31 (Japanese) Monsters #17: Kurumanikurasu
Of the monster-fighting superhero shows that aired on independent TV stations in the ’70s, the worst by a Tokyo mile was Spectreman. A couple of 12-year-olds with a Super 8 camera and a box of sparklers could have turned out higher production values than this cut-rate affair.
A straight-up Ultraman rip-off, Spectreman is an alien cyborg sent to defend the Earth from the depredations of Dr. Gori, a mad scientist in a cheap Planet of the Apes mask who communicates in spastic arm gestures.
Gori is an ape with a plan: to preserve the Earth by killing the pesky humans who are choking it with their pollution. To that end, he creates an army of monsters composed of–irony alert!–those very same waste products.
I’ve blocked out most of my memories of Spectreman. And unfortunately–at least for the purpose of researching this post–the only YouTube videos I’ve found have been in untranslated Japanese. I trust you’ll pardon me if I get any of the details wrong.
Could there have been a more bugshit crazy denizen of Planet Japan than the traffic accident monster…
|Monster Island Nickname||Roadkill|
|Hails From||The Imagination|
|Movies Appeared In
(not counting stock footage)
|1 (again, technically a TV show)|
|Hobbies||Playing in Traffic|
Now, I’ve said that I like my monsters metaphorical, but this is a bit much.
Kurumanikurasu is born when a monster-obsessed boy–excited over a new doll–runs into the street and is gravely injured by a hit and run driver. While in a coma, his mind somehow conjures a giant beast that resembles his toy and takes its rage out on sports cars.
The imagery is not subtle. Kurumanikurasu has red, yellow and green eyes–and they light up. He has hook hands to replace the doll’s shattered arms. And, just to make sure that no one misses the point, he has a diagonal tire track across his torso.
Meanwhile, the negligent driver is himself hurt in a second accident. Having time to reflect, he visits the boy in the hospital to apologize. However, as he leaves he is caught up in the attack of an entirely different monster. (If you are planning to visit Japan, it’s best to check the daily kaiju forecast.) He is struck down by Styrofoam debris and killed.
There’s a lesson for us all here. I think that it’s to not watch crappy TV.