Voyage Into Space is my Vietnam.
It takes 4 episodes of the 26 episode series Giant Robo, or Johnny Sokko and his Flying Robot, and crams them into one movie. So why does it distress me so?
I saw it when I was probably 5 years old. I was obsessed with robots, like my Mazinger Z Shogun Warrior. I had never seen a movie where the robot dies at the end. Spoiler warning — the robot blows up real good at the end.
I cried for years. I might still be crying.
Earth has been invaded by an interstellar terrorist group known as the Gargoyle Gang, which is led by Emperor Guillotine, who spends all of his time hidden on the ocean floor in a UFO. Yes, that’s just how awesome this is.
They’ve been capturing scientists to create an army of extraordinary magnitude, err monsters, to conquer the Earth.
A boy named Daisaku Kusama, or Johnny Sokko in America, where he was voiced by a woman named Bobbie Byers who also shows up in Savages from Hell and The Wild Rebels, and Juro Minami — nee Jerry Mano in the gaijin world — from the spy team Unicorn are all that stands between aliens owning this big blue rock. It gets better for them when they meet scientist Lucius Guardian, who gives a small child the power to control a robot — great logic — before he gets killed and drops a nuke on the aliens.
Man, this Gargoyle Gang — they dress like the United Nations of bad guys, donning German, Soviet and Central American military gear all at once, topping it off with designer sunglasses — are bad guys. They have all manner of horrific beasts ready to destroy Earth. In this cut down movie, which is basically episodes 1, 2, 10, 17 and 26 of the show, you get 100 minutes of pure madness.
There’s Draculon the Sea Monster, who was known as Dakolar in Japan. Nucleon the Magic Globe — also known as Globar in Tokyo. Lygon, who swallows a train. The Gargoyle Vine, which has the much cooler name in Japan of the Satan Rose. And all manner of evil henchmen like Spider and Doctor Over. The full series even has an alien mummy and a peg-legged snakeman.
Unlike most anime and Japanese movies that were sent to the U.S. at this time, nobody thought that they should edit the violence out of this. So in one episode, a kid almost gets killed by a firing squad. And yeah — the ending — where the pharaoh robot dies saving the Earth? I remember going outside and staring into the sky, punching my fist into the ground, screaming at God. No, really. I did. For days. It was so bad that my mother had to write an entirely new ending for me so that I could get on with grade school.
You can watch this on the Internet Archive. Prepare yourself to be depressed.