I have noted a difference between American comic book superheroes and Japanese tokusatsu superheroes. Tokusatsu is a term for live action with special effects, like in the Godzilla movies. Not only is there a difference in the form of media, there is a difference in the way they are presented. In the United States, we have superheroes from DC and Marvel. In Japan, many of the superheroes come from Super Sentai and Kamen Rider.
In American comics, the series lasts as long as how much time, money, and motivation are put into it. Batman: The Animated Series, for example, has lasted for four seasons. Both Super Sentai and Kamen Rider change their series every year; basically every season. The same can be said with many Japanese anime. Some anime last for only twelve episodes. While American superheroes, for the most part, never change, Japanese superheroes constantly change. There are always new characters, new motifs, and new locations.
Unlike most Marvel and DC superheroes, most superheroes from Super Sentai and Kamen Rider are not that concerned with keeping their identities secret. In many of the Kamen Rider shows like Kamen Rider W, Kamen Rider OOO, Kamen Rider Fourze, and Kamen Rider Wizard, the Riders change in front of innocent bystanders. There doesn’t seem to be a lot of media attention for the superheroes either. It could be that the Japanese have a different way of viewing superheroes. Americans could be concerned about the identity of the heroes that protect them, and the Japanese prefer to respect the hero’s identity. Either that or the Japanese just want to ignore the issue. Though there are some cases when innocent bystanders will protect an American superhero’s identity. In Spider-man 2, Peter Parker takes off his mask while trying to stop a runaway train. The passengers promise him that they will never tell anyone who he is, and even stand up to Doctor Octopus.
The mission of the superheroes differs as well. DC and Marvel superheroes have a career that lasts most of their lifetime. Super Sentai and Kamen Rider superheroes have a career that lasts less than a year. Also, their opponents differ. American superheroes have a wide variety of enemies from common thugs to criminal masterminds. Japanese superheroes always have monsters for enemies; they are never human (though in Kamen Rider W and Kamen Rider Fourze, the main antagonists are humans that are able to temporarily transform into monsters with special devices). Another notable trait of Japanese superheroes is that they do not fight regular crime like Batman or Spider-man does. They only fight when the monster is located.
In America, superheroes usually use costumes in combat. In Japan, superheroes “transform”, or “henshin”. It’s not really much of a transformation, as the hero’s suit just materializes around their body. The Japanese always uses a special device that allows them to transform. Some American superheroes like the Hulk or the Thing have a form larger than the average human. Japanese superheroes are always humanoid and human-sized.
One of the things I like most about Super Sentai and Kamen Rider is their strong morals. DC and Marvel have morals, but they are not as focused on. Also, in some comics, there is always some form of sexual intercourse. Super Sentai and Kamen Rider does not display any form of sexual intercourse, though there are some sexual scenes like breast touching, but this is mainly for comical purposes. Despite being aimed mainly towards children, both television series have parts that most American parents find inappropriate. For example, in Dekaranger, one of the characters catches a bullet. In Power Rangers: SPD (Dekaranger’s American counterpart), the bullets were changed into laser beams, causing the character to do the impossible by catching it. There is also some blood in the Japanese shows, something that many American parents, understandably, dislike. This may look like Japanese parents are being irresponsible for allowing their children to watch shows with guns and blood, but the truth is that it’s all about how that child is raised.
There is a lot to compare and contrast between American superheroes and Japanese superheroes. Personally, I am not a big fan of Power Rangers (it was okay during the first ten seasons, but now I find it cheesy), and I wish that American children can be exposed to Super Sentai and Kamen Rider the way they are, and not an American adaptation. Americans and Japanese have different views of superheroes, and it is rather enjoyable to compare and contrast the two sides.