Comedy Oddities: Supaidāman (aka Japanese Spider-Man)

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Was Supaidāman written as a comedy? Or is it just so absurd it’s impossible not to see it as one in the twenty first century? Such questions trouble the minds of our greatest philosophers to this day, and though perhaps this officially licensed take on Spider-Man wasn’t envisioned as a comedy it’s definitely far funnier than the majority that are, and I can’t help but think that it was written with a tongue at least vaguely near it’s cheek as it throws together so many ridiculous ideas to create a show which is incredibly memorable.

In the opening five minutes it jumps all over the place, from introducing the lead villain (the aptly named Professor Monster, who has been on Earth for four hundred years perfecting a super weapon), to Takuya, a bloke who spends a lot of the episode fucking about a motorbike. Plus there’s also footage of a couple of scientists who see a spaceship heading to Earth, one which looks like one of those knock off transformers you used to get in dodgy petrol stations which aren’t the official toy but look a bit like it, and which fell apart after being played with for any longer than two minutes.

Takuya has an important race to win and conveniently is the son of the lead scientist, but he starts hearing voices and so starts running about after them. Continuity’s thrown out of the window as it flits between day and night, and it seems that Takuya is apparently being spoken to by a spider, but before that plot line develops any further he becomes distracted by the fact that his father has been in an accident and fallen on some rocks. His Dad chooses this moment to reveal to him that aliens are on the Earth and up to something mysterious, and then he dies, despite looking absolutely fine seconds before, and Takuya would grieve but he gets distracted by Dinosaur footprints. And space ninjas.

If you thought the plot was bizarre beforehand it only gets crazier from this point in, which is why it’s such a enormously funny episode. As Takuya then bumps in to Garia, who just happens to be from the planet Spider and who was the one chatting to him telepathically, and who has been trapped in a cave full of poisonous spiders for 400 years. So I guess it’s just lucky that he didn’t come from Planet Fucking Enormous Tigers. Takuya almost dies after falling down a big hole and so Garia injects him with the “Spider Extract” which causes him to become Supaidāman, and then Garia transforms in to a spider himself and I’m not sure why as it isn’t really explained, but said spider still hangs out with Takuya and asks him to fight the aliens for him.

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Once Takuya becomes Supaidāman (wearing a cheap costume that look suspiciously like homemade Spider-Man pyjamas) he can do amazing things like, er, jump slowly, and do a back-flip, but quickly learns that he can also climb on walls and ceilings and his spider senses let him track down danger from fifty kilometres away. Plus his webbing is quite rope like, allowing him to swing about when the budget allows it (ie in forests, mainly) and he also has a spider car, just like the Bat mobile but more garish and cheap looking.

Then because we’ve reached the end of the episode a big fight breaks out, and Professor Monster has a sort of dinosaur thing which grows from the size of an apple to a skyscraper which he unleashes upon Supaidāman, while other villains run towards him but then do back-flips even though it slows them down, and like most of the stunts in the show they’re shown three times for no good reason. Eventually the dinosaur attacks Supaidāman so he gets in his flying car and fires missiles at it, before becoming part of a big transformer spaceship thing, and then throws a massive glowing sword in to the dinosaur’s chest and causing it explode. Like swords often do.

I’ve only seen one episode so far as I no longer smoke Class B drugs, which may sound like a lazy joke but this really is the kind of tv which would be heaven for stoners because it’s fast pace, often nonsensical plotting and ridiculous storyline is perfect for anyone who likes detaching themselves from reality and then watching something which is daft in the extreme. The dialogue is also pretty amusing if only because it’s pointedly direct and the translation makes the whole thing seem even sillier than it already is.

Forty one episodes and a movie were made in total and while I imagine it won’t keep up the hectic pace of the first episode it’s something I’ll definitely stick with as despite the low budget the creators try to pack as much madness in to twenty four minutes as they can, and I can’t wait to see where they take the series next. If you’re not fond of superhero nonsense it may not appeal, and it’s the kind of show you can only enjoy by not taking seriously at all, but anyone who likes comedy to be shockingly silly will probably get quite a kick out of it.

Alex Finch.
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You can watch the first episode here.

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