Chargeman Ken! went on to become one of the most legendary bad anime of the 70s with hilarious results.

Anime as we know it has been around for over 60 years, there are bound to be plenty of obscure and relatively unknown series to overseas fans. If they aren’t distributed overseas, or if someone is talking about them on a big platform like YouTube, these obscure series often won’t grab the attention of Western audiences. This is especially true for series that came out during the early years of the anime. One of these titles is a strange enigma from a series called Chargeman Ken!.

The first episode aired in April 1974 and the series ran for 65 episodes. Unlike its contemporaries, this series was broadcast in ten-minute increments from 5.30 p.m. to 5.40 p.m. Due to its short runtime, the stories are fairly straightforward and don’t really have an overall plot other than the protagonist battling aliens trying to take over the world. Its artistic style is quite reminiscent of other anime of the time like Speed ​​runner, which had aired about six years previously. So what is it that makes this anime so weird?

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Chargeman Ken Caron with a knife

The characters are part of the weirdness for which this series has become known. The protagonist is ten-year-old Ken Izumi, who fights the Juralian aliens as Chargeman. He used the light to transform, so the Juralians repeatedly try to keep his powers from activating throughout the story. That was largely normal for a series like this, but what it doesn’t is how brutal Ken is when fighting his enemies. He has killed all the Juralians he meets without hesitation, even those who have disengaged or who have never even done anything to him.

He didn’t see anything good in any of the Juralians, so he had no problem destroying their entire race. He also drove a car, which even in the future doesn’t seem like a good idea. The worst part is that his family encouraged his rampages. No one stopped this child from using blaster rays and cars to destroy other living creatures, which usually took human forms to blend into human society undetected. Ken even admitted that they’re not all bad in one episode, but has completely decimated them as the series continues. There are even implications that not everyone he kills was an alien.

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Chargeman Ken Poster

The production of Chargeman Ken! is just as strange as the show itself. Not only did the episodes air out of order, the staff cared so little about the show that they once decided to go to the beach instead of working on it. Each episode only got about 500,000 yen for animation, which in today’s money would be about US $ 5,000. The background music looped for the same six seconds, the animation was sometimes upside down, some scenes had no animation and were just cut from frame to frame, and there are scenes where a section of hair occupies some of the images.

In 2007, the series saw a surge of support when a DVD box set came out and people started to learn how bad this anime was. Even this was considered odd as they put the episodes in a different order than they originally aired. 2chan and NicoNico users started talking about how the show was so bad it was good and this led to the show’s popularity online. In 2010, an official anime website launched and in 2019 and 2020 there was even a stage production, which included the infamous hair on the marketing poster. Diskotek also released a box set in America in 2017. In 2021, a Blu-ray box set was released for the series.

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Chargeman Ken cel cut

Chargeman Ken! has become one of those series that people watch and can’t help but admire how terrible it is. As YouTuber Kenny Lauderdale says in his video on the series, “You think you are ready for this, but you are not.” Some even think he should receive the Ghost stories treatment and be dubbed in the same way as this legendary bad series. It became a memorable and lovable disaster in his home country of Japan and thanks to the internet even overseas fans can appreciate how terrible it is.

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