The manga was published in Weekly Shōnen Magazine and ran from 1963 to 1966. The anime series, produced by Eiken with the TCJ Animation Center, was broadcast on Tokyo Broadcasting System, and ran from November 17, 1963, to December 31, 1964, with a total of 56 episodes (plus the "farewell" special episode, "Goodbye, Eightman").
Murdered by criminals, Detective Yokoda's body is retrieved by Professor Tani and taken to his laboratory. There, Tani performs an experiment that has failed seven times; Yokoda is the eighth subject to have his life force transferred into an android body. For the first time, the experiment succeeds. Yokoda is reborn as the armor-skinned android 8 Man, able to dash at impossible speeds, as well as shape-shift into other people. He shifts himself into Yokoda, this time christening himself as "Hachiro Azuma". He keeps this identity a secret, known only to Tani and his police boss Chief Tanaka. Even his girlfriend Sachiko and friend Ichiro do not know he is an android. As 8-Man, Hachiro fights crime (even bringing his own murderers to justice). He smokes "energy" cigarettes, to rejuvenate his powers, that he carries in a cigarette case on his belt.
In Japan, the character's origin actually varies significantly between the original manga, the TV series, and the live-action movie. In the original Japanese manga and TV series, the character's name does not change when he is reborn as 8 Man. The "Detective Yokoda" name was created for the live-action version. In the manga, Detective Azuma is trapped in a warehouse and gunned down, while the TV series has him killed when he is run over by a car. Also, in the Japanese story, the character is called "8 Man" because he is considered an extra member of the Japanese police force. There are seven regular police precincts and 8 Man is treated as an unofficial eighth precinct all to himself.
The Japanese manga was presented as serial novella stories along with a set of one-shot stories. Many of the stories were edited down and adapted for the TV series, but not all of them. The novella stories were originally printed on a weekly basis in Shukuu Shōnen Magazine in 16-page increments that consisted of 15 story pages and one title page. Ten additional one-shot stories were presented in seasonal and holiday specials of Shuukuu Shōnen Magazine. These stories were generally between 30-40 pages in length.
In the North American version of the series the resurrected detective/android is known as "Tobor" or the word "robot" spelled backwards. Tani is referred to as "Professor Genius" and the sobriquet of 8-Man is changed slightly to "8th-Man". The story content was clearly directed toward a wider audience of both young and adult viewers. Due to changes in cigarette advertising laws in the 1960s, television characters were not allowed to be seen smoking. As this was a major plot device in the series, the show was forced to be removed from broadcast in the United States.怪人ゲーレン (Kaijin Geren) - Galen, The Mystery Man
サタンの兄弟 (Satan no Kyodai) - Satan's Brothers
怪力ロボット007 (Kairiki Robotto 007) - Strange Powered Robot 007
光線兵器レーザー (Kosen Heiki Reza) - The Laser Beam Gun
超人サイバー (Chojin Saiba) - Cyber, The Superhuman
人間ミサイル (Ningen Misairu) - The Human Missile
殺人ロボット005 (Satsujin Robotto 005) - Murderous Robot 005
魔女エスパー (Majo Esupa) - Esper, The Witch
超人類ミュータント (Chojinri Mutanto) - Superhuman Mutant
魔人コズマ (Majin Kozuma) - The Demon Kozuma
Jiro Kuwata was imprisoned for possession of a handgun before the final 16-page serial of "The Demon Kozuma" was completed. The final serial was drawn by Takaharu Kusunoki for the magazine version. Jiro Kuwata later redrew the final pages of the story himself by request of Kazumasa Hirai and Rim Publishing so that they could publish a complete version of the final story. (The publishers were not able to use Kusunoki's artwork, so the story was omitted or left incomplete in previous official releases.)
死刑囚タランチュラ - The Condemned Criminal Tarantula
決闘 - The Duel
シャドウ・ボクサー - Shadow Boxer
復讐鬼ゴースト - Vengeful Demon Ghost
超振動砲 - The Super Vibration Gun
マッド・マシン - Mad Machine
サイボーグPV1号 - Cyborg Number PV1
殺し屋イライジャ - The Assassin Elijah
燃える水 - Burning Water
幽霊ハイウェイ - Phantom Highway
太陽衛星サンダー (単行本未収録) - Solar Satellite "Thunder" (unreleased story)
This was intended as a lead-in to a series of 23 comic stories adapted from the TV series.
"Good Bye Eight Man" - a special look back at the TV series.
- エイトマン登場 - Introducing Eightman
- 殺し屋ゲーレン - Galen, The Hitman
- サタンの兄弟 - Satan's Brother
- 死刑台B3 - The B3 Gallows
- 暗黒カプセル - The Darkness Capsule
- 黄金ギャング - The Gold Gang
- 消音ジェット機 - The Stealth Jetplane
- 超小型ミサイル - The Ultra Micro Missile
- 光線銃レーザー - The Lazer Ray Gun
- ロボット007 - Robot 007
- まぼろしの暗殺者 - The Phantom Assassin
- 海底のウラン - The Undersea Uranium
- 人間パンチカード - The Human Punch Card
- スーパーパイロット - The Super Pilot
- 黒い幽霊 - The Black Ghost
- 怪盗黄金虫 - Goldbeetle, The Mysterious Thief
- 超音波ドクター - The Ultrasonic Wave Doctor
- 台風男爵 - The Typhoon Baron
- ゲーレンの逆襲 - Galen Strikes Again
- スパイ指令100号 - Spy Directive No. 100
- ロボットタイガー - The Robot Tiger
- ゼロへの挑戦 - Challenge to Zero
- ナポレオン13世 - Napoleon The 13th
- サラマンダー作戦 - Operation: Salamander
- 超人サイバー - Cyber, The Superhuman
- 地球ゼロアワー - Zero Hour: Earth
- 大怪物イーラ - Eeler, The Giant Monster
- バクテリア作戦 - Operation: Bacteria
- 人間ミサイル - The Human Missile
- サイボーグ人間C1号 - Cyborg No. C1
- 幽霊ハイウェイ - The Phantom Highway
- 太陽衛星サンダー - Thunder, The Solar Satellite
- 人工生命ヴァルカン - Vulcan, The Artificial Lifeform
- 決闘 - The Duel
- 冷凍光線 - The Freeze Ray
- バイラス13号 - Virus No. 13
- 悪夢の7日間 - The 7 Day Nightmare
- 怪人ゴースト - The Mysterious Ghost
- まぼろしを作る少年 - The Boy Who Made a Phantom
- 透明ロボット・ジュピター - Jupiter, The Invisible Robot
- エイトマン暗殺指令 - Order: Assassinate Eightman
- 女王蜂モンスター - The Queen Bee Monster
- 魔女エスパー - Esper, The Witch
- 世界電撃プラン - The World Blitz Plan
- 死刑囚タランチュラ - Tarantula, The Condemned Criminal
- 空飛ぶ魔人 - The Flying Devil
- バブル・ボール作戦 - Operation: Bubble Ball
- 火星人SAW - SAW, The Martian
- 30億人の人質 - 3 Billion Hostages
- 怪像ジャイアント - Giant, The Mysterious Statue
- 狙われた地球 - Target Earth
- 人喰魚ピラニア - The Man-Eating Piranha
- ムタールの反乱 - Moutard's Rebellion
- シャークの掟 - Law Of The Shark
- 超人類ミュータント(前編) - Superhuman Mutant (Part One)
- 超人類ミュータント(後編) - Superhuman Mutant (Part Two)
In 1965, 8 Man was brought to the U.S. as 8th Man (sometimes called "Tobor the 8th Man," as in its English-language theme music), with ABC Films as its syndicated distributor. 52 of the original 56 episodes were "converted" into English.
The characters were renamed as follows:Yokota/Azuma/8 Man - Special Agent Brady/Tobor ("robot" spelled backwards)/8th Man
Tani - Professor Genius
Tanaka - Chief FumbleThumbs
Sachiko - Jenny Hartsweet
Ichiro - Skip
8 Man was ranked ninth in Mania Entertainment's 10 Most Iconic Anime Heroes written by Thomas Zoth, who commented that, "Before Cyborg 009, The Six Million Dollar Man, and Robocop, there was 8 Man: The first cyborg manga and anime hero. Building on Astro Boy, 8 Man helped to shape the trajectory of robot and cyborg heroes for the next decade."
The 8 Man franchise was revived in the early 1990s by a live-action film, video game and new animated series.
In 1991, SNK released a video game edition of Eight Man for the Neo-Geo arcade and home video game system (both versions are identical) where the player took the role of 8 Man and his robo-comrade 9 Man in a fight against an invading evil robot army. The game was released internationally. While the game stayed true to the concept of a crime-fighting super-robot, it was widely panned for being tedious and relying too much on the gimmick of its speed-running effect.
In 1992, a live-action film version of 8 Man was produced in Japan. Titled Eitoman - Subete no Sabishī Yoru no Tame ni (8マン・すべての寂しい夜のために, lit. 8 Man - For All the Lonely Night), it was directed by Yasuhiro Horiuchi and starred Kai Shishido as the title character and Toshihide Wakamatsu as Detective Yokota. Distributed in the United States by Fox Lorber video simply as 8 Man, the movie was widely panned for its choppy editing, mediocre direction and low-budget feel. Many modern American viewers, unfamiliar with the older animated series, felt the movie was an inferior version of RoboCop, despite the fact that the latter was a much more recent franchise.
In mid-1993, the mantle of 8 Man was taken up by Hazama Itsuru in the OVA series 8 Man After. Existing in a world far more corrupt than that of his predecessor, the new 8 Man had no qualms about being extremely violent towards the cybernetic criminals who had murdered him previously. Licensed by Streamline Pictures, it has since gone out of print.
A manga series called 8 Man Infinity (8マンインフィニティ Eitoman Infiniti) is being authored by Kyoichi Nanatsuki under Kodansha, which is being serialized under Kodansha's Magazine Z.