Thunderbirds 2086 was a Japanese anime series loosely inspired by the original Gerry Anderson Supermarionation series Thunderbirds. The series was dubbed in English by ITC Entertainment, the original company who produced Thunderbirds, but is not officially recognised as part of Thunderbirds canon, due to the non-involvement of either Gerry or Sylvia Anderson. In addition to the English dub, the series contains music and sound effects from Anderson’s series Stingray, Thunderbirds, Captain Scarlet and the Mysterons, Joe 90, UFO and Space:1999. A total of 24 episodes were produced, but only 18 were shown on Fuji TV in 1982.
The series takes place in 2086, (with the dub setting being roughly twenty years after the original series with other dates seen on screen) and chronicles the adventures of TechnoVoyager (literally, “TechnoBoyger”, a portmanteau of “Techno”, “Boy”, and “Voyager”) a rescue team portrayed in the dub as the “Thunderbirds” working for the International Rescue Organisation (in the Japanese version, the two entities are one and the same).
Unlike the original International Rescue, which was small-scale and family-run, TechnoVoyager is a vast organisation comprising numerous branches and overseen by the Federation, this series’ equivalent of the United Nations. Although the dub is called Thunderbirds 2086, the Tracy family, who ran IR in the original series, are not mentioned.
In the dub, the Thunderbirds name is used to refer to the team, while in the original series the name merely referred to their vehicles. The animated series otherwise has notable similarities to the original, with most episodes revolving around a natural or man-made disaster which the TechnoVoyager/Thunderbirds team must investigate and help resolve.
Unlike the original series, Thunderbirds 2086 also has an on-going story arc, like many Japanese anime series. This one revolves around a breakaway independence group known as the Shadow Axis, led by the mysterious Star Crusher. There is a heavy intimation in the series that Star Crusher is not human and may be some kind of alien entity.