|Force Five was not a single television show, but a syndicated series that showcased five different anime programs once a week, dubbed into English for an American audience. The compilation was mainly shown in New England in the early 1980's, with Danguard Ace airing on Mondays, Starvengers on Tuesdays, Spaceketeers on Wednesdays, Grandizer on Thursdays and Gaiking on Fridays.
Danguard Ace ("Planetary Robot"; Entitled "Wakusai Robot Danguard Ace") centered around Earth's discovery of a new planet called Promete. Earth had become ravaged and almost uninhabitable due to overpopulation and a lack of natural resources, so a ship was sent to the remote outreaches of the solar system to explore the unspoiled Promete, which shared similarities with Earth's environment.
Unfortunately, the evil scientist Komisar Krell also discovered Promete, and he planned to move his own people onto the planet. After Krell attacked the first Earth ship journeying to Promete, the Earthlings built Danguard Ace to protect them from future assaults.
Danguard Ace had some parallels to the sci-fi classic Star Wars, focusing on a conflict between the good son and bad father. The hero of the story, Lieutenant Winstar, was the son of a great pilot whom he believed was dead. But in fact, Winstar's father was a prisoner of the evil Krell, who controlled the pilot's mind through a mask. Like Darth Vader, Winstar's father hid his true identity, taking instead the pseudonym Captain Mask.
Starvengers (Getta Robo G) was another robot show, this one starring three robots that fought another evil empire. The Starvenger robotsóStar Dragon, Star Arrow and Star Poseidonówere created to combat the Pandemonium Empire, which sought to (what else?) take over the Earth.
One strange aspect of Starvengers was its villain, Colonel Fuerer, the commander in charge of getting rid of the Starvengers. Like his name implied, Fuerer was an Adolf Hilter caricature, complete with a bad German accent, Nazi uniform, and weirdest of all, two horns protruding from his head.
Spaceketeers (Starzinger) followed the adventures of Princess Aurora and her band of protectors as they tried to accomplish a dangerous mission for their Empress. An evil energy source from the star system of Dekos caused the once-peaceful creatures of the universe to change into evil mutants. The Empress enlisted Aurora and three spaceketeers to find and destroy the energy source.
Aurora had her hands full with one of her cohorts: Jesse Dart, a super-powerful but arrogant spaceketeer who followed his own whims. The other two spaceketeers, portly Porkos and intelligent Arimos, were based on the characters or Porthos and Aramis from The Three Musketeers.
Grandizer (UFO Robot Grendizer) starred Johnny Bryant, a.k.a. Orion Quest. Orion was the sole survivor of the planet Antares, which had been destroyed by Vega the Strong's flying saucer squad. Vega stole scientific papers from Antares to build the great battle robot Grandizer, which he hoped to use to help him bring the entire universe under his rule. But that crafty Orion stole back Grandizer and took it to Earth, where he hid the robot and assumed a human identity.
Orion Quest fought evil all on his own and was a very popular hero from the Force Five series. Like Superman, he had dual identities and hailed from an alien planet, which gave him greater strength and agility than his human counterparts. And also like Superman, Orion spent a lot of his time saving hapless humans from the clutches of Vega the Strong and his henchmen.
Gaiking (Dino Mech Gaiking) chronicled Earth's struggle against a looming invasion by the people of the planet Zala, which was about to be swallowed by a black hole. Desperate to maintain their civilization, the leaders of Zala made plans to secretly overtake Earth for their preservation.
A few Earth people caught onto the invasion and built a powerful robot called Gaiking, their only hope to protect themselves. The Gaiking Super Dragon was piloted by Ares Astronopolis, a former major league pitcher who now used his telekinetic abilities to fight evil.
In 1978, before Force Five reached American shores, Mattel released a popular series of toys called "Shogun Warriors," which were based on the characters from the five Japanese cartoons. By the time Jim Terry Productions created Force Five to show the anime programs in the U.S., Mattel had lost the rights to the characters, leaving no toys available in America during the course of Force Five's run.
The syndicated anime package did, however, spark a revived interest in giant robot cartoons, paving the way for shows such as Voltron, Transformers and Gobots to find receptive American audiences.