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Manga / Perman

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Perman is a manga and anime series created by Fujiko F. Fujio. The original manga was published from 1967 to 1968, and later from 1983 to 1986. A black-and-white anime TV show aired from 1967 to 1968, and was followed by another anime, this time in color, from 1983 to 1987. Several Perman movies also exist.

Mitsuo Suwa, an ordinary 11-year-old boy, is recruited by an alien named Birdman to become a superhero called a Perman, along with Booby the monkey, Sumire Hoshino the idol star, Hozen Oyama the Buddhist monk, and Koichi Yamada, the youngest of the team.

Perman contains the following tropes:

  • Adults Are Useless: Very much averted. Unless it's played for laughs, generally rescue services like police officers and firefighters are depicted as brave, committed and competent. The Ship of Death, for example, has the Perman and government agencies working together to get urgent medical supplies to the titular ship before it's too late note .
  • Animated Adaptation: Two. A black-and-white anime TV show aired from 1967 to 1968, and was followed by another anime, this time in color, from 1983 to 1987.
  • Artifact Title: The "Per" in Perman in this. Originally Birdman was named Superman, and the reason the protagonists are called Perman is because they aren't quite super, so they only rate the last few syllables.
  • The Baby of the Bunch: Koichi Yamada is the youngest member of the Perman team.
  • Baseball Episode: The episode "A Baseball Match in the Sky" is about the characters playing baseball. And yes, they play it in the sky.
  • Betty and Veronica: Michiko is the Betty, being a stereotypical girl-next-door type. Perko is the Veronica, being more outspoken and vivacious. Notably, Mitsuo spends much of the series' run with a mild crush on Michiko and can't stand Perko at first, but as time goes on and Perman spends more time with Perko they also become quite close.
  • Beyond the Impossible: Averted. The Perman have established limits that are sometimes Played for Drama. For example, their top speed is 119km/h and their masks multiply their strength 6,600 times. At one point, Perman, Perman 2 and Perko hitch a ride on the Shinkansen (since its top speed of 210 km/h far exceeds their own top speed). When villains get their hands on the Perman masks, the Perman are outmatched due to them being children and the villains often being adults.
    • In The Ship of Death, a big part of the drama is the fact that the Permans' top speed of 119 km/h is just much too slow. When an attempt to paradrop medical supplies goes bad due to a typhoon, the Perman accidentally discover that if two of them are holding on to each other, their top speed doubles. With Perman, Perko and Perman 2, their top speed quadruples to 476 km/h.
  • Big Ball of Violence: In "Perman 3's a Real Witch", Merman and Booby attack the mysterious witch and kick up a cloud of smoke that has their heads popping out and moving around.
  • Brought to You by the Letter "S": Birdman's shirt has a B.
  • But Now I Must Go: In the final story, Mitsuo is invited (and accepts) the chance to head to the Bird Planet for further training and leaves Earth.
    • In her appearances in Doraemon, Sumire Hoshino (aka Perko aka Perman 3) is now at least in her twenties and mentions still waiting for "her loved one" to return. Considering she and Mitsuo were 11 during Perman's run, that means that he's been gone at least 10 years.
  • Celebrity Masquerade: Hoshino Sumire's non-superhero identity is that of a young idol star. She feels that she has more freedom as a superhero than as an idol.
  • Circling Birdies: In "Lift Just Two of Us", Perman gets a halo of circling stars and planets above his head after he lands on the cactus in the elevator.
  • Closest Thing We Got: That's how Mitsuo became Perman. When Birdman arrived on Earth to recruit superheroes he took a nap, only to oversleep. He recruited Mitsuo on the spot because he happened to be around when he woke up.
  • Crossover: It's had several with other Fujiko Fujio works, such as Ninja Hattori.
    • Sumire appears in Anime/Doraemon on at least two occasions. One of the stories reveals that she's still waiting for Mitsuo to return, due to her writing and singing a song widely interpreted as being a love song. She even has a locket with his picture in it.
  • Eye Pop: In "Perman 3's a Real Witch", Mitsuo is hit on the back of the head by a soccer ball, causing his eyes to pop for a split-second.
  • First Girl Wins: Averted. When Mitsuo leaves Earth at the end of the series, Michiko is still completely unaware that he's Perman (or that he's actually leaving Earth with his copy-bot taking his place). Perko, on the other hand, reveals her true identity as Sumire Hoshino to him and in her appearances in Doraemon is shown to still be carrying a torch for him.
  • Flying Broomstick: The mysterious witch in "Perman 3's a Real Witch" flies around on a broomstick.
  • Human Aliens: Birdman comes from Bird Planet and looks like a human.
  • The Idiot from Osaka: Hozen Oyama (aka Perman 4) zigzags this. While he lives up to some stereotypes (e.g. being stingy with and prioritising money), he's very much not an idiot. For example, while hunting for a damaged US submarine, he opts to study the tides and try to calculate the most likely place the sub will be in rather than futilely trying to search without any clues like the others.
  • Idiot Hero: Mitsuo sometimes comes off as this, but he's genuinely quick-thinking and brave when the situation calls for it.
  • Imagine Spot: One episode almost entirely comprises Mitsuo imagining what life would be like if he lived and did work as a Perman in the Stone Age.
  • Intelligible Unintelligible: The other Permans have no trouble understanding what Booby the monkey says.
  • Kid Hero: Mitsuo Suwa is an ordinary 11-year-old boy and the main protagonist.
  • Kid Hero All Grown-Up: Sumire Hoshino (aka Perko or Perman 3) makes several appearances in Anime/Doraemon, now a successful actress in addition to still being a singer.
  • Mood Whiplash: While overall comedic, there are some genuinely dramatic stories mixed in.
    • The Ship of Death revolves around Perman, Perman 2 and Perko's increasingly desperate attempts to get medicine to a stricken cargo ship before the gravely ill crew succumb to illness, with the trio even having a collective Heroic BSoD when they arrive just in time to see the ship sink during a storm. It's preceded by the more lighthearted introduction of Perman 4 (aka Peryan) and followed by the similarly lighthearted A Kind Hearted Girl.
    • Perman Buried Alive starts with Mitsuo noticing a construction site and decides to invite Perman 2 and Perko to play around like it was a gigantic jungle gym. Then it's revealed the construction site is part of a scheme by some ne'er do wells to tunnel their way into bank vaults, and Perman's initial attempt to stop them ends with him being knocked out and dumped into the site's foundations to be buried alive as the criminals dump concrete onto him.
  • The Movie: Has some.
  • Mundane Solution: The copy-bots are sometimes used for purposes other than helping the Perman maintain their secret identities. In The Phantom Thief Senmensou, Mitsuo uses his, Booby and Perko's copy-bots to try to trick the titular phantom thief into kidnapping them instead of the actual target, while in The Sheltered Boy Mitsuo uses his copy-bot to help the boy of the title sneak out and have fun.
  • Non-Human Sidekick: Booby, a monkey, serves as Perman 2.
  • Not So Above It All: While Perko tries to be more mature than Perman, she has her moments of being equally goofy, snarky or frivolous. Justified in that it's shown that she's forced to keep her emotions under wraps as Sumire Hoshino the idol singer, but can really cut loose as Perko.
  • Phantom Thief: Senmensou is noted as a thief who likes to steal expensive art pieces, would make his intended heists known before making his move, and has been able to elude many a detective and cop due to being a Master of Disguise — in fact, his debut starts out with him disguising as Mitsuo's mother.
  • Prison Escape Artist: One episode centers around Perman and the police trying to recapture Senmensou a few times after the latter keeps breaking out of prison.note 
  • Robot Me: The people chosen to be Permans are given robotic replacements called "copy-bots" that take their place while they're out and about in their Perman forms.
  • Shout-Out: Birdman was originally named Superman (of which Perman is a reduction).
  • Spell My Name With An S: Sumire's hero name is technically Perman 3 (as she's the third Perman introduced), but she's nicknamed Perko (a portmanteau of Perman and the suffix -ko, which is often used in girls' names in Japan). However, many fans and sites romanise it as "Parko" instead, presumably due to the pronunciation.
  • Spoiler Title: One episode's title is "Perman 3's a Real Witch", which explicitly gives away its big plot twist.
  • Something Person: The Permans' recruiter, Birdman (originally Superman).
  • Space Cop: In the first story, Birdman explains that his homeworld the Bird Planet tries to maintain peace throughout space, and the reason he came to Earth was to set up an outpost in the solar system by selecting locals as recruits.
  • Sudden Name Change: Birdman was originally named Superman. The name change was presumably to avoid any run-ins with DC for using one of their superhero's names without permission. Some dubs didn't catch on to that, though, and continued to call him Superman.
  • Super-Speed: The Permans have a cape that allows them to run at fast speeds.
  • Superhero: The main heroes.
  • Superheroes Wear Capes: All of the Permans wear a cape. It's what grants them the ability to fly, with a top speed of 119 km/h.
  • Surprisingly Realistic Outcome: Because the top speed of the Permans is 119 km/h, if they fly faster than that (e.g. as in The Ship of Death), they're forced to use their badges to help them breathe since they're flying too fast to breathe normally.
  • Tomboy and Girly Girl: Perko and Michiko. While Perko acts girly in her identity of idol singer Sumire Hoshino, she actually has a large tomboyish streak that she's able to fully indulge in as Perko. Michiko, on the other hand, is much more stereotypically girly.
  • Tragic Keepsake: Tragic is really stretching it, but in her appearances in Anime/Doraemon Sumire still wears a locket with a picture of 11-year-old Mitsuo (who she hasn't seen since he left for the Bird Planet in the ending of Perman) in it.
  • Would Hurt a Child: Several of the villains and criminals who appear have absolutely no qualms about harming or outright murdering kids. The spy in Here Comes Perko! cheerfully dumps Mitsuo and Perman 2 into the ocean to drown after stealing Perman's cape and mask. The criminals in The Fake Bill Printer come close to murdering Mitsuo after he happens upon their hideout, while Netabal from The Mysterious Netabal hypnotises Perman into falling asleep on some train tracks (fully expecting an incoming train to kill him).