Chargeman Ken is a 1974 short anime series that ran for 65, seven minute episodes. The series is available LEGALLY for FREE via Crunchyroll.
Chargeman Ken just might be the best, most awful thing in anime. And I mean that in a nice way.
The 65 episode series is so unashamedly awful that it has redefined internet memes decades after it's final airing. And yet, it's the awfulness of the entire visual package that makes it a must see. From it's shoddy, rushed animation, to it's blatant design stealing of Speed Racer and Johnny Quest, it's lack of sound effects and it's absentee plots, the show is actually so bad, it's fantastic.
Rating this anime was a chore. While I doubt that anybody watching this will ever consider a majority of it's episodes to be "imitative behavior" the sudden shock value violence that randomly appears disqualifies it from the Tween rating I almost gave it. It's astounding to think that this qualified as "children's entertainment" in 1974 when you consider how many episodes feature death and cruelty just out of the blue.
Chargeman Ken follows the story of a ten year old little boy, who lives in the distant and highly robotic year of 2074. Everyone has flying cars, everyone has at least one annoying robot sidekick, and Ken randomly transforms into a magical boy.
Where did he get his powers from? Why does he have them? This is never explained. Ever.
Ken has a deadly laser gun, has his own flying car, and two of the most negligent parents in all of anime. His mother and father let him out at all hours of the day and night, and do not seem to care at all that their ten year old is fighting an entire race of aliens by himself, and often, past curfew. They watch him frequently get himself into life and death situations, yet stand still and offer him no form of support.
Accompanying Ken is his six-then-seven year old little sister Caron, who wears far too much makeup, a dress that qualifies as just a long shirt, old lady beads and often, a pair of shoes the animators frequently forget to finish drawing. Since Ken's parents are unbelievably useless, it's up to Ken to raise his sister, though being a little boy still, he sometimes teases her. They are joined by a robot named Barican, who is equally as worthless as Ken's parents, only very, very vocal.
Ken's main enemies come from the Juralian race, led by a demonic alien who can't seem to plan ahead. No explanation is given for these people - or most of the plot for that matter, so let's just say they're here for world domination. Sound good? Cool.
Since every other human Ken meets is really one of these aliens in disguise, Ken finds himself having just moments to scream "CHARGING GO!!" the transformation phrase that turns him into Chargeman Ken... where he does a slow backflip and gets himself a new helmet and a belt. Seriously. That's it. Even when not transformed, he is usually wearing three quarters of his own costume ALL THE TIME unless he is sleeping. It's like if Clark Kent were to walk around with the entire Superman costume, and then scream "This looks like a job for Superman" and just add the cape.
Once transformed, Ken engages the aliens in a short batter, before either shooting them outright, or firing a laser from his plane. Even in the final episode, where the army is called in to help, Ken is relegated to just two or three blasts and *poof* the day is saved.
The only consistent weaknesses he has would be darkness and a sore throat. Without the combination of light and his screaming "CHARGEMAN GO!!" he cannot transform into Chargeman Ken. This again, is never explained. Much like the existence of a children's toy line for this series, it just plain "is".
Chargeman Ken is rife with animation errors, cel slips and some of the most sporadic violence of any anime of it's kind, and yet all of it's flaws makes this show a guilty pleasure. You just haven't lived until you've binged this short anime.
Codename Sailor earth
Codename Sailor Earth is a lifelong anime and wrestling fan. IRL she is cartoonist Koriander Bullard, formerly Koriander Ake, a happily married Chicagoan. Her favorite anime is Sailor Moon. A baby in the late 80's, the first anime titles she ever saw were Speed Racer, Voltron and Robotech.