Tuesday, April 02, 2013

The triumphant return of fourth-grade excitement

Back in the FOURTH GRADE, all I needed to unwind from a tough day at WILLOW CREEK ELEMENTARY SCHOOL, CONCORD, CALIF., was a big plastic superhero cup full of sugared cereal and an episode of "ULTRAMAN" or "JOHNNY SOKKO AND HIS FLYING ROBOT."
Sugared cereal is available at fine stores everywhere, I've had the complete 1966 season of "Ultraman" on DVD for several years and when "Johnny Sokko" finally made its appearance on disc last week, I snapped it up immediately.
My return to childhood entertainment is nearly complete!
Known as "JAIANTO ROBO (GIANT ROBOT)" in its native Japan, "Johnny Sokko" was a tokusatsu -- a live-action superhero series -- produced by Toei Company in 1967-68.
It was developed for American audiences of the 1970s by American International Television. It was ridiculously dubbed, but kept the mind-blowingly cheesy special effects in place.
Title character Johnny Sokko (played by Mitsunobu Kaneko) lived every fourth-grade boy's fantasy: He along controlled a 100-foot tall robot who could battle monsters trying to wreck havoc on Tokyo.
"Use your finger missiles," Johnny would command, and missiles would fire out of the robot's finger tips.
"Use your megaton-punch," Johnny would command, and the robot would wind up and pummel some poor stunt man dressed in a rubber octopus costume.
Pure delight for the after-school crowd!
I purchased Johnny Sokko for the same escapism I enjoyed on those afternoons following school.
Work won't seem all bad, when I can vicariously live through a kid with a monster-smashing robot at his beck and call.

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