Cult TV

Cult TV Essentials: Moonlight Mask (1958)

Moonlight Mask is a fictional superhero that has appeared in Japanese tokusatsu and anime television shows and movies since his TV debut in 1958. Created by writer Kōhan Kawauchi.

Moonlight Mask set the standard as Japan’s first live-action TV superhero, and was a huge success with children. Television was already new in Japan, so many children that didn’t have a TV set were gathered around to watch it at a friend or neighbor’s house. Children also bought toy capes, sunglasses, masks and pistols and played Moonlight Mask in schoolyards and backyards.

Moonlight Mask’s identity has always been a mystery (which is why the Moonlight Mask persona is credited as being played by “?” in the original series).

Decked out in white tights, white & red cape, white scarf, yellow gloves & boots, dark glasses, face cloth and Indian-style turban (pinned with a “moon” ornament), Moonlight Mask is armed with a whip, two six-shooters, shuriken and moon-shaped boomerangs. He also rides a motorcycle.

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However, only audiences know that Moonlight Mask could very well be detective Jūrō Iwai, who seems to disappear from his friends before the caped crusader rides to the rescue in his motorcycle! Even his comical assistant Gorohachi Fukuro, his friend Inspector Matsuda, and children Shigeru, Kaboko and Fujiko are oblivious to Iwai’s secret identity.

The original Moonlight Mask tokusatsu TV drama series, produced by the advertising agency Senkosha and was aired on KRTV (now TBS) from February 24, 1958 to July 5, 1959, with a total of 130 (or 131) episodes, divided into 5 segments. Jūrō Iwai/Moonlight Mask was played by Ose Koichi.

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