That 70’s Japanese SPIDER-MAN Show Was A Lot Cooler Than You Think

In the world of superheroes and science fiction, there has always been a strong  connection with Japanese and American culture. In todays world this is only becoming ever more prevalent. Anime featuring Marvel heros, Hollywood Kaiju films, and American cartoons animated in Japan.  This kind of merge has been going strong for decades.  So let’s talk about one of the most interesting pieces of culture clash that history has thrown at us.  I’m talking about Japanese Spider-Man!  Or in Japanese, Supaidaman! ( Epic music played here.)
After years of looking for a way to break into the Japanese market, Marvel found a promising partnership in Toei. Marvel  the producer of beloved comic icons such as The Fantastic Four, and Daredevil among many others, plus Toei studios.  Toei was originally an animation company responsible for animes such as Mazinger Z(1972), and Dragon Ball(1986). The jump to Tokusatsu came shortly after with shows like Planet Prince (1959), and The Magic Serpent (1966).  Together these two ever growing companies brought Marvel’s flagship character Spider-Man to the Japanese television scene.

Sticking up for the little guy like a good hero should.

Sticking up for the little guy like a good hero should.

The show is very different from the American comics as well as the main character himself.  The basics are there. The look is more or less the same, however instead of two mini web shooters one both wrists, Spider-Man now has a Spider-Bracelet one his right arm that serves the same purpose. There is one thing this can do that web shooters can’t! And that’s summon Spider Machines!  These include his trust car, GP-7 and a giant robot named Leopardon, that can one shot kill any monster in it’s path by throwing it’s sword into them!

At this point it’s clear this is a completely different entity.  No Peter Parker will be seen here either, instead we have a motorbike racer named Takuya Yamashiro who was injected with Spider-Extract  by a man named Garia who is from the Planet Spider! The 70’s were crazy! As Spider-Man, young Takuya  faces the mighty Iron Cross Army. Led by Professor Monster  and Amazoness, who are constantly scheming to cause trouble for the city with their monsters of the week and even responsible for the death of Takuya’s father.

With a set up like this there is no doubt this is a very fun and entertaining TV series. Each episode has action, intrigue, hokie villains, and yes even some touching moments.  It followed standard tropes of the Tokustatsu genre, and even influenced some.  The giant robot aspect  to end each episode would be adopted into another Toei franchise, Super Sentai or Power Rangers as it’s better known as here in the states.  Budget restraints were an obvious factor, after only a few episodes Leopardons attack sequences were recycled stock footage, the costumes suffer as well but for what they had it’s still an admirable effort.

The stunt work in the show is it’s most praised aspect, Spider-Man actor Hirofumi Koga performed several dangerous stunts for the wall crawler. From acrobatics to actually climbing and jumping off buildings, everything you see is an actual person, no digital effects added.  Stan Lee even praised this in saying: “I thought it was wonderful they had him going up the wall, I loved the acrobatics.”  From the man himself!  If you’re looking for a fun different version of Spider-Man I highly suggest giving this series a try.