Like any good medium for storytelling, anime has the ability to transcend the limitations of time. And like any good story, Giant Robo capitalizes on that ability for added effect. One of the great ironies of modern society is that the spread of information technology across the globe has obliterated much of the mystery and novelty it sought to bring to its audience. Even at the height of the scheming of the Cold War, the stage was scoured by the unblinking scrutiny of spyplanes and reconnaissance satellites. It seems that the world has gotten too small for mystery and intrigue.
Director Imagawa, as he alludes to numerous times in the GR liner notes, wanted to make a story that restores the sense that something is going on behind the scenes. "But in the shadow of such glorious peace, two powers were locked in a fierce struggle." As befits the idea of shadowy plotting and conspiracy, the extent of the plans and objectives of the two sides will not be readily clear to the audience. Indeed, the full extent of the plans of the B.F. Organization will not become clear in the anime, being that the anime covers the second to last story arc in the overall world of Giant Robo.
However, in the interest of shedding some light on the proceedings, I'd like to give you a bit more information about the B.F. Organization, especially its (nominal) ruling cadre: the Magnificent Ten. In Imagawa's conception, the battle between the two secret organizations has been going on for quite some time, and the B.F. Organization has almost always had the upper hand due to superior technology and being able to act proactively. In particular, the direct action of the Magnificent Ten in the execution of B.F.'s plans has resulted in the deaths of countless IPO agents and the weakening or destruction of IPO branches all over the world. Europe was hit particularly hard, and it was this weakness that prevented the Paris Branch (to which Murasame Kenji, the Immortal, was posted) from detecting the construction of the Giant Monster Sphere beneath Notre Dame. Indeed, if the IPO had not claimed Giant Robo, it is uncertain if they could have held out at all this long.
The Magnificent Ten appear to be selected for the supremacy of their powers, as well as their skills in directing B.F.'s operations. All ten of its members will appear in the series, but a few words about their powers may help to show exactly how formidable a threat they pose. It should be noted that, besides the Magnificent Ten, the B.F. Organization has a character named Koumei who acts as its chief strategist, and the mysterious figure of Big Fire himself, who is its supreme commander.
Albert the Impact's chief ability is the manipulation of shockwaves, enabling him to inflict massive amounts of damage at close or long range. He appears not to have suffered too badly from the loss of his right eye to Taisou, but the loss of his close friend, The Dazzling Cervantes, grieved him deeply. Cervantes, also a member of the Magnificent Ten, had the ability to directly manipulate and damage the minds of others. Anyone with lesser willpower than the Ten or the Nine was essentially incapable of opposing him. After his defeat by Taisou, his seat among the Ten has yet to be filled. Cervantes was also the only member of the Ten whose ethnicity came from the Oil Empires of the world, and he was instrumental in helping the B.F. Organization cement its power in those regions.
The Magnificent Ten's combat potential is extended by Agents like Doki the Direct Descendant, the scion of an ancient family who heads a group of hyper-martial artists known as the Keppu-Ren. The Fabulous Fitzcarraldo can utilize blasts of hard vacuum to slice man and machine alike into pieces, requiring a mere snap of his fingers. And Mask the Red, a mysterious ninja, can use Arayuru-jutsu ("All-Purpose Technique") for a variety of deadly effects.
However, the terror of the Magnificent Ten is not restricted to outright combat potential. Kawarazaki the Agitator, a courtly older man, can manipulate machines with his telekinesis and excels at mysterious (and deadly) inventions. Yuuki the Twilight possesses the power to compel all living things to do his bidding, permitting him to gather information and plague his foes (literally) with swarms of insects or worse. Juujouji is a vastly powerful Taoist priest whose abilities include animating inanimate objects, command of robots, and the ability to conceal his life force where normal mortals cannot harm it. The specific powers of Zangetsu the Midday, the newest member of the Ten, are shrouded in mystery, but he was the principle executor of the G.R. Project, the deepest and most terrifying plot of the B.F. Organization, said to have been concocted by Big Fire himself. And the leader of the Ten, Hanzui the Demon of Confusion, is the highest-level practitioner of senjutsu (a type of hermetic magic) in the world at large and can warp reality itself.
Unfortunately, many of the aforementioned characters will not show up until episode 6. However, I can promise that when they do, it will be well worth the wait. One thing I will say is that the Magnificent Ten are not a bunch of mindlessly evil villains, and that Imagawa (like Yokoyama before him) has not skimped on the depth and formidability of these characters.
One other character whom I should comment on is Ko-Enshaku, the masked red-armor-wearing samurai who continually does Genya's bidding in the show. From extensive scrutiny of the liner notes, we find out that Ko-Enshaku was originally an IPO Expert named Tenki, brother of the swordsman Koushin who will appear in episode 5. Tenki fought long and hard against the Magnificent Ten, generating an especial vendetta with Yuuki the Twilight, but he was eventually defeated in battle and somehow made into a ghost and forced to serve Big Fire. In addition to the suffering beyond the grave aspect, this ghostly nature makes him very hard to stop or even slow down and allows him to cause untold amounts of trouble for the IPO. According to Imagawa, Ko-Enshaku is destined to have fated battles with both Yuuki and Koushin, but neither of those scores is settled during The Day The Earth Stood Still.
Again, those wishing to seek more information about Giant Robo can find my translations of the liner notes from the Japanese LDs at http://psy-s.cjas.org/~mneideng/trans/giantrobo/.