Nine Manga cartoons kids from the 1980s will enjoy on Halloween night

School-nights in 1980s-90s Malta came with a cornucopia of Japanese Manga cartoons dubbed in Italian that would never pass the muster of today's sanitised and monitored childhoods

Bero (left) with monster gang leader Bem (centre) and Bera (right) fight off evil demons.
Bero (left) with monster gang leader Bem (centre) and Bera (right) fight off evil demons.

Unlikely antiheroes in the form of kids turning into horned harpies, to the bloodied biceps of wrestlers whose day job is running an orphanage, Japanese manga cartoons on Italian TV in the 1980s and 1990s were a festival of psychedelic horror and existential life-and-death situations for which clueless parents did not bat an eyelid.

Devilman 

Timid Akiro Fido – an orphan - discovers an ancient Mayan mask used to summon demonic attention. None other than Amon, the Lord of War, presents himself to consume Akiro, who manages to retain his sense of self but uses Amon’s powers to become Devilman, and battle other demons in the world war they have started with humanity. Great showdown with Satan himself, who turns out to have been Akiro’s childhood friend Ryo, originally having encouraged Akiro’s induction to the world of demons. 

 

Carletto il Principe dei Mostri 

‘Kaibutsu-kun’ became Carletto, the prince of monsters, who lives in Tokyo together with Count Dracula, Wolfman, and Frank (-enstein’s monster), and is friend to Hiroshi, a human kid with whom he gets into many adventures in a bid to save the world from dangerous monsters and demons. 

 

Bem il Mostro Umano 

Creepy anime-horror featuring ‘human monster’ Bem, leader of a trio of supernatural human-like monsters, among them vampire kid Bero. The episodes featured a similar plot structure: Bero meets a person who needs assistance, usually protection from some supernatural force, which Bero always tries to solve alone, putting himself in danger. Bem and Bera intervene to help him out and annihilate his nemesis, always extremely evil monsters, ghosts or demons. 

 

Tiger Man 

A great favourite: one-time vicious wrestler Tiger Man becomes a good guy after a boy residing in the same orphanage he grew up in, declares he wanted to be a villain like him. But Tiger Man decides to become a heroic fighter on the ring, to fight the villainous fighters from the Yellow Devil organisation, and using his earnings on the ring to donate them to the orphanage. Mr X, leader of the Yellow Devil, wants his assassins to kill Tiger Man on the ring. Bloody injuries galore. Like MMA with animal face-masks. 

 

Kenshiro 

Brutal to the power of a 1,000 megaton nuclear bomb now slowly releasing its explosive power inside your evil heart! Kenshiro is the youngest of four adopted sons (everyone is without their parents in Manga cartoons) trained in the art of Hokuto Shinken and always fighting his rivals with merciless brutality. Loads of blood. 

 

Lupin III 

Arguably the most loved gentleman thief of all time, Arsène Lupin and his band of conspirators – the gunslinger Jigen and samurai Goeman whose sword can cut through anything – travel the world in search of any treasure they can lay their hands on. Many a child got their gentle introduction into the world of human sexuality through the soft-core silhouettes of Lupin’s love interest Fujiko, a femme fatale with ample cleavage. Also features Interpol police inspector ‘Za Za’ Zenigata, who tries in vain to catch Lupin. 

 

Sanpei 

Japanese mountains and lakes. An orphan (again) who lives with his grandfather. Crazy about fishing, he battles with giant carps and freshwater monster fish. That’s pretty much it. 

 

Galaxy Express 999 

Yet another orphaned child: this time a 10-year-old travelling through the universe aboard the Galaxy Express, an intergalactic train. Tetsuro’s mother was killed by a gang while the two were travelling to Megalopolis in search for work. Before she dies, she tells him to continue the journey they started, and to get a machine body to live the eternal life she couldn’t: so starts Tetsuro’s journey to become a robot, by reaching the Andromeda galaxy at the end of the Galaxy 999 line, where the machine bodies are given away for free. 

 

Cat’s Eye (Occhi di Gatto) 

Sexy sisterly trio led by Hitomi Kisugi, who by day runs the Cat’s Eye café with older sister Rui and young Ai, and by night become international art thieves dressed in leotards, stealing works that belonged to their missing father, whose collection was taken away under the Nazis. Hitomi’s fiancé is clueless police detective Toshio, who wants to catch the Cat’s Eye thieves. Fantastic intro blends disco moves with Manga tropes.

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