Kong count #22 – The King Kong Show

While The King Kong Show is mostly remembered nowadays as the source material for King Kong Escapes, it’s a significant historical milestone for being the first case on an American TV show getting animated in Japan. The program, while nominally a Rankin-Bass production, has its share of anime cred, featuring direction by Yugo Serikawa (Cyborg 009), music by Asei Kobayashi (responsible for the the Gatchaman, Lion Maru, and Turn A Gundam themes) in addition to Rankin-Bass staple Maury Laws, and planning by Yoshifumi Hatano (Cyborg 009, Saint Seiya).

the-king-kong-show

While the general plot featured a softer Kong who befriends a young boy (which set the template for every Kong animated series to follow), monster fans have no shortage of excitement in the series as the title character battles aliens, robots, and mythological figures in addition to the traditional prehistoric animals from the movies, and each episode is two stories, separated by an episode of Tom of T.H.U.M.B., so any given story only runs about 7 minutes.  Yeah, usually I skip over those middle segments.

king-kong-show-toy

Unfortunately, of the 26 episodes, Classic Media has only released the first 8 on DVD. This does not include the introduction of Mechanikong, though that episode is pretty widely circulated in bootleg circles for its movie tie in. Personally, I’m much more interested in watching Kong fight a robotic statue of liberty! Hopefully a complete series box materializes at some point, but if they’re not doing so to cash in on Skull Island, I have no idea what would motivate a release.

mechanikong

Needless to say, the show was hyped pretty heavily in Japan in 1967, spawning manga spin-offs, toys (from Yamato, if you’re looking), picture books, and of course the live-action movie. I’m not sure how involved Toei was in all of these, but I think it’s interesting that at least one book had a “Robot Kong” who looked completely different from what we got on screen:

robot-kong

For a complete episode guide, I refer you to an excellent piece by Sci-Fi Japan on the program.

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5 Responses to Kong count #22 – The King Kong Show

  1. Eric Hurd says:

    Classic Media did release all the episodes they have currently ‘restored’, including the first Mechanikong, on dvd in one set. For some reason though, it’s only available in Australia/New Zealand. (It also includes two episodes- Statue of Liberty Play and Pandora’s Box- I’ve never seen, even in gray market form.) You can also find other episodes outside these, if you search hard enough. YouTube has the Perilous Porpoise episode- in Italian(!) and part of the Dr. Bone episode in Portuguese. That the copyright owners let the source elements of such an important piece of anime history get so degraded as to not have the entire series available in one place (or at all,even) is a rant for another time…

  2. Someone has the link for it, so we can buy ?

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