January 8, 2010

I Think I’m Turning Japanese Spider-Man!

One of the cool things Marvel Comics did in 2009 was every week they streamed a new episode on their website of the 1970s Japanese live-action TV series based on Spider-Man. Japanese Spider-Man, as it was fondly known by many, got a big main stream boost considering it wasn’t ever really known about here stateside, outside of a handful of comic book shops. My love for Japanese Spider-Man started on a trip to NYC in 2004 when I discovered bootlegs of the episodes, and as a Japanese giant-monster fan immediately had to see them.

Created by Toei Co. (of Power Rangers, Masked Rider, Beetleborgs, Kikaida, etc; fame) in 1978 as part of a deal with Marvel Comics to market Marvel characters, but specifically for the Japanese market, Japanese Spider-Man (or Spida-Man as it literally would be translated in Roman characters) was a very loose yet enjoyable adaptation, needless to say.

No Peter Parker. No Mary Jane. No Green Goblin. Instead Spider-Man’s real name was Takuya Yamashiro, everyday Japanese motorbike racer. While investigating the fallen space craft Marveller (Toei homage to Marvel) with his space-archeologist father, good old Dad is killed by the evil Iron Cross Group, leaving Takuya to search on alone. Finally, while in the craft and about to die from his own battle wounds, Takuya is given the space-blood of a Spider-person from the far away Spider-planet (which was once destroyed by the Iron Cross Group), in an attempt for Takuya to live on and prevent Earth from being destroyed. Takuya lives on and discovers he has amazing spider-like abilities. He becomes the amazing Japanese Spider-Man! However not only does the Iron Cross Group employ a vast army of robotic-monsters, called Machine-Bems, but these monsters can also grow several stories high! Luckily the spaceship Marveller can transform into the giant robot Leopardon, which like a Gundam, Spider-Man pilots to save the day!

Now I know for someone who hasn’t heard about Japanese Spider-Man or is a hardcore Spider-Man fan, this all may sound a bit ridiculous. However if you are open to loose adaptations, else-world like stories, or a giant monster fan, there is no way you should let the magic of Japanese Spider-Man fall off your radar, and you should go watch the episodes streaming for free at!

Japanese Spider-Man did so well in Japan that Toei followed it up with a show called Battle Fever-J, which has very loose inspiration from Captain America.

For awhile on my facebook page I was posting the links to the Japanese Spider-Man episodes, and I gave little titles/descriptions of the episodes, sort of like mini-reviews, some highly amusing. Here are the link titles I gave to the first 22 episodes (there are 41 episodes total). The first few are slightly similar sounding but I cut loose by episode 7:

1.) First Episode In Full of the 1978 amazing live action Spider-Man TV from Japan! Nothing says bad ass like Spider-Man piloting a giant robot!

2.)Spider-Man is back with all the live action Japanese, Giant robot piloting action, you’d expect from the 1978 Japanese Spider-Man! Episode Two In Full! Oh yeah!

3.)”Wow! Wow! Wow! Yeah!” As the theme song screams in episode 3 of Japanese Spider-Man. No flying brains w/lasers like in ep. 2 but we do get a trippy fight scene!

4.)Episode#4 of Japanese Spider-Man from the 70s! If you haven’t seen all the live action, Spider-Man has a giant robot action, you gotta go for it!

5.)Japanese Spider-Man episode#5! Awesome action scene throughout most of the second half, worth a gander if you haven’t checked out this 70s TV show yet!

6.)Oh yeah! Man on the lam death action here! See Spider-Man plow down villains with a tommy-gun! Episode#6 kicks ass.

7.)See a guy sing the hilarious song ‘Spider-Man Boogie’! See a Japanese kid dance in shorts that no one should be allowed to wear! See that guy who plays a scientist in every Japanese TV show! See Spider-Man Episode#7!

8.)See a cat get cut in half! See a lady with really bad teeth! See a cat monster wearing a bad Madonna bra! See Spider-Man episode#8! The best in the series yet!

9.)See an insect fall in love with a human! See Spider-Man admit he’s pretty broke since he hasn’t won any motorcycle races lately! See Spider-Man Episode#9!

10.)I love that he introduces himself as “The emissary of hell: Spider-Man!”, so much more bad-ass than American Spider-Man. See him fight a killer snake woman, in horror-themed episode number 10 of Spider-Man!

11.)Japanese Spider-Man Episode#11! Soooooooooooo good!

12.)Japanese Spider-Man Episode#12: No Giant Monsters This One, Kids. We get a woman driven by jealousy, turned into the ultimate super powered killing machine (and she’s a model too).

13.)Japanese Spider-Man Episode#13, Masao is the worst son ever, with his cut throat biker gang life, and now Masao’s a human killing chameleon monster…

14.)Japanese Spider-Man Episode#14, let the fun continue with a bad ass villain who’s a bat monster!

15.)Episode 15 of Japanese Spider-Man. A fun filled plot of a boy with a heart condition who grabs his chest constantly and writhes in pain. However this episode is Sarah Brown approved.

16.)Ep. 16 of Japanese Spider-Man, which is like RinTinTin and Spider-Man teaming up in Japan. Even see Spider-Man describe himself as “The Man Moved By a Dog Whistle.”

17.)Ep.17 of Japanese Spider-Man, fights a guy named Samson who strangely looks like the Thing from the Fantastic Four.

18.)So, episode#18…yeah, not a good episode. No cats getting sliced in half, no rock bands, no Spider-Man defending dog whistles…nothing strange…we do get to see a school girl commit suicide by jumping off the top of her school but that’s like 15 seconds of 24 minutes.

19.)Episode 19 of Japanese Spider-Man completely rocks from start to end with a creepy nightmare sequence, mad villagers from outer space and a mutant reptile monster.

20.)Yep the title of ep. 20 is ‘Calling the Riddle of My Secret Birth”, that pretty much says it all for Japanese Spider-Man right there.

21.)Japanese Spider-Man Ep. 21, not much weirdness going on here, pretty used to Japanese Spider-Man now that we’re 21 eps. in, however awesome fight sequence on a moving train during 2nd half of show.

22.)Japanese Spider-Man Epside 22 = Awesomeness uncanned. A plot right from a horror movie, people being kidnapped and drained of their blood by a skeleton monster. Kick ass.

So if any of these intrigue you, hop on over to now!




  1. Kristin

    Haha, it’s like Power Rangers, but one guy is all the colors.

  2. Billy

    I really thought that the US live action show was the BOMB when I was a youngster. lol

  3. InfiniteSpeech

    Wow! Never knew about this!

  4. I watched a few of these online not to long ago. F’n classic!

  5. Kelly

    Dude, I LOVED Power Rangers when I was a kid… this brings back memories of awesomely cheesy action! I have to see this! Thanks for the heads up, Drew!

  6. I love the cheap effect when his costume comes out of his wrist, and the origin story is beyond insane (Planet Spider?)!

    Bottom line: Giant Robots + Spidey = Awesome!!

    Very cool article Drew! This show is badass! I love international takes on domestic heroes.

  7. Drew

    The show is insanely fun and crazy to think its 100 percent official! However it feels right, I wouldn’t want the Japanese to do a take on Spider-Man and have it not turn out like this (and that giant robot: awesome)

  8. […] there was the Japanese television show Spider-Man, which gave us our friendly neighborhood Spider-Man piloting giant robots and saving the day. Then […]

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