Bionic Six was a series I didnâ€™t get into until the Sci-Fi Channel began rerunning it in the mornings, along with Star Wars: Droids, the New Gigantor and the Transformers. I only enjoyed it in passing, as it wasnâ€™t my favorite of their morning line-up, honestly. I remember thinking Mother-1 was kinda hot, though.
The show was an American-Japanese joint production, with animation by TMS (Tokyo Movie Shinsha), the same people that brought us Mighty Orbots and tons of other Japanese-animated cartoons. I remember the animation being rather good, particularly the opening sequence. Yeah, the theme song is hilariously lame (â€œWe are a family! I fight for them, they fight for me!â€), but the visuals were pleasing. There were two seasons with a total of 65 episodes produced.
As the story goes, the Bennet family became trapped under an avalanche of radioactive snow (which is deadlier than regular snow). A Government-sponsored scientist named Professor Sharp gathered their frozen corpses and rebuilt them with bionic technology, making them better than they were before: better, stronger, faster. This multi-cultural family of the future consisted of Bionic-1, the father who had supervision and super-hearing. Mother-1, his wife who had telekinetic powers allowing her to create mirages and move objects. Sport-1, the blonde all-American son, obsessed with sports, who could move metallic objects like Magneto. Rock-1, the blonde imbecilic 80â€™s â€œgag-me-with-a-spoonâ€ stereotype who loved rock music, rebellious haircuts and could fire sonic blasts. IQ, the adopted black son who was super smart and super strong. And finally, Karate-1, because all azn people are obsessed with martial arts. There was also FLUFFI, the inexplicably robotic gorilla who provided all the comic relief, ala Slimer, Snarf or Orko.
They could activate their bionic powers through these computer wristbands and rings they wore. By uniting the two accessories they could go all crazy and trash the villains. The villains, by the way, were Dr. Scarab and his horde of dimwitted thugs. Dr. Scarab was the evil brother of Dr. Sharp, and while Sharp gave bionic powers to a group of good-natured Americans, Scarab imbued a gaggle of mental patients with super abilities (thatâ€™s always a recipe for success). Oh, and he was really ugly.
The voice acting was pretty good. You had John Stephenson, one of the greats, as the voice of Bionic-1 and the villain, Klunk. Alan Oppenheimer, another classic voice actor, provided Professor Sharpâ€™s persona. Thereâ€™s also the king of the voice acting world, Frank Welker, voicing virtually every member of Scarabâ€™s goon squad.
While the plots were a bit predictable and really nothing out of the ordinary for 80â€™s cartoons, Bionic Six had one thing really going for it: the animation. TMS produced some of the most gorgeous animation in the 80â€™s, but Bionic Six is the cream of the crop. The character designs are noticeably Western, yet the animation quality is fluid, detailed, smooth and oozes an overall Japanese quality. Karate-1â€™s martial arts attacks as well as various action sequences all leak hints of Japanese anime, but when fused with the Western cartoon designs and story-telling, the whole thing comes off as eye candy.
Of all of TMSâ€™ work with American animation, Bionic Six remains one of their greatest accomplishments, with animation that outshines productions from the 90â€™s, like Batman the Animated Series. Iâ€™d recommend tracking the series down if youâ€™re really into pretty animation and 80â€™s cartoon aesthetics. Iâ€™ve even found a few for you: