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The Asian ApertureThe Iron King
POSTED BY JASON FETTERS, December 11, 2011    Share

Get ready for plenty of high octane karate action and battling giant robots in the Japanese Sci Fi series, The Iron King. The show was produced by Nippon Gendai and aired on Tokyo Broadcasting System from 1972-73 with a grand total of 26 episodes. Iron King took the concept of the tokusatsu series and created a fun spin on it.
Pop star Shoji Ishibashi stars as Gentaro Shizuka, a wisecracking, karate fighter, who wears a cowboy hat. He fits the tough guy role just fine. Next is the sole female named Yukiko Takamura played by Chieko Morikawa. Yukiko is a real hippy type who carries around a beautiful white guitar, collects flowers for research, and has her hair braided in typical 70’s fashion.
The biggest twist to the tokusatsu format is Mitsuo Hamada who plays the nerdy Goro Kirishima. Goro conveniently gets knocked out during intense fights leaving a ticked off Gentaro to do all of the fighting. Yet all is not lost. Whenever Goro touches the medals on his goofy fishing hat and shouts “Iron Shock” he tranforms into a giant robot called The Iron King. While the Iron King is battling foes, he quickly dehydrates and when a blue light on his chest flashes, he must return to his human form, which leaves Goro constantly thirsty. Numerous jokes are made by Gentaro about how much water Goro drinks.

So just who are the bad guys? For 2000 years the Shiranui Clan has been planning to defeat Japan because their ancestors were banished. Shinzo Hotta plays Taro, the leader of the clan, who commands his ninja warriors to battle Japan’s National Security Organization that Gentaro is an agent for. The Shiranui clan warriors are dressed up in outfits that look like something from the Power Rangers, even though that series was years later. As is typical, their fighting skills are ineffective against the heroic Gentaro but they can still kick around the weak Goro.

Each episode has a different giant robot that the Shiranui clan uses to try to destroy Japan. At the beginning of The Iron King there are 10 clan members who each control a robot to do the dirty work. The funny thing about the show is that the Iron King, as a giant robot, starts out battling the other robots very well and then he usually gets thrown to the ground and repeatedly kicked. It is up to Gentaro, using his Iron Belt, a whip like weapon, to save the Iron King and Goro together. Each fight wins with Gentaro’s help, proving that it takes a human to defeat a huge robot that could easily step on him and crush him. Some of the enemy robots have cool names with my favorite being Double Satan. This conjures up all kinds of bad jokes such as “I’ll have a Double Satan with cheese and a large order of fries.” I can only guess what the Iron King Happy Meal was like at McDonald’s; probably plenty of water in a giant plastic bottle.

The Iron King is a kid’s show that has a fight scene happening every few minutes. So if you are young or young at heart this just might work for you. Gentaro, although in a cowboy hat, reminds me of Jackie Chan in the way that both men fight and crack jokes at the same time. There are several references to how fragile the environment is and that teaches children to help take care of it. Each week the names and robot designs are fun to watch for and not what I was expecting. If you want to see fighting robots that have arms that can fly off and bring down a building, then give Iron King a chance.

4 out of 5 for quality viewing.

"The Asian Aperture" is ©2011 by Jason Fetters. All contents of Nolan's Pop Culture Review are ©2011 by Nolan B. Canova.

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