Directed by Motoyoshi Oda
Written by Hiroshi Beppu and Kei Beppu
Cast: Seizaburô Kawazu, Miki Sanjo, Minoru Takada, Yoshio Tsuchiya ,Sonosuke Sawamura, Keiko Kondo, Katamari Fujiwara, Shôichi Hirose, Fuyuki Murakami, Akira Sera, Shin Ôtomo, and Haruo Nakajima
Panics spreads through out Japan after the Japanese government confirms the existence of invisible men. In the wake of such news, crime sprees committed by a group of criminals claiming to be invisible men occur. A young journalist unravels the mystery behind who is the true invisible man to get to the truth.
The Invisible Avenger or Invisible Man is a Japanese 50s sci-fi flick which shares its name with a H. G. Wells’s novel. A similarity that I doubt is a mere coincidence. American pop culture considers the 1950s a strong highpoint of the science fiction genre. In Japan, the trend was somewhat similar since 1954’s marks the introduction of Godzilla. Invisible Avenger’s special effects is handled by the creator of Godzilla himself, Eiji Tsuburaya. The effects while not poor won’t really amaze you since the effects are quite mild, and don’t reach the spectacular heights set by Godzilla. Yet, the modest aspiration of the special effects have a charm of its own and the simple workarounds that are employed deserve appreciation. It’s an unnerving sight to behold, nonetheless! Invisibility usually entails slapstick of some kind, so The Invisible Avenger has a fair amount of it.
Like Godzilla, the invisible man is the embodiment of Japan’s post-war trauma haunting Japan. A living curse that lives on due to Japan’s descent into hapless militarism. The past that post-war Japan sought to forget for its own good. Unfortunately, Japanese veterans were part of this militaristic past;consequently, Japanese veterans of World War 2 had become invisible in the eyes of the public. The invisible man is a veteran forced to endure this grueling fate, literally and metaphorically. I’ve kept his identity unrevealed for the sake of spoilers. The invisible man is a heartfelt tortured soul whose self-denying behavior is astonishingly endearing.
Sadly, all of this exhaustive symbolism involving power of invisibility is surrounded by a mediocre plot, and is marred by paper-thin characterization for the rest of the other characters. Ironically, the only person who is supposed to be invisible has more flesh and blood in terms of personality than everyone else. The villains’ motivations are too one-note, and out of step with the central conflict of invisible man’s character.
The Invisible Avenger takes a less than likely scenario to shed some light on some serious post-war trauma and exceeds in this. However, sadly, too many of its other parts are too transparent to be a solid picture.