With the success of his early animated weekly television programs, Tezuka decided to set his sights on a longer, 60-minute program based on the same popular anthology format used by Walt Disney Company. Although the Black & White New Treasure Island (1965) TV Special aired on January 3, 1965 as the first episode of Tezuka’s “Mushi Pro World” television series, the format didn’t really catch on.
However, in late August 1978, as part of its 25th anniversary celebrations, the Nippon Television Network Corporation spearheaded the creation of an annual charity event. Dubbed “24 Hour Television: Love Saves the Earth” [24時間テレビ「愛は地球を救う」], the telethon was created to raise money (via donations) to support the charity efforts of a wide range of projects – everything from helping the sick or handicapped, to victims of global natural disasters, to war relief, to environmental conservation. Osamu Tezuka was approached and asked to contribute a two-hour animated television movie, beginning a semi-annual tradition that lasted from 1978 until 1989 when Tezuka passed away. In all, nine animated telefilms were produced by Tezuka Productions, skipping only 1982, 1987, and 1988.
Of course, animation is a much more collaborative effort than manga (generally speaking), and it should be noted that while Tezuka may have had a hand in creating the general plots and setting the overall tone, he was not the primary writer/director of any of the telefilms. However, they were developed by the staff of Tezuka Productions, and have many of the telltale Tezuka signs – chief among them a strong use of Tezuka’s Star System. In fact, Undersea Super-train: Marine Express (1979) alone features a virtual cornucopia of Tezuka’s star players.
|New Treasure Island||1963/01/01||Fuji TV||B&W||52 min.||Mushi Productions|
|Space Journey: The First Dream of Wonder-kun||1969/01/02||NHK||Colour||20 min.||Mushi Productions|
|One Million-year Trip: Bander’s Book||1978/08/27||NTV||Colour||94 min.||Tezuka Productions|
|Undersea Super-train: Marine Express||1979/08/26||NTV||Colour||91 min.||Tezuka Productions|
|Fumoon||1980/08/31||NTV||Colour||91 min.||Tezuka Productions|
|Bremen 4: Angels in Hell||1981/08/23||NTV||Colour||91 min.||Tezuka Productions|
|A Time Slip of 10,000 years: Prime Rose||1983/08/21||NTV||Colour||90 min.||Tezuka Productions|
|Bagi, the Monster of Mighty Nature||1984/08/19||NTV||Colour||90 min.||Tezuka Productions|
|The Three-Eyed One: Prince in Devil Island||1985/08/25||NTV||Colour||85 min.||Toei|
|Galaxy Investigation 2100: Border Planet||1986/08/24||NTV||Colour||73 min.||Tezuka Productions|
|The Story of Osamu Tezuka: I am Son-Goku||1989/08/27||NTV||Colour||70 min.||Tezuka Prodcutions|