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The Asian ApertureSuper Robot Red Baron
POSTED BY JASON FETTERS, January 6, 2012    Share

I remember growing up as a kid in Tampa, FL and being super hyper every Saturday morning when the Batman TV series would come on followed by Ultraman. The attraction to Ultraman was the cool silver suit, all the crazy guns, and a different monster each week. Recently I watched a Japanese TV show that took me back to those days, laying around at home in front of the TV and waiting for Creature Feature to start at 2pm. That show is Super Robot Red Baron. The opening credits alone are worth a look. Just head over to YouTube or whatever your favorite video website is and check it out. The tune is catchy, and it is filled with non-stop '70’s karate action that brings to mind Shaw Brothers, Bruce Lee, and Sonny Chiba movies. From that point on it just gets better.

So what is it that makes Super Robot so appealing? For me it has to being the interesting juxtaposition of something serious mixed in with campy humor. Actual characters that you care about die in horrible ways and evil villains hurting people is not sugar-coated. The best part for me is the fact that Super Robot Red Baron actually loses a fight, unlike Ultraman. Some of the best episodes show the Red Baron getting kicked, punched and beaten down with his own arm, after being ripped off, until the next week’s episode. It teaches children that things are not always going to be easy and you will lose even if you try your best. It also shows that you have to get back up and try again because failure will only defeat you if you let it. Super Red Baron has such an intensity about it.

The first episode sets up the plot for the whole series. Kurenai Kenichiro is a scientist who develops a robot that he calls Super Red Baron for an organization known as the SSI (Secret Science Investigation.) The SSI is composed of several members who all have their own cool modes of transportation such as a motorcycle, a sports car, and a jeep. Early in the 21st century, a rival organization called the Iron Alliance steals robots from the world over. The Iron Alliance uses these giant robots to fight the SSI and to try to destroy the Earth. Kurenai Kenichiro is killed in a slow, agonizing death that is witnessed by his younger brother, Ken. After seeing his brother die and attending his brother’s funeral, Ken takes a vow to pilot the Super Robot Red Baron and defeat the Iron Alliance. The Iron Alliance is headed by President Deviler who lives up to his name. In one episode as Ken is inside Red Baron, manning the controls, while fighting a robot, Deviler fires a giant flamethrower that nearly kills him. As Deviler watches Ken’s suffering he says, “how does burning in hell feel?” followed by a sinister laugh. This is very real and in-your-face for young viewers. That’s why campy humor is needed to create a break between fighting and scenes of people in pain. A lot of Red Baron’s humor comes from the Inspector who rides a magical bike, that can fly when he uses his umbrella. The Inspector is your basic nerdy older guy who is the butt of everyone’s jokes. However, he does manage to help save the team on more than one occasion. One of the coolest things about the show is when the Iron Alliance sends out ninja henchmen to fight the SSI. Unlike most superhero shows where the goons and thugs are easily taken out, sometimes the SSI loses the fight. Sometimes the entire team gets captured and tied up. This adds a level of realism that is missing from most action TV series that depict a comic book hero using no effort to defeats many foes and always winning. It is refreshing to see the good guys occasionally lose.

Super Robot Red Baron has most everything that I admire in retro entertainment. You have the gritty early '70’s, larger-than-life villains, karate, cute girls who can fight, giant fighting robots, humor, interesting fight sequences, and the idea that everything won’t always work out. Sometimes you just have to go above and beyond what you think you can handle. The Japanese seldom make boring TV shows and Super Robot Red Baron, along with Ultraman, and Kamen Riders should convince even the most hard-hearted skeptics out there. It really is a fun show to watch and is perfect for a crowd of open-minded people who just want to be entertained. I cannot recommend Super Robot Red Baron highly enough. Check it out.

5 out of 5 Stars (Look for the BCI DVDs and avoid the Mill Creek ones.)

"The Asian Aperture" is ©2012 by Jason Fetters. All contents of Crazed Fanboy are ©2012 by Nolan B. Canova and Terence Nuzum.

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