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Robert Plant at the Kezar Stadium in San Francisco, CA June 2, 1973. Photo by James Fortune. 

the-mobian-blogger  asked:

Hello Hello, noticed that you know your stuff when it comes to Toku so I was hoping you could answer a tricky question. Can you name some old Toku heroes that seem distinguished from each other? (Excluding Sentai, Riders, and Metal Heroes.) (If you're curious why, feel free to PM me.) =v=''

Sure!  By old I assume you mean pre-1980s so I’ll limit myself to the era between the 1950s and 1970s.  Now, a lot of the older heroes are either missing episodes or most of the series is missing so I can only really mention them in passing.  The first actual TV Tokusatsu hero was Moonlight Mask/Gekko Kamen from 1958.

He rode a motorcycle, wore a mask, had a scarf and dispensed justice from the barrels of his twin six-shooters in a total of 131 episodes from February 24, 1958 to July 5, 1959. Sadly, a lot of the first few episodes are missing, which isn’t uncommon for TV series of this vintage.

Another TV hero from 1958 was Planet Prince.  

This series may be more well-known in the US for the theatrical movie version which changed up the main character’s costume to include a full mask and was released here as Prince of Space and featured on Mystery Science Theater 3000.

A lost series from this era features a character called Messenger of Allah, who looks somewhat similar to Moonlight Mask above though with a more “Arabian Knights” theme.

Skipping ahead a bit to 1967 we get Toei’s first color tokusatsu hero show, Masked Ninja Red Shadow/Kamen no Ninja Aka Kage.  This was a hero show with a difference, being set not in the modern day but in the late 16th Century. The heroes are Ninja with special powers who fight evil and monsters.

Entering the 1970s we have and explosion of unique tokusatsu heroes.  Sticking with the more Ninja-esque themes we get Toei’s Henshin Ninja Arashi:

and P Productions’ Kaiketsu Lion Maru.

At about this same time, Toei produced Shotaro Ishinomori’s android hero Kikaider. This was an interesting one with a lasting impact and introduced a conflicted hero built for evil but made good with an imperfect conscience circuit constantly warring against his own programming. This was a pretty fertile time for Ishinomori’s heroes as in addition to a Kikaider sequel (Kikaider 01) he also had Inazuman (a mutant bug-man) and Kaiketsu Zubat (a costumed vigilante guitar player) on the small screen.

By far his strangest hero show though was the Three Musketeers as Demons series Akumaizer 3.  The protagonists were three non-human demons who worked with humanity to fight off their own people to prevent harm coming to innocents.

Go Nagai, who is more famous for his anime work, also got in on the tokusatsu craze of the 1970s with two very interesting shows.  The first is Battle Hawk, a series with a trio of heroes empowered my magic tomahawks (a theme Go Nagai enjoyed) given to their mentor by a mysterious Native American tribe that transforms them into heroes with axes for weapons.

The stranger one though is Star of Pro-Wrestling Axteckaizer which combined professional wrestling, tokusatsu heroes and animation in a very different way.

Most of the series featured live action but the end of every fight scene switched to animation to show off the strange wrestling moves that would have been impossible given the budget of the show and the limitations of the way human bodies bend.

These are just a few of the more notable non-franchise series of the older days of tokusatsu.  There are so many more to look into that I just don’t have the time to list here but these above are some that stand out to me or I find notable for their place in the history of the medium.

Thanks for the question!

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From Outer Space Magazine comes a celebration of the tokusatsu heroes from 1974-1979.  There are far too many to list here but among the most relevant to my interests are:

FRONT COVER

Himitsu Sentai Goranger
Daitetsujin 17
Kamen Rider X
Ganbare Robcon!
Akumaizer 3
Uchuu Testujin Kyodain
Spiderman
Denjin Zaborgar
Super Robot Mach Baron
Battle Fever J
Kaiketsu Zubat

BACK COVER

Ninja Captor
Kamen Rider Amazon
Choujin Bibyun
Inazuman
Battle Hawk
Koseidon
Kamen Rider Stronger
Star of Pro-Wrestling Azteckaiser
The Kagestar
J.A.K.Q. Dengekitai
Condorman
Ultraman Leo