For this titanic twentieth entry in Shin Super Robot Sunday, its fitting that the King of the Monsters should get the spotlight.
The third of Tsuburaya Productions 10th anniversary shows, Jumborg Ace was different from Ultraman Taro and Fireman in that it was chock full of robots. Jumborg Ace began airing on January 17, 1973 on Mainichi Broadcasting System, the show ran for 50 episodes and was primarily produced by staff who had previously worked on Mirrorman under the direction of Yoshiyuki Kuroda. While the show debuted in 1973, a prequel manga, Jumbo X, was serialized in 1970, with a number of elements that initially tied it to the Ultraman franchise before it was ultimately spun off into its own project.
Naoki Tachibana is an air delivery boy who flies a Cessna. When the evil alien Anti Go-Ne from the planet Groth invades with giant monsters, Naoki's brother, Shin'ya, a member of the Protective Attacking Team (PAT), dies in battle with a giant monster. In revenge, Naoki tries to ram his plane into the monster on a suicide run, fails, and is transported to an energy dimension where an alien named Emerald from Planet Emerald, saves Naoki's life, modifies his wristwatch, modifies his plane, and sends him back home. Guided by Emerald's voice, Naoki uses the watch and the command phrase “Jum-Fight!” to transform the plane into the giant mecha Jumborg Ace.
Giant robot it most certainly is. Naoki pilots Jumborg from inside the robot's head using a movement control suit to mirror his own actions (a feature that would show up in later Mecha shows like Daimos and G Gundam).
The 40 meter (131 ft) tall robot features the standard tokusatsu giant hero fighting abilities: grappling, flight (Mach 11, which is not bad at all for a souped up Cessna), strength, and an emphasis on beam and energy weaponry.
But that's not all. During the course of the show, Naoki meets the brother of Emerald, Kain, who gives the hero a second robotic ally: Jumborg 9. Instead of a plane, Jumborg 9 is disguised as a Honda Z minicar called the Jum Car Z, and can transform into a 50 meter (164 ft) tall half silver, half reddish-orange powerhouse.
Jumborg 9 can't fly, but he can run at 900 kilometers an hour (560 mph), and hits like a truck. He's also piloted like a regular car, with gearshifts, pedals, and steering wheels.
The minions of Planet Groth also numbered quite a few robots, among them Airdolmen (a flying robot); Giant Robot Zero (which was recycled from Mirrorman's Noah robot costume); Flight King (a quadrupedal missile launching robot with a drill on its head); an imitation Jumborg Ace (armed with a whip and rocket punches, see above); Honest King (a king-themed robot that can transform into a dog disguise); Gold Dragon (a two-headed golden dragon robot); Mirrorking (a robot that can invade dreams) and two more that deserve a little more attention:
Dump Kong is a 46 meter tall robot made from a dump truck that looks like King Joe if it had been made from scrap parts, and can shoot hooks and tires at Jumborg Ace. Its awesome.
The other one is Jum Killer. Much like Ace Killer, Jum Killer is a robot designed specifically for destroying the hero of the show, and actually defeats Jumborg Ace. Jum Killer is ultimately defeated by the newly acquired Jumborg 9. A second robot, Jum Killer Jr., was a bigger challenge, but still also defeated by Jumborg 9.
Reflecting the growing trend of super robots in a post-Mazinger world, Jumborg Ace did well with a piloted transforming super robot protagonist and would see a follow up the following year, but that deserves its own entry.
Next time on Shin Super Robot Sunday: Toho brings out its heavy hitter.