Black, Draft Dog - the 1970s Japanese animated series

Black, Draft Dog - the 1970s Japanese animated series

Black, lever dog (original Japanese title の ら く ろ Norakuro?), presented in Italy with the title Adventures, misadventures and loves of Nero, a draft dog, is a Japanese anime series produced by TCJ Eiken.

The series premiered in Japan on Fuji TV on October 5, 1970, while in Italy it was broadcast in 1982 on RaiUno.

The theme song for the Italian edition was interpreted by the group I Cavalieri del Re and published on the single Black Lever Dog / Treasure Island.

The animated series is taken from the Japanese manga series made by Suihō Tagawa, originally published by Kodansha on Shōnen Kurabu, and one of the first series to be reprinted in tankōbon format. The protagonist is Norakuro, or Norakuro-kun, an anthropomorphic dog in black and white inspired by Felix cat . The name Norakuro is an abbreviation of norainu (野 良 犬, stray dog) and Kurokichi (黒 吉, the dog's name, which literally means “black luck”).

Norakuro strongly influenced Machiko Hasegawa, the author of Sazae-san, who apprenticed with his author Suihō Tagawa, as well as the author of Fullmetal Alchemist Hiromu Arakawa.


In the original story, the central character Norakuro (Black) was a soldier who served in an army of dogs called a "fierce dog regiment" (猛犬 連隊, mōkenrentai). The publication of the strip began in Kodansha's Shōnen Kurabu in 1931 and was based on the Japanese imperial army of the time; manga artist, Suihō Tagawa, had served in the imperial army from 1919 to 1922. Norakuro was gradually promoted from private to captain in the stories, which began as humorous episodes, but eventually developed into propaganda tales of military exploits against the "army of pigs" on the "continent" - a subtly veiled reference to the second Sino-Japanese war.

The serialization of Norakuro stopped in 1941 due to wartime austerity reasons. After the war, due to the strip's popularity, the character returned in various guises, including a sumo wrestler and botanist.

Prewar animated films based on the military Norakuro and two postwar animated Norakuro series were also produced, in 1970 and 1987. In the 1970 series, Norakuro's voice was played by Nobuyo Ōyama, also known as the voice of Doraemon. During the 80s and early 90s Norakuro was the mascot of the Japanese Self-Defense Forces School of Physical Training (Tai-Iku Gakko).

There is an excerpt appearing in Kramer's Ergot's sixth comic book anthology which is the only example of Tagawa's work published in English.


  • Black
  • Nora
  • Cap. Greyhound
  • Lt Terrier
  • Col. Bulldog
  • Serg. Granite

Technical data

Author Suiho Tagawa
Film script Masaki Tsuji, Shun-ichi Yukimuro
Artistic direction Keishi Kamezaki
Music Hidehiko Arashino, Knights of the King Italian theme song
Studio TCJ Eiken
Network Fuji TV
Date 1st TV October 5, 1970 - March 29, 1971
Episodes 28 (complete)
Duration 30 min
Italian network Raiuno
Date 1st Italian TV 1982
Italian episodes 28 (complete)
Italian episode length 24'