WATARI press stills (Part 2)

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Pre-pubescent axe-weilding hero Watari goes through standard shinobi like shit through a goose, but things get a lot dicier when he encounters a  bizarre rogues gallery of super-powered villains.

The uber-nemesis of the film is played by RYUTARO OTOMO, but Watari will have to wade through a legion of weirdos to get to him…
Lifted right off the manga pages, these goons are caked in make-up, primary-colored skin paint and off-the-wall costumes. They have powers to match, too. I won’t spoil anything for those of you yet to see WATARI, but one of these ninja is actually a robot!

The pervy toad boy and the thick kunoichi are my faves. Can’t find any info on who that is, but she’s got that joshi puroresu look…
Demon freaks and robo-ninja aside, there are even weirder bits in the film, like this trippy attack by animated butterflies.
This staged still got bit and re-bit for foreign posters, even for other films. Check out the Pakistani poster for Kadokawa’s LEGEND OF THE EIGHT SAMURAI below.

Further Reading:

I wrote a short plug for this film on the old Ninja80 blog (aka Not-So-Vintage Ninja)

Kung Fu Cinema wasn’t especially impressed with the martial arts of this film. And another review by Golden Pigsy.

There’s an all-too-small gallery of manga covers here.

And most importantly, BUY THE FILM at Kurotokagi! It’s worth it for the amazing theme song alone.

WATARI press stills (Part 1)

posted in: 1 - Film and TV | 2

Scored some 4×6″ B&W press stills from Toei’s 1966 mess of a masterpiece Watari the Ninja Boy (Daininjutsu eiga Watari). Depending on one’s previous knowledge of the Shirato Sanpei manga and where you stand on magical superhero ninjutsu vs. grim and gritty shinobi espionage, Watari is either bullshit or batshit. Could be a little of both, but I personally find this movie enjoyable as hell.

I love Watari‘s live-action cartoon universe and the characters are as outre as the source manga’s. It’s a candy dish of color with some great sets and absolutely awesome costuming. It is too long, too involved, the motivations are murky, etc. and so forth, but I forgive that in appreciation of the fact that this is a kid’s movie with a huge body count.

This collection of press stills – some staged, some from the actual film – lack the movie’s lush color, but do yield details easy to miss otherwise.

In Sanpei's manga, everyone gets by with one eye. The movie is hyper-faithful to the hair styles of the book, even when characters are masked!
Staged still replicating an FX scene in the film. YOSHINOBU KANEKO as the hero uses disappearing magic to avoid a rather nasty screw-tipped rope dart (you can see detail in the still above this one).
Messing with your own relative scale is a common power in this universe. This baddie also attacks as a black cat, then a thousand black cats, then a gigantic black cat!
Japanese press departments specialized in these artworked scenes that never happened. A total bitch to pull off in the days before Photoshop, too - that's all Xacto knife and paintbrush work.
Watari's mentor, and hairstyle inspiration, is shinobi-cinema icon MAKI FUYKICHI.

Watari can be downright brutal in his dealings with evil ninja!

TOMORROW, more stills from this collection, mostly of the increasingly bizarre monster-ninja Watari faces during the film.

Coming soon: Watari and Watari…

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Somehow, it’s the last week of October… Time flies when you’re running around in an Oni mask like a maniac. Actually, some mid-month travel put a dent in what I wanted to be a more prolific output for MONSTERS AND MASKS MONTH, but such is life.

Coming in the next few days, kaiju mayhem in MASKED NINJA AKAKAGE, freaky villains in WATARI THE NINJA BOY, maybe a flaming demon head floating around in a smoke cloud or two, and for Dia de los Muertos a look at the skull-masked ninja ‘shockers’ of KAIKETSU LION MARU.

Here’s a preview – a Mexican lobby card for the theatrical release of one of the composite Akakage films, which internationally were often mis-titled as “Watari” flicks. Note that it’s presented in “violent color” – god I love Mexico…