Monday, July 19, 2010

Rubber Robot Revival

As a longtime aficionado of Japanese science fiction, I'm continually astounded just how much Tokusatsu, Sentai and Kaiju material is out there that I've still never seen - or even heard of, for that matter.

Watching insectoid-helmeted motorcyclists and intergalactic androids do battle with mutated prehistoric city-destroying behemoths is something that is apparently deeply buried in the genetic memory of humanity. It's certainly buried in mine, and not all that deeply - I experienced a strange deja vu when I first beheld Spectreman for the very time as a child in the mid-70s, and it's a peculiar sort of satori that still haunts me to this day. But even without opening that can of worms, there's just something aesthetically appealing about the genre from a theatrical standpoint. These are stories writ large in radioactive letters on the parchment of the collective unconscious, and in an operatic, Brechtian way.

If your frame of reference for this sort of thing is limited to Godzilla or Power Rangers, jump in anywhere, friend. Let YouTube be your tour guide to ever-spiralling fractal levels of genuine cosmic wisdom disguised as Grade-Z low budget Japanese teenage entertainment. There's Jaguar Man, Redman, X-Bomber, Dairanger, Battle Fever J, Gamera, Spielvan, Monster Prince, Ultra Fight, Space Sheriffs, Ghidrah, Solar Squadron Sun Vulcan, Varan, Rodan, Juspion, Space Ameoba, J.A.K.Q., Frankenstein, and even Spider-man.

There's War of the Gargantuas, Jumborg Ace, Mirrorman, Robot Keiji K, Akumaiser, Kikaider, Uchu Kara No Message Ginga Taisen, Daitetsujin 17, Chojun Bibyun, Ninja Captor, The X From Outer Space, Inazuman, Goggle V, Thunder Mask, Battle Hawk, and Dinosaur Squadron Zyuranger.

And then there's The Kagestar, Johnny Sokko, Changerion, Atragon, The Mysterians, Ucho Daisenso, Shiro Jishi Kamen, Greenman, Superman Ganbaron, Goranger, Spacemonster Dogora, Aizenborg, Majin Hunter Mitsurugi, and Pro Wrestling Star Aztekaizer.

And if all of that doesn't melt your mind like a faulty appliance, try on Zone Fighter, Kamen Rider, Maskman, Gorath, Voicelugger, Flashman, King Kong, Iron King, Winspector, Matango, Monster Zero, Super Human Robot Metalder, Ushiwaka Kotaro, Zaborger, Kabuto-O Beetle, Devilman, Bioman, and Bouken Rockbat for size.

And don't even get me started on Ultraman and all the many spinoffs, including Ultra Seven, Ultra Max, Ultraman Tiga, Ultraman Taro, Ultraman Zert, Ultraman Dyna, Ultraman Jack, Ultraman Ace, Ultraman Mebius and the Ultra Brothers, and of course, my personal favorite, Ultraman Zoffy.

- - JSH

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