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Superbook
Superbook.JPG
Superbook Series I
アニメ 親子劇場
パソコントラベル探偵団

(Anime Oyako Gekijō)
(Pasokon Toraberu Tanteidan
)
Genre Science Fiction
TV anime
Director Masakazu Higuchi
Writer Kenjiro Yoshida
Studio Tatsunoko Productions
Network TV Tokyo
Original run October 1, 1981March 29, 1982
Episodes 26
TV anime
Superbook II
Director Masakazu Higuchi
Writer Kenjiro Yoshida
Studio Tatsunoko Productions
Network TV Tokyo
Original run April 4, 1983September 26, 1983
Episodes 26
Anime and Manga Portal

Superbook, also known as Animated Parent and Child Theater (アニメ 親子劇場 Anime Oyako Gekijō ?), is an anime television series produced by Tatsunoko Productions in Japan in conjunction with the Christian Broadcasting Network in the United States.

The series chronicled the events of the Bible's Old and New Testaments in its 52 episode run. The first 26 episodes aired from October 1, 1981 to March 29, 1982. The series returned as Superbook II (パソコントラベル探偵団 Pasokon Toraberu Tanteidan ?, lit. Personal Computer Travel Detectives) with 26 episodes to air from April 4, 1983 to September 26, 1983. Between both series in the first run was the companion series The Flying House. The Christian Broadcasting Network is currently producing a new Superbook series and has released the first episode [1][2].

The original series was broadcast on TV Tokyo, CBN Cable (now ABC Family), and in syndication. It was previously seen on the Trinity Broadcasting Network, but is currently off the schedule. It can now be seen on that network's Smile of a Child digital subchannel-distributed network. It is now also currently airing on the NRB Network (National Religious Broadcasters) and the Gospel Channel in the United Kingdom. The Spanish version can be seen on different Spanish stations like the Chilean TV Station, UCV Televisión at 6am from Monday to Friday. It was also broadcast in the Philippines through GMA-7 and Zoe TV-11 (Now Q).

The concept of a boy, a girl, and a robot traveling through time together was previously visited in Tatsunoko's Time Bokan series of action-adventure shows. However, there are no villains in this series, or in the aforementioned Flying House series.

Contents

The story

The first series (Anime Oyako Gekijo) began at the home of a young boy named Christopher Peepers (Sho Azuka in Japanese) who discovers the magical Bible "Superbook" (Timebook) that speaks and sends him, his friend Joy (Azusa Yamato), and his toy robot Gizmo (Zenmaijikake) back in time to the early events of the Old Testament. Gizmo can walk and talk, but only for the duration of the adventure (and he still needs to be wound up regularly).

In the first episode, Chris and Joy were cleaning the attic for Chris's father (a somewhat eccentric college professor) when they noticed an old book glowing. The children tried to open the book, but were unable to open it, no matter how hard they pulled. The book promptly opened on its own, shining a blinding light around Chris's bedroom, and started to speak before whisking the children and Gizmo back in time to the Garden of Eden to experience the story of Adam and Eve.

In Superbook II (Pasokon Travel Tanteidan), which took place two years after the first series, the book fell onto a computer keyboard, giving anybody the ability to see into the past from Christopher's home via the monitor. Ruffles, Chris' dog, managed to get lost in time, prompting Gizmo and Chris' cousin Uriah (or "Uri" for short; Hisashi in the original Japanese) to search for her. Chris and Joy kept watch and control of the computer from the present. The older children also had a hard time trying to keep what happened a secret from Chris's parents. Gizmo appears as a functioning robot in the present day rather than a toy in the second series, but still needed to be wound up on a regular basis. Gizmo also had a built in computer keyboard and monitor in his chest in order for Gizmo and Uri to stay in contact with Chris and Joy in the present day as well as transporting to other places in time or returning back to the present.

The first series of Superbook featured chiefly stories from the Hebrew Scriptures (Old Testament), although a few episodes dealt with the life and ministry of Jesus Christ and the finale episode was about the conversion of Paul of Tarsus. The episodes in the first series are chiefly one-shot stories, with no overarching "plot" aside from Chris and Joy learning life lessons from their travels in the Superbook. However, some condensation or editing of stories was necessary in order to fit them into half-hour episodes and make them suitable for young viewers. Also, some additional edits were necessary for the English versions to make the episodes conform to American broadcast standards.

The episodes in Season Two focused solely on Old Testament stories. Season Two covered some stories featured in Season One (for example, the stories of Abraham, Joseph and King David) in more detail, while also covering some stories not included in the first series (i.e. the fall of Sodom and Gomorrah). In Season Two, the overarching plot concern was Uri and Gizmo's quest to find the missing Ruffles. Likewise, The Flying House, which originally aired in Japan between the two Superbook series, was a more in-depth look at the life of Jesus and other events from the Christian Scriptures (New Testament). Additionally, unlike season 1 (and by extension the aforementioned Flying House series), interaction between the modern day characters and the Biblical characters in season 2 is minimal; each episode is mostly a straightforward adaptation of the Biblical stories shown, occurring while Uri and Gizmo are searching for Ruffles.

A box set of episodes was recently announced for a 2008 release[3].

The significance of Superbook

According to CBN's official Superbook Website, Superbook was born of a desire by evangelist and CBN head Pat Robertson to reach Japan, where Christians constitute a minority of the population. Research conducted by CBN in Japan during the late 1970s and early 1980s indicated that children were likely to be the most receptive audience to Bible stories and that the best way to reach them was through Christian anime and manga. Thus, CBN contracted with Yomiuri Advertising (also known as "Yomiko") and Tatsunoko Production to create and market an anime series that would help drive Bible sales in the Japanese market. In this and in audience ratings, Superbook was a success, and the series was rerun frequently on local stations in Japan through the 1980s.

CBN originally did not plan to release the series outside of Japan, since Japanese animation was not considered marketable in the West at the time and since anime fandom in America was still in its infancy. Reportedly, the network was encouraged by a positive response to the series at a convention in France and went on to prepare the English-dubbed version that would be aired on U.S. television in 1982. Still, CBN, at least in the United States, did not promote the series as being Japanese in origin, and in fact removed all Japanese names from the English credits aside from a token credit for Tatsunoko for the animation production.

In the United States, Superbook was the first Christian-themed animated series to be syndicated to TV stations since Davey and Goliath in the 1960s.

To this day, the series has a loyal and devoted fan following around the world, among adults who grew up watching it as well as youngsters. In addition to the United States and Japan, the series has been aired in various other territories around Europe, Asia, Latin America, and Africa. Superbook was very popular on national television in Kenya, and also in the predominantly Muslim nation of Senegal, where it was reportedly the first Christian-themed program ever broadcast on TV. One of Superbook's greatest successes has been in the former Soviet Union. In the Ukraine, the anime inspired a live-action Barney and Friends-style children's program titled Superbook Club (with the robot Gizmo, or "Robik" in Ukrainian, as the mascot), and there are also several Superbook Club music albums aimed at children.

Superbook also provided early directorial jobs for some directors who would go on to be legendary in the Japanese animation industry, such as Kazuo Yamazaki (Urusei Yatsura, The Slayers) and Osamu Sekita (My My Mai, Beyblade, Saber Marionette J and a number of Mobile Suit Gundam TV series).

The Superbook series as a whole is ranked #2 on The Top 8 Christian Cartoon Series List just ahead of sister series, The Flying House, which ranked #3.

Opening Sequences

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Original open

The English and Spanish versions have separate opening theme songs. While the English version has its own ending theme (which is an English version of the original Japanese opening theme, with the same animation sequence as the Japanese opening), the Spanish version repeats the opening theme. The Italian version used the same opening and ending animation sequences as the original Japanese, but as with the Spanish version, the same song (different from the English or Japanese songs, but with the same melody as the Spanish version) was used for both sequences. Some other non-English versions of the series, including the Arabic version, used the English opening and ending.

1984 Open

The English dub of Series II used a completely different opening theme song from that of Series I, one that was very 1980s-sounding and heavy on synthesizers to fit the motif of the newly "computerized" Superbook. The ending theme was a largely instrumental (except for the chorus repeating "Superbook!" over and over) version of the opening.

Criticisms

Superbook has been criticized by some Christian conservatives in the United States for "condensing" or "glossing over" the Bible stories it portrayed, and for introduction of modern characters into the stories which might confuse young readers who would be disappointed not to find two modern children and a talking robot in the real Bible. (This review of the episodes "The Test" and "Here Comes the Bride" illustrates some of the concerns religious conservatives have voiced about Superbook.)

Episode lists

Series I

NOTE: Japanese titles in Romaji are listed first, followed by a translation of the Japanese title, the official English dub episode title, and, if necessary, a note about the characters and/or events portrayed in the episode.

  1. Adamu to eba monogatari (The story of Adam and Eve) / "How It All Began"^
  2. Kain to aberu monogatari (The story of Cain and Abel) / "My Brother's Keeper"
  3. Noa no hakobune monogatari (The story of Noah's ark) / "The Flood"
  4. Idai na chichi no monogatari (The story of the great father) / "The Test" (Abraham and Isaac)
  5. Takoku no hanayome monogatari (The story of the foreign bride) / "Here Comes the Bride" (Isaac and Rebekah)
  6. Futago no kyodai monogatari (The story of the twin brothers) / "Double Trouble" (Jacob and Esau)
  7. Maho no tsue monogatari (The story of the governor and his brothers) / "A Dream Come True" (Joseph)
  8. Ejiputo monogatari (The story of the magical stick) / "The Miracle Rod" (Moses and the Exodus)
  9. Fushigi na rappa monogatari (The story of the wondrous bugle) / "Those Amazing Trumpets" (Joshua and the fall of Jericho)
  10. Sanbyakko no tsubo monogatari (The story of the 300 pots) / "Pitchers of Fire" (Gideon)
  11. Kairiki monogatari (The story of Herculean strength) / "Muscleman" (Samson and Delilah)
  12. Uma goya monogatari (The story of the stable) / "The First Christmas"
  13. Iesu no kiseki monogatari (The story of the miracles of Jesus) / "Miracles of Love"
  14. Karappo no haka monogatari (The story of the empty tomb) / "The Best News Yet" (The death and resurrection of Jesus)
  15. Oya koko monogatari (The story of the faithful child) / "Mother's Day" (Ruth and Naomi)
  16. Akuma no yuwaku monogatari (The story of the devil's temptation) / "The Patience of Job"
  17. Kujira ni nomareta otoko no monogatari (The story of the man swallowed by a whale) / "Big Fish and Little Fish" (Jonah)
  18. Roba kokuo monogatari (The story of the donkey king) / "The First King" (Samuel and Saul)
  19. Dabide monogatari (The story of David) / "The Giant Killer"
  20. Soromon monogatari (The story of King Solomon) / "Superbrain"
  21. Yogensha eriya monogatari (The story of the prophet Elijah) / "A True Prophet"
  22. Hi no sensha monogatari (The story of the fiery tank) / "Flaming Chariots" (Elisha)
  23. Raion no ana monogatari (The story of the lion's den) / "The Lion's Den" (Daniel)
  24. Kagayaku joheki monogatari (The story of the shining castle walls) / "Nehemiah and the Walls of Jerusalem"
  25. Utsukushii ohi no monogatari (The story of the beautiful princess) / "The Beauty Queen" (Esther)
  26. Sekai no hate made monogatari (The story until the ends of the earth) / "The Mighty Convert" (Paul of Tarsus)

^-(It should be noted that while not explicit, this episode nonetheless does contain semi-uncensored nudity, even in the American version.)

Series II

NOTE: Only the official English dub titles are listed here.

  1. "Where, Oh Where..." - the series premiere in which Ruffles is sucked into the newly "computerized" Superbook.
  2. "Hot Dog"
  3. "The Test Of Obedience"
  4. "Love at First Sight" - the above four episodes are the story of Abraham and Isaac, including the fall of Sodom and Gomorrah.
  5. "Father's Pet"
  6. "All About Dreams"
  7. "The Hostage"
  8. "The Family Reunion" - the above four episodes are the story of Joseph.
  9. "A Gift From Heaven"
  10. "The Burning Bush"
  11. "No More Plagues"
  12. "So You Want To Go Back To Egypt!" - the above four episodes are the story of Moses and the Israelites' exodus from Egypt.
  13. "Snakes and a Donkey" - Joshua
  14. "Worth Fighting For" - Othniel
  15. "The Good Left Arm" - Ehud and King Eglon
  16. "Stick In The Mud" - Deborah and Barak
  17. "That's A Promise" - Jephthah's vow
  18. "Just Rewards" - Eli and Samuel
  19. "A Wonderful Gift" - Saul is anointed king of Israel
  20. "The Mighty Little Shepherd"
  21. "The Bigger They Come"
  22. "Faithful and True"
  23. "David the King" - the above four episodes are the story of David, including his fight with Goliath and his friendship with Jonathan.
  24. "In All His Glory" - King Solomon
  25. "The Wicked Queen" - Athaliah and Jehoash
  26. "A Matter Of Time" - King Hezekiah and the prophet Isaiah

New 3D Series

  1. "A Giant Adventure" - David and Goliath

Other titles

  • Chinese: 妙妙書 ("Wonder Wonder Book")
  • German: Superbuch
  • Polish: Superksiega
  • Portuguese: Super Livro; O Livro Incrível (in this version, the Super Book itself is simply called "Bíblía" [Bible].)
  • Spanish: El Super Libro
  • Swedish: Superbook - Böckernas bok
  • Italian: Storie Della Bibbia; Superbook; Libro di Libri ("Book of Books")
  • Afrikaans: Wonder Boek; ("Book of Wonder")
  • Finnish: Superkirja
  • Hungarian: Könyvek Könyve ("Book of Books")
  • Romanian: Cartea Cărţilor ("Book of Books")
  • Russian: Суперкнига
  • Latvian: Grāmatu grāmata

Trivia

  • In the Spanish version, Sho/Chris is "Luis", Azusa/Joy is "Anita" (though it sounds like "Nita"), and Zenmaijikake/Gizmo is "Tuercas". Chris is also known as "Christian" in German and "Ricky" in the Italian dub; Joy is "Maria" or "Ri" for short in German and "Susie" in Italian.
  • Ray Owens narrates as Superbook in the first series. In the second series Owens narrates in third person.
  • Gizmo has to be wound up in order to keep going (even though he can walk by himself and talk to them, he is still a toy). This is occasionally a source of comic relief in the series - on one occasion, Joy refused to rewind Gizmo's clockwork because Gizmo and Chris were cracking jokes about her. Also, in Episode One, Gizmo's clockwork winds down before he can reach Eve and stop her from taking a bite of the forbidden fruit.
  • A new Superbook series is currently in production for upcoming release.[1] The first episode, of which, has been completed. [4]

English cast

  • Billie Lou Watt (Christopher Peeper, Eve, Gizmo in Season 2)
  • Hal Studer (Adam, Satan, additional voices)
  • Helena Van Cort (Gizmo in season 1, Uri)
  • Peter Fernandez (additional voices)
  • Ray Owens (Superbook, Narrator, God, Professor Fred Peeper, the serpent, Joseph)
  • Sonia Owens (Joy, Mrs. Peeper, Mary)

See also

References

  1. ^ a b "Superbook Reimagined: 27 Years Later". YouTube. 2008-11-10. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=45TyTBf-H14. Retrieved 2009-10-28.  
  2. ^ "Superbook". CBN.com. 2007-11-30. http://www.cbn.com/superbook/. Retrieved 2009-10-28.  
  3. ^ "Official Superbook Fan Site". Cbn.com. http://www.cbn.com/kids/superbook/. Retrieved 2009-10-28.  
  4. ^ "Superbook". CBN.com. 2007-11-30. http://www.cbn.com/superbook/. Retrieved 2009-10-28.  

External links


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