Metal Messiahs [Teaser]

By Paco D. Taylor

Ever since the giant protector known as Ultraman first punched his way out of television screens in 1966, Japan's live-action giant robot shows have been popular with audiences both in Japan and around the globe. As well as Ultraman, other programs featuring super-sized superheroes found equal favor with the global audience. These include shows like The Space Giants (1966), Johnny Sokko and his Flying Robot (1967), Spectreman (1972) and Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers (1992).

From the time of my early introduction to giant robot shows, I was a big fan. But, like many others who tuned in to watch their larger-than-life adventures, I never once gave any thought to what might have inspired those over-sized superheroes. All I knew then was that they captured my imagination like nothing else on television.

Recently, though, while flipping through an old book on Japanese tourism that I found online, I ran across a photograph of a now largely forgotten giant Buddha statue that once stood in Tokyo's famed Ueno Park. Though I had never seen the statue before, something about the figure in the photograph seemed familiar.

As you've probably guessed from the picture -- or from the obvious trail of bread crumbs dropped in the previous paragraphs -- it wasn't very long before my brain made the connection to giant robot TV shows. Much like those giants, the super-sized statue in the photograph captured my imagination. And it made me wonder, was there any connection to the over-sized superheroes of Japan?


I'm still working on this article...and it's still working my nerves. Writing this feels a lot like putting a puzzle together -- while at the same time playing a side game of scavenger hunt to track down missing puzzle pieces. Eventually, though, it will all come together. And, as it is with any good puzzle, I can't wait to see what it's going to look like when it's done.

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