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In the mid-1960s, the Batman TV series was exported to Japan and proved extremely popular. As a result, an officially licensed Batman manga was published for just over a year, in the weekly Shōnen King magazine and, with different stories, in the monthly Shōnen Gaho. Jiro Kuwata, an established mangaka of superhero and "scientific detective" manga, was hired as writer and artist. The manga was loosely based on DC Batman stories of the era, but with significant Adaptation Expansion and Cultural Translation. After the end of Japanese Bat-mania, the series was largely forgotten.

In 2008, a book called Bat-Manga: The Secret History of Batman in Japan was published in the USA. Compiled by Chip Kidd, it translated and reprinted selected complete stories and isolated chapters from the manga, along with photos of other Japanese Bat-merch of the era, text pieces by Kidd, and a new interview with Kuwata. It proved highly popular and memetic with English-language Batman fans, although there was controversy over Kidd alone being credited as writer of the book even though most of its content was Kuwata's manga.

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From 2014, the whole series was published in English translation by DC as Batman: The Jiro Kuwata Batmanga, in serialised form online and then on paper in three tankōbon.


This manga contains examples of:

  • Alien Abduction: Happens to Batman and Robin at the beginning of "Duel In Space".
  • Animal Mecha: The fake Gore Bay Monster turns out to be one.
  • Anti-Hero Substitute: The Hangman tries to do this to Batman, but Jumped Off The Slippery Slope right at the start by talking a mentally disabled man into committing a robbery and then killing him, so that he could establish his credentials.
  • Artistic License – Physics: In the most glaring example, one of Dr. Quras's robots being struck by lightning somehow causes the lightning current to travel back through the radio waves used to control the robot, and kill Quras and his two remaining criminal servants.
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  • Author Avatar: Kuwata draws himself into a couple of pages at the beginning of "The Man Who Quit Being Human", discussing evolution and the possibility of something more powerful than humanity evolving.
  • Bouncing Battler: The Human Ball, thanks to gymnastic talent and a suit made of "elastic alloy".
  • Breakout Villain: Lord Death Man, the manga's interpretation of a one-shot Silver Age villain called Death-Man, became this after his complete story was published in Bat-Manga, to the point that Batman Incorporated introduced him as Death-Man's Post-Crisis counterpart.
  • Buried Alive: An Indian fakir survives this for several hours, due to yogic breathing techniques.
  • Canon Foreigner: "The Man Who Quit Being Human", loosely based on a Silver Age comic story with a similar name, gave the titular character a daughter when he was childless in the original story.
  • Captain Ersatz: Go Go the Magician is an Ersatz of The Flash villain the Weather Wizard, whose unusual confrontation with Batman was adapted into the manga.
  • Cement Shoes: Morgan's plan for disposing of the real Dr. Denton.
  • Clingy Costume: Lord Death Man's mask and costume are said to be impossible to remove.
  • Costume Copycat: Both "The Robbery Contest" and "The Phantom Batman" involve criminals impersonating Batman. In the first example, Batman himself ends up impersonating the impersonator.
  • Cultural Translation: Lord Death Man refers to himself as a/the "god of death" (死神) several times in Japanese. This became "a death lord" in the English translation.
  • Cut Lex Luthor A Cheque: Played with in relation to Gagney, the Human Ball. His crimes are intended to demonstrate the power of his "elastic alloy" so he can sell it to the highest bidder, but it's still hard to understand why he decided to go on a robbery spree instead of just demonstrating it in a less illegal way.
  • Darker and Edgier: Nowhere near as dark as the DC comics and the films sometimes get, but still darker than the TV series that inspired it. Notably, quite a number of people die, some of them indirectly or directly at Batman's own hands.
  • Death by Adaptation: "The Man Who Quit Being Human" is loosely based on "The Man Who Quit the Human Race", a story originally published in Batman #165. One of the most notable differences the manga adaptation has with the original comic story is that the mutated Governor Warner is killed rather than being put in suspended animation until humanity has evolved to the same state he is in.
  • Dub Name Change: Clayface became ドロ人間 ("Mud Human") in the manga, and Weather Wizard was renamed "Go-Go the Magician" (魔人ゴーゴー) even in the English translation.
  • Empowered Badass Normal: Batman briefly gets the strength and acrobatic ability of a gorilla when Karmak copies his intelligence.
  • Evolution Power-Up: The whole concept of "The Man Who Quit Being Human".
  • Facial Horror: Doctor Faceless has his face turned into a scarred mess by a technology intended to reconstruct faces.
  • Faking the Dead: Lord Death Man uses yogic techniques to slow his metabolism to the point of apparent death, so that he can evade actual execution and intimidate people by claiming to resurrect.
  • Forgotten Phlebotinum: Planet King invents a series of incredible planet-themed super-science weapons and only uses them for one crime each.
  • Genre Shift: "Duel in Space" makes a Genre Shift into space opera.
  • Gimmick Matches: A "loser unmasks" wrestling match happens at the climax of "The Hangman of Terror".
  • Gladiator Games: The evil alien emperor in "Duel in Space" abducts intelligent aliens from different planets and forces them to battle in a huge arena.
  • I Cannot Self-Terminate: In the story "The Man Who Quit Being Human", Warner asks Batman to kill him if he goes berserk after being mutated. It doesn't work.
  • I Love Nuclear Power: Warner's mutation is deliberately accelerated using radiation.
  • Insanity Defense: This is Morgan's reason for pretending to be Dr. Denton, driven mad by his disfigurement, as he believes that it will allow him to get away with his crimes.
  • Intangible Man: The criminal holograms created by Dr. Donovan are intangible apart from their hands.
  • Karmic Death: The evil alien emperor accidentally falls into the beast pit that he intended to throw the losing duellists into to be eaten.
  • Kill It with Fire: The fate of Catman when his "magic" cloak catches alight.
  • Killer Gorilla: Karmak, but only after a lot of abuse and some intellectual augmentation.
  • Latex Perfection: Morgan somehow manages to create a perfect mask of Dr. Denton so that he can fake disfigurement by a lab accident.
  • Mad Scientist: Many villains are either mad scientists or accidentally created through mad science.
  • Masquerade Ball: The setting of "Fiend of the Masquerade" is an Amusement Park where, for added Rule of Cool, a Masquerade Ball is taking place.
  • Maybe Magic, Maybe Mundane: The manga leaves it unclear whether Catman's magic cloak really made him immortal (Robin's belief) or whether he repeatedly survived fatal situations by pure luck (Batman's).
  • Mirror Morality Machine: A flawed Mad Science resurrection turns none other than Alfred into the disfigured supervillain The Outsider, with his previous loyalty to Bruce and Dick turned into an uncontrollable desire to kill them.
  • Night of the Living Mooks: The Outsider raises dead criminals as ninja zombies to attack Batman and Robin.
  • Out of Order: Due to the decision to print all the weekly stories before all the monthly ones, the translated version has the two Clayface stories (the only two stories to feature a recurring villain) in reverse order.
    • For those curious, "The Crimes of the Planet King" was the last of the weekly stories originally published in Shonen King. All of the stories collected after that (starting with "The Robot Robbers") originally appeared in the monthly magazine Shonen Gahou at the same time as the weekly stories. The result is that Clayface's origin is printed in volume 3 of the collected edition while his return is printed in volume 2.
      • If you go by cover dates of the original magazines, Clayface's origin (Shonen Gahou 1966 #9, 9/1/1966) would go between "Professor Gorilla part 3 " (Shonen King 1966 #34, 8/28/1966) and "Go-Go the Magician part 1" (Shonen King 1966 #35, 9/4/1966).
  • Plot Hole: Cooper the spy boss wants Robin dead because Robin saw his face... but Robin recognised him in the previous chapter because his appearance was already to some degree public knowledge.
  • Post-Kiss Catatonia: Happens to Robin after Helen Cahn kisses him.
  • Professional Wrestling: "The Hangman of Terror" is set in the wrestling world, and climaxes with Batman turning up at a wrestling show and challenging an evil wrestler to a "loser unmasks" match.
  • Puppeteer Parasite: The alien entity that caused Dr. Norbett to commit crimes as Planet King.
  • Real After All: In "The Monster of Gore Bay", a gang of criminals create a giant mecha sea monster to cause chaos and cover up their robberies, only for the real monster to turn up and attack them.
  • Recursive Translation: The character Death-Man became 死神男 (literally "Death-God Man") in the manga, which the English translation rendered as "Lord Death Man." Similarly, the obscure American character "Dr. No-Face" became "Dr. Faceless" in the English manga translation.
    • This also applied to story titles. For example, the original Batman comics featured a story titled "The Man Who Quit the Human Race." The English translation of the manga adaptation became "The Man Who Quit Being Human."
  • Remote Body: Doctor Quras creates super-powered remote controlled robots and recruits criminals to control them to commit crimes.
  • Resurrective Immortality: Lord Death Man appears to have this power. He's faking.
  • The Reveal:
    • Doctor Faceless isn't the disfigured mad scientist Dr. Denton, he's the professional criminal Morgan impersonating the mad scientist. Although he is genuinely disfigured.
    • The above reveal is exactly reversed in "Clayface's Revenge", in which it is revealed that the scientist that the original Clayface tried to force to restore his abilities actually killed him and became Clayface II.
  • Science Hero: Batman's style of heroism in the manga concentrates on gadgetry and coming up with (dubiously) scientific ways to counteract Mad Science Phlebotinum.
  • Skeletons in the Coat Closet: Lord Death Man has a skull mask.
  • Space Whale Aesop: Don't use apes for scientific research, because when you accidentally give them human intelligence and superpowers they'll try to wipe out the human race!
  • Spice Up the Subtitles: The English translation has Batman refer to Planet King as "a pain in the... asteroids", a rather crude pun that seems out of character for the way he is depicted in the rest of the manga.
  • Thinly-Veiled Dub Country Change: While it's a Batman-themed property, everything is set in Japan. Instances you see are Japanese language signs, security guards having armbandsnote  and notes are written in Japanese.
  • Transhuman Treachery: Once an augmented mutant, you instantly decide that humanity is outdated and needs to be wiped out.
  • Weather-Control Machine: Go Go the Magician's weapon allows him to create all manner of hostile weather.
  • Wrestling Monster: The Hangman, in-universe, is a brutally unstoppable wrestling heel.
  • You Have Failed Me: Doctor Quras shoots "Four-Eyes" Hawley for letting one of the robots get destroyed.

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