Cyborg 009: SF Roman is a 1978 light novel, written by Akiyoshi Sakai and illustrated by Shotaro Ishinomori.
It is inspired from the 1967 film Cyborg 009 Monster Wars, with elements of the original Mythos and Underground Empire of Yomi arcs of the manga. The light novel has been reprinted in vol. 23 of the deluxe Akita Shoten reprints of the manga, as a bonus story.
In devising the plot for the novel, the defection of the Soviet pilot Viktor Belenko had still been a relevant topic. Belenko had fled to Japan from the Soviet Union in his MiG-25 Foxbat, and had been granted asylum in the USA.
Sakai would wind be inspired by the story, incorporating the event of a "MiG-28" pilot defecting from the Soviet Union and seeking asylum. In keeping with the manga's Cold War setting, the clash between the United States and Soviet Union is a key setting in the background, with Black Ghost continuing to exploit the tension and also aiming to get Japan involved.
Sakai initially remained uncredited for the storyline, with Shotaro Ishinomori's name only appearing on the cover.
It has been five years since the 00 Cyborgs escaped the Black Ghost organization and had believed to have defeated it. Joe Shimamura/009, now 23, has beome a F-1 racer since the team had split up and has been participating in the Fuji Inter-200.
Later in the evening, after his race, Joe is suddenly trailed by a fighter helicopter that fires upon his car. It is then revealed that his former teammate 004 has come to retrieve him, as the 00 cyborg team is needed once more. The two travel to Dr. Gilmore's research institute in the Marshall Islands, where they learn that the Black Ghost organization has abducted a young MiG 28 pilot named Petrov, who had escaped from the Soviet Union and had been staying in Japan. Japan has thus wound up in the center of conflict between the two warring sides in the Cold War.
009 and 004 split up to recruit the rest of the team, with 003 now revealed to be working at her mother's flower shop, taking over for her older brother who had recently been drafted into the military. She refuses to return to the team, citing how she had been living a comfortable life with her mother and younger brother, as well as revealing that she has also fallen in love with her ballet teacher Aznavour. However, 003 changes her mind, meeting up with 009 on the plane back to the Marshall Islands.
In the meantime, Black Ghost's manipulation has lead to both US and Soviet submarines clashing in the Sea of Okhotsk. The 00 cyborgs are briefed on the mission and introduced to Dr. Gilmore's new flying ship The Poseidon, which can withstand Black Ghost's supersonic wave cannons. During the clash between the submarines, 003 becomes overwhelmed by the attacks and has to be protected and supported by 004. A Soviet submarine is then struck by a Japanese fishing boat, which turns out to be one of Black Ghost's boats in disguise. Another Soviet ship winds up destroyed by Black Ghost's supersonic wave cannons, with the Poseidon being too late to save it.
Within all the drifting wreckage in the sea, 009 discovers the body of a woman floating about and insists on rescuing her. A Black Ghost submarine appears and attacks the Poseidon, emitting strange rays that seem to affect 003. The submarine is driven away, and the mysterious woman awakens, introducing herself as Helena. 009 immediately takes interest in her, with 003 showing signs of jealousy at him paying attention to the other girl. Helena identifies herself as the younger sister of Petrov, and voices her suspicions that he may have been murdered by Black Ghost, which lead her to board the Soviet surveillance ship in hopes of trying to find her brother.
While the other cyborgs are suspicious of Helena's identity, 009 insists that Helena's hatred of the Black Ghost is the same as theirs, and she is allowed to stay on the Poseidon through the mission. Suddenly, the Poseidon is attacked by tiger sharks with missiles, as well as a swarm of energy-draining jellyfish. 004 and 003 instantly blame Helena for the occurences, with 003 angrily insisting that she must be a criminal.
Helena is forced out into the ocean with a limited tank of oxygen for 30 minutes, by order of 004. Helena begins to suffer from the intense cold, with 004 taking pleasure in her struggle, causing an argument to break out between him and 009. 009 retrieves Helena and takes her back to the Poseidon, while 004 states that if the traitor isn't the new girl, it has to be someone on the team.
The other team members continue to remain suspicious about Helena, while Helena confesses to 009 that she wished she had died. 009 comforts her, and reveals that she reminds him of a girl from his past. Before he was remodeled as Cyborg 009, his life as Joe Shimamura had been a string of misfortune, with him having been bullied for his biracial heritage due to his blond hair and blue eyes making him stand out amongst the other kids at the orphanage. He met another child, Midori Aoba, who had protected him from the bullies, and they grew close. Midori and Joe left the orphanage in their teens, with Midori planning to become a clothing designer and Joe planning to work as a car mechanic. But as Joe reveals, tragedy had unexpectedly struck when Midori was killed in a hit-and-run accident, with the driver that killed her being an American F-1 racer. In a rage, Joe attacked the racer, and wound up imprisoned at a reformatory. It is also revealed that after the defeat of Black Ghost, Joe specifically became a racer as a further way of revenge against the man who killed Midori, but only found emptiness. 003 hears his confession, but feels that she still cannot sympathize with Helena.
As the Poseidon continues its travel, more suspicious events occur, with 001 winding up stabbed and the anti-supersonic wave cannon breaking down. The Poseidon is then surrounded by Black Ghost submarines, and only barely escapes due to 001's telekinesis. The Poseidon tracks a Black Ghost submarine to an underground cave in the ocean, following it and giving the team the indication that Black Ghost's new base must be beneath the very earth. The team explores the underground world, but 003 insists on Helena being left behind in the ship. Suddenly, 004 hears Helena's scream and hurries back, to find her missing.
009 goes searching for Helena, only to be ambushed and shot at by a mysterious figure, and then attacked by a pair of electricity-powered twins calling themselves "Cyborg 0011". 003 and 004 are alerted to this, and are also attacked by the twins. 009 realizes the twins' weak spot, and tricks them into coming into contact with each other, causing their deaths. He then continues to hear Helena's screaming, and after taking the other two back to the Poseidon, resumes his search for her.
Helena is revealed to have been ensnared by a strange underground plant, but 009 regards her coldly, realizing that if there had been a Cyborg 0011, she must be Cyborg 0010 and a spy. He shoots her, lamenting that he only wished that she could have continued to deceive him, and Helena falls into a chasm. 009 thinks over the things that he and Helena could have done together if they were not enemies, such as dancing and tennis. Unbeknownst to him, 003 has recovered and has been observing him from the shadows.
Back on the Poseidon, the other cyborgs rejoice over Helena's death, but 009 yells at them to stop. 003 suddenly agrees, revealing that she had heard his confession about his past, and states that Helena had to be a victim of the Black Ghost as well. The others apologize, while 009 goes to visit 004 in the sick bay at the request of Dr. Gilmore. While 009 apologizes to 004 for having caused a crisis over Helena, 004 states that he only wishes 009 would only be more understanding of 003's feelings for him. 003 eavesdrops upon their conversation, feeling relieved.
The Poseidon happens upon a Parthenon-style temple in the middle of the underground world's ocean, and the team realize it must be the new headquarters of Black Ghost. Immediately, the Poseidon is fired on by Black Ghost submarines' supersonic wave cannons and sinks. The team escape, but see that 009 has decided to confront one of the Cyborg Men on their attack submarine. The combination of his sonic gun and the supersonic cannon cause an explosion, and when he does not resurface from the wreckage, the rest of the team believes him to have died. They advance towards the Black Ghost base, but are instantly felled by an electromagnetic trap.
009 regains consciousness in an ocean cave, and realizes that he had been saved from the explosion. He finds Helena's necklace, and that its pendant contains a photo of her older brother. He realizes that Helena must have saved him, and must be alive somewhere, but he is then attacked by Cyborg Men. In the Black Ghost base, the emperor Ares, a giant bird-like statue, realizes that the newly cybernetically-remodeled Helena must have betrayed him and rescued one of the 00 cyborgs. Black Ghost had planned to use Helena as their pawn and feed off her revenge towards the 00 cyborgs, but her hatred for them having abducted her brother was stronger. Ares attempts to incinerate Helena with a heat ray, but she is rescued by 009, who apologizes to her for having let all this happen to her. Helena insists that it's up to him to defeat Black Ghost and to bring world peace.
Unfortunately, Skull shows that the rest of the 00 cyborgs and Dr. Gilmore are detained in an electromagnetic prison, and he calls upon 0010 to finish off the other two. Helena is horrified to see that 0010 is her brother Petrov, who had been alive all along but had become yet another cyborg of the Black Ghost, bearing an accelator and high-intensity heat powers. Helena charges at her brother to save 009, and winds up immolated in the process, with the two hitting up against the electromagnetic fence. The 00 cyborgs and Dr. Gilmore are freed, but Helena dies, using the last of her strength to encourage 009 to defeat Black Ghost.
009 attempts to leave 003 and 001 with Dr. Gilmore, but is suddenly shot at by 003, who is revealed to have been put under a deep hypnosis. Ares then reveals that all the strange occurences that had happened on the Poseidon were due to 003, who was being manipulated by his mind-control rays (as well as her shooting at 009 when he attempted to find Helena). 003 does not break out of her trance, and starts to attack the other 00 cyborgs, leading to 009 entering Ares and fighting the Cyborg Men inside. He then fights against Skull, and it is revealed that the true leaders of Black Ghost are three brains in glass cases. After destroying the brains, their psychic hold on 003 is broken, and 009 rejoins the others.
The temple starts to collapse, and 009 and 003 panic over the fact that they'll be unable to escape the underground empire, with the Poseidon having been destroyed. 009 apologizes for having taken her away from her average life, but 001 awakens to reveal that an escape rocket is inside the base, and teleports the team and Dr. Gilmore inside of it. Upon their escape from the base, the team mourns Helena's death, and 009 muses that her love for peace is what helped prevent the resurrection of Black Ghost.
Note: Due to the way the novel is written, most of the team do not play significant part or have extended characterization.
The 00 CyborgsEdit
- Dr. Isaac Gilmore
- Ares, in actuality the three brains of Black Ghost
- Cyborg Men
- The Cyborg 0011 twins (Plus and Minus)
- Petrov, aka Cyborg 0010
- Author: Akiyoshi Sakai
- Illustrator: Shotaro Ishinomori
- Configuration by: Ishimori Productions for Asahi Sonorama
- The novel encountered some criticism for its portrayal of the 00 cyborgs, particularly 003 and 009 as well as the "sadistic" attitude employed by the team about Helena. This is what lead to some suspicion of the story not being Ishinomori's own, along with the writing style winding up similar to Sakai's episodes of the 1979 series and his novelization of Cyborg 009 The Movie: Legend of the Super Galaxy (particularly the reference made to the ballet teacher Aznavour, as well as Dr. Gilmore's base being named "Green Coral Reef" and being located in the Marshall Islands).
- The name of Francoise's ballet teacher may be reference to the French singer Charles Aznavour, much as her own name directly references a figure from French popular culture.
- With the plot taking place in 1978, this would place the 00 cyborgs' formation as having happened in 1973.
Comparisons and differences from the original mangaEdit
- Rather than the team's reunion taking place two years after they escaped Black Ghost, a time-skip of five years is given, which would later be used for the 1979 series as well.
- While Joe is described to have chestnut hair in the manga (which was turned black for the 1960s animated works), Sakai opted to play up the "foreigner" look by having him described as blond-haired and blue-eyed. Interestingly enough, the 1979 anime would later depict Joe as a blond man, and Ishinomori himself would also describe Joe as "golden-haired" in the Aztec story.
- In the manga, no mention is made of whether or not Francoise's parents are alive, but Sakai depicts her mother as having been active in her life. Oddly, while Jean is briefly alluded to, the manga also implies that he is her only sibling while Sakai opted to give her an additional, unnamed younger brother.
- Joe's age was unclear at the start of the manga, although after the 1960s animated media settled upon him being 18, his appearance and occupation evolved to where he was consistently depicted as a young man in his late teens at the least. At the time Sakai's novel was written, the concept of the cyborgs having their physical ages frozen appeared to have not been fully set, and he pointedly refers to Joe being 23 in the years since Black Ghost had been defeated (with him having been captured at 18).
- In the manga, it is unclear on the exact events that lead Joe to be imprisoned, other than that he had become an aggressive delinquent. Midori Aoba can be seen as a stand-in for Mary in being a girl of Joe's past, only with her fate ending in tragedy much earlier and driving Joe's revenge.
- The Poseidon is essentially a renamed version of the Dolphin, but acts in a similar fashion and it amounts to being destroyed in the end.
- The Demon God Statue, besides being renamed "Ares", does not take off into outer space, taking away the need for 002's attempt to rescue 009.
- Helena is effectively a merger of the original Helena and Helen characters, but initially starts out fully-human, allowing readers to know her pre-remodeling history. Helena's pre-cyborg appearance is inspired by Romy Lorelei from "The Song of Lorelei", except for having sparkly black eyes. Her cyborg form more directly references the manga Helena.
- Petrov/0010, while sharing the number of the electric twins from the manga, is a renamed Apollo. His and Helena's ages are switched around, allowing for him to be the older brother, while Helena was originally the older of the two siblings in the manga.
Similarities and differences to "Monster Wars" and the 1966 filmEdit
- The electric twins are re-assigned to be 0011, as they were in the film, but Ishinomori's artwork depicts them with the manga designs for 0010 Plus and Minus (as opposed to anything inspired by the film's 0011 designs).
- While Helena was actually a traitor and secretly Cyborg 0010 in the film, the novel plays with this idea and Joe's assumption of it being the case, only to reveal that Petrov was actually 0010 and that Helena had only been converted after Black Ghost retrieved her from the chasm.
- The Demon God Statue appears in the film as "Black Ghost", but there is no final battle between him and Joe/009, nor do the brains or Skull appear in the film. In turn, the novel omits "Achilles" (a character modeled after the manga's Atlas).
- The jellyfish and missile sharks also come from the film, but were in turn sourced from the manga's Wandering arc as one of Monster Wars' many ways of merging together plot points.
- The electromagnetic prison is also a motif that was lifted from Monster Wars, along with the Black Ghost base resembling the Parthenon, although the mention of such a prison is alluded to in the original Yomi arc, and one of the buildings has a Greek architectural style.
- In a plot point inspired from the first animated film, 003 has been brainwashed by Black Ghost and turned against her teammates, attempting to kill them. However, compared to her being abducted and remodeled into a demonic version of herself, she is manipulated from afar, with her jealousy and negative emotions being fed off of.