My first experience with Anime while growing up would have to be the TV series Force Five. It consisted of the following:
Dangard Ace aka Planetary Robot Dangard Ace
Starvengers aka Getter Robo G
Grandizer aka UFO Robot Grendizer
Spaceketeers aka Starzinger
I will only be talking about my favorites, Grandizer and Gaiking. I don't remember the English names since some of the names were changed in the English versions. So I will be using the Japanese names. When anime was first brought to the States, the English versions were heavily edited. Some examples would be: violence, nudity, language, and so on. And yes I know some anime is still edited especially the ones shown for kids. But that's not the point I am trying to make. Moving right along, to the best of my knowledge concerning Gaiking and Grendizer the story's were not changed that much. But it has been years since I have seen the English versions. I have watched the Japanese versions and though I don't speak that much Japanese, they seemed pretty close. I do know however that not all of the episodes were brought over to the States. I'm guessing it may have had to do with certain story lines being too sensitive to American audiences. Then again, it may have just been a time crunch to get as many episodes dubbed as possible. Now, onto my favorites:
UFO Robot Grendizer
The evil King Vega's planet is dying so he sends his armies to find a new planet to inhabit. One of those planets named Fleed, where our protagonist Duke Fleed lives,rebels against them and steals their best robot Grendizer and uses it to escape. Duke then sets course to Earth and befriends Doctor Umon, who just so happens to have a research lab. The two form a father/ son relationship, and Duke takes on the name Daisuke Umon as a disguise. He works at the nearby ranch while no one really knows who he is except for the Doc. Duke Fleed, a tough as nails alien with a secret identity working at farm/ ranch? Hmmm sounds familiar.
From L to R: Doc, Duke, Duke in tights
This UFO chaser tried to contact the Vegan's via his own flying saucer, unaware that they are blood thirsty aliens wanting to conquer the Earth. Or was that Japan? Anyway, Duke has to reveal his secret identity to save Kouji's sorry butt. (FYI: Kouji was main character/hero from Mazinger Z. I've only watched one of the TV movies but don't know that much about it. Just FYI.)
Duke's love interest. Unlike most females in earlier anime, she could take care of herself for the most part. But yes there were times I do remember from watching the show she played the damsel in distress.
You'd think that bad guys in anime would learn by the 15th or so time they should come up with a better plan to beat the hero. But not poor old Blaki, he could never get it through his thick pointy skull even when chewed out by his superiors General Gandal and King Vega.
General Gandal and King Vega
Danbei and Goro Makiba
Danbei and Goro were Hikaru's father and younger brother respectively. Danbei was mainly used for laughs and wanted to be friends to all aliens. He wasn't the brightest, and it took him awhile to figure out the Vegan's weren't exactly good.
Why do I like this anime? A lone survivor from another planet with a giant robot protecting earth for truth, justice...okay so Superman doesn't have/need a giant robot. But Duke and Supes did have a few things in common. Anyway, what's not to like about it? Yes there was the robot of the week but it never got old watching Duke with his cool robot saving the day.
Great Sky Demon Dragon Gaiking
Once again evil aliens leave their home planet(this time sucked up into a black hole) and head to Earth. In this anime the hero team is consisted of several key players, most of them with their own mecha or robot.
A professional baseball player who gets injured during a game by the enemy. As he is chased by an unmanned truck Sanshiro throws a rock at it causing it to fly and explode. Why were they chasing him? Sanshiro is no ordinary baseball player, he's got special powers!
Naturally he is chosen to pilot the Gaiking robot which forms from the head of the Demon Dragon.
The head man of the Special Defense Force is none other than Doctor Daimonji. He built the Demon Dragon with his bare hands. I kid you not. Where do these guys get the money to build this kind of stuff?
Sanshiro's rival and the pilot of the Demon Dragon. At first he feels Sanshiro is unworthy to command the Gaiking robot since he's a rookie.
Fan Li/ Bunta Hayami/ Yamatake
Pilots of the following dinosaur mecha: A Pterodactyl, Brontosaurus, and Triceratops. They were used as the first line of defense against the enemy. They seemed pretty useless and the Gaiking robot had to be used against the bad guy of the week.
Gen Sakon/Midori Fujiyama/Hachiro
Gen always seemed like the cool and calm type of the group. He's the Doc's assistant.
Midori: Her title is Radio Communications on the Demon Dragon. I felt like she was the stereotypical 70's Anime girl. "No, no, don't hurt him, he's just an android boy sent to destroy Earth and doesn't know any better!" Okay, so she probably never said that, but you get the point. And if any Midori fans out there want to correct me on how she really was, please do. I still liked Hikaru over her though.
Ah, Hachiro, the stereotypical annoying kid knowing the answer to everything and shouldn't be around the grown-ups. If you've ever seen any Godzilla or Gamera movie you know what I'm talking about.
Black Darius and his four Generals
The generals that worked for Darius didn't seem like pushovers compared to Blaki from Grendizer. Their mode of transport looked like fish and were pretty cool looking. Their leader Darius scared the crap out of me as a kid with his upside-down face. Darius turned out to be an android in the final battle between Gaiking. (shocker!)
Why did I like Gaiking? Okay, so a rookie commanding a giant robot to save Japan isn't the most original, but I liked the fact that Sanshiro could turn one the robot's special attacks into a baseball and pitch it to the enemy to strike er blow them up.
Stay frosty Retrojunkers.