Tezuka’s Amazing Three

amazing3neg.jpgPerhaps the most obscure of the pioneering anime series imported to the U.S. in the 1960s was Osamu Tezuka’s The Amazing Three. Why has it has been missing-in-action for so long? Perhaps because, unlike Astro Boy, Gigantor, 8th Man and Prince Planet the show did not feature a costumed super-hero or high tech robot. Or perhaps, unlike Speed Racer and Kimba, the show wasn’t produced in color.
amazingthree.jpg
It did have a science fiction premise – three aliens come to Earth disguised as a rabbit, a duck and a horse and must decide if they should blow up the planet, or save it. The design of this show was faithful to Tezuka’s original manga, and the stories were always a fun mix of comedy, drama and action.

Now, as all things must, it has shown up on ebay. Someone has found twelve original negatives to the English dubbed version in the vaults of Los Angeles’s KCOP-13 and is selling them on ebay for $24,000. Close up images of these negs can be viewed here. Note that one is marked for use by New York’s TV station WPIX (where I saw it as a kid).

Twenty-four Grand is too rich for my blood. Let’s hope someone smart acquires this material and puts it out on DVD for all of us to enjoy. In the meantime, courtesy of Toontracker (via You Tube), here is the rarely seen opening to the American version:


  • http://captainwrong.net Captain Wrong

    Presumably, wouldn’t the rights to this stuff belong to someone? I really don’t know how all that works.

    Also, $24k is pretty big. Could someone get a return on that even if the rights weren’t an issue?

    Hope so though. This looks neat.

  • Eddie Mort

    I used to watch this as a kid in Australia. It was my all time favorite show, and the theme song was the best!

  • Del Walker

    Bizarre! I don’t remember this, though 8th-Man and Gigantor did appear in the Seattle Tacoma WA market in the late 1960′s. The premise seems just a bit garbled for the 7-10 year old market, perhaps that’s why it wasn’t as popular ?? Was Fred Ladd involved in transmuting this series over to a US audience as well, ala Gigantor?

  • Fred Patten

    $24,000 would be a lot even if it was all 52 episodes, but it is only 12 of them!? Also, what condition are the negatives in? Streamline Pictures licensed the rights to Colonel Bleep in the 1990s and found that many of the negatives were too deteriorated to be usable. No, Fred Ladd has said that he did not work on this series.

  • http://ryuuseipro.deviantart.com John Paul Cassidy

    FYI, WONDER 3 was the original Japanese title.

    I prefer the original Japanese theme song (a comical jazz tune), which I thought was cute. The US version’s theme was slightly identical in tune to the Japanese theme.

    I saw a clip of AMAZING 3 on a video called BAD AMERICAN DUBBING 2 (by Corn Pone Flicks), and the clip they had was right on target! (“We all know what bunnies are popular for!”)

    Otherwise, this is quite a surprise! (This reminds me of Tsuburaya’s acquiring all of the US elements for ULTRAMAN, found in a warehouse a decade ago; They were not used for the not-so-legit US DVD release, due to a legal battle that finally ended early this year; Long, different story.)

  • http://www.commanderkitty.com Scotty A

    Weren’t the original tapes destroyed in a fire or something?

  • Alex

    Hmm… cool to see these on the market anyway.

    The Amazing Three were actually bosses in the amazing Astro Boy video game for the Game Boy Advance… so they have returned before!

  • http://www.tjrmusic.com TJR

    WOW! I remember seeing this show as a very small child. It remained a vivid memory for me and I remember going to comic conventions (before the internet) and describing the show to vendors who specialized in old and rare TV shows on VHS that where not commercially available (this was before DVD too).

    No one I talked to could remember or knew about this show and I started to wonder if it wasn’t just something that I made up or remember wrong.

    It wasn’t untill some years ago when internet use became common that I was able to find some info on it. Sadly the posting stated that there where no longer any original negatives of the series (as far as they knew at the time) and that is why it is not available anywhere.

    So this is a real find. I hope someone can put it on DVD.

  • Russell H

    WONDER 3 was the original Japanese title, yes. A few years ago the complete series (in Japanese) was released in Japan on Region 2 DVD. I just checked and it’s still available from CDJapan.

  • http://www.frankpanucci.com FP

    I never saw this show, but I’ve had a recording of the theme song for years. It’s one of the most awful clumsy, clunky things ever, totally banal and at least partially deranged. I listen to it all the time. CLICK HERE TO DOWNLOAD

  • http://www.animationinsider.net/ Aaron H. Bynum

    You don’t have to pay attention to those gorgeous character designs or quirky if not obnoxious personalities to tell it’s from a Tezuka project… which I’ve always loved about his work. Those strange comedic elements of animal self-awareness, which Tezuka frequently used, that is absent in western literature, is enough to pull me in.

  • Lloyd Carter

    I haven’t seen the show in years. We need more classic Tezuka shows on DVD.

  • OM

    …Jerry, wasn’t the announcer for this the same guy who did most of Filmation’s intros in their early years? That voice sounds really familiar.

  • Michael J. Hayde

    The “WPIX” marking may have a different meaning. A little personal trivia: my mother was working as a temp (secretarial) back in the day, and for a time she was assigned to WPIX. She happened to be there when the dubbing sessions for that series were taking place.

    So “The Amazing 3″ actually was DUBBED at WPIX studios in NY.

    On a related animated note: the building also housed WPIX’s radio station, and during her brief stint my mother came home with some very cool promo records that they didn’t want to use. One of them I still have: “Looking For The Beagles” b/w “I Wanna Capture You” – complete with picture sleeve!

  • droosan

    I have the complete Wonder 3 series in a (japanese-language only) laserdisc boxed set (for roughly 1/100 that eBay price). It’s a very fun series to watch, in any language!

    Another (semi) obscure Tezuka animated series from that period, which I also have on japanese laserdisc, is Ribbon No Kishi (aka: Princess Knight), featuring the adventures of a fairy-tale princess who must pose as a prince to preserve her family’s royal heritage. Unlike W3, it was shot in color, and featured many visuals directly inspired by its contemporary, Disney’s Sleeping Beauty.

  • http://gagaman.blogspot.com The Gagaman

    Wow, I had known of Wonder 3 but never knew there was a dub of it. Interesting.

  • Keith Paynter

    Sorry, the program eludes me, but it is a fascinating find nonetheless.

    However, the lesson here needs to be: Never use Babelfish to translate your original script into another language for the webpage…

    - “I have the pleasure to enclose these documents to him:”
    - “OPENING IN the USA IN 1967, and SOME EPISODES OF the 52 TOTALS WERE EMITTED, IN the TV CHANNEL KCOP-13 L.A (by means of the original one of 16 mm).”
    - “ALL the PAGES Internet WEB ASSURE THAT IT IS NOT NEITHER KNOWS the EXISTENCE COPIES OF ORIGINAL OF the 16 MM (either any format of cinema), NOR IN the USA, NOR IN HISPANIC AMERICA.”

    Priceless…

  • http://robcatview.blogspot.com robcat2075

    I nominate the tone-deaf performance of the lame theme song as a contributing factor in the series’ poor success here.

    Say what we may about Hanna-Barbera, they seemed to know the value of a great theme song.

  • http://billfieldtrip.blogspot.com/ Bill Field

    Princess Knight ran on Checkers and Pogo- the KGMB kids show in Hawaii, I still can’t get Choppy’s song out of my head- this is one more Tezuka series that you can really see his love of American Classic Animation come shining through- but there is so much uniquely Tezuka to anything he did that I never feel like he’s ripping off a style or technique, but rather paying homage to the likes of Max and Walt. Fred Patten, I agree with you that this seems far too costly, but what an awesome find this is, none the less- and Michael Hayde’s memories of the dubbing being done at WPIX, is really a fascinating bit of info, as well.

  • http://cheekyentertainment.blogspot.com/ Craig Clark

    I clearly remember this series as a kid, I’ll never forget the “giant tire hot rod” with the bubble windows they used to drive around in. You can get 4 episodes on tape from here … Coolstufftoys.com.

  • Chris Sobieniak

    > Was Fred Ladd involved in transmuting this series over to a US audience as well, ala Gigantor?

    It’s been said in a few places the people responsible for “Amazing Three” was Copri International down in Miami, whom also dubbed 8Man into English as “Eighth Man”. Their talent tend to come from local community theater players to high school students I’ve read.

    Here’s a good blog entry on this subject of 60′s anime…
    http://mercurie.blogspot.com/2007/05/anime-wave-on-american-television-in_28.html

    Noticed a mention for Princess Knight, there’s a show that needs to be restored/released in a proper way here (or elsewhere people had seen it under it’s “Choppy & The Princess” title). Joe Oriolo (of “Felix the Cat” and “The Mighty Hercules” fame to name a few) had the US rights to this series, but a deal to get the show run fell apart with a business partner he had, and the show found sporadic airings in places like Australia and some US stations in later years. It’s recently been discovered English masters for Princess Knight are held by a Dutch company, and Right Stuf International/Nozomi Entertainment has been in talks with them over acquiring the necessary materials for a possible DVD release here but I haven’t heard anything new about that.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Princess_Knight

    It would be wise for Right Stuf not to pass up this if they place a bid for it right now, or else THIS GUY could easily do something about it!
    http://8thman.com/vintageanime/vanama.htm
    http://8store.8thman.com/a3.htm

  • Kevin Wollenweber

    Well, the beautiful boxes of “ASTRO BOY” and “KIMBA THE WHITE LION” were pure fan projects, clearly showing just what ardent fans can do if they have all the resources; so perhaps it is possible that we will someday see some sort of translation into English of this “AMAZING THREE” series and, with the availability of the Japanese-language versions of “AMAZING THREE”, there could be some stunning special features. It is a shame, overall, though, that better care of the English language versions of these Tezuka properties were not taken. Yet, if indeed the English language versions of the episodes in this series were as local as being dubbed by people at a TV station, well, why not find dedicated actors to re-record the English tracks, or just issue the original Japanese language versions, complete with original theme, and just add the newly recorded English language versions as the special features! That way, you have the best of both worlds. Hey, I know I liked “KIMBA” and its take on animal life, so I know I’ll be thrilled to check out this little-known treat if attempts are made to bring the series to DVD! Anyone at Right Stuff reading these blogspots and comments?

  • Chris Sobieniak

    Nice to see a Right Stuf devotee here. When that company first started some 20 years ago, Astro Boy was it’s first VHS release, despite less than half of the series getting released on tape at the time from scant sources they had to use at the time, and the thought of releasing Kimba was still far out of their minds due to issues with the rights and similar limited resources to go from, but it feels so glad to see both shows finally released completely on DVD today (despite only half of the 60′s Tetsuwan Atom getting dubbed into English anyway), it’s an accomplishment I never thought would ever be done.

  • Steve Gattuso

    I remember watching this on KCOP. Perhaps not the heady heights of “Akira,” “Princess Mononoke,” or “Perfect Blue,” but it was the first animation from Japan I ever saw.

  • MadRat

    Hey Russel H is right you CAN get the complete Wonder 3 series in Japanese from cdjapan for $183. (http://www.cdjapan.co.jp/detailview.html?KEY=XT-2064) None of the anime websites mention this series so it must be rare. I’m envious that some of you have been able to see this show as well as Princess Knight which I’ve always wanted to see.

  • Chris Sobieniak

    Of course that is the typical otaku-level pricing they do for shows over in Japan mind you. Normal people can’t fathom what level of sacrifice is made to get these babies in today’s world (much faster of course than the days of dealing with ‘middle men’ and pick and choosing from a catalog because you couldn’t read Japanese anyway).

  • Inkan1969

    Wow, I had never heard of this Tezuka series. But now I’m totally intrigued. The character designs are very appealing. That rabbit is GORGEOUS. :-)

  • http://www.animejump.com Mike Toole

    Man, I wish I had a spare $24,000!

    I’m a big fan of this series, I’ve got about half a dozen episodes on tape. Sadly, they’re in pretty poor quality. At any rate, I am very pleased that these 16mm prints even exist, and look to be in at least somewhat decent shape– I’ve long heard that the English masters of Amazing Three were destroyed decades ago. I keep meaning to get those Japanese DVDs– while Astroboy is a lot of fun to watch, for me W3 was the first real evidence that Tezuka and his staff were refining their craft and starting to make great animation, just months before the explosively in-color Kimba wowed global audiences. Be sure to seek out the Japanese OP (it’s on YouTube as well) as it’s way more expressive and weird than the English one.

    As for Choppy, you can get questionably-legit English DVDs from the UK– sendit.com has ‘em. They’re not great– mastered from pretty dirty, specky 16mm masters– but beggars can’t be choosers.

    As for W3, I spent a merry half hour at Anime Boston making the pitch to Vertical Publishing (who’ve formed a strong partership with Tezuka Productions, releasing Tezuka manga classics like Buddha, MW, Apollo, Dororo, and soon Black Jack) to release the original manga. It’s a wonderfully fun story, and the comics version is blessedly short at about 600 pages.

  • Johnboy

    This was my favorite cartoon as a kid back in the 1960′s. I hope somehow, someday a DvD set will be issued. And yeah I still remember the theme song and I was thrilled to hear it again. The bunny was kind of sexy, her name was Bonnie. The duck was “Zero” and he was a big complainer. The horse I cannot remember his name, he was intelligent. He would build space ships out of scrap metal while spinning inside of a small tornado. A really crazy cartoon in a cool way.

  • http://funideas.home.att.net Mark Arnold

    In reference to Michael J. Hayde’s comment:

    “On a related animated note: the building also housed WPIX’s radio station, and during her brief stint my mother came home with some very cool promo records that they didn’t want to use. One of them I still have: “Looking For The Beagles” b/w “I Wanna Capture You” – complete with picture sleeve!”

    Is it possible you could do a high res 300dpi color scan of that picture sleeve for my upcoming TTV book? Please email me at [email protected] if you get this…

  • Francisco

    Attention Collectors, last opportunity to secure this Treasure.

    http://cgi.ebay.com/Original-Negatives-AMAZING-THREE-Osamu-Tezuka-16MM-/320551839765?cmd=ViewItem&pt=US_Film&hash=item4aa260e815

    Luck.

    Greetings,

    Francisco.

  • http://blackscorpionchin-na Lloyd Kennedy

    I remember the amazing 3. The duck the horse and the rabbit this site brings back the good old days 56 years old an only child you know what Im talking about. And don’t forget the wheel they rode in.

  • Danimal

    Why do I remember it as a gazelle, a zebra, and a parrot? I remember they came down in Africa, took forms of animals there and the zebra would hammer his hooves into any pile of junk and build the giant wheel they rode around in.