Cyborg 009

Everything About Fiction You Never Wanted to Know.

Originally a manga by Shotaro Ishinomori, Cyborg 009 has been adapted into three movies and three anime series.

A few years ago, the Black Ghost organization kidnapped nine ordinary humans and performed experiments on them, turning them into superpowered cyborgs. After the nine of them escaped, they were given codenames (001-009) and now, with the help of Dr. Isaac Gilmore, fight the Black Ghost organization and stop their diabolical plot to spark the next world war.

The nine cyborgs are:

  • 001, a small Russian baby named Ivan Whisky. He was probably the most powerful of them all, but as a baby, his powers often exhausted him and can only use them fully once after two weeks of sleeping. Power: A whole array of Psychic Powers (telepathy, teleport and telekinesis)
  • 002, real name Jet Link, a gang member from New York City (a la West Side Story). He was The Lancer and Fragile Speedster to the core. Power: able to fly via rocket feet. Voiced By Kirk Thornton in the English dub.
  • 003, a French ballerina named Francoise Arnoul. Pretty much The Chick, though latter adaptations make her a bit more of an Action Girl (sometimes Faux, sometimes a genuine one) and Team Mom. There was a bit of a romantic subplot between her and 009. Power: surveillance, thanks to enhanced hearing and sight. Some Machine handling skills were added in the 2001 adaptation.
  • 004, a German man named Albert Heinrich. Quite a Deadpan Snarker and excellent tactician, with some degree of angst because of his enhancements and the tragic loss of his girlfriend Hilda. Power: his whole body was chock full of weapons (he was human machine gun/rocket launcher/grenade launcher, etc).
  • 005, A Native American called Geronimo, Jr. The Gentle Giant of the group, somewhat of a Genius Bruiser as well. Power: superhuman strength and superhuman endurance, some degree of empathy with nature in the 2001 series.
  • 006, a Chinese chef named Chang Changku. Along with 007, formed most of the comic relief. Cheerful, a bit child-like, nagging but fatherly towards his teammates. Power: could shoot fire out of his mouth.
  • 007, a Brit code-named Great Britain (no, really) who was, in his prime, one of the world's greatest actors. Power: could transform into anything.
  • 008, an African refugee/guerrilla warrior (2001), Pyunma. His backstory as a freedom fighter was given some light in a two-part episode. In the original manga, he escaped from slavers before Black Ghost abducted him. Power: could swim at great speeds and breathe underwater without assistance.
  • 009, the leader of the team, real name Joe Shimamura. The Hero of the team, very sensitive and compassionate, with a strong sense of justice. Power: officially, super-speed accessed via one of his molars, but according to the manga, he was the last cyborg created, so he had a much more powerful body than the others (he could breathe underwater like 008, though for a shorter time, and was almost as strong as 005).

All but 5 episodes of the pretty good most recent series, were aired on the Cartoon Network a few years back.

The manga is available in English on comiXology.

Joe and friends appear in the Massive Multiplayer Crossover game, Sunday VS Magazine Shuuketsu Choujou Daikessen.

A movie is in the works, to be directed by Kenji Kamiyama of Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex. Shotaro Ishinomori's later series, Himitsu Sentai Goranger and JAKQ Dengekitai uses elements of this series.

In recently years, Netflix has acquired the rights of the airing of Cyborg 009: Call of Justice, with a 3 part released in Japan. The films were later edited to 12 episode mini-series in 2017 for worldwide release.

Tropes used in Cyborg 009 include:
  • The Ace: Parodied in the 2001 series, with 002 befriending a young child from the USA and presenting himself as a Gary Stu like hero.
  • Adaptation Distillation: The 2001 series
  • A.I. Is a Crapshoot: "Compu-Utopia"
  • Arm Cannon: 004's legs hide missiles and his hands hide either knives or bullets. In some continuities he even has a mini nuclear bomb inside of his body. Lampshaded in the 2001 series when he hands 009 a ray gun and rejects it when 009 gives it back after the first big fight, saying he can relay on his bullet hands.
  • Blessed with Suck: The Psychic Assassins can't overexert on their powers, otherwise their bodies age rapidly.
  • Blood Knight: Cain, leader of the Psychic Assassins team. Self admitted, too.
  • Brought Down to Normal: Francoise once loses her powers while in the mountains.
  • But Not Too Foreign: 009 is half-Japanese and half-American
  • Carrying the Antidote: A whole episode focuses on the Cyborgs trying to stop the Villains Of The Week who were trying to use biological bombs to get people sick and then sell them the antidote.
  • Cat Smile: Dr. Kozumi. Once you see it, you can't unsee it.
  • Character Development: All of the Cyborgs escaped the Ethnic Scrappy label thanks to their pretty good backstories, specially in the 2001 anime. Like... 002, the ex-Delinquent who bemoaned his inability to save street children from becoming rotten like he almost did; 003, the ex-ballerina who wishes she was an genuine Action Girl but her enhancements and powers don't let her; 004, the thoughtful German who's forcefully given a body chock-full of weapons and is traumatised by the death of his fiancée; 007, the ex theater star who abandoned his girlfriend when he reached stardom and later became an alcoholic; 008, the ex-guerrilla warrior/ex-slave; etc.
  • Characterization Marches On: As the manga went on and was developed into various anime series, the characters changed drastically. Some of the more obvious examples:
    • While Jet/002 started out as part of a street gang (and spent part of his original manga introduction performing the dance from West Side Story), he was quickly established as an easygoing, agreeable Big Brother Mentor to Joe. In the '79 series, he even had to remind Joe that he didn't have to be The Hero taking on the world alone and that his friends were more than just 'something to protect'. The 2001 series, on the other hand, starts him off as a Hot-Blooded Jerkass desperately searching for targets to lash out at and wary of the other cyborgs, then having him grow from there into a loyal and Boisterous Bruiser who is revealed to carry the pain of not having been able to be the Big Brother Mentor to the New York kids from the sixties.
      • There were hints of his original personality in the 2001 flashback episode, though, as he rescues a confused and panicking 003 from the battlefield she's been thrown into and manages to calm her down before they met up with 004 and 001 and develop a strategy to save their lives.
    • Albert, on the flip side, mixed a bit of Blood Knight with a hint of Death Seeker and a lot of Black Humor about his situation. He had no illusions about the fact they were meant to be weapons, was cold and pragmatic... and also willing to activate the nuke inside his body if he felt it would save the others. The 2001 version, meanwhile, was more of a thoughtful Sugar and Ice Personality who openly grappled with the question of whether or not his enhancements made him less human, also taking up the Big Brother Mentor role towards 002, 003 and 009.
  • Chef of Iron: 006, who still cooks in his spare time.
  • Corrupt Church: Averted heavily. As with all Shotaro Ishinomori works, extreme reverence towards Christianity is shown.
  • Crapsack World: The Black Ghost group wants to create this via War for Fun and Profit And they succeed, in at least one continuity. In the 2001 series Joe is sent forward in time, lands into this apocalyptic Alternate Future, and when he finds out the truth he goes into an Heroic BSOD.
  • Curb Stomp Battle: During the final battle between 009 and Scarl, Scarl spends most of the battle beating the crap out of 009, but then he stupidly taunts the professor about how he'll "make him watch as I burn them in the furnace", causing the professor to break free and turn the anti cyborg weapon on him. Scarl becomes distracted by the pain, allowing 009 to tackle him and knock him into the reactor, where the explosives kill him
  • Darkest Africa: 008's homeland. The trope is played straight in the manga and the older series, but subverted in the 2001 one.
  • Deadpan Snarker: 002 usually, although a particularly great example occurs in the first episode between Joe and Ivan.
  • Door Step Baby: Joe/009 in the 2001 version.
  • Electric Torture: Used a lot by various Black Ghost villains and other opponents. 0010 is a notable example.
  • Empathy Doll Shot: At least two in the 2001 series.
  • Gay Paree: A whole episode happens in Paris.
  • Genius Bruiser/Gentle Giant: 005 is calm, gentle, wise, empathic... and not only Made of Iron, but gifted with Super Strength.
  • Goo-Goo Godlike: 001, when awake.
  • Good Bad Translation: The Swedish dub of the '79 show is absolutely legendary. Not for the translation, but due to the fact that one single guy dubs every character in the show. Including the females. Also, he was Danish.
    • The translation is every bit as bad as you would think though. It's very doubtful that the characters in the original series "let themselves be fooled by a flying fertilizer UFO".
  • Heavy Sleeper: 001 must sleep for long periods of time, due to his weak baby body.
  • Hurricane of Puns: The English dub of the 2001 TV remake was notorious for this.
  • Ill Boy: 001 aka Ivan was born with a serious illness.
  • Island Base: An Island Base showed up in the first episode of the anime. It was used by two Mad Scientists like their Mad Scientist Laboratory.
  • James Bondage: The '79 series frequently saw 007 get caught by the enemy - far more than Francoise ever was, in fact.
  • Knife-Throwing Act:
  • Lethal Chef: 002. That's what happens when you don't take the lessons offered by the local Plucky Comic Relief who happened to be a professional chef. 002 rightfully wonders why the Black Ghost had their Cyborgs able to starve to death.
  • Love Makes You Crazy - Love Makes You Evil: 0012 has the memories of a lonely lady who lost her husband several years ago. Carl Eckermann aka Sphinx attempts to kidnap Francoise because he's love-starved and lonely. Also, Mad Scientist Gamo started as a not very stable but still sorta kindly surgeon who went nuts searching for a cure for his sick child Ivan, who'd become Cyborg 001.
  • Mad Scientist: LOTS of Black Ghost people, specially Gaia, Gamo and Van Bogoot.
  • Magical Native American: Played around with 005, whose empathy with Earth doesn't come from his enhancements.
  • Mailer Daemon: Carl Eckermann's other self, the super computer Sphinx.
  • Master of Disguise: 007's power. Justified since he was a prize-winning actor in his prime days.
  • Mistaken for Special Guest
  • More Dakka: 004 lives this trope.
  • Multinational Team: Pioneer in this, preceding even the X-Men.
  • Number Two: 004, usually, due to always being able to bring out some big guns when needed and keep his wits more or less cool while using them. The rest of the cyborgs have yet to be shown functioning as a full-fledged team without him. Black Ghost halted the entire program for the guy for 40 years. Not to mention 002 and 009 are all but stated die in the final dubbed episode. Even villains as high as Black Ghost tend to notice (far more than some viewers) about the role 004 plays. The 1st fight with 0010 - leaves only 004 in a functioning state (despite being hit with a two blasts instead of one like everyone else save for 009), 003 is barely conscious, and everyone else including 009 is knocked out. 0010 must have noticed as he left because about midway through the next fight 0010 strikes 004 (not the mouthy 002) BEFORE the supercharged attack even begins. 009's staying in the hospital due to the first fight and makes the usual dramatic entrance. He has several character-enhancing discussions with other entities; machines, cyborgs, people.
  • Overshadowed by Awesome: Surprisingly Averted. Every cyborg has their own advanced powers. Despite that 009 is the most advanced make of the cyborgs, he actually doesn't render them useless, even 002 despite that he is an Obvious Beta for 009's accelerator cause he can still fly. If anything, 001 can overshadow everyone with how he seems to have near unlimited Psychic Powers...when he's awake, that is.
    • Played straight in the first anime adaptation, however. There, 009 Took a Level in Jerkass and was clearly The Hero, while some of the other cyborgs were lucky if they even got to appear in the episode. Thank God that was fixed later.
  • Peek-a-Bangs: Joe aka 009.
  • Phlebotinum Rebel: The Cyborgs, and Ishinomori Shotaro's trademark.
  • Plucky Comic Relief: 006 and 007.
  • Poison and Cure Gambit
  • The Professor: Gilmore in all continuities, and both Dr. Kouzumi, Dr. Eckermann and Professor Finder in the 2001 series
  • Psycho Electro: 0010.
  • Engineer Exploited For Evil: A few of Black Ghost's employees claim to be this, including Gilmore himself. Some of them are lying... including Gilmore too.
  • Ripped from the Headlines : The civil strife in Pyunma's native country involves access to a precious mineral. This may have been based on the real-life role of coltan and other "conflict minerals" in central Africa's ongoing strife.
  • Robot Buddy: A thin, simplistic robot Chang calls Scarecrow.
  • Russian (and German) Guys Suffer Most: The 'Russian Guy' is a baby who never knew life outside of constant experimentation prior to the team's escape. The German...hard to know where to start with him.
  • Sad Clown: 007.
  • Sapient Cetaceans: The main heroes of Cyborg 009 named their ship 'The Dolphin.' In the manga, genetically and cybernetically enhanced dolphins were a pretty common enemy, used by Black Ghost as underwater scouts, soldiers and assassins.
  • Scarf of Asskicking: This is the same guy who created Kamen Rider, after all...
  • Secret Project Refugee Family: Gilmore sees his proteges as his adoptive children, and they often live together like a real family. Specially in the 2001 series where Gilmore's beach house is also the home of Ivan/001, Francoise/003, Chang/006, G.B./007 and Joe/009. Lampshaded in one of the earlier episodes of the same series by Gilmore's friend Dr. Koizumi.
  • Self-Destruct Mechanism: Was used in the episode 'Mystical Island.' The self-destruct sequence was deactivated when the black scarecrow robot knocked the computer chip out of the self-destruct mechanism.
  • Shout-Out: The Brit is codenamed 007 and changes shape. Who do you think he's based on?
  • Smart House: 0012.
  • Starfish Robots: 0011 resembles a flying saucer; its "windows" can shoot adhesives, or 0011 can bring out its legs through them. 0012 serves as the AI for an even bigger mech.
  • Super Speed: 002 and 009. Makes sense: 002 says that his accelerator was a prototype of 009's.
  • Super Strength: 005 and 009.
  • Talking the Monster to Death: 005 on the Spirit Of The Earth, then 009 and 003 on Carl Eckermann aka Sphinx.
  • Team Chef: 006; the 2001 series even devoted a full episode to showing how important his skills were.
  • Team Dad: Gilmore, sometimes 006.
  • Team Mom: 003.
  • Time Stands Still: When 009 uses his Super Speed, he sees the world like this. In fact, he once spent a whole episode like this.
  • Training the Peaceful Villagers: In the 2001 series, the Cyborgs must convince a bunch of powerful psychic children to fight against the ones who want to enslave them.
  • Universal Driver's License: Justified, since Joe is able to become a star car racer in the manga thanks to his enhancements.
  • War for Fun and Profit: Black Ghost.
  • Well-Intentioned Extremist: The Greek God Cyborgs thought their mission was to cleanse Earth by destroying humanity.
  • What Kind of Lame Power Is Heart, Anyway?: Sometimes, poor 003 could only sit and watch as things went boom, causing her genuine psychological problems and, at some point, almost sending her into an Heroic BSOD until 004 asked if she'd rather be a war machine like him.
  • What Measure Is a Non-Human?
  • What You Are in the Dark: Horribly twisted during the Gods' War arc when the cyborgs go through a collective Mind Rape meant to draw out the fear that, underneath it all, they really are just horrible monsters, along with the rest of humanity.
  • Whole-Episode Flashback: 2001: One episode relates the history of the 00-cyborg project as filtered through Gilmore's eyes.