The Skull Man

Alt title: Skull Man

TV (13 eps)
3.008 out of 5 from 1,462 votes
Rank #6,396

Hayato Mikogami is returning to working as a freelance journalist but has had little luck in the big city, so he decides to return to his hometown to investigate a series mysterious murders by a man wearing a skull mask. However, when he arrives, he finds that most people have little to say about the incidents since very few people witness the events first hand. In order to find more clues he reluctantly enlists Kiriko Mamiya as his photographer, and later that night, he comes across his first clue: a man, moments after he had been killed by the Skull Man...

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(caution may contain spoilers) This was one of those anime that I basically bought without knowing much of anything about it other than what I read on the back.  trust me that never gives anything justice. Plot: Set in an alternate history of Japan, freelance photographer Minagami Hayato returns to his hometown of Ootomo to investigate rumors of a man wearing a skull mask committing murders there. Once in the city, he discovers connections between the victims and a local pharmaceutical company, a new religious sect, and strange half human, half animal creatures. Along with a young photographer, he decides to find out who the Skull Man really is. It's pretty much as the plot suggested, a gentleman wishing to capture the dreaded boogeyman of Otomo City, Japan on film for his local newspaper. He is unlikely paired up with Kiriko Mamiya at a train station while preparing to enter Otomo City. After a visit to his father's grave Minagami Hayato is met up with some old friends and the day progresses. He then retires to his old place he use to live in only to find out he is now having the unlikely pleasure of being paired with Kiriko Mamiya because she doesn't have anywhere else to go. After a mishap and misunderstanding we get the honor of meeting the skull man thanks to the incident which takes place at his old place. As time progresses (it's a time jump and hard to follow at times) we see many creatures start to appear, we are not certain how they got there but they are appearing everywhere and no one knows anything about them, yet the skullman appears to be after only these creatures, these mutants, these things which cannot be understood. There is a major religion organization which dwells in Otomo City by the name of Byakureikai. It's a very popular religion and that is where we meet Sara Kuroshio and her daughter Maya Kuroshio, both chairwomen of the religion, but Maya has a crush on a local priest and also enjoys helping orphans, her cover to go spend time with the priest by the name of Father Yoshio Kanzaki. But it is believed that Tatsuo Kagura, who died ten years ago in an arson case is the reason why Hayato Mikogami visits now to get truth to a closure. The same with a certain private investigator by the name of Kyouichirou Tachigi who arrives to help solve the mysteries about everything. In the end, upon discovery of the skull man and the truth behind the secrets that Gozo Kuroshio himself usually takes care of any one and anything that dares tries to dig up these said secrets, even if that means murder, we find Hayato Mikogami unable to leave once he gets too far into the investigation and the discoveries of twists and turns begins to take place and in the end, the truth is revealed and it sets in a whole wave of events that cause Otomo City to become victim to their own faith. when it came to the artwork it was totally fantastic, state of the art, sure it was digital but the artwork was done properly same with the sounds, the details to even the jar flies was remarkable, I only have the subbed version so if there is a dubbed now I haven't seen it, but the soundtrack was done well to go along with the anime.


This is based on an old manga by the legendary Ishinomori Shotaro, which would later pave way for Kamen Rider. Despite that, it is very much different from that series. The Skull man is a background character shrouded in mystery as well as why people turn into monsters. The anime is very slow if you don’t give it much attention, it isn’t really action oriented and emphasizes more on cracking the case, and yet defining what true evil is and covers a lot of philosophical and social issues on a local to international level such as corruption in relation to martial law and organized religion. It takes awhile to really develop the characters but the wait is worth it. Because some of the main characters are adults at a certain age, the only thing they have left to develop is a defining moment in their life that will define their respective careers or something like that. But if you give it your full attention, it will be fast and you will be fascinated at the plot twists and resolutions it delivers, and how it loosely connects to another creation of Ishinomori-sensei. Due to the nature of this anime being mystery and suspense, I really don’t want to give away much because I believe this is one of those things you really have to watch.What kind of disappointed me about this anime is that very little of the character design is faithful to the style of Ishinomori-sensei like how the recent Cyborg 009 was, but there are some that obviously are faithful at specific times. He had this distinct way of drawing that further helped define what anime and manga is today, and I felt a large portion of that was absent and that a majority of the design didn’t really come across as distinguishing. Maybe it’s a modern day interpretation to his art style, I don’t know, but I felt that Ishinomori-sensei should have been owed that much. However, some of the design of later characters are also very unique and faithful to his art style, but once again, that’d be a spoiler and I don’t want to get into that too much since it relates to that other creation he did. On the other hand, I loved the monster design and the design of the Skull man himself. You can easily tell that not only just story wise, but in an artistic sense, how this paved way for Kamen Rider such as his fondness of motorcycles, the scarf, and the martial arts action that is present in certain times. The action is exciting and intense and it picks up in the 2nd half of the series. It’s high octane but not excessively over the top or ridiculous, cliché, or cheesy like in tokusatsu. However, it is quite bloody, but not necessarily gory like in the recent Rambo film. What I also found very unique is that even though some of the vehicles and the architecture are very modern, they still use some old fashioned items such as audio tapes and records to represent some feeling of the old school influence and to probably give the viewer a possible sense in time it could take place in. I also liked when they showed vehicles, it was in the cel-shading style that the recent Initial D seasons and Wangan Midnight uses and it blends very excellently. One of the best traits this anime has is its soundtrack. I love the opening theme sung by the band Tokio. It is really intense as well as the scenery in the song. But I felt that because it is nearly 40 years old, I felt that some of the soundtrack could have been a little old school with the use of the instruments. But the music for the most part is very dark and eerie and gives a noir and horror like feel to the show. The ending theme I felt was kind of out place with this anime though it is a nice song. I felt it belonged more in a shoujo anime that a graphic and cerebral one like this. In the same way, I guess you can say it felt out of place like the ending theme in Elfen Lied though they are still good songs. Hayato, the main character is played by Yasumura Makoto. I really don’t know much about him. But I thought he did a great job as a tabloid reporter who knows how to get his scoop. He can be funny, and he can be serious. And Kiriko is played by Kawasumi Ayako, who plays Natsuki in Initial D. Her voice in this role in comparison to Natsuki is more childish and higher pitched. In addition to these two, the cast has some pretty big names. Like Tomokazu Seki, who played a lot of roles such as Miyata from Hajime no Ippo and Kenichi from History’s Strongest Disicple Kenichi plays the detective assigned to follow Hayato. In comparison to his other roles, he sounds a whole lot more gruffy which I felt was awkward for his high pitched voice, but later got accustomed to it and further expands his talents. And further elaborating who is in this anime and who plays who is another spoiler which I don’t want to get into and feel you should watch it.Even though this paved way for Kamen Rider, don’t expect Kamen Rider. In comparison, this series is much darker, gruesome, and more though provoking, but doesn’t really try to mess with your head. I really want to explain the nature of Skull man’s character, but it’s very difficult for me to say in this review because this is truly an anime I want you to see for yourself, and I hope you watch this with high expectations that this is truly something unique and distinctive. It is very engagingly philosophical with very effective unpredictability, and exciting action. It has many themes that everybody can relate to or reflect upon.

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