In 1963 Shotaro Ishinomori (KAMEN RIDER, KIKAIDER), Fujiko Fujio (DORAEMON), and animator Shinichi Suziki founded a new animation production company Studio Zero (OSOMATSU KUN, PA MAN). One of their early projects, RAINBOW SENTAI ROBIN (Rainbow Squadron Robin or Rainbow Task Force Robin) was produced by Toei Doga, and directed by Shinichi Suzuki. Based on manga published in Weekly Shonen Magazine by Shotaro Ishinomori, this black and white sci-fi action adventure TV series ran 48 episodes. RAINBOW SENTAI ROBIN also inspired Toei’s CAPTAIN FUTURE (1978).
On the other side of the solar system the planet Palta faces extinction with only two years left before the planet is destined for destruction. Desiring the Earth’s resources, Emperor Palta launches an attack on our planet. The only one who can save Earth is a young boy Robin, and his team of robots. Fifteen years earlier Robin’s father Dr. Polto, was actually an alien spy from Palta who was sent to Earth, but fell in love with a human woman Sumiko. Before Robin’s father and mother were taken against their will, back to Palta, the doctor created six robots to take care of his son.
The robots include Lili, Wolf, Benkei, Pegasus, Professor, and Bell. Lili is a nurse robot who can emit a healing light ray that can fix anything. She is very sweet and takes it upon herself to fill in as the motherly roll in Robin’s life. The super fast Wolf, is an expert marksman and has aim more accurate than any machine. Benkei, the iron strong man, aside from being the muscle of the group, has a compartment in his chest in which Professor and Bell ride in. Pegasus, transforms from robot to rocket and flies at speeds up to mach 18 and can act as a submarine. Bell, is a cute cat that acts as a walking, talking radar and can also scramble any signal or radio wave. And lastly, Professor, a science genius and researcher who is very proud of his intelligence and is not afraid to tell you so. Robin is armed with a lightning ray gun and is a highly skilled trained fighter. Along with his robot family, Robin and the Rainbow Sentai are an unstoppable fighting team. Not only can they battle on Earth, but they can take the war into space and go head to head with alien battleships.
During down time, characters like Lili and Wolf, shed their robot appearance and look more human and even have normal relationships. Professor and Bell are the comedy relief, and are always goofing off. Robin dreams of the day when he can reunite with his parents, not knowing if they are dead or alive. This story is weaved throughout the series and draws you to the character. When it’s time for action Robin shouts out “Rainbow Sentai Go Forth!” “ Pegasus Stand By!” “Let’s Go!” and they fly off in formation to defend Earth.
RAINBOW SENTAI ROBIN has lots of sci-fi drama, and like other favorites from the 60’s, it instills that cool atmosphere we all dig from black and white anime. Similar to Shotaro Ishinomori’s CYBORG 009, the Rainbow Sentai would have been a hit in the states.