As of late, superhero teams have been all the rave with the Avengers, X-Men and Teen Titans. But as far as superhero families go, nearly all references will be made to the Fantastic Four. But in this installment of Awesome Cartoons, I am going to introduce (most of you) to a super future family that can put the Richards in their place.
If anything can be learned from 1980’s cartoons, it is that the future is seen in various lights. In spite of these different views, they all come to the nearly the same conclusion—technology will be used to enhanced humans, making man and machine literally one. Now imagine a family of enhanced people who fight to protect the innocent and you get the Bionic Six. Bionic Six is an American-Japanese animated television series that was produced by TMS Entertainment (which had previously worked on Dokonjō Gaeru and Hasbro’s Visionaries: Knights of the Magical Light). It was distributed through first-run syndication by MCA TV, which is the former name of NBCUniversal Television Distribution. The series centered on a family of machine-enhanced humans with unique powers and abilities that are augmented by cybernetic technology. The Bennett family consists of patriarch Jack, matriarch Helen, Eric, Meg, J.D., and Bunji who all live in a secluded oceanfront home in the fictional city of Cypress Cove, in northern California. Each of them wears a special ring and a “wristcomp” (a mini-computer hardwired into the wrist), which they use to activate their bionic powers. Together, they fight against the villainous Dr. Scarab and his henchmen with the help of Dr. Amadeus Sharp who is also Scarab’s brother.
Now let’s meet the family. Jack Bennett loves gourmet cooking and is an expert test pilot and engineer. As Bionic-1, he has enhanced sight, heat vision, x-ray vision and energy blasts. Superman and Itachi can eat their heart out. Next is Helen who is a marine biologist and oceanographer. As Mother-1, Helen has ESP, telekinesis, and is able to psychically communicate with sentient and non-sentient beings. They have two biological children named Eric and Meg. Eric loves sport and Meg loves music. In their forms of Sport-1 and Rock-1 (are you seeing a pattern), they both gain abilities relative to their interests. Sport-1 affects electromagnetic powers to attract or repel metallic objects with tremendous force, meld them together, or even rip them apart. His sister Rock-1 can create powerful sound blasts and has super speed. Bunjiro “Bunji” is Jack and Helen’s Japanese foster son who excels at karate. Becoming Karate-1, this skill is greatly enhanced along with his already impressive agility. Lastly is J.D., the Bennett’s adoptive African-American son. J.D. is incredibly intelligent which is enhance further when he becomes I.Q. Not only does J.D. gain superhuman strength when he turns his bionics on, but does have a numerical suffix in his hero identity (thus breaking the pattern).
AWESOMENESS!! Bionic Six has the most beautiful animation of any cartoon in the era of Michael Jackson Pepsi commercials and the California Raisins. And rightfully so. Renowned Japanese animator director Osamu Dezaki, best known for his work on Astro Boy, Space Commander Cobra and Golgo 13, was at the helm. His style is evident throughout each episode. Like many cartoons back then, Bionic Six mixed intense action with light humor very well in a unique balance where neither one overrides the other. Plus, the show featured one of the best character transformation sequences before Sailor Moon. And what’s more, it featured a blended family which was a rare thing for cartoons during the Reagan Presidency. Bionic Six had one of the catchiest theme songs of any series. It was hard to resist humming it all day long, whether it was during school or while writing an article about a cartoon from your childhood.
Bionic Six ran for two seasons from April 19 to November 22, 1987. The series could likely have been inspired by the movies “Six Million Dollar Man” and “Bionic Woman”. Alan Oppenheimer, who voiced Dr. Amadeus Sharp PhD., was also the second actor to play Rudy Wells in The Six Million Dollar Man. At the height of its popularity, some action figures became very difficult to find until after the series ended. Even today, collectors have a hard time finding certain vehicles and figures. Bionic Six is a revolutionary show that centered on an awesome super future family that had the coolest battle cry.
Still the coolest transformation ever!!