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.

2 Responses

  1. TZH

    I also remember this movie because of that blasted “WATARIIIIIII” song. hahaha

    consider me a fan!

    thank you for this fantastic article! I wonder if I’ll be able to find the manga on my next trip to Tokyo…