Super Giant

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This article is about the Japanese super hero. For life cycle stage of a star, see Supergiant.

Super Giant (スーパージャイアンツ Sūpā Jaiantsu?, literally translated as "Super Giants") is a fictional Japanese superhero featured in a successful series of serial-like tokusatsu short feature films produced between 1957 and 1959 by Shintoho Company, Ltd. (the non-union branch of Toho). He is also known in Japan as Giant of Steel (鋼鉄の巨人 Kōtetsu no Kyojin?), is known in America as Starman, and known in France and Italy as Spaceman.

Japan's first onscreen superhero[edit]

Whereas Takeo Nagamatsu's 1930 kamishibai The Golden Bat (Ōgon Batto) was Japan's first modern superhero (and had many manga, anime and tokusatsu adaptations), Shintoho's Super Giant was the first celluloid superhero, and the role model for many Japanese superheroes to come, especially Ultraman and Kamen Rider.[citation needed]

It was Moonlight Mask who became Japan's first television superhero when his TV show debuted in 1958.

Who or what is Super Giant?[edit]

Super Giant is a human-like creature created from the strongest steel by the Peace Council from the Emerald Planet. He is created to destroy evil to restore peace in the universe. Resembling a Japanese man with white tights/cowl (fitted with an antenna) and capes under his arms, he is virtually indestructible. He wears on his wrist a "Globe-Meter", which enables him to:

  • Fly through space
  • Detect radiation
  • Speak and understand any language

He can also use it to disguise himself as an Earthling to walk among them. When sent to Earth to stop evil forces, he disguises himself as a Japanese man wearing a fancy suit and fedora hat (almost looking like a detective), but still uses his "Super Giant" name. His secret identity is not that secret, as he works with the Japanese authorities in helping them to stop the threats of evil. He is just as powerful in his civilian form. He also gets along with children, and saves them from danger, as children represent the Earth's future.

When accomplishing his task, Super Giant flies back to the Emerald Planet.

Super "Giant"?[edit]

Although he is obviously human-sized, it is said by some fans[citation needed] in Japan that the plurally-named singular superhero "Super Giants" is named for Adventures of Superman (which was being broadcast in Japan at the time) and the famous Japanese baseball team, the Yomiuri Giants (which was extremely popular at the time).

The man in the "steel" tights[edit]

Super Giant was played in all films by respected film/TV actor Ken Utsui. However, Utsui hated playing Super Giant, and until his death, he refused to talk about the role. This was partially on account of the somewhat embarrassing costume, especially the somewhat overstuffed crotch area (the producers thought that females were attracted to men with big anatomy, so they stuffed the crotch area with cotton). Nevertheless, this did not stop the audience's enjoyment of the movies.

Manga adaptations[edit]

Towards the end of the film series' run, there were manga adaptations of the Super Giant adventures. Artists included Tatsuo Yoshida and Jiro Kuwata.

American adaptation[edit]

The American company Walter Manley Enterprises[1] purchased the international rights to Starman and with Medallion Films[2] repackaged the nine Starman films into 4 films for television in the mid-1960s. The first six installments were cut and merged into three films-- Atomic Rulers of the World (or just Atomic Rulers), Invaders from Space, and Attack from Space. The final three films were severely cut and merged into Evil Brain from Outer Space. Dubbing was handled by Titra Studios of New York, using many of the voices common in dubbed films of the time, including Peter Fernandez. The original music soundtrack was largely replaced by library tracks.

The films[edit]

Super Giant[edit]

Super Giant
スーパー・ジャイアンツ
Sūpā Jaiantsu
Directed by Teruo Ishii
Produced by Shintoho
Written by Ichiro Miyagawa
Music by Michiaki Watanabe
Release date(s) July 30, 1957
Running time 49 min.
Country Japan
Language Japanese

Super Giant (スーパー・ジャイアンツ 鋼鉄の巨人, Sūpā Jaiantsu) is black and white Japanese film directed by Teruo Ishii.

Plot: Super Giant first appears on Earth to stop foreign terrorists who threaten to destroy Japan (and the rest of the world) with an atomic bomb. (Part 1 of 2).

This movie is part of US version named Atomic Rulers of the World.

Actors in the film include:

Super Giant 2[edit]

Super Giant 2
Directed by Teruo Ishii
Produced by Shintoho
Written by Ichiro Miyagawa
Music by Michiaki Watanabe
Release date(s) August 13, 1957
Running time 52 min.
Country Japan
Language Japanese

Super Giant Continues (続スーパー・ジャイアンツ 続鋼鉄の巨人, Zoku Sūpā Jaiantsu) is black and white Japanese film directed by Teruo Ishii.

Plot: Super Giant continues his battle against the foreign terrorists. In return, they frame him for murder. (Part 2 of 2)

This film is a part of US version Atomic Rulers of the World.

Super Giant 3[edit]

Super Giant 3
Directed by Teruo Ishii
Produced by Shintoho
Written by Ichiro Miyagawa
Music by Michiaki Watanabe
Release date(s) October 1, 1957
Running time 48 min.
Country Japan
Language Japanese

Super Giant - The Mysterious Spacemen's Demonic Castle (スーパー・ジャイアンツ 怪星人の魔城 - Sūpā Jaiantsu - Kaiseijin no Majō) is a black and white Japanese film directed by Teruo Ishii.

Plot: The reptile-like Kapia-Seijin prepare to conquer the Earth, and Super Giant must stop them. (Part 1 of 2).

This film ia a part of US version Invaders from Space.

Trivia: The Kapia-Seijin are based on the Japanese mythical creatures kappa (water imps).

Super Giant 4[edit]

Super Giant 4
Directed by Teruo Ishii
Produced by Shintoho
Written by Ichiro Miyagawa
Music by Michiaki Watanabe
Release date(s) October 8, 1957
Running time 39 min.
Country Japan
Language Japanese

Super Giant - Earth on the Verge of Destruction (スーパー・ジャイアンツ 地球滅亡寸前 - Sūpā Jaiantsu - Chikyū Metsubō Sunzen) is a black and white Japanese movie directed by Teruo Ishii.

Plot: Super Giant continues his battle against the Kapia-Seijin, who not only send a mysterious witch after a group of children, but summon their almighty leader to alter Earth's rotation. (Part 2 of 2).

This film is a part of US version Invaders from Space.

Super Giant 5[edit]

Super Giant 5
Directed by Teruo Ishii
Produced by Shintoho
Written by Ichiro Miyagawa
Music by Riichiro Manabe
Release date(s) December 28, 1957
Running time 39 min.
Country Japan
Language Japanese

Super Giant - The Artificial Satellite and the Destruction of Humanity (スーパー・ジャイアンツ 人工衛星と人類の破滅 - Sūpā Jaiantsu - Jinkō Eisei to Jinrui no Hametsu) is 1957 Japanese film directed by Teruo Ishii.

Plot: Super Giant pursues a Nazi-like army that operates on a huge satellite in space. The satellite is armed with weapons that could destroy whole cities on Earth from afar. (Part 1 of 2)

This film is part of US version Attack from Space.

Super Giant 6[edit]

Super Giant 6
Directed by Teruo Ishii
Produced by Shintoho
Written by Ichiro Miyagawa
Music by Riichiro Manabe
Release date(s) January 3, 1958
Running time 39 min.
Country Japan
Language Japanese

Super Giant - The Spaceship and the Clash of the Artificial Satellite (スーパー・ジャイアンツ 宇宙艇と人工衛星の激突 - Sūpā Jaiantsu - Uchūtei to Jinkō Eisei no Gekitotsu) is a black and white Japanese movie directed by Teruo Ishii.

Plot: Although he was believed to be destroyed by the Nazi-like army, Super Giant breaks into the satellite, and a long, riotous battle ensues. (Part 2 of 2)

This film is a part of US version Attack from Space.

Trivia: It was after this film when director Teruo Ishii left the series, upon being horrified to hear about a child who imitated Super Giant (even wearing a cape he made) by jumping out of a window and landing on the street, seriously injuring himself. This became a very controversial liability issue with Japanese superhero programs (not unlike those in America), until shows like Android Kikaider (1972) added a safety bumper at the end of each episode, telling children not to imitate the impossible feats performed by the title superhero.

This was the last Super Giant film with a 2-part story arc; The remaining films are standalone episodes.

Super Giant 7[edit]

Super Giant 7
Directed by Akira Mitsuwa
Produced by Shintoho
Written by Akira Mitsuwa
Ichiro Miyagawa
Music by Ko Ishimatsu
Release date(s) April 29, 1958
Running time 45 min.
Country Japan
Language Japanese

Super Giant - The Space Mutant Appears (スーパー・ジャイアンツ 宇宙怪人出現 - Sūpā Jaiantsu - Uchū Kaijin Shutsugen) is a black and white Japanese movie directed by Akira Mitsuwa.

Plot: Super Giant battles a marauding brainlike alien creature created by a mad scientist with the help of an alien army. (Standalone)

This film is a part of US version Evil Brain from Outer Space.

Trivia: Last Super Giant film in fullscreen.

Super Giant 8[edit]

Super Giant 8
Directed by Chogi Akasaka
Produced by Shintoho
Written by Ichiro Miyagawa
Music by Sadao Nagase
Release date(s) March 27, 1959
Running time 57 min.
Country Japan
Language Japanese

Super Giant Continues - The Devil's Incarnation (続スーパー・ジャイアンツ 悪魔の化身 - Zoku Sūpā Jaiantsu - Akuma no Keshin) is a black and white Japanese movie directed by Chogi Akasaka.

Plot: Super Giant copes with a mad scientist (who was disfigured in World War II) who uses science and sorcery to turn his deceased daughter into an evil witch that murders women. (Standalone)

This film is a part of US version Evil Brain from Outer Space.

Trivia: The first Super Giant film in widescreen (2.35:1). All previous films were fullscreen.

Super Giant 9[edit]

Super Giant 9
Directed by Chogi Akasaka
Produced by Shintoho
Written by Ichiro Miyagawa
Music by Sadao Nagase
Release date(s) April 24, 1959
Running time 57 min.
Country Japan
Language Japanese

Super Giant Continues - The Poison Moth Kingdom (続スーパー・ジャイアンツ 毒蛾王国 - Zoku Sūpā Jaiantsu - Dokuga Ōkoku) is a black and white Japanese movie directed by Chogi Akasaka.

Plot: Super Giant fights against an Arab terrorist army (which dresses in costumes that look similar to the alien army in The Space Mutant Appears) which plots to assassinate its nation's peaceful crown prince for his treasure. (Standalone)

This film is a part of US version Evil Brain from Outer Space.

Trivia: The final Super Giant film.

References[edit]

  • Ragone, August. THE ORIGINAL "STARMAN"; the Forgotten Supergiant of Steel Who Fought for Peace, Justice and the Japanese Way Originally published in Planet X Magazine, included in Something Weird Video's 2-DVD release of the four American versions of Starman.

External links[edit]

U.S. syndications[edit]