Today’s selection: The Golden Bat (1966, dir. Hajime Sato)
Available from: Fansub-only
The Golden Bat is often referred to as the first modern Japanese superhero, which I’m not sure about agreeing with. The character debuted not in manga, but it kamishibai (paper shows) back in 1930, before Superman existed as a prototype for the genre. Anyhow, the Golden Bat is a ancient Atlantian mummy who can be revived in the case of trouble, battling evil with assorted powers (so, yeah, I guess he’s a superhero). He eventually got an anime, but before that, there were two live-action films, the second of which is today’s selection.
The movie pits our hero (and annoying child accomplices) against a variety of weird-looking alien goons, and would fit well with classic monochrome Japanese heroes like Super Giant or Prince of Space. It is somewhat noteworthy that Sonny Chiba is in the film as a not-karate-hero scientist, but he had a bit of a flourishing sci-fi career before karate took over (having previously starred in 7-Colored Mask, Invasion of the Neptune Men, and Terror Beneath the Sea). Overall, the movie is briskly paced, action-heavy, and ideal for its 60’s kid audience.