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Toei Tokusatsu World Reviews: Robotack

Robotack begins as most of these robot buddy programmes do… without any context as to where the robots came from. This one is a dog and a detective as well, though, so I guess everything is alright? Tetsuwan Tantei Robotack (テツワン探偵ロボタック) is actually the last of the Metal Hero Series’, bringing to a close the franchise after seventeen series. It was a sequel, somewhat, to its predecessor B-Robo Kabutack in that some of the characters carried over and the cute, loveable, small bots can transform into larger fighting machines but, from what I gather, the similarities pretty much end there.

The premiere begins with the titular character, Robotack, roaming the streets in search of food. He stumbles into the office of the Shardock Private Detective Agency where the agency’s president, Kaoru Sugi, is also hungry and begging money from his nephew, Kakeru Yukiyanagi so that he can order takeout. Now indebted to Sugi, Robotack joins the detective agency. This begins to work in Robotack’s favour quickly as young Kakeru resolves to help the robodog with his mission: find the Land Tool, the secret treasure of the Harappa Land.

Robotack and Kakeru happen upon a clue in the search for the Land Tool while on an errand of Sugi but, in the same vein as Kabutack, they are thwarted by two other robots called DarkCrow and Kabados and are whisked away to undergo a trial in order to earn the Congra Trophy, essential trinket fodder to find the Land Tool. In charge of the challenge is Master Ranking, a Ganesh-like elephant robot, who will award the winner of the Ranking Game with a trophy and dole out a failure game to the loser.

In order to help them complete challenges, the robots can Magnet Change into larger, more nimble forms. The evil robots seem to be able to do this at will, for a limited time, but Robotack’s transformation is linked to an instrument called the Magnet Flute. More will become of that as the series progresses, I’m sure.

Robotack is another in the line of fun-loving buddy robot tokusatsu that we’ve looked at a lot during these Toei Tokusatsu World Reviews. I think, at this point, you either like this style of show or you don’t. They were clearly very popular with Japanese audiences because they just kept them coming! Robotack, much like Kabutack, had some cute, colourful characters that were designed to sell toys. I’d say it’s worth a watch especially for those keen to watch all of the Metal Hero Series.

You can watch Tetsuwan Tantei Robotack and all of the other Metal Hero Series (that weren’t adapted by Saban) on the Toei Tokusatsu World Official YouTube channel.

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Toei Tokusatsu World Reviews: Pettonton

Joining the ranks of programmes on Toei Tokusatsu World to blatently plagiarise Hollywood blockbusters is Pettonton (ペットントン), the third entry in the Toei Fushigi Comedy Series. It starts as many of the Fushigi alien encounter series does… 1) Boy finds alien, 2) Boy inexplicably loses conciousness 3) Boy wakes believing the encounter was a dream, 4) Boy finds it wasn’t a dream and the alien crashes the family unit to much hilarity. In this case, step 4 is put on hold as the boy ditches the alien, or E.T. as they call him and he eats grass and gets sick. He’s taken to a veterinary surgery where he randomly injects himself with something and is miraculously better. Incredulous that his child has failed to appropriately ditch the alien, Dad shoves it on the back of a truck and allows it to be driven away. Stellar parenting and animal care going on here.

The joke is on Dad, though as the alien, Pettonton, find his way back to his home and is chased and attacked by the boy’s mother and grandmother. Resolved to prevent the destruction of Earth, because all mistreated aliens will eventually call for reinforcements and kill us all, the boy, Negita, tries to leave home with Pettonton in tow. This plan comes undone when Dad nearly falls to his death from a balcony, Pettonton saves him and the vet arrives to tell the family what a wonderful creature the alien is. Now, they decide to keep him, obviously. Thrilled, Pettonton swells up like a balloon and he floats up into the sky with a grinning Negita holding tight to him.

This show was an assault on my brain and, honestly, I don’t know how they’re going to drag this out for 46 episodes. Like many of the other Fushigi Comedies, the humour either goes over my head as a non-Japanese native or… it just isn’t very funny. Apparently, a bounty arrives to try and take Pettonton later in the series but, honestly, I don’t think that’s worth waiting for.

If you’re looking for a watered-down, Japanese version of E.T., then this is the show for you. If not… try something else.

Pettonton, as well as all of the other Toei Fushigi Comedy Series, are available to view on Toei Tokusatsu World’s official YouTube channel. There’s lots of much better stuff, too…

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Toei Tokusatsu World Reviews: 5 Nen 3 Kumi Mahougumi

With a quick Google search bringing up relatively little about 5 Nen 3 Kumi Mahougumi, I was pleasantly surprised by what I found in its first episode. This despite the fact that I’m, personally, not all that into magic related stuff and that this series is decidedly lacking in many of the hallmarks of a tokusatsu, there’s enough here for the average toku nerd to get into… mostly because of a very familiar face.

5 Nen 3 Kumi Mahougumi (5年3組魔法組) literally translated as 5th Grade, 3rd Class Magic Group was broadcast on TV-Asahi throughout 1977. It is perhaps most famous, and most interesting, for starring a young Machiko Soga as Bellbara the Witch. Soga is best known for her roles in Super Sentai, including Witch Bandora in Kyoryu Sentai Zyuranger, but will be very familiar to Western audiences because of this character’s adaptation as Rita Repulsa in Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers. In this episode, Bellbara is somewhat Bandora-like in her mannerisms but lacks the evil desire to take over the world of her Zyuranger counterpart. Instead, Bellbara is somewhat of a bumbling character. She is struck on the head by a can that the title group of 5th graders are kicking around; frustrated, she kicks a lamppost and the children take her back to a barbershop owned by one of their fathers. Here, she recovers and flees fairly quickly, leaving behind a gigantic handbag with a silhouette of a witch painted on it.

The children chase her down in an attempt to return it to her but, when they fail, the start to experiment with the magical trinkets within, guided by an elf-like character on a screen inside. First of all, they summon a giant, floating multicolour liferaft, called the Magikar, that they use to travel around the town. The also use a magical grappling hook that can pull any object they can picture from anywhere, a book that can metamorphosise any person or animal into another person or animal, and a strange shuriken shaped viewing device that shrinks down one of the children’s mothers before she catches them in the magic act. Nothing malicious so far, just pure kiddie hi-jinks.

It appears, then, that this series will simply follow this group of children as they dick around with magic for 41 episodes. Bellbara the Witch turned up again at the end, giggling that misfortune will follow if the kids use the last trinket in her bag but it remains to be seen what her role in this will be going forward. Perhaps we will start to see a hatred of children begin to surface as the series goes on but that may just be wishful thinking on my part, that she may be similar to her Zyuranger witch-counterpart.

Machiko Soga as Witch Bandora in Kyoryu Sentai Zyuranger

All in all, this episode wasn’t offensive and the series may be worth the watch. If no further overarching story develops from Bellbara the Witch then it will risk becoming a bit formulaic but, still, it could be nice as a diversion if only to watch Machiko Soga masterfully do her thing.

You can watch 5 Nen 3 Kumi Mahougumi as well as a wealth of other Toei produced television on the Toei Tokusatsu World Official YouTube channel.

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Toei Tokusatsu World Reviews: Thutmose

Mysterious Nile Girl Thutmose (不思議少女ナイルなトトメス), or just Thutmose for short, is the twelfth installment in the Toei Fushigu Comedy Series that was broadcast in 1991. The name Thutmose is Egyptian, meaning Born of the god Thoth, and was the name of four Pharoahs. Thutmose is to Pharoahs as Henry is to the British crown, i.e. there have been quite a few of them.

I’m struck, instantly, by the opening credits of Thutmose; a stop motion animation in which a stereotypically Egyptian character, whom I must assume is Thutmose, crushes monsters with her crotch while doing the splits in Egyptian baggy pants. There are goofy faces superimposed on skinny cartoon bodies, too… the supporting cast, you’d surmise. This episode is going to be a ride. The music is jazzy as hell, though, and I can imagine kids all over Japan bopping along to it in 1991.

The episode is narrated by Sanae Nakajima, the eldest sibling in her family and starts with Sanae describing her family’s move into a new apartment. After she’s done introducing us to her father, mother and younger sister, the building manager pays them a visit and reminds them of the hikkoshi soba tradition. In Japan, for some reason, it is customary for new residents to eat soba (buckwheat noodles) upon arriving in their new home as well as offer it as a gift to their neighbors. Sanae heads to the shop to get their order in and, on her return, is ushered to the graveyard near their new home. It’s all go in the Nakajima household!

They’re visiting the Nakajima family grave but first they need to find it. It’s buried under years of weeds and overgrowth… very bad juju. When the family finally do reveal the grave, it’s modelled after a pyramid and guarded by sphinx. Papa laughs and casually drops that their family are descended from Egyptians, as you do. As the family leave, younger sister, Manami, realises that she’s dropped her brooch and Sanae, as the family slave, is sent back to retreive it.

“Help me, Obi-Wan… you’re my only hope.”

On reaching the grave, Sanae trips and smashes open the pyramid with her, apparently, rock solid head releasing the 51 Demons of the Nile – devils who ruled the Earth before humans began to record their history. Also in the pyramid is the spirit of Sanae’s distant grandmother who tells her off for getting to familiar and gives her the power of Thutmose to fight the 51 Demons. Grandma will wait in the pyramid as Thutmose sends them all packing.

Back at the apartment, the building manager is pretty annoyed that he was overlooked in getting the hikkoshi soba and is possessed by one of the 51 Demons. The apartment building is promptly cursed by a plague of haunted hikkoshi soba, of course. Sanae and her sister are chased out of the building by the soba and, in the park, Sanae transforms into Thutmose for the first time.

In a moment that actually made me laugh out loud, Thutmose summons dipping broth and chopsticks and defeats the hikkoshi soba by… eating them. It’s an utterly ridiculous attack but it tickled me far more than it should have. Thutmose confronts the building manager, frees him of the demon and traps it. All’s well that ends well.

Thutmose isn’t the show I was expecting. Frankly, I don’t know what I was expecting but I think I might give this show more of a shake. It’s not your traditional tokusatsu in terms of rubber monsters and elaborate fights but I think the comedy element of Thutmose defeating the demons by utterly hilarious means will carry this show forward. Give it a chance to make you laugh yourself.

Mysterious Nile Girl Thutmose is one of the many Toei Fushigi Comedy Series available for free on the Toei Tokusatsu World Official YouTube channel.

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Toei Tokusatsu World Reviews: Kamitaman

It was just a matter of time before I suffered reviewed one of the Toei Fushigi Comedy series like my colleagues Sharp-O and Alex before me (see Hard Gumi or Batten Robomaru, for example) and the fifth entry in the series, 1985’s Katteni! Kamitaman (勝手に!カミタマン), didn’t disappoint.

The opening episode begins with schoolboy, Shinsuke Nemoto, moping on the beach, lamenting his unrequited love of his school’s most popular girl when he is struck on the head by a giant ceramic looking ramen pot that swims its way ashore. It glows and a message appears on it, instructing people not to pour hot water in it. Of course, the boy promptly takes the pot home, pours hot water in it and gets his chopsticks ready for a feast. Rather than a head-sized portion of delicious ramen, though, the boy is greeted by a troll-looking, fang-toothed… thing – Kamitaman!

Waking up next morning, Shinsuke believes it was all a dream. That is, until it shows up in his kitchen and startles his family. Kamitaman informs the family of his God-like status while Shinsuke promptly tells the God that he owes him for pouring hot water in his ramen pot. Then, it gets weirder; word gets to Shinsuke that his love interest, Yumi, has been taken by some lollypop licking paedophile who calls himself The Chief. Kamitaman transforms Shinsuke into a superhero, Nemotoman, and he proceeds to try and Rider Kick the guy. Turns out, though, Nemotoman has no powers at all and he gets his butt whipped by nonce guy and his bully boy underlings. In the nick of time, Kamitaman fires his mohawk at the bullies and everyone runs away.

To be brief, Kamitaman is a God but he’s a crappy God with no grasp on his powers and this series appears to be the story of the hilarity that Shinsuke and his family undergo trying to exploit his powers. It’s not a laugh a minute but it was chuckleworthy and could be a nice diversion if you need a break from regular tokusatsu.

You can watch Kamitaman as well as the other Toei Fushigi Comedy Series on the Toei Tokusatsu World Official YouTube channel. The first two episodes are currently available with English subtitles.

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Toei Tokusatsu World Reviews: Janperson

The Toei Company sure love their robot detectives and police officers, especially in the Metal Hero Series, and so here’s another one: Tokusou Robo Janperson (特捜ロボ ジャンパーソン). Unlike other Metal Hero Series, and tokusatsu in general, Janperson doesn’t follow the usual monster of the week format with the title character instead opposing semi-regular criminal forces, including three crime syndicates over the course of the series. Janperson is more like a cop drama than a tokusatsu but has a sentient robot, augmented villainsm, mecha and lots of explosions, so it is a tokusatsu. Got that? Good.

When Janperson arrives on the scene, we see that he is completely robotic. This doesn’t mean he doesn’t transform, though… the robot cop takes off his jacket and puts on a mask! Dramatic stuff. Speaking of dramatic (although genuinely moreso in this case), the three cyborgs that oppose our hero in episode one – members of the evil crime syndicate, Guild – throw two burning cars at him. Janperson catches them, forces them apart and walks through the fiery, dilapidated machinery to continue the fight. Our hero.

The villains in this programme, or at least the first episode, leave a little to be desired in my book. The three brooding cyborgs that wreak havoc in this episode do so without any explanation and mostly just stare blankly at people while their arms flay open and shoot people. They shoot little rocket bullets from their mouths, too, but this effect is poorly executed and would have looked out of place in the earliest fifties tokusatsu, let alone in the nineties. I can’t be alone in wanting the villains to get a little exposition in the opener that explains why they’re trying to kill us all. It’s the least they can do before getting all homicidal, frankly.

The special effects and villain choreography are a little dated, especially for a 1993 production, but this isn’t too jarring and can be chalked up as the chuckleworthy kitsch regular toku viewers will be used to. Something else toku fans may be used to is the amount of kit that Janperson has to do his job. With over 15 weapons and a couple of vehicle mecha in his arsenal, there are obviously a lot of toys available for this series… a lot.

The soundtrack continues in the tradition of music in the vein of seventies and eighties American cop shows like CHIPs and Hawaii Five-O but there’s also a fairly blatant cover of the Star Trek: The Next Generation theme song in here, too; as both a massive trekkie and a massive otaku, I appreciated it… but it’s very cheeky!

Should you be watching this series? Probably. If you enjoyed the other cop based offerings of the Toei Tokusatsu World Official YouTube channel, like Exceed Draft, Robot Detective, Jiban or Blue SWAT, then you’re going to like this. At the same time, the cop motif, especially the robot cop motif, is a little done in the Metal Hero Series and I’d forgive you for seeking out something a tad more unique.

Tokusou Robo Janperson is one of the many, many cop based Metal Hero Series available on the Toei Tokusatsu World Official YouTube channel. The first few episodes are ready to view with English subtitles.

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Toei Tokusatsu World Reviews: Jiban

If you’ve ever wondered what it would be like if Robocop was a tokusatsu show, the answer is Jiban. Mobile Cop Jiban (機動刑事ジバン) is the eighth Metal Hero Series, coming after Jiraiya chronologically but tells a completely different story to it’s predecessor, as Toei’s programming often does. Despite coming out in 1989, this show is very nineties using such hallmarks as floppy disks and video playback via 5mm jack. Classic.

About that floppy disk sighting; I love a good floppy disk in television… it’s a lost prop, sadly. Whipping out a USB stick or doing a data transfer just doesn’t have the same appeal. These villainesses were pretty miffed to have lost their floppy disk and I can’t say I blame them. Sad times, indeed.

Though it’s not explained in the first episode, Jiban is a man named Naoto Tamura whom, after being killed in the line of duty, is brought back to life as a cyborg. While he spends most of the episode in his robot form, he is able to transform into his human form to and does so at the end of the episode. I don’t quite understand if he’s a dude in a suit or whether his human form is just an illusion but, if he is a dude in a suit, he sure moves robotically. I guess the goal was to emulate the movements of Robocop as well as plagiarise its story. Robocop was super popular at the time so I suppose you can’t blame Toei for wanting a piece of that pie.

Some things are thrown in just to make Jiban seem more robot-y… like, I’m not sure hiding away his badge / warrant card in a hidden waist compartment, behind a red button, is completely necessary. Not to mention it takes him several second to lift his arm but he has a super-speed mode in which he can cross a room in less time. Just seems like they might have been trying too hard…

The villains are a touch generic. The Criminal Syndicate Bioron, led by Dr. Giba, are your run of the mill, take over the Earth kinda bad guys. The first episode did little to explain their motivations for that but did establish that their modus operandi is bio-weaponry, which I don’t remember seeing a whole lot in other toku genre shows. The suits are fairly nifty and slightly ahead of their time in comparison to other shows of the late eighties. It probably would have made a great Saban adaption of it want going to get their pants sued off by Orion Pictures.

Overall, if you can get over the fact that this show is basically the Adventures of Robocop in Tokuland then I’d say it’s worth a watch. I’m not sure you’re going to get too much in the way of character development but making that assessment based on the first episode alone may be grossly unfair. I’ll watch it all one day and let you know.

You can watch Mobile Cop Jiban as well as the other Metal Hero Series, and so much more, on Toei Tokusatsu World’s official YouTube channel.

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Toei Tokusatsu World Reviews: God Sigma

The more of these mecha anime series I watch on Toei Tokusatsu World Official, the more I realise how they’re pretty much all the same. That said, it doesn’t make me want to watch them all any less…

Space Emperor God Sigma (宇宙大帝ゴッドシグマ), or just God Sigma, is a 1980 Saburou Yatsude production. Saburou Yatsude is the collective pen name of a group of Toei producers that worked on, amongst other things, Toei’s animated series of the seventies, eighties and nineties. Since 1999, animations have used the pseudonym Izumi Todo instead. Perhaps inadvertently, you can seperate these two names quite easily by the type of media they produce with Yatsude producing more toku style animations featuring monsters and mecha while Todo has been responsible mostly for Pretty Cure which, frankly, is nothing like the anime we’ve been seeing released on Toei Tokusatsu World.

The series is set in 2050 AD, a time in which humanity has begun to reach out into the solar system for colonisation. The opening monologue suggests that despite this outreach into the universe, humanity is yet to encounter any extra-terrestrial life; that is, until now. From out of nowehere, Earth is attacked by the forces of Eldar who seek to recover an energy source hidden on the planet known as Trinity Energy. Trinity is a very powerful source of power and will come up again before this review is done.

Most of the opening episode focuses on protagonist, Toshiya Dan. Dan is from Io, a colonised moon of Jupiter. While Dan has already made his way to Earth by the time of the Eldar attack, he is provided a huge stake in the fight when Supreme Commander Teral orders the annexation of Io, killing the bulk of the satellite’s inhabitants, including Dan’s family. Dan hijacks Kuraioh, one of the God Sigma robots, and does such a good job of fighting off Eldar forces that he’s given command of the flagship robot, as you do. During the attack of Io, we also meet Kira Kensaku, a slightly older gentleman who, inexplicably, escapes on a shuttlecraft and finds his way to Earth. Kensaku goes on, rather abruptly, to be the third pilot, controlling . The second pilot of God Sigma is Julie Noguchi (male, for anyone confused by his name). Noguchi is head scientist of Trinity City and one of the chief engineers of the God Sigma project. Noguchi commands Kaimeioh, a marine operations God Sigma.

Another character we meet is Minako, the daughter of an Earth Federation benefactor. During the public reveal of the God Sigma robots, Minako, a true daughter of the entitled Instagram generation if you ever saw one, finds her way into Rikushinoh and promptly blunders her way into the destruction of electricity pylons and other important stuff. She is rescued by Julie Noguchi who prompty slaps her for her transgressions. This happens quite early on in the episode and I thought, and hoped, we would see a very quick redemption story for Minako in which she grew out of being a spoilt, vapid little girl who studied the manual for Rikushinoh, gave herself a crash course and went on to be its pilot, fighting alongside the man who slapped her to save the Earth. But, alas not… back to selfies she goes. Perhaps her character can become more worthwhile as the series progresses. N.B. She doesn’t actually take selfies, I am appropriating.

The three pilots are taken underground by Doctor Kazami who explains how the God Sigma robots can be used to fight off the forces of Eldar as well as the reason that Trinity City, specifically, is under attack. He explains about the Trinity Energy being held under the facility and the grave ramifications of the energy falling into enemy hands. Eldar Commander Teral then sends a giant three headed monster robot, Cosmosaurus Graken, to destroy the city and release the energy. The three pilots take to their robots, ready to fight, as the episode closes.

This is another mecha anime opener in which we don’t get to see the combined form of the titular robot, save for in the opening credits. I guess I have become spoiled by Super Sentai and Power Rangers giving us everything we want to see in the series premiere but I really wanted to see things come together. I will be watching the second episode for that reason alone and, probably, the rest of the series too. Despite their samey look and feel, I’m quite into these mecha anime and the characters in this one seem like they may develop into something quite interesting. Give it a try yourself, I’m sure you’ll feel the same way.

God Sigma is one of the many mecha anime series available via Toei Tokusatsu World Official on YouTube. The first few episodes are available now with English subtitles.

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Toei Tokusatsu World Reviews: Blue Swat

Blue SWAT (ブルースワット) is the 1994 Metal Hero Series immediately preceeding Juukou B-Fighter, one of the last Metal Hero Series adapted by Haim Saban. With this in mind, I’m keen to know what it is about this show that made it unadaptable in the eyes of the Saban brass and, obviously, is this a series that is going to grip me enough to watch it in full as Toei continue to drop it on Toei Tokusatsu World Official.

The show revolves around the invasion of an alien race whom are eventually referred to as the Space Mafia but in this episode are imaginatively referred to as ‘alien’. They are able to “invade” humans and posses their bodies; a plan they will use to put themselves in positions of power, stockpile resources and gradually take over the planet. In this episode, our title team expose a bank manager who has been “invaded” before going back to their headquarters in time for their chief to be “invaded,” kill everyone and destroy the building. The team are generally undeterred (save for one of the trio who is pissed he won’t be getting his wage bonus) and take to the streets to defeat an alien with their extensive range of weaponry. I expect the story will develop from here and Blue SWAT will form their own agency to help them, as often happens in tokusatsu.

I find myself particularly enamoured with the female SWAT member, Sara Misugi. She’s strong willed and doesn’t take any crap from eccentric, money-minded Sho Narumi. When leader, Sig, is reunited with the team at the bank, Sara serves as an excellent second, communicating well with him. She’s all business; I dig that. It will be interesting to see how this already strong character develops over the course of the series, should I stick with it.

As for my question in the opening… this show focused heavily around guns, heavy weaponry and military style operations, something that would never make it to air in an American kids show. The tone overall is a lot more adult, the aliens are a lot darker and gruesome than most other Metal Heroes, most of the first episode (and I’d assume the majority of the series) was spent out of suit and there’s no mecha or marketable toys of note. The series looks like it may be a compelling one but it doesn’t take long to realise that this footage wouldn’t be a whole hell of a lot of use for an American adaptation.

Overall, Blue SWAT is fairly straightforward. As the name might suggest, it’s more of a cop show than your regular Metal Hero Series but that isn’t necessarily a bad thing. It’s got a kind of gun nut meets Dekaranger vibe to it; make of that what you will. I’ll probably give this a few more episodes to really grab me but I liked what we got from the first episode and if you’re looking for a slightly darker toku with creepy-ass aliens, Blue SWAT is the Metal Hero Series for you.

The first few episodes of Blue SWAT, as well as a selection of other Metal Hero Series, are available to view now on Toei Tokusatsu World Official on YouTube.

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Toei Tokusatsu World Review: Machineman

Seiun Kamen Mashinman or Nebula Mask Machineman (星雲仮面マシンマン) is another offering from tokusatsu godfather, Shotaro Ishinomori. Broadcast on Nippon TV in 1984, Machineman ran for 36 episodes. The series follows Planet Ivy resident, Nick, after he arrives on Earth in his spaceship. Nick is visiting Earth to complete his university thesis – studying humans – and while here will go by the name Ken Takase because apparently Nick wasn’t quite “Earthy” enough. He has a companion, Ball Boy; a baseball with arms and legs that is also a boy, evidently. Good to know that America’s pastime has made it out to the Pleiades system. As part of his study, Nick becomes interested in Maki Hayama, a photographer and journalist at Shukan Hit newspaper and sends his Ball to follow her, which isn’t creepy at all.

Enter the head of evil organisation Tentacle, Professor K (Hideyo Amamoto), and his dastardly plan to kill all of the world’s children. Pleasant chap. Amamoto is well known to tokusatsu at this point having played Dr. Shinigami/Ikadevil in the original Kamen Rider series as well as roles in various Ultraman series and Godzilla movies. He has a pet mechanical parrot that, well, parrots his schemes back to him but I think some fun could be had with this bird as the series progresses and Prof K begins to fail consistently.

Machineman is rumoured to have been inspired by the DC’s Superman and, although this was never confirmed by either Ishinomori or Toei, the comparison is easy to make. Yes, it’s Machineman, strange visitor from another planet who came to Earth with powers and abilities far beyond those of mortal men. With his sweeping haircut and thick framed glasses, Nick is Clark Kent if Clark Kent was born on Japanese Krypton. Maki Hayama is, of course, his Lois Lane, and Nick wastes no time in reenforcing that by carrying her in his arms mid flight after she fell of a building, as you do. There’s no real reason for the Machineman suit to have a cape either, but it does because, you know, Superdude. Things are different enough to not have the lawyers at DC Comics at the door but the similarities are undeniable.

This show uses a lot of repeated zoom shots, which actually hurt my brain a little, but other than that holds up quite well to other tokusatsu of the eighties. If you like the Toei big three – Kamen Rider, Super Sentai, Metal Hero Series – then you’ll like this. The arriving/transforming out of a rocket powered car is pretty neat and unlike any other toku of the era. It’s definitely worth trying out the first two episodes, at least.

You can watch the first two episodes of Machineman now on the official Toei Tokusatsu World YouTube channel.