Friday, July 13, 2012

Ishinomori Week: Kaiketsu Zubat

The plot of this series is that Miyauchi Hiroshi declares a one-man war on crime. And crime doesn't have a prayer.

Find out how it all happens on today's installment of Ishinomori Week!

When we talk about the great Tokusatsu actors of the last century, for the Riders anyway, there are the guys like Fujioka, Murakami, or Kurata, forever remembered for that one iconic role. No matter what else they do, they'll always have that. A couple others, like Sasaki or Araki, have at least two notable heroes to pick from, though once again, when you think of them, you generally think of their Rider selves first. Sasaki happened to play Grouzel, but he is Rider 2. Araki was Bibyun, but his legacy is the big man with the S.

Miyauchi Hiroshi is different though, part of an exclusive club that includes the likes of other Tokusatsu actors like Ban Daisuke and Ohba Kenji, with at least three or more major-league heroic characters to their names. And you can't really choose one. Ban's most commonly associated with Kikaider, and Ohba will always be Gavan to most folks, but you could go other ways with either of them. With V3, two significant Sentai roles and today's subject, Miyachi's practically got enough alter-egos to form a super team of his own, and that's not even counting the notable non-transforming characters he's played.

Miyauchi is a fan favorite for more than just that though. With a career as long and varied as his, he's never shied away from returning to Tokusatu, because he holds the superhero genre in particularly high regard. He's outspoken in his belief that actors in children's programming have to uphold the heroes' ideals even offscreen, and during his time in V3, Goranger and so on, he was always particularly careful about how he carried himself in public around children. For him, maintaining the illusion that he was a real hero was paramount. He famously has said that in his mind, Tokusatsu Hero programs as educational shows for teaching children about the "heart of justice", instilling the kind of virtues and morals one needs in life.

And on top of that, I think he's simply one of the most charismatic faces in the industry. Miyauchi has an appeal that's hard to pin down; you just can't help but smile when he's working his magic onscreen. He has a playful demeanor that's almost winking at the audience, yet he also takes the material seriously and delivers some solid work. It helps that he's in a lot of very good shows playing very strong parts, but he brings something else to the table as well. Nobody else could have played V3 or Aoranger the way he did; we say that about a lot of famous TV and film characters, but I think it's especially true of Miyauchi. All of his hero roles are undeniably him, to differing degrees, with today's subject:

...being a particularly special case.

I've said before that his favorite role of mine, and the one where I think he's the most complex, is Kazami Shirô/Kamen Rider V3. It's earlier on in his career, so he comes across as a little less confident than the charisma powerhouse he would be a few years later. This in turn gives Kazami a real vulnerability; he's a little more reckless, a little more ruthless and almost has a darker edge to him than subsequent roles.

Especially when you stack him up to his predecessors, who always could act in control of the situation even when they weren't, there's a sort of 'damage goods' feel to Kazami that I really like. He's a big damn hero, but we can see the cracks in his armor easier than we can with the Double Riders (metaphorically, I mean.) They weren't afraid to even make him kind of unlikable at times, as during the Riderman story arc where our sympathies tend to veer towards Yuuki, but it's to Miyauchi's credit that he pulls this all off and makes it feel real. You never forget that Kazami is still the hero of the day. While V3 mellows out with subsequent appearances, I think that's due to the development of Miyauchi's other heroic roles. By 1984 he literally is playing it like he would play Zubat's alter-ego Hayakawa Ken, right down to the clothes!

I mentioned previously that Shinmei/Aoranger was a sort of evolutionary step between Kazami and today's hero, being a generally happier, more confident-type with a cowboyish charm. That "cowboyish" part is especially true of Hayakawa, who himself is a part (but a significant one) in the greater Miyauchivolution, which will continue with Banba Sôkichi, aka Big One, from J.A.K.Q. Dengekitai. A little aside on him:

Big One is a surprisingly divisive figure for some fans of that show. There's the camp that think he's awesome, bringing back some humor and eccentric fun to a show that desperately needed it. He's got a unique visual look that's rightly famous, he completes the foursome to make a traditional five-man Sentai band, and Miyauchi looks like a pimp. On the other hand, some bemoan his arrival as being the downfall of the series, where it becomes Big One and the Four Other Guys. What had started out as a dark, gripping and pretty adult drama descends into mundane wackiness, the rest of the team gets screwed over, and ultimately the poor show cashes in its poker chips at just 35 episodes, putting the franchise to rest for a year, give or take.

I would say that while Big One undeniably takes center stage at the expense of his surroundings (you can tell the writers love him, since they give him tons to do) I think realistically the show was on rocky ground before he came in, so he's less of a shark-jumping moment than a last-ditch attempt to salvage something that was already facing a losing battle and just couldn't maintain the success of its predecessor. I don't want to get too deep into that series, and I enjoy Miyauchi's part in it, but of his two 1977 roles, this one's definitely my favorite.

Why am I talking about Miyauchi so much? I think it's because you pretty much have to with this show. It may as well be called Miyauchi Hiroshi: The Series. When offered the role, Miyauchi was even told that "no other actor can do it but you" and I almost wonder if the series would have even been made had he declined. Miyauchi had a lot of input on the creation and personality of the main character, private detective Hayakawa Ken, who becomes the titular hero Zubat. Kaiketsu has a bit of a dual-meaning; as written in the show title, it means "extraordinary" or "wonderful". It also evokes an identical-sounding word written with different kanji, meaning "man of great talent". "Zubat" is from the onomonopia zubatto, the sound of a direct hit (in this case, the crack of a whip.)

Kaiketsu Zubat is a really unique show, even among its fellow Toei/Ishinomori productions. Once again, we have a hero who is simply a human wearing a super suit, but this time even his enemies are just regular gangsters (albeit with elaborate costumes and highly-specialized skills.) There's no monsters or really sci-fi concepts aside from Zubat's super suit, and even that's comparatively not too far-out there in concept.

The whole thing has a real "modern-day western" feel to it. 70's Tokusatsu, particularly from Toei and especially from Ishinomori, always had a sort of cowboy chic going on, merged with Japanese chambara, American superheroes and other influences, but Zubat really kicks it up a few notches. Its hero dresses like a cowboy, there are numerous allusions to Western imagery, it's all over the music and the show has a great sense of style. There's an ongoing theme of the clash between the horrors of the urban jungle and the simpler ways of the old west. The early episodes of the show were filmed in the fall and winter, and this gives the landscapes a great, cold, deathly feel to them. It's not exactly El Paso, but it has the spirit.

The show has the odd episode count of 32, this being due to "premature cancellation". I put that in quotes since it's a messier way of saying it, given that the series does have an actual conclusion, but the show did not do very well when it came to toy sales. With one hero, who only had one vehicle, one weapon, no power-ups, and enemies that are pretty much all regular people, opportunities for merchandising were slim. For this reason, Zubat is the kind of show that would only get made today independantly; it's a miracle it was made at all, but it shows Toei's and Ishinomori's faith in Miyauchi to even go ahead with it at all. They believed in their leading man to carry it through.

Speaking of Ishinomori, Zubat is one of the series where he didn't do an accompanying comic for it, much like some of the earlier Riders. We'll be seeing an increase of shows like that from here on, where the master really just handled character design or contributed story elements, and the comics were usually done by other people. Terebi-Magazine had an adaptation by Hijiri Yuki, but that hasn't been collected after the original printing, so I can't comment on it. It's hard to imagine Zubat in any form other than the TV show, though. I think the only way to do it justice as a comic is to take pictures of Miyauchi, draw in the other characters around him, and sell it with an audio CD containing all his dialogue. And even that's not quite the same!

Ishinomori did handle the design work though, including coming up with a variety of initial looks for the main hero. Some earlier sketches of Zubat (who was originally conceived as wearing a white suit, rather than the red one he ended up with) run the gamut from more traditionally superhero-ish with an open facemask and visible eyes, to literally Western-style cowboy-ish in look. Zubat's signature vehicle was originally envisioned as a strange cross between helicopter and biplane. Ishinomori also designed the look of Zubat's criminal enemies, and although the finalized versions are generally simpler than his sketches, they're unmistakably the same characters.

Alright, so I've told you about Zubat, but I haven't really told you about Zubat. So let's get to that. The premise is simple: Asuka Gorô, a self-proclaimed "poor scholar who loves mountain climbing" rescues his sister Midori and her kindergarten class from agents of Jigoku-Ryû (Hell's Dragon), a member of Dakker, the huge syndicate that secretly controls all criminal activity in Japan! However, even Asuka's out of his league when Jigoku-Ryû's gunslinger bodyguard Lancock shows up and displays his deadly skill with a pistol, repeatedly grazing Asuka's face with bullets. It is then that we're introduced to Hayakawa Ken, who has an amazing introductory scene. He appears, playing his guitar off in the distance, his face obscured by shadows. He calls Lancock out as only being the second-best gunslinger in Japan, and when pressed to name who the #1 is... he whistles, tilts his hat up, and points at himself. Bad. Ass.

Lancock challenges Hayakawa to a shooting contest, where our hero wins and saves the life of an innocent bunny by shooting the other guy's bullets, and we learn that he and Asuka are best friends. Unfortunately, Dakker agents earlier planted a bomb on the kindergartners' bus, so the ride home isn't exactly pleasant. While our heroes save all the kiddies, Asuka is injured when trying to drive the bus away from the children. Miyauchi gets his work cut out for him in this scene, actually hanging out of the one of the windows as he tries to stop his friend from doing something potentially stupid, and subsequently taking a pretty nasty fall. Asuka survives, but the hospital he's in is targeted by the villains. Asuka, Hayakawa and his old friend police inspector Tôjô evacuate the building, but in the ensuing chaos Asuka is gunned down by a mysterious unseen figure who laughs mockingly. Hayakawa rushes to his dying friend, who begs him to fight on. If you missed any of that, don't worry; we'll see this scene again a lot before the series ends!

Asuka dies, and Hayakawa is devastated. Seeking to avenge his friend, he goes to Asuka's lab, and uses his research (originally meant for space exploration), adapting it to his own use, creating a super-powerful suit resistant to nearly everything. He goes after Jigoku-Ryû's operations, and despite briefly getting captured (and tortured!) along with Midori and their mutual friend Osamu, Hayakawa pulls a disappearing act, and the Dakker thugs witness the dramatic arrival of Zubat and his flying ZubaCar. Zubat beats up the henchmen, defeats Lancock in a one-on-one dual, and knocks Jigoku-Ryû silly. But when he questions him as to whether he killed Asuka or not, Jigoku-Ryû denies all knowledge of it. Zubat leaves him for Tôjô and the police to find, with his literal calling card stating the criminal's sins.

So begins Hayakawa's one-man crusade to find Asuka's killer. His travels take him to various towns around Japan (or Tokyo, anyway) always followed by Midori and Osamu, as well as Tôjô, who, while aware of Hayakawa's alter-ego, also can't allow rampant vigilantism. Fortunately, he's usually content to let Zubat do his thing, and acts as an important ally in Hayakawa's quest for justice.

As you can probably tell, Hayakawa's awesome. I called him "Miyauchi Unleashed", because that's pretty much what he is: Miyauchi playing himself dialed up to 11. He takes bits of everything he learned through his previous hero roles, creating his ultimate fictional counterpart. Miyauchi has said Zubat is his all-time favorite role, and he's clearly having a grand time in every frame, even when he gets his butt kicked!

And Hayakawa does often take a serious licking, but he keeps on ticking. His Houdini-esque escape antics recall Rider 1's epic moment in episode 7 of the original series, or V3's own "you thought I blew up didn't you!" moments. Classic. His clothes are continuation of the cowboy style that Shinmei wore, looping back around to Kazami's wardrobe by the end of the series when they start shooting in the summer and Hayakawa trades in his black leather for white vest & pants combo. The character's look was inspired by the protagonist to the 1959 Nikkatsu movie The Passing Bird with a Guitar.

Zubat has a great design himself, with a fanciful yet effective costume. I like his helmet in particular; mostly featureless aside from the visor, it features stylized Z's (one of which is actually a spinning timer, more on that in a bit.) The suit was originally made from wet suit-style rubber, later becoming the leathery material similar to that close-up version of Kikaider that I like (and upgraded Skyrider.) As far as powers, Zubat is basically just really strong, athletic, and able to resist anything the villains throw at him. His main weapon is a whip with which he can successfully knock bullets out of the air (!) as well as blow open warehouse doors with some kind of energy transference. His finishing movie is the Zubat Attack, a flying kick that doesn't kill, but leaves his enemies in a world of pain.

His preferred method of transportation, the ZubaCar, is wicked. It's a flying car that sports retractable wings and rocket boosters, as well as a huge fan on the back. Asuka had some interesting ideas about space travel, that's for sure. Also, a couple years earlier Barom-1's car had a giant fan. Guess it makes them more aerodynamic? It looks cool though, and the villains' usual reaction to it ("What the hell?") is funny. In a drag race between Zubat, Inazuman and K, I'd put my money on Raijingo, since it could just eat the other two, but the Zubacar's alright with me.

Most of the Kaiketsu Zubat episodes follow a basic formula. A Dakker branch somewhere in Japan causes trouble, and Hayakawa arrives on the scene with a Jiro-style guitar-playing entrance (usually beating up some henchmen in the process) and introduces himself to the main criminal mastermind of the episode. That guy's hired yojimbo, or bodyguard, then shows up, with each one specializing in some particular skill, i.e. knife-throwing, swordplay, martial arts, boomerang-slinging, tomahawk-throwing, top-spinning, football, boxing, carpentry, billiards, cards, and so on.

Hayakawa (who always knows who they are, due to their great reputation in the criminal underworld) announces that they are just second-best in Japan, and they challenge him to some contest which he inevitably wins, often performing a feat so incredible the bad guys hightail it out of sheer disbelief. Stuff happens, and eventually the villains stop messing around and get serious. Hayakawa often finds himself in a seemingly-inescapable situation or suffering a grievous injury (sometimes outright appearing to die!) But then he vanishes, and boom! Zubat arrives on the scene! He fights the henchmen, defeats the bodyguard (usually fatally) and then interrogates the bosses (and by "interrogates" I mean he wraps his whip weapon around their neck and throws them hella far.) They always deny knowledge of Asuka's murder, so he leaves them for the police to find, with his trademark card.

It follows a pattern, though keeps things interesting by always changing up the scenarios and characters. There's a real thrill every time Hayakawa arrives on the scene, and his tests of skill against the body guards are always a blast. Occasionally they change things up with a unique twist; episode 11 is an important one for Tôjô, as well as getting a bit deeper into Hayakawa's quest to overcome Zubat's one weakness. You see, while Zubat is pretty much unstoppable once he shows up (with only the episodic bodyguards giving him any real trouble) he only has 5 minutes, after which Hayakawa must open the face mask on his helmet or risk his body "shattering". There's a countdown timer on his helmet to remind him how much time he has left.

This is actually a pretty cool idea, since Hayakawa isn't a scientist and had to throw together the Zubat suit using Asuka's incomplete research, adapting technology meant for space exploration into something for busting criminal heads. I guess it's a bit like if Super-1 had been made in Tani's garage, rather than by top international scientists. As for why the mask needs to be closed for him to be Zubat, I think it's partly a secret identity thing, as few ever quite put together that the meddling cowboy P.I. is also that meddling super hero!

Episodes 16 & 17 are a great two-parter where Hayakawa goes up against doppelganger version of himself, whose guitar doubles as a sword! The real Hayakawa of course is rarely seen without his trademark white guitar, which stores his Zubat suit when not in use (though this fact is rarely shown.) Like Jiro, he sometimes uses it in combat, though is also fond of throwing it into the air, beating up everyone in the immediate area, and catching it before they all collapse, sometimes strumming a chord to finish things off. Miyauchi uses a lot of great verbal tics and subtle body language as Hayakawa, often whistling, sniffing the air, tsk-ing his opponents, and of course, his trademark air kiss that opens every episode.

Speaking of the opening sequence, how awesome is that? From the first shot with the Cessna to the final part where Zubat whip-throws some poor bastard to his doom, it's one of my favorites in Tokusatsu, along with the more relaxed, cool-down ending sequence. Kaiketsu Zubat has an incredible soundtrack from composer Kyô Kensuke, who later handled Kagaku Sentai Dynaman. Mixing 70's synths with string & trumpet pieces in the style of Ennio Morricone, it provides the perfect accompaniment to the the onscreen visuals. Miyauchi even gets a chance to frequently sing in this show, displaying one of his talents (Like Hayakawa, he is a man of many, with accredited experience in judo and karate, horse-riding, scuba-diving, and he even holds a culinary license!)

Despite all his skill, Hayakawa is not unstoppable nor infallible, and as much as the show's in love with making its hero look good, it also knows when to put him through the ringer. But I think Dakker by its very nature justifies having a super-talented, charming protagonist who can overcome anything, because these guys are bad. I mean really bad. I mean really, really bad. I mean "makes you ashamed to be human"-levels of bad. You want to see Hayakawa/Zubat kick their butts.

Generally, I think you should be able to secretly root for the villains in a Tokusatsu series. Yes, we all want the heroes to win in the end, but there's still something cool about seeing the bad guys raise a little hell. You want to laugh along with Colonel Zol when he pulls off something sinister. You get excited at the debut of a new Horoscope, or when an iconic villain like Apollo Geist or Weather Dopant do want they do best and give the heroes the fight of their lives. There's just something fun about seeing Hakaider, Udespar, Black Knight and so on be their bad selves. "Heroes in the cause of evil" is a phrase I use a lot, and it sums up many Tokusatsu villains in my opinion. You love to hate 'em, but you also actually love watching 'em as well.

Dakker though? These dudes are just bad. In episode 1 alone, they attempt to blow up a school bus, run over a bunch of children with a car, beat the same group of kids and their teacher senseless, blow up a hospital, then torture a man, woman and child just to keep their identity a secret! And it doesn't end there. While they may not be cyborgs or mutants or anything like that, Dakker are pure evil, and probably about as sadistic as they could get away with on a family TV show. Even the henchmen are ruthless scumbags, eschewing tights or body armor for good 'ol fashioned black clothes, ties and sunglasses. The regional bosses often have some kind of gruesome scarring or half-covered faces, their bodyguards usually being equally as deranged (and heavily made-up.)

As I mentioned, it's the bodyguards that usually only give Zubat real trouble, and aside from the initial confrontation they'll usually battle him for real at the episode's climax. The bosses on the other hand tend to be cowards, with only a few really trying to fight back; most run when Zubat demolishes their hordes and they don't have any more guys to hide behind. It's always been interesting to me that Zubat often kills the bodyguards, but never the main villain in each episode. I suppose the idea is that jail is a far worse fate, and while he operates outside the law, Zubat still respects it.

We see right from the get-go that Dakker is run by the helmeted, robed Leader L. All others report to him, and he has a habit of threatening them with some elaborate death trap (i.e. darts fired from his desk) when displeased. His office is awesome, by the way, with a cool painting backdrop. All Dakker bosses and henchmen wear the group's logo, a stylized D, which is the clue that allows Hayakawa to realize early on that there's a bigger organization behind all the various criminal sects he encounters. Like I said, all criminal activity in Japan is controlled by Dakker, which means that Hayakawa's war isn't just on one organization, but crime itself!

I need to bring up two episodes in particular as Hayakawa's journey continues. Episode 21 features Hayakawa meeting who he believes to be his mother. Up to that point, he's been a real enigma himself, with only token mentions of his past connections to other characters, but finally we learn more about him... sort of. For you see, he remembers her, but she doesn't remember him. It's a stellar episode and one worth checking out if solely for Miyauchi acting his socks off, with a real tearjerker moment when he exclaims "My mother is the #1 kindest person in Japan... no, the world!"

It's not as tragic as when Inazuman met his mother, but the ending will still break your heart. Coincidentally, this episode features Saitô Hiroko, aka THAT Little Girl. You know, the one from Kamen Rider vs. Shocker, the Inazuman 3D movie, and various episodes of other Toei Tokusatsu series. She's sure grown up here, and a year later she'll be in Toei's Spider-Man. I'll be talking about another child actor from the early 70's who really grew up fast tomorrow, by the way.

Actually, Zubat is loaded with familiar faces. Remember Inazuman's buddy Arai from Flash? He's Lancock (and before you think he was typecast as gunslingers, he plays a doctor of the occult in Chôjin Bibyun! He also appeared back in the original Rider, as part of the short-lived Antishocker Alliance.) Amamoto plays the samurai-style bodyguard in episode 2, and Nakata Hirohisa (Emperor Zero from Amazon, plus Captain Ultra himself) is the Dakker bossman in episode 12. Episode 29 is back-to-back Tokusatsu alumni with "General Monster" and "Kiranger" (the first one) as the villains! Topping that off is Chiba Jirô (Taki!) who appears in the final two episodes as an old buddy of Tôjô's. This time he's with the fictional "International Secret Police", i.e. not-INTERPOL.

The most prolific guest star though, comes in the other episode I want to bring up, 10: Ishi(no)mori himself! Playing, well, himself. Sort of. He appears as Ishimori-senshu (the title for a professional athlete), part of the Big Hands baseball team. Well that's the story, but he might as well be playing Ishimori-sensei the famed comic artist, since the baseball stuff is only limited to the title and occasional photos of Ishimori in a jersey. The rest of the plot involves a Dakker plan to kill Ishimori at his own birthday party, in front of a live audience on national TV, by way of poison darts fired from a trumpet! I told you these guys were sick!

Obviously this episode is amazing, kicking off with Hayakawa joining in on an impromptu jam session with the band practicing for the broadcast (and they're even playing his signature tune) right before Dakker bumps off the trumpeter! The climax must be seen to be believed, with a duel between dart-firing trumpets and Zubat battling to save his own creator. By the end of the episode they're not even trying to pretend he's a baseball player anymore, with lines like "Seize Ishimori!" and "Ishimori-san, run!". For trivia buffs, this is one of the three Ishinomori guest appearances I can think of where he doesn't get killed, aside from when Dakker rehearse the assassination and "kill" a stand-in in a rubber mask, so it sorta counts. Great stuff.

The final battle comes in the concluding two-parter of 31 & 32. I'm not going to reveal the culprit, because come on, you either already know or you're probably going to go searching for episodes immediately after reading this, and it's worth finding out on your own. But suffice to say, Hayakawa does finally learn who killed Asuka, and I don't think it's too much of a surprise to say it's somebody important in the Dakker hierarchy. The ultimate villain of this show is pretty ruthless, I'll say that. The plot involves an old friend of Asuka who has developed the "Silveil", a synthetic fiber 10 times stronger than that used in Zubat's suit. Guess who wants to get their hands on that? Not if Hayakawa has anything to say about it!

While Kaiketsu Zubat rode off into the sunset at the end of September 1977, the character of Hayakawa returned the next year, sorta. Miyauchi has two guest appearances in Toei's Spider-Man series, and while he's technically playing a different guy, it may as well be him! He's a detective who dresses like a cowboy and wields a guitar, come on. The episodes with him are great fun, particularly the first one. A few years ago I showed it to a bunch of people who had never even heard of Tokusatsu before, and it got a better reaction than you would think. See, Miyauchi's charm transcends the language barrier! The character had a more proper return as part of the Ishinomori Heroes cameo towards the end of the Let's Go Kamen Riders film, voiced by Miyauchi of course. While I'm still waiting for the mother of all team-ups with everybody, it's a pretty cool sequence.

Kaiketsu Zubat is a show I highly recommend. It's one of my favorite non-Rider series, a stand-out even among Ishinomori-created works. It's unique concept and Western-influenced style give it a kind of timeless feel; I'd recommend it as a good show if you're looking to try something older but don't know quite where to start. It's got a good, straightforward story, great action, some pretty brutal villains and one of the most memorable heroes to date. The show is in the process of being subbed, with at least 6 episodes done last I checked. Hopefully, they'll finish it some day, so everyone can find out just who killed Askua Gorô on February 2nd.

"Arriving with a CRACK! Solving problems with a THWACK! People call me the Wandering Hero! The Extraordinary Zubat!"


  1. I know I've criticized Zubat for being overly formulaic, but I do really like the show, and remember just LOVING it when I first saw it. Zubat's just so wild and different jaw dropped once I saw that intro, and the show had me glued to it by that point. (I think the OP might be my favorite theme by Aniki. I think Hayakawa's my favorite Miyauchi role, too.)

    Here's a nice piece of nerdness I'm embarrassed to admit -- I think some of my unease about Zubat's formula comes from the fact that I crammed, like, 12 or more episodes in a row, towards the end there, just to get to the finale because I wanted to find out who killed Asuka.

    Great read! Now I feel like watching Zubat again.

  2. It is a show that's probably best enjoyed one episode at a time, I think, with a gap in between so you can get fired up for the next one. It does work to a formula, but it's a great formula.

    Thanks for reading man, I appreciate it!

  3. Of all the Ishinomori shows not related to Kamen Rider / Super Sentai, this show is actually the top of my list. The Western style, vigilantism and Hiroshi himself is a sure winner.

    Zubat definitely needs more merchandise, here's hoping for an SHFiguarts release of Zubat in the near future.

  4. 1. Ver good article as always, Iga.

    2. How did this get away with torture, brutal murder and outright sadism and Amazon got canned?

    3. Actually, the guys at Hikari Senshi have up to episode 10, as opposed to Hi no Tori's six. So everyone can see Ishinomori sensei with one of his creations!

  5. "Miyauchi is a fan favorite for more than just that though. With a career as long and varied as his, he's never shied away from returning to Tokusatu, because he holds the superhero genre in particularly high regard."

    Now, if he would only appear in an Ultraman project then we can give him the title of Mr. Tokusatsu