Begining this week, I’ll be welcoming a new regular contributor to Cinebeats who calls himself T3rtiumQuid. T3rtiumQuid will be sharing short “Battle Sequence” clips from rare and hard-to-see Japanese tokusatsu television shows and films produced during the ’60s and ’70s, and I’ll be writing about them. Most of the shows and movies featured in these clips are not available outside of Japan and should appeal to anyone who enjoys vintage Japanese science fiction and fantasy.
The first Battle Sequence is taken from the Sun-Hong/TBS produced superhero series Silver Kamen (or Shiruba Kamen / Silver Mask) which aired in Japan from November 1971 to May 1972. There is basically no English information readily available about the show that I’m aware of, but I can tell you that early episodes of Silver Kamen are credited to the acclaimed Japanese director Akio Jissoji and his cinematographer Masao Nakabori. Akio Jissoji passed away in 2006 and his last film was a modern remake of Silver Kamen that was released in Japan a month after he died.
In many ways the original Silver Kamen series is typical of lots of other Japanese superhero shows. It featured a masked hero who does battle with various evil kaijin (monsters or space aliens) in an effort to save humanity and he has many unusual powers and gadgets. The difference between Silver Kamen and other superhero shows that were airing in Japan at the time, such as Ultraman and Mirrorman (or Mirror Mask), was the dark edge that the show had. The early episodes of Silver Kamen were also creatively shot and in some ways more adult then a lot of similar shows that were airing on Japanese television at the time. After 11 episodes, Silver Kamen started to loose it’s edge and it took a new and more “positive” direction. The Silver Kamen series was transformed into Silver Kamen Giant, but it still didn’t really find an audience and the series finally came to an end after 26 epsiodes.
In the following clip, the original Silver Kamen (played by Toshio Shiba) fights it out with a nasty kaijin called Tigris. If you pay attention to the clip, you’ll notice that Tigris’ costume catches on fire during the battle. I’m unclear on all the details, but it seems that Tigris’ costume caught fire prematurely and the actor playing Tigris was almost seriously burned during the fight. Thankfully for viewers the show must go on, and it did!
Battle Sequence 001: Silver Kamen – Episode #1 ( Hometown Earth) – 1971