On August 7th, Robot Taekwon V makes its Japanese theatrical debut.
A Korean animated film from the 1970s about a super robot utilizing the power of Taekwondo, Taekwon V was thought to be “lost” for many years, in the sense that no good copy of the film could be found. This all changed in 2007 when an excellent-quality print was discovered.
Though Korean in origin, Taekwon V is clearly based off of the Japanese Mazinger Z, a similarity that its creator Kim Cheong-gi acknowledges, stating that he wanted to create a Korean hero for Korean children and simply assuming that this was the way robots were supposed to look.
While the bad blood extends well past animation and into the irredeemable treatment the people of Korea faced at the hands of the Japanese occupation before and during World War II, in this narrow scope the issue has always been the idea that “Korea just copies Japanese animation.” My previous post about this topic generated quite a bit of controversy and discussion, so take a look if you feel so inclined. By the way, I still maintain my stance, even if the movie features animation ripped straight of Bambi.
This is why it’s all the more amazing that Taekwon V is actually getting shown in Japan, even if it’s at only a single theater. No doubt it’s going to generate more racial slurs on the internet, but in a way I feel like it’s a big step forward. Also, I don’t think anyone can really blame a 30+ year old cartoon from an era with an almost non-existent animation industry for having taken some shortcuts. Well actually, you can, but I think looking at it in terms of copying/not copying is only seeing one side of a much more complex shape. There’s plain old “making stuff people enjoy regardless of how it’s made,” also plain old “making profit,” and other aspects as well.
By the way, the movie will be in Korean with Japanese subtitles, so sorry English speakers living in Japan who might be able to actually see it.
The trailer for all of you cool cats:
As well as an incendiary video from a while back: