Spider-Man (Japanese: スパイダーマン, Hepburn: Supaidāman), also referred to as Japanese Spider-Man, is a Japanese live-action tokusatsu superhero television series produced by Toei Company, loosely based on Marvel Comics' Spider-Man character via a contract that was negotiated by producer Gene Pelc. The series lasted 41 episodes, which aired on Tokyo Channel 12 from May 17, 1978, to March 14, 1979. A theatrical episode was shown in the Toei Manga Matsuri film festival on July 22, 1978. From March 5 to December 24, 2009, Marvel uploaded English subtitled versions of all 41 episodes on their website.

While Toei's version of the character, Takuya Yamashiro/Spider-Man (portrayed by Kōsuke Kayama (Shinji Tōdō)), wore the same costume as his Marvel Comics counterpart, the show's storyline and the origin of the character's powers deviated from the source material. In addition to fighting by himself, this incarnation of Spider-Man piloted a giant mecha known as Leopardon, which he would summon to fight off enlarged versions of the show's monsters. Toei would later adopt the giant robot concept for their Super Sentai franchise. Yamashiro subsequently appeared in the comic storylines Spider-Verse and Spider-Geddon, and will return in Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse, the upcoming sequel to Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse, set in the Spider-Verse franchise.

Young motorcycle racer Takuya Yamashiro sees a UFO falling to Earth, a space warship named the Marveller. Takuya's father Dr. Hiroshi Yamashiro, a space archaeologist, investigates the case, but is killed upon finding the spaceship. The incident also attracts the attention of Professor Monster and his evil Iron Cross Army (鉄十字団, Tetsu Jūji Dan), an alien group that plans to rule the universe.

Takuya follows his father to the Marveller and discovers Garia, the last surviving warrior of Planet Spider, a world that was destroyed by Professor Monster and the Iron Cross Army. Garia explains that he was hunting Prof. Monster but now needs someone to carry on the fight and he injects Takuya with some of his own blood. The blood of a person from Planet Spider gives Takuya spider-like powers. Garia then gives Takuya a bracelet that activates his spider protector costume, shoots web-lines, and controls the Marveller ship (which can also transform into a giant battle robot called "Leopardon"). Using his powers, Takuya fights Professor Monster's army and other threats to Earth under the name Spider-Man. 

John's Notes

I frankly never cared much for this version of "Supaidaman" with the exception of Leopardon, which quite frankly is pretty fabulous. The tokusatsu also gave us a pretty cool car that Spider-Man would use to rendezvous with the giant robot.

Popy and Mattel

As with other popular anime and tokusatsu series, Popy and other manufacturers produced a plethora of toys related to Spider-Man, eventually leading to a Mattel licensing deal as Shogun Warrior toys

We only received the Popy-(unknown product number) mini-figure that was released in the US as  Mattel Shogun Collector's #2996 Leopaldon. Can you imagine if the fantastic jumbo machinder had been offered?

All Mattel images and captions are copyright Mattel, all Popy, Banpresto, Unifive or Yutaka images and captions are copyright Popy/Bandai, images captured from various video segments are copyright Toei or other parties and used without permission. All other content, including images and editorial, is Copyright © 2023 John Eaton and/or contributors unless otherwise stated. If there are any comments or objections, please contact John Eaton, by clicking here.

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