Hideo Kojima Explains How Spider-Man Is Similar To Japanese Superheroes

Image: Sony Pictures

Out of all American superheroes, there is one that many in Japan seem to like best: Spider-Man. But why? In a recent interview, Hideo Kojima explains how Spider-Man is like Japanese heroes, which might explain the character’s appeal to local audiences.

How better to explain this than a man whose Twitter profile says his body is made of 70 per cent movies?

Kojima told Famitsu how the first X-Men movie was a stylish motion picture that appealed to adults.

“As for Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man, the age bracket dropped slightly and it was a youth fantasy film,” Kojima said. “I’m not saying that derisively, as I really like Raimi’s Spider-Man.” In particular, he was moved by Spider-Man 2.

Famitsu asked Kojima which American comic book character was his favourite, and he replied that he perhaps liked Spider-Man the most. “He’s a hero with worries, and that’s similar to Japanese heroes,” explained Kojima, who added that he's basically like masked Japanese heroes such as Kamen Rider and Tiger Mask.

Rich superheroes or superheroes without flaws are less appealing to him, Kojima says. Besides Spider-Man, he is also a fan of the Flash, adding that he liked the character’s recent TV series.

“Don’t you think how Spider-Man was originally a normal person who, because of an accident, became a masked superhero has similarities to Kamen Rider?” asked Kojima. Kamen Rider is a regular person who was kidnapped by an evil terrorist organisation and turned into a grasshopper mutant who then escapes, dons a mask and battles evil.

Obviously, he doesn’t mean that Spider-Man and Kamen Rider are the same (they are very, very different)

Nor does it necessarily matter which was first, because there are enough thematic similarities that make the American character appealing to those who grew up with masked Japanese heroes, such as the iconic characters Kamen Rider (literally “Masked Rider”) or “Tiger Mask” (a do-gooder wrestler in a tiger mask).

I’d also add that the character’s costume and physique would appeal to Japanese who grow up on Super Sentai (Power Rangers outside Japan) type shows.

Out of all the American superheroes, it is easy to see why Spider-Man would be easiest for Japan to embrace and why Kojima likes the character so. Spider-Man is not a leap. There is a familiarity. It couldn’t happen to a better character.


Comments

    It be good if we could get an acutal Japanese person writing about this stuff.
    There's no fish-out-of-water quality to these "man in Japan" articles. Just smug "Guess what I know all about because I live here!" sentences. And some of his articles are tiny and go nowhere.

    We, the readership, are long overdue for a change, Kotaku! I mean, let's be honest: The criticism has been loud for years now. Maybe listen to the audience. I've been quite and pleasant about it for a good year now, but these aren't great articles and I think Kotaku needs to own it. They don't attract a lot of positive feedback and cause more frustration that informative moments. Also, Tweets. so many Tweets. Those aren't really articles.
    Can we get a change?

    Yeah I can't say I'm surprised that Spidey would resonate more than other western heroes in Japan, he's always been pretty popular there.
    Even on this side of the pond the character stands out amongst many of the others from the same era and beyond.

    There's a very rich history of cross-feedback between Spider-Man and Japanese tokusatsu series.

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