Robot 110-Ban (ロボット110番) is another of Shotaro Ishinomori’s mascot-robot shows, which given the sheer amount of them on this Youtube channel alone just goes to show how much he and the Japanese public seemed to love them. This one ran for a total of 37 episodes in 1977, and featured the legendary Masako Nozawa (Dragon Ball’s Goku, Gohan and Goten) as the voice of the lead robot Gan-chan. The show is named 110-Ban after the emergency service number Japan had at the time.
Meet the Robot 110-Ban, a group of robots created by the aptly named Dr Robot (portrayed by Ishinomori himself, albeit just as a photograph) to help serve humans in any way they’ve can. To do so they’ve set up their own business, and are hoping to raise funds to build a proper robot research centre that’ll make their creator proud. The team consists of the big orange “tin can” Gan-chan, clockwork robot Kei-kun, the stern Mr. Chief and the sole female robot of the group Pearl. As is typical for these shows, Pearl is portrayed by an actress in a sci-fi costume rather than a giant foam suit.
The 110-Ban don’t get off to a great start by building their HQ on someone else’s land, which leads to Gan-chan having an angry tussle with a group of construction workers. It’s nice to see Gan-chan channeling some of the original Robocon’s sass, as he’s having none of these annoying humans’ nonsense. Eventually the police and other robots turn up to smooth over the situation, and the 110-Ban find a new home renting out a family’s garden.
While the children might be enjoying having a group of robots hanging out in their garden, their mother isn’t as enthralled by the prospect. Especially when Gan-chan starts messing things up – first damaging clothes whilst ironing and then accidentally releasing the family’s precious pet bird. While Gan-chan is tasked with tracking down the bird, Kei-kun joins the police in hunting down some wanted jewel thieves.
Unfortunately, the jewel thieves decide to hit the family home while the robots are out, tying them up and holding them at gunpoint. It’s only when Gan-chan crashes through the ceiling looking for the bird (which has found its own way home) that the day is saved, and Gan-chan is pretty pleased at the reward money he’s earned from the capture; That is until Mr. Chief reminds him of the numerous bits of property damage he caused looking for the bird, and that in reality he’s actually 67,000 yen in debt. If that wasn’t enough to put the poor robot down, Chief also gives him a huge punch for good measure.
Robot 110-Ban is a fun show with plenty of laughs, but the trouble is its way too similar to Robocon – which is arguably the superior show. Gan-chan may look a little different but he’s exactly the same brand of chaotic good, and sports exactly the same mannerisms and gimmicks. His enthusiasm is just as loveable though, and I enjoyed him tapping into his “tin can spirit” to complete his mission.
While there are definitely better shows on the Toei Tokusatsu World Official channel that fill this obviously popular niche, Robot 110-Ban is still a good time and it’s equally wonderful to see all these strange shows that most fansubbers probably wouldn’t even touch. The big question is, when are we going to get our Super Hero Taisen style film for all these robots?
You can now find Robot 110-Ban as well as many other tokusatsu shows, on the TOEI Tokusatsu World Official YouTube channel to watch for free with English subtitles.