This Christmas, I asked for and received the Starman DVD set. For those of you who do not know of which I speak, Starman was a Japanese superhero created in the late 1950s and based on Superman. In Japan, he was known as Supergiant and was the star of several 50-minute serials. In the early 1960s, Walter Manly Enterprises acquired the U.S. right and cut them together into six 75-minute films, dubbed in English for American television consumption. These were the films I grew up on.
I loved Starman — I think I had a pre-teen crush on him. I used to play Starman at recess and pretend that I was a part of the films I watched on the weekend.
Anyway, I watched the first film on the DVD the other day and it totally brought me back. Also included on the DVD was an essay about the films, which is where I gleaned the above information.
Yes, the films are dated and a bit hokey — they were made for children. But they are surprisingly entertaining to this day. Or maybe I’m just an SF geek who likes anything with an SF twist.
Nah! But I must admit that nostalgia does play a fairly big role in why I loved watching that film. I loved the crazy looking aliens from the Emerald Planet. I loved the evil look on the alien captain’s face when he’d order someone to kill Starman. I loved the choreographed fight scenes with the mannequins thrown through the air. I even loved the too-long scenes of Starman flying through space and “realizing he would have to risk his life to save the Earth.”
What magnanimous creatures those Emerald planet aliens are!
Japanese science fiction, according to Wikipedia, grew out of its technology and mythology. However, it didn’t really get started in a modern sense until the Meiji Restoration, which occurred in the latter half of the 19th century, and the importation of Western ideas.
Like so many other cultures, it began with the translation of works from Jules Verne. I remember reading somewhere, and can’t for the life of me find it again, that if you look at where the center of science fiction has been it would follow this path: It got its first big start in the United Kingdom, then in the 1930s moved to the United States, and now, for all intents and purposes, innovative science fiction has moved its base to Japan.
I’m really going to have to find that, because I don’t think that is necessarily the case anymore, although Japan does have a very vibrant SF sub-culture, most notably in anime and games. For more information on Japanese Science Fiction and Starman, visit these resources: