Friday, June 18, 2010


Shintoho’s SUPER GIANT (スーパージャイアンツ) (Starman) became Japan’s very first movie hero. With the success of the 1957 release of SUPER GIANT-KOTETSU NO KYOJIN, a total of nine features were made. The nine films were spliced together to make only four films and released in the US as ATOMIC RULERS OF THE WORLD, INVADERS FROM SPACE, ATTACK FROM SPACE, and EVIL BRAIN FROM OUTER SPACE. The formula used in the Super Giant stories would be seen over and over throughout the 50’s and 60’s in such features and TV shows like GEKKO KAMEN, NATIONAL KID, and NANA-IRO KAMEN. Super Giant was played by Shintoho’s contract actor Ken Utsui, who starred in over twenty films for the company before putting on the tights and taking on the super hero role. Super Giant was Japan’s version of Superman at the time.
Super Giant was sent into action by the Peace Council of the Emerald Planet to stop international crime organizations and evil aliens from threatening the Earth. Super Giant uses a cool watch-like device called the Globe-Meter which allows him to fly on or off the planet, speak any language, and locate sources of radiation. When fighting the bad guys, Super Giant uses an array of gymnastics, chops and kicks. My favorite is when he jumps up high in the air during battles or takes off flying, it sounds like a slide whistle is being played for a second.
I really dig the aliens from this series of films. There was nothing like them at the time. You can truly see how they inspired the Shocker monsters from Shotaro Ishinomori's KAMEN RIDER (1971). Even though Super Giant was a very simple character design, the content of the movies made up for it by a high margin. Super Giant sent the message of peace, justice and unity of all mankind. When the Super Giant (Starman as knew him) movies were on when I was a kid, it was a big deal. They always put a big grin on my grill. They were broadcast on Chicago WFLD-TV 32‘s Saturday afternoon Monstrous Movie. That was my source of Godzilla, Gamera, and anything AIP in the early 70’s.


  1. I have all of the movies on dvd and they are a blast! They are wonderfully campy in the best way, and are always fun.

  2. How come I can never find this stuff here in Japan???

  3. I _love_ Supergiant, especially the aliens of the Peace Council. The designs are so whimsical and evocative that one can't help but be charmed. Thanks for posting this.

  4. Whatever name you prefer, Starman or Supergiant, he's probably one of the greatest heroes to come out of the 50s and 60s. His confidence is unparalleled!

    I was shocked to discover that the Peace Council was only really in the first installment, and it was just the American movies that recycled the scene. It may be one of the most memorable visuals of the whole thing!

    (I also love the implicit continuity of the Paira aliens being there, even if only because they recycled the suits.)

  5. The resemblance of the Paira Seijin to the starfish Peace Council aliens might be somewhere between an homage and a swipe. The likeness is superficial and doesn't stand up to close comparison. Warning from Space was made a couple years earlier and the Paira costumes were innovative concepts of movie aliens for the time--ten years before the Baltans and the subsequent deluge of Tohl Narita-designed aliens.

  6. Star Man comics? That's is so cool!