Secret Messenger of the Morning Wind
Directed by: Shozo Tamura
I kind of wanted to start reviewing a new show alongside Bioman, since I’m basically following the release of the subs. While looking through the full seasons I had on my hard drive and DVD collection, I realized that I had the Iron King DVD set for about a year now and have only seen the first episode. And, since it’s such an obscure show that I rarely hear about, I figured it would be cool to explore this one-off show and try out something new that wasn’t one of the well-known franchises in tokusatsu. With that, let’s dive into the first episode of Iron King!
We start with a group of what look to be either hikers or woodsmen running through the forest. They gather in front of a cabin and …. take off their clothes. Don’t worry though, underneath their clothes are very fashionable spandex costumes usually associated with bad mofo organizations. A man appears from the entrance of the cabin and addresses the group, known as the Shiranui Clan, of the current situation. Shown to be the leader of this clan, he informs the men that the National Security Forces have become keen to their 2000-year preparation to take over Japan and have sent a man to take them down. He orders the clan to set out to find this man, known as Gentaro Shizuka, and kill him before he can foul up their operation.
The men go back to the woods in costume and come across a man fishing on a wooden bridge. They order him to step aside but he brushes them off in an aloof manner, telling them that they will scare the fish away with their yelling. They persist and get aggressive. He stands toe-to-toe with them and reveals in a very charismatic manner that he is indeed the man that they are looking for, Gentaro Shizuka. Shocked that he figured out who they were, they attack Gentaro and he swiftly takes care of them, living up to the description of being highly intelligent as well as a quick and skilled fighter.
Out of nowhere, one of the many giants at the Clan’s disposal, Vacu-Mirah, emerges from the water and starts to demolish the nearby village. As he tries to help with the evacuation, Gentaro comes across an old lady who refuses to leave the village where her family’s graves lay. He decides to distract the giant to buy everyone time to escape. He does very little damage with his small array of weapons, but is saved by another giant, known as Iron King. The red giant swoops in and fends off Vacu-Mirah while Gentaro tries to save another woman who was trapped by a fallen tree. Vacu-Mirah retreats for repairs and Iron King flies away due to a low supply of water.
The young woman who Gentaro saved, Yukiko Takamura, asks about Iron King and, randomly, if he’d like to accompany her on her hike. Before he can answer, he spots someone by the river drinking water. After quenching his thirst, he introduces himself as Goro Kirishima, sent by Professor Tsushima to take care of Gentaro. Oh, and apparently Tsushima is the person who made Iron King, that information should come in handy later.
The three camp out for the night but are ambushed by members of the Shiranui Clan. Gentaro, of course, handles them with ease. This infuriates the leader of the Clan and he sends Vacu-Mirah out to destroy the village. Gentaro and Goro attempt to fend off the monster, but Goro is knocked out by its attack. Goro wakes up right when Gentaro is in the grasp of the giant. And then he does something interesting. Goro transforms into Iron King and battles Vacu-Mirah. Now, I think most people will see this coming a mile away. He’s dressed in mostly red, sent out of nowhere to help Gentaro by the Professor who build Iron King, and the first thing we see him do is consume a large amount of water right after we learn that Iron King’s power runs on water. Of course, this was intended and has been done before countless times. But, I like that no one else knows but the viewer. It makes the interactions between Gentaro and Goro that much more entertaining.
Anyway, Iron King fights the monster but doesn’t destroy him. That honor goes to Gentaro. On the ground, he finds the old woman from the village again and tells her to run, but finds the remote for the monster on her and figures out she’s part of the clan. He jumps onto the giant’s shoulder but forgets to take the remote. Gentaro chucks it at the monster and that destroys it. I guess either direct contact with the controller overloads its circuitry or the remote itself has that kind of explosive power. Either way, I thought it was cool that Gentaro was the one to defeat the first monster and not Iron King. After that, the Leader vows vengeance and activates another giant, while the three strangers go on their merry way.
I actually really liked this episode despite my hesitation. I wasn’t quite sure what to expect going into it but I was pleasantly surprised. The characters seemed very lively and fresh. Gentaro is very light-hearted, a bit cocky but all business underneath. So far, we know that he’s working for the professor under the National Security Forces and is after the Shiranui Clan. But we don’t know where the Clan came from or how the agency found out about them. We also have no clue how Iron King came about or why Goro is keeping his identity a secret. But, Gentaro and Goro are both amazing characters to watch on screen and should keep this show very interesting. That, and Yukiko seems like she’ll be a fun contrast among them. (also, the actress who plays her, Chieko Morikawa (she played Ruriko in Kamen Rider) is insanely gorgeous and I can watch her in anything. :D )
The action in this show seems to be on par with a lot of the early 70s tokusatsu shows. Gentaro seemed to hold his own fairly well and could take on any opponent with wit and speed. Iron King’s design took me a bit to get used to, but I liked what they did with it. The ‘special kick’ he impliments is a bit of an acid trip to watch, because 3-4 duplicates of himself doing the flip and kick swirl around on screen in slow motion. It’s an interesting effect for a seemingly low budget show. But, they tried to use it in a night-time fight scene with Gentaro and it just felt distracting. It also seemed like Iron King did the Ultraman beam pose from time to time. I didn’t really understand why but I was okay with it.
I have to say, I’m excited to watch more of this show. It hit the ground running with both action and story. And, the characters were very amusing to watch and seemed to have a bit more to them than is seen on the surface, making you curious to see more of their adventures. I encourage anyone who hasn’t seen this show yet to go out and check out the DVDs. I’ve seen them around here in the states, such as Walmart and whatnot. I actually bought mine at a local comic book shop. So, if you have a local comic shop that carries lots of anime and Japanese movies/TV shows, chances are you can get a copy there for rather cheap. Keep your eye on the site for more reviews of Iron King!