs for the series! Two of them were done for the VHS releases and one for the Fox Kids television airings. I’ve already linked to the terribly-dubbed VHS volume which I uploaded… but below are two episodes with a completely different dub, from another volume in the same VHS series, “De tre små grisene” (‘The Three Little Pigs’). The videos unfortunately have shaky video quality and a stretched aspect ratio, but, oh well:

      “On Top of Old Smokey”: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QoyT6H62EPo (including a Norwegian-dubbed intro song)
      “Three Lost Little Pigs”: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3OgXVGok1CE (including a Norwegian-dubbed end credits song)

      For this VHS, the intro song has actually been dubbed with Norwegian lyrics, and the dubbing overall is on a far more competent level than on the first VHS I linked to – distinctively different and more professional voice work. It’s really strange that the same VHS company would change the dubbing crew completely from one release to the next, but that’s what happened here, apparently. (Maybe the ‘Heroes of the Jungle’ VHS was released first, and the distribution company found the dubbing quality of that edition so terrible that they had to change the crew).

      But let’s check out the actual television dub while we’re at it! Below is the link to one episode (regrettably in very bad quality) with the Fox Kids dub that used to air on Norwegian TV. Again, different voices, and even different Norwegian lyrics for the intro. In this dub, “Jungle Tales” is actually sung in the refrain for the opening theme, even though the rest of the song is in Norwegian:

      “Stop that Elephant!”: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TQH-FlzZa5A

  • By the way — to my knowledge, equivalents of the Norwegian VHS releases were also relased in other Scandinavian countries. Browsing through YouTube, I came across a rip from a Swedish VHS editon, “De tre små griserna” (‘The Three Little Pigs’), which obviously features the same content as the Norwegian ‘The Three Little Pigs’ release. On this VHS, the show is titled “Djungelpatrullen” (‘The Jungle Patrol’). The uploader claims the VHS is from the late 80s, but I’m pretty sure that’s wrong, considering all sources I’ve come across states that Saban produced its version in the early 90s.

    “On Top of Old Smokey” (Swedish): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EC7eUmbdzkw

    Is that all the info I’ve got on the Saban version of “Urikupen”? Well, not quite! I also found out that the Saban version has been dubbed into Russian, as evidenced from this forum where a Russian-dubbed episode (titled “Milk for Mouretown” in English) was uploaded ages ago: http://cartoons.flybb.ru/topic1053.html I managed to download the video file back when it was still up, and found that the episode was fully dubbed in Russian except for the theme song, which had been kept in English language. According to the uploader, the show aired on a Russian channel named “Ren-TV”.

    Additionally, I’ve seen forum comments mentioning that the Saban version was aired in Canada on YTV: http://forum.bcdb.com/forum/Small_animals_small_cars_race_P15652/#15984 And check out the details on this site, which mentions dubbing companies and cast lists for Swedish and Danish-dubbed versions: http://www.animenewsnetwork.com/encyclopedia/anime.php?id=5328 (I’m not sure if that applies to the Swedish and Danish VHS editions or television airings, though.)

    Anyway: Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Russia, Canada, Germany… and possibly even more European countries through Fox Kids… I’d say the Saban-distributed version of “Urikupen Kyujotai” has led a much more widespread life than one might think. :)

    • Thanks for all that Mesterius!

      “The characters literally sound retarded. That’s what appealed to me when uploading this: It’s so bad, it’s good. You say that Saban’s music and sound effects make the show more enjoyable. “

      Some of us would think the same way about Saban’s handling of a number of shows over the years whether they were good or not (you might get something like Samurai Pizza Cats which was a very loose non-adaptation of it’s original source but became a cult classic none the less, or something like Macron 1 which was merely cramming unrelated shows together with a paper-thin plot-line that made no season whatsoever and quickly forgotten). They usually had good actors otherwise in the English versions whom also had been involved in dubbing many Japanese cartoons for years so it wasn’t a total waste of talent there (unlike the music which always got credited to Saban and Shuki Levy despite often coming from un-credited composers).

      It’s interesting you chose the share those episodes on the grounds of it’s dubbing alone, it’s nearly the same for those of us over here in the English-speaking continent who use to argue over bad dubbing of anime for years. I’m not sure if you ever seen these vids in particular, but they’re a good starting point to see the history we had with Japanese cartoons!
      https://vimeo.com/1025466
      https://vimeo.com/1025667
      https://vimeo.com/1033976

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