|From Scott on Flickr|
Now that we've had iron-clad super heroes for a good decade now, I'm reminded of a Japanese superhero who had a similar name but didn't quite have the endurance as those Marvel guys.
This was Iron King, a moniker that Tony Stark most likely would have enjoyed to no end, who had his time on Japanese TV from 1972 to 1973. I know very little about him, especially when compared to the Ultraman and Kamen Rider franchises; in fact, I only found out about Iron King through the pages of a very thick manga compilation that my mother had bought me at the local Japanese food store.
For years, I had thought that the hero was actually named Ion King because of the way the katakana presented itself, and because I knew that the appliance iron was written as アイロン in that syllabary. But I guess to distinguish the hero from the appliance, アイアン was used for the former. And in katakana, ol' Shellhead is actually written as アイアンマン.
A couple of things that I learned today in preparation for this article were: 1) rather ironically, it was the adorably bumbling sidekick-y guy who actually henshin'd his way into Iron King instead of the conventional leading man. So if I were to bring in a Marvel movie universe analogy, it would be Paul Rudd's Scott Lang (Ant-Man) becoming the superhero with his good buddy, Chris Evans' Steve Rogers (Captain America) sans uniform, helping out where he could on the ground. 2) if I read this correctly, Iron King only had a minute to get the job done before he started petering out; basically only a third of the time that Ultraman had before exhaustion started kicking in. I'm not sure whether this was due to sponsors really wanting to squeeze commercials in at the end of the episode.
If he hasn't already been given the accolades, I think singer Masato Shimon（子門真人）should be getting some sort of award from the government for his contributions to music. He has sung a tune about a bean jam-filled dessert that still holds the record for being the No. 1 single in Oricon history, has given us one of the more beloved anime themes, and has also recorded another more famous tokusatsu hero theme song.
And he sings the opening theme for this show under the simple title of "Iron King". Written by Mamoru Sasaki（佐々木守）and composed by Shunsuke Kikuchi（菊池俊輔）, who also provided the score for the series, the theme has all of the usual 1970s tokusatsu theme song tropes: staccato trumpets, gravitas-laden timpani, racing bass, and the triumphant vocals of Shimon. All of them come together to get those boys and girls glued in front of the sets for a half-hour of laughs and kicks.