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Friday, November 30, 2012

Random Month: Skullman Review

Well Random Month is ending and I had fun with this. I got to look at different parts of entertainment and I will be doing this again next year probably. So now I reach the real Skullman. I reviewed the anime series so now I will look at the original. For the next Random Month I really want to review the manga series that picks off the story, but finding it once was hard enough. Sadly I lost the link and can't find it again so yea.... If you don't know the man who created this hero was Shotaro Ishinomori the man who created Kamen Rider, the first Super Sentai series, and many other toku classics. This one shot manga was actually the basis for Kamen Rider shockingly enough.
In Kamen Rider Spirits we get a man posing as a rider with a skull motif
Now this is a manga from 1970 so the story is not going to be the biggest thing ever. For the year though it was really different. It's a very dark piece of work compared to the other works of Shotaro. The story starts with the viewing of strange cases of murder caused by monsters! A bat, werewolf, and crocodile like creatures are attacking people. There is also a man who breaks into a science lab. This is the Skullman as he kills all the men inside and burns the place down. The Skullman has the power of hypnosis as he can tell anyone what he wants which is how he gets in the lab. The Skullman leads the creatures as he has been killing people for a good amount of years. We soon then see the police looking at the four cases and the media is covering it up. Even though the cases seem very separate the police know it is the work of the Skullman as they been on his trail for a long time ever since he was 2 years old. Now of course the Skullman didn't start at that age, but the boy has been missing for a long time ever since the death of his parents. We learn this after we are introduced to the man Kagura Tatsuo. He wants to get involved with the case and after he gets looked up he is allowed to be around. This is where an elder officer tells him about the Skullman as the suspect is the boy from fifteen years ago. More murder cases are coming around as the Skullman seems to be unstoppable. Will the murderer be caught or will he get away with what he wants, but what exactly he is aiming for?
Pros- I love the story a whole lot, it's seems rather simple, but the story has a complete turn around with clever writing. The idea of Skullman is a completely new for his time because we follow a really dark character who kills for his goals. It's really hard to say somethings because the complete turn around gives a whole different view on the Skullman. It's a basic dark revenge story and it works perfectly cause the manga has some perfect scenes of darkness and suspense. The first pages are amazing with no text as we just see people being killed by the monsters. It's a great way to start out by showing how dark things can get. The animation is also very good as I love Shotaro's style. It's very cartoony, but there are great details that add to the seriousness. There really isn't any gore even with people getting killed in brutal ways. Which I like because if it was too gory I think some of the pages wouldn't have that much of an affect. The art also gives off really eerie settings which again adds to the dark tone of the manga. Finally, the way of how the story is told is great as I said the couple of pages just show what's happening and we get a feeling of what's happening. Also some great character scenes where they talk about the case and the past. There is no narrator which is something I hate at times.
Cons- There is really one thing that is slightly disappointing and it's similar to how Kamen Rider Double is. The whole mystery is obvious on who the Skullman is. Now even though that part is ruined the complete turn around still got me by surprise. Also I think Shotaro did it on purpose since the whole turn around is supposed to be the real shocking part and not who the Skullman is.
Overall- This is a complete masterpiece and my favorite piece of work from Shotaro. It's a perfect dark story that can easily surprise people today. The way the story is told is well done thanks to character scenes and no narrator shoving information down our throats. The art is excellent with Shotaro's cartoon like style with great details. You can read the Skullman on tons of manga websites and I highly recommend it. I also would tell people to read the continuation of Skullman and even though it's not done by Shotaro the other author does perfect with the elements and uses his version of Skullman to tribute the past author. I give the Skullman an A+ and why can't this get a modern take with a movie?

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