I love tokusatsu TV.
Tokusatsu is is a fairly broad term that basically means “special effects”. It includes such things as Godzilla, Power Rangers and Kamen Rider. A great many of these shows feature a person or a team of people who transform into warriors to fight whatever evil threatens Japan that week. There have been hundreds of different tokusatsu series in Japan, far too many to list here, but take my word for it that its somewhat of a staple of children’s TV.
Among my favourites are the ‘metal heroes’ – these people are distinct from the more familiar Power Ranger types by normally working alone or with a sidekick (rather than as part of a team of five), not usually having a giant robot to ride around in, and by having a robotic carapace rather than colourful spandex. Very few of these shows ever made it to the West – although in the early nineties when Power Ranger fever was at its peak, a few were hurriedly dubbed and chopped up with American footage in an attempt to cash in; you may remember Beetleborgs, VR Troopers and Masked Rider. None of which made it beyond a season or two.
Anyway, today I’ll be looking at a select few of the Metal Heroes, and we’ll see if we can’t all get better acquainted with them.
First, I gotta say, what a name.
“Winspector”. It’s fabulous – is he a winner? An inspector? He’s both!! He enjoys jumping through pane glass windows, strolling through flames and cradling babies – like any good superhero. An otherwise normal man, when stuff gets heavy he sits in his white Nissan and is rather spectacularly transformed. His costume is fantastic, covered in all sorts of bells and whistles. And because one visor wasn’t enough, he has two, to doubly protect his eyes and to make him look like a badass! Although whether or not the tiny little radar on his head revokes the badass license is a matter of opinion.
Winspector has two sidekicks. As nearest as I can transliterate, their names are Bicle (like bicycle, but without the ‘suh’) and Walter. Yes. These two are robots, despite looking exactly like Winspector himself. I can imagine the discussion that took place in the boardroom:-
Design Exec #1: “So he has these two sidekicks, right? Robot sidekicks.”
Design Exec #2: “But isn’t Winspector a robot?”
Design Exec #1: “No. He just dresses as one.”
Design Exec #2: “Oh. Then how will anyone else tell who’s a robot and who isn’t?”
Design Exec #1: “That was your job.”
Design Exec #2: “Oh. I’ve been trying to work out a way to get a third visor onto the costume.”
Previously Silent Design Exec #3: “I know! We’ll make them walk like robots! Robots who’ve peed their pants!”
Design Exec #1: “You are a genius! You are now head of the company. Security, get the other guy out of here. Remove his clothes so as to make his shame visible.”
That’s a true story. I was there.
If you’re watching the video, and I hope you are, you should see that Winspector does actually arrest people. The badge is not just for show. He has a pair of magic handcuffs that sort of teleport onto the wrists of suspects. Then he bashes them the fuck out because JUSTICE, that’s why.
His previously unassuming Nissan 300zx can undergo a similar transformation to Winspector – it completely turns inside-out, practically becoming a whole new car. I wish my car could do that! It has guns and everything! And also a pretty wicked stereo.
Winspector is armed with a lightsaber, and a gun that can reconfigure into a variety of modes in order to rescue peopl – HOLY SHIT HE JUST BLEW THAT GUY AWAY. That was stone cold, Winspector! Yikes.
The video finishes with Winspector removing his helmet. Drenched in sweat, this is simply a side effect of wearing the costume and not anything to do with the episode. Having worn costumes like these, I know this from experience. You really can see the relief on his face.
Solbraver (Solbrain is the name of the team) is distinguishable from Winspector by having an even cooler name and an asymmetrical costume with a shoulder pontoon. He also replaces one of his robot sidekicks with a ladywoman named Reiko, and the other no longer walks like he’s made a mess in his underpants.
Solbraver also manages to one-up Winspector by walking through a solid fucking brick wall. Serious, he walks through those breeze blocks like it was one of those beaded curtains your auntie hangs over the kitchen door. His robot sidekick then demonstrates that he is indeed a robot by bending a foam rubber tube, while Lady SolBrain gives a small child a mind-bending dose of nitrous oxide.
The Nissan is gone, replaced by a Toyota with a panoramic windscreen. For those not reading along at home, it’s called the SolGallop. It’s not nearly as cool as Winspector’s car, but at least it has gullwing doors. Inside the creatively-named Solid Hanger is a large carrier vehicle that delivers SolBraver’s female companion in her…. uh… her yellow van. Called SolDrecker. What. Oh I see, the man gets the cool police car, while the lady gets the minivan to pick up the kids from school. That’s not right.
Anyway, at least she gets a cool transformation sequence too. Her boobs are highlighted in brushed chrome, for some reason, and while SolBraver has the big crystal thing in the centre of his chest, Reiko’s is sort of over her left nipple.
SolBraver’s suit has all sorts of gadgets and things, including a rather natty grappling laser thing, to let him swing down like Tarzan and abduct (er, I mean rescue) little girls. When stuff gets out of hand, the Solbrain team can call on their robot to turn into a bulldozer. Because no machine is better at rescuing people than a bulldozer – that’s why building sites are so safe.
If, between the three of them, they can’t solve a problem, then Solbrain can call on Winspector’s cousin to save the day. For comedy effect we’ll call him SolSpector, or WinBrain.
SolBraver’s gun, very much like Winspector’s, can adapt to all sorts of situations. It can put out fires or spray glue. Heh, that’s much less destructiv – HOLY FUCK HE DID IT AGAIN. It’s rather odd how these two shows end with the exact same scene of the hero removing his helmet and flopping his sweat-drenched hair around like he’s in a shampoo commercial. Never mind, they’re still just about the coolest things I’ve ever seen.
I stand corrected. This is the coolest thing I have ever seen. The silly billy who uploaded this video to YouTube made it inaccessible from other websites, so I’m going to have to put a link in.
Click here to watch. I’m not asking you – I’m telling you. It’ll make your day.
Wow, I wish I grew up watching stuff like this. Robotack is a robot doggy. Robot. Dog. Who is also a detective. This blows Barney the Dinosaur out of the playground. Look at all Robotack’s little friends!! They’re so cute! Look at their chubby little -JUMPING JESUS ON A TRAMPOLINE THEY TRANSFORM. This is literally the greatest thing to have ever been put to film. I have to go now, I need a moment.
That is all.
“Having a robotic”