Synopsis: Joe Shimamura awakens to find out that he's no longer an ordinary young man. He's now a cyborg possessing superhuman powers -- his code name, 009. Cyborg 009 later finds out that he's actually the ninth in a series of cyborgs developed by the sinister organization Black Ghost. He eventually joins the first eight cyborgs, 001 to 008, in rebelling against Black Ghost. Together, the nine cyborgs take a stand against evil while trying to come to terms with their past lives and what they have become...
Review: I first saw Cyborg 009 on Animax-Asia about a year ago. The whole look and premise of the series practically screamed "classic", and I initially thought that it was one of Osamu Tezuka's ("Astro Boy", "Metropolis") works. Doing a bit of research on the net confirmed my impression. Cyborg 009 is indeed a classic, being the third and latest anime TV series based on Shotaro Ishinomori's 1964 manga. I watched a few episodes here and there on Animax, but since my busy schedule did not really permit me to tune in daily at the same time; I just bought the R1 DVD when I had the chance.
The good news is, Cyborg 009: Uncut and Unedited proved to be a worthwhile DVD purchase. My 4-year old son and I both enjoyed its uncluttered storytelling and stylized yet old-school look. The series kicks off with Cyborg 009's awakening. 009 hears a voice in his head, telling him to wake-up and get out of the place he finds himself in -- which is actually some sort of facility for developing cyborgs. 009 is confused. His last memory was running away from a crime scene that he had nothing to do with, and now he suddenly has superhuman powers and a voice inside his head. 009 later finds out that the voice belongs to 001, the first in a series of cyborgs developed by an evil organization called the Black Ghost. 001 guides 009 to where he and cyborgs 002 through 008 are, and they eventually recruit 009 to join them in going against Black Ghost. It's pretty straightforward stuff, with insights into the cyborgs' past lives interspersed in the form of flashbacks. Now for the bad news. Only eight episodes have been released on R1 DVD, and Cyborg 009 has a total of 52 episodes. It seems the show got cancelled in the US, and it doesn't look like there will be any more volumes to come.
The art and animation are reminiscent of older anime such as "Astro Boy" or "Voltron", but the overall visual style is a lot more sleek and sophisticated. I was rather impressed by the diversity of the character designs, as none of the cyborgs or supporting characters looked the slightest bit alike. I also loved the catchy opening and ending songs. It's been a while since I last felt the urge to buy an anime soundtrack CD, and I'm checking out Cyborg 009 CDs online even as I type this review. The English dubbing is pretty good too. I actually watched most of the DVD in English because my son can't read yet.
Although I like what I've seen of Cyborg 009 so far, I believe it's a series that would appeal more to a younger audience base with its clear-cut plot, action, and characterization. I'd really like to know what happens next to our heroes though.