Created in 1958, Gekko Kamen is actually the third superhero ever in Japan, but was the first on Japanese television. (more on that another time.)
He is a bit of a lost gem, as despite starting the trend, he has been mostly forgotten over the past two decades. Though there are a few in Japan’s media industry who give a tip of the hat to him. (See Moonlight Knight from Sailor Moon for one example)
(Image:Rainbow Knight, an homage hero from Concrete Revolito Episode 8. Almost resembles what a modern GK would look like. ooor… Casshern in cosplay)
The moon man is one of mystery, much like the Lone Ranger, as nobody knows who he is. However, smart viewers may notice that police detective Juro Iwai is never around when Gekko Kamen shows up. This leads many to suspect HE is Gekko Kamen.
Unlike the Henshin Hero days where everybody and their mother has superpowers or weapon enhancements, Gekko Kamen has no powers. Yup, he’s from the Batman school of heroics, fighting regular masked crooks by punching them.
Like many Golden Age American superhero costumes. this one is a classic, but needed its future revisions to perfect it. The glasses were what looked to be women’s sunglasses from closeup shots and the turban thing was an odd choice but effective.
Here is Bat-manga/8-man creator Jiro Kuwata’s take on it.
Stylish, as the Jackie Kennedy glasses had been replaced by motorcycle goggles. Yellow has been added to the costume to break up the monotony of white in the costume’s color.
Gekko Kamen had been off the air for over 14 years, due to kids being dumb and imitating his dangerous stunts which caused parents to kill its ratings. But then another famous guy on a motorcycle and a giant alien came along and brought superheroes back as the trend de décennie. And Gekko Kamen came back with a vengeance!
Now this one in particular is a personal favorite of many. Gone is the turban and in its place is a sharp looking motorcycle helmet with matching goggles. Bits of blue have been added to the holster belt with stars around it and two crescent moons on the buckle. The boots and gloves now have darker lining and the ascot looks like it is actually part of the cape!
Ah yes, the abysmal failure that was the 1982 film. See, since one of the root elements of GK was the Lone Ranger, it is not a good idea to capitalize on the “return” of said character. The Legend of the Lone Ranger and this movie symbiotically ended the franchises for a while and they have never 100% recovered from it. One reason was Juro was replaced by some dude named George Owara, whom many felt was unworthy of the mantle because the adverts tricked them into thinking Juro was still Gekko Kamen.
Imagine going to a Batman movie with the promise of Kevin Conroy, only to get some unknown when you are watching it with no justifiable or rational reason to it.
But anyways, costume. It is the 50s version with the 70s helmet and goggles and silver gloves and boots.
At the dawn of the new millennium, aside from random commercials, there was one last try at bringing him back…as a kid. Or rather a kid protege taking on the role.
Not much to say, its a chibified version of the costume with the old turban, blue gloves and boots.
So now that we looked at the costumes, let us look at the arsenal!
Yes, Gekko Kamen uses guns, but he uses fancy trickshots to disarm opponents and never uses them to kill humans. This is one is consistent throughout his incarnations (save for the kid one), with twin pistols always at the ready.
“Luna-Rangs” (JK, Not actual name)
Moon shaped boomerangs. 1970s exclusive.
Used in the 70s cartoon. Likely to cut down on the level of gun use in each episode so parents wouldn’t freak.
A Cool Bike
Gekko Kamen has had three motorcycles worth mentioning
The 1958 (A modified Honda Super Cub)
The 1972 anime version was an attempt to make his bike more Cyclone-esque with 3 rocket exhaust pipes on each side.
The 1982 model: A modified Honda CB750F Super Sport armed with several gadgets, a computer and a drag chute for emergency stops.
Well, that’s Gekko Kamen. Reblog if you are interested in this character so your friends can learn about him!