Robot 8-Chan (ロボットはっちゃん) is the very first of the Toei Fushigi Comedy Series and was aired between 1981 and 1982. It shows. I really need to stop randomly picking these shows because I feel I’ve been hoodwinked into reviewing too many of these bizarre anarchic Toei shows and the only person I can blame is Ishinomori for making all these utterly bizarre shows.
Robot 8-Chan takes place in a world where big comedy robots are the norm and there are those who wish to do harm or exploit them. 8-Chan is a “lost robot” with bizarre abilities and even more bizarre personality quirks. In the first episode, this draws the ire of the Disassembly Man, an government stooge who revels in taking robots apart.
Rescued by a kindly professor and some children, because it’s always children, 8-Chan is taken in by a family-run robot repair shop. Whilst on the job, three humans pretend to be robots (by way of shuckin’ and jivin’) and botnap Mairodi, a female singing assistant to the professor, because they want to mass-produce her.
8-Chan chases them down and is about to go full singularity on their asses when the Disassembly Man intervenes. Losing his pursuer, 8-Chan confronts the botnappers but is defeated by green peppers. One of the children then kisses his hand and 8-Chan releases a gas and a sick beat to make the botnappers dance themselves into the harbour.
As you can tell, this show sounds like an Astro Boy story that developed into a fever dream on acid. I’ll fully admit that I struggle to understand these Fushigi shows because not only am I not the intended audience for them but my only real exposure to Japanese comedy is through Terrace House and Kamen Rider Zero-One and I’m pretty sure most of the laughs elicited are unintentional. I did get one sensible chuckle when the kids were revealed to not be driving a car to chase the botnappers but were being towed, instead.
It’s a curious show that should be viewed as such.
You can now find Robot 8-Chan, as well as many other tokusatsu shows, on the TOEI Tokusatsu World Official YouTube channel to watch for free with English subtitles.