There's A New Guy In Town --- His Name Is Janperson!
|Wait a minute, you're not Robocop are you?|
That's right... there's a new guy in town and his name is Robocop errr.... Janperson. His mission? Serve the public trust, protect the innocent and uphold the law and do it in style!
I remembered watching Janperson dubbed in Tagalog back in ABC-5 around 1998, I was 13 years old when I first saw this Robocop-like Metal Hero series. Back then, I thought Robocop was copying from Janperson since I first saw the Robocop TV series, without knowing that the first Robocop movies premiered in July 17, 1987 and the second Robocop movie premiered in June 22, 1990. The series that was released on February 1, 1993 which would be some time after the second Robocop film. The tag phrase ABC-5 said was, "If America has a Robocop, Asia also has a Robocop." The show was similar yet different to Robocop in some ways. The show's main writer it was Junichi Miyashita who was also the main writer of Exceedraft, Blue SWAT, B-Fighter, B-Fighter Kabuto and for Super Sentai, he also write Ninpou Sentai Hurricanger. From all his works, the only show I really watched from start to end was Janperson.
Janperson's first episode did not immediately introduce the mysterious hero at the beginning. We have Tokyo as a crime infested city but not just by regular criminals but by super criminals. The plot starts with a young girl who has been infected with a deadly disease and only a rare vaccine can save her. It gives the suspense of whether or not the cure will be delivered on time to the patient. We are given a hint of a faction war between criminals in the show. A crook steals the vaccine but he is suddenly ambushed by android crooks. When all feels lost and the local police is powerless, the hero Janperson makes a Robocop-style entrance. Janperson slowly dispatches the robotic bad guys, gets the vaccine and delivers it to the patient thus saving the day. The second episode easily dealt with the leader of Guild, Ben Fukami gets beaten but that's the beginning of Janperson's struggle against crime in Tokyo.
|Kurtwood Smith and Shun Sugata, both legendary badass villain actors!|
Janperson has its own version of Omni Consumer Products from Robocop in the form of Tatewaki Konzern. At first, it looks like the villain Ryuzaburo Tatewaki (acted by Shun Sugata) was its Old Man or Dick Jones as he appears in a very formal fashion. However behind closed doors, the villain Tatewaki is more of a Clarence Boddicker - ruthless, destructive and mentally unstable. I thought Shun Sugata was able to do his job as well as Kurtwood Smith was with Robocop especially when it comes to throwing in tantrums and going crazy about Janperson's existence. Now only if Sugata said something like, "He's a freaking cyborg!" The Dick Jones/Boddicker hybrid for me was easily one of the best villains Toei could ever produce for the Metal Hero series.
|Kazuoki Takahashi... previously Sho Hayate in Changeman|
When you thought Guild was over, it was reformatted as the Neo Guild under Ben Fukami's brother George Makebe. He's the leader of a terrorist gang of androids with a high ego. His plans are to conquer humanity with a gang full of robots. This guy is a pretty serious and cruel fellow who for some reason, has developed a full hatred against the rest of humanity in itself. What was amazing was that Kazuoki Takahashi who previously played Sho Hayate in Changeman (a hero) can also play a rather cruel villain.
|Maribaron... no it's Reiko Ayanokouji!|
The third villain group is known as the Super Science Network which uses some biotechnological warfare in its quest for world domination. Its head is Reiko Ayanokouji who is acted by Atsuko Takahata. Some fans may recognize the actress as Witch Gilza in Juspion and Maribaron in Kamen Rider Black RX. The way she also portrays the cold and sadistic Reiko Ayanokouji adds some very intimidating touch. What was interesting to know was that some of her guest henchmen were acted by other Tokusatsu actors like Takeshi Ishikawa (Garoa in Fiveman) and Kenichi Endo (who would later act as Junior in Kakuranger). I wanted to joke around that Super Science Network is the result of taking Robocop 2's secondary villain Juliette Faxx, have her steal a lot of OCP's assets and create her own biotechnological organization.
The direction Janperson took as a show
What was interesting with the show was that Janperson actually deviated from Robocop in terms of superhero origin. I always thought he would be a former human turned into a cyborg. Instead, later episodes showed Janperson's past that he was a malfunctioning, berserk crime-fighting robot named MX-A1. Without a choice, his creators chose to get rid of him but one scientist named Kaoru Saegusa (most likely based on Robocop 3's Marie Lazarus) rebuilt him as Janperson. He was given human emotions that allowed him to think and feel like he was almost human even when he is a robot. However his former programming as MX-A1 tends to awaken at times but his conscience circuit (if that's what you call it) helps him maintain his humanity in his cold, hard shell.
|Wait... where in the world did that cowboy come from? XD|
The show would eventually mave some midseason changes when Janperson earns an ally with Gun Gibson. Gun Gibson was introduced first as a villain created by the Neo Guild but he became Janperson's sidekick. It was good for Janperson to have a powerful sidekick especially that the villains aren't getting any less dangerous. For me, the show just got better from Janperson as the lone robotic hero to Gun Gibson has his cowboy-type partner in upholding peace and justice in Japan. Gun Gibson not only goes against his former employer Neo Guild but also against Super Science Network and Tatewaki Konzern.
Final thoughts on the series
I'll admit that the first episode didn't warm up with me so easily since I was expecting him to defeat a monster of the week. I didn't immediately like him because he wasn't a transforming hero. Yet it was because I was a fan of the Megaman video game franchise that I started to warm up to Janperson's concept of a crime-fighting robot. What was weird was that while I wasn't really a fan of Robocop all that much, I ended up liking Janperson who was pretty much inspired by the Robocop films. I also feel this show is better than the Robocop TV series which came after this badass show. Yet if it wasn't for first two Robocop films - I doubt it there would be a Janperson who I call as the "Japanese Robocop".
All images and videos here are property of their respective owners and used for reference purpose only. We claim no rights to it unless otherwise stated.