“Skull Man” is a thirteen-episode Japanese anime series directed by Takeshi Mori and produced by Bones. This is adapted from the manga counterpart. However, there were two different mangas published. One was published in 1970 with the other being published in 1998. Shotaro Ishinomori authored the 1970 version while Kazuhiko Shimamoto authored the 1990 version.
The 1990s version is simply a remake of the 1970s version. Ishinomori’s version had only one volume while Shimamoto’s version had 7 volumes. Ishinomori had fallen ill. Before he died, he contacted Shimamoto to do a remake. In a sense, the remake continued on where the storyline left off.
Skull Man is pretty much an antihero. He does not care about how many innocent lives are lost as long as he gets his vengeance. Skull Man’s success comes from the dark feeling that came from the story. The quality of sacrificing the lives of innocents makes Skull Man a true antihero. However, many things were edited for TV due to the manga being too violent and gruesome.
In the 1970 version, Skull Man is a caped madman with psychic powers. For the most part, Skull Man is the one responsible for committing mass murders and catastrophes all across the nation of Japan.
The 1990 version focuses on Tatsuo Kagura, who is the Skull Man. He is out to avenge the murder of his parents. In a sense, Skull Man is basically the antithesis to Batman. While Batman is looking for the one that murdered his parents, he does not sacrifice the lives of innocents. Batman acts as a protector to all. In the case of Skull Man, he does not care about the innocents. Skull Man wants revenge and only revenge.
In the anime, the main character is Hayato Mikogami, a journalist that returns to his hometown of Otomo. He is out to investigate the killings by Skull Man. Hayato is accompanied by a young photographer named Kiriko. This is an interesting way to view skull man. Instead of focusing on Skull Man himself, it focuses on the journalist seeking the clues.
However, there are things not present in the anime that are present in the manga. One example is the numerous cameos of heroes from Ishinomori’s other works. Skull Man crosses paths with Joe Shimamura of Cyborg 009, Kamen Rider, Henshin Ninja Arashi, Goranger, Robotto Keiji, Iazuman, Kikaider, and Uchuu Tetsujin Kyodain.
Regardless, the anime has an interesting storyline. It gives a good perspective of the story from a journalist’s point of view.