Chojin Bibyun (超神ビビューン) is an odd series. Though it’s a direct sequel to Akumaizer 3 in which the heroes gain brand new powers as well as human identities, there is a HUGE disconnect between the two. The relation to Akumaizer 3 isn’t even mentioned until the very end of the episode, and even then it seems to be very muddled in its message. The narration clearly states that these heroes (Bibyun, Bashaan and Zusheen) are reincarnations of the Akumaizers, the dialogue and overall presentation seems to suggest that the Akumaizers are passing the torch onto them instead. Either way, the important thing of note is that it is indeed a sequel – which makes these heroes one of the few Ishinomori properties outside of the big franchises to have continued on beyond one series.
One thing Chojin Bibyun did manage to inherit from Akumaizer 3 though is the ability to go a mile a minute. The episode opens with some people being terrorised by the giant eyeball Yokai Backbeard, who is then challenged by Daizaburo Daimo – the director of the Chojin Daima Research Centre. An unknown woman comes to his rescue, and during the fight gymnast is cursed by the Yokai. Stalked by it wherever he goes, the gymnast turns to Daimo for help. His suggestion is to pray to the Seven King Stars for help, resulting in the three Chojin arriving on Earth to help slay the Yokai.
The knowledge that this series is a sequel to Akumaizer 3 proves to be more of a hindrance to enjoying this episode than anything else, since it makes the story seem that much more muddled. Victim of the week Kei Tsukimura turns out to be the titular Chojin Bibyun later in the episode, so was he completely unreleased to Akumaizer leader Zabitan until that point? Not to mention that the other two Chojin don’t show up until the very end and turn out to be brand new people, so it isn’t quite clear how important everyone else in this episode is. Who is Lisa Akechi? Is Daimo’s grandson Santa just here to be kidnapped? The episode is all over the place and not in a good way.
Backbeard and his army of Yokai are rather fun though, especially when you just see him represented as a giant eye rudely spying on people through windows. Tokusatsu has churned out a lot of multi-eye monsters over the years and while this perhaps isn’t one of the best ones, you can see why it’s a look designers keep coming back to again and again.
It’s said that the hero suits from this series are unused Kamen Rider concepts, and though none of them are anywhere near as polished as the ones Rider did go on to use you can definitely see those distinct visual trademarks (such as the compound eyes) in them. You can even see elements that would be drawn on decades later – Bibyun’s wing trims around his eyes are very reminiscent of Kamen Rider OOO, and Bashaan’s water-themed hero is something that series also revisited with Kamen Rider Aqua. Though they don’t have anywhere near the same screen presence as the original Akumaizer suits, the elemental theming of the heroes is a nice touch. It’s quite fitting that whilst Ibiru had the worst design in Akumaizer, Bashaan is by far the best one here. Justice for Ibiru at last!
Chojin Bibyun is an odd series that I’d really like to know more about, but sadly there doesn’t seem to be a whole lot of translated behind the scenes information out there. While it didn’t especially impress me, it did pique my curiosity. Does that count as a win?
You can now find Chojin Bibyun, as well as many other tokusatsu shows, on the TOEI Tokusatsu World Official YouTube channel to watch for free with English subtitles.