Sunday, June 21, 2020

Shin Super Robot Sunday: Fireman

In 1973, Tsuburaya Productions released several shows as part of the company's 10th anniversary. The first one to see release was Fireman (or Magma Man in some markets), which began airing on Nippon Television on January 7, 1973, running until July for 30 episodes.

In Fireman, a string of natural disasters strikes the Earth, and giant mutant dinosaur appear and wreak havoc. Standing against them is the Scientific Attack Force (SAF) and their young archaeologist recruit Daisuke Misaki. Misaki is actually a member of an underground race of humans from the lost continent of Aban, which sank below the surface 12,000 years ago. Scientifically advanced, Misaki can use an object called the fire-stick to transform into the 50 meter (164 ft) tall Fireman to battle against threats to the Earth, both native and alien. 

Fireman himself is something of an inversion of the Ultraman formula. Red with silver highlights, he fights with similar flight and grappling abilities. Naturally, his energy attacks are all fire themed, and instead of a color timer limiting his giant form, his people have lived underground for so long that he can only sustain his giant form for three minutes at a time before sunlight will kill him. 

What's interesting is that the actor for Daisuke Misaki, Naoya Makoto, would later play a more famous red suited tokusatsu hero in 1975: Tsuyoshi Kaijo AKA Akarenger in Himitsu Sentai Gorenger, and the very first Red Ranger in the storied history of Super Sentai

More important than that (for our purposes here at least), is episode 10 of Fireman: The Iron Monster that Attacked Tokyo. In the episode, an alien from the Baranda race attacks (naturally) Tokyo with the Baranda V robot. Baranda V is a 51 meter (167 ft) tall piloted robot. In addition to general stompiness, the robot features an array of weapons from powerful chest guns, finger lasers, electromagnetic levitation, a force field, and most interestingly in a post-Mazinger Z environment, a rocket punch attack. 

The biggest show from Tsuburaya's big anniversary year would be Ultraman Taro (which has a lack of giant robots), but Fireman had a respectable run and would eventually see a spiritual successor of sorts several decades later. As for the third Tsuburaya Productions show from 1973, that's the topic for the next Shin Super Robot Sunday. 

Next time on Shin Super Robot Sunday: Aces and Nines.

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