One of the biggest news coming out of “Marvel Studios” is that “Into the Spider-verse 2” producer Phil Lord basically confirmed “Japanese Spider-man” will be in the movie. SO, the big question out of all this is: “what in the blue blazes is Japanese Spider-man?”
Called simply “Spider-man” (or “Supaidaman” as it’s pronounced in Japanese) was a 1978 tokusatsu show (think “Power Rangers,” “Masked Rider,” “VR Troopers” and “Ultraman”) that was a short-lived venture between “Marvel” and “Toei.” The plot is about motorcycle racer Takuya Yamashiro who one day finds an alien from the planet “Spider” who gives him a bracer that imbues Takuya with spider venom and turns into Spider-man. He uses this power to fight an evil military group called the “Iron Cross Army” which is trying to destroy the world.
To deepen his resolve in fighting them, the “Iron Cross Army” kills Takuya’s dad and now vows revenge on them. One of the biggest things you’ll hear people say about this show is that it’s silly. Yes, this show has plenty of silly moments such as the way Spider-man wall crawls, most of his attacks are slaps, the “Iron Cross Army” goons look like kappa and said goons do acrobatics when they fight. What you’ll almost never hear anyone say about this show is that it gets dark. There are episodes that feature dads getting killed left and right, child abuse, a woman committing suicide, a drug that causes people to dance until they die, kidnapping, child abuse, an episode where people gamble all their money away, people getting shot at, dogs getting shot at and the “Iron Cross Army” blowing up buildings while people are still in them.
Remember, this is supposed to be a kid’s show. One thing that’s always talked about is the giant monster fights where Spider-man fights in a mech called “Leopardon.” One thing that will become evident is that in plenty of episodes the mech and monster are not seen in the same shot and the Loopardon shots are reused. The reason for that is because halfway through production somebody stole the suit and “Toei” had neither the time nor the budget to make another one.
As for Spider-man himself, he doesn’t have the same powers as Peter Parker. He may be able to wall crawl and have a spider-sense (that works more like telling him somethings bad’s happening than where the bad thing is happening) but he doesn’t web sling or has super strength. He does, however, have “spider strings” “spider nets” and a rope that he uses to swing. He also has a healing factor (it’s pretty slow and even Wolverine will laugh at him.) Yeah, he’s not that powerful but his mech is amazing. Let’s talk about the villains for a second.
While the “Iron Cross Army” is led by Professor Monster, the majority of grunt work is done by his right-hand woman Amazoness. At first, she comes off as the generic villain, but as the series goes on she becomes amazing. She’s doing undercover work in many jobs (a magazine editor, someone’s stepmom, a cop, ETC.) This role shows off actress Yukie Kagawa’s range in amazing fashion. She can be serious, angry, playful and evil henchwench that just goes to show that tokusatsu actors can be great actors.
Now that you know, try finding this series somewhere on the internet because it was bever released in the US. Just remember that it’s very episodic and starts off corny, but eventually, you’ll see why many fans love this version of Spider-man. Let’s hope “Toei” and “Marvel” can come together release the series on DVD here in the US.