Well, I guess we'll start off with the manga then,The Skull Man.
|It was hard to get used to his suit design here after watching the anime first.|
As we all know.. or at least I hope we all do, Skull Man is what inspired Kamen Rider. You can see the resemblance he shares with Kamen Rider 1 in appearance, well the helmet at least. Grasshopper, Skeleton. Yeah, they are similar. Well, anyway. I'm gonna level with you guys here. I don't get it. I heard when this manga was first released it "Instantly become popular and a huge success." Well, I have two problems with that. The first is, if it was so popular, why did it to unheard of until 1998, when Kazuhiko Shimamoto "remade" the manga and the second is, it's really not that good.Notice the word I underlined. Good. It's not that good. It's not that bad. But it's not that good either. It's really rather mediocre. In fact, probably one of the most Mediocre manga i've ever read, which becomes this manga's main problem. Skullman, as seen by both the 1998 remake, 2007 Anime and the entire Kamen Rider franchise itself, had the potential to be something great, but the original manga just wasn't happenin'.
The art style was just plain bad. For it's time it might have been good, I don't know I wasn't around in the 70's but to today's standards and by extension what I am used to reading, it was just terrible. I can't really be a judge of the artwork because it's really the oldest manga I've read, So I can't say whether it was good or bad for it's time, but what I can say at the very least as that it was terrible for this time.
Where this manga really shone was it's plot. The manga itself seemed like a series to me, but in reality was only 100 pages long. Being able to fit a story that seemed like an entire series into 100 pages is pretty impressive, but is to he expected of Ishinomori, was the story good? Sure, it wasn't half bad. I imagine, at the time it was released it would have been considered to be really dark and edgy, following an Anti-Hero who killed the innocent for his own goals to exact revenge. The plot was well written and executed, and that is probably what saved this manga for me. I can't really say anything special about the characters, as Tatsuo Kagura (The Skull Man himself) is the only character we really get a glimpse inside, I Guess they wouldn't exactly have the time to do any intense character development for a one shot, though. So it's fair enough.
If you're interested in seeing where Kamen Rider started from, I say go check this manga out. If you're interested in Ishinomori's other works, again I say go check this out. If you're just looking for a manga to read, I suggest you stay away from it as it will disappoint you.
I imagine the 1998 manga was MUCH better, but as I have yet to read it, I can't review it. So we'll fast forward to 2007, in which we saw the Live Action special, "The Skull Man: Prologue to darkness".
|His redesign is much better.|
The Live action episode is supposed to set up as a prequel to the anime, setting up the story for it. Which it doesn't really do. It's still an entertaining 25 or so minutes, but what really stood out was the style it was done in.
It felt...Like it wasn't real. More like you were watching a comic book rather then watching a Toku.
|You should be able to see what I mean just by this image.|
|Left: assistant. Right: Hayato|
None of the other music in this series is memorable though. The ending was pretty mediocre too. The anime is still watchable though and I'd recommend if you want to see some SkullMan watch this instead of reading the oneshot manga (But read the 1998 manga instead of watching this). This anime is also a "pseudo-prequel" to Cyborg-009, which I thought was pretty neat.
From the three pieces of Skull Man media i've dived into, I can only say it's a really mediocre series. I'm hoping that 1998 manga will be able to change that opinion though.
So, that's it for this review. I'll leave you with the goodbye present of The Skull Man's awesome opening song.