Demon Dragon of the Heavens Gaiking (大空魔竜ガイキング, Daikū Maryū Gaikingu?) was a Super Robot mecha anime series produced by Toei Animation, credited as an original idea by Akio Sugino. However, in reality the original idea was of Go Nagai. Toei deliberately took Nagai out of the credits in order to avoid the payment of royalties. Because of that, Nagai sued Toei and stopped further collaborations with Toei for a long time. The legal battle lasted more than 10 years. Nagai himself confirmed that he was the creator of Gaiking in the Comicon 2007 in Naples, Italy.
It ran from April 1976 through January 1977 and consisted of 44 26-minute episodes. Gaiking was notable for being one of the few super robot series to take place in real places outside of Japan, and for being the first Super Robot series to have a mobile carrier for the chief robots. In the USA, Gaiking was part of Mattel’s popular Shogun Warriors import toy line of the late 1970s and Jim Terry’s Force Five anthology series. In 2005, a sequel titled “Gaiking Legend of Daiku-Maryu” was produced. On March 28, 2010, a Live-Action Movie based on the series, simply entitled, Gaiking, was announced at the 2010 Tokyo Animation Fair. In international production will be helmed by American filmmakers, Jules Urbach and Matthew Gratzner. The movie will be released in 2011 for Japan and 2012 for North America, Asia and Europe.
The story chronicled the battle between the crew of the semi-transformable carrier Daikū Maryū (also called the Kargosaur in the US version) (also known as The Great Space Dragon) and the Super Robot Gaiking invented by Dr. Daimonji (Prof. Hightech in the English language version of the show) against an invading race of aliens called the Dark Horror Army from the planet Zela whose home planet is facing destruction by a black hole as their population starts to mutate (the fact that their bearded ruler now wears his face on upside-down is considered only a minor mutation). Notable aspects of the series include the dinosaur-based designs of the Daikū Maryū and its support machines and the use of part of the carrier to form the main robot. The robot Gaiking was piloted by former baseball star named Sanshiro Tsuwabuki (Sanshiro’s name was changed to Aries Astronopolis for the English version with the carrier being called the “Great Space Dragon”, a literal translation of “Daikū Maryū”. Likewise, for the Latin America version the main character was called Brando Drummond and the carrier “Gran Dragon del Espacio”) who was drafted for the job because his latent psychic powers made him the only one capable of doing so, all other similarly empowered candidates having been assassinated by alien agents with he himself having been injured in an attack that ended his sports career. Gaiking is most easily distinguished from other mecha by its skull-shaped golden torso formed from the head of the Daikū Maryū and its golden horns.
The leader of the alien villains was named Prince Darius, and all of their ships and mecha were fish-shaped, which most likely inspired the Darius series of video games.