Metal Hero Series
|Metal Hero Series|
|Created by||Shotaro Ishinomori
|Original work||Space Sheriff Gavan|
|Films and television|
|Television series||See below|
The protagonists of the Metal Hero Series are mainly space and police-based characters who are typically either androids, cyborgs or human beings who don "metallic" armored suits. Henceforth, most of the Metal Heroes are also referenced as another of those of the "Henshin (transforming) Heroes" genre. Usually, the genre revolves around a technological theme where technology, in the right hands, can be used for the greater good.
The shows were produced by Toei from 1982 through 1999 in conjunction with their other Tokusatsu superhero shows, such as Kamen Rider and Super Sentai. Not only are some of them popular in Japan but also in several other countries like France, Brazil, Malaysia and Indonesia.
Some of the Metal Hero Series even spawned such sequels which followed the continuity of the previous shows, resulting in the genre developing sub-categories based mainly on space and police-related characters.
List of Metal Hero Series
- Space Sheriff Gavan (宇宙刑事ギャバン Uchū Keiji Gyaban, Space Sheriff Gavan) aired in 1982 and is also known as X-Or in France, and Space Cop Gaban in Malaysia and Indonesia. This series began the Space Sheriff Series (宇宙刑事シリーズ Uchū Keiji Shirīzu) and featured a police hero sent to Earth to battle a rampaging force of aliens. Gavan proved popular enough to spawn 2 direct sequels and introduce a new genre in Japanese television. Gavan was played by Kenji Ohba.
- Space Sheriff Sharivan (宇宙刑事シャリバン Uchū Keiji Shariban, Space Sheriff Sharivan) aired in 1983. This direct sequel to Gavan features Gavan's protege taking over the role of Earth's protector when Gavan gets promoted in rank (from sergeant to captain) in the Space Sheriff organization. Sharivan was played by Hiroki Wataru.
- Space Sheriff Shaider (宇宙刑事シャイダー Uchū Keiji Shaidā, Space Sheriff Shaider) aired in 1984. The third and last of the Space Sheriff trilogy, with an Earth-born, galactic police force-trained officer taking over Sharivan's job alongside a female deputy. Shaider was played by the late Hiroshi Tsuburaya, son of Eiji Tsuburaya, the creator of Ultraman.
- Kyojuu Tokusou Juspion (巨獣特捜ジャスピオン Kyojū Tokusō Jasupion, Megabeast Special Investigator Juspion) aired in 1985. Similar in filming, tone, and style of the Space Sheriff shows, this series features a warrior sent to stop Satan Goss and his diabolical son Madgalant from destroying the Earth with giant monsters. Juspion had his own giant robot, Daileon, to combat the evil creatures.
- Jikuu Senshi Spielban (時空戦士スピルバン Jikū Senshi Supiruban, Dimensional Warrior Spielban) aired in 1986. Along with his sidekick, Diana, this program dealt with a hero who crosses through dimensions to combat an alien force that took his father's life and corrupted his sister into the evil Hellvira, who later joined her brother as Lady Helen.
- Choujinki Metalder (超人機メタルダー Chōjinki Metarudā, Super Human Robot Metalder) aired in 1987. Inspired by the classic tokusatsu hero Kikaider, this show dealt with an android given human memories, yet programmed to fight an insidious group that his creator once belonged to.
- Sekai Ninja Sen Jiraiya (世界忍者戦ジライヤ Sekai Ninja Sen Jiraiya, World Ninja War Jiraiya) aired in 1988. This program features an actual ninja master from a historically known ninja clan preparing his son, daughter, and youngest child, along with a family relative and a police officer with ninja roots to combat the re-emergence of a centuries-old demon samurai, his evil offspring, and a host of international ninja warriors from around the world hoping to tip the scales of justice. Jiraiya, the son of the ninja master, is destined to wield an enormous power that Dokusai, the demon samurai, hopes to seize. Jiraiya is unusual amongst the Metal Heroes in that the main characters are not cyborgs, androids, or use advanced armor.
- Kidou Keiji Jiban (機動刑事ジバン Kidō Keiji Jiban, Mobile Detective Jiban) aired in 1989. Having a similar premise to the 1970s tokusatsu Robot Detective with elements from the 1987 film RoboCop, Jiban is a rookie cop gunned down and reborn as a fighting machine against the Criminal Syndicate Bioron, a group of bio-genetic freaks. Jiban is the first Metal Hero to actually bear the emblem of the Japanese National Police, although his "badge" shows a regular American-style sheriff star.
- Tokkei Winspector (特警ウインスペクター Tokkei Uinsupekutā, Special Police Winspector) aired in 1990. The first of the Rescue Police Series (レスキューポリスシリーズ Resukyū Porisu Shirīzu), this team of 2 robots and their human armored field commander dealt with real-life crime, mad scientists, rogue cyborgs, and dangerous rescue situations. The mix of fantasy and realistic action proved to be immensely popular with viewers, spawning 2 direct sequels.
- Tokkyuu Shirei Solbrain (特救指令ソルブレイン Tokkyū Shirei Soruburein, Special Rescue Command Solbrain) aired in 1991. A direct sequel to Tokkei Winspector, the former base captain of Winspector opens an additional police branch, this time with 2 humans (a male and a female) and a construction-vehicle styled transforming robot to continue the fight against everyday villains, gangsters with high-tech weapons of destruction, and the occasional robot gone mad. A Solbrain video game was released for the Nintendo Famicom game console, which was also released for the NES (international name of the Famicom) as Shatterhand.
- Tokusou Exceedraft (特捜エクシードラフト Tokusō Ekushīdorafuto, Special Rescue Exceedraft) aired in 1992. The last of the Rescue Police Series, this program featured a trio of male human armored police officers doing what the previous 2 teams were doing without the help of any super-powered robots. By this time, the series had stepped away from realistic villains and swerved back towards more sci-fi oriented opponents.
- Tokusou Robo Janperson (特捜ロボ ジャンパーソン Tokusou Robo Janpāson, Special Investigations Robo Janperson) aired in 1993. Another series similar to Robotto Keiji. An abandoned police experiment robot is revived by its creator to help combat against 3 different underworld organizations in Japan. Along with a gruff, rougish, gun-totting android sidekick named Gun Gibson, Janperson patrols the streets of Tokyo alongside his creator in shutting down the hidden crime lords that use super science and technology to subjugate the masses.
- Blue SWAT (ブルースワット Burū Suwatto) aired in 1994. Hidden to the general public, a police organization has been combating alien menaces for years until a sneak attack destroys all but three officers, who alongside some civilian helpers who are aware of the alien infestation, must continue the fight. The show was one of the more "realistic" Metal Hero shows despite the alien theme.
- Juukou B-Fighter (重甲ビーファイター Jūkō Bī Faitā, Heavyshell Beetle Fighter) aired in 1995. An alien attack is repelled by a combination of true heroism, super technology, and insect magic housed within 3 high-tech insect suits of armor.
- B-Fighter Kabuto (ビーファイターカブト Bī Faitā Kabuto, Beetle Fighter Kabuto) aired in 1996. A direct sequel to Juukou B-Fighter, this series featured 7 new heroes who utilized technology from the previous B-Fighters and insect magic to fend off a horde of monsters from underneath the Earth.
- B-Robo Kabutack (ビーロボカブタック Bī Robo Kabutakku, Beetle Robo Kabutack) aired in 1997. It is the first of the Metal Heroes shows to be geared towards younger children. The characters in Kabutack met several characters from B-Fighter Kabuto.
- Tetsuwan Tantei Robotack (テツワン探偵ロボタック Tetsuwan Tantei Robotakku, Iron Bark Detective Robotack) aired in 1998. It was similar to Kabutack, but featured a dog robot who was also a detective. It was the last Metal Heroes series.
Other similar heroes, such as Nebula Mask Machine Man, Kyodai Ken Byclosser, Choukou Senshi Changéríon, and Seven Star Fighting God Guyferd also appeared during the time that the Metal Hero Series were on the air, but are not included as part of the Metal Hero Series for various reasons. Machine Man and Bicrosser were created by the late Shotaro Ishinomori, while Changéríon's armor is not metallic, and Guyferd was produced by Toho.
Currently, the Metal Hero Series are a defunct genre as Toei rather favors more of the Super Sentai and Kamen Rider Series of shows. Although, many of the Metal Hero traits have been adopted into the new generation of Kamen Rider shows. Today, the present versions of these type of heroes are also merged in with the Henshin Heroes description.
Some Metal Heroes have also made cameo appearances. In 2004, a special Tokusou Sentai Dekaranger stage show had a special appearance by Gavan, who assisted Hurricane Red from Ninpuu Sentai Hurricaneger and Aba Red from Bakuryuu Sentai Abaranger in battling various Alienizer monsters from Deka Ranger.
In 2005, Toei released some Uchuu Keiji trilogy merchandise. Later that year, Bandai released a "Souchaku Henshin" figure of Gavan, followed by "Souchaku Henshin" figures of Sharivan and Shaider in early 2006. In May 2006, a PlayStation 2 video game titled The Space Sheriff Spirits was released. The game featured Gavan, Sharivan and Shaider all teaming up to battle past enemies from their series. The game was panned by critics, however, for bland graphics and dull gameplay.[original research?] In early 2008, the trading card company Cardass announced a new, Metal Heroes based expansion to their Rangers Strike card game, entitled Special Metal Edition, featuring characters and vehicles from the various Metal Hero Series for use within the game.
Despite no more television series have been made, the Space Sheriff Series re-emerged in the 2010's with feature films, including new actors portraying successors to Gavan, Sharivan and Shaider. Some of them are stand alone entries, while others feature crossovers with other Sentai and Kamen Riders.