Spider-Man (Toei TV Series) - Production

Production

The show was the result of a three-years licensing agreement with Marvel that allowed both to use each other's properties in any way they wanted. Toei initially planned to use Spider-Man as a supporting character for an unmade television series starring a fictionalized version of Yamato Takeru who was sent to the present via a time warp. However, Toei decided to make Spider-Man the protagonist instead and the character of Yamato Takeru was revised into Garia, an alien who gives Spider-Man his powers. The resulting show deviated from the source material completely, outside of Spider-Man's costume and some of his superpowers and gadgets. Other productions by Toei as a result of this licensing deal included Battle Fever J (a show originally conceived about a Japanese counterpart of Captain America) and an animated television movie based on the comic book Tomb of Dracula. In contrast, Marvel would use the main robots from two of Toei's anime programs, Wakusei Robo Danguard Ace and Chōdenji Robo Combattler V, in their comic book adaptation of the Shogun Warriors toyline. A toy version of Leopardon, Spider-Man's robot from the Toei series, was also sold in the United States as part of the Godaikin line.

Although the show's story was criticized for bearing almost no resemblance to the Marvel version, the staff at Marvel Comics, including Spider-Man's co-creator Stan Lee, praised the show for its special effects and stunt work, especially the spider-like movement of the character himself. While it is said that Marvel initially opposed the addition of Leopardon, the robot was viewed as a necessary gimmick to attract younger viewers and was ultimately kept. The show's mechanical designer, Katsushi Murakami (a toy designer at the time), expressed concern about Toei's capability to market Spider-Man to Japanese audiences and was given permission by producer Yoshinori Watanabe to take whatever liberties he deemed necessary. Murakami came up with the idea of giving Spider-Man an extraterrestrial origin, as well as a spider-like spacecraft that could transform into a giant robot (due to the popularity of the giant robot shows in Japan at the time).

The action figure version of Leopardon was initially sold as a part of the Chogokin toyline and became an unprecedented success in the market, which contributed to the TV series' popularity as well. The success of the show made Toei introduce the giant robot concept to their Super Sentai franchise in Battle Fever J (a show which they also co-produced with Marvel) and contributed to Spider-Man's popularity when Marvel began to export more of their properties to Japan during later years.

The head writer of the series was Susumu Takaku (Key Hunter, Mazinger Z, G-Men '75), who wrote 16 episodes and the movie, while former Tsuburaya writer Shōzō Uehara also wrote 15 episodes, including the first episode and the finale. There were many episodes in which the "monster of the week" (usually a "Machine BEM" created by the villain) was not relevant to the plot, as well as two episodes (ep. 12 and ep. 27) which featured no monsters at all. The show also featured a story arc in which the female antagonist Amazoness tries to uncover Spider-Man's secret identity.

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