‘Japanese Spider-Man’ Episode 7: ‘The Ferocious Hit Song! Sing and Dance to the Killer Rock!’ [Review]
Chris: Welcome back to Spider-Man Japan, ComicsAlliance's far too in-depth review of the 1978 live-action Japanese Supaidaman show! Over the past two months, we've seen Spidey facing down giant monsters, master thieves and even his own best friend. This week, though, he faces the most terrifying scourge of the youth of Japan: Rock 'n' roll!
Caleb: Lock up your daughters, sons and pets, because the rhythm is gonna get you.Watch Along with Chris and Caleb:
Chris: I'm not going to lie: This episode is amazing. It has everything, including a giant monster, people straight up getting murdered, robots, and an awesome hit song that you get sick of because it plays pretty much constantly for 22 minutes.
Caleb: In the words of Mark Millar, "It makes [the last episode] look like S#!t!"
Chris: Much as I hate to agree with both you and Mark Millar, it's true. I've mentioned before, but I keep expecting the good ones to be isolated incidents, even though this show has been pretty consistently improving for the entire time we've been watching it. Maybe it's just learned helplessness from having to sit through a year of Smallville.
Caleb: That somebody you kept begging to save you is here, Chris. It's Supaidaman.
Caleb: Epic drum solo. Screaming girls. An introduction by a green-jacketed record label stooge.
Caleb: Kobayashi Kotaro and the BB Five are about to metaphorically burn one of Japan's hottest discotheque to the ground. What rock and roll dreams will they inspire tonight?
Chris: We are experiencing full-on tokusatsu Beatlemania.
Caleb: And, like many toku expectations, what we get instead is the next best thing: a song about the world's robot-piloting savior, "Spiderman." And it goeeeessss a little somethin' like this:
Shaking his bum, climbing up walls
He jumps from building to building like Tarzan
He's so cool that Spider-Man
I adore that Spider-Man
And so we've got to boogie
Shake our bums, boogie
Sing and dance, oh, boogie-woogie
Boogie, boogie, oh, boogie boogie
Chris: I feel like we could spend the rest of this column just talking about the first three minutes of this episode.
Caleb: And you're not wrong. It's a triumph.
Chris: First of all, we have the song itself, which is just fantastic, mostly because whoever translated it made the hilarious choice of going with "shaking his bum."
Caleb: It's like when the subtitles in your anime are meant for English speakers in the UK and cookies are called biscuits.
Chris: But the thing is, it's actually a pretty good song! Like, it's got a kind of '70s garage rock thing going on. The BB Five kicks out the jams, motherf***er.
Caleb: How can you go wrong when your bass player's 'stache could be used as a broom to wipe the scourge of human loneliness from the world?
Chris: Yes! This band is made up of five dudes wearing, for whatever reason, matching super-tight San Francisco 49ers t-shirts. Including this guy, who is maybe the coolest dude who has ever lived:
Caleb: This band is so amazing, their concert is currently being televised, much to the delight of Takuya's little brother Takuji, who encourages his matronly sister Shinko to join him in shaking his bum like Spider-Man.
Chris: She does not, presumably because she is weirded out by the genuinely disturbing tininess of Takuya's shorts.
Caleb: Shorts with a long sleeve shirt! I'm surprised he's not wearing socks with sandals too. (I confess, I've been spotted doing both while taking my dog out).
Chris: What we're getting at here is that this fictional child in the '70s had awful fashion sense. But honestly, when his role models are the somewhat frumpy Shinko and Takuya, who seems to own an endless collection of vinyl baseball jackets, can you blame him?
Caleb: What I wouldn't give to own Takuya's grey pleather jackets!
Chris: The guy owns a flying car and a giant monster-killing robot and you want the jackets?
Caleb: And the Spider Bracelet, of course.
Caleb: Anyway, the Yamashiro family debate over whether or not dancing is embarrassing is interrupted by Hitomi, who want's her boyfriend to join her as she interviews the band at a local disco. Naturally, Takuya is off training to become the world's best dirtbike racer.
Chris: You know, for a dude who practices dirtbiking so much that even I think it might be too much, and who always has a "big race coming up," we never actually see Takuya doing any racing.
Caleb: I wonder if him missing races and such was originally going to be a subplot of the show?
Like, what if this dirtbike champion had a secret identity?! Oh, the misadventures.
Chris: Like that would be his Peter Parker emotional conflict, instead of letting down his girlfriend or Aunt May being in poor health. "Why must I be forced to choose between my responsibilities as Supaidaman and the sweet thrills of the Helltrack?!"
Caleb: Before the season is over, we must get a shot of the half-Spidey mask, half-Takuya face sweating as his internal monologue screams through his soul. "Dirtbike... or destiny?!"
Caleb: Meanwhile, across town, scientists are working on a gizmo that will help them track down Professor Monster's base. The technology basically comes down to identifying things that are human vs. things that are... not humans?
Chris: I would suggest just looking for the dudes with big orange duckie beaks, but as we'll see in a moment, the Iron Cross Army has developed a mastery of disguise!
Caleb: Amazoness, some Ninders and new Machine BEM strike! And by strike, I mean the Machine BEM shoots pin missiles out of its forehead and murders like half a dozen guards.
Chris: Oh, there's a good reason for that. The Ninders learned last week that Takuya has absolutely no problem picking up a machine gun and shooting at them, but you can't use a blowgun with a full face mask. Of course, that raises the question of how you can use them with duckie beaks, but...
Caleb: Spidey sends the bad guys fleeing by climbing up and down a tall wall and then investigates the object of their desire. He gets filled in on the scientists' work, which he totally supports. I'm not sure why -- it's not like the government can contact him if they find out where Prof. Monster's base is -- but what's important is that he cares and tells the nerds in the labcoats that they should probably move to a more secure location.
Chris: Spider-Man: He Cares About Nerds™.
Caleb: Everything is going relatively smoothly until we're whisked to Prof. Monster's secret lair. Turns out he's got plans for Kobayashi Kotaro and the BB Five. Like, plans to replace them with cyborg duplicates that emit a frequency that makes Spider-Man's head explode with pain. What a drag!
Chris: This plan is such a huge Cobra Commanderish leap from "stealing missiles and raining fiery destruction down on Japan" that you have to assume that it's based entirely in jealousy. How dare they write a song about Spider-Man shaking his bum, but not address the question of how good girls get down on the floor, so how low will an Amazoness go?
Caleb: You're exactly right. Prof. Monster's ego has been shattered, despite the fact that much less popular bands the world over are probably writing black metal ballads in his name.
Chris: You can really tell by the fact that he immediately takes his revenge not on Spidey, but on the BB Five.
Caleb: Sadly, for this scheme to work, something must be done about the real BB Five. I was hoping for a simple kidnapping or imprisonment, but this is Prof. Monster we're talking about here...
Chris: Before we get into this, I just want to point out that this episode did not have a parental advisory.
Caleb: But it should have!
Chris: After the BB Five walk through a crowd of adoring ladytype fans in order to get to their bus, the driver is revealed to be a Ninder in disguise, who has, no kidding, smuggled the Machine Bem aboard as a tiny little action figure.
Caleb: It succeeds in slaughtering the entire band, first with a pint-sized (but instantly lethal) bite, then by shooting up the place with stinger missiles. There may not be blood, but it's a bloodbath nonetheless.
Chris: He even shoots Japanese John Belushi!
Caleb: No Japanese Animal House for us. Not even little chocolate Japanese donuts.
Chris: With this, Professor Monster has officially become the most evil person on television outside the debates.
Caleb: The cyborgs don't even skip a beat, and ghoulishly stare into the faces of their dead human predecessors as they take over their touring van.
Chris: And with that, Professor Monster's evil dominance of the airwaves with his catchy tune begins! He's like Phil Spector, except... well, no, I guess he's actually just like Phil Spector.
Caleb: I guess the only difference is that we wish Phil Spector would wear a cloak. God, those wigs. For all of our Prof. Monster criticisms, it turns out the dude can build some great cyborgs. Hitomi and Takuya, along with an entire club of dancers are totally convinced by their musical ability. Then the evil boogie woogie frequency kicks in and Spidey is forced to flee the night club while screaming in pain.
Chris: And once again, we are left to wonder just why Hitomi is still Takuya's girlfriend.
Caleb: Spidey's headache clears once he enters a park full of small children. Correlation does not equal causation, but you know. But his peace is interrupted by an attack across town. This new Machine BEM can apparently tear through the fabric of time and space in the shape of a veiny human heart and has tracked down Professor Saotome!
Chris: Supaidaman is alerted by his bracelet (because at this point, why not?) and decides to speed to the rescue in the Spider-Machine GP7. But for some reason, he elects to go ahead and drive his flying car down the highway, through traffic, rather than, you know. Flying.
Caleb: Better gas milage.
Chris: I'm sure Professor Saotome will appreciate that while he's being strangled by a giant bug with nipple-cannons.
Caleb: Zeroing in on Spidey's location, Prof Monster has his cyborg band pump up the jams. Their tunes hit the poor hero like a ton of bricks and cause him to veer out of control, nearly crashing into a huge truck! Deciding it's too dangerous to tool around in public, Spidey instead decides to try his luck at swinging around the city manually. It does not go well!
Chris: Takuya is not what you would call "very bright."
Caleb: After a very brief skirmish with this week's Machine BEM, Spidey hides in a tree and discovers the source of his pain. Too bad the song is a manufactured hit to the tune of more than 2 million singles sold.
Caleb: Prof. Monster's influence in the Japanese media is impressive. It's no wonder Hitomi loves working for Amazoness' publication so much. The audience is apparently about the population of Chicago.
Chris: Maybe the Weekly Woman is so successful that Hitomi's secretly funding all these "dirtbike competitions" that Takuya allegedly competes in. He just goes to the track and she shows up and gives him a trophy and tells him he's a winner. It's pretty romantic!
Caleb: A winner is Weekly Woman. As the BB Five become the biggest rock stars in the history of humankind, Takuya is back at home doing what he does best: sleep. This wound-healing slumber is interrupted, however, by his siblings and their mutual boogie woogie-ing to the pop hit about their brother's secret identity. God, those shorts again.
Chris: That is the power of Professor Monster! He can lead even a repressed dance-hater like Shinko down the path of sinful gyrations! He's like an evil Kevin Bacon!
Caleb: I'll bet he quoted the bible to change Shinko's mind. I'm currently scanning the shot for red boots.
Chris: Naturally, this leads to Takuya's latest effort to make his family think he's a total jerk: Grabbing the record and throwing it on the ground and telling them it's because he hates that stupid song.
Caleb: When confronted with the reality of the situation by his siblings, he simply shouts "Shut up!" and flees the house. It's like the beginning to a "very special" episode of Full House.
Chris: There's a lot of stress in that house, probably because you have to climb through a tiny Hobbit hole to get into it.
Caleb: What happens next is hard to watch. Unable to escape the boogie, Takuya stumbles through the city streets, lashing out at jukeboxes and the like until he's punched in the face by a shopkeep. To the average onlooker, our hero has simply gone mad.
Chris: As Regular Show said, "you can't touch music... but it can touch you."
Caleb: Sublime, a band wrong about many things, was especially wrong when it sang "One good thing about music, when it hits you, you feel no pain." Now at his lowest point, Spidey gets a bit more proactive and treks up to the last surviving member of the "Find Prof. Monster Machine" team to stand guard.
Chris: And this is where Prof. Monster just gets hilariously dickish: He has his cyborg band set up in a van IN THE DUDE'S FRONT YARD.
Caleb: Their live show is better, anyway. Sure, I got their LP on MegaUpload (RIP), but I go to shows and buy merch.
Chris: The scientist also makes a weird reference to the music being a kind of Pavlovian conditioning, except that it's not a psychological thing at all. It's not that he doesn't like the song, it's that there's an actual frequency targeting his head.
Caleb: Yeah, which doesn't make a ton of sense. Presumably, the band had already recorded a murder Spidey-free single before touring. But what do I know about Japanese rock in the late '70s? Maybe you could get on TV back then first without having a recording.
Chris: Either way, this is Prof. Monster's big mistake, as Spider-Man seizes the opportunity to go on one of his increasingly frequent gun-toting rampages.
Caleb: The first time I saw the GP7 I thought, "This looks kind of like one of the Death Race 2000 cars." Now I know why!
Chris: To his credit, he finds out they're cyborgs first, but the end result is that he just straight up blows them up with his hood-mounted machine guns, causing a flaming rain of cyborg body parts.
Caleb: You know what he really wanted to do was to chuck the Sword of Vigor at them. But why go overboard?
Chris: So with the cyborgs out of the picture, the Iron Cross heads to plan B: Giant monsters. Take it away for this week's Monster Breakdown, Caleb!
Appearance: A scorpion dude with a scoprion dude head.
Primary Weapon: Sting missiles shot form his forehead for some reason.
Secondary Weapon: Biting dudes while tiny.
Tertiary Weapon: Claws he never seems to use/burrowing underground.
Rating: 2 out of 5
Chris: Yeah, that whole burrowing thing never really comes up after his introduction. All in all, he's pretty irrelevant to the plot. The whole thing revolves around cyborgs, but it's like they had a contract issue with the Monsters Union and had to use them in every episode.
Caleb: Maybe they expire? If you don't use them once a week, they start to go bad. Let's start looking for a "Born On" date on the bottom of their feet.
Chris: They tend to go bad even if you do use them.
Caleb: That's true. So far, the Machine BEMs have been outclassed by a band of rock and roll cyborgs. This fight was one of the shortest in the series so far. Sasora doesn't even get a punch in. The only time he lands a hit on Spidey, he flees immediately afterward. He's good at killing guards and rock bands, though.
Chris: And that brings this week's adventure in Spider-Man Not Losing to a close. So Caleb, what's your pick for The Craziest Thing About This Show (This Week)?
Caleb: I don't know about craziest, but I did love seeing Takuya scream at his siblings. One of my favorite things about this show is that the problems in Takuya's personal life are never resolved at the end of the episode. It'd be like if Superman was a constant spazz as Clark Kent all the time and never came up with excuses as to why. And everyone just made their peace with him being insane and went on with their lives.
Chris: I imagine that literally all of his time between episodes is spent apologizing. "Sorry I ran out of the disco and left you there alone, Hitomi." "Sorry I yelled at you when you were dancing, Shinko."
Caleb: "I wonder why Takuya and Spider-Man are never in a room at the same time? Oh well, Takuya is insane and that's probably all there is to it." He's the hero they deserve, but he's got to be the brother they need. Or vice-versa. I never quite got that line in The Dark Knight.
Chris: For me, it's the fact that the BB Five were just flat-out killed. And not only that, but this is never explained to the general public, so as far as they're concerned, Spider-Man ran them down with his car for writing a song about how much they love him.
Caleb: "Disingenuous fools!" RIP BB Five. Much love.
Chris: Like... Okay, you know how people get obsessed with the idea that Paul McCartney secretly died in the '60s and was replaced by a fake Paul, and so they look for all these hidden clues in the songs and the album art and everything?
Caleb: Are you suggesting what I think you're suggesting? Machine BEM Paul McCartney?!!!!
Chris: No, but that would be awesome. I'm just saying that if it was actually revealed that a super-popular band was killed, replaced by cyborgs and then blown up by a super-hero, peoples' heads would explode. No Iron Cross amplifier necessary.
Caleb: Truth. And with that, I think we've cleared this episode.
Chris: We hope you've all learned a little something about the dangers of pop music, and we'l see you next week for "Strange Tales From the Past! The Cursed Cat Grave!!"
Caleb: In the meantime, try not to lose!