The Golden Bat
aka 黄金バット aka Ogon batto
Written by Susumu Takaku
Directed by Hajime Sato
The Golden Bat is one of the best movies of all time. The Golden Bat is one of the craziest movies of all time. The Golden Bat is one of the funnest movies of all time. The Golden Bat is the reason movies were invented. You will watch The Golden Bat, or he will beat the tar out of you with his cane, laughing all the while!
A dreamlike haze of crazy costumes and duplications and maniac villains and monsters, The Golden Bat drags the tokusatsu genre to a surreal edge, pushing the boundaries of what a sane child would accept as proper plot progression while making great use of the black and white cinematography to give a gothic noir flavor. Sinister characters get shadows cast over them unnoticed by the good heroes. The set design is a wild 60s psychedelic take on pulp science fiction while using the light and dark contrasts to make the alien seem alien. Director Hajime Sato would later go on to direct the Bava-esque Goke – Bodysnatcher From Hell. Sato can take a straight scenario and bend it into a warped world, He would later put this pulp science fiction experience to work as a television director on Captain Ultra, which also features crazy surreal aliens that would be right at home in The Golden Bat.
Ogon Bat/Golden Bat was created in 1930 by writer Ichiro Suzuki and artist Takeo Nagamatsu for use in Kamishibai, a storytelling device where an entertainer would narrate a story for children as sequential wooden cards illustrate the exciting things that are happening. The Kamishibai merchant would make money by selling candy to the children who attend his shows. Kamishibai declined after World War 2, but a few story tellers still exist in tourist zones. The practice is said to date back to Buddhist monks in the 12th century, but the modern version used to entertain kids has it’s roots during the depression as a cheap way to entertain and make money.
Golden Bat is considered the first Japanese super hero due to these tales, and many more were created over the years (including adaptations of American heroes) Some of the art is collection in a few Kamishibai books, and slides are available for download on specialty Kamishibai sites. Ogon Batto would then appear in manga tales.
Golden Bat made his first film appearance with 1950’s Ogon bat: Matenro no kaijin (Golden Bat: Frankenstein Skyscraper). After thisThe Golden Bat film, 1967 saw an anime series, and the last official film adaptation was 1972’s Ogon Batto ga yattekuru (Golden Bat Shows Up), where a fat and stupid Golden Bat does presumably unfunny things. Neither of the other two films are easily available for watching, probably due to the lack of Sonny Chiba. There is an unofficial Korean Golden Bat film called Yong Gu and the Golden Bat (영구와 황금박쥐 – 1992) which is one of those awful awful Korean children’s films that you should never watch.
Amateur astronomer Akira Kazahaya spots dangers in the sky while telescoping at night. He attracts the attention of both a goofy police officer and some mysterious men with sunglasses, which means they are bad guys, as good guys would never disguise their faces. Or would they???
Kazahaya has figured out Planet Icarus has changed course to collide with Earth! But no one believes him. Probably because Planet Icarus? Are you serious?
But we know it’s true because we see an evil space dude named Nazo bragging about it on his spaceship. He’s got four eyes (as in actual four eyes and not glasses) and a big iron claw for a hand. His minions are dressed in all black, including blank masks. Cool villains.
The sunglasses goons take Akira Kazahaya away..to the Alps. Where he’s welcomed in the secret base, the Pearl Research Institute, which is run by the UN. The Pearl Research Institute has been following Akira Kazahaya for weeks and know all about him. They also know that Icarus crashes into Earth in 10 days, and offers Kazahaya a job. He eagerly takes it. The team makes introductions –
The plan for stopping planet Icarus isn’t to send Bruce Willis and Ben Affleck, but instead to us a Super Destruction Beam Cannon, which has the power of 1000 H bombs. Of course, it doesn’t work yet, because they haven’t figured out what material to use for a lens that can withstand all that heat. Details, details…
There is a team out searching now, but they’ve just called in an SOS! Get in your sparkling uniforms and Thunderbirds are Go in Supercar 2! Interesting detail that they remembered that the search team is obviously using Supercar 1.
They find the other team on an uncharted island…dead! No, not the search team! There was…I don’t know, but these dudes probably all had families or something. The island is probably part of Atlantis based on some hieroglyphics. Which is weird, because Atlantis sunk and all that jazz. I guess it missed a spot! There is an earthquake that traps them on a small part of the island, and now a giant monster is rising out of the sea.
This just isn’t their day!
It’s not a monster, but a giant drill monster robot thing that’s really Nazo’s spaceship. And it starts shooting them with laser beams! Nazo is inside yelling threats at them I’m not sure hey can hear unless he’s broadcasting the audio, though there is no indication he is. Nazo sends some of his black masked goons to kill them all. Luckily, our heroes all have their own laser guns and the plucky scientists are far better shots than the trained alien killer soldiers. Because science. Yeah, science!
The heroes escape and wander through underground caves and secret passage after secret passage. It’s the most secretest passage of all that has them stumble across an Egyptian sarcophagus with a bat symbol on it. Look out, DC, you’re gonna get sued! The ancient runes on the top essentially says that “10,000 years from now something bad’s gonna happen, so open me up and I’ll take care of it!” They open it up and inside is a mummified moaning masked skull guy, and he’s holding a big crystal lens that the mineral detector says is peachy keen to use as a lens for their big laser! No one seems concerned that the dead guy is moaning.
Such luck! But now they’re trapped, as the goons cave in part of the secret secret passageway.
They’re trapped! Emily takes some water and puts in on the moaning skeleton masked body like the instructions on the side of the box say to do. A real bat appears! (A real RUBBER bat!) It hops on Golden Bat’s chest, and he awakens. Golden Bat rises up, laughs like a maniac, and breaks out and begins beating the crap out of Nazo’s goons.
Golden Bat turns his bat into a pin for Emily to use to call when she’s in trouble. Then he goes outside to threaten the baddies to get lost before they get smashed. Never say Golden Bat doesn’t give you a chance. He breaks their spaceship’s lasers.
Nazo is screaming all the while, saying he’s going to destroy the human race because there should be no one in the universe but him. I’m sure all his employees love the fact they’re destined to be killed, but whatever. Nazo proves how powerful he is by just leaving. The heroes leave in their ship, Golden Bat flies around, and the last chunk of Atlantis sinks. Or re-sinks.
Thanks to the lens that Golden Bat packed in his coffin, the Super Destruction Beam Cannon is ready, but Icarus is too far away to hit. So they’re going to test it by blowing a satellite out of the sky (Sputnik, NOOOOOOO!!!!!) Aren’t satellites really tiny and planets really really big?
Nazo is angry he was made the fool by a dude in a goofy costume, so he calls in his three buddies, all of which are wearing goofy costumes: Keloid, with a burned face! Piranha, a woman! Jackal, a wolfman complete with hairy uniform!
It’s neat how the cast of The Munsters is working for the villain!
Nazo is keeping his spaceship underwater, so they leave via a submarine that looks like a shark and go to the surface to capture the beam cannon. But oddly enough, Nazo can also teleport people to the surface, so the whole shark submarine usage is a complete waste of time!
Piranha and Jackal sneak into the heroes’ base. Piranha takes the form of Naomi, while some of the Pearl Research Institute team guns down a lot of the goons Piranha and Jackal brought with them. Jackal beams in and smacks Dr. Pearl and Emily with one punch (and Emily GOES DOWN!!!)
Emily’s pin comes to life and she screams for Golden Bat’s help as Jackal runs away with Dr. Pearl. Jackal and more goons stop most of the heroes at gunpoint, and threatens to kill them all. Then he waits ten seconds before doing anything.
That is more than enough time for Golden Bat to show up and laugh like a maniac again. He’s a jolly one, that Golden Bat! Golden Laugh, more like it. He beats up goons, though the villains still escape with Dr. Pearl on their shark submarine. Golden Bat flies after the shark vessel.
The heroes find Fake Naomi unconscious in the beam room, the beam cannon missing. Luckily, Dr. Yamatone his the lens in a secret location so the beam cannon is useless! Of course, that means you also can’t use it to save the planet, but details, details…
We know Fake Naomi is fake because she’s bathed in shadow while grimacing evilly. She could only be more evil if she had a goatee and the word “EVIL” flashed onscreen.
Golden Bat has gotten his flying bat inside Nazo Tower as spy. Nazo’s men torture Dr. Pearl with explosive electroshocks! Keloid is a giggling maniac who likes torture, so he’s the perfect personality to use for someone to transform into a Fake Dr. Pearl to infiltrate the Pearl Institute.
Of course, they can’t just drop Fake Dr. Pearl off at the door, that’d be suspicious. But having Fake Naomi trick Emily into finding Fake Dr. Pearl via dream hypnosis is much more inconspicuous!
Emily discovered Fake Dr. Pearl being evil, but he hypnotizes her to sleep. The villains threaten to strangle Emily, but Dr. Pearl still won’t tell where the lens is. There is some awfully disturbing subtext going on here with the underage girl and Keloid being a creepy pervo murderer.
Icarus has picked up speed and will now crash into Earth in two days, which isn’t enough time to build a new beam cannon, so the heroes have to steal the old one back. Icarus smashes through the moon, that’s how fast it is now! The heroes trick Fake Naomi to reveal herself as Piranha via a Geiger counter and a fake lens. She escapes and takes some captives as she goes, but she’s killed regardless by Nazo for being a failure despite realizing Golden Bat is the one hiding the lens.
The Nazo Tower rises in Tokyo, and Nazo starts tossing hostages off the top of it to try to get Golden Bat to give up the lens. Instead, Golden Bat then flies up to the shark submarine, gets inside and beats up everyone – including Jackal – and as the shark submarine can fly, starts shooting at Nazo Tower. He rams it, going all 9-11 on these terrorists decades before that was cool.
Nazo Tower halfway falls over, and can’t take off. Dr. Yamatone and Kazahaya (remember him? Way to not be a main character, buddy!) sneak into Nazo Tower to get back the beam cannon. And to rescue their friends.
And to get ambushed.
Spikes on the floor! Yes! The villains once again takes way too freaking long to kill the heroes, giving Golden Bat plenty of time to show up and laugh like a maniac before beating everyone to a pulp.
Then Golden Bat goes to confront Nazo.
“In any age, in any situation, the evil has never flourished.” – Golden Bat, who hasn’t paid attention to history.
Nazo tosses his claw hand at Golden Bat, who responds by throwing his cane into Nazo’s head!
Nazo smokes and disappears, the self-destruct of Nazo Tower is set off (as Golden Bat figures out by looking at four clocks on opposite walls, jumping around to look at each one in turn!) The beam cannon is saved, Nazo Tower explodes, and Icarus is blow into Ica-dust just in time.
And with that thrilling hurried conclusion, Golden Bat decides it is a good time to go fly away and do things. What, I cannot say, but it’s probably really cool.
For more information on Kamishibai, consult your local library. When that fails because you had too many library fines and they chop up your card, check out these links: Hero Complex, Cippodroman, Abrams.
Rated 9/10 (Skeleton, Atlantian writing, bat glyphs, bat pendant, rays, Golden Bat struts, trophy, OMG, periscope)
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