“Robot Taekwon V” is a cartoon that captivated children’s imaginations in the 1970s, and had numerous sequels and remakes through the years. Recently, it was remastered for its 30th anniversary thanks to a lucky discovery of an undamaged print. If you’ve never heard of the Japanese anime Taekwon V, don’t be alarmed.
Because it’s Korean.
Looking at Taekwon V itself, “Mazinger Z” is probably the first thing that pops into your head. The resemblance is unmistakable, and it could easily fit into Nagai Go’s Giant Robot Pantheon. I’ve seen people online, mostly aggressive Japanese posters, decrying Taekwon V as a rip-off, a sign of plagiarism and uncreativity. The director Kim Cheong-gi has gone on the record stating the obvious influence that Mazinger Z had on his design. At the time, Mazinger Z was very popular in Korea and Kim wanted to created a Korean Super Robot so that kids would appreciate Korean culture. The likely scenario is that at the time he thought Mazinger Z was what all super robots should look like, so it’s no wonder that they look similar. That isn’t the reason why I say it’s not plagiarism though.
Taekwon V fights using its namesake, Taekwondo, and its animation reflects this fact. Mazinger Z and in fact every other super robot has never used Taekwondo. While Taekwon V resembles Mazinger Z heavily, its poses, mannerisms, and actions set it apart. Taekwon V is able to follow the movements of its pilot, a Taekwondo champion himself, two years before Daimos. It even has unique attacks, most notably its Rocket Chop (I don’t know the actual name for this), where Taekwon V makes a horizontal, back-handed chopping motion while simultaneously launching its hand to give it some added destructive momentum.
If it looks like a duck, but doesn’t walk like a duck, and it quacks in Korean, then it is Taekwon V.
By the way, this reasoning does not necessarily apply to other Korean Giant Robot shows. I’m looking at you, Space Gundam V.