Once upon a time—about a year and a half ago, I think—I was introduced to the wonder and whimsy known as Supaidaman; or, as some call it, Toei Spider-Man; or, as we at Marvel.com call it since we don’t know how to pronounce things, Japanese Spider-Man.
If you didn’t click on the helpful link in the paragraph above I spent tens of seconds creating, Supaidaman was a series of 41 episodes, each 30 minutes in length, produced between 1978 and 1979 by the Japanese television company Toei. It centers on a young Japanese motorcycle daredevil named Takuya Yamashiro, whose father, a “space archaeologist” (an extremely specialized field), discovers a UFO. The evil Professor Monster and is Iron Cross Army also discover the ship and want to use it to rule the universe.
It’s more or less here that my knowledge of Japanese Spider-Man runs a bit dry because while we spent 41 weeks streaming the episodes of Marvel.com (and you can still find them there now free of charge), my participation was limited more or less staring with my mouth agape as Harry Go uploaded installments with titles like “Mysterious World! The Man Lives to Fate” and “Pro Wrestler Samson’s Tears” to the site and singing along to the show’s theme song on occasion with John Cerilli.
I was able to pierce together than unlike our Spider-Man, the Japanese incarnation got his powers from a wizard in a cave, changed into his costume using a magical wristwatch, shot some rope that was his “web” out of a little pistol and piloted a giant robot called Leopardon against giant monsters at the end of each episode in sequences which set the precedent for every similar show to come including Power Rangers.
Also, Harry keeps on his computer an image of Japanese Spider-Man firing an automatic weapon that Cerilli wouldn’t let him use for a banner on the site. Crazy stuff happened on that show.
Anyhow, a few weeks into Japanese Spider-Man’s run on Marvel.com and I got an excited phone call from none other than Amazing Spider-Man writer Dan Slott. Now exuberant phone calls from a near-breathless Dan Slott are a welcome and semi-frequent part of my life I’ve come to accept and cherish, but this correspondence yielded particularly interesting revelations.
Dan Slott is a nut for Toei Spider-Man. He watched every episode in Japanese and later picked up any recordings he could find with sub-titles so he could figure out what the heck he was watching. He was over the moon when we started streaming the show since we had the whole series with the English translation running at the bottom of the screen.
From memory, Dan told me all about his favorite episode, “Fearful Hit Tune! Song Dancing Murder Rock,” in which Professor Monster creates an evil version of a popular Japanese boy band in order to hypnotize the country’s youth and Spider-Man saves the day by destroying the creatures with a rifle-mounted dune buggy.
Anyways, I’m not sure Dan Slott is reading this blog right now—well, I’m reasonably sure he will, because I’m going to e-mail him the link—but if he is, I have a challenge for him.
Mr. Slott, lo those many months ago when that fateful call took place, you and I vowed to somehow get Toei Spider-Man into the pages of an actual Spider-Man comic. No, I have not checked out whether this can legally be done, but that is what Tom Brennan is for. I throw down the gauntlet to you once again, sir, to import this magical world of evil boy bands and Spider-Man piloting Voltron here to America and back out into the world for consumption by the masses. I don’t care if you reveal Professor Monster as the mastermind behind The Gauntlet or just peer pressure Chris Gage until he puts Leopardon in Avengers Academy, this is your destiny.
Also, I have read that you now write Spider-Man video games as well—specifically a Spider-Man video game in which multiple incarnations of the character from various realities feature—need I say more?
Until next time: “Kakero! Spider-Man!”