Gigantor is an American adaptation of the anime version of Tetsujin 28-go, a manga by Mitsuteru Yokoyama released in 1956. It debuted on U.S. television in 1964. As with Speed Racer, the characters’ original names were altered and the original series’ violence was toned down for American viewers. A new series was produced in Japan in 1980 and was later shown as The New Adventures of Gigantor, on the Sci Fi Channel from 1993 to 1997. In 1963, Fred Ladd, while working on the animated feature Pinocchio in Outer Space and on the animated TV series The Big World of Little Adam had seen artwork of Mitsuteru Yokoyama presenting a giant robot remote-controlled by a young boy. The Tokyo-based artist had designed the robot for a Japanese shōnen manga series Tetsujin 28 and later a black-and-white animated TV series called Tetsujin 28-go.
Ladd, who had produced the successful international, English-language adaptation of Astroboy, and Al Singer formed a corporation called Delphi Associates, Inc. in order to produce and distribute an English-language version of Tetsujin 28-gō. They took only 52 episodes of the black-and-white Japanese series for the American market, and renamed the series Gigantor. Peter Fernandez wrote much of the English script, and participated in the dubbing.
Gigantor became a popular Japanese export during this time. The series was shown in Australia on Melbourne television in January 1968 through Trans-Lux, on ATV-0 at 5:00pm. It was described by the TV Week as an “animated science fiction series about the world’s mightiest robot, and 12-year-old Jimmy Sparks who controls the jet-propelled giant”. The series aired in other markets around Australia, including Sydney, New South Wales on TEN-10, and in Adelaide, South Australia on SAS-10, (its debut on Monday October 28, 1968, at 5.55pm). It was also screened in New Zealand around the same time.
Gigantor was one of a number of Japanese TV series that enjoyed strong popularity with young viewers in Australia during the 1960s. The first and undoubtedly the most successful of these was the hugely successful live-action historical adventure series The Samurai, the first Japanese TV series ever screened in Australia, which premiered in late 1964. It was followed by a contemporary ninja-based live action espionage series, Phantom Agents, and a number of popular Japanese animated series including Astro Boy, Ken The Wolf Boy, Prince Planet, and Marine Boy.