Tag Archives: Masked Ninja Akakage

Ninja Hattorikun

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Ninja Hattorikun (anime version aired 1981-1987)

Among the tokusatsu TV shows we enjoyed as a kid, we had series which featured ninja as one of them is Masked Ninja Akakage produced by Toei Company.

Another one we had and I remember even now is Ninja Hattorikun (1966: 26 episodes) produced by Toei Kyoto Television Production. The series was based on the manga drawn by Fujiko Fujio to be widely known as the author of Doraemon in later years.

Of all things, it was produced as a live-action drama series instead of anime, and it was about a ninja boy named Hattorikun (kun is a Japanese honorific title usually for boys) while the name came from Hanzo Hattori alleged to have been a real ninja in the samurai era.

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As is often the case with the Fujiko manga, it is a story about the boy ninja who started living with a family in Tokyo after coming from Iga alleged to have been the home of ninjas, real-life area located in Mie Prefecture.

Among other things, it was funnily impressive to find a mask similar to the manga Hattorikun was applied to the live-action character as his real face while, surprisingly enough, he was acted alternately by the twin kid actors Mitsunori and Yoshinori Nomura who appeared in Kaiju Oji with Mitsunori as the protagonist Takeru.

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Boy Heroes 1

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Episode 16

As I have posted in my recent articles, we had some boy heroes in our childhood including the characters acted by the two Kanekos.

They should have been truly heartthrobs for kid viewers watching the shows in which they appeared back then with Hoshino-kun (kun is an honorific title for boys and juniors) who appeared in Ultraman included as another unforgettable kid character.

As to Hoshino-kun, he disappeared in the midst of the series after his appearance in Episode 25 without any explanation about it in the episodes.

Akihide Tsuzawa (1954-present) who played Hoshino-kun says he pulled out of the show as he broke his leg while skiing on the artificial slope in the amusement park Yomiuri Land still existing in the suburb of Tokyo he visited privately.

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The Triangle VTOL flown by Hoshino managed to get through the crisis of being attacked by Kemlar with the monster closing in (Episode 21)

Tsuzawa says he was forcibly invited by his older brother who wanted to show his brother with great popularity as Hoshino-kun to his girlfriend, and, after the injury which required two months to heal, he says he quit his acting career as he was.

As expected it seems that he gained enormous popularity as a kid actor while playing Hoshino-kun then.

In spite of a kid character, Hoshino-kun often played an important role in many episodes as an excellent apprentice member of the SSSP, and I think Tsuzawa got to act Hoshino-kun impressively enough such as in Episode 21 while I find it most impressive that Alien Zarab’s restraints that left Hayata tied up easily came apart with Hoshino-kun’s tears (of innocence) falling on them in Episode 18.

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Episode 18

Yokai In Tokusatsu: Akumakun & Kappa No Sanpei

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“Akumakun”

Yokais were characters featured in tokusatsu products in my childhood along with kaijus.

We had two tokusatsu drama series with yokai characters featured which were strikingly impressive: Akumakun (1966-1967: 26 episodes) and Kappa No Sanpei Great Operation Yokai (Yokai Daisakusen) (1968-1969: 26 episodes).

Both of them were based on the manga products created by Shigeru Mizuki and produced by Toei Company.

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Akumakun and Mefisto

Akumakun is about a boy nicknamed Akumakun (akuma means devil/demon/satan; kun is a Japanese honorific title) who can summon a devil named Mefisto and fights against evil yokais and kaijus with his help.

Kappa No (no is the word showing possession) Sanpei is also about a boy named Sanpei gifted with supernatural ability from the kappas whose member Sanpei saved depicting his fights against evil yokais during his trip searching for his mother captured by those yokais.

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“Kappa No Sanpei Great Operation Yokai”

All of them were produced by Toru Hirayama, Toei producer, including Giant Robo (1967-1968: 26 episodes) and Masked NInja Akakage (1967-1968: 52 episodes).

The boys who starred Akumakun and Kappa No Sanpei were Mitsunobu Kaneko (1957-1997) and Yoshinobu Kaneko (1955-present) respectively. Although both of them are Kaneko and their first names also sound alike, they are no kin.

Mitsunobu is also well known for his starring role as Daisaku Kusama in Giant Robo and Yoshinobu also gained popularity for his leading role as Aokage (blue shadow) in Akakage.

Incidentally Sanpei’s fellow kappa Rokubei in Kappa No Sanpei was acted by Fuyuhiko Maki who also regularly played Shirokage (white shadow) in Akakage.

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From left, Rokubei and Sanpei; Rokubei has an saucer on top of his head which is the greatest feature of the legendary kappa

Eyeball Mosters

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Hitotsume (from Akakage)

I received a comment pointing out the resemblance between one of the Giant Robo monsters Ganmons and the famous Ultraman Gaia monster Gan Q.

When watching Ultraman Gaia with my kids as it aired for the first time and seeing Gan Q appear in the show, the first thing the monster reminded me of was Ganmons.

Gan is the Japanese word for eye while the word me (/meh/) is more customarily used, and, as gankyu means eyeball, Gan Q is a sort of phonetic equivalent or pun of the term.

While I don’t know much about Gan Q featured in the recent series after Ultraman Gaia, I think the Gan Q that appeared in Gaia didn’t have its eyelid (I may be wrong).

Ganmons of Giant Robo, however, had its eyelid and it was forced to be closed by Robo with his reacher-like equipment coming out of, if my memory is correct, his buckle before being beaten by him.

Actually we had another eyeball monster which appeared in Masked Ninja Akakage and is called Hitotsume (single eyed).

This is a monster regularly summoned by a villain ninja through his yojutsu (mysterious skill), and, as Akakage and Giant Robo were produced by the Toei Company, Ganmons might have been a developed form of Hitotsume in terms of the idea.

It is fully thinkable that the Tsuburaya people could have created Gan Q inspired by Ganmons although I don’t think they publicly referred to it.

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Gan Q

Akakage (Red Shadow) Is A Lot Of Fun!

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From left: Shirokage, Akakage and Aokage

In addition to the Ultra Series, I also enjoyed the other SFX TV series in my childhood.

One of them is Akakage (Red Shadow).

It’s a series officially titled Kamen-no-ninja (Masked Ninja) Akakage produced by Toei Company and aired on Fuji Television Network from 1967 through 1968 based on a manga created by Mitsuteru Yokoyama.

As the title shows, it a TV show  featuring SFX ninja action and classified as an SFX period drama.

 

As you can see, the series was aired around the same time as Ultraman and Ultraseven, and I love Akakage as well.

It features three ninja fighters, Akakage, Aokage (Blue Shadow) and Shirokage (White Shadow) who cooperate in fight against evil.

Akakage is a masked ninja who looks so cool, and Aokage, as a boy ninja, gained popularity among us around the same age.

Above all, the series is full of crazy things such as a huge robot, a flying object like UFO, modern-looking mechanical devices or gigantic monsters which appeared with historical studies neglected.

 

The ninjutsu (ninja techniques) they use are also amazing such as flying almost freely in the air.

But I love the absurdities which are a lot of fun.

Akakage was produced by late Toru Hirayama, renowned producer of Toei Company who is well known among Japanese Tokusatsu fans for the SFX TV dramas he produced such as Captain Ultra, Giant Robo, Kamen Rider, Kikaider and so on.

Under the brand name of Ultra the Tsuburaya products were expected to be thoroughly orthodox one way or another.

But the Toei crew produced their products thinking outside the box which was their unique attraction.

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Agon, my favorite kaiju appearing in Akakage