The Skull Man – Complete Collection Review

Directed by: Takeshi Mori

Studio: Bones

Classification: 15 (BBFC)

Audio: Japanese

Subtitles: English

Episodes count: 1 – 13 (Complete)

Format: DVD

Licensed by: MVM Entertainment

Release Date: Out now

Journalist Hayato Mikogami returns to his hometown of Otomo city, to investigate recent rumors of a masked individual and his connection to several unsolved murders. Due to how strict it has become to gain access into the city, he is tightly tailed by a young woman named Kiriko Mamiya, a photographer, who is insearch of someone close to her that has gone missing. They eventually join forces when they discover what the other can lend to the investigation. However danger soon arises when strange half-human, half-beast creatures begin to attack during the night. The plot deepens when connections begin to form between the victims, a local pharmaceutical company and a mysterious religious sect. Just what does this skull masked vigilante have to do with all of this?

Otomo city resembles more of a prison than a metropolis. With guards posted at train stations, with strict requirements for those entering, a curfew at night for the ‘residents safety’ and a select few that appear to govern the entire city at a wim – however all appear to be corrupt. Almost every single character we meet has their own terrible secret – a hidden past, are plotting a takeover, are seeking revenge or have become slaves to the people that created them into the monsters they have become. Then we have the innocent children that attend the church orphanage, under the kind and gentle teachings of a former member – Fr. Yoshio Kanzaki, a close friend of Hayato’s. There are still innocent people in this World, even though they appear helpless.

There is much to unpack in this series, with some surprise character twists, family connections, mysterious but highly intelligent monsters and some captivating fights. This show was quite different from what I was expecting, it was actually quite enjoyable and well worth checking out. I actually find it hard to believe that this particular anime first came out in 2007 – I actually thought this was perhaps one or two years old.

‘The Skull Man’ was directed by Takeshi Mori, who is perhaps better known for Ruin Explorers, Gunsmith Cats, Vandread and Stratos 4. ‘Skull Man’ was animated then by studio Bones, infamous for their work on Wolf’s Rain, Fullmetal Alchemist, Space Dandy, My Hero Academia and Carole & Tuesday.

Bonus features include:

  • Japanese Promo videos
  • Trailers

There is actually quite a bit of history behind Skull Man, so much so that it first appeared back in 1970. Created by iconic mangaka: Shotaro Ishinomori, whose other works included Kamen Rider, Cyborg 009 and Super Sentai. Without his creative genius, we may never have gotten Power Rangers. Skull Man was originally a 100 page one shot manga that he had pitched to the producers at Toei, while they were developing the Kamen Rider TV series. After several revisions, due to how dark the initial story was – one I would have loved to have seen, he called upon manga artist Kazuhiko Shimamoto to adapt his original story after Ishinomori had fallen ill in the late 90’s. That adaptation turned into seven manga volumes, which was later picked up and translated by Tokyopop. Which may very well be a rare find nowadays. The franchise later adapted a live action television film in 2007, just before this 13 episode anime was released. Following that another 2 manga volumes were released by Shotaro Ishinomori in 2007, which was picked up by Kodansha.

‘The Skull Man’ is renowned for being amongst one of the first antiheroes to be seen in a manga. As well as being just another creative title from the influential manga artist – Shotaro Ishinomori. This anime adaption instead tells the story from a side character POA, without missing out on any of the violence, corruption, revenge and drama.

‘The Skull Man’ is available to buy now on DVD from MVM Entertainment.

Overall: 8/10

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