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Professor Saotome creates the fearsome Getter Machine series of war robots and hires the nobly named Ryoma (see Oi! Ryoma), Musashi (see Young Miyamoto Musashi), and Benkei (see Benkei vs. Ushiwaka) to pilot the three vehicles, the aerial Getter-1, land-based Getter-2, and seafaring Getter-3, that can be combined to form a giant humanoid robot-the first "transformer."
Based on a collaboration between Devilman's Go Nagai and Demon-Beast Phalanx-creator Ken Ishikawa, the show returned in 1975 as Getter Robo G. The destruction of the evil Dinosaur Empire left the way open for a new enemy, the Clan of 100 Devils, and since the original machinery had been destroyed in the climactic fight of the previous series, it was also time for new vehicles: Getters Dragon, Rygar, and Poseidon (Star Dragon, Star Arrow, and Star Poseidon). Along with the other anime in the Force Five interlinked shows, Getter Robo G was redubbed for the U.S. market as Starvengers, and several of the vehicles were also included in the Shogun Warriors line. For the English-language version, the horned enemies were renamed the Pandemonium Empire, led by Emperor Ramzorch and his Hitler-look-alike commander, Captain Fuhrer. Back in Japan, Getter Robo G also appeared in short theatrical outings alongside other Go Nagai creations including Great Mazinger vs. Getter Robo G (1975) and Great Mazinger / Grandizer / Getter Robo G: Battle the Great Monster (1976).
After a long hiatus, the franchise hit a low point in 1991 with Getter Robo Go! directed by Yoshiki Shibata, featuring the same machines but an all-new team. Though long-running by modern standards, the series was considered a noncanonical flop. The original, however, remained a favorite among fans and professionals, demonstrated by the Nadesico staff in their spoof show-within-a-show Gekiganger 3. For most of the 1990s, the franchise was kept alive by computer games, and eventually the redesigned machines as used in the Getter Robo and Super Robot Battle games were resurrected for a new series. Poaching staff from the successful retro series Giant Robo, Jun Kawagoe's straight-to-video Change Getter Robo (1998) presented itself as the "true" sequel to the original 1974-75 serials, beginning with the death of Professor Saotome and Ryoma's arrest for his murder. Three years later, the two remaining team members are forced to contend with a cloned "evil" Saotome, hellbent on avenging his own death and leading an army of Getter Dragons. In a sequel that exploited the limited budgets of late-1990s video productions to recreate the rough-edged look of 1970s television animation, Ryoma is recalled from prison to resist the invasion. This version was scheduled for release in the U.S. in 2001 as Getter Robot: The Last Day. The same staff returned for the four-part video sequel Change Getter Robo vs. Neo Getter Robo (2000), clearly made with an eye to foreign sales, in which another madman, Emperor Gaul, sends an army of robotic dinosaurs to destroy New York, and Professor Saotome's new lantern-jawed protégé, former wrestler Tetsuhito, leads the underground resistance. See also Mazinger Z.