Tokusatsu for Beginners: What is Tokusatsu?

If you’ve found this blog, that most likely means one of two things: Either you already know what tokusatsu is, and you’re looking for info about one in particular, or you’re just entering random crap into Google search to see what comes up. I say its most likely one of those two, because I highly doubt that you came here because you care about my opinion, otherwise I would have regular visitors (if you do visit regularly, please let me know). But on the off chance that your not in any of the groups mentioned, then there is a chance that you’re here because you just learned about the existence of tokusatsu and are curious about what it actually is, and Wikipedia isn’t quite giving as much information as you’d like. For those of you who seem to fit this categorey, this post is just for you! Because those other people already know or don’t care!

So then, where do I start? Well let’s start with the word itself. First off, its a Japanese term, which makes it cool by default. Second off, its actually a slang word for the Japanese for “special effects”, which works out well for those of us on the web, because we go crazy for slang. Tokusatsu as a genre really goes back to the original Godzilla film, which was one of the first Japanese sci-fi flicks, so it had to use a variety of special effects that were spectacular back then, but passé and cheesy by todays standards. In many ways, the way they setup the Godzilla movies is still used in tokusatsu today. Essentially, you have a person wearing a giant monster suit, parading through a scale model version of a major city, with the whole thing brought to life with a mix of on set and editted in special effects. This can be seen in any example of tokusatsu made since then. Essentially, the roots of tokusatsu lie in science fiction movies and television shows from the 40’s, 50’s, and 60’s.

Of course, when we think about tokusatsu series nowadays, we tend to think about superheroes, and not so much about about giant fake monsters, even though they’re still there. Though there were occasional superhero stories made in the 50’s in Japan, the first tokusatsu superhero is unanimously considered to be Ultraman. Debutting in 1966, Ultraman was an overnight success, proving the popularity of science fiction superheroes with younger audiences. Ultraman‘s popularity eventually led to the shows serialization, where it was followed by numerous versions to the series, each with their own Ultraman and their own storylines. But of course, Ultraman isn’t the only superhero in the world of tokusatsu. 

Because of Ultraman’s success, there was now a rush to produce another series that could equally compete with the popularity of the show. For a time, no one could compete with Tsuburaya Productions (the company that created Ultraman). There were many one shot series that were similar, and plenty of series that outright tried to copy the concept, but no one could match the success that Ultraman had gained. That is until 1971, when the original Kamen Rider debutted. Created by Ishinomori Shotaro, and produced by Toei, the series was part of a move to create more American-style superhero series. With the success of Kamen Rider and it’s many following series still being produced today, this formally introduced the transforming superhero to tokusatsu. With this also came the use of better, more elaborate special effects, a move towards more realistic, martial-arts movie style fighting, and the emphasis on a main villian who acts through minions. The main down side to this change was the shift away from the giant monster fights tokusatsu is known for, though this was temporary.

With the success of Kamen Rider came numerous other shows that tried to mimic the style, not only in tokusatsu but in other media, including anime and manga, leading to the creation of the five-man superhero team, which was brought to the genre through the Super Sentai series. Introduced in 1975 with Himitsu Sentai Goranger, it expanded the tokusatsu genre by bring a mix between the Ultraman-style giant monster fighting with the Kamen Rider-style realistic main-monster-and-minions fight. It also introduced the idea of the team dynamic to the genre, since before then most tokusatsu superheroes before then usually worked alone. And of course, like Ultraman and Kamen Rider before it, Super Sentai has felt success and had multiple versions since it was introduced.

Since its inception, tokusatsu has drastically changed, and yet stays very much the same, much like the people and culture that spawned it. From its origins in science fiction, its come to expand to incorporate action, adventure, fantasy, drama, and many other genres, though it tends to go back to science fiction and action. Even as special effects improve with time and technological advances, it will always come down to a person in a full-body costume.

-M.C., the Quantum Twin

HenshinHead’s New Post; Or what I did over the Holidays

Hey everybody! It’s me, HenshinHead! Its been awhile since I’ve checked in. I might be from a different dimension, but holiday season is the same for me  as it is for you (sorta). I have just been as busy as ever! Good thing M.C. has kept you so well-informed over the last month.

But now we’ve come to a point where there’s this lack of any real news going around the tokuverse, so instead we’ll substitute with news from my Tokuverse.

So it was almost Christmastime, and since Tokuworld is a lot like your world’s Japan (just so we’re clear, we have one too), we celebrate Christmas, but we don’t just plain stop what we’re doing. If it’s during the week, most people go to work or school like they normally would, and only a few people will take the day off. Unfortunately for me, Evil wasn’t one of those few.

It was a lovely December morning. It had snowed the night before, leaving a blanket of snow on the ground that glimmered on that unusually bright and sunny day. Because it was Christmas, I was performing one of my main Christmastime duties: I was dressed as Santa Claus wishing everyone a Merry Christmas, and passing out small gifts to people who walked by. It might seem a little strange on the surface, but I enjoy the chance to spread a little cheer. The day was going too well, and I could sense that at any moment, something was going to happen, but I kept on a happy face, for the children. Just as I was handing out the last of my presents, BOOM!, and a mob of screaming people started heading my way. Naturally, I ran towards the crowd, trying to find out what had caused all of this chaos.

As I made my way past the crowd, to what do my wondering eyes should appear, but a hideous beast, who could probably eat whole a tiny reindeer. Quick like a flash, I ran towards the beast, and shouted out, “That’s far enough, you won’t make this town your Christmas feast!” Like every monster, all he did was laugh and taunt me in a garbled voice. “You think you can beat me”, he quipped back, “I could take you out with one shot”. “Let’s just see about that, shall we?”, I answered back. Right then I pulled out my main henshin device, a very elaborate microphone-type device. You see, I’m somewhat of a presenter, so I have a bit more flair to my appearance and tactics than most of my fellow superheroes. I brought the device to my mouth and declared, “Sutēji, HenshinHead o kangei shite kudasai!” (Translation: Please welcome to the stage, HenshinHead!) And by pressing a button on the back of the device, I was transformed into HenshinHead.

And so the fight began. I started strong with a few well placed strikes, he retaliated with a couple of heavy-handed slashes. I would knock him back a few feet and he would return the favor. We tussled like that, until he used a very powerful technique to launch me into the air, where I landed about ten feet away from where I was. I realized then that he could use that ability whenever he wanted, and tried to use it on me again several times, all of which I managed to dodge. I managed to take temporary cover behind a large column while he was taunting me some more. With that attack of his now in play, I had to rethink my strategy. I knew the only way to win was to strike fast and strike hard if I wanted to avoid getting pulverized. So using my abilities, I took the form of one of my world’s Masked Bikers (yeah, copyright issues). With that form, I had the speed to outmaneuver my ghastly opponent and his barrage, and I had enough strength to deal a devastating blow in the form of a Biker Kick (again, copyright issues). And like that, he went down in a fiery explosion.

After that, I de-henshined, and went back to my previous Santa duties. I refilled my sack with toys, and went into a different part of town.

So remember kiddies, if your good little boys and girls, Santa will bring you lots of toys. But if your naughty, destructive monsters, I’ll destroy you.

HEN~SHIN~HEAD!

I Return: News from the Tokuverse

It is I, HenshinHead, back from my dimension to tell you a harrowing tale of my adventures. But first I want to tell you a little more about myself. As I said before, I am one of the many (as you would say) toku-style superheroes from my dimension, but I never told you about what I can do. Essentially, I am the ultimate heisei superhero; I have the ability to emulate the appearance and abilities of any other hero from the Tokuverse, and unlike others with the similar abilities (i.e., your world’s fictional KR Decade or AkaRed), I am not limited to a specific group of heroes. I can change into ANYONE or ANYTHING. And because they’re real superheroes and not fictitious creations by corporations, I don’t have to deal with messy copyright laws. This is not to say that I don’t have my own personal powers or abilities, but for right now I want to focus on this.

Now that that’s out of the way, let me tell you about a run in I had with a group of multicolored-spandex-clad superheroes that refered to themselves as Hikaranger. It was like any other typical day when monsters rampage through the city, it started off bright and sunny. And then an ominous overcast swept in. From what seemed to be out of nowhere, some alien monster thing appeared surrounded by a group of minions. He stood there yammering on about the great empire they belonged to and how they were going to take over the world. You know, the usual. Anyway, he was suddenly interrupted by your typical squadron of five multicolored superheroes. They called out the alien monster thing, declared that he/it would never win, and introduced themselves as Hikaranger. And after some back-and-forth between them, the fighting began. The fighting went the way you normally expect, the leader of the group went after the alien monster while the rest dealt with the cannon fodder. Watching the fight, anyone could tell that they were rookies, they were just all over the place and getting beat up allot. But they were able to deal with the underlings, leaving the alien monster to fend for himself, and he would not go down easy.

They fought the guy for a good deal of time, but at every turn he was able to subvert their attacks. But the fight eventually led to the point where they pull out the finisher and end the fight (at least until the giant robot fight). Then something went horribly wrong. They brought out the giant cannon, fired a massive laser beam at the alien monster, there was a large explosion, but he survived. So there they are, their trump card used, them falling to their knees in defeat, and all hope seems lost. That’s when I decide to step in.

Just as the alien monster is about to deal the final blow, I block his attack and send it back to him. While he’s off-balanced, I look back to the Hikarangers and give them a modest motivational speech. It was enough to recharge their spirits, and they got up to finish off the alien monster thing. They pull their giant laser cannon back out, and using my abilities I created a mimic of their cannon out of thin air. We fired at the alien monster, and he went down. But as these battles usually go, he didn’t stay down that long.

As soon as turn away from the explosion, he’s back up on his feet and is now thirty stories taller than he originally was. I didn’t think it was going to be that much of an issue, happens all the time. But when I turn around to ask them if they still needed my help, that’s when I find out that they don’t have any special equipment to handle this. So here I am with the one Sentai on the planet that doesn’t have a giant robot, or even an oversized tank, and there is now a GIANT alien monster thing rampaging through downtown. Luckily, it wasn’t anything that I couldn’t handle. With my abilities, I was able to change my form and take on the powers and appearance of an Ultrabeing (that’s what their called in the Tokuverse). We fought, we tussled for a bit, shot a few energy beams back and forth, and then I finished him with an T-Beam strike (they cross their arms completely over here, and I just don’t want me quantum twin to be sued by anyone).

With the fighting done, I returned to my original form and went back to talk to the Hikarangers. They thanked me for helping them at the last minute, and I gave them a few words of encouragement and some advice for the next time they’re called on to fight evil. And we went on our separate ways. Personally, I’m going to keep my eye on them. They’re young and still raw, but they have a lot of potential, and I’d like to see where they go from here.

That’s it for now. I must return to the Tokuverse. Until next time!

HEN~SHIN~HEAD!