No this is not a review of the new Amazing Spiderman film but an obscure Japanese Spiderman live action series loosely based on Marvel’s Spiderman. This Spiderman (Takuya Yamashiro not Peter Parker) wore the same red and blue costume any comic fan would recognize, but the shows deviated astoundingly in most other aspects. Let’s play a game, I want you to see if you can pin point where the differences begin. This Spiderman has super strength, the ability to climb walls, spider agility, he can swing using a web substance, he has psychic premonitions, he was infused with the blood of a four hundred year old alien, he drives a spider car named Spider Machine GP-7, that spider car can call upon a spaceship named marveller, marveller can turn into a giant robot, Spiderman can pilot said robot in combat with giant enemies. There are many giant enemies. This is by far the most ridicules rendition of Spiderman ever and yes I am including dancing emo Peter Parker from Spiderman 3. Coming from someone who started being a fan of Spiderman and other super heroes at a young age this show is bizarre but as the first live action Spiderman it holds a unique place and I think it deserves to be acknowledged.
The young motorcycle racer Takuya Yamashiro sees a UFO falling to earth immediately tells his father, a space archeologist, and he goes to investigate. The UFO also comes to the attention of Professor Monster (yes that is his name) and his evil Iron Cross Army headed by “Amazoness”, an alien group that plans to rule the universe. The two groups come upon each other Takuya Yamashiro’s father is killed. Takuya follows his father to the Marveller and discovers Garia, a mortally wounded alien who claims to be the last warrior from Planet Spider, a world that was destroyed by Professor Monster and the Iron Cross Army. Garia was tracking Prof. Monster but now has need of someone to finish his revenge on Monster and he injects Takuya with some of his own blood. The blood gives Takuya spider-like powers and Garia gives Takuya a bracelet that can activate the Marveller ship (which can also transforms into a giant robot called “Leopardon”). Using his powers, Takuya, now called Spider-Man, fights Professor Monster’s army and other threats to Earth.
Most episodes follow a “monster of the day” format where Professor Monster sends a new monster after Spiderman or uses a new technique to lure Spiderman into the open. The monsters are all pretty cool and have unique abilities. They all give Spiderman a run for his money and none of them are pushovers. They all inexplicably become giant near the end of the episode too leading to Leopardon being piloted by Spiderman in horribly choreographed fights. Not all episodes have these special monsters, when they don’t I tended to enjoy those episodes more as they focused more on the characters. There is also a subplot of Amazoness trying to uncover Spiderman’s true identity and getting closer piece by piece. Spiderman’s family also play a large role as he obviously doesn’t want to put them in danger by revealing his identity, in I think the best episode Amazoness begins targeting Takuya Yamashiro’s family in an effort to prove he is Spiderman. He has to balance defending them and keeping his secret.
Even though this show was marketed for kids it dealt with some very heavy topics and featured adult content. You would never get away with seeing people in an American kids show being murdered, brutally injured; drug use, swearing and I kid you not an onscreen suicide. Sometimes these adult moments can be jarring when seen in context because the very next scene will go back to being silly and childlike. Imagine Spiderman shouting “I am the emissary form hell” in one scene and then buying ice cream for his brother and girlfriend in the next. There is some good character development as well and I like the Spiderman isn’t invincible, you seem him rise and fall and you see him fail to save some people in time. Unlike some other J-dramas for kids there is an overarching plot from beginning to end none of the episodes seem like filler.
Even though this show is unquestionably a different take on the classic tale of Peter Parker I think it more than stands on its own. It’s absolutely bizarre but it’s very enjoyable. The special effects are especially remarkable. All the effects of Spiderman climbing walls or swinging or using his web are all practical effects and are infinitely more appealing than the cgi in our American Spiderman films. I really recommend this show even for just curiosity sake. The effects, characters, villains, and overall story are all well worth your time. All 42 episodes of this show are currently streaming from Marvels official website and each only 22 minutes long seriously open up a new tab and go there right now and check out the first episode and let us know what you thought I know I was hooked.