Join Date: May 2005
Nice documentary about the Japanese Spider-man!
Some info from wiki
Spider-Man (スパイダーマン Supaidāman?) is a Japanese live-action television series produced by Toei Company, loosely based on Marvel's Spider-Man character. The series lasted 41 episodes, which aired on the Wednesday 19:30 JST time slot of Tokyo Channel 12 from May 17, 1978, to March 14, 1979. A theatrical episode was also shown in the Toei Manga Matsuri film festival on July 22, 1978. From March 5 to December 24, 2009, Marvel uploaded English subtitled versions of all 41 episodes and the movie on their official website.
While Toei's version of the character wore the same costume as his Marvel counterpart, the show's storyline and the origin of the character's powers deviated completely from the source material. In addition to fighting by himself, this incarnation of Spider-Man also piloted a giant robot known as Leopardon, which he would summon to thwart off enlarged versions of the show's monsters. Toei would adopt the giant robot concept in subsequent incarnations of their own Super Sentai franchise.
The show was the result of a three-years licensing agreement with Marvel that allowed both to use each others' properties in any way they wanted. Toei initially planned to use Spider-Man as a supporting character for an unmade television series starring a fictionalized version of Yamato Takeru who was sent to the present via a time warp. However, Toei decided to make Spider-Man the protagonist instead and the character of Yamato Takeru was revised into Garia, an alien who gives Spider-Man his powers. The resulting show deviated from the source material completely, outside of Spider-Man's costume and some of his superpowers and gadgets. Other productions by Toei as a result of this licensing deal included Battle Fever J (a show originally conceived about a Japanese counterpart of Captain America) and an animated television movie based on the comic book Tomb of Dracula. In contrast, Marvel would use the main robots from two of Toei's anime programs, Wakusei Robo Danguard Ace and Chōdenji Robo Combattler V, in their comic book adaptation of the Shogun Warriors toyline. A toy version of Leopardon, Spider-Man's robot from the Toei series, was also sold in the United States as part of the Godaikin line.
Although the show's story was criticized for bearing almost no resemblance to the Marvel version, the staff at Marvel Comics, including Spider-Man's co-creator Stan Lee, praised the show for its special effects and stunt work, especially the spider-like movement of the character himself. While it is said that Marvel initially opposed the addition of Leopardon, the robot was viewed as a necessary gimmick to attract younger viewers and was ultimately kept. The show's mechanical designer, Katsushi Murakami (a toy designer at the time), expressed concern about Toei's capability to market Spider-Man to Japanese audiences and was given permission by producer Yoshinori Watanabe to take whatever liberties he deemed necessary. Murakami came up with the idea of giving Spider-Man an extraterrestrial origin, as well as a spider-like spacecraft that could transform into a giant robot (due to the popularity of the giant robot shows in Japan at the time).
The action figure version of Leopardon was initially sold as a part of the Chogokin toyline and became an unprecedented success in the market, which contributed to the TV series' popularity as well. The success of the show made Toei introduce the giant robot concept to their Super Sentai franchise in Battle Fever J (a show which they also co-produced with Marvel) and contributed to Spider-Man's popularity when Marvel began to export more of their properties to Japan during later years.
The head writer of the series was Susumu Takaku (Key Hunter, Mazinger Z, G-Men '75), who wrote 16 episodes and the movie, while former Tsuburaya writer Shōzō Uehara also wrote 15 episodes, including the first episode and the finale. There were many episodes in which the "monster of the week" (usually a "Machine BEM" created by the villain) was not relevant to the plot, as well as two episodes (ep. 12 and ep. 27) which featured no monsters at all. The show also featured a story arc in which the female antagonist Amazoness tries to uncover Spider-Man's secret identity.
Young motorcycle racer Takuya Yamashiro sees a UFO falling to earth, in fact a space warship named the "Marveller" from the planet "Spider". Takuya's father Dr. Hiroshi Yamashiro, a space archaeologist, investigates the case, but is killed upon finding the spaceship. The incident also brings the attention of Professor Monster and his evil Iron Cross Army (鉄十字団 Tetsu Jūji Dan?), an alien group that plans to rule the universe.
Takuya follows his father to the Marveller and discovers Garia, the last surviving warrior of Planet Spider, a world that was destroyed by Professor Monster and the Iron Cross Army. Garia explains that he was hunting Prof. Monster but now needs someone to carry on the fight and he injects Takuya with some of his own blood. The blood of a person from Planet Spider gives Takuya spider-like powers. Garia then gives Takuya a bracelet that can activate his spider protector costume, shoot web-lines, and controls the Marveller ship (which can also transform into a giant battle robot called "Leopardon"). Using his powers, Takuya, now called Spider-Man, fights Professor Monster's army and other threats to Earth under the name Spider-Man.