Blocker Gundan IV Machine Blaster is a 1976 super robot anime that most people have probably never heard of. It doesn’t have a long and storied legacy, and its international presence is limited to the Philippines and Italy, where it was known as Striker Force and Astrorobot, respectively. But it’s also a part of the grand history of giant robots in Japanese animation, and now one of the studios that produced the show, Nippon Animation, has started a crowdfund project to convert the Machine Blaster film reels into a digital archive through the site readyfor.jp. The goal is 3 million yen, or approximately $29,000 USD, by February 26 Japan Time.
While Machine Blaster is in many ways a footnote of anime history, that’s all the more reason why I want to see it preserved. I think it’s easy to assume that the art and entertainment we as humans create will always be around in some form, but film wears down, or it can get lost and buried. For many years, the sole copy of the Korean giant robot animated movie Robot Taekwon V was a badly damaged reel, and it was only by luck that a near-complete duplicate film reel was discovered. Machine Blaster is no Gundam or Mazinger Z, but I love giant robots and I would hate to see even this obscure series not have a proper archived version beyond its DVD releases.
Also, while Machine Blaster is indeed not Gundam, it actually shares a mecha designer! Ookawara Kunio, the man responsible for the mobile suits of the original TV series (as well as shows like Reideen, Zambot 3, and Daitarn 3), is also behind the robots of Machine Blaster. He even has a written message on the crowdfunding page talking about his time with the series as one of the many 20-somethings there being thrown into a full-on project without much experience.
If you’re like me and want to donate to saving Machine Blaster, I’ve provided a guide below, as the site is entirely in Japanese. Also, I should note that this is not a crowdfund to get a copy of the series; it’s just to help archive it. That being said, there are bonus goods for those who contribute more (though it’s not clear if they’ll send them abroad).
First, you’ll have to make an account on the site. At the top-right corner is a red button for logging in and creating an account. From there, you can either choose to register directly with readyfor.jp by clicking the red button on the right, or via Facebook using the button below it.
The blank spaces above, from top to bottom, are “user name,” “email address,” “password,” and “password again.” Then you’ll get a confirmation email, in which you’ll have to click a link to confirm your registration.
From there, if you go back to the Machine Blaster project, you’ll see another red button to the right of the main image. That’s the donate button, and it’ll take you to a page where you can choose how much you want to put in. Unlike other crowdfunding sites, you can only select along preset amounts, so the minimum is 3,000 yen, which gets you a thank-you message and updates via email. The most expensive one, seen below, is actually preview film reels of random episodes of Machine Blaster for 100,000 yen. The middle range has a bunch of merchandise you can get, like buttons and even a beach blanket. Choose which one you want, and note that you can actually select more than one at the same time. At the bottom, you’ll have the choice to pay via credit card or bank account. For payments outside of Japan, it’s probably better to use a credit card just because bank info in Japan can be very specific and have aspects that other countries don’t.
This is where it gets tricky. After putting in your credit card info, you’ll have to add your address as well. However, the form is not formatted for non-Japanese addresses, so you’ll have to work around it. Thankfully, if you just kind of fill it in as you would a normal address (and ignore the actual meanings of each form space, in case you can read Japanese), then it works out. Another crowdfund on readyfor.jp has provided a helpful screenshot, which I’ve also provided here. Note how the postal code in Japanese is just filled out as 111-1111. The only blank spaces this image isn’t showing are for your name.
From there, you hit the last button at the bottom and confirm your contribution! You can also write a message in the space provided.
Not every giant robot anime is going to be of legendary status, but I want to make sure we can keep and preserve as many as possible for both the fans who grew up with them and those who look back on anime’s history with curiosity. Blocker Corps IV Machine Blaster at least deserves that much.
PS: Like so many 70s giant robot anime, it got its own Italian theme song for the Italian dub. It is glorious, and worth comparing to the Japanese songs and their pleasant cheesiness.