Anime Review of Cyborg 009

Cyborg 009 is indeed a very interesting anime series. The 2001 version has been aired several times on Cartoon Network’s Toonami block. However, I haven’t seen the 1968 nor the 1979 versions. But the franchise has been in existence for since the early 1960s with a manga and an animated movie.


The anime has a simple storyline that seems to be linear. However, it’s a very interesting storyline that doesn’t seem so linear when watched. The story revolved around nine cyborgs whom each have a different set of skills and abilities. They have taken the mission to stop the organization known as Black Ghost who is bent to make a profit by selling weapons of mass destruction in the form of cyborgs which are created by kidnapping unsuspecting victims.


Interestingly enough, Black Ghost reflects the various defense contractors in particular United States defense contractors that actually profit the most from constant warfare. The defense contractors have all sorts of firearms, explosives, computer technology, and vehicles to sell. If there’s a lack of warfare, then they don’t profit. This holds true to real life as well. In the Cyborg 009 series, Black Ghost sells cyborg soldiers and all sorts of high tech weapon to all warring parties.


Which brings the task to the nine cyborgs, stop Black Ghost from causing constant war and strife across the world. The main protagonist of the series is Joe Shimamura who is Cyborg 009. A good few episodes of the series goes into Joe’s past where he and a few friends of his from the street were taken in by a Catholic priest. Black Ghost kills the priest and frames Joe for the murder. In turn, they kidnap Joe and turn him into a cyborg. Joe is possessed with an interesting ability where he can increase his speed where he is so fast that everything else looks frozen to him. Joe represents Japan.


All the cyborgs are taken in by Doctor Gimore who was the head of the 00-Cyborg program. He becomes the advisor and the paternal figure to all of the cyborgs.


The antagonists mainly come in the form of cyborgs, which is the premise of Cyborg 009. When I first saw the series, I was intrigued by the diversity of the main characters that came from all walks of life.


There’s Ivan Whisky who is Cyborg 001. He’s one of the most powerful psychics and one of the oldest cyborgs in the series. Yet, he has the body of a toddler. The first four cyborgs are pretty old and have been placed in cryogenic sleep. Cyborg 001′s country of origin is Russia. He represents Russia.


Jet Link is Cyborg 002. Interestingly enough, he has a long nose that looks like a bird’s beak. This character was inspired by the musical West Side Story. He was the leader of the Jets that warred with the Puerto Rican Sharks gang in the west side of South Bronx. The name fits his ability, where he has boosters built into his feet and can fly up to mach 5. He represents New York City.


Francoise Arnoul is Cyborg 003. She is the only female member of the team of cyborgs fighting against Black Ghost. Her past seems to be a bit stereotypical because she was a former ballerina. She has enhanced sight and hearing. In a sense, she seems to be the "normal" one of the bunch. She also becomes Joe/Cyborg 009′s love interest throughout the series. Francoise represents France.


Albert Heinrich is Cyborg 004. He seems to be the most mechanical in appearance. In a sense, he represents the distress caused when the the Communists took over East Germany and East Berlin. He and his fiance wanted to escape to West Berlin. When Albert is without his shirt, it’s obvious that he has the most modifications to his body. His body looks more mecahnical than it does human. He can shoot bullets from his fingers and missiles from his kneecaps. Albert represents Germany.


Geronimo Jr. is Cyborg 005. He is the biggest and the strongest of the group. 005 is a Native American that had to deal with racism and persecution towards the Native Americans. His skin is armored making him immune to bullets and explosives. At the same time, he is a very spiritual individual that might tap into that when the time comes. However, it would be one ability granted to him that’s not a result of cybernetic modification. He also represents the United States.


Chang Chang Ku who is Cyborg 006 is an interesting cyborg. He’s pretty humorous and charismatic. 006 is basically the cook of the team. He’s the most helpful when it comes to cooking. In one episode where 006 opened up a Chinese restaurant, there were flashbacks of him teaching the others except for 002 how to cook. 006 has a vast knowledge of world cuisine which is also shown. Because he didn’t teach 002, as a result 002 can’t cook. He represents China.


Great Britain who is 007 is the actor of the group. He resembles the ups and downs of stardom. G.B. used to be a stage actor but let the success get to his head. He took up drinking as financial problems came to be. In combat situations, his thespian background comes in very handy enabling him to blend into the crowd. At the same time he can morph into objects, creatures, and other people. In short, he’s James Bond on steroids.


Pyunma is Cyborg 008. He used to be a guerilla fighter in Africa. 008 is the only pure combatant on the group who can fight hand-to-hand. He’s basically the "soldier" of the group who is a calm and serious fighter and a talented decision-maker when the situation calls of it. In a sense, he’s the leader of the group. 008 has mechanical lungs that enables him to survive for a long time underwater. He represents Africa along with the constant warring and strife.


Cyborg 009 presents a diversity of characters such as protagonists, villains, and support characters. A good number of villains are what you call your "tragic villains" whom are not driven towards a path of villany on purpose. They were dragged into this. My favorite tragic villain was Cyborg 0013 who was a kind-hearted mute that befriended Joe. In one episode, 0013 "kills" himself to stop himself from doing any harm.


The 2001 remake is slightly different from the ones from the 60s-70s. Yet, at the same time it remains true to the storyline and the element of what makes Cyborg 009 special in its own right.


Anime lovers should indeed watch Cyborg 009. The intellectual crowd will probably analyze this and mirror that with what’s going on in the world today. Left-wing crowd will definitely point out that Black Ghost is similar to Halliburton, Enron, Carlyle Group and so forth. Right-wing neoconservative crowd wouldn’t get it and would probably deem the anime as very "un-American."


Despite all of this, Cyborg 009 is an enjoyable anime series. There are story arcs and villains that are exclusive to the 2001 series as well.