8 Superheroes Totally Ruined by Japan

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One of the weirdest comic book crossovers is here: Marvel superheroes is going to face a great new villain -- creepy naked giants! But there’s no further details on whether this crossover will make it to North America nor who id involved in creating it.

Although it might be the first time that menga has crossed over with other comic universes, Marvel and DC have tried for decades to bring American characters to the East.

However, in order to suit those particular Japanese tastes (you know what I’m talking about, right?), Marvel and DC have to change their superheroes to fit in amongst the Shonen Jumps and Power Rangers of the world, which is often with disastrous results.

Beloved characters become unrecognisable messes, stuff gets lost in translation, Spider-Man becomes a sexual deviant; these are 8 superheroes totally ruined by Japan.

8.The Avengers Are Basically Pokemon

Marvel have been making a killing recently, having taken back control of all their big properties and spun them out into an incredibly successful film franchise, merchandise, and spin-off cartoons.

The likes of Ultimate Spider-Man look like masterpieces when you compare them to their Japanese equivalents, however, as Marvel have farmed out a bunch of their characters to net them some of that sweet anime money -- regardless of the cost.

And in the case of the Avengers, the cost has been buying into the merchandise-heavy world of Japanese cartoons (even worse than American, by all accounts), which means turning the superheroes into, essentially, Pokemon. The premise of Marvel Disk Wars: The Avengers is that Tony Stark invents something called a Digital Identity Securement Kit -- or DISK, see? -- which allows supervillains to be captured and contained in a small space.

Like a Poke Ball. Except during the public unveiling Loki gets controls of the DISKs and traps a bunch of heroes in them. Now they can only be released for a short period of time, by the trio of kids who look after them, to fight the bad guys the trickster god released. Again, like Poke Balls. It’s…it’s not good.

7.Anime Wolverine Is A Handsome Man

Disk Wars isn’t the first time in recent history Marvel’s dipped their toes into the world of anime, however, it’s one of the worst, though, it was the one which should’ve translated the best to an Eastern setting.

After all, Wolverine spends half his time in Japan. His wife was Japanese. It was the setting for his last solo film. And yet something about the Wolverine anime simply doesn’t work, despite the fact it pretty much just adapts the classic Chris Claremont and Frank Miller miniseries that made the character who he is today.

What went wrong? Did the story get too mangled? Was the voice acting not up to snuff? Or was it simply that Logan looked too darn pretty?

Hugh Jackman’s spoilt the general perception of Wolverine, but seriously: he’s supposed to be a short, angry, hairy dude. Not a beautiful boy band type with flowing locks and sweet fashion sense. He doesn’t have any right to be angsty. He has the right to do a choreographed dance routine.

6. The Bat-Manga Features A Whole Lotta Killing

If there’s any superhero who should work well in Japan, it’s Batman. Especially because the sixties manga by Jiro Kuwata drew heavily on the bonkers, pop art-style Adam West TV show of the era, which was full of big colourful effects, over-the-top vehicles and grotesque, comical bad guys – all elements familiar to anyone who’s been fortunate enough to catch an episode of Ultraman or Kamen Rider during their lifetime.

And to be fair, Kuwata’s Batman did work; his artwork is brilliant, he adapts the characters well to the manga form, and everyone looks right.

But remember that whole “no killing” rule Batman has? He doesn’t necessarily always follow it, but it’s fairly integral to his character. Reflects the tragic death of his parents, and shows how he rises above the criminal scum of Gotham.

Yeah, not a problem for Japanese Batman. In fact there’s a whole story about a villain called Lord Death Man – based loosely on an issue of the American comics – which sees the Dark Knight repeatedly murdering a villain who, technically, is immortal (he resurrects himself using yoga). That doesn’t excuse the fact that Batman chucks him off a building and flattens him with a wrecking ball. Not very heroic, Bruce-san.

5.Teenage Mutant Power Rangers

People were rightfully horrified when they finally got their first look at the radicalised, CGI heroes that would be headlining Michael Bay’s live action reboot of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, the latest salvo in his ongoing campaign against people on the internet who like to complain about their childhoods being ruined. This new Mikey, Leo, Don and Raph looked downright monstrous, with weird snouts and eyes right out of the uncanny valley.

Well, take one look at the stars of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Legend Of The Super Mutant. As after you’ve had one look you should never look again, less that terrifying sight be burned onto your eyeballs for the rest of eternity. Don’t say we didn’t warn you.

Produced to promoted the Japan-only line of Super Mutations Ninja Turtles toys, this two-part direct-to-video animation starred the heroes in a half shell we were familiar with from their US-produced comics, films and cartoons…or at least, it did at first.

The group explore a lost temple and stumble across an ancient god who bestows upon them the power to “super mutate” for three minutes at a time, which transforms them into the half-human, half-turtle abominations you see above. It’s like the Power Rangers after being dipped in acid. As in, it’s the stuff of nightmares and we never want to have to look at it again.

4.The Hulk Is A Cry Baby

The current Marvel initiative to get their characters off the ground in Japan has a precedent; there was a similar period in the seventies when they sold the rights to a bunch of superheroes to the manga publishers Kodansha, who drafted in some of the industry’s biggest talents to help adapt stories to a new audience.

For the Incredible Hulk they managed to convince no less a heavyweight than Kazuo Koike to spin the character in a direction that made more sense to the Japanese audience. Koike, who created and wrote such iconic series as Lone Wolf And Cub, seemed like the right man for the job. He’d made a career out of “gekiga”, or men’s comics, that were all about dudely angst and violence.

To be honest we’re not sure why Marvel never called him up to have a crack at the proper title. Or, considering what he did with the manga incarnation, maybe we are.

So Bruce Banner’s whole deal is that you won’t like him when he’s angry, right? Because when he gets angry, he transforms into the Incredible Hulk and starts smashing things. He gets into such a rage that he breaks everything. It’s a metaphor, we think.

Well apparently the only exposure Koike had to the American Hulk was that sad Lonely Man song they played at the end of every episode of the TV series, since he decided the way Banner would become the jolly green giant was when he was really upset. Like, to the point of crying.

Which meant that every time Banner Hulked out, you would be treated to the usual double-page spreads of a huge inhuman monster causing destruction, but he’d be balling his eyes out the entire time. Emo Hulk. Thanks, Kazuo.

3.And Pretty Much Every Female DC Character

For reasons that are beyond our comprehension, DC decided to fully pass on Ben Caldwell’s idea for a girl-friendly Wonder Woman in favour of further alienating any and all female attention their superheroes might attract.

American comic books have a well-documented history of sexism and generally being a bit crap unless you’re a straight male, but Japan might actually have them beat: there’s whole genres out there where the main crux of the shows are how many times they can show the women characters’ underwear and breasts in the space of a half hour. Which usually means they’ve got costumes on designed to show as much of those things as possible. They make Power Girl’s boob window look like a Bell Hooks text.

2.Japanese Spider-Man Is An Emissary From Hell

Crazy stuff, right? Well don’t you worry, dear readers, because we’ve obviously saved the best for last. Because that’s how lists ordered in this way work.

Spider-Man is arguably one of the best-loved – and certainly well known – superheroes in the west, second only to the twin titans of Superman and Batman. Whilst those characters exist as paragons of the superhero ideal, Spider-man was always a lot more human, more relatable. Which is probably why, when the time came to send him over to Japan to make a name for himself, Toei decided to make him into a Power Rangers-style Tokusatsu hero who rode a motorbike and occasionally piloted a giant robot doppelgänger of himself.

Tokusatsu is the name given to the genre of television the likes of Power Rangers are adapted from. Yes, sorry if we’re blowing your minds, but Power Rangers is an adaptation of a Japanese show: all the fight sequences, both in and out of the Megazord (basically any time they’re wearing helmets) is old footage from the Super Sentai series.

Tokusatsu isn’t just Power Rangers, but any live-action film or TV show which involves sci-fi, fantasy or rubber suited monster elements.

And Spider-Man had all of those. In this version the wall crawler was given his powers by an alien, and uses them to fight another bunch of extraterrestrial invaders called the Iron Cross Army. Which he does with a space ship that turns into a giant robot. Also, on a number of occasions he introduces himself as “an emissary from hell!” for no real reason. Brilliantly bonkers, but by no means a good adaptation of Spider-Man.

1.Or Else A Murderous Sexual Deviant

Toei’s alien-fighting, robot-piloting, Tokusatsu Spider-Man deviated rather a lot from the American version of Peter Parker, but that’s not the half of it.

Around the same time as Kazuo Koike’s incredibly weepy Hulk, Kodansha also got a hold of the rights to Spidey, with the intention of localising Peter Parker for a Japanese audience.

Teenage superheroes in tight costumes is already a safe bet for otaku (good old bishonen), but in order to better acclimatise the wall crawler for Eastern eyes, Ryoichi Ikegami made a few…changes.

Ikegami is the other leading light in the gekiga movement, the men’s comics that Kazuo Koike so exceeded in. Makes sense, right? More angsty dudes and violence. Right up Spider-Man’s alley. For the most part the manga Spidey was much more in line with the US original than the live action version, as the young Yu Komori gets bitten by a radioactive spider and subsequently fights a bunch of crazy supervillains, all whilst looking after his dear old Aunt Mei (Japanese for “May”).

The series was originally written by Kōsei Ono with art by Ikegami, and simply adapted classic Spider-Man stories from the American comics. Then things started to get weird.

Ono was replaced by Kazumasa Hirai, who collaborated closer with Ikegami to include a lot less comedy and a whole lot more murder, attempted rape, masturbatory fantasies and Yu spending time as a member of a biker gang rather than a superhero.

Spidey started taking his enemies out permanently, with more blood spilled across each issue than the Crazy 88 scene of Kill Bill; he thought about the Japanese equivalent of Mary Jane whilst jacking it; and, yeah, he pretty much gave up on the outfit and became Mad Max. We’re scared. Why is Andrew Garfield doing all these things, mum?

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