Goldorak is a French bande dessinée (graphic novel) released in 2021, based on Gô Nagai’s UFO Robot Grendizer TV show (known as “Goldorak” in France), written by Xavier Dorison and Denis Bajram, illustrated by Denis Bajram, Brice Cossu and Alexis Sentenac, and colorized by Yoann Guillo. This graphic novel is made by people who were kids during the telecast of the series in France, and who are now writers and illustrators and had their project green lit by Gô Nagai.

The war between Vega and Goldorak ten years ago is now an old memory. Actarus (French name for Daisuke/Duke Fleed) and his sister have left our planet to rebuild their home world of Euphor (Fleed), while Alcor (Kabuto Kôji) and Vénusia (Hikaru) have moved to a more normal life. However, from space a new threat is coming, the Hydragon, a powerful Golgoth (Saucer Beast) lands and attacks Earth again. The last remaining people of Vega, searching for a new world after the destruction of their own one in the series, came to the blue planet with an ultimatum : people of Japan have seven days to leave the country and let the Vegans install themselves here, or they’ll wipe out the country. Will Goldorak be back to help them again ?

Goldorak is a project started in 2016 when the writers sent a letter to Gô Nagai with the story prototype and some illustrations to describe the project. The creator endorsed the project and the story has been written by Xavier Dorison and Denis Bajram. After four years of writing and drawing, the graphic novel came out in 2021, delayed because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Goldorak is set ten years after the end of the 1975 TV show and embrace a more adult and modern theme. It is similar to the 2017 Mazinger Z : Infinity movie, made for the 45th anniversary of Toei and Gô Nagai’s 50 years career, where the characters were older and approached more adult themes like having a job and a career, and thinking about having children.

In the Goldorak graphic novel, Kôji became the wealthy CTO of a tech company, while Hikaru is ending her medical studies. The Professor Umon retired and the Space Science Laboratory was locked down to avoid its technology secrets falling into military’s hands. The second Vegan invasion and its refugees crisis story seems to be inspired by the similar crisis that happened in Europe during the past years. The story narrates how the past conflicts of the previous show are obstructing a more peaceful solution and end-up to tragic situations. Also, we quickly understand something happened in Fleed and Duke get traumatized by these events. The story is clearly a call for putting down the ancient hate and past fights and learn from our differences to work together, it’s a peaceful call to a better understanding of each other installed into the Grendizer universe. The story is nicely developed and perfectly installed into our modern world, adding some technical explanations of the tech making Goldorak being able to move, without falling into a Star Trek-like techno-babble. Also, the story takes no account of the further Mazinger Saga installations and ignore Mazinger Z and Great Mazinger events. It’s clearly a stand alone and an alternative development of the Grendizer branch.

The graphic novel drawing is beautiful, presenting older characters but still recognizable. The staff was worried about the reaction of displaying Duke Fleed with a beard, but the reception seemed quite good. The drawing of Goldorak is also more realistic in its proportions and details, very detailed in the closer views. Its enemy, the Hydragon, is a little different from the usual Saucer Beasts we discovered in the TV Show, more organic with its unconventional construction made of numerous fibers.

Grendizer/Goldorak has been a very popular show in France during its first diffusion in 1978. Despite its telecast during summer (a traditional off-peak period, because the series was judged too violent), the show attained a 100% rating for some episodes. A lot of side products were created by various French brands (in a more or less good quality, some were really crappy) to surf on this popularity. I’m not old enough to have discovered the first diffusion of the show (I wasn’t born), but I’ve seen the end of its telecast on the public TV during the end of the 80’s and then, the series moved to cabled networks like a lot of other Japanese animation show imported by AB (for two main reasons… One because there was a cancel of Japanese animation in France because of some political beliefs, and the the other is because AB wanted to fill its cabled TV channels slots). During the 90’s, Goldorak disappeared progressively and became an old memory for old fans. The TV series reappeared in the news in 2005 when the publisher Déclic Images released a DVD Box, but they didn’t had the rights and the story ended-up into a legal pursuit from Toei and Dynamic. An official DVD Box has been released in 2013, including the French Version and the Original, uncensored, and restored. It was the first time I’ve could see again the show since I was kid.

Thanks to Goldorak, I’ve became a big fan of Robot Anime as you could see in some Animation articles of this blog. I’ve also explored the other stories of the Mazinger Saga and for this occasion, I’ll write some articles about it.