The Christian Broadcasting Network, in an effort to spread the Gospel to Japan, worked with famed anime studio Tatsunoko to create two series featuring kids traveling back to the days of the Bible, taking part in those events. The more famous one, Superbook, is about to be remade in CG for a new audience. The original has already found huge audiences around the world, with Gizmo acting as mascot for a number of other kid-targeted outreaches. Even non-Christians remember the show. (I do enjoy David Willis’ Shortpacked comic, most of the time, but if your going to visit the archives, I should warn you this is no Christian comic in any form.)
I’m personally curious to see how the new show works out, and how the new Gizmo will be received compared to his predecessor.
However, I tend to prefer the other CBN series in that comic, The Flying House, the subject of tonight’s program. Note that there’s a lot of space where the commercials would go, so you may spend a half-minute between segments looking at a black screen. At first I thought something went funny with the video, too. 🙂
UPDATE: 11/13/2021: With Vodpod down I haven’t been able to repost the episode until I found this fan upload on YouTube. There’s foreign subtitles on the episode itself though the intro doesn’t have them. I think they’re Arabic, but I wouldn’t know which one.
Being more of a sci-fi person, I thought the concept of a house being converted into a time machine was cool. You don’t have to worry about finding a place to stay (although you do have to get supplies now and then), and the house flew! Until the TARDIS came along, it was the best living space ever (sorry, Batcave and Fortress of Solitude).
While Superbook focused on the Old Testament, and had it’s heroes traveling through time (or at least some kind of holo-deck style simulation, I was never quite sure) via a “magic Bible”, the titular building was itself a time machine, taking the kids to events chronicled in the New Testament. While Superbook had the kids randomly traveling to famous Bible tales, learning a moral they took back to whatever problem they were having at home, The Flying House had a continuous tale. In later episodes, when they got to Jesus’s crucifixion and resurrection, they didn’t try to fit it all into one episode. Jesus dies in one episode, the next has the Professor trying to console the children. It’s been a while, but I forget if the resurrection happened there, or if they waited to the third episode.
Poor Professor Bumble seldom left the house, and missed most of the good adventures, despite having built the machine so he could experience them. Most of the “fun” (when they weren’t being beaten by Romans, tempted by Satan, or trying to explain to anyone they met again why they didn’t age much in the years since they last saw them) was handled by the kids and SIR, the Solar Ion Robot. Oddly, nobody seemed to find SIR odd, seeing as he was made of metal and made to look like a cutesy construction worker/spelunker. Even if someone saw the house flying and/or disappearing, they would just chalk it up to a work of the Lord and move on, rather than the old “let’s just pretend we didn’t see that” or “man, I’m overworked/giving up booze”.
52 episodes of the series, refered to in Japan as Time Classroom, Adventures of the Flying House was produced, and according to Wikipeida’s Superbook entry, neither show was originally meant to be seen outside of Japan. The anime craze, with Voltron and Robotech leading the charge, hadn’t hit full force. When CBN finally did air the shows in English, the names were changed to make everyone appear to be Americans (like a number of anime dubs over the years).
The Flying House doesn’t get the love that Superbook does. Still, I look forward to the updated Superbook, partly with hopes that Justin, Angie, Corky, SIR, and Professor Bumble may also get a second chance at life. (Oh, and they do get back home again in the final episode.)
There are episodes all over YouTube (in their usual pieces), but you can also catch the shows at CBN’s Media Player site (update: not there anymore). Currently only the first six episodes of The Flying House and a few random episodes of Superbook are available. Superbook was released on DVD, but it seems to be sold out and discontinued. I was able to find one DVD for The Flying House. I hope it gets the love it deserves someday.