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Series / Spider-Man (Japan)

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''Kimi wa naze... kimi wa naze... Tatakai tsuzukeru no ka inochi wo kakete?note 

"An emissary from Hell. Spider-Man!"'
"Change Leopardon!"

Spider-Man (スパイダーマン or Supaidāman) was a Japanese live-action tokusatsu version of Spider-Man born out of a short-lived licensing agreement between Marvel Comics and Toei. Which also resulted in the anime version of The Tomb of Dracula and three subsequent Super Sentai entries — Battle Fever J, Denshi Sentai Denziman and Taiyou Sentai Sun Vulcan.

In this version, Spider-Man is Takuya Yamashiro, a young Japanese motorcycle racer who's given blood by a 400-year-old Human Alien from the planet Spider, letting him turn into Spider-Man in order to defeat the Iron Cross Army in order to avenge his father. He has the basic costume and powers of the Western version (though he tends to shout attack names to use webs, and the webs and costume come from a bracelet) but little else is similar.

The show was produced in 1978–79, between the second (J.A.K.Q. Dengekitai) and third (Battle Fever J) Super Sentai shows and has many similarities to that franchise: Spider-Man has a car called the Spider-Machine GP-7 and a Humongous Mecha named Leopardon, and the series follows the familiar formula of a single organization sending out a Monster of the Week which gets defeated, then grows to giant size, and is defeated by the hero in the robot. In fact, it introduced this concept to Super Sentai — the first two shows (Himitsu Sentai Gorenger and J.A.K.Q. Dengekitai) didn't have giant robots.

The series is not related in any way to the earlier Spider-Man manga by Ryoichi Ikegami, although it did have a few manga adaptations that were published in different children's magazines. Incidentally, Spider-Man's giant robot Leopardon did make it to the United States as part of the Godaikin toy line.

Despite the extensive liberties the show took with the character of Spider-Man, Stan Lee really liked it, and the show is in no way treated as an Old Shame by Marvel. Indeed, Takuya would go on to appear in the mainline Spider-Man comics — giant robot and all — as a major supporting character in 2014's Spider-Verse story arc and its followups throughout the years, and is slated to appear in Spider-Man: Beyond the Spider-Verse, the sequel to Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse and Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse.

Recurring tokusatsu tropes:

  • Attack of the 50-Foot Whatever: Pretty much every Machine BEM in the series becomes gigantic near the end of the episode, resulting in Spider-Man summoning his mecha Leopardon to finish the creature off.
  • By the Power of Grayskull!: Leopardon's Transformation Sequence always happens straight after Spider-Man announcing "Marveller! Change Leopardon!"
  • Calling Your Attacks: Used both for Spider-Man's web slinging techniques and for Leopardon's special attacks.
  • Chest Insignia: As with other versions of the character, Spider-Man has a black spider symbol on his chest, with a larger and more stylized red one on his back.
  • Cool Car: The Spider Machine GP-7 is an impressive car that Spider-Man can summon using his Spider Bracelet.
  • Defeat Equals Explosion: The enemy always explodes once Spider-Man beats it.
  • Eye Catch: Two sets of these were used during the series. The first set had illustrated pictures of Spider-Man in his car and Leopardon, and the second set featured still photographs of both. With both sets, the image with Spider-Man would be used going into commercials, and the image of Leopardon was used when coming back to the show.
  • In the Name of the Moon: Spider-Man often introduces himself to enemies with such phrases. Early on, he'd consistently describe himself as "An emissary from hell" or as the "Iron Cross Killer" before announcing his name, but later on he changes it from episode to episode to better suit the plot. The format is generally "A man who (insert activity here), Spider-Man!"
  • Make My Monster Grow: The Machine BEMs tend to give Spider-Man trouble by becoming gigantic, necessitating him to summon Leopardon to even the odds.
  • Monster of the Week: The Machine BEMs are an assortment of monsters, Spider-Man facing one of them in every episode.
  • Mooks: The duck-faced Ninders. They originally fight with machetes exclusively, but start to use guns around Episode 5.
  • Stock Footage: A lot of scenes recycle footage to save money. Also became a necessity with Leopardon fights when at one point the suit was stolen. So the reason he never physically interacts with the Monster of the Week after a certain point is because he's not really there.
  • Theme Music Power-Up: Most episodes will have some version of the show's opening theme playing over the big fight scene at the climax.
  • Transformation Trinket: Takuya's Spider Bracelet, which besides shooting webs and releasing his suit for him to transform into, can also detect Mooks in disguise, among other functions.
  • Transforming Mecha: Marveller/Leopardon, going from spaceship to humanoid robot.
  • Victim of the Week: Episodes often involve Spider-Man helping random kids who happen to get involved with whatever the Iron Cross Army is up to this week.

Supaidāman provides examples of:

  • Absurdly-Spacious Sewer: The Iron Cross Army sometimes uses these to get around undetected.
  • Adapted Out: The series doesn't use any established characters from the comics aside from Spider-Man himself, who even then has Takuya Yamashiro as his civilian identity instead of Peter Parker.
  • Air-Vent Passageway: Spider-Man often uses this technique to sneak into Iron Cross bases.
  • Alien Invasion: Courtesy of the Iron Cross Army.
  • Aliens Speaking English: Well, speaking Japanese and writing English. Spider-Man's car has "Spider Machine GP-7" written on it.
  • Annoying Younger Sibling: Takuya's little brother, Takuji.
  • Apocalypse How: Fittingly enough, this is Monster's last and biggest plan; Monster, in the final episode, opts to shell the Earth and all of its major cities with hydrogen-peroxide bombs, essentially destroying everything so he can build his Iron Cross Empire in the Amazon to rule over whatever remains. Even Amazoness confesses the plan is "terrifying."
  • Arm Cannon: The Bomb Wolf Machine BEM used one of these.
  • Asian Fox Spirit: Episode 33's Machine BEM, Fire Fox, is based off this.
  • Bad Boss: Professor Monster and Amazoness tend to be pretty harsh and unrelenting to their minions, their treatment of Kabuton in Episode 9 being a fine example.
  • Bad Habits: For whatever reason, the Amazonian warriors Bella and Rita are seen wearing nuns' habits when the Iron Cross Army first resurrects them in Episode 35.
  • Bat Out of Hell: Big Bat, the Machine BEM in the 12th episode, is a monstrous humanoid bat.
  • Battle Boomerang: One of Leopardon's special attack, Arc Turn, launches the head piece on its forehead like a boomerang to fly through the air and slash a kaiju, returning back to its spot after.
  • Big Bad: The main villain of the series is Professor Monster, who has laser-beam eyes but tends to sit around commanding things.
  • Big Creepy-Crawlies: Cockroach Machine, Episode 24's Machine BEM, is a giant cockroach.
  • Big Damn Heroes: Detective Tachibana gets such a moment in Episode 39 when he saves Spider-Man from being executed by the monsters of the week.
  • Bittersweet Ending: Quite a few episodes end with someone dying under tragic circumstances because of the Iron Cross Army in spite of Spider-Man's heroics and Takuya resolving to continue fighting the Iron Cross Army so that they'll get what they deserve for the lives they've ruined or taken. One example is the 21st episode, where an Interpol agent separated from his son succumbs to mortal injuries the Iron Cross Army inflicted on him before he can live to reunite with his son.
  • Bloodless Carnage: In one scene, Amazoness and her henchman shoot down a bunch of men with guns. This seems to have the effect of making them fall down.
  • Boom Stick: One Machine BEM, the Sorceress Beast, has a staff that doubles as some sort of gun.
  • Brats with Slingshots: Episode 28's "youth detective club".
  • Brown Note: Happens in the seventh episode. Professor Monster takes advantage of an immensely popular ode to Spider-Man by including a frequency in the master recording (the source of all record pressings) that cripple our hero when he's in earshot.
  • Camp: Has exaggerated theatrical style in spades.
  • Casting Gag: Episode 31 introduces Hiroshi Miyauchi as a guitar-toting modern cowboy out for revenge against a giant evil organization, much like his character in Kaiketsu Zubat.
  • Catapult Nightmare: From Takuya, after he has a vision of Shinko being attacked by the Snake Woman in Episode 9.
  • Cerebus Rollercoaster: While never a particularly dark show (unlike another Japanese adaptation of the series almost a decade prior) the series had some rather alarming Family-Unfriendly Violence and morbid storylines for the time in-between the campy shenanigans. The latter half of the series pulled back on the violence somewhat and attempted Reverse Cerebus Syndrome by making Takuya's Friend to All Children qualities the focus of the show, but this paradoxically put previously generic dragon Amazoness in the spotlight and resulted in an Once per Episode basis of the near-death and torture of children at her hands.
  • Chest Blaster: Leopardon's Leopardon String attack, a sort of weighted rope fired out of a panel on its chest.
  • Crying Wolf: Comes up in Episode 34, when a boy with a reputation for creating hoax photos manages to take a picture of a murder committed by the Iron Cross Army.
  • Death by Origin Story: Takuya Yamashiro agrees to become Spider-Man and fight the forces of Professor Monster partly to avenge the death of his father. Garia, the alien from planet Spider who gave Takuya his powers and transforms into a spider to continue giving him advice, ends up passing away in the second episode, which makes Takuya decide to fight the Iron Cross Army to avenge his death as well.
  • Death by Secret Identity: In the final episode, Amazoness figures out that Takuya Yamashiro is indeed Spider-Man as she's long suspected. She ends up getting killed by Professor Monster for failing to defeat Spider-Man.
  • Dem Bones: The Skeleton Beast Machine BEM from Episode 22 and his henchman the White-robed Beast took the form of monstrous, walking skeletons.
  • The Dragon: Amazoness is the highest ranking minion of Professor Monster.
  • Ear Worm: One evil plan perpetrated by Iron Cross was to take a song about Spider-Man and turn it into this.
  • Emergency Transformation: Takuya was turned into Spider-Man partly to prevent him from dying from a wound to the neck given to him by some Mooks.
  • Evil-Detecting Dog: Ricky from Episode 16 could sense Ninders in disguise.
  • Evil Redhead: Amazoness, once she switches to her second outfit. The rest of the time, she has black hair.
  • Expy:
    • In Episode 17, when Samson the wrestler turns into a Machine BEM, he resembles The Thing.
    • Saeko Yoshida, Amazoness' civilian identity, is a gender flipped version of J. Jonah Jameson.
    • Professor Monster is also loosely based on Doctor Doom.
  • Eye Beam: Professor Monster can fire these out of his mechanical eye.
  • Fake Crossover: In a photocomic published in Televi Kun Magazine, Spider-Man received a helping hand against the Iron Cross Army from Kamen Rider V3.
  • Fantastic Drug: "Mash" from Episode 31 is a lethal and highly addictive hallucinogen.
  • Finishing Move: Leopardon's Sword Vigor, which consists of it throwing its never-used-for-anything-else sword at the enemy.
  • Flying Car: Spider-Man's Spider Machine GP-7.
  • Friend to All Children: Takuya Yamashiro is shown to be good with kids. For example, the fifth episode has him bond with an orphaned boy and donate his blood to save his life, while the fifteenth episode has him defend a boy from bullies and help him get new groceries.
  • Full-Body Disguise: Spider-Man's costume, the Spider Protector.
  • Gag Dub: Many Western fans were first aware of the existence of "Japanese Spider-Man" through a hilarious (and sadly lost) Gag Dub on YouTube.
  • Gameplay and Story Segregation: Episode 21 comes about as close to this as is possible in something that isn't a game, because Spider-Man's ability to summon his spaceship/robot is only there for the obligatory robot scene and is not otherwise treated like something he can actually do. In this episode, Spider-Man needs to get a dying man to the airport to see his son; hitchhiking on trains while being attacked by bad guys on foot? Yes. Flying in Marveller, where he doesn't even need to transform into robot form and can easily bypass the bad guys? No.
  • Giant Enemy Crab: Gamina, Episode 25's Machine Bem.
  • Glamour Failure: The Iron Cross Army's Mecha-Mooks could disguise themselves as humans, but would generally be given away by either their metallic hands or the exposed circuitry behind their ear.
  • Grand Finale: "The Hero's Shining Hot Blood", where Spider-Man finally finishes off Professor Monster in a final battle.
  • Healing Factor: One of Takuya's powers is that he can quickly recover from any injury inflicted on him.
  • Hero with Bad Publicity: This incarnation of Spider-Man doesn't generally fall victim to this trope, but several of the Iron Cross Army's plots invoke this by creating scandals in an attempt to ruin his reputation.
  • Hidden Elf Village: The alien village from Episode 19.
  • Human Aliens: Garia, Professor Monster, and most of the Iron Cross Army are aliens who are indistinguishable from humans.
  • I Have No Son!: Masao's father says this of his son in Episode 13 after the younger man, who ran away from home to join a biker gang when his mother died, comes back home only to physically harass his father for money to pay for modifications for his bike, then complains about how little money his father actually has, essentially calling him a lazy cheapskate.
  • In Name Only: Played With.
    • Takuya Yamashiro on the surface has little in common with his American Marvel counterpart other than the costume and some of his abilities. On the other hand, he's shown to be as witty and wise-cracking as Peter Parker could be, and ultimately develops a similar sense of responsibility.
    • More than a few episodes, however outlandish they seem, don't always end with a happy ending, with Takuya forced to confront very similar dilemmas to what Peter experienced, and having to live with the consequences.
  • Instrument of Murder: Goh Tachibana carries around a guitar with a gun hidden inside.
  • Interpol Special Agent: Takuya frequently works with Interpol agents to thwart the Iron Cross Army's plots, after one of them discovers his Secret Identity in The Movie.
  • Intrepid Reporter: Hitomi, Takuya's girlfriend, is always looking for a good story she can have published in the newspaper.
  • Invincible Hero: The only Stock Footage ever filmed for Leopardon was it attacking, and the suit was lost during production. Consequently, it defeats every single villain in one hit.
  • Kill and Replace: In the seventh episode, the Iron Cross Army kill the band who created the song "Spider-Man Boogie" and replace them with cyborg duplicates as part of their plan.
  • Labcoat of Science and Medicine: Most scientist character wear lab coats, including Professor Kitazawa's skeleton.
  • Loan Shark: The Iron Cross Army sets up a false organization of these as part of its plot in Episode 24, kidnapping people who can't pay them back to put them to work in one of their factories to produce poisonous gas.
  • Meaningful Name:
    • Professor Monster is nothing short of cruel.
    • Amazoness is a very formidable female.
  • Mecha-Mooks: The Ninders' exact nature isn't discussed, but elements such as the items listed under Glamour Failure lead us to assume they are robots.
  • Mega Neko: Episode 8's Machine BEM, an ancient cat demon killed by Takuya's ancestor long ago and revived by the Iron Cross Army.
  • Mineral MacGuffin: The Star of Egypt from Episode 25. We're not told why the Iron Cross Army wants it — they just do.
  • Missing Mom: Takuya Yamashiro's mother is nowhere to be seen. Takuya eventually explains that she died prior to the events of the series.
  • Names to Run Away from Really Fast: The Big Bad is named Professor Monster. Need we say more?
  • No MacGuffin, No Winner: Occurs in Episode 40, when Spider-Man decides to destroy the plans for an experimental jet engine rather than let the Iron Cross Army use them for evil.
  • Noodle Incident: 400 years prior to the events of the first episode, Garia (who injected Takuya his Spider extract in the first episode) pursued the Iron Cross Army in search of vengeance after they destroyed his homeworld, but crash-landed into the Earth and was imprisoned in an underground cave for centuries. This is one of the reasons to motivate Takuya's vengeance against Iron Cross Army.
  • No Peripheral Vision: In the first episode, Takuya manages to hide from his family after becoming Spider-Man for the first time by clinging to the ceiling of his (not that large) bedroom.
  • Obfuscating Stupidity: Takuya often pretends to be a lazy goofball in his everyday life, in order to ward off any suspicions of him being Spider-Man.
  • Parental Abandonment: Takuya's mother apparently died sometime before the beginning of the series, while his father is killed by the Iron Cross Army in the opener.
  • Percussive Prevention: Spider-Man pulls this on Tachibana in Episode 39, in order to prevent the latter from walking into an Iron Cross trap.
  • Phantom Thief:
    • Episode 3 involves a thief called 001, who gets kidnapped by the Iron Cross Army and hypnotized into committing crimes in Spider-Man's name.
    • Episode 25 involves another thief, 107, who retired five years ago after stealing a highly valuable jewel to look after his orphaned grandson. Unfortunately, the Iron Cross Army now wants this jewel, and they're not above kidnapping or killing people to get what they want.
  • Playing with Fire: The Fire Fox Machine BEM had such powers.
  • Police Are Useless: Snake Woman easily breaks into the police-ran hospital where Shinko is staying. Subverted as it was a trap to draw her out.
  • Practically Different Generations: Takuya is 22, his sister Shinko is 18, and their brother Takuji is 7.
  • Retool: Somewhat less than halfway through the run, the show abruptly started focusing on Spider-Man helping kids. This was actually a sign of the times, as around 1979-84 tokusatsu began getting Lighter and Softer (because of pressure from Moral Guardians) moving away from the more violent and brutal early-1970s series such as Kamen Rider Amazon and Choujin Barom 1. It can even be seen in the Tsuburaya series Ultraman 80.
  • Rocket Punch: Leopardon's Arm Rockets.
  • Savage Wolf: Bomb Wolf, Episode 29's Machine BEM.
  • Short Film: Tokusatsu version.
  • Sixth Ranger: Bella and Rita become this for the Iron Cross Army once they're introduced in Episode 35.
  • Sizeshifter: The Machine BEMs seemed to initiate the Make My Monster Grow bits all on their own, and some also displayed the ability to shrink to a pocket size.
  • Sneeze Cut: Two of these in Episode 34. Hitomi gets the first one, after some kids call her a third-rate photographer, and Takuya gets another one later, when Amazoness and Professor Monster note that he's been snooping around near one of their factories (Takuya did have a cold at the time, though).
  • Soft Glass: Spider-Man effortlessly breaks through a glass window in Episode 19, without cutting himself or his costume.
  • Something Person: Spider-Man, as ever.
  • Spell My Name With An S: Takuya's Spider Bracelet (as well as the official subs) spells Spidey's name as one word, "Spiderman", instead of the usual two words with a hyphen.
  • Spider-Sense: As usual, this Spider-Man has a special sense that warns him of danger.
  • Super-Senses:
    • The Machine BEM from Episode 6, Robacular, had a super sense of smell.
    • Later episodes portray Spider-Man as having similar abilities.
  • Super-Strength: The plot of Episode 33 involves Spider-Man encountering a young girl who has this as a result of wearing a special pendant from Planet Spider.
  • Tank Goodness: Episode 21 features a Machine BEM that's half tank, half buffalo.
  • Throwing Your Sword Always Works: This is always the attack Leopardon uses that kills the Monster of the Week. It even manages to kill Professor Monster, too!
  • Tragic Monster: Kabuton, Episode 9's Machine BEM, as well as the Snake Woman in Episode 10.
  • Transformation Name Announcement: The Machine BEMs would often announce their names right after growing to their giant size.
  • Voluntary Shapeshifting: The primary power of Dr. Miracle, an old associate of Professor Monster who appears for one episode.
  • Wall Crawl: A standard part of the Spider-Man arsenal.
  • Was Once a Man: Several Machine BEMs were ordinary humans who were kidnapped by the Iron Cross Army and rebuilt into horrible monsters.
  • We Named the Monkey "Jack": In Episode 27, Takuji names a dog he adopts after Takuya, his big brother.
  • Why Did It Have to Be Snakes?: Takuya's sister, Shinko, can't stand spiders.
  • You Have Failed Me: The last episode has Amazoness given one last chance to kill Spider-Man in order to prove her worth. After Professor Monster finds out that Spider-Man is still alive, he responds by ordering Bella and Rita to kill her.
  • You Killed My Father: The Iron Cross Army killed Takuya's father in the first episode, the main motivation for him becoming Spider-Man and battling the Iron Cross Army being so that he can avenge his father's death.


Video Example(s):


Spider-Man (Japan)

With Spider-Man cornered by the Iron Cross Army, Amazoness proceeds to unmask the webslinger... only to find one mask after another without revealing Takuya's face.

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