The eighties was a special time in history: Ghostbusters, David Bowie, Back to the Future, Guns N’ Roses and… Juspion. Megabeast Investigator Juspion (a portmanteau of the words justice and champion) is, well, a champion of justice, roaming the galaxy looking for trouble caused by show antagonist Satan Gorth – himself a physical portmanteau of Star Wars’ Darth Vader and Transformers’ Megatron.
For some unknown reason, Toei distribute this show as Jaspion, with an a, despite that not being how justice is spelled. We must remember, though, that this is the same production company that has since brought us such wonderful translation as Gord Drive, rather than gold, so you’ll forgive me if I give their official romanisation a pass in this instance.
Our story begins on the planet Ejin with a bearded, King Lexian-looking cave dweller, Ejin, reading prophecy from the Ancient Galactic Bible at just the right time as to foretell the coming of Satan Gorth, whose arrival will send the Megabeasts into a frenzy and unleash their rampage on the universe. Ejin sends his student, the titular protagonist, Juspion, out into space to fight the rampaging kaiju and generally give Gorth a hard time.
To bring the fight to Satan Gorth and his corrupted Megabeasts, Juspion is equipped with a Metal Tech Suit made of a supermetal, Ejinium (that guy gets everywhere) and the Ultra Planetary Battleship Daileon which both carries him through space and transforms into a super robot to fight his giant enemies with.
Juspion is accompanied by Anri. Anri is a gynoid – that’s a female android to you or I – created by, you guessed it, Ejin to be Juspion’s companion. After the first episode, the pair are joined by Miya, an alien creature that saves Juspion and Anri from evil dudes with bows and arrows on the planet, Beezee. Miya’s friend is killed in the process and Juspion abandons him so I’m not quite sure why this cute little critter wants anything to do with our “hero.” Juspion is a bit of an ass, actually. He is overacted pretty egregiously by Hikaru Kurosaki and, in the first episode at least, doesn’t really look outside of his own views and desires. It seems like he starts to understand the responsibility on his shoulders as the episode closes so perhaps the character will mature and develop as the series progresses.
Continuing the borrowing of styles from other franchises, the Megabeasts are kaiju plucked straight from the Godzilla design book. The first episode’s monsters of the week, Marigos and Hanedar, are Juspion’s answer to Gamera and Rodan. The battle between Battle Giant Daileon and the Megabeasts was more like something you’d see in Super Sentai and I’m very surprised that Haim Saban didn’t utilise the footage from this show when he was running out of Metal Hero to adapt. The Juspion suit is very similar to the Spielban suit used by J.B. Reese in VR Troopers so perhaps they felt they couldn’t go back. Either way, if you like your toku in the form of robots fighting monsters, pull up a chair.
While I have a few gripes with Juspion, mostly with the main character, this first episode was enjoyable and I think the series will take the best aspects from its debut and run with them. The monster designs, despite being blatant plagiarism, are very good and the giant battles are well filmed and choreographed for the time. I’m looking forward to seeing if Juspion himself grows as a character; it desperately needs to happen, and fast.
If you end up enjoying Juspion, you can look forward to a remake movie produced by Brazilian filmmakers, Sato Company. The show was insanely popular in Brazil so it will be interesting to see what they do with it. The new Juspion movie is due for release this year.
You can watch Kyojuu Tokusou Juspion, and other Metal Hero Series, on the official Toei Tokusatsu World YouTube channel.