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Junko and Tanpei are the grandchildren of a mad inventor who produced a time machine, went off into history, and simply vanished. They're determined to find him, but they're not the only ones. The scandalously dressed villain Madame Margot, with her hapless sidekicks, Birba and Sgrinfia, are also on his trail, and on the trail of a massive diamond lost somewhere in time. The ending could be viewed as an anticlimax-the professor returns to the present under his own steam-but in this case the journey, with its slapstick perils, crazy creatures, and interventions by wicked but inept villains, is more than the destination.

Time Bokan was only the first chapter in an epic saga of insanity on every level: design, characterization, and plot. With often-cited similarities to Wacky Races, and machines and performances that went further and further over the top, Ippei Kuri produced the first series based for Tatsunoko Production and remained in charge throughout its increasingly silly but lovable progress to classic status.

Like Sunrise's Brave Saga, both the crew and central concept of the series remained through successive sequels, with only superficial changes. Only the characters' looks and the wonderful machines, designed to spin off into toy merchandising, displayed any variation-the robots and vehicles became so lucrative that a new one was introduced every episode.

Its successor, TB Series Yattaman (1977), came only a week later. Ganchan, descendant of a line of inventors, has made his own robot car, Yatta One, and takes his girlfriend and mechanic for a celebratory meal. Unfortunately they go to a restaurant run by sexy Miss Doronjo and her comic sidekicks, Tonzura and Boyakei. They are members of a gang under orders to find a powerful artifact, the Dokurostone (Skullstone), which can locate hidden treasure and is really the head of a mighty extraterrestrial called Dokurobei, who is just using the crooks to retrieve it. Ganchan and his friends must stop the crooks, but the quest takes them all over the world and through time. Though the plot is an obvious respray, art directors Toyo'o Ashida, Kazuhiko Itada, and Takashi Nakamura brought visual freshness and invention.

Once again, as one series ended another began, the following year's TBS Zendaman (1978). This time young Tetsu and his girlfriend Sakura race through time in their robots, Zendalion and Zendagorilla, to fight the trio of villains headed by sexy Miss Mujo. A short Zendaman movie premiered in spring 1980, but the new series TBS Time Patrol Tai [Team] Otasukeman was already on the air. In an achingly familiar setup, Miss Atasha, Dovalski, and Sekovitch are seeking an artifact that will enable the shadowy Tonmanomanto to dominate the world. Hikaru and Nana spring to the rescue in their increasingly incredible machines, chasing or chased by the villains through time and space. An Otasukeman movie was screened in spring 1981 as once again the new series TBS Yattodetaman had just begun on TV. Princess Domenica's rule is challenged by the theft of the Cosmopavone, a magical bird whose powers (like Tezuka's Space Firebird) can bring peace and healing. She calls on two of her ancestors, a boy and a girl from the 1980s, for help against hot-tempered Princess Mirenjo and her henchmen.

The sixth series, TBS Gyakuten Ippa-tsuman (1982, aka Ippatsuman Returns), revolved around Homuran and Harubo, owners of the time delivery company Timelease, who set off to make a delivery to another era and find themselves pursued by Munmun, Kosuinen, and Kyokanchin, representatives of rival firm Sharecowbellies, who are now calling themselves the Clean Aku Trio. Then Ippatsukiman shows up to help Timelease, and they realize that there's more to this job than they thought. The final series, TBS Itadakiman (1983), moves the starting point for the journey to Oshaka Academy, where the headmaster orders three students, Hoshi, Sagosen, and Hatsuo, to find the pieces of an artifact called the Oshakapuzzle, now scattered throughout the world. Meanwhile three "ronin" (students waiting to retake entrance exams) called Yanyan, Dasainen, and Tonmentan are also looking for the puzzle, which will give the finder strange powers. As before, the titular hero comes to the aid of the good guys.

Falling ratings brought the show to an end after reasonably long innings, though it returned to video once its young audience was old enough to rent. Members of the original crew reunited one last time for the Wacky Races homage Time Bokan Royal Revival (1993), which pits all seven trios of villains from the original series in a race against each other. The prize is supposedly the leading role in the next episode.

However, there was no next episode until Thieving Kiramekiman (2000, Kaito Kiramekiman), an eighth series that reordered the archetypes to make good-natured criminals the protagonists. The handsome Puff is sent back 500 years to our time to rescue his ancestor, Professor Rikkid. Everybody needs the treasure known as the Gold Eye, and Puff teams up with the pretty teenager Lips to form the Kiramekiman cat-burglar team. They are pursued by a trio of bumbling French cops, while Lips' own father is the chief of police-a combination of elements of Cat's Eye and Lupin III. This most recent incarnation in the franchise was shown on TV Tokyo. There was also an unrelated Fuji TV series Time Travel Tondekeman (1989), directed by Kunihiko Yuyama.

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Original US Poster Art

General Information Edit
Name Time Bokan
Name: タイムボカン
Romaji: Taimu Bokan
Publisher Tatsunoko Production Co., Ltd
Start Year 1975
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Aliases Time Fighters
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Recurring Appearances
Majo first in Episode #1
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