Anime vs. Tokusatsu

Testuwan Atom

In my childhood, we had a number of children-oriented TV shows consisting of anime and tokusatsu including the ones imported mainly from the USA.

Gerry Anderson’s British SFX series such as Thunderbirds and Stingray were among them and gained much popularity among us children. (Gerry Anderson’s UFO was also my favorite in later years. I was almost addicted to it!).

They included Topo Gigio, Italian puppet show, which I remember I liked so much as a child.


While these trends originally stemmed from the scarcity of domestically produced drama shows including anime and tokusatsu, Tetsuwan (iron arm) Atom (Astro Boy/ Mighty Atom) is known as the first homemade TV anime series aired from 1963 through 1966.

After Atom, we had a series of domestically produced TV anime shows, and we enjoyed them a lot literally.

In the meantime, the emergence of the Ultra Series, the homemade full-blown tokusatsu series featuring kaijus, came as a total surprise to us.


Since then, anime and tokusatsu had waged a fierce battle in gaining popularity (viewership, more straightforwardly), which enabled us to enjoy each of them happily.

It is a famous story that Makoto Tezuka (now film director), son of Osamu Tezuka, great manga artist who created Atom, was absorbed in Ultra Q rather than W3 (Wonder Three) produced by his father’s anime production based on the manga created by his father.

I remember one explanation says Makoto burst into tears and embarrassed Osamu when his father tried to switch the channel to W3 while Makoto was watching Ultra Q.

At any rate, it was the golden age of anime and tokusatsu for us kids.

4 thoughts on “Anime vs. Tokusatsu”

  1. I enjoy that there’s things that only anime can do and things that only live action tokusatsu can do. In anime everything can happen as long as the makers use their immagination, but tokusatsu, despite having less potential because of budget constraints, makes up for it by being never fully planned and thus becoming always a surprise. For example how many times something unexpected happened on set that managed to become a memorable scene in the complete film? Like when Godzilla falls on the castle in Mothra vs Godzilla! I really enjoy this separation of the two. Thanks to this we can appreciate a show like Devilman which in my opinion if it was a tokusatsu show it wouldn’t distinguish itself much from Ultraman.

    1. I was one of the boys who were shocked by reading the original manga version of Devilman back then. I vividly remember the design of the manga version of Devilman left me lost for words as it was completely different from the anime version Devilman!

      1. I recently read Devilman and especially the last 2 volumes were incredible to me. The amount of action and surprises and sociopolitical commentary packed into those chapters is astounding to me. Reading those I came to finally understand firsthand why Devilman has been so influential. To me, it’s obvious that the concept of Amon and Akira sharing a body comes from Ultraman (even the titles are similar) , but the original Ultra series never had such an overarching arch and a conclusion with stakes this high. Not that featuring those makes Devilman better, but a way to point out the differences between the two mediums, manga and live action.

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