Even if you don’t know what the Japanese word “tokusatsu” means, you’ll know it immediately when you see it. “Tokusatsu” literally means “special effects,” and it is used to refer to a specific genre of Japanese TV—live action science fiction series with wire work, costumes and green screens—which are identified with Japanese culture. This genre includes the Kaiju monster, henshin and super sentai shows.
Now you can really immerse yourself in this form as Japanese geek idea factory Toei Co. LTD. has launched an English-subbed YouTube channel just for its Tokusatsu shows. The channel is called Toei Tokusatsu Global Official and can be found on this link.
There has been no definitive list of shows, but Toei has hinted at over 70. Toei has already uploaded two episodes of the shows with the next episodes added different days of every week. The channel features some of the most important Tokusatsu shows.
The majority of the content is made up of the henshin or “transforming hero” shows which features a main male character who battles an intergalactic empire and transforms into another form with machines to aid him. The Toei channel includes the 1972 “Android Kikaider”:
The channel features one of the Masked Rider movies, “Shin Kamen Rider: Prologue,” from 1992 with the familiar insect-headed hero atop a motorcycle which celebrated the franchise’s 20th anniversary:
Then there is 1982’s “Space Cop Gavan.” “Gavan” is the first of the Metal Hero series, which features intergalactic policemen who transform into metallic-suited heroes.
No Shaider, though
He should love very familiar. Consider Gavan the predecessor of that Filipino icon, Shaider from 1984’s “Space Sheriff Shaider.” Alas, the “Shaider” has not been uploaded or listed yet but one can always hope.
There is a ton of other Metal Heroes on the channel, including Sharivan, Janperson, Jaspion, Jiban and Winspector, among others. There’s even a team, Super Rescue Solbrain.
Toei also owns a good number of Super Sentai, the masked team shows, with one close to Filipino hearts: 1975’s “Himitsu Sentai Goranger,” dubbed (we were early adopters of the whole dubbing of Japanese shows thing) and aired as “Star Rangers.” That show isn’t on the channel yet.
We do have one of the most interesting Super Sentai series, 1976’s “Ninja Captor,” which technically is not part of the Super Sentai canon (not currently at least) but established Super Sentai elements such as the seven team members and ninja themes which later shows used:
Here’s hoping we’ll see more Super Sentai shows here.
There’s a good squadron of mecha anime here as well. The one you’ll notice right away is 1976’s “Chodenji Robo Combattler V.” This was the first of Tadao Nagahama’s Robot Romance Trilogy. If you see the similarity then you can deduce the second in the trilogy is every Filipino’s favorite mecha anime, “Chodenji Machine Voltes V” from 1977. The final installment of the trilogy is every Filipino’s second favorite mecha anime, 1978’s “Tosho Daimos.”
“Combattler” is already on the channel.
“Daimos has been announced to be aired with no date; “Voltes V” has not been mentioned yet.
There’s a bunch of other lesser-known mecha stuff, such as 1985’s “Video Warrior Laserion” and 1980’s “Space Emperor God Sigma.”
There are also two series with very interesting connection to Americans’ favorite mecha anime series, the “Voltron” shows. When American licensee World Events Productions (WEP) sought to re-edit and dub a Japanese robot show with lions, the show they really chose was 1980’s Mirai Robo Daltanious (the one with the lion on his chest). That show is on the Toei channel:
Of course, there was a famous goof and the show that got sent instead was 1981’s “Beast King Golion” (the one with the lions for limbs) but WEP loved it and that became the most famous “Voltron.”
Now the other connection is that there were three Japanese shows meant to become three interconnected “Voltron” shows. “Golion” became one, 1983’s “Armored Fleet Dairugger XV” was aired as the lesser-loved “Vehicle Voltron” but the third show was never actually dubbed, reedited and aired; WEP simply decided to make more new lion “Voltron” shows and reran others.
That lost third “Voltron” was 1983’s “Lightspeed Electroid Albegas,” and it is on this channel:
There’s comedic live-action robot shows like 1998’s “Tetsuwan Tantei Robotack” and magical girl shows such as the literally named “Magical Girl Chikuana Paipai.”
The oldest show here is 1967’s “Space Tokusatsu Series: Captain Ultra,” which aired between the iconic Tsurabaya shows “Ultraman” and “Ultra Seven”:
And if you’re in the mood for a good sci-fi laugh, the Toei Tokusatsu World Official channel features “Message from Space: Galactic Wars,” the “Star Trek” and “Star Wars” riff (yes both) spun off from the 1978 movie that starred Vic Morrow and Sonny Chiba (!):