No matter how good you think you are at something Ken Hayakawa is better. Or at least that’s what the show would have you believe.
Kaiketsu Zubat or The Extraordinary Zubat is a 1977 toku show from the prolific Shotaro Ishinomori and tells the tale of detective/cowboy/scientist/all around renaissance man Ken Hayakawa and his quest for revenge against the crime syndicate Dakker after the assassination of his best friend Goro Asuka.
To punish these evil-doers, he dons the mighty Zubatsuit and drives the Zubacar related by the late Asuka (originally intended for space exploration, of course) to deliver swift and merciless justice.
Part of Zubat’s charm is the first encounter with the villain of the week in which Ken informs them that, instead of being the best at the skill they’ve honed to deadly perfection, they are in fact only second best and proceeds to back this up to hilarious results.
Charm is an excellent word to describe Zubat, the whole show just exudes a playful confidence that never fails to have you cheering the arrogantly heroic Ken on. There’s very much an air of self awareness as they approach near Bollywood levels of absurdity here; for example, Ken keeps his super suit in his guitar, not the case… the actual instrument!
It’s important to keep in mind that Zubat draws more inspiration from older toku like Moonlight Mask than contemporary Rider or Sentai shows, in that there are no monsters or aliens, just weird looking mobsters so this may be mildly surprising to fans of more recent shows who are expecting battles with giants or explosions upon death.
Another point that may deter more Heisei oriented fans is the simplicity of the show’s structure. Unlike modern shows, you can’t really binge Zubat or really most showa series due to the heavy reliance on the formula. However, an episode or two a day will more than entertain you.
If you’re a fan of tokusatsu of any era you owe it to yourself to give Zubat a watch. It’s a fun, faux Western romp with a tongue-in-cheek bent that sets it apart from many other shows of the era.
The first two episodes of Zubat are currently available to watch via Toei Tokusatsu World Official on YouTube.