Skull Man

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Skull Man
SkullManLogo.jpg
Logo for the 2007 anime series
スカルマン
(Sukaru Man)
Genre Action, Mystery
Manga
Written by Shotaro Ishinomori
Published by Kodansha
Demographic Shōnen
Magazine Weekly Shōnen Magazine
Published January 1970
Volumes 1
Manga
Written by Kazuhiko Shimamoto
Published by Media Factory
English publisher
Demographic Seinen
Magazine Monthly Comic Alive
Original run April 7, 1998May, 2001
Volumes 7 (List of volumes)
Manga
Written by Shotaro Ishinomori
Illustrated by Meimu
Published by Kodansha
Demographic Seinen
Magazine Magazine Z
Original run May 2, 2007October 24, 2007
Volumes 2 (List of volumes)
Live-action television film
Directed by Makoto Yokoyama
Network Fuji TV
Released April 21, 2007
Anime television series
Directed by Takeshi Mori
Produced by Kōji Yamamoto
Written by Hiroshi Ohnogi (ep. 3–4, 8, 11)
Seishi Minakami (ep. 2, 5, 7, 12)
Shingo Takeba (ep. 10)
Yutaka Izubuchi (ep. 1, 6, 9, 13)
Music by Shirō Sagisu
Studio Bones
Licensed by
Network Fuji TV
English network
Original run April 28, 2007July 22, 2007
Episodes 13
Portal icon Anime and Manga portal

Skull Man (Japanese: スカルマン Hepburn: Sukaru Man?) is a shōnen manga series created by Shotaro Ishinomori which first appeared in Weekly Shōnen Magazine in 1970 and immediately caused a sensation.[citation needed] The hero of the story, whose parents have been murdered, grows up to use his peculiar powers to take revenge. The original Skull Man was one of the first antiheroes to be seen in manga, someone who would sacrifice the lives of innocents in his quest for vengeance. This darkness was what made the Skull Man so magnetic and successful.[citation needed]

While developing the Kamen Rider (Masked Rider) TV series along with producer Toru Hirayama, Ishinomori created this manga as his own personal version, which the producers at Toei Company Ltd. used as the basis for the show.[which?] They made several changes to the content, as Ishinomori's original 100-page one-shot story was too dark and gruesome (even cerebral) for a children's show.

In the late 90s, after he had fallen ill, Ishinomori contacted manga artist Kazuhiko Shimamoto to do a remake (ambiguously a continuation) of his original one-shot manga.[citation needed] This remake boasted an extensive, continuing storyline and more complex artwork (along with a tribute to Ishinomori in the final issue, with several of his famous characters gathered together).[citation needed] This was the manga that was presented in the US by Tokyopop. The original 1970 version was digitally released in English by Ishimori productions in 2012.[1] An animated TV series adaptation, produced by Bones and directed by Takeshi Mori, was broadcast on Fuji TV from April 28, 2007 to July 22, 2007.

Plot[edit]

1970 manga (one-shot)[edit]

There are mass murders and catastrophes all over Japan, committed by a masked/caped psychic madman called the Skull Man, and his shape-shifting aide Garo (named after the manga ninja Garo created by Sanpei Shirato), who can turn into various powerful mutant monsters. The calamities caused by the Skull Man are investigated by the Tachiki Detective Agency, with the help of a young man named Tatsuo Kagura, the son of a yakuza in the Kagura Clan.

Police Chief Tachiki, who heads the Tachiki Detective Agency, suspects that Tatsuo is the Skull Man. Tatsuo, in turn, suspects that the detective is a part of a public conspiracy that has been after him for fifteen years. It turns out that Tatsuo's parents were murdered and he was adopted by the Kagura Clan. For fifteen years, Tatsuo has been hunting for the mastermind, who manipulates all industry, finance and even politics. Tatsuo, the Skull Man, threateningly demands of Tachiki that he tell him the name of the mastermind. After muttering the culprit's family name, Chisato, the Skull Man shoots him in the head.

Skull Man and Garo then race to the estate of a reclusive old man named Kogetsu Chisato, who lives with a girl named Maya, who is mute and blind (she is always seen with her eyes closed). Overcome with psychotic rage, Skull Man threatens to kill Chisato, who not only kindly welcomes him, but has been looking forward to his arrival. Maya, however, telepathically persuades him not to kill Chisato, and reveals a shocking secret: Chisato is Skull Man's grandfather and Maya his younger sister.

Chisato tells his shocked grandson the whole story: his own son, Tatsuo's father, was a scientific genius beyond geniuses. In fact, he was so intelligent and unearthly that he was a mutant, a being of Newmanity (Shinjinrui - similar to that in Ishinomori's later creation, Inazuman). His wife, whom he married and had Tatsuo with, was a mutant also. The couple conducted bizarre experiments that were capable of destroying humanity. Chisato feared this greatly, so, when Maya was born, he killed his own son and daughter-in-law, and sought to kill his grandson Tatsuo, who ended up being rescued and raised by Garo. He could not bring himself to kill Maya, however, and raised her to be his faithful servant. Maya then tells Skull Man that Chisato wanted to bring him back before he could do anything.

Chisato traps himself, Skull Man, Garo and Maya in glass walls, and sets himself and all the others ablaze, sadly stating that "We were born in the wrong era!". Along with his entire "family", Tatsuo dies a tragic, horrible death in the inferno.

Media[edit]

1970 manga[edit]

Although the original Skull Man is not yet in print in the U.S., Comixology obtained the license rights to the title and has released an English-language digital version of the manga in 2012.[2]

1998 manga[edit]

The 1998 manga is a remake of the original manga. Skull Man revolves around Tatsuo Kagura, who early in his life was subjected to several mutating science experiments that ended up giving him amazing powers and skills. Longing revenge for the murder of his parents, he becomes Skull Man, a shadowy crusader who battles The Syndicate and its evil leader Rasputin. The story begins abruptly with a woman who possesses immense psychic powers killing a man, only to then be attacked herself by a man who can become a bat, a wolf or an alligator named Garo. Garo is revealed to be Skull Man’s childhood protector and present ally in the war against Rasputin and his hordes of evil mutants. Skull Man makes allies, loses comrades and dies in combat with a lethal mutant as in the first book. What follows is a trip into the world of shadows and the evil within all of us.

While based on Ishinomori's original manga story, the 1990s version was put together by well-known manga artist Kazuhiko Shimamoto, who had been a fan of Ishinomori's work since childhood. Ishinomori contacted Shimamoto towards the end of the former's life, requesting him to work with him on reviving the story of The Skull Man. In accomplishing this, Ishinomori faxed Shimamoto the story premise and plot notes, while Shimamoto put it all together and did the artwork. A few years earlier, Shimamoto worked on a manga adaptation of the movie Kamen Rider ZO, which included a short story about a struggling manga artist who completely idolized a fictional version of Ishinomori.

This manga features a myriad of cameos of other famous Ishinomori heroes, although this is mainly contained in the final pages of the manga's last chapter. They include:

  • Joe Shimamura: Joe Shimamura/Cyborg 009 makes his appearance in Chapter 36 and is seen punching out a mugger after rescuing the mugger's victim. During this event, he and Ryuusei, the Skull Man, meet and debate evil and the nature of man over coffee. After the two part company for the evening, they meet again by chance at the docks to stop an illegal deal between corrupt politicians, Ryuusei in his Skull Man garb and Joe in his 00 Cyborg uniform (albeit only seen in silhouette aside from close ups on his face).
  • Kamen Rider: Detective Hioka, who pursued the Skull Man, was changed into a Reconstructed Human by the Syndicate. After being rescued by Maria and brought back to Tatsuo/the Skull Man, he then further reconstructed him to be more advanced than the other grasshopper mutants the Syndicate created. In his original mutant form Hioka closely resembles the designs of Kamen Riders ZO and J, and grows his antenna after a battle with Syndicate grunts; his upgraded form is based heavily on the designs of Kamen Rider #1, Hongo Takeshi, Hioka's Kamen Rider rides a motorcycle very much like the original Cyclone motorcycle, possesses a scarf around his neck, and his head appears to be a helmet instead of physically becoming the grasshopper head. However, unlike Kamen Rider #1, his costume is much closer to a motorcycle jacket and pants than the cloth pants and "armored" tunic that costumed Kamen Rider #1, and is seen using a laser pistol in his rescue of The Skull Man.
  • Henshin Ninja Arashi: In the Skull Man manga, A young ninja in the city who is almost killed by an ape-like Syndicate mutant, who stabs him in the chest with a knife. He is found on the brink of death by the Skull Man, and taken back to his laboratory. As the Skull Man hopes to revive him with cyborg technology, the panels reveal feathers flown over indicating that this man is a descendant of Arashi and it is possible that he will receive the powers like his ancestor and will go along with the Skull Man to fight against evil.
  • Gorenger: The five members of Himitsu Sentai Gorenger can be seen in the hero collage at the end of the manga's final chapter.
  • Robot Detective: Robot Detective K, in his civilian clothing, can be seen directly in front of Ki Ranger in the hero collage at the end of the manga's final chapter.
  • Inazuman: Inazuman can be seen directly in front of Momo Ranger in the hero collage at the end of the manga's final chapter.
  • Kikaider: Kikaider can be seen in his android form in front of and between both Robot Detective K and Inazuman in the hero collage at the end of the manga's final chapter.
  • Space Ironmen Kyodain: Skyzel and Groundzel can both be seen behind and to the right of Henshin Ninja Arashi in the hero collage at the end of the manga with Sky Zero on the right and Ground Zero on the left.

Anime[edit]

Studio BONES adapted Skull Man into an anime TV series which premiered on Fuji TV in April 2007. The series is directed by Takeshi Mori and written by Yutaka Izubuchi. A live action "Episode Zero" was shown on April 21, titled "Skullman: Prologue of Darkness," starring Ami Suzuki, Kamen Rider Hibiki and Death Note 's Shigeki Hosokawa and well-known stuntsman/actor from Kagaku Sentai Dynaman and Tensou Sentai Goseiger 's Makoto Ito. It was also set up to be a pseudo prequel of Cyborg 009.

Unlike the previous Skull Man, the story closely focuses on a journalist named Hayato Mikogami who returns to his hometown at Otomo to investigate strange rumors of killings done by a man wearing a skull mask. Tailed tightly by a young photographer, Kiriko Mamiya, the two soon uncover the many strings of connections between the victims, a local pharmaceutical company, a mysterious new religious sect and strange half human, half animal creatures, which roam the night streets for blood.

The series opening theme is TOKIO's "Hikari no Machi" (ひかりのまち?, "City of Light") and the ending theme is Chocolove from AKB48's "Ashita wa Ashita no Kimi ga Umareru" (明日は明日の君が生まれる?, "A New You Is Born Tomorrow").

Characters[edit]

Skull Man (スカルマン Sukaru Man?)
Voiced by: Hiroshi Tsuchida
A mysterious man in skull shaped mask making appearances in Ōtomo City and rumored to have been killing numerous victims in the city, especially those roaming at night. He is believed to be the missing Tatsuo Kagura at first, but late in the series, Father Yoshio Kanzaki, a close friend of Hayato's, reveals himself as the true Skull Man and explains that the only people he has been killing are those who are members of a new cult who transform into monsters. After Yoshio's death, Hayato becomes Skull Man himself and saves Maya from the ritual, for Yoshio's sake. The Skull Man is actually not a person, but an ancient helmet that grants the user supernatural abilities and deadly weapons. At one point, Kiriko's brother Jin dresses up in a fake Skull Man suit and uses it to commit murders, but the real Skull Man shows up later and kills him.
Hayato Mikogami (御子神 隼人 Mikogami Hayato?)
Voiced by: Makoto Yasumura
Hayato Mikogami once lived in the orphanage in Ōtomo City. After being adopted and raised, he left Ōtomo to move to Tokyo so he can work for a famous newspaper. Years later at 23 years old, he is working for a second rate newspaper and with permission leaves to go back to Ōtomo City to search for the legendary figure, Skull Man who by rumors had recently killed an actress. While on the train trip, he meets young Kiriko who doesn't have the correct passport to get into the city and he helps her in by presenting a business card of Gōzō. Later, after getting comfortable into his old house, he gets locked outside due to Kiriko's tantrum. Without realizing, he breaks the midnight curfew and witnesses a man who is running away from someone. The man injures Hayato after he tries to help him but the man is killed by the Skull Man. Hayato collapses on scene, pinning him to the murder but is let off due to this ties with Gōzō.
Hayato is a care-free guy who smokes and is constantly annoyed by Kiriko. Later he develops a close friendship with her. At the end of the series, Hayato takes up the mantle of the Skull Man against the original's warning, mortally wounding himself when he overuses the mask's powers. For reasons unexplained, the white mask turns black in the rising sunlight before a mysterious group, later revealed to be Black Ghost, picks him up and converts him into a cyborg.

Episodes[edit]

# Title Original air date
00 "Skullman: Prologue Of Darkness"   April 21, 2007
Live action prequel episode. 
01 "City of the Dancing Mask"
"Kamen ga Odoru Machi" (仮面が踊る街) 
April 28, 2007
Journalist Hayato Mikogami arrives in his hometown and begins investigating the enigmatic Skull Man. However, he runs into his target sooner than expected. 
02 "The Man From the Past"
"Kako kara kita Otoko" (過去からきた男) 
May 5, 2007
Hayato, a temporarily a murder suspect, is released from police custody due to his connections. His further investigations reveal a possible connection between the Skull Man and an arson case ten years ago. 
03 "Crimson Rain Falls in the Afternoon"
"Shinkō no Ame wa Gogo ni Furu" (深紅の雨は午後に降る) 
May 12, 2007
Yui receives a threatening letter and later becomes the target of blackmail. Kiriko follows Yui and Sayoko to the theater. However, the real target of the Skull Man is Sayoko, who turns out to be a mutant. 
04 "The Ghost That Goes For a Stroll"
"Sanpo suru Yūrei" (散歩する幽霊) 
May 19, 2007
A dead body hung from a railroad bridge makes Hayato investigate the legend of the Phantom Monorail. However, once on board, he becomes the target of the Skull Man. 
05 "The False Blind Spot"
"Itsuwari no Shikaku" (偽りの死角) 
May 26, 2007
Usami, the Skull Man impostor, tries to eliminate the original. Meanwhile, Kiriko discovers a person from her past among the Byakureikai members. 
06 "Banquet of the Grim Reaper"
"Shinigamitachi no Utage" (死神たちの宴) 
June 2, 2007
Hayato and Kiriko run across yet another Skull Man killing the town mayor. With other trails getting cold, the two decide to investigate the Byakureikai from the inside. 
07 "Master of the Beasts"
"Jinjū Tsukaishi" (人獣使い師) 
June 9, 2007
Hayato and Kiriko are discovered and kicked out of Byakureikai, but Hayato discovers that one of the disciples there is an old acquaintance of Kiriko and the reason for her entering the town. That person - Jin - is masquerading as the Skull Man in order to carry out assassinations for Gōzō Kuroshio. 
08 "The Maiden Whispers in the Moonlight"
"Gekkō ni Otome wa Sasayaku" (月光に乙女はささやく) 
June 16, 2007
Kiriko and Hayato, fresh off a lead left by Jin, work together to investigate photograph's left by him of the White Bell compound. His legacy will draw them deeper into the events surrounding the White Bell cult. Meanwhile, coming out of cathartis, Kiriko runs into Maya again after the previous episodes developments, and Hayato warms up to an old flame by the name of Nami that returns to the village after him, and learns about his old school crush's unfortunate history after he left Otomo. 
09 "Blessed Are the Impure"
"Etareshimono ni Shukufuku o" (穢れしものに祝福を) 
June 23, 2007
The Police step up patrols in the city in response to the escalating violence and wind up with more victims as a result, due to a monster lurking about. At the same time Nami is having recurring nightmares, driving her to the brink of desperation, while her unknowing admirer Detective Shinjou gets high hopes after being promised a date with her. In the mix of encircling circumstances, Hayato tries to support Nami and is rejected, just as events unfold which will change everything for the three of them. 
10 "The Circus Laughs at Midnight"
"Sākasu wa Mayonaka ni Warau" (サーカスは真夜中に嗤う) 
June 30, 2007
Hayato and Kiriko hide out in the woods, since Hayato is now a wanted criminal. It is finally announced that Father Kanzaki is the Skull Man, and with his Lost Numbers he would fight the new enemy cyborgs. 
11 "Darkness Take My Hand"
"Yami yo, Waga Te o Toritamae" (闇よ、我が手を取りたまえ) 
July 7, 2007
After the battle between the Skull Man and the Cyborgs in the forest subsides, Hayato, Kiriko, and Detective Shinjou descend on Yoshio Kanzaki's church to finally learn the truth about the Skull Man, but they were not alone. 
12 "Bloody Eve"
"Chi no Seiya" (血の聖夜) 
July 14, 2007
Taking up the dying wishes of his close friend, Hayato returns to the city to stop Masaki Kuroshio's evil machinations from unfolding. 
13 "Black Fable: All That I Love Leaves Me"
"Kuroi Gūwa ~ Aishikimono wa Subete Sariyuku" (黒い寓話〜愛しきものは全て去りゆく) 
July 21, 2007
Having succeeded to achieving his objective Masaki Kuroshio announces the birth of a new humanity, but the Skull Man passes judgement on him and declares he will put an end to the madness once and for all. 

Cast[edit]

Skull Man: Hiroshi Tsuchida
Hayato Mitogami: Makoto Yasumura
Kiriko Mamiya: Ayako Kawasumi
Maya Kuroshio: Fumiko Orikasa
Akira Usami: Hiroyuki Yoshino
Yoshio Kanzaki: Masayuki Katou
Reina Shingyouji: Michiko Neya
Tetsurou Shingyouji: Hideki Tasaka
Tsuyoshi Shinjou: Tomokazu Seki
Mitsuo Yamaki: Kenjiro Tsuda
Gisuke Haniwa: Shinpachi Tsuji
Sayoko Karasuma: Yumi Kakazu
Nami Kisaragi: Kikuko Inoue
Yui Onizuka: Sayaka Ohara
Masaki Kumashiro: Toshiyuki Morikawa
Kyouichirou Tachigi: Katsunosuke Hori
Gouzou Kuroshio: Osamu Saka
Sara Kuroshio: Kazue Komiya
Eimei Funakoshi: Yousuke Akimoto
Kanji Isurugi: Houchu Ohtsuka
Arcade Van Vogout: Unshou Ishizuka
Helen: Satsuki Yukino
Dr. Gamo Whiskey Seizo Katou
Sirks 01: Showtaro Morikubo
Sirks 02: Chafurin
Sirks 03: Mitsuo Iwata
Sirks 04: Nobuo Tobita
Sirks 05: Akio Ohtsuka
Brain Gear Commander: Norio Wakamoto

Broadcasting[edit]

Several television stations and satellite channels in Japan have broadcast the anime series. These include: Tokai TV, Kansai TV, BS Fuji and Animax.

In the Philippines, Hero TV started its Tagalog-dubbed broadcast on November 11, 2012.[3]

DVD release[edit]

On July 25, 2007, the full series has been available monthly on Region 2 DVD, with individual episodes released by Geneon Entertainment in Japanese language audio but unfortunately with no subtitles. All DVD has 7 volumes, each volume contains two episodes (included only one episode for Volume 1). In addition, the live-action special "Skullman: Prologue of Darkness" DVD was released on September 21, 2007.[4][5][6] Differences are as follows (at the time of the broadcast):

  1. Opening theme is partly replaced.
  2. Part was the ending of the video is black-and-white to color.
  3. Narration trailer, was not at the time of the broadcast is put.
  4. Skull Man figure disappears from the video trailer, subtitle appears only.

In Spain, it has been distributed on DVD by Selecta Visión from January 24, 2009. The audio soundtracks includes Japanese and Spanish (Castilian) with Spanish (Castilian) subtitles where automatically appears. On March 24, 2010, Selecta Visión has re-released the series the Integralized Version DVD with the same audio tracks but with newly enhanced features as same content from the Japan DVD release, but in 5.1 quality instead of stereo.[7] All DVD has 3 Volumes in one disc each (Volumes 1 & 2 has 4 episodes and Volume 3 has 3 episodes) are individually available or it comes with a collector's box set.

In Canada and United States, it was licensed by Sentai Filmworks and distributed by Section23 Films, who released the complete collection on Region 1 DVD on February 2, 2010.[8] For legal reasons, the original opening, "Hikari no Machi", has been replaced with an instrumental opening and footage from an earlier trailer for the series.

2007 manga[edit]

The 2007 manga is based on the anime series adaptation of the same year and drawn by the manga artist Meimu. Set in an alternate history of Japan, freelance journalist Hayato Mikogami returns to his hometown of Ootomo to investigate rumors of a man wearing a skull mask committing murders there. Once in the city, he discovers connections between the victims and a local pharmaceutical company, a new religious sect, and strange half-human, half-animal creatures. Along with a young photographer, he decides to find out who the Skull Man really is.

Audio CD soundtrack[edit]

  • On July 25, 2007, Geneon Entertainment released their first original score anime soundtrack album entitled "The Skull Man Original Soundtrack from the TV Anime"[9] and on January 25, 2008 the second original soundtrack also released entitled "The Skull Man Original Soundtrack 2".[10] All albums are composed and music by Shirō Sagisu.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

External links[edit]