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The childless Mr. and Mrs. Shutendo are praying for divine intervention at a shrine when two giant ogres crash through the space-time continuum. One of them is carrying a baby in his mouth, leaving it with them and promising to return in 15 years. Jiro, as they call the child, grows up to be a fine young man (albeit one who casts a giant, horned shadow) and is reluctant to return to his real parents when the allotted time expires.
Based on Go Nagai's 1977 manga for Shonen Magazine, Shutendoji replays the creator's earlier Devilman but with solely Japanese mythical references. Drawing on one of the Japanese Folk Tales in which Minamoto no Yorimitsu and several other warriors defeated an ogre who abducted a local maid, Shutendoji begins with two monsters fighting across time, crashing from medieval Kyoto, past the mystified crew of a spaceship, before ending up in modern Japan. The first two episodes are concerned with Jiro's attempts to come to terms with his heritage and fight off his supernatural relatives. His teacher, possessed by evil, kidnaps Jiro's girlfriend, Miyuki, intending to use her as a sacrifice to open the interdimensional barrier that holds back the demons. He must also kill off the evil monk Jawanbo, whose son swears vengeance. By this point, however, Jiro has been thrown forward to the year 2100. He arrives in time to save the Iron Kaiser, a war cyborg sent on a suicide mission to protect its ship, the Alfard. Captain Persis Mahmoud (a Cutey Honey look-alike) promises to help return Jiro to his own time, a plan delayed by the revelation that Iron Kaiser is Jawanbo's son, whose life has been prolonged for decades with cybernetic implants, as he waits for the chance to avenge his father's death. For the finale, Jiro and his band must fight their way out of hell, while his adoptive human mother goes slowly insane, decorating the walls of her cell with pictures of hell, until Jiro's adoptive father destroys the pictures and saves Jiro's life. One of the better adaptations of Nagai's work, with a clever script, chilling visuals, and inspired plot twists that bridge time and space.
The original Shutendoji is a figure from medieval Japanese mythology: an ogre bested in combat by a famous samurai, who died at the foot of Mount Oe, and is still celebrated in a local festival each October. The name can be translated as "An Unearthly Child." See also Kai Doh Maru and Otogi Zoshi, which approach the same tale from a very different direction. LNV