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Spider-Man is a Japanese live-action Tokusatsu television series produced by Toei Company, loosely based on Marvel Comics' Spider-Man character. The series lasted 41 episodes, which aired on the Wednesday 19:30 JST time slotof Tokyo Channel 12 (TV Tokyo) from May 17, 1978. A theatrical episode was also shown in the Toei Manga Matsuri film festival on July 22, 1978. From March 5 to December 24, 2009, Marvel uploaded English subtitled versions of all 41 episodes on their official website.

While Toei's version of the character wore the same costume as his Marvel counterpart, the show's storyline and the origin of the character's powers deviated completely from the source material. In addition to fighting by himself, this incarnation of Spider-Man also piloted a giant robot known as Leopardon, which he would summon to thwart off enlarged versions of the show's monsters. Toei would adopt the giant robot concept in subsequent incarnations of their Super Sentai franchise.

Production

The show was the result of a three-year licensing agreement with Marvel that allowed both to use each other's properties in any way they wanted. Toei initially planned to use Spider-Man as a supporting character for an unmade television series starring a fictionalized version of Yamato Takeru who was sent to the present via a time warp. The character who would've appeared on this show was intended to be identical to the Marvel version. However, Toei decided to make Spider-Man the protagonist instead and the character of Yamato Takeru was revised into Garia, an alien who gives Spider-Man his powers. The resulting show deviated from the source material completely, outside of Spider-Man's costume and some of his superpowers and gadgets. Other productions by Toei as a result of this licensing deal included Battle Fever J (a show originally conceived about a Japanese counterpart of Captain America) and an animated television movie based on the comic book Tomb of Dracula. Marvel would use the main robots from two of Toei's anime programs, Wakusei Robo Danguard Ace and Chōdenji Robo Combattler V, in their comic book adaptations of the Shogun Warriors toyline. a toy version of Leopardon, Spider-Man's robot from the Toei series, was also sold in the United States as part of the Godaikin line.

Although the show's story was criticized for bearing almost no resemblance to the Marvel version, the staff at Marvel Comics, included Spider-Man's co-creator Stan Lee, praised the show for it's special effects and stunt work, especially the spider-like movements of the character himself. While it is said that Marvel initially opposed the addition of Leopardon, the robot was viewed as a necessary gimmick to attract younger viewers and was ultimately kept. The show's mechanical designer, Katsushi Murakami (a toy designer at the time), expressed concern about Toei's capability to market Spider-Man to Japanese audiences and was given permission by producer Yoshinori Watanabe to take whatever liberties he deemed necessary. Murakami came up with the idea of giving Spider-Man an extraterrestrial origin, as well as a spider-like spaceship that could transform into a giant robot (due to the popularity of the giant robot shows in Japan at the time).

The action figure version of Leopardon was initially sold as a part of the Chogokin toyline and became an unprecedented success in the market, which contributed to the TV series' popularity was well. The success of the show made Toei introduce the giant robot concept to their Super Sentai franchise in Battle Fever J (a show which they also co-produced with Marvel) and contributed to Spider-Man's popularity when Marvel began to export more of their properties to Japan during later years.

The head writer of the series was Susumu Takahisa (Key Hunter, Mazinger Z, G-Men '75), who wrote 16 episodes and the movie, while former Tsuburaya writer Shōzō Uehara wrote 15 episodes, including the first episode and the finale. There were many episodes in which the "monster of the week" (usually a "Machine BEM" created by the villain) was not relevant to the plot, as well as two episodes (ep. 12 and ep. 27) which featured no monsters at all. The show also featured a story arc in which the female antagonist Amazoness tries to uncover Spider-Man's secret identity.

Plot

Young motorcycle racer Takuya Yamashiro sees a UFO falling to Earth, in fact a space warship named the "Marvelller" from planet "Spider." Takuya's father Dr. Hiroshi Yamashiro, a space archaeologist, investigates the case, but is killed upon finding the spaceship. the incident also attracts the attention of Professor Monster and his evil, Iron Cross Army, an alien group that plans to rule the universe.

Takuya follows his father to the Marveller and discovers Garia, the last surviving warrior of Planet Spider, a world that was destroyed by Professor Monster and the Iron Cross Army. Garia explains that he was hunting Professor Monster but now needs someone to carry on the fight and he injects Takuya with someone of his own blood. The blood of a person from Planet Spider gives Takuya spider-like powers. Garia then gives Takuya bracelet that can activate his spider protector costume, shoot web-lines, and controls the Marveller ship (which can also transform in to a giant battle robot called "Leopardon"). Using his powers, Takuya fights Professor Monster's army and other threats to Earth under the name Spider-Man.

Characters

Spider-Man

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In the series, Spider-Man's civilian identity is Takuya Yamashiro, a 22-year-old motorcross racer. He has the ability to perceive threats from the Iron Cross Army with his spider-senses. He fights the Iron Cross Army in order to avenge his father's death. To conceal his superhero identity, Takuya acts as a weakling in front of his friends. Takuya gets chastised by his friends whenever he runs away from danger and is often compared unfavorable to Spider-Man. Moreover, in financial income as a motorcycle racer decreased after becoming Spider-Man due to his reduced participation in races, forcing him to assist Hitomi in her job to pay for his expenses.

Tskuya assumes the identity of Spider-Man when he dons the protective suit known as the Spider-Protector. He is genetically altered as a result of the Spider-Extract injected into his body by Garia, gaining spider-like abilities such as being able to stick to and climb up walls. He can also detect the activities of nearby enemies with his Spider-Sense, and his physical strength is greater than average person. However, he has also inherited some of the same weaknesses actual spiders have, such as a strong sensitivity towards cold.

Spider-Man keeps his true identity a secret from the public, although his reputation as a defender of justice is established early on. Spider-Man even gets a hit song named after him called the "Spider-Man Boogie" in episode 7. Only Juzo Mamiya and the staff of the Interpol Secret Intelligence Division known of Spider-Man's true identity, stating with the movie and every episode in the series from 11 and onward. The cooperate in various instances to thwart the schemes of the Iron Cross Army.

Spider-Man spends most of the series fighting off Ninders (the Iron Cross Army's foot soldiers). He rarely finishes the the Machine BEMs by himself, as they usually turn giant, forcing Spider-Man to summon Leopardon. Spider-Man thus occupies a peculiar position in the Japanese superhero genre of having no signature finishing move or weapon, such as Kamen Rider's Rider Kick or Kikaider's Denji End.

When Spider-Man faces the enemy in each episode, he introduces himself while performing a dramatic pose (a tradition adapted in subsequent Super Sentai shows). A version of the show's theme song then plays as background music as Spider-Man begins to fight. The same shot of Spider-Man conducting the pose would be used repeatedly a couple of times before battle. Toei's version of Spider-Man rarely uses his web shooter to swing between buildings, as his main mode of transportation is a car called the Spider Machine GP-7, along with an aircraft called the Marveller. His web shooter instead shoots a rope which he latches onto things and he swings with it using both hands like Tarzan.

Equipment

  • Spider Protector: Takuya's Spider-Man costume. Unlike his Marvel counterpart, Takuya keeps his outfit stored inside his Spider Bracelet and wears it only when changing identities. When Takuya releases it from his bracelet, it instantly wraps onto his body, allowing Takuya to change into it easily.
  • Spider Bracelet: A bracelet worn around Spider-Man's left wrist, used to shoot webbing and to store the Spider Protector when Takuya is not wearing it. The Spider Bracelet's webbing takes the form of nets and strings made from "Spider Fluid", which is stored within the bracelet and is produced indefinitely. The bracelet is also equipped with a homing device that allows Spider-Man to summon the GP-7 or Marveller. No toy version of the Spider Bracelet was ever made during the run of the show's airing, while related products and manga adaptations omitted by the bracelet altogether. A lighter version of the Spider Bracelet prom was built specifically for action scenes, since the one used in close shots was too heavy for the suit actor to wear during stunts.
  • Spider Strings: A rope made of spider webbing shot from Spider-Man's Spider Bracelet. It can pull objects that weighed more than a hundred tons.
  • Spider Net: A net made of spider webbing also shot from Spider-Man's Spider Bracelet. It is used to capture a group of enemies at once.
  • The Spider Machine GP-7: Spider-Man's flying car. The car is equipped with machine guns and missile launchers inside it's bonnet. It is usually stored inside the Marveller aircraft.
  • The Marveller: The spacecraft that Garia came to Earth with. It is a 45 meters tall and weighs over 25,000 tons. It is usually stored underground and surfaces by cracking the ground whenever Spider-Man summons it. The ship's bridge is shaped like a leopard's head, which is where Leopardon's head is stored, and cracks left and right when transforming into robot mode. It is capable of flying to outer space at the speed of light. Because Marveller is usually transformed immediately into Leopardon whenever Spider-Man boards it, it is rarely seen in spacecraft mode. The Marveller is primarily equipped with cannons on it's bow, which are capable of destroying most Machine BEMs.

Leopardon

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Leopardon is a giant robot that Marveller can transform into. It is over 60 meters tall and has a weight of over 25,000 tons.

Only the first few episodes of the series featured actual battles scenes between Leopardon and the giant-sized Machine BEMs. As the series progressed the dramatic portions of the episodes were made longer, while battle scenes were made shorter in order to keep up with the running time. Because of this, there were numerous episodes in which Leopardon would throw his sword immediately after transforming from Marveller, finishing off the Machine BEM in a single blow. A few episodes did not even feature Leopardon at all. Leopardon does not suffer any damages, not even during the final battle against the giant version of Professor Monster, who is finished off with the Sword Vigor throw like most of the previous Machine BEMs.

Leopardon and the giant-sized Machine BEMs rarely appeared together in the same shots; most of the giant-sized battles involved Leopardon in one shot and the Machine BEM in another launching projectiles at each other. This was because the large Leopardon model often dwarfed the stuntmen in the Machine BEM suits. Due to structural programs, the Leopardon suit was difficult for the stuntman to move in and during the course of the series, the suit was damaged and later lost. As a result, all future fight scenes with Leopardon could only be made using stock footage of previous fights.

Allies

  • Hitomi Sakuma: Takuya's girlfriend, a 20-year-old freelance photographer. She is the only person besides Spider-Man to ride the Spider Machine GP-7.
  • Shinko Yamashiro: Takuya's 18-year-old younger sister, who takes care of the household chores for the Yamashiro residence.
  • Takuji Yamashiro: Takuya's 7-year-old younger brother.
  • Dr. Yamashiro: Takuya's father. An astronomer who is killed during the first episode after his research led to the discovery of the Iron Cross Army.
  • Garia: An alien from Planet Spider. 400 years prior to the events of the first episode, he pursued the Iron Cross Army in search of vengeance after they discovered his homeworld, but crash-landed into into the Earth and was imprisoned in an underground cave for centuries. He is the one who injects Takuya with the Spider Extract.
  • Juzo Mamiya: An investigator in charge of Interpol's Secret Intelligence Division. He manages to uncover the fact that Spider-Man is Takuya and asks for his assistance in their mutual battles against the Iron Cross Army. Upon agreeing, Takuya receives a radio transmitter from him, which allows Spider-Man to rendezvous with Interpol and vice versa.

Iron Cross Army

The Iron Cross Army are the main villains of the series. They are an alien army that has destroyed numerous galaxies in their path of conquest.

  • Professor Monster: The leader of the Iron Cross Army. He was responsible for the destruction of Planet Spider and 400 years later, he seeks to conquer the Earth as well. The blood of other lifeforms serves as the source of his immortality. In the final episode, he enlarges himself and turns into "Big Monster", but is defeated by a single strike of Leopardon's "Sword Vicker" attack.
  • Amazoness: The female commander of the Iron Cross Army. She is in charge of espionage and the planning of attacks. From the beginning of the series, she assumes the identity of Saeko Yoshida, the editor of Weekly Woman magazine. After Spider-Man sees through Saeko's true identity, she disappears from her job and Weekly Woman is discontinued shortly afterward. Although she suspects that Takuya is really Spider-Man, she is unable to prove this wothout a doubt until the final episode. Her outfit changes throughout the course of the series: she wears a black leotard with her own natural hair for the first 18 episodes; a silver mini-skirt outfit and a red hairpiece for episode 19 throughout 30 and 32; the same outfit but with a black hairpiece for episodes 31 and 33 to 38; and her original leotard outfit with a hairpiece for the final three episodes.
  • Bella and Rita: Two ancient female warriors from an uncharted region of the Amazon whose mummified bodies were resurrected by Professor Monster. Bella uses a bow with poisoned arrows, while Rita wields a machine gun.
  • Ninders: The foot soldiers of the Iron Cross Army. They disguised themselves as humans while conducting undercover missions in public, but are still identifiable by the exposed circuits behind their ears and their metallic hands.

Machine BEM

Biological weapons created by the Iron Cross Army. A new Machine BEM is usually created for each plot, usually to carry out the Iron Cross Army's plans or to serve as a bodyguard. The origins of the Machine BEMs are never fully clarified, although a few of them (like Samson) are actually genetically modified humans, while others (like the Monster Cat) were apparitions brought back to life. The Machine BEMs have the ability to change size at will, changing not only to giant size, but also to small palm sizes as well (such as the case with Kabuton).

Episode list

  • The Time of Revenge Has Come! Beat Down Iron Cross Group!!
  • Mysterious World! The Man Who Follows His Fate
  • Mysterious Thief 001 VS. Spider-Man
  • The The Terrifying Half Merman! The Miracle-Calling Silver Thread
  • Crash Machine GP-7! The Oath Siblings
  • Shuddering Laboratory! Devilish Professor Monster
  • Fearful Hit Tune! Song Dancing Murder Rock
  • A Very Mysterious Folktale: The Cursed Cat Mound
  • Motion Accessory is a Loveful Beetle Insect Spy
  • To the Flaming Hell: See the Tears of the Snake Woman
  • Professor Monster's Ultra Poisoning
  • Becoming Splendid: To the Murderous Machine of Transformation
  • The Skull Group VS. the Devilish Hearse
  • Giving Father! Fight to the Song of the Hero
  • The Life of Our Arrangement
  • Fine Dog! Run to the Under of Father
  • Pro Wrestler Samson's Tears
  • In the Mother's Chest: Resurrected the Young Boys
  • The Boy Phantom: To the Villageless Map
  • Riddle: Calling the Riddle of my Secret Birth
  • Fall to the Great Skies: Father's Love
  • Shedding Tears to the Dark Fate: Father and Child
  • To the Love Academy of the Homeless Children
  • Cockroach Boy: Great War
  • Treasure, Dog, and Double Human
  • To the Absolute Crisis: The Imitation Hero
  • Farewell War Buddy: Beloved German Shepard
  • The Front of the Alley: Boys' Detective Group
  • Hurry, GP-7: Time of Stop Sign
  • Good Luck, Beautiful Police Officer
  • There is No Child-Taking Detective Tomorrow
  • Sweet Whispering Enchantress
  • The Boy Teases the Horrible Wild Girl
  • Surprising Camera: Murderous Event
  • From the Unexplored Amazon: Here Comes the Mummified Beautiful Woman
  • The Onion Silver Mask and the Boy's Detective Group
  • From the Secret Messenger of Hell: Great King Emma
  • The First Tin Plate Evening Star and the Boys' Detective Group
  • Sports World: One Great Meeting
  • Farewell Zero Battle Tricks
  • The Hero's Shining Hot Blood

Movie

A theatrical version of Spider-Man was shown on the Toei Manag Matsuri film festival on July 22, 1978. It was directed by series director Koichi Takemoto and written by Susumu Takaku. The movie was the first appearance of the character of Juzo Mamiya, who subsequently appeared in three episodes of the series (episodes 11, 12, and 14). Because of this, the movie takes place between episodes 10 and 11.

Cast

Actor Role
Shinji Todō Takuya Yamasjiro / Spider-Man
Rika Miura Hitomi Sakuma
Izumi Ōyama Shinko Yamashiro
Yoshiharu Yabuki Takuji Yamashiro
Mitsuo Andō Professor Monster
Yukie Kagawa Amazoness
Toshiaki Nishizawa Garia
Fuyuki Murakami Dr. Hiroshi Yamashiro
Noboru Nakaya Jūzō Mamiya
Rie Rinehart Rita
Tina Margo Bella
Tōru Ōhira Narrator
Hirofumi Koga Spider-Man's suit actor
Shōzō Iizuka Voices of various Machine BEMs
Hisako Kyōda Voice of various Machine BEMs
Shin Aomori Voice of various Machine BEMs

Staff

  • Producer: Susumu Yoshikawa (Toei), Hiroshi Ishikawa (Tokyo Channel 12)
  • Creator: Saburo Yatsude
  • Music composer: Michiaki Watanabe
  • Music producer: Andante
  • Music performers: Colombia Percussion Ensemble
  • Character designer: Kikakusha 104, Muneo Kubo
  • Costume production: Ekisu Production
  • Screenplays: Shōzō Uehara, Susumu Takaku, Kuniaki Oshikawa, Hirohisa Soda, Mike Matsushita
  • Directors: Kōichi Takemoto, Katsuhiko Taguchi, Takaharu Saeki, Kimio Hirayama, Hideo Tanaka, Yoshiaki Kobayashi
  • Stunt Coordinators: Osamu Kaneda, Junji Yamaoka
  • Special Effects Director: Nobuo Yajima
  • Assistant Directors: Masao Minowa and others
  • Production Companies: Toei, Toei Advertising, Tokyo Channel 12

Theme songs

Opening theme

  • Kakero! Supaidāman (Run! Spider-Man)
  • Lyrics: Saburo Yatsude
  • Composition & Arrangement: Michiaki Watanabe
  • Artist: Yuki Hide

Ending theme

  • Chikai no Ballade (The Oath's Ballade)
  • Lyrics: Saburo Yatsude
  • Composition & Arrangement: Michiaki Watanabe
  • Artist: Yuki Hide

Trivia

Opening

Supaidāman opening01:22

Supaidāman opening

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