who’s the most iconic japanese superhero in our childhood memory? Otakus could argue indefinitely.
It’s not possible to categorically identify the greatest. However, the following top 20 Japanese superheros have had a huge cultural impact on our childhood.
1. Ultraman (ウルトラマン)
Ultraman isn’t a single superhero: there are hundreds of Ultraman collectively known as Ultra Crusaders. They are super-humanoid solar powered giants from space who defend earth from giant monsters and aliens.
Ultra Crusaders have numerous superpowers. Their one weakness: they can only stay on earth for 3 to 5 minutes before their power runs out. They must regularly return to space to recharge their batteries.
There have been over 20 Ultraman TV shows (series) and over 20 Ultraman movies since the mid 1960s.
2. Kamen Riders
Kamen Rider is a long running series of manga, television programs and movies. Like Ultraman, Kamen Rider isn’t a single superhero.
Instead, there are over 100 Kamen Riders. All are grasshopper-like superhumans who ride motorcycles.
The cultural impact of the series in Japan resulted in astronomer Akimasa Nakamura naming two minor planets in honor of the series: 12408 Fujioka, after actor Hiroshi Fujioka, known for his portrayal of Takeshi Hongo/Kamen Rider 1 and 12796 Kamenrider, after the series itself.
3. Super Sentai (Power Rangers)
Super Sentai is another superhero series with dozens of TV series, movies and characters. They are better known in the English speaking world as Power Rangers.
The Super Sentai Series is one of the most prominent tokusatsu productions in Japan, alongside the Ultra Series and the Kamen Rider Series.
4. Sailor Moon
Sailor Moon are a team of teenage girls who can transform into heroines named for the moon and planets.
The series follows the adventures of Usagi Tsukino as she transforms into the titular character to search for a princess and an artifact called the “Legendary Silver Crystal”.
During her journey, she leads a diverse group of comrades, the Sailor Soldiers — Sailor Guardians in later editions — as they battle against villains to prevent the theft of the Silver Crystal and the destruction of the Solar System.