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Theatre / Golden Bat

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Golden Bat (黄金 バット Ōgon Batto) is Japan's first Super Hero, debuting in 1930, as part of a popular traveling Kamishibai ("Paper Theater") show. Since then, he has had Anime series, a Manga adaptation, and a few live-action films, including one starring Sonny Chiba.

Golden Bat was the first illustrated superhero, and the first with all the Flying Brick ingredients of the modern superhero, including superpowers and features such as Super Strength and Super Speed, Flight, X-Ray Vision, Bat Signal, a cape, etc. He predates, and was a precursor to, the American comic-book pulp superheroes, eight years before Superman, nine years before Batman, and eleven years before Captain America. While his name resembles Batman, Golden Bat has much more in common with Superman (though he looks more like Spawn, or Captain America's nemesis Red Skull).


While he was in many ways a precursor to both Superman and Batman, it is unknown whether he had any influence on their creation. However, due to his popularity in Japan, Golden Bat was essentially the Trope Maker for Japanese superheroes. His legacy can be seen in the superheroes who have permeated Japanese media since then, including other early 1930s Kamishibai superheroes like Prince of Gamma, the Henshin Heroes of Tokusatsu films and shows, Manga and Anime superheroes such as Astro Boy and Gatchaman to Magical Girls like Cutey Honey, Sailor Moon and Pretty Cure, and even Super Robots (he fought a gigantic mech).

Compare Skull Man and GARO, the latter of which was originally planned as a Toku adaptation of Golden Bat.


Tropes include:

  • Anime: Golden Bat, along with other Kamishibai paper theater shows at the time, is a precursor to anime. Golden Bat eventually got his own anime series in 1966.
  • Arch-Nemesis: Dr. Erich Nazō
  • Atlantis: An ancient civilization where Ogon Bat originates from.
  • Attack of the 50-Foot Whatever: He fights a humongous Super Robot.
  • Badass Cape: He was one of the first caped superheroes, and certainly the first with superpowers. Golden Bat had various uses for his cape. For example, he could make gusts of winds with his cape and could also use it to disguise himself.
  • Bat Signal: Years before Batman, Golden Bat was using a similar cunning technique, using his costume and his reputation to scare the villains he fights. First a gold bat would appear, followed be a haunting laughter and the appearance of Ogon Bat`s ghostly golden skull. He was also feared because, unlike most heroes that would follow him (and some before), he didn't care if the villains died or not, so a meeting with the bat would most definitely end in death.
  • Big Bad: Doctor Nazo is behind pretty much all the troubles the heroes go through in both the paper theater and in the anime.
  • Blow You Away: He could make gusts of winds with his cape.
  • Cane Fu: Can wield his Silver Baton like a sword, when it isn't an actual rapier.
  • The Cape: He was possibly the first caped superhero, depending on whether or not one considers the earlier caped crusader Zorro a superhero (Zorro lacked superpowers).
  • Cats Are Mean: Doctor Nazo is always seen wearing a hood which resembles some kind of feline creature.
  • Color Character: Ōgon basically means gold, which is what we call him in English.
  • Creepy Good: Golden Bat is an invincible musketeer-like hero who fights evil... but is also a golden skull-faced ancient who laughs maniacally as he tears through the defenses of evildoers.
  • Dub Name Change:
    • In the Italian dub of the 1966 anime, Golden Bat is called Fantaman and Doctor Nazo is called Doctor Zero.
    • The Brazilian dub has similar changes, except it calls Golden Bat "Fantomas" due to his similarity to a popular pro wrestler of the 60s.
    • Mexico instead calls him "Fantasmogorico".
  • Earthquake Machine: He can use his staff to generate small earthquakes.
  • Evil Counterpart: Black Bat.
  • Evil Laugh: Much like The Shadow before him, Golden Bat's trademark was his very unnerving laugh.
  • Face of a Thug: He looks like a freakin' skeleton (he looks a bit like Spawn, Ghost Rider minus the fire, or Captain America's nemesis Red Skull).
  • Flight: Is it a bird? Is it a plane? Is it Superman? No, it's Golden Bat!
  • Flying Brick: He was the first with all the Flying Brick ingredients of the modern superhero archetype, including superpowers and features such as Super Strength and Super Speed, Flight, X-Ray Vision, Bat Signal, a cape, etc.
  • Four Eyes, Zero Soul: Doctor Nazo, literally.
  • Horrifying Hero: That skull is NOT a mask. Let THAT sink in.
  • Humongous Mecha: He fights a gigantic Super Robot.
  • Immortality: Being an ancient Atlantean who has been around for thousands of years, he is obviously immortal.
  • Just Add Water: Literally, water was needed to reawaken Golden Bat in the first place.
  • Mad Scientist: Doctor Nazo.
  • Magic: Due to his magical nature, Golden Bat was the most powerful super hero of the 1930s to 1940s. Some of Golden Bat's magical powers include shooting powerful bolts of energy, as well as other abilities mentioned on this page.
  • Magic Staff: The Silver Baton, which serves as both a mystical and physical weapon.
  • Manga: Golden Bat, along with other Kamishibai paper theater shows at the time, is a precursor to modern manga. Golden Bat eventually got his own manga series.
  • Market-Based Title: Anime and film depictions of the character have been variously localised under titles such as "Phantaman" (Australia, notable for the main character actually being named "Phantoma"), "Fantaman" (Italy), "Fantomas, o Guerreiro da Justica" (Brazil) and "Fantasmagorico" (Mexico).
  • Mummy: Of the non-bandaged variety, and combined with Chrome Champion. However, he also has some traits associated with vampires (such as his connection to bats), and debuted one year before Bela Lugosi's cinematic depiction of Dracula.
  • Nigh-Invulnerability: He has a degree of invulnerability, being able to withstand bullets and lasers with ease.
  • Ominous Opera Cape: His cape tends to be drawn more like this than the standard superhero cape.
  • Proto-Superhero
  • Royal Rapier: As part of his "musketeer" look. Later depictions make it a short Magic Staff called the Silver Baton.
  • Sealed Good in a Can: An ancient Atlantean who lay sealed inside a sarcophagus until the time came when the world would need his aid once again.
  • Shock and Awe: His staff can produce lightning.
  • Super Hero: One of the first, and perhaps the first modern non-Western example (not including superhuman mythological heroes). In fact, he predates almost all of the Western examples, with only a few such as Zorro (who lacked superpowers) coming before.
  • Super Hero Origin: He is an Immortal from ancient Atlantis, and is awoken from his slumber thousands of years later, in the 20th century.
  • Super Reflexes: Golden Bat dodges bullets... even though he doesn't actually need to, since his body can withstand bullets anyway.
  • Super Robot: He fights a gigantic mech.
  • Super Speed: He moved faster than a speeding bullet, eight years before Superman.
  • Super Strength: He was the first caped superhero with super strength. He defeats a gigantic mecha robot by grabbing it by his finger, spinning it around, and flinging it.
  • Super Toughness: He has a degree of invulnerability, being able to withstand bullets and lasers with ease. He could also easily breathe underwater.
  • Supervillain: Dr. Erich Nazō a mad scientist or alien who creates various treats to fight Golden Bat and take over the world. Much like Golden Bat is the first Japanese Super Hero, Dr. Erich Nazō can be seen as the first Japanese Supervillain, having an influence on many characters since in Japan.
  • Swiss Army Tears: Downplayed. Water awakens Golden Bat from his slumber, and tears have served this purpose in some depictions. It swings back into the mystical when this creates a psychic link between Golden Bat and the girl the tears came from, allowing him to sense when she's in danger.
  • Telepathy: He has a psychic link with the girl who resurrected him.
  • X-Ray Vision: He has X-ray vision.

Alternative Title(s): Ougon Bat, Fantaman, Phantaman