Senkosha Productions is celebrating sixty years of justice with the anniversaries of some of the tokusatsu subgenre’s pioneering superstars, who paved the way for the many heroic stories to follow decades after their inception. Among them are the classic superhero shows Moonlight Mask and Planet Prince, as well as the mecha series Super Robot Red Baron.
1958’s black-and-white Moonlight Mask series was hailed as one of Japan’s first live-action television superheroes. His identity never truly revealed (though heavily implied with the constant disappearing acts played by lead character Iwai Juro, conveniently absent when the title hero shows up to save the day), his adventures took him across 130 episodes and 6 movies. Within this massive tome of stories was TV’s first famed kaiju, the giant Mammoth Kong (seen above).
In the same year, Planet Prince leapt onto the scene, offering his own cosmic take on the genre. Curiously, when it came time for production group Toei to give this hero his theatrical film treatment, they opted to radically change his costume design, adding a mask where there originally was none. We suppose this does make him a bit more recognizable to modern toku fans, who are accustomed to their heroes being covered from head to toe with armor in almost every mainstream title for the past several years.
1973 saw the introduction of Super Robot Red Baron, where the metallic titan took center stage. Its exploits inspired numerous other productions, including an animated Red Baron franchise. While the super robot celebrates its 45th anniversary, Mask and Prince collectively celebrate their 60th anniversary this year. That… That’s a lot of explosions.
Senkosha brings us this fine piece to commemorate the occasion, featuring the heroes who blazed a trail for the torrent of heroes that followed, including Ultraman, Kamen Rider, Super Sentai, and much more.
What will the next 60 years of tokusatsu have in store for us? Only time (and flame retardants) will tell.