The Kagestar (ザ・カゲスター), or simply Kagestar, is a 1976 circus of bizarre ideas and the tropeiest of toku tropes and I actually kind of dig it for that. There’s some interesting stuff here but let me start with the costumes.
Kagestar and Bellestar’s costumes are whack. Those big googley anime eyes? Whack. The Evel Knievel capes? Whack. The spirals? Whack! These suits are no good for any number of reasons but I think that Kagestar looking like Toku Deadpool is the most egregious. Yeah, Kagestar came first but no one remembers him! Look at him, he’s a dope!
That said, the characters of Kageoh Sugata and Suzuko Kazamura look as fly as Japanese fashion in the 70s can allow and that’s pretty fly. They look like an awesome crime fighting duo and I like their chemistry, it’s just a shame their hero forms let them down.
So the story is that Dr. Satan (I’ve been waiting for a Dr. Satan, you have no idea) and his Poundland Putties are scheming to kidnap the daughter of a major CEO and succeeds after Kageoh and Suzuko are finished performing shadow puppet theatre for children.
Despite looking like Paul Bearer in a White Snake wig, Dr Satan simply wants money but is foiled when his hostages escape and fall onto an electrical substation nearby. This grants Kageoh and Suzuko the amazing power to fuse with their shadows and become Kagestar and Bellestar!
Don’t question how! It’s cell division or something! But the idea of fusing with or controlling your shadow marks the second timely reference to Persona 5 I’ve made because that’s pretty bang on and, given the time frame, could have inspired the early SMT games? I dunno, it wouldn’t surprise me given some of the goofy shadow designs.
There’s eventually a second kidnapping and another transformation. The Stars beat Dr. Satan with their shadow powers and the series kicks off for our two new heroes; it’s all pretty standard but I really did enjoy it.
I don’t know if I’m giving it more slack because of it’s age but apart from the era-appropriate bad costumes, I think this is a solid origin and pilot. Hell, I may even give it my usual three episodes to dig it’s claws into me but I think the first episode is worth checking out at the very least.
You can now find Kagestar, as well as many other tokusatsu shows, on the TOEI Tokusatsu World Official YouTube channel to watch for free with English subtitles.