8 Man was created in 1963 by science fiction writer Kazumasa Hirai and manga artist Jiro Kuwata. and is seen by many as the inspiration behind Robocop. Initially a manga, it ran from 1963 to 1966, it was also an anime that ran for 56 episodes (plus the “farewell” special episode, “Goodbye, Eightman“) between November 17, 1963 to December 31, 1964.
8 Man focuses on Detective Yokoda who is murdered by criminals – his body is retrieved by Professor Tani and taken to his laboratory. There, Tani performs an experiment that has failed seven times; Yokoda is the latest subject to have his life force transferred into an android body. For the first time, the experiment succeeds. Yokoda is reborn as the armour-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 murderers to justice). He smoked “energy” cigarettes, to rejuvenate his powers, that he carried in a cigarette case on his belt.