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Skull Man

Skull Man
Cover of the Skull Man tankōbon, as published in Japan by Kodansha
(Sukaru Man)
Written byShotaro Ishinomori
Published byKodansha
English publisher
MagazineWeekly Shōnen Magazine
PublishedJanuary 1970
Written byKazuhiko Shimamoto
Published byMedia Factory
English publisher
Original runApril 7, 1998May 2001
Live-action television film
Directed byMakoto Yokoyama
StudioIshimori Productions
Original networkFuji TV
ReleasedApril 21, 2007
Runtime30 minutes
Anime television series
Directed byTakeshi Mori
Produced byKōji Yamamoto
Yūki Mori
Masahiro Yoshida
Makoto Watanabe
Jinichirō Koyama
Written byYutaka Izubuchi
Music byShirō Sagisu
StudioIshimori Entertainment
Licensed by
Original networkFuji TV
English network
Original run April 28, 2007 July 22, 2007
Written byMeimu
Published byKodansha
MagazineMagazine Z
Original runMay 2, 2007October 24, 2007

Skull Man (Japanese: スカルマン, Hepburn: Sukaru Man) is a shōnen manga series created by Shotaro Ishinomori which first appeared in Weekly Shōnen Magazine in 1970. The hero of the story, whose parents have been murdered, grows up to use his peculiar powers to take revenge. The original Skull Man was one of the first antiheroes to be seen in manga, someone who would sacrifice the lives of innocents in his quest for vengeance.

While developing the Kamen Rider (Masked Rider) TV series along with producer Toru Hirayama, Ishinomori created this manga as his own personal version, which the producers at Toei Company Ltd. used as the basis for the show.[which?] They made several changes to the content, as Ishinomori's original 100-page one-shot story was too dark and gruesome (even cerebral) for a show for all ages at the time.[citation needed]

In the late 1990s, after he had fallen ill, Ishinomori contacted manga artist Kazuhiko Shimamoto to do a remake (ambiguously a continuation) of his original one-shot manga.[3] This remake boasted an extensive, continuing storyline and more complex artwork (along with a tribute to Ishinomori in the final issue, with several of his famous characters gathered together).[citation needed] This was the manga that was presented in the US by Tokyopop. The original 1970 version was digitally released in English by Ishimori Productions in 2012.[4] An animated TV series adaptation, produced by Ishimori Productions and animated by Bones, was broadcast on Fuji TV from April 28, 2007 to July 22, 2007.[citation needed]


1970 manga (one-shot)

There are mass murders and catastrophes all over Japan, committed by a masked/caped psychic madman called the Skull Man, and his shapeshifting aide Garo (named after the manga ninja Garo created by Sanpei Shirato), who can mutate into various powerful monsters. The calamities caused by the Skull Man are investigated by the Tachiki Detective Agency, with the help of a young man named Tatsuo Kagura, the son of a yakuza in the Kagura Clan.

Police Chief Tachiki, who heads the Tachiki Detective Agency, suspects that Tatsuo is the Skull Man. Tatsuo, in turn, suspects that the detective is a part of a public conspiracy that has been after him for fifteen years. It turns out that Tatsuo's parents were murdered and he was adopted by the Kagura Clan. For fifteen years, Tatsuo has been hunting for the mastermind, who manipulates all industry, finance and even politics. Tatsuo, the Skull Man, threateningly demands Tachiki that he tell him the name of the mastermind. After muttering the culprit's family name, Chisato, the Skull Man shoots him in the head.

Skull Man and Garo then race to the estate of a reclusive old man named Kogetsu Chisato, who lives with a girl named Maya, who is mute and blind (she is always seen with her eyes closed). Overcome with psychotic rage, Skull Man threatens to kill Chisato, who not only kindly welcomes him, but has been looking forward to his arrival. Maya, however, telepathically persuades him not to kill Chisato, and reveals a shocking secret: Chisato is Skull Man's grandfather and Maya is his younger sister.

Chisato tells his shocked grandson the whole story: his own son, Tatsuo's father, was a scientific genius beyond geniuses. In fact, he was so intelligent and unearthly that he was a mutant, a being of Newmanity (Shinjinrui - similar to that in Ishinomori's later creation, Inazuman). His wife, whom he married and had Tatsuo with, was a mutant as well. The couple conducted bizarre experiments that were capable of destroying humanity. Chisato feared this greatly, so, when Maya was born, he killed his own son and daughter-in-law, and sought to kill his grandson Tatsuo, who ended up being rescued and raised by Garo. He could not bring himself to kill Maya, however, and raised her to be his faithful servant. Maya then tells Skull Man that Chisato wanted to bring him back before he could do anything.

Chisato traps himself, Skull Man, Garo and Maya in glass walls, and sets himself and all the others ablaze, sadly stating that "We were born in the wrong era!" Along with his entire "family", Tatsuo dies a tragic, horrible death in the inferno.


1970 manga

Although the original Skull Man is not yet in printed in the U.S., Comixology obtained the license rights to the title and has released an English-language digital version of the manga in 2012.[5]

1998 manga

The 1998 manga is a remake of the original manga. Skull Man revolves around Tatsuo Kagura, who early in his life was subjected to several mutating science experiments that ended up giving him amazing powers and skills. Longing revenge for the murder of his parents, he becomes Skull Man, a shadowy crusader who battles The Syndicate and its evil leader Rasputin. The story begins abruptly with a woman who possesses immense psychic powers killing a man, only to then be attacked herself by a man who can shapeshift into a bat, a wolf or an alligator named Garo. Garo is revealed to be Skull Man's childhood protector and present ally in the war against Rasputin and his hordes of evil mutants. Skull Man makes allies, loses comrades and dies in combat with a lethal mutant as in the first book. What follows is a trip into the world of shadows and the evil within all of us.

While based on Ishinomori's original manga story, the 1990s version was put together by well-known manga artist Kazuhiko Shimamoto, who had been a fan of Ishinomori's work since childhood. Ishinomori contacted Shimamoto towards the end of the former's life, requesting him to work with him on reviving the story of The Skull Man. In accomplishing this, Ishinomori faxed Shimamoto the story premise and plot notes, while Shimamoto put it all together and did the artwork. A few years earlier, Shimamoto worked on a manga adaptation of the movie Kamen Rider ZO, which included a short story about a struggling manga artist who completely idolized a fictional version of Ishinomori.

This manga features a myriad of cameos of other famous Ishinomori heroes, although this is mainly contained in the final pages of the manga's last chapter. They include:

  • Joe Shimamura: Joe Shimamura/Cyborg 009 makes his appearance in Chapter 36 and is seen punching out a mugger after rescuing a hostage. During this event, he and Ryuusei, the Skull Man, meet and debate evil and the nature of man over coffee. After the two part company for the evening, they meet again by chance at the docks to stop an illegal deal between corrupt politicians, Ryuusei in his Skull Man garb and Joe in his 00 Cyborg uniform (albeit only seen in a silhouette aside from close-ups on his face).
  • Kamen Rider: Detective Hioka, who pursued the Skull Man, was mutated into a Reconstructed Human by the Syndicate. After being rescued by Maria and brought back to Tatsuo/the Skull Man, he then further reconstructed him to be more advanced than the other grasshopper mutants the Syndicate created. In his original mutant form Hioka closely resembles the designs of Kamen Riders ZO and J, and grows his antennas after a battle with Syndicate grunts; his upgraded form is based heavily on the designs of Kamen Rider #1, Hongo Takeshi, Hioka's Kamen Rider rides a motorcycle very much like the original Cyclone motorcycle, possesses a scarf around his neck, and his head appears to be a helmet instead of physically mutating into the grasshopper head. However, unlike Kamen Rider #1, his costume is much closer to a motorcycle jacket and pants than the cloth pants and "armored" tunic that costumed Kamen Rider #1, and is seen using a laser pistol in his rescue of The Skull Man.
  • Henshin Ninja Arashi: In the Skull Man manga, A young ninja in the city who is almost killed by an apelike Syndicate mutant, who stabs him in the chest with a knife. He is found on the brink of death by the Skull Man, and taken back to his laboratory. As the Skull Man hopes to revive him with cyborg technology, the panels reveal feathers flown over indicating that this man is a descendant of Arashi, it is possible that he received the powers like his ancestor and went along with the Skull Man to fight against evil.
  • Gorenger: The five members of Himitsu Sentai Gorenger can be seen in the hero collage at the end of the manga's final chapter.
  • Robot Detective: Robot Detective K, in his civilian clothing, can be seen directly in front of Ki Ranger in the hero collage at the end of the manga's final chapter.
  • Inazuman: Inazuman can be seen directly in front of Momo Ranger in the hero collage at the end of the manga's final chapter.
  • Kikaider: Kikaider can be seen in his android form in front of and between both Robot Detective K and Inazuman in the hero collage at the end of the manga's final chapter.
  • Space Ironmen Kyodain: Skyzel and Groundzel can both be seen behind and to the right of Henshin Ninja Arashi in the hero collage at the end of the manga with Sky Zero on the right and Ground Zero on the left.


An anime TV series adaptation was broadcast on Fuji TV stations for three months from April 28, 2007 to July 21, 2007, for a total of 13 episodes. Produced by Geneon Entertainment, Fuji TV, ToyoKasei, Ishimori Entertainment, and animated by Bones, the series was directed by Takeshi Mori, with Yutaka Izubuchi handling series scripts and designing Skull Man and GRO, Jun Shibata designing the characters, Yoshinori Sayama designing the mechanical elements and Shirō Sagisu composing the music. A live-action "Episode Zero" was shown on April 21, titled "Skullman: Prologue of Darkness," starring Ami Suzuki, Kamen Rider Hibiki and Death Note's Shigeki Hosokawa and well-known stuntsman/actor from Kagaku Sentai Dynaman and Tensou Sentai Goseiger's Makoto Itō. It was also set up to be a pseudo prequel to Cyborg 009.

Logo for the 2007 anime series

Unlike the previous Skull Man, the story closely focuses on a journalist named Hayato Mikogami who returns to his hometown at Otomo to investigate strange rumors of killings done by a man wearing a skull mask. Tailed tightly by a young photographer, Kiriko Mamiya, the two soon uncover the many strings of connections between the victims, a local pharmaceutical company, a mysterious new religious sect and strange half-human, half-animal creatures, which roam the night streets for blood. Many of the characters are taken from Ishinomori's works other than Skull Man.

The series opening theme is TOKIO's "Hikari no Machi" (ひかりのまち, "City of Light") and the ending theme is Chocolove from AKB48's "Ashita wa Ashita no Kimi ga Umareru" (明日は明日の君が生まれる, "A New You Is Born Tomorrow").


Skull Man (スカルマン, Sukaru Man)
Voiced by: Hiroshi Tsuchida
A mysterious man in a skull-shaped mask making appearances in Ōtomo City and rumored to have been killing numerous victims in the city, especially those roaming at night. He is believed to be the missing Tatsuo Kagura at first, but later in the series, Father Yoshio Kanzaki, a close friend of Hayato's, reveals himself as the true Skull Man and explains that the only people he has been killing are those who are members of a new cult who mutate into monsters. After Yoshio's death, Hayato becomes Skull Man himself and saves Maya from the ritual, for Yoshio's sake. The Skull Man is actually not a person, but an ancient helmet that grants the user supernatural abilities and deadly weapons. At one point, Kiriko's brother Jin dresses up in a fake Skull Man suit and uses it to commit murders, but the real Skull Man shows up later and confronts him.
Hayato Mikogami (御子神 隼人, Mikogami Hayato)
Voiced by: Makoto Yasumura
Hayato Mikogami once lived in the orphanage in Ōtomo City. After being adopted and raised, he left Ōtomo to move to Tokyo so he can work for a famous newspaper. Years later at 23 years old, he is working for a second rate newspaper and with permission leaves to go back to Ōtomo City to search for the legendary figure, Skull Man who by rumors had recently killed an actress. While on the train trip, he meets a young Kiriko who doesn't have the correct passport to get into the city and he helps her in by presenting a business card of Gōzō. Later, after getting comfortable into his old house, he gets locked outside due to Kiriko's tantrum. Without realizing, he breaks the midnight curfew and witnesses a man who is running away from someone. The man injures Hayato after he tries to help him but the man is killed by the Skull Man. Hayato collapses on scene, pinning him to the murder but is let off due to his ties with Gōzō.
Hayato is a care-free guy who smokes and is constantly annoyed by Kiriko. Later he develops a close friendship with her. At the end of the series, Hayato takes up the mantle of the Skull Man against the original's warning, mortally wounding himself when he overuses the mask's powers. For reasons unexplained, the white mask turns black in the rising sunlight before a mysterious group, later revealed to be Black Ghost, picks him up and converts him into a cyborg.


# Title Directed by Written by Original air date
0"Skullman: Prologue Of Darkness"
Transliteration: "Sukaru Man ~Yami no joshō~" (Japanese: スカルマン〜闇の序章〜)
Yūsuke FujikawaMasaaki SakaiApril 21, 2007 (2007-04-21)
Live-action prequel episode.
1"City of the Dancing Mask"
Transliteration: "Kamen ga odoru machi" (Japanese: 仮面が踊る街)
Katsumi TerahigashiYutaka IzubuchiApril 28, 2007 (2007-04-28)
Journalist Hayato Mikogami arrives in his hometown and begins investigating the enigmatic Skull Man. However, he runs into his target sooner than expected.
2"The Man From the Past"
Transliteration: "Kako kara kita otoko" (Japanese: 過去からきた男)
Yasushi MuroyaSeishi MinakamiMay 5, 2007 (2007-05-05)
Hayato, temporarily a murder suspect, is released from police custody due to his connections. His further investigations reveal a possible connection between the Skull Man and an arson case ten years ago.
3"Crimson Rain Falls in the Afternoon"
Transliteration: "Shinku no ame wa gogo ni furu" (Japanese: 深紅の雨は午後に降る)
Hirokazu YamadaHiroshi ŌnogiMay 12, 2007 (2007-05-12)
Yui receives a threatening letter and later becomes the target of blackmail. Kiriko follows Yui and Sayoko to the theater. However, the real target of the Skull Man is Sayoko, who turns out to be a mutant.
4"The Ghost That Goes For a Stroll"
Transliteration: "Sanpo suru yūrei" (Japanese: 散歩する幽霊)
Shigeru UedaHiroshi ŌnogiMay 19, 2007 (2007-05-19)
A dead body hung from a railroad bridge makes Hayato investigate the legend of the Phantom Monorail. However, once on board, he becomes the target of the Skull Man.
5"The False Blind Spot"
Transliteration: "Itsuwari no shikaku" (Japanese: 偽りの死角)
Yasushi MuroyaSeishi MinakamiMay 26, 2007 (2007-05-26)
Usami, the Skull Man impostor, tries to eliminate the original. Meanwhile, Kiriko discovers a person from her past among the Byakureikai members.
6"Banquet of the Grim Reaper"
Transliteration: "Shinigami-tachi no utage" (Japanese: 死神たちの宴)
Katsumi TerahigashiYutaka IzubuchiJune 2, 2007 (2007-06-02)
Hayato and Kiriko run across yet another Skull Man killing the town mayor. With other trails getting cold, the two decide to investigate the Byakureikai from the inside.
7"Master of the Beasts"
Transliteration: "Jinjū tsukai-shi" (Japanese: 人獣使い師)
Yasuhiro MinamiSeishi MinakamiJune 9, 2007 (2007-06-09)
Hayato and Kiriko are discovered and kicked out of Byakureikai, but Hayato discovers that one of the disciples there is an old acquaintance of Kiriko and the reason for her entering the town. That person - Jin - is masquerading as the Skull Man in order to carry out assassinations for Gōzō Kuroshio.
8"The Maiden Whispers in the Moonlight"
Transliteration: "Gekkō ni otome wa sasayaku" (Japanese: 月光に乙女はささやく)
Junichi YokoyamaHiroshi ŌnogiJune 16, 2007 (2007-06-16)
Kiriko and Hayato, fresh off a lead left by Jin, work together to investigate photographs left by him of the White Bell compound. His legacy draws them deeper into the events surrounding the White Bell cult. Meanwhile, coming out of cathartis, Kiriko runs into Maya again after the previous episodes' developments, Hayato warms up to an old flame by the name of Nami that returns to the village after him, and learns about his old school crush's unfortunate history after he left Otomo.
9"Blessed Are the Impure"
Transliteration: "Kegareshi mono ni shukufuku o" (Japanese: 穢れしものに祝福を)
Hirokazu YamadaYutaka IzubuchiJune 23, 2007 (2007-06-23)
The Police step up patrols in the city in response to the escalating violence and wind up with more victims as a result, due to a monster lurking about. At the same time Nami is having recurring nightmares, driving her to the brink of desperation, while her unknowing admirer Detective Shinjou gets high hopes after being promised a date with her. In the mix of encircling circumstances, Hayato tries to support Nami and is rejected, just as events unfold which change everything for the three of them.
10"The Circus Laughs at Midnight"
Transliteration: "Sākasu wa mayonaka ni warau" (Japanese: サーカスは真夜中に嗤う)
Satoshi NakagawaShingo TakebaJune 30, 2007 (2007-06-30)
Hayato and Kiriko hide out in the woods, since Hayato is now a wanted criminal. The Company has brought in a group of elite mercenaries - all cyborgs actually - via the Phantom Monorail, to flush out the Skullman. In the battle between them and the Skull Man and his "Lost Numbers" (two mutants he rescued and who follow him), many of the cyborgs are killed, but the Skull Man is mortally wounded. Hayato follows the blood trails back to the church, and it is finally that his identity is really Father Kanzaki.
11"Darkness Take My Hand"
Transliteration: "Yami yo, wa ga te o tori tamae" (Japanese: 闇よ、我が手を取りたまえ)
Keisuke ŌnishiHiroshi ŌnogiJuly 7, 2007 (2007-07-07)
After the battle between the Skull Man and the Cyborgs in the forest subsides, Hayato, Kiriko, and Detective Shinjou descend on Yoshio Kanzaki's church to finally learn the truth about the Skull Man, but they are not alone.
12"Bloody Eve"
Transliteration: "Chi no seiya" (Japanese: 血の聖夜)
Katsumi TerahigashiSeishi MinakamiJuly 14, 2007 (2007-07-14)
Taking up the dying wishes of his close friend, Hayato returns to the city to stop Masaki Kuroshio's evil machinations from unfolding. In the meantime, all hell breaks loose in the city as the fighting mutants and the army are also attacked by the Corporation's mechanical war machines and cyborgs.
13"Black Fable: All That I Love Leaves Me"
Transliteration: "Kuroi gūwa ~ itoshiki mono wa subete sari yuku" (Japanese: 黒い寓話~愛しきものは全て去りゆく)
Yasushi MuroyaYutaka IzubuchiJuly 21, 2007 (2007-07-21)
Having succeeded in achieving his objective Masaki Kuroshio announces the birth of a new humanity, and the new Skull Man is the only one who can stop him. But this will cost him everything he has yet to give.


Several television stations and satellite channels in Japan have broadcast the anime series. These include: Tokai TV, Kansai TV, BS Fuji and Animax.

In the Philippines, Hero TV started its Tagalog-dubbed broadcast on November 11, 2012.[6]

DVD release

On July 25, 2007, the full series has been available monthly on Region 2 DVD, with individual episodes released by Geneon Entertainment in Japanese-language audio with no subtitles. All DVDs have 7 volumes, and each volume contains two episodes (including only one episode for Volume 1). In addition, the live-action special "Skullman: Prologue of Darkness" DVD was released on September 21, 2007.[7][8][9]

In Spain, it has been distributed on DVD by Selecta Visión from January 24, 2009. The audio soundtracks include Japanese and Spanish (Castilian) with Spanish (Castilian) subtitles which automatically appear. On March 24, 2010, Selecta Visión has re-released the series as the Integralized Version DVD with the same audio tracks but with newly enhanced features such as the same content from the Japan DVD release, but in 5.1 quality instead of stereo.[10] All DVDs have 3 Volumes in one disc each (Volumes 1 & 2 have 4 episodes and Volume 3 has 3 episodes) which are individually available or coming with a collector's box set.

In Canada and United States, it was licensed by Sentai Filmworks and distributed by Section23 Films, who released the complete collection on Region 1 DVD on February 2, 2010.[11] For legal reasons, the original opening, "Hikari no Machi", has been replaced with an instrumental opening and footage from an earlier trailer for the series.

2007 manga

The 2007 manga is based on the anime series adaptation of the same year and drawn by the manga artist Meimu. Set in an alternate history of Japan, freelance journalist Hayato Mikogami returns to his hometown of Otomo to investigate rumors of a man wearing a skull mask committing murders there. Once in the city, he discovers connections between the victims and a local pharmaceutical company, a new religious sect, and strange half-human, half-animal creatures. Along with a young photographer, he decides to find out who the Skull Man really is.

Audio CD soundtrack

  • On July 25, 2007, Geneon Entertainment released their first original score anime soundtrack album entitled "The Skull Man Original Soundtrack from the TV Anime"[12] and on January 25, 2008 the second original soundtrack was also released entitled "The Skull Man Original Soundtrack 2".[13] All albums and music are composed by Shirō Sagisu.

China ban

On June 12, 2015, the Chinese Ministry of Culture listed Skull Man among 38 anime and manga titles banned in China.[14]

See also


  1. ^ "Skull Man Manga from Tokyopop".
  2. ^ "Tokyopop Licenses Skull Man Manga – AnimeNation Anime News Blog".
  3. ^ Shimamoto, Kazuhiko (2002). The Skull man. Ishinomori, Shōtarō, 1938-1998., Yoshimoto, Ray. Los Angeles, Calif.: Tokyopop. ISBN 9781931514651. OCLC 52120460.
  4. ^ "Skullman". Archived from the original on October 18, 2012. Retrieved February 4, 2013.
  5. ^ "Comixology Licenses Shotaro Ishinomori's Entire Manga Catalog". Anime News Network. October 12, 2012. Retrieved November 22, 2012.
  6. ^ The Skull Man @ Archived 2013-02-13 at the Wayback Machine
  7. ^ スカルマン The Skull Man 1~7
  8. ^ スカルマン DVD
  9. ^ The Skull Man Vol. 1 (Limited Edition)
  10. ^ The Skullman DVD @ Selecta Visión
  11. ^ "Section23 Films Announces February Slate". Anime News Network. 2009-12-04.
  12. ^ TV Anime The Skull Man Original Soundtrack
  13. ^ The Skull Man Original Soundtrack 2
  14. ^ "China bans 38 anime & manga titles including Attack on Titan". Special Broadcasting Service. 2015-06-12. Retrieved 2018-08-31.

External links

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