Anime is the Japanese word for animation in general, but it has since been known colloquially as a word to describe Japanese cartoons (don't deny it, anime is a type of cartoon) in general. Though it has been in the Americas since the 1950's-1960's (ex. Astro Boy), it only started to gained popularity in the west somewhere in the late 1980's, with shows like Saber Rider and the Star Sheriffs and Adventures of the Little Koala, though many didn't realize they were anime. By the end of the 1990's, it had won the hearts of millions of viewers, and was largely viewed as a new form of animation in itself.
Having already written a 1990's version and 1980's version, I felt that it was necessary to write a Best Anime Openings of the 1970's. I felt that doing a version for the 70's crowd on RetroJunk was the right thing to do, so I began some research and avid anime watching.
In the 1970’s, Japanese animation began to separate from its Western roots and instead began to create its own genres, such as Mecha and its subgenres Super Robot and Real Robot. The Super Robot dealt with giant robots with mysterious origins and foreshadowing a future where robots where humans have been forced into outer space. In addition to science fiction, drama series, such as Tomorrow's Joe (a boxing anime), Heidi Girls of the Alps and Candy Candy (see below), were a popular genre of anime.
Perhaps one of the most memorable moments of an anime (and any show in general) is the opening sequence. Here, I will show you some of the best anime theme songs of the 1970's. Unfortunately, for a lot of them, I cannot provide English subbed versions for all of these animes since companies tend to remove them a lot more frequently than unsubbed theme songs.
(Note: This contains opinions and is unranked, but I'm sure some of you will agree with some of my choices. The display of these theme songs is not intended to replace the purchase of the respective animes)
Lupin III (1971)
In the early 20th century, a character named Arsene Lupin was created by French novelist Maurice Leblanc. He was a master thief, ransacking rich Parisians with ease. While working on the wrong side of the law, he was a force for good, defeating villains even worse than himself. In some of his stories, he even met up with Sherlock Holmes. In the Francophone world, he became just as popular as Sherlock Holmes.
His legacy continues with the adventures of his grandson, Arsene Lupin III, who becomes the world's greatest thief. Joined with his sidekick Daisuke Jigen and master swordsman Goemon Ishikawa XIII, he continues his family legacy while trying to win the heart of femme fatale Fujiko Mine (another master thief) and running from police inspector Koichi Zenigata, his rival and descendant of Heiji Zenigata, a popular fictional Japanese icon.
This series was never dubbed into English, but in 2012, it was released on DVD with subtitles in English. However, it did manage to gain popularity overseas in Germany, when it was aired on German MTV in early 2001. However, it had some strange but catchy alternate theme song which was basically "Lupin Lupin Lupin Lupin Lupin Ping Ping Ping Ping Ping" over and over again.
The theme song is called "Lupin Sansei Sono 1" by Charlie Kosei. As stated before, the entire first series, licensed by Discotek, is now available on DVD in Japanese audio with English subtitles. My uploading of the mirrored video onto RetroJunk serves only to promote the series.
Fables of the Green Forest (1973)
Known as "Yama Nezumi Rocky Chuck" (Rocky Chuck the Woodchuck) in Japan, Fables of the Green Forest is an anime adaptation of Thornton W. Burgess's stories. It follows Rocky Chuck (named Johnny Chuck in the English version) the woodchuck and his mate Polly as they venture through the Green Forest and meet tons of other woodland creatures.
The series has been shown around the world with dubs in various languages. While there was an English dub of the series, it has only been broadcast on TV in Canada.
The song is called "Midori No Hidamari" (Green Forest) and it is sung by Micchī and Chatterers.
Cutey Honey (1973)
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Honey Kisaragi is a normal 16-year old Catholic schoolgirl...or so it seems. One day, her father is murdered by an organization called the "Panther Claw". At that point, her life suddenly changes drastically. She discovers that she is an android, and that her "father" was her creator, making her with the ability to create matter out of air and transform into various personalities. However, with a cry of "Honey Flash!", she transforms into her true identity, a sword-wielding red haired girl called Cutey Honey.
Cutey Honey, sometimes called Cutie Honey, was created by Go Nagai, one of the anime world's most revered artists and the creator of the Super Robot genre. The franchise spun off various animes and Original Video Animations, with New Cutey Honey being the only one so far given an official English release. This series also used a primitive example of what is known and hated today as "fanservice", the practice of "giving the fans what they want", usually sexually. Cutey Honey was intended for males and contains explicit content, though it was largely toned down in the anime from the manga.
The theme song is called ”Cutey Honey”, sung by Yoko Maekawa. This song was used in every Cutey Honey incarnate.
Space Battleship Yamato (1974)
Year 2199. A war between the human race and an alien race called the Gamilon has rendered the Earth's surface uninhabitable thanks to constant radioactive bombardment. Humanity has tried to survive by moving civilization underground. However, constant bombardments by Gamilon's radioactive asteroids have caused the radiation to sink deeper and deeper underground, and civilization could not go any deeper. Humanity is fading, and in just one year, it will become extinct. However, there is one solution: Queen Starsha of the faraway planet named Iscandar offers the Earth a device named the Cosmo Cleaner-D, which would clean up the radioactive contamination on the Earth. Iscandar is 148000 light years away, but only one spaceship, already in a slumber centuries old, can withstand such a journey: The Yamato.
Space Battleship Yamato is a space opera, which popularized the genre in anime. The franchise grew to become very popular in Japan, generating many sequels and movies, including the recent 2010 live-action movie and the 2012 anime remake (titled Space Battleship Yamato 2199). In the English speaking world, the franchise was known under various names, such as Space Cruzer Yamato and Cosmoship Yamato, before finally agreeing with Space Battleship Yamato.
An English version combined the first, second and third incarnates of Space Battleship Yamato and was renamed Star Blazers, airing in 1979. Originally being a series with a significant amount of objectionable content, the dub cut out several scenes to make it appropriate for late 70's and early 80's standards. It also Americanized the names, for example, Susumu Kodai was changed to Derek Wildstar and Captain Juzo Okita to Abraham Avatar. The dub was a big success, allowing more plot-based animes to be brought over to the USA.
The song (original Japanese) is called "Uchuu Senkan Yamato" (Space Battleship Yamato) and is sung by Isao Sasaki.
UFO Robot Grendizer (1975)
Duke Fleed is the prince of Fleed, a planet which was destroyed by aliens named Vegans (no pun with the vegetarian type intended) from planet Vega. After the destruction of his planet, he finds himself a home on a farm on planet Earth. He is adopted into the Umon family, and given the name Daisuke Umon. With a secret pilotable robot named the Grendizer, and sidekick Koji Kabuto, Duke vies to protect his new home planet from and take revenge the Vegans.
UFO Robot Grendizer takes place in the same universe as Mazinger (a popular long running Super Robot franchise), being its third instalment. In fact, Koji Kabuto was the protagonist of Mazinger Z, the first instalment in the series. This series became popular not only in Japan, but also internationally. Grendizer is still in the hearts of many Middle Easterners, where it continues to be popular. It was also very popular in Europe and the Canadian province of Quebec. It aired also aired Thursdays in the USA on the syndicated anime anthology block Force Five, a late 70's and early 80's block intended to popularize the Japanese mecha genre in the west.
The song is called "Tobe! Grendizer" (Fly! Grendizer) by Isao Sasaki, Columbia Yurikago-kai and Koorogi '73. The Force Five version used an instrumental of this song.
Candy Candy (1976)
You might remember this anime from your childhood or on the Saturday Night Live skit "J-Pop America Fun Time Now". Based on the 1975 manga (Japanese comic book) by Kyoko Mizuki and Yumiko Igarashi, Candy Candy is a slice-of-life shojo (targeted at girls) anime and manga franchise. At the turn of the 20th century, a baby is found in the snow near a Michigan orphanage named Pony's Home by its nun, with nothing with a teddy bear with the name "Candy" on it. From that day on, her name was known as Candy White. Through the 115 episodes of the series, the story follows her life through her childhood and adolescence in a soap-opera manner.
Candy Candy was the centre of a large lawsuit nightmare that took place in the anime industry. In the late 1990's and early 2000's, conflicts arose from the authors about who would claim copyright. Igarashi milked the franchise without the permission of Mizuki, the latter who sued the former. After the verdict that both owned the copyright, Toei was sued by one of the authors of Candy Candy, halting the distribution of the anime. Due to legal complications, there is currently probably no legal way to obtain new copies of the anime.
The theme song is called "Candy Candy", sung by Mitsuko Horie and The Chirps.
Danguard Ace (1977)
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In the distant future, humans have discovered the tenth planet in the Solar System, Promete (this was back when Pluto was still a planet). After a freak accident caused by betrayl of his father, society shuns Takuma Ichimonji throughout his childhood. Meanwhile, someone named Mr. Doppler gains a monopoly over Promete and becomes a tyrant, hoarding all the resources for himself and massacring anyone who opposes him. Takuma wishes to restore his family's honour by fighitng against Doppler's forces under a base named Danguard.
Some of you may remember this on Mondays on the Force Five, which as stated earlier, was an anime anthology intended to popularize the Japanese mecha genre in the west. Another English dub was produced for Asian markets.
The theme song is called "Suki Dat Danguard A" (I Loved Danguard A), sung by Isao Sasaki & Young Flesh. The Force Five adaptation uses an instrumental version of the Japanese theme song.
Lupin III Part II (1977)
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The adventures of master thief Lupin III continue in Lupin III Part II, originally called "Shin Lupin III" (New Lupin III). One day, the former team of Arsene Lupin's grandson receives letters supposedly from Lupin, inviting them to come join them on a luxurious cruise ship. One by one, Lupin's former teammates show up on the cruise ship, only to find Lupin III himself showing up with an invitation supposedly from his lover Fujiko Mine and inspector Koichi Zenigata with a false police warrant. With the status quo back in place, the action continues, along with the wits of Lupin III and his gang against inspector Zenigata and other "bad guys".
This is the second series in the Lupin III franchise, spanning 155 episodes over four seasons. It was the first (and so far the only) Lupin III series to be translated into English, hence known in the English-speaking world simply as "Lupin III". The most notable English dub is the Pioneer Entertainment dub, first aired in 2003 on Cartoon Network's Adult Swim. The dub contains 79 episodes, and it is unknown if more episodes will be released. However, this series was first translated into English in 1994 by Streamline Pictures, and featured several known anime voice actors and Porky Pig's current voice actor Bob Bergen as Lupin III. Streamine only translated episode 145 and 155 (releasing it under the name of "Lupin III's Greatest Capers") and the movie Lupin III: Mystery of Mamo. The second part of the third season and the majority of the fourth season remains untranslated into English.
Each of the four seasons features a different opening, all being cover versions of the same song. The theme songs are named "THEME FROM LUPIN III",. composed by Yuji Ohno. The second theme is a vocal version sung by Peatmac Junior, while the other two are instrumental (aside from the occasional singing of the words "Lupin the Third"). I couldn't decide which ones were better, except the fourth opening theme which I didn't find as great as the other three.
Galaxy Express 999 (1978)
Before you continue, "999" is pronounced "three-nine", as opposed to "nine-nine-nine".
In the future, humankind has developed a method of interstellar travel with a system called Galaxy Railways, a network of railways that penetrate deep into space linking the galaxies and planets. On Earth, humans mastered the ability of replacing their human parts with robotic parts, enabling them to live over a thousand years. However, only the rich could afford this. There were many poor people who had the ambition of one day becoming a cyborg, and among them, talk about a mystical train called the Galaxy Express 999 which would take them to the Andromeda galaxy, where they could become a cyborg for free. Many moved to the city called Metropolis, in hopes of boarding the fabled Galaxy Express 999. A class conflict arose, and a gang of cyborgs even went as far as killing the poor for the fun of it. Tetsuro Hoshino, a child, had hopes of one day boarding the 999 with his mother so they could live long lives. While his orphanization by the cyborgs crushed his hopes, a woman named Maetel rescues him and offers him an unlimited pass to the Galaxy Railways, with the condition that she would follow him.
The song is called "Ginga Tetsudou 999" (Galaxy Express 999), sung by Isao Sasaki and the Suginami Children's Choir. The 113-episode series is available on Crunchyroll for free legally, with English subtitles.
Mobile Suit Gundam (1979)
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The series that started it all. In the future, humans have polluted the Earth to the point where it becomes toxic and inhabitable. However, mankind has discovered ways to build colonies in space. A lone colony called the Principality of Zeon begins its struggle for independence from the Earth Federation, and a brutal war begins. Countless atrocities are committed in the name of independence, and entire colonies are wiped out.
The year is Universal Century 0079. Amuro Ray is a Canadian who lives on a space colony. One day, he is forced to evacuate his colony due to Zeon's attack, but instead stumbles upon a secret weapon called the Gundam. Being a tech master, he quickly learns how to use it for combat, and wards off Zeon's attack. Later, Amuro is conscripted into battle by the captain of the spaceship White Base. Amuro must now go on a mission to put an end to the war.
Mobile Suit Gundam (Kido Senshi Gandamu), also known as Gundam 0079, is arguably the first anime in the Real Robot subgenre. Gundam is now the most popular franchise in the mecha genre, giving birth to countless spinoff animes, movies and toylines. It is also sometimes cited as being the start of the "new age of anime". However, its popularity in the USA and Canada didn't come until the year 2000, when the 1995 anime Gundam Wing was broadcast. The following year, an English dubbed version of this 1979 series was broadcast on Cartoon Network and did fairly well, but its run was never completed because of the 9/11 attacks. It was given another run on Adult Swim in 2002, but low ratings cut it off before the series was finished. In 2002, the Real Robot genre was repopularized in the anime world by its incarnate Gundam SEED, after having a declining popularity throughout the 90's. The whole series (minus one episode) is now available on YouTube legally for free.
The song is called "Tobe! Gundam" (Fly! Gundam!) by Koh Ikeda.
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Move over, Nickelodeon, Doraemon did what Fairly Odd Parents did before you even existed.
It is the 22nd century, and the Nobi family is suffering. Earlier in the family timeline, Nobita Nobi lived a sad life of despair and misfortune, caused by his failure in school and the collapse of his business, coupled with childhood bullying. However, not all hope for Nobita, as the family obtains a friendly robot cat-like marsupial named Doraemon. He is sent back in time to Nobita's childhood, in order to correct his despair and fix the family history. Nobita soon discovers he is magical. Doraemon possesses the ability to pull any helpful gadget out of his magic pocket. Using his Takecopter (pronounced ta-kay-copter), he also possesses the ablity to fly and with his "Anywhere door" and time machine, can teleport anyone to whereever and whenever they wish. Doraemon also possesses emotions and quickly befriends Nobita for life. By granting his wishes through his pocket, Doraemon helps Nobita learn from his mistakes, teaching his viewers life lessons.
Since its 1979 debut, Doraemon has quickly gained popularity and is now one of the staples of Asian culture in general. In 2008, Doraemon was appointed by Japan's Foreign Ministry as their "anime ambassador". It is or has been broadcast almost everywhere in Asia (even in the Middle East), and has also gained the hearts of many European and Hispanic countries. It is the only anime and cartoon in general from the 1970's that continues to run to this day, but strangely enough, has never been broadcast in any English-speaking country (other than Singapore). Ted Turner acquired the rights in the 1980's but the plan never came to fruition. A Singaporean dub was produced and aired in 1994.
Out of all of the anime on this list, Doraemon is the only anime I can relate my childhood to, as I had the privilege of seeing it when I was visiting Singapore in 2000. I took home some CDs containing Doraemon games (which I sadly never played).
The song is called "Doraemon no Uta" (Doraemon's Song), and due to Shin-Ei's copyright strike-happy attitude on YouTube, the video of the theme song video may have been pulled down by the time this article was published (author's note: I hope it was). In this case, please enjoy the full version song immediately below it. The original TV-sized version is avaliable on RetroJunk if any of you are interested in seeing it.
Well, that's the end of the article. I hope you enjoyed it. I apologize if it was not as easy to read as my previous articles, but the italics were not functional when this was completed and bold text everywhere doesn't feel right to me. Thanks for reading my article.