In The Amazing Spider-Man #12 Marvel have finally and officially acknowledged the Toei produced Japanese Spider-Man TV series from the end of the 70s.
The Japanese version, as you might expect, deviates from the classic Spider-Man in a multitude of ways. From an extra-terrestrial origin story to the inclusion of other tokusatsu elements.
The biggest change was the addition of a giant mecha known as Leopardon (Shown Above). This was included in the show as people at Toei thought the basic premise of Spider-Man wouldn't work in Japan without some modifications.
Due to the huge success of mecha pop-culture, Leopardon was created and added to the show.
Penned by the experienced mecha and toy designer Katsushi Murakami, Leopardon featured many gimmicks seen in previous mecha designs (such as Mazinger Z's famous rocket punch).
What's very special about Leopardon though is that it was teh first live action mecha design used in Japan. With subsequent tokusatus sentai shows adding the premise to the formula, which in turn created the super sentai setup.
So if you think Leopardon somehow ripped off Power Rangers, then you couldn’t be more wrong as the Japanese version of Spider-Man used mecha first.
While the alien monster of the week formula seems a tad cheesy, the Japanese version of Spider-Man does actually have a lot in common with classic 60s Ultraman. So it’s an interesting mix of styles that makes for some pretty fun viewing.
This inclusion of the Japanese Spider-Man into Marvel’s official canon is interesting though.
At the time, Marvel weren’t best pleased with the creative license taken with the property and I can sympathize with that to be fair. As such, the legal side of things has been a bit tricky between Toei and Marvel since.
Japanese creators are generally wary of dealing with Western companies due to them being exploited and the latter taking all the credit. In the case of Spider-Man, the property existed before the Japanese release and as such the origin is more clear-cut.
Over the past few years progress has been made, as we received a fantastic Soul of Chogokin Leopardon toy back in 2006 and even a DVD boxset of the original series.
It seems now that a legal agreement has been reached, as Marvel is finally including this version of Spider-Man into the fold. Not to mention also streaming the entirety of the Japanese TV series on their site.
The trailer (shown below) should give you an idea of the cheesy greatness that awaits you.