Tokusou Robo Janperson is the 12th entry into Toei’s now defunct Metal Hero franchise and had a movie released in 1993. Unique among the Metal Hero shows, is the fact that Janperson himself never cancels his transformation because he is, as the title implies, a robot. Once a killing machine, he now fights for justice. Seriously. The show won’t let you forget that.
The movie was released on a triple bill with the Gosei Sentai Dairanger and Kamen Rider ZO movies as part of Toei’s short lived Superhero Fair held once a year.
The movie focuses on the search for Sayaka, a young girl whose mother has recently died. Sayaka’s father, an undercover F.B.I. agent, has had a rough relationship with his daughter since the death of her mother and feels that her kidnapping by the evil Neo-Guild is his fault. Sayaka has been angry at her father because he was away in America while her mother died, leaving her feeling abandoned.
Aiding in the search is everyone’s favorite purple robot, Janperson! The two don’t seem to get along at first, but things between them go smoother as they search for Sayaka throughout the movie.
After being kidnapped and taken to a base of operations, the Neo-Guild reveals that they plan to transfer the brains of kidnapped children to metalic robot bodies. This of course does not go over well with the children as they all start freaking out in fear over what might become of them should the plan succeed. Luckily, Sayaka’s father was able to place a tracking device on one of the grunts who took his daughter, making it easy to find the location of Neo-Guild’s base, an island!
Sayaka’s father tries to sneak on the island, but that goes about as well as expected. He is attacked by robots with machine guns and is dodging them all over the place second guessing his plan. Just as he’s about to bite the bullet, Janperson drops by and saves him. George Makabe, leader of the Neo-Guild, thanks Sayaka’s father for bringing his greatest adversary to him as his plan will surely stop Janperson this time.
Of course that goes as well as expected. Janperson is able to fight off the baddies and piss off Makabe, who just decides to blow the island to hell. Before it blows, Janperson gets himself off the island on his jet along with Sayaka’s father, who is incredibly distraught, thinking his daughter was on the island. There remians hope! Janperson is able to see that the children are really in an underwater base, so the two land on a strip of rocks to try and bust in.
Before Janperson and Misutah Efu Bi Ai (as Makabe calls him) go in to save the children, Janperson gives him a locket that Sayaka had dropped. In the locket is a picture of Sayaka and her mother, but behind the picture is her father’s picture. This gives him renewed vigour, knowing that his daughter still loves him, he’s ready to bust some ass and save her.
The duo break into a secret lab moments before the children are turned into robots, managing to save them. Sayaka’s father is roughed up quite a bit as he saves her and then Janperson takes out the remaining baddies before Sayaka and her father reconcile in the end and watch Janperson walk off to solve his next case.
Is the movie any good? It’s…decent, at best. The story with Sayaka and her father is actually rather nice to watch on screen and the highlight of the movie for me, both had great people in the roles and the father especially carried the movie. Though expected, it was rather nice to see that Sayaka still cared for her father despite feeling that he abandoned her in her time of greatest need, so seeing them finally reconcile in the end is great.
Annnnd that’s about as good as the movie gets. Normally the draw for me in tokusatsu is the plot and the action, when one fails, the other will help me through it, though I feel it’s vital to always have at least some decent action. Janperson is a movie that…does not really have anything memorable in terms of its fight scenes. Janperson himself is a robot, so his moves are often stiff as he moves joint by joint, so a lot of his fighting is standing in one spot shooting his adversaries. There are those interesting moments where he’ll shoot his arm off at an enemy or pick a grunt’s head and toss it like a bowling ball, but for the most part, Janperson’s action is very static. There was one nicely fluid fight scene in there and that didn’t even last for too long. If you’re looking for an action-heavy movie, this ain’t it.
Now, would I recommend it? Eh, if you’re bored and have time to kill, go for it. If you have other things to watch, watch them. The human drama in this movie was actually endearing and heart warming, but that can’t really carry a tokusatsu movie for me. I love the look of Janperson himself once he puts his face plate on, but the suit is just so…underused. Stand. Shoot. Stand. Shoot. Stand. Shoot. Repeat this and you basically have 99% of the action in this piece. I can’t very well recommend it if you’re looking for fast moving action.
That said, the movie isn’t as bad as it might sound. I was able to watching it in one sitting, and though that isn’t difficult at 24 minutes, I’ve had harder times sitting through regular tokusatsu episodes of the same length. I never really drifted off or lost attention as I watched it, so it’s definitely not a bad movie, just one that doesn’t stand out too much.