Wonder 3, The

Tagged: TV

Japanese animated tv series (1965-1966; vt W3; vt The Amazing 3). Based on the Manga by Osamu Tezuka, though with new stories. Mushi Productions. Directed by Taku Sugiyama. Writers include Osamu Tezuka and Ichirō Wakabayashi. Voice cast includes Shinsuke Chikaishi, Yoshio Kaneuchi, Yasuo Kojima, Kazuko Sawada and Fuyumi Shiraishi. 52 27-minute episodes. Black & White.

In 1970 the Galaxy's politicians (see Politics) argue over whether our War-riven planet should be saved or destroyed. They send The Wonder 3, veterans of the Galactic Patrol, to Earth with a neutron bomb: they will spend a year here judging us, then decide whether to detonate it. With their boss's farewell cry of "no mercy for unworthy humans", Nokko (Kojima), Pukko (Chikaishi) and captain Bokko (Shiraishi) are sent on their way.

On landing, their Spaceship grabs three animals to use as templates, transforming the humanoid Aliens into a Superpowered rabbit (the reasonable and kindly Bokko), duck (the Beatle-haircutted and grouchy Pukko) and horse (the inventive but naive Nokko). Teenager Shinichi (Sawada) sees this, but is promptly mind-wiped (see Memory Edit), though when the 3 accidentally start a fire, he saves them. Shortly after, his secret agent brother Koichi (Kaneuchi) is captured by an evil organization, so Shinichi goes to rescue him: the 3 decide to help, revealing themselves. Though Shinichi's kindness impresses Bokko and Nokko, Pukko points to the violence of the evil organization, insisting, "Let's just blow up the Earth!" Nokko retorts, "But isn't blowing things up also violent?" Throughout the series Bokko is sympathetic to the Earth (developing a crush on Shinichi), Pukko hostile and Nokko equivocal.

Stories are fairly routine, with Koichi's forgettable James Bond-like adventures often prominent. Serious topics are sometimes broached: a forest is to be cleared by a developer and Bokko wonders why humans destroy nature (see Ecology) – though, given she might end up destroying all nature, this seems a little hypocritical; an industrialist believes there is no place for Art, Music or archaeology in the world, but finds room for Slavery; the 3 are concerned by Earth's Pollution – when Pukko flies off and is quickly out of sight, Nokko remarks on how fast he must be flying and Bokko has to point out that he has disappeared into the smog; Pukko, disgusted by the war and poverty on Earth, decides to explode the bomb unilaterally – but it falls into the hands of thieves who steal from the rich to help the poor. Villains and the misguided often have swift changes of heart due to Shinichi's heartfelt but platitude-laden pleading.

Other stories include a mechanical mole drilling through the Earth's mantle (see Underground), causing earthquakes; alien criminals plotting to take over the Earth (see Invasion); and a politician creating tanks and Monsters from stolen alien Technology. In the finale the 3 are told to destroy the Earth: Kiochi sends in troops to stop them, but their ship turns into a Mecha. Nevertheless, the 3 can't bring themselves to detonate the bomb, so take Shinichi to the galactic authorities. Unfortunately, when his arguments are dismissed he confirms their opinion by assaulting them, but Bokko pleads his case and the Earth is given the chance to improve: the series ends with Bokko temporarily turned human and seeking out Shinichi.

Though elements such as its social concerns and (given the era) the 3 having a female leader (see Feminism) are of interest, the characters' lack of depth, combined with the weakness of the action and Humour, means the series is a largely unmemorable. One exception is seeing a villain in a children's cartoon having his arm ripped off. [SP]

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