Airdate: Shintaro

13. Samurai Production stillNostalgic TV fans cast your minds back to 1964 when a children’s television series on Japanese sword fighting caused a sensation: The Samurai.

With memories of WWII still raw, Channel Nine was bombarded with letters demanding the show be taken off air, but Australia’s children loved it. The show even kicked The Mickey Mouse Club off it’s mantle to become the most popular kid’s show.

For 30 minutes a day, 5 days week, Australian children watched their hero, Shintaro battle his mysterious Ninja enemies. On the surface, The Samurai was about flashing swords and flying stars, but there was a strong moralistic value of good triumphing over evil; a Japanese version of heroes defeating villains in the style of the classic western.

In 1965, a Sydney promoter, brought The Samurai’s star, Koichi Ose (Shintaro) to Australia for a promotional tour. He was greeted by 6,000 fans at Mascot Airport, and over 7,000 fans at Essendon Airport -the biggest since the arrival of The Beatles.

Now a documentary on the subject has been made by director Marco Sinigaglia to air on SBS.

He said, “I wanted to tell the story from the point of view of the children who experienced the sensation first hand, reflecting on all the excitement and adulation that they had for the show and its star, Koichi Ose (Shintaro). The documentary needed to not only pay homage to The Samurai, but also capture the essence of what Australians and Australia was like at the time this show appeared.”

Appearing in the doco are Dr William. S Armour, Steve Bedwell, Santo Cilauro, John Doyle, Wayne Harrison, Richard Lyle, Ian Rogerson, Peter “Grubby” Stubbs, Andrew Verity, Nikki White and more.

It airs 8.30pm Wednesday November 4th on SBS ONE.


  1. A few years back I was sitting with a group of new friends, having a beer or three. We were working on a backyard project at a neighbour’s house and it started to rain. One of the guys jumped up to retrieve something and half of the crew called out spontaneously and without prompting ‘Run like Tombei the Mist’ ….. the other half laughed and we all shared our Shintaro moments. Somehow I can;t see that sort of thing happening with much our kids watch today…. this group of friends? guys you could ever meet…

  2. Shintaro in The Samurai! God I loved that show. I remember going to see him in Sydney. My dad refused to buy me one of the toy Samurai swords they were selling at the gig as they were too expensive. I can’t remember the show itself though. Plastic star knives, Samurai swords and stuff were the toys of the moment back then.

    Yeah, why don’t Nine put The Samurai on GO! They’re prepared to show the Jetsons and The Flintstones from the same era, so why not our first Japanese superstars? That terrible dubbing was funny then, now it’d be a riot!

  3. The last appearance of Koichi Ose was in footage from one of David Lyle’s ‘Golden Years of Television’ specials from 1988.

    These days he’s a private business man ( the CEO of some noodle restaurant empire) and a fan gatecrashed one of his meetings with a friend with a video camera and tried to interview him, with Koichi Ose not knowing one word of english.

    This footage later appeared on one of “The Samurai” vhs video releases, by Hollywood House Video.

  4. I’d love to know who the programming genius was who first saw the potential of this show. A Japanese action half-hour to be dubbed into English and screened in Australia? I can’t think of there ever being anything like it, either before or since.

  5. Ah, “the Samurai” – what a show! I remember catching the first episode by accident, way back in 1965 (age 5) and being immediately hooked. I stil have a handful of the bubble-gum card that were issued.

    Watching some of the DVD releases, I can understand part of the reason for that fascination. Sure, it was full of action, but it looked like nothing we’d ever seen before. Back then, pretty much all that people of my age knew of Japan was that our parents’ and grandparents’ generations had fought them in a major war, and that they made cheap electronics. But here was a show with people whose dress, culture and architecture were like something from another planet, and groups of incredibly cool, seemingly superhuman warriors!

    I’ve sometimes claimed- only half-jokingly – that “The Samurai” probably did more to interest Aussies of my age in Japanese history and culture than anything else – regardless of the bad dubbing! And of course, when _our_ kids got interested in the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, we already half-knew what they were on about!

  6. Oh David, you’re so polite and kind with the words “*nostalgic* TV fans cast your minds back to 1964”, as opposed to *older*! hahaha Well thankfully I can say I wasn’t born then, *just*! I’d never heard of the show before now. It sounds like it was a fun show for kids to watch. Interfering parents!!!

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