Unlike the Kamen Rider, Super Sentai and Metal Heroes franchises, the Toei Fushigi Comedy Series are mostly unknown to your average Western tokusatsu fan. Like it’s more well-known brothers, these Shotaro Ishinomori-created series also included costumed superheroes – but with a bigger focus on laughs rather than action. La Belle Fille Masquée Poitrine (美少女仮面ポワトリン) also known as “The Masked Belle Poitrine” or simply Poitrine was the 11th entry in the series, running for 51 episodes in 1990. Kamen Rider fans might recognise the character from her guest appearance in Kamen Rider x Kamen Rider Wizard & Fourze: Movie War Ultimatum, where she appeared as the Underworld version of doughnut shop shop owner Yu Kamimura.
When visiting a nearby shrine to pray for the new school year, Yuko Murakami accidentally breaks the shrine’s bell which lands on an old man’s head. Impressed by Yuko’s strength, the man introduces himself as a god and reveals he’s been keeping the town safe and peaceful. However the poor god has been struck with a bout of stomach inflammation, so he’s swanning off to Italy for a cure and is need of a replacement. He bestows Yuko with magical powers and some fancy new toys, encouraging her to spread kindness and elegance like the mythical goddess Poitrine before heading off in his fancy sports car. His only condition – don’t tell anyone the secret of her powers, or else be turned into a frog!
If you haven’t raised an eyebrow at all of this yet brace yourself as it only gets weirder from here, as we see Yuko’s brother Takuto face off against the mysterious Video Game Thief – a villain who’s swiping the town’s games whilst electrocuting them with a gadget that looks like it jumped straight out of Ghostbusters. The best part of all this that the Video Game Thief isn’t a monster in the traditional tokusatsu sense either – it’s just a man in a shifty costume and rubber mask!
The whole set up gives Poitrine this surreal Scooby Doo-esque vibe that’s extremely fun, and Toei don’t waste any opportunity to reference/poke fun of some of the other franchises under their control (Takuto’s new game is “Dragon Bald 3”, cleverly featuring a picture of Dragon Ball’s Krillin on the cover). The show knows just how ridiculous it is but it plays it all with a straight face, acting like the Video Game Thief genuinely is the worst person ever. His scheme is so silly that the episode doesn’t even make an effort to explain it out loud – it’s left to the audience to draw that conclusion with some flashback footage, and then the cast to denounce just how horrible the dastardly fiend is. That said, Takuto immediately halting the Thief’s attack to call his dad at work and confirm it isn’t him (as his friends suggest earlier in the episode) is an absolutely fantastic piece of comic timing.
Knowing that it’s just a normal guy under that mask (no spoilers here, but they are someone the audience has been introduced to prior to unmasking) makes it all the funnier that he’s facing off against a magical girl with actual powers. I’m not sure whether an ordinary person getting wailed on by a superhero was part of the joke, but it’s hilarious nonetheless. His weapon is enough to almost give him the edge, but Poitrine manages to take him out in a move that can only be described as complete overkill. While Takuto’s fawning over this beautiful new heroine (completely unaware it’s his sister), the Thief is laying there probably in serious need of medical attention. It’s a wild ride from start to finish.
Poitrine’s is something that’s been on my radar since first watching Movie Wars Ultimatum, and this first episode proved to be exactly the kind of dumb fun I was hoping for. With the promise of a no-nonsense cop who wants to arrest Poitrine AND the addition of a flying car, this premiere looks to just be the tip of the iceberg. If you’re looking for a healthy dose of live-action magical girl action and enjoy the sillier side of tokusatsu, then this is the show for you.
You can now find Poitrine, as well as many other tokusatsu shows, on the TOEI Tokusatsu World Official YouTube channel to watch for free with English subtitles.