‘Japanese Spider-Man’ Episode 5: ‘Thundering Machine GP7! An Oath of Brothers!’ [Review]
Chris: Welcome back to Spider-Man Japan, ComicsAlliance’s way-too-in-depth review of Toei’s 1978 live-action Spider-Man TV show! I hope you guys like stories of stolen missiles and terrorist plots that everyone forgets about as soon as a truck drives past an adorable orphan, because that’s exactly what we’re working with this week.
Caleb: It’s a hard knock life, you know?Watch Along with Chris and Caleb:
Chris: I have to say, after the high points of the past few weeks, I keep expecting this show to drop off, but it just keeps being enjoyable in new and occasionally incomprehensible ways.
Caleb: It’s like Lost without all the rage. (And fake mysteries.)
Chris: So you’re saying we have like 20 more episodes before it all goes bad on us?
Caleb: It’s been a few years since I watched all these, but if I’m remember correctly, everything works out just fine. An emissary from Hell doesn’t have to meet everyone again in Heaven, fortunately.
Chris: The weird thing is, I just completely lose interest as soon as the Leopardon shows up. But the rest of it? Solid gold. Completely insane gold, yes, but solid nonetheless. So what do you say we get to it?
Caleb: I say thee yay-yay-yay-wow!
Caleb: Episode 05: “Crash Machine GP-7! The Oath Siblings” begins with a familiar sight to fans of the show, as Takuya and his girl Hitomi cruise around (the countryside?) on his motorbike. Everything is fine until the traditionally Lois Lane-like photojournalist Hitomi starts pressuring her boyfriend to marry her — or maybe the mood shifts when Spidey notices a truck full of stolen missiles — either way, she’s straight up kicked off the motorcycle and abandoned without explanation. It’s a somewhat troubling trend for the young couple!
Chris: This scene is also where Spidey’s greatest weakness is revealed:
Chris: Other things Takuya doesn’t understand: Why you should probably not just cold leave your girlfriend on the side of the highway with no explanation, even if she’s been talking about marriage.
Caleb: His poor dad was slain by Ninders before he was able to sit him down for “the talk.”
Chris: Heck, don’t do that especially if she’s been talking about marriage. Even if you’re not ready for that level of commitment, shoving someone off of your dirtbike and driving away sends a pretty rough message.
Caleb: “Sorry baby, I love you but I’m not sure I’m ‘In Love’ with you.”
Chris: “And I’m definitely not ‘in love’ with you staying on my motorcycle right now.”
Caleb: Takuya’s tough love is probably for the best, however, as chasing down Professor Monster’s goons goes way worse than usual. While in pursuit of the truck full of missiles, the guy gets gunned down. His motorbike explodes! It’s honestly one of the coolest stunts we’ve seen on the show thus far.
Caleb: It’s second only to a dummy with a Spider-Man costume on it being tossed down a waterfall.
Chris: It also highlights an aspect of the show that I don’t think we’ve talked about yet, which is that THE NINDERS HAVE F***ING MACHINE GUNS.
Caleb: The only thing that’s disappointing about this otherwise perfect use of weaponry is that the Ninders aren’t outfitted in fedoras. “wooloowoo wooloowoo wooloowoo, wise guy, see?”
Chris: I mean, I’m totally used to seeing American Spider-Man fight guys with guns, but, for me anyway, Supaidaman is so much more like Power Rangers that it seems completely insane when the Ninders start running after him with machetes and machine guns.
Caleb: Professor Monster used all his space technology on his Machine Bems and sticks his footsoldiers with the latest Earth tech to save money. In his defense, it’s worked out pretty okay so far.
Chris: This also brings up a pretty weird part of his plot this episode, but we’ll get to that in a second. For right now, what matters is that without his dirtbike, Takuya transforms into Spider-Man and calls up the GP7.
Chris: I love the way Spider-Man runs in this scene. It’s like he’s hustling to hit his mark in a production of West Side Story.
Caleb: In the remarkably short amount of time it takes to summon his space car from a secret garage in an undisclosed location (maybe there are multiple garages and multiple GP7s?!), the villains have time to send Spidey after a decoy truck decorated in taunting graffiti.
Caleb: His motorbike got wasted over a wild goose chase!
Chris: It’s worth mentioning at this point that Spider-Man was only able to tell that Professor Monster’s ducky goons were in that truck because the narrator showed up and suddenly declared that Spider-Man has X-ray vision now (seriously), which makes the whole idea of him being fooled by a decoy truck even crazier.
Caleb: I’m willing to forgive this logical lapse based on the amount of stimuli Spider-Man is faced with. Maybe all these random super powers counteract each other a little bit and he has a hard time distinguishing his perception from what normal people experience? That dissonance must be a drag.
Chris: I bet Grant Morrison could do a bang-up job with a character who has random flashes of telepathy, prophetic dreams and X-ray vision all at the same time. In fact, I’m pretty sure that was in volume 3 of The Invisibles. But anyway, this is about the time where you find out that Professor Monster was stealing missiles from the army.
Caleb: After successfully tricking Spider-Man’s x-ray vision, it’s revealed that Prof Monster has some serious plans for the stolen missiles. He’s going to attack the major cities of Japan in order to spread chaos and unrest.
Caleb: As evil plans go, this is actually a solid one. After all, Spider-Man’s robot can’t just throw a sword at the kind of problems a well-coordinated series of missile strikes across a nation would cause.
Chris: You think it’s a good plan? I don’t see it, man. I mean, this dude has an apparently unlimited supply of giant monsters. Why does he need missiles? Why not just send a bunch of BEMs around at the same time to start smashing up Tokyo? It’s like Superman deciding he needs to buy a gun.
Caleb: Hey, don’t knock it!
Chris: Whatever you say. Point being, Professor Monster now has a truly ridiculous amount of missiles that he wants to send blasting into Japan’s major cities at any moment, and if you think that’s going to be the focus of the rest of this episode, you are in for a surprise.
Caleb: Back at home, Takuya is berated by his siblings for presumably wiping out on his bike while hotdogging. With a great motorbike there must also come great responsibility it seems. Fortunately, after considerable begging, Shinko agrees to give Takuya enough money for a downpayment on a new ride. There’s a price to be paid, however, as Hitomi further alludes to a marriage he’s clearly unprepared for.
Caleb: After buying a perfect replica of his recently-destroyed bike, Takuya is back on the hunt for the stolen missiles. The dude didn’t even need to read the newspaper for clues this time. Maybe he’s getting used to his cocktail of convenient super powers? Fortunately, Amazoness and the Ninders are exactly where they were the day before. Unfortunately, a random orphan is discovered at their hideout.
Chris: In another testament to the ruthlessness of the Iron Cross Army, Amazoness orders that they kill the kid just because he knows “a secret,” so the Ninders run over him with a truck. And when I say “run over,” I mean “drive by him and then the kid casually lays down and makes himself comfortable on the ground.” They can’t all be convincing stunts, folks.
Caleb: It’s a good thing Takuya shows up in time to rush the kid to what’s perhaps the worst hospital in all of Japan. I’m not sure what the situation was like in ’78, but I’d like to assume most modern hospitals have a pint or two of basic blood types available for transfusions. An unspecified version of the “B” blood the injured orphan boy needs just so happens to be on hand, however, thanks to Takuya’s admittedly alien spider-y blood.
Chris: Medical accuracy is not exactly high on the list of things this show concerns itself with, as evidenced by the fact that Takuya runs up to a kid who just got hit by a truck and starts picking him up and shaking the living hell out of him.
Chris: That’s what you want to do when you suspect someone might be injured, kids: shake ‘em ’til their neck flops around like a bobblehead doll!
Caleb: As the child recovers from a long surgery and a blood transfusion rich with magic alien goodness, Takuya learns that he’s a recent orphan who ran away from state custody to be closer to his old home. He’s like Annie without the singing or the dog or the horrible, pupilless, dead eyes. What’s more, the sun even comes out for him the next day thanks to the blood of Garia. By Takuya’s own count, that’s two lives Garia saved.
Chris: This was the only thing in the series so far that I was disappointed by. I was absolutely convinced that we were going to see a She-Hulk style transfusion that gave this kid super-powers and possibly turned him into a Machine BEM that Supaidaman would regrettably have to drop some Sword Vigor on.
Caleb: It could’ve lead to an awesome spin-off: Supaidakid!
Chris: I’m just saying, this show could use more orphan-punching.
Caleb: The surprisingly non-powered kid wakes up just in time for Takuya to pump him for info on the whereabouts of Amazoness and the missiles. Armed with their location, Spider-Man cruises over and kills a pretty impressive army of Ninders armed with Tommy Guns. Also, one inexplicable hand rising from beneath the ground like a zombie. It’s bliss.
Caleb: Once Amazoness shows up, it’s back to the GP7, though, as Spidey faces off with a jeep full of Ninders and a truck stocked with city-annihilating missiles.
Chris: Have we mentioned yet that the GP7 totally has grill-mounted machine guns? I don’t recall seeing those in a previous episode.
Chris: And by that, you mean “he definitely shot and killed a bunch of Ninders.”
Caleb: Yeah, he doesn’t really mess around once the battle takes to the streets.
Chris: This fight scene montage is pretty great, too, and surprisingly violent. Like, at one point he definitely webs a Ninder around the neck and chokes him out, which is pretty hardcore.
Caleb: Japanese Spider-Man fights the way videogame American Spider-Man does. I remember in Activision’s Spider-Man 2 movie game, you could toss guys off of skyscrapers. Supaidaman gets to do that without reproach and it’s in-continuity! It’s a good thing too, because next thing he knows, he’s got Chojinju to worry about.
Appearance: Some kind of Skeksis from The Dark Crystal meets Krang’s exosuit with wings, plus a parrot beak.
Primary Weapon: Rockets from his gun hand.
Secondary Weapon: Lasers from his gun hand.
Tertiary Weapon: Swiping claws around, to-and-fro.
Rating: 1 out of 5
Chris: For a pretty fearsome dude with a giant gun hand, Chojinju goes out like a chump in what has to be record time.
Caleb: Yeah, you know you kind of suck when a blue moving truck gets more screen time than you.
Chris: And does more damage!
Caleb: After slaying Parrot Face, Spidey meets up with his orphan buddy, who has fairly easily concluded that Takuya is Spider-Man. They have a touching moment as blood brothers, complete with Spidey telling the kid there’s no way in hell he can come live with him because he needs to get used to being an orphan among orphans at an orphanage like a good orphan. Batman he is not.
Chris: This is pretty close to what Superman does when Supergirl shows up. He gets super-excited about not being alone in the universe, and then she goes “So can I come live with you?” and he goes “Ha! No way, off to the orphanage. Peace out.” So in that respect, Supaidaman is definitely carrying on a heroic tradition.
Caleb: At least his excuse is “I’ve already got a supporting cast who I abuse in the name of my secret awesome revenge.”
Chris: You know, if you think of Supaidaman as a more bloodthirsty and violent version of Silver Age Superman, everything really falls into place. Hitomi’s basically a Japanese lady Jimmy Olsen.
Caleb: And Spider-Man has new powers every time the story calls for them. Flex Mentallo could’ve used some Supaidaman if you ask me.
Chris: Now I’m going to be disappointed if Hitomi doesn’t turn into a giant turtle in the next episode — although I’m pretty sure there’s a non-zero chance that will actually happen. And that brings us to The Craziest Thing About This Show (This Week). Caleb, what’s your pick?
Caleb: It’s pretty simple this week: Prof Monster’s complete failure to use the missiles. He was standing on top of them! He could’ve shot them from his base at any moment. By the end of the episode, it’s as if they never existed!
Chris: That’s mine too! This show COMPLETELY FORGETS that Professor Monster now has a ton of stolen missiles! There is nothing stopping him from using them in his sinister plan! Like… Spider-Man technically lost this one! He did not prevent Professor Monster from getting the missiles, and now he has them to use at his leisure.
Caleb: Or does he? I keep trying to reconcile this episode’s plot. Were the bad guys moving the missiles to a place where they could fire them or something when Spider-Man showed up to kill them all? Were they in that blue truck again? It’s so unclear that you have to invent an explanation!
Chris: I’m pretty sure the abandoned warehouse where they shot this episode was meant to be the place where the government was storing their missiles. So they got one truckload at the beginning when Takuya wrecked his bike, then a second when they ran over the kid, and were going back for a third when Spider-Man showed up to choke them out with his webs. So at the very least, the Iron Cross Army now has two out of a possible three truckloads of missiles. Sorry, Tokyo, but Spider-Man dropped the ball on this one.
Caleb: I guess we’ll just have to wait until next week to find out if this plot point comes up again. Considering episode 06 is titled “Shuddering Laboratory! Devilish Professor Monster,” however, that seems unlikely. Who cares, though. Next week’s ep has a PARENTAL ADVISORY! Raise your hand if you’re counting on early Snoop Dogg being on its soundtrack?
Chris: I just hope it doesn’t involve tentacles.