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Fantasy Tokusatsu: What Kind of Japanese Superhero Are You?

The world of Japanese superheroes is vast. Choose wisely.

SF IndieFest's Another Hole in the Head film festival is winding down here in my fair City by the Bay and I've been gobbling down the Japanese schlock horror and sci-fi fare like so many $1 plates of kappa maki. Though perhaps never intended for mass consumption, RoboGeisha, Alien vs. Ninja and The Symbol were all on my plate this past week, along with a couple hundred other brave souls. To an extent, all three stab at a comical, surreal and hyper-violent notion of Japan's perception of what a superhero is and, probably spurred by Patrick Macias' TokyoScope talk on the subject of Japanese tokusatsu shows from a few weeks back in the same New People Building, I started ruminating on that topic again. 
 
I posed a question to my friends last night and now I pose it to you: If you could be a character in any kind of tokusatsu movie, which sub-genre would you want to be in and what kind of character? Let's look at the ups and downs of each category.

  Tokusatsu Superhero  

Examples: Moonlight Mask, Super Giant, Ultraman, Spider-Man (Japanese version)
 
This category is admittedly broad, stretching from the pistol-packing Batman-like vigilantism of Moonlight Mask to the beta-capsule-powered Ultraman, but that just means you can tweak your superhero to your specifications. 

Pros: Civil authorities love you, despite operating entirely outside the law; May have an entire special task force to back you up militarily, offer moral support; Can easily start a cult surrounding you and make big bucks; Women love the ability to "get big" on command. 

Cons: Your costume will inevitably involve either unflattering lycra tights or linen sheets; Powers may have a time limit with a very obvious indicator as to when they're depleted; Anyone you love will be killed by an arch-nemesis (in fact, there's no surer way to push someone off this mortal coil than by loving them). 
 

Kaiju (Giant Monster)  

Examples: Godzilla, Gamera, Jet Jaguar
 
Heroes and villains don't have to be human or even humanoid--as long as a creature possesses sentience enough to either defend or terrorize the Earth they can fall into one of those categories. 
 
Pros: Nuclear bombs probably created you, they're definitely not going to hurt you; The world is your buffet, eat whatever you want; Transportation will never be an issue again since a step is measured in quarter-mile increments; Atomic fire breath very cool party trick.
 
Cons: No matter how many times you save the planet, nobody will "get" you (except the children); Eventually you'll trample somebody's house, knock over a pagoda and generally devastate some cultural landmark, pissing everybody off; Atomic fire breath party trick cool, but gives people cancer...a lot. 
 

Rider Hero  

Examples: Kamen Rider, Kikader 
 
They can't grow big fly in space, but these guys get awesome rides and some of the cooler costumes. 
 
Pros: Instantly have a fashionable panache for wearing scarves; For the wanderlust in you, no two weeks are ever spent in the same place; Channel the modernized spirit of the Lone Ranger by riding into battle on an awesome missile-studded iron steed.
 
Cons: Constant moving around prevents the formation of long-term relationships; International terrorist organizations bound to keep sending mutants after you pretty much forever; Being a robot probably precludes you from physical intimacy, going swimming.
 

Metal Hero/Space Sheriff  

Examples: Space Sheriff Gavan/Shaider/Sharivan, Big Bad Beetleborgs, Jiban 
 
Robocop ain't got nothin' on these guys. Whether from space or human agents in suits, these super-powerful law enforcement agents use technology to defend the planet. Yeah, science! 
 
Pros: You are the law...on every planet; Can probably eat lots of donuts without fear of becoming fat; Patrol vehicle isn't a Ford Crown Royal, rather a spaceship; Cops are squares and nobody invites them to parties.
 
Cons: In your shiny metal costume all the criminals of the universe know who you are, have it in for you; Space police paperwork sucks just as bad as normal police paperwork; Taking human form and patrolling incognito on Earth requires taking a crappy job to fit in.
 

Super Sentai

Examples:   Goranger, Kyōryū Sentai Jūrenjā (a.k.a. the Power Rangers), Dairanger 
 
Probably the category we're most familiar with, the men and women that make up these "fighting squadrons" are supposed to be the best of the best Earth has to offer, but usually just end up being a bunch of whiny kids. Still, they've got impressive tricks up their sleeves. 

Pros: With at least four other people to watch your back you might be able to take a lemonade break during a fight; Your ride is a sweet giant robot or specialized combat vehicle; Vanquishing enemies to impress the Pink Ranger also results in net drop of evil in universe (a nice two-fer); Your merchandising powers are astronomical.
 
Cons: Only effective as a team, rubbish on their own; Cobbled together teams might mean you don't like some of your mates' personalities (I'm looking at your, Blue Ranger!); Color-coded skintight costumes give away powers to savvy opponent, may cause death from embarrassment; Combining mecha into one big robot vaguely erotic in nature, may be a sex crime.
Kelleth moderator on July 26, 2010 at 1:58 p.m.
@Boddington:  Hmmmm... the Toku section seems to be a bit messy i can believe the Chou Sei Shin and Tomica trilogy's to be in there. But Ultraman? that should be a section on its own!! and where's the non-henshin section? and riders do grow big!!   
 
 
And if anything Kamen Riders are modernized versions of Zorro it even says so in the original Mark of Zorro movie!!
 ©1920 United Artists 
 ©1920 United Artists 
 Any way I'm a Kamen Rider 4 sure, Either Shinigami_Rider or Kamen Rider Kajiki(KajiRider) it depends^^
Gaseroon July 26, 2010 at 10:05 p.m.
Can I be a sentai without the tights? I can rarely envision myself as a hero if I have to wear the tights. Sure, Batman is cool, but I ain't wearing the tights.
hitsusatsu11on July 27, 2010 at 12:43 a.m.
Kamen Rider, Power Rangers, and Big Bad Beatle Borgs are the best.
Morita_Shunsukeon July 27, 2010 at 1:01 a.m.
homo 
 
Only good Japanese hero that I know is Karas 
 
Hes freaking awesome
Shibumion July 27, 2010 at 2:22 a.m.
Karas is heavily influenced by Kamen Rider. 
From the henshin to the bike. Karas is badass though. 
 
I'd go with Kamen Rider for myself. Movie version...not those crappy TV ones of recent years. 
FoxxFireArt moderator on July 27, 2010 at 4:05 a.m.
I really don't know enough about Tokusatsu's movies to really pick any of those. The only ones I really know of are from the Godzilla movies. I never watched Kamen Rider. I only know Gamera from the Mystery Science 3000 series.
 
If I had to pick any anime hero. I would probably have to say Shinichi Kudo/Conan. I like the detective series. I also have a fondness for Lelouch.
Shibumion July 27, 2010 at 4:35 a.m.
@FoxxFireArt:  
RuRouch is indeed awesome, as is Conan. 
Why Detective Conan isn't more popular in the west, I'll never know.
FoxxFireArt moderator on July 27, 2010 at 4:39 a.m.
@Shibumi said:
" @FoxxFireArt: Why Detective Conan isn't more popular in the west, I'll never know. "
I could write you an opera on that topic. Best not to get me started.
 
Long story short, because Detective Conan isn't published in the US. Only a bastardization of the series the US publisher, VIZ Media, calls Case Closed.
Kelleth moderator on July 27, 2010 at 4:58 a.m.
@Gasero:  Then don't go for Sentai, go for Metal Hero or Toku hero,  if  you choose metal hero you're to heavily armoured for any tights, and if you choose Toku Hero you could always go for heroes like Garo.  and in Japan Doctor who is counted as toku too! lol
@Morita_Shunsuke:
@Shibumi said:
" Karas is heavily influenced by Kamen Rider. From the henshin to the bike. Karas is badass though.  I'd go with Kamen Rider for myself. Movie version...not those crappy TV ones of recent years.  "
And Karas ain't Toku its an Anime so that don't count, and because you start flaming people who like toku for homo, (which is also offensive for homo since you seem to think its a fine curse word) i'm going to give you the first of 3 official warnings Morita. :P @Shibumi: I agree i mostly like the late Heisei Kamen Riders for their designs, but give me Showa any day!!
 
Man why do i imagine 99% of this site failing at the Super Hero quest i made if it ever gets put online ? lol i made it as easy as i could but now i'm a bit worried! :P
PenguinDuston July 27, 2010 at 7:03 a.m.
 My fan club speaks in stereo
 My fan club speaks in stereo
Well, my first thought was the brown monster from War of the Gargantuas.  I saw that movie when I was a kid and thought that guy was pretty kick-ass.  But, all that hair would probably itch like crazy, so upon further review I'd have to say one from the Kaiju/Giant Monster subset.  Specifically, Mothra the Giant Moth.  I'm pretty lazy and Mothra is a very laid back monster.  He's got his own island and unlike Godzilla, he is much beloved by both adults and kids.  Adoration by the masses appeals to me. Plus, how can I refuse the opportunity to hang out with Japanese twins?
Gaseroon July 27, 2010 at 7:23 a.m.
@Shibumi:@FoxxFireArt: 
Let's be honest here, Detective Conan is a fine series, but most people who watch anime in the West are either looking for action, fanservice, action fanservice, or slice of life. Even within all the anime that I watch Detective Conan is the only one that isn't shonen action focused (except Death Note).
 
@Kelleth: When I first read the post I didn't even notice that you mentioned Beetle Borgs. I thought series was wiped from all memory. I still have my action figures from that show!

Kelleth moderator on July 27, 2010 at 10:37 a.m.
@Gasero:  Well your right i didn't mention the Big Bad Beetleborgs. Though i did love the show back in the day ^^
Mezmeroon July 27, 2010 at 12:17 p.m.
Your cultural expertise is much appreciated.  I'm a fan of anti-heroes so I'll go with Kaiju.  Even when you end up saving people you still get to smash buildings.  Have you thought of making a Sentai concept page mister Lopez?  This site could use all the help it can get.
Kelleth moderator on July 27, 2010 at 12:31 p.m.
@Mezmero said:
" Your cultural expertise is much appreciated.  I'm a fan of anti-heroes so I'll go with Kaiju.  Even when you end up saving people you still get to smash buildings.  Have you thought of making a Sentai concept page mister Lopez?  This site could use all the help it can get. "
You mean this or this? next time check before you ask.
FoxxFireArt moderator on July 27, 2010 at 12:43 p.m.
@Gasero said:
" @Shibumi:@FoxxFireArt: 
Let's be honest here, Detective Conan is a fine series, but most people who watch anime in the West are either looking for action, fanservice, action fanservice, or slice of life. Even within all the anime that I watch Detective Conan is the only one that isn't shonen action focused (except Death Note). "
....and it doesn't help matters that the series is heavily edited in the US.
Kuma_From_Argentinaon July 28, 2010 at 6:17 a.m.
I'm a Nutella powered Kaiju
Kelleth moderator on July 30, 2010 at 10:08 a.m.
@Kuma_From_Argentina said:
" I'm a Nutella powered Kaiju "
Then you are my best friend and i'm your greatest enemy lol XD
 
To make it easier choosing the type of heroes i made a blog showing a few videos from the greatest franchises and series of this genre ^^ (and 3 crappy ones lol)

Dig Deeper into Tokusatsu

Is a genre counting most Live-Action series and movies made in Japan and sometimes in other Countries. This mostly covers the Henshin Hero genre and the DaiKaiju genre.

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