Note: The disks I have are in Japanese, without dubbing or subtitles. I only know about twenty or so words of Japanese, although many of those are words that are likely to occur in tokusatsu. The challenge I am setting myself is to see whether I can follow what's going on in these without knowing what's being said.
We start with what my disk set calls an "Intro Movie", although it's only about 25 minutes long.
Our Hero, who seems to be called "Yamashiro", is having a nap, and has a bad dream about being stuck in room. He hears a cry for help ("Tasukete!") and rescues his sister (Well, she calls him " oneechan", so I'm assuming she's his sister) and a kid (Nephew? Kid Brother?) from a gang of thugs dressed like Grey Bird-People (GBP). He switches to Spider-Man and fights them, but they literally vanish.
He is observed by Internal Dialogue Mustache Man (IDMM). Yamashiro gets a disturbing phone call, and then we see Spidey doing a lot of climbing. (Seriously, there are tons of climbing shots in this. Plus, the camera has a tendency to linger lovingly on Spidey's butt.) He breaks into a room, and IDMM is there. I believe IDMM is a cop - at least, he says "Interpol" alot. IDMM shows him footage of kids and young women at a pool. (I think IDMM knows Spidey's ID.) He also shows him footage of Fish-Headed Guy (FHG) firing torpedoes at a ship. I assume that IDMM has successfully recruited Spidey, as we see them shake hands. Spidey battles some GBPs, but it's a distraction as IDMM is kidnapped! Mystey Woman With Hat (MWWH) observes. Spidey finds a note stuck to a wall, which I assume is a ransom or a threat.
More on Leopardon:
Leopardon (レオパルドン, Reoparudon?) is a giant robot that Marveller can transform into. It is over 60 meters tall and has a weight of over 25,000 tons. According to Murakami, the name may have been taken from the German battle tank Leopard.
Episode 4: We see soldiers out in the woods, shooting at a crucified Spider-Man, but this turns out to be a training exercise supervised by Amazoness and Bull-Monster With Tank-Treads. An Interpol agent is watching them. Amazoness spots him and the soldiers give chase. Elsewhere, Tak and Hitomi are at a kid's art exhibit. A little kid in a bad Eleventh Doctor costume talks to Tak Eleventh Doctor Boy (EDB) has a sad memory of "Oto-sama" (i.e., "Honorable Father"). Tak tries to cheer him up. The word "Amerika" is heard. There seems to be some indication that EDB will be going to America soon. Tak tries to cheer him up. Tak has a picture of the cop.
Meanwhile, at the Yamashiro home, Takuji says something that annoys Shinko, and she gets comedy mad at him. We then see Tak on a shortwave. We then see Spidey racign along int he SP-7, then walking along the underside of a bridge. The soldiers spot him. Meanwhile, Amazoness is having the cop beaten and crucified. She shows him a photo. Spidey knocks out some soldiers. Amazoness orders the monsters, whose name seems to be "Tantobuffalo" to shoot near the cop. The cop is shot in the leg, slowing him down. He tells Spidey something important. He has a flashback of a woman being run down. He shows Spidey a photo of EDB. We see EDB on a bus to Narita Airport. My guess is the EDB is Wounded Cop's son, and that the woman being run down was the mother. They run some more, a chopper attacks, but Spidey deals with it. He and Wounded Cop hop a train. (Wounded Cop does real well running after the train, all things considered.) The GBP attack on the train, and we have a fight scene. Tantobuffalo meets the train, and Spidey summons SP-7. Tantobuffalo grows to giant size, Spidey summons Marveller, and it all ends with the Vigor Sword claiming another victim. Spidey races to the airport with Wounded Cop. EDB is on the plane, looking sad. Spidey and Wounded Cop get to the airport just as the plane takes off. Spidey looks on as Wounded Cop becomes Dead Cop.
Overall: Not bad, but if I understand the plot correctly, a bit heavy for a kid's show.
“Bull-Monster With Tank-Treads”
I know he’s a bull and not a cow, but this guy reminded me of one of those chintzy cream dispensers in the shape of a cow’s head where the cream comes out its mouth. For anyone else who may be reading this, “Tantobuffalo’s” armor consisted of tank treads on either side of his torso running from over his shoulder down to his waist. I was hoping to see him actually use them, but he didn’t.
“A little kid in a bad Eleventh Doctor costume”
What is it with little kids wearing suit jackets with shorts? (Johnny Sokko rocked the same look.) I’ve never seen that over here. I’d wear one if they came in my size, though.
“There seems to be some indication that EDB will be going to America soon. “
I got the impression that he won some sort of a good will ambassador contest for that painting of a tank confronting a dove.
“The cop is shot in the leg, slowing him down. “
I was going to point out that being shot in the leg didn’t stop him from running for that train, but you beat me to it.
“My guess is the EDB is Wounded Cop's son…”
Oh, could be. I got the impression he was his assignment. Being father and son would have more emotional impact, but I don’t think he and the kid ever meet face-to-face, and the kid is unaware of Wounded Cop’s death at the end in any case.
I also re-watched the “Intro Movie” (more of a pilot) last night.
We were talking yesterday about how well this Spider-Man “skitters.” Were you referring to him skittering across the wall, or skittering across the ground? In that particular episode, he did skitter very nicely across an indoor wall above a window, down one side, did a 360 degree turn, then back. But there are also several examples of him skittering across the ground, looking like nothing so much as John Belushi in “commando mode” in Animal House, peeking in sorority house windows.
The “Grey Bird People” (or “Ninders”) remind me of nothing so much as baby ducks.
I’ve discovered a way to spot Amazoness in any of her clever disguises: she has a slightly-off-center gap in her bottom row of teeth.
Tracy says the whistling during the end credits reminds her of Lassie. I would add “…if scored by Ennio Moricone.”
I was thinking of a different “Fish-Headed Guy” when I read your reaction to the pilot, but it all came back to me yesterday. He looks like a cross between a hummingbird and the “Land Shark” from Saturday Night Live. And let us not forget: he had the ability to fire torpedoes from his mouth!
You are picking up a lot more of the Japanese dialogue than I am, but I did pick up a word from the pilot. When Spider-Man accidentally set off an alarm on the yacht in the pilot, he said, “Shimata!” When James Bond was being coached in Japanese culture by Tiger Tanaka, Bond asked him about Japanese curse words. Tiger explained that there are none (which I find difficult to believe), but the Japanese do say “Shimata” which means, “I have erred.”
ASIDE: Before I moved to Texas, I used to get together with a friend of mine once a week to play Shoegi (Japanese chess) and drink saki. Whenever one of us would make a bad move we would say, “Shimata” softly to ourselves.
ASIDE: IIRC, you once asked me to recommend a James Bond novel as you had never read one. I don’t think I suggested a specific one at the time, but knowing of your interest in Japanese culture, I think you might enjoy You Only Live Twice. The title comes from a (not quite correct) haiku written by James Bond himself:
You only live twice
Once when you are born
And once when you look death in the face
Wow, that’s not right at all is it? (If I’m remembering it correctly.)
Episode 5: This is Spidey's origin episode. Someone sees/remembers a storm and a spider. A spaceship comes to Earth as the Professor and Amazoness observe. Papa Yamashiro and Shinko also observe it. Tak and Takuji are at a motocross rally or something as Hitomi takes pictures. Tak hears a voice. We see the ship crash - it's Marveller, and Amazoness and Professor M know its name. They also say Yamashiro alot. We next see Amazoness in disguise with a little wind-up toy. She seems to have a secret identity as Hitomi's boss.
Back at home, Tak has a conversation with his family, and seems quite pleased. Then he sees a spider, and hears the voice again. Later, Papa Y and friends visit the crash site, followed by Amazoness. Her wind-up toy grows to human size. It looks a bit like a Gorn in funny armor. (GiFA). Tak hears the voice again, and sees a spider web in the sky. He takes off on his bike. He meets the girls, who tell him his father is in trouble. Tak finds his father in a bad way, and the old man dies in his arms. Some GBPs show up. They cut him, and he flees, falling into a cave. He meets Garia - I guess he's from the spaceship. Tak faints, and Garia puts the wrist-unit on him, which apparently injects him with Spider-Essence, or something. Garia talks to him at length. I get the impression he's warning him about the Professor. Garia names him "Spider-Man", then dies and/or turns into a spider.
At home again, Tak is moping when Garia sends him his costume. Tak goes out and tests his powers. He beats up some GBPs and confronts Amazoness, rescuing some guy that she had captive. Amazoness has GiFA grow to giant size. Spidey summons Marveller and SP-7. He transforms Marveller into Leopardon, and kills GiFA with his sword. The Professor is unhappy with his underlings. Spidey rides away.
Overall: An interesting origin. It's hard to say whether it's more or less plausible than "being bitten by a radioactive spider".
It’s becoming increasingly obvious that these episodes are being presented in no particular order. For one thing, I’m having difficulty matching the episode with its translated title/dub title. For another, Amazoness’ costumes don’t jibe with what Wikipedia says about them: “Her outfit changes throughout the course of the series: she wears a black leotard with her own natural hair for the first 18 episodes; a silver mini-skirt outfit and a red hairpiece for episodes 19 throughout 30 and 32; the same outfit but with a black hairpiece for episodes 31 and 33 to 38; and her original leotard outfit with a hairpiece for the final three episodes.”
“This is Spidey's origin episode… Garia puts the wrist-unit on him, which apparently injects him with Spider-Essence, or something.”
“Young motorcycle racer Takuya Yamashiro sees a UFO falling to earth, in fact a space warship named the ‘Marveller’ from the planet ‘Spider’. Takuya's father Dr. Hiroshi Yamashiro, a space archaeologist, investigates the case, but is killed upon finding the spaceship. The incident also attracts the attention of Professor Monster and his evil Iron Cross Army (鉄十字団 Tetsu Jūji Dan?), an alien group that plans to rule the universe.
“Takuya follows his father to the Marveller and discovers Garia, the last surviving warrior of Planet Spider, a world that was destroyed by Professor Monster and the Iron Cross Army. Garia explains that he was hunting Prof. Monster but now needs someone to carry on the fight and he injects Takuya with some of his own blood. The blood of a person from Planet Spider gives Takuya spider-like powers. Garia then gives Takuya a bracelet that can activate his spider protector costume, shoot web-lines, and controls the Marveller ship (which can also transform into a giant battle robot called ‘Leopardon’). Using his powers, Takuya fights Professor Monster's army and other threats to Earth under the name Spider-Man.”
“Amazoness seems to have a secret identity as Hitomi's boss. “
Yes, her “secret identity” is Saeko Yoshida, the editor of Weekly woman magazine. After spider-Man sees through her true identity, she disappears from her job and Weekly woman is discontinued shortly afterward.
“It looks a bit like a Gorn in funny armor.”
Tracy made the same observation.
It's hard to believe the Iron Cross Army could destroy a planet, they're such chuckleheads.
Using Amazoness’ costume guide I posted earlier and the descriptive title translations, I’m going to try to determine the proper episode viewing order. Here are the titles:
The Time of Revenge has Come! Beat Down Iron Cross Group!!
Mysterious World! The Man Who Follows his Fate
Mysterious Thief 001 vs. Spider-Man
The Terrifying Half Merman! The Miracle-Calling Silver Thread
Crash Machine GP-7! The Oath Siblings
Shuddering Laboratory! Devilish Professor Monster
Fearful Hit Tune! Song Dancing Murder Rock
A Very Suspicious Folktale: The Cursed Cat Mound
Motion Accessory is a Loveful Beetle Insect Spy
To the Flaming Hell: See the Tears of the Snake Woman
Professor Monster’s Ultra Poisoning
Becoming Splendid: To the Murderous Machine of Transformation
The Skull Group vs. the Devilish Hearse
Giving Father! Fight to the Song of the Hero
The Life of Our Arrangement
Fine Dog! Run to the Under of Father
Pro Wrestler Samson’s Tears
In the Mother’s Chest: Resurrect the Young Boys
The Boy Phantom: To the Villageless Map
Riddle: Calling the Riddle of my Secret Birth
Fail to the Great Skies: Father’s Love
Shedding Tears to the Dark Fate: Father and Child
To the Love Academy of the Homeless Children
Cockroach Boy: Great War
Treasure, Dog and Double Grow Human
To the Absolute Crisis: The Imitation Hero
Farewell War Buddy: Beloved German Shepard
The Front of the Ally: Boys’ Detective Group
Hurry, GP-7: Time of Stop Sign
Good Luck, Beautiful Police Officer
There is No Child-Taking Detective Tomorrow
Sweet Whispering Enchantress
The Boy Teases the Horrible Wild Girl
Surprising Camera: Murderous Event
From the Unexplored Amazon: Here Comes the Mummified Beautiful Woman
The Onion Silver Mask and the Boys’ Detective Group
From the Secret Messenger of Hell: Great King Enma
The First Tin Plate Evening Star and the Boys’ Detective Group
Sports World: One Great Meeting
Farewell Zero Battle Tricks
The Hero’s Shining Hot Blood
I"m pretty sure there aren't that many episodes in the collection I have.
I was thinking that, too. Maybe about half that many. We may have just the first season. Also, there's a theatrical movie that fits between episodes #10 and #11, and I know we don't have that.
I was not able to watch all of episode 6, as the disk glitched up about 16.6 minutes into the episode, so I wasn't able to catch the ending. There seemed to be two story threads - In one, the Iron Cross Army has hired a mushroom person, and seemed to be distilling drugs of some sort from its mushrooms. The other story thread seemed to involve a singing cowboy type vigilante (That seems to have been a common thing in those days), who brought his young son along on his crime-fighting ventures, understandably upsetting Spidey. Very frustrating, it seems like a good episode.
The entire series was briefly on youtube but recently every episode was taken down.
The origin sounds like what Jack Kirby originally came up with before Steve Ditko said he'd already used that character at Archie.
I've read the robot was added because all of their superheroes had a special finishing move, and they couldn't come up with a special fight move that another hero hadn't already used so they tossed in a robot. Now we know where Power Rangers came from.
I gather that Marvel and Toei quibbled over the rights for years.