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Manga / Skull Man

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Originally seeing the light of day in a 1970 one-shot manga, Skull Man was created by Shotaro Ishinomori as his own version of the concept that would become Kamen Rider. It was rebooted in 1998, shortly after Ishinomori's death, by Kazuhiko Shimamoto using Ishinomori's notes. A TV Anime debuted in 2007.

The Skull Man was originally Tatsuo Kagura, the adopted son of a Yakuza family. He was actually the son of a mad scientist and his wife, secretly mutants, who performed experiments on him and his sister, Maya. Fearing the consequences of the experiments, Tatsuo's grandfather killed his parents and tried to kill Tatsuo. However, Tatsuo was saved by a shape-shifting mutant called Garo, who later raised him. Now, Tatsuo as Skull Man commits serial murders in his attempt to find the killer of his parents. And when he does... (The anime's storyline is significantly different.)

Not be confused with a different Skull Man. Or Skull the Kamen Rider, for that matter.

Skull Man features examples of:

  • Action Girl: Skull Maria.
  • Alternate Character Reading: Kogetsu Chisato is an extreme target to this. In the English translated version of The Skull Man manga of the 1998 he gets a "Toratsuki Chisato" instead of Kogetsu. This is the fault of the translation as both Kogetsu and Toratsuki are written in the same kanjis "虎月 ".
  • Ascended Fanboy: Kazuhiko Shimamoto is an avid fan of Shotaro Ishinomori who made him reboot the work.
  • The Atoner: Tatsuo Kagura who later on became Ryusei Chisato in the 1998 manga regarding about his action from his *see the Villain Protagonist and Heroic Sociopath below* to a real deal hero.
    • Same goes to his sister Maya Chisato.
  • Badass Cape: The Skullman wears one himself.
  • Badass Longcoat: The Skullman sports a rather prominent one.
  • Badass Normal: Detective Tobioka in the 1998 manga until he was turned into a Reconstructed Human by The Syndicatenote 
  • Badass Biker: The Skullman in the anime. He was turned into a complete darker version of Kamen Rider.
  • Back from the Dead: Tatsuo Kagura aka the Skull Man himself alongside his kaijin sidekick Garo. Especially when he used his power to escape the house on fire.
    • Add Maya Chisato as well.
  • Balloon Belly: Hayato and Kiriko in episode 6, after eating a ton following days without food.
  • Big Bad Ensemble: The 2007 anime features a pretty big one between the Skull Man himself, Gozo Kuroshio, Masaki Kumashiro and Alucard van Vogt of Brain Gear. Gozo is the one responsible for creating the G.R.O., Skull Man is spree killing civilians who've been mutated before they can fully become G.R.O., Masaki is Gozo's illegitimate son who seeks to overthrow him and Brain Gear just want to get their hands on the Skull Man suit.
  • Blessed with Suck: Tatsuo Kagura suffers one when one of the monsters die, he immediately feels the seen particularly in the 6th manga due to his powers.
  • Body Horror: To what happens to all of the people that turns into a monster later on.
  • Clumsy Copyright Censorship: The opening song is changed in the R1 DVD. Since the record label for the band Tokio (sound familiar? ) wouldn't allow their music to be used.
  • Character Development: Tatsuo in the 1990s manga is a great deal more reasonable than the one from the original one-shot.
  • Cool Mask: Tatsuo Kagura wears one and how much more is the new one?
  • Crossover Relatives: The ending of 2007 anime reveals that the main character is actually the father of the title character from Cyborg 009.
  • Cute Monster Girl: The wasp girls.
  • Downer Ending: In the one-shot manga, Tatsuo, his grandfather and Maya all die.
    • Not to mention that at the end of the 2007 anime, the main character, who has done all he can to do the right thing, saves the world from being annihilated, dies...and is brought back as BLACK GHOST. As in, the world dominating, cyborg creating, terrorist Black Ghost of Cyborg 009. How's that for a shocker?
  • Expy: Alucard von Vogt is a dead ringer for Klaus von Bogoot from Cyborg 009, and is even voiced by Unsho Ishizuka. His secretary Helen is also clearly modeled after the Pu'Awak princess Helen (although she's voiced by Satsuki Yukino, who voiced Cyborg 003). There's also a very familiar "Dr. Gamo Whisky".
    • The five SIRKS cyborgs are intended to be Expies of Cyborgs 002, 004, 005, 006, and 008, although some of their powers and appearances differ.
  • Gambit Pileup: The 2007 anime starts with a reporter investigating sightings of a man in a skeleton mask and culminates in the pileup of the machinations of a Mega-Corp, a Mystery Cult, another Mega-Corp and a group of Japanese military radicals.
  • Heel–Face Turn: A considerable number of The Syndicate's minions.
  • Large Ham: Skullman definitely qualifes and let's throw in Detective Tobioka too.
  • Lighter and Softer: The 1998 manga is this for recasting Skull Man as a more conventional hero rather than a dark avenger of the night.
  • Luke, I Am Your Father: In the 2007 anime Hayato becomes Black Ghost as well as Joe's father.
  • Massive Multiplayer Crossover: The 2007 anime is this for Ishinomori's works, much like how Giant Robo The Animation was one for Mitsuteru Yokoyama's works, features many cameos of other characters created by Ishinomori.
  • Mega-Corp:
    • The Otomo Group in the 2007 anime, who are responsible for developing Otomo City and control most of its major public figures, including its mayor and police chief.
    • Brain Gear are a multinational corporation that Otomo Group is partnered with, and appear to be even larger than them. In fact, they're actually a front for a certain War for Fun and Profit organization from Cyborg 009.
  • Monster Allies: Garo originally then the wasp armies and even the detective who became a Reconstructed Human but was given an upgrade by Tatsuo/Ryuusei.
    • In the anime, only two, namely Tetsuro and Rena Shingyouji.
  • Offscreen Romance: Hayato and Kiriko have this when it becomes clear Kiriko has a crush on Hayato and she stays with him in a hotel room. If her giving birth to a child shortly afterwards alluded to be Hayato's is anything to go by, they had sex in the short time they stayed together.
  • Psychic Powers: Skullman himself, in fact he used it to make Chief Tachiki reveal who the killer is.
    • Not to mention that he used it again when he escaped the burning of the house aaanndd... Added more with that being used to torment the monsters in the 1998 manga and some to some extent, destroy them.
    • Maya Chisato in the original manga using her telepathic powers to tell Tatsuo that she is his sister and the murderer is their grandfather. and this is not just her own power. It is revealed further that she can heal her brother as well.
    • Maria, the female counterpart of Tatsuo/Ryuusei in the 1998 manga.
  • Red Herring: In the 2007 anime, doubling as a Continuity Nod. Hayato pins a supposedly-deceased Tatsuo Kagura as the Skull Man as early as episode 2. It's not him.
  • Re-Release Soundtrack: The original opening, "Hikari no Machi", was partially replaced for Japanese home video and completely replaced for English release.
  • Roaring Rampage of Revenge: Tatsuo's entire goal in the original manga.
  • Scarf of Asskicking: Joe Shimamura in the 36th Chapter and Detective Tsuyoshi Tobioka in the last chapters of the 1998 manga.
  • Shout-Out: The Skull Man's final blow against the Big Bad in the 2007 anime brings to mind a certain time-stopping ability.
    • It's also reminiscent of the Acceleration Ability featured in Cyborg 009
    • When Hayato becomes Skull Man, his outfit is more than a little reminiscent of Kamen Rider.
  • Stealth Sequel: It isn't obvious until near the end, but the 2007 anime is actually a prequel to Cyborg 009. Hayato becomes the Skull, leader of the Black Ghost organization, and Kiriko gives birth to Joe Shimamura in the epilogue. It could also be seen as more as a reference to the series than an actual prequel, however.
  • Transformation Trinket: Worn by members of the White Bell Cult. Combined with Body Horror and Nightmare Fuel.
  • Villain Protagonist: The Skull Man's entire goal is to just kill anyone he thinks is a bad person. (Most of them aren't.)
    • In fact in the anime at one point, he specifically uses one person's goodness against them to lure them to a place he can kill them.
    • To be fair, it's all but stated (at least in the anime) that the mutants become insane the moment the transformation begins, with his partners seemingly being the sole exceptions. Even the woman in question was clearly becoming delusional. It makes clear he does what he does (in the anime) to prevent the countless deaths they might cause.