SPACE SHERIFF GAVAN: THE MOVIE
A Preview of the Upcoming Metal Hero Film
Author: Alicia Ashby, with Additional Text from Toei
Source: Toei Co., Ltd.
Official Site: gavan.jp (Japan)
Translations: Jim Ballard and Elliot Gay
SPOILER WARNING: This article contains plot details and images from an upcoming movie.
From “legend” to “immortal”. The space sheriff returns…
30 years ago, in the golden age of tokusatsu heroes, a new hero shot down to us like a meteor.
His name: “Space Sheriff Gavan”.
To protect the Earth from the evil hands of the space criminal organization Makuu, Gavan adorned a dazzling combat suit and operated a variety of super machines.
He was the ultimate warrior, fighting a life or death battle inside an alternate dimension, “Makuu Space”.
The show featured non-stop action eclipsing traditional tokusatsu hero shows, plus stylish mechanics, magnificent scale and a heartwarming story.
As the pioneer of the “Metal Heroes” series, now continuing 17 years later, Gavan became a legend to the children of the time in the blink of an eye, shining brilliantly in the history of tokusatsu heroes.
And now, the legend has been passed to the next generation.
From parents to children. From Retsu Ichijouji to Geki Juumonji.
This is an all-new Gavan! With these hands, he’ll mould the future!
– Toei publicity materials for SPACE SHERIFF GAVAN: THE MOVIE
A new space detective legend begins now!
Last January, Toei shocked fans with the release of PIRATE SENTAI GOKAIJER VS SPACE SHERIFF GAVAN: THE MOVIE (海賊戦隊ゴーカイジャーVS宇宙刑事ギャバンTHE MOVIE, Kaizoku Sentai Gookaijaa tai Uchuu Keiji Gyaban Za Mubii), celebrating the 30th anniversary of the Metal Hero franchise alongside the 35th anniversary of the Super Sentai franchise. The film showed that year’s Sentai team crossing paths with Space Sheriff Gavan, the first Metal Hero. Gavan was played by his original actor, veteran stuntman Kenji Ohba, who also played roles in two different early Sentai series (BATTLE FEVER J and DENZIMAN).
That smash hit has led to Gavan being reborn for a new generation with SPACE SHERIFF GAVAN: THE MOVIE (宇宙刑事ギャバン THE MOVIE), opening in cinemas across Japan on Saturday, October 20th.
After years of hiding in obscurity, the space crime organization known as Makuu has started to move once again. A young space detective by the name of Geki Juumonji has inherited the Gavan name as he moves to stand against this rising evil. Supporting and watching over him from the shadows is the original Gavan, Retsu Ichijou. The Space Sheriffs Sharivan and Shaider also join the fight, leading to a giant battle of cosmic proportions!
30 years after he first appeared, Gavan will transcend his legendary status and become an immortal being. The “strongest man in the cosmos” will entrust the future and the message of the stars to a young man. Transcending time and space, the spirit of the brave is passed on!
One year ago, Japanese astronauts Geki Juumonji and his childhood friend Toya Okuma were flying to Mars aboard the space shuttle Kanata (meaning “Beyond”) when, without warning, a terrible accident occurred. The shuttle was destroyed and both pilots were missing and presumed dead.
In the present day, remnants of the space mafia Makuu attack the scientific organization SARD (Space Astrophysics Research and Development), endangering the life of Itsuki Kawai, childhood friend of the missing astronauts. Miraculously, a new Space Sheriff, Gavan Type-G, arrives to save her and the other employees. Gavan reveals that he is none other than Geki Juumonji! Kawai is overjoyed that Juumonji survived the accident, though the question of what happened to Okuma remains open.
Although Juumoji drives back the Makuu forces at SARD, the villains manage to escape with valuable data. When Juumonji returns to Galactic Federation Police Headquarters on Planet Bird, he and his partner, Sherry, are reprimanded by Commander Qom for their failure to prevent the theft. The new Gavan is reminded that he’s not truly a Space Sheriff yet, but still in training. Quom’s right hand woman, Eleena, explains that they’ve sent a pair of more senior Space Sheriffs to Earth to deal with the Makuu problem. Filled with a burning desire to protect his home world, Geki manages to convince chief Quom to give him another chance to protect his home planet alongside the other sheriffs.
Under the command of a villainess called Kill Witch, Makuu’s true goal is to revive their former leader, Don Horror, who was defeated in the past by the first generation Gavan. Leading this dastardly plan is the Jet Black Knight Brighton. Geki Juumonji faces Brighton but is soundly defeated, leaving the Black Knight free to kidnap Kawai. Just as he was once unable to save his best friend Toya, Juumonji has now put Kawaii in grave danger. The new Gavan is overwhelmed by grief and frustration.
As Juumonji hits rock bottom, Retsu Ichijouji, the legendary man who defeated Makuu, appears to try and spur the young hero back into action. Having tasted the same sorrow and despair in the past, Ichijouji understands Juumonji’s pain… but knows that Gavan must rise again and prevent the complete revival of Makuu.
Soon the heroes are trapped in Makuu Space, a sinister parallel dimension where Makuu’s monsters become stronger. If they can’t escape from this dark space, there is no hope. The two men struggle against the seemingly endless onslaught of enemies as the action builds to a climax at Makuu Castle, Space Mafia Makuu’s sinister headquarters. There, Juumonji must discover why Brighton kidnapped Kawai, and face the terrible possibility of Don Horror’s resurrection.
As the terrifying countdown nears its end, old comrades in arms Kai Hyuga and Shu Karasuma join the fight! Gavan, Sharivan and Shaider unite in all-out battle against the evil Makuu.
Just how will this fierce battle end…?!
Beginning in the 1970’s, Toei launched hit series like MASKED RIDER (仮面ライダー, Kamen Raidaa, 1971) and GORENGER (秘密戦隊ゴレンジャー, Himitsu Sentai Gorenjaa, 1975) which kicked off franchises that have continued into the present day. And in the 1980s, there was another group of heroes born that — while not matching the longevity of the Sentai and Kamen Rider lines — would also leave their mark on the Japanese special effects film history. These were the Metal Heroes.
Starting with the original show, SPACE SHERIFF GAVAN (宇宙刑事ギャバン, Uchuu Keiji Gyaban, 1982), the Metal Hero series captivated viewers of all ages with their fresh approach to the action and character designs as well as the high quality of the scripts, acting and music.
GAVAN kicked off a trilogy of “Space Sheriff” shows that continued with SPACE SHERIFF SHARIVAN (宇宙刑事シャリバン, Uchuu Keiji Shariban aka Shariban the Space Guardian, 1983) and SPACE SHERIFF SHAIDER (宇宙刑事シャイダー, Uchuu Keiji Shaidaa aka Space Captain Shaider, 1984). These shows shared continuity, with prior Space Sheriffs sometimes appearing as guest stars in later shows. After SHAIDER, Toei moved the Metal Hero series in a more experimental direction. These later shows did not share continuity, and increasingly bore little resemblance to the original Space Sheriffs. The final two Metal Hero shows, B-ROBO KABUTACK (ビーロボカブタック, Bii Robo Kabutakku, 1997) and TETSUWAN TANTEI ROBOTACK (鉄腕探偵ロボタック, Tetsuwan Tantei Robotakku aka Iron Dog Detective Robotack, 1998), weren’t superhero shows at all, but instead gentle comedies targeted at very young children.
After ROBOTACK came to its end, its timeslot was taken up by a 26-episode revival of an obscure Ishinomori property, ROBOCON (燃えろ!!ロボコン, Moero, Robocon!!, 1999), and then by another Ishinomori revival, MASKED RIDER KUUGA (仮面ライダークウガ, Kamen Raidaa Kuuga, 2000). KUUGA launched what is now called the “Heisei Rider” franchise, which has occupied the same timeslot ever since. With former Metal Hero staffers increasingly working on Rider shows and Rider suits beginning to resemble armored Metal Hero suits, fans began to joke that Rider had simply absorbed Metal Hero.
Perhaps Toei was instead simply waiting for the right time to reintroduce the original spirit of Metal Hero to a new, younger generation of tokusatsu hero fans. If so, then Toei has decided the right time is now.
At the beginning of 2012, Gavan returned in spectacular fashion in the motion picture, PIRATE SENTAI GOKAIJER VS SPACE SHERIFF GAVAN: THE MOVIE, which featured actor Kenji Ohba returning as the original Gavan, Retsu Ichijouji. With the new SPACE SHERIFF GAVAN: THE MOVIE, Ohba brings to the role (in Toei’s words) “a genuine kindness and sincerity that makes the character truly feel alive” as he trains a successor to the Gavan name, a young man named Geki Juumonji, who will continue his work for the Galactic Police Federation.
The role of Juumonji is played by Yuma Ishigaki (13 ASSASSINS), a performer who — at 30 years of age — is notably much older and more experienced an actor than is typical for the lead of a modern Toei henshin hero property. Toei is emphasizing Yuma’s ability to do his own fights and stunts, much as Ohba did in the original series. Intense action scenes and thrilling stunts, along with an energetic storyline, did much to make the original SPACE SHERIFF GAVAN a hit back in 1982.
Juumonji’s new Gavan suit is being called the Gavan Type-G (ギャバン”タイプG”), easily distinguished from the original by the updated lighting effects on its chestplate. Both Juumonji and Ichijouji’s Gavan suits will appear onscreen together in the film.
In addition, successors to the original Shaider and Sharivan characters appear in the film. The new Shaider is a hero named Shu Karasuma, portrayed by Hiroaki Iwanaga (KAMEN RIDER OOO). The new Sharivan is named Kai Hyuga and is played by Riki Miura (GEKI RANGER). Toei has not yet announced if original Sharivan lead actor Hiroshi Watari will have any involvement with the film, and original Shaider actor Hiroshi Tsuburaya passed away in 2001.
SPACE SHERIFF GAVAN: THE MOVIE’s heroine and Juumonji’s love interest is Itsuki Kawai, played by Yukari Taki (KAMEN RIDER W RETURNS: KAMEN RIDER ACCEL). Kawai is a childhood friend of Juumonji and a researcher who works for SARD. Another SARD staffer and childhood friend of Juumonji’s, as well as Gavan’s new partner, Sherry, is played by Suzuka Morita (SHINKENGER). Sherry’s aunt Eleena, the new secretary to Galactic Police Federation Commander Qom, is played by former adult film actress Honoka (UNOFFICIAL SENTAI AKIBARANGER). Remarkably, the role of Commander Qom will be reprised by the actor who played him in the original GAVAN TV series, Toshiaki Nishizawa (GODZILLA VS GIGAN). The role of Juumonji’s friend, Toya Okuma, is played by Nagaoka Takuya (LIFE IS DEAD).
Commanding the revived Makuu’s monstrous armies is a new character named Kill Witch. Although Kill Witch is an unmasked “costume” villainess, she is played by suit actress Sanae Hitomi, who has portrayed many different roles in Toei’s recent henshin hero productions. SPACE SHERIFF GAVAN: THE MOVIE will be the first time audiences gets to see her face onscreen.
Directing the film is Toei veteran Osamu Kaneda, who has helmed the series of Toei “mega-crossover” films that began with MASKED RIDER DECADE: ALL RIDERS VS. GREAT SHOCKER (劇場版 仮面ライダーディケイド オールライダー対大ショッカー , Gekijooban Kamen Raidaa Dikeido: Oru Raidaa tai Daishokkaa, 2009) and continued into more recent films like 000, DEN-O, ALL RIDERS: LET’S GO KAMEN RIDERS (オーズ・電王・オールライダー レッツゴー仮面ライダー, Ozu Den’o Oru Raidaa: Rettsu Goo Kamen Raidaa, 2011) and KAMEN RIDER x SUPER SENTAI: SUPER HERO TAISEN (仮面ライダー×スーパー戦隊 スーパーヒーロー大戦, Kamen Raidaa × Suupaa Sentai: Suupaa Hiiroo Taisen, 2012). SPACE SHERIFF GAVAN: THE MOVIE, featuring only four armored heroes, is sure to be a much smaller and more story-driven affair. Kaneda has a long track record in Toei’s TV productions, and served as the action director of the original SPACE SHERIFF GAVAN TV series.
Producer Jun Hikasa is another veteran of Toei’s henshin hero shows. Although his most recent hit was the subversive parody UNOFFICIAL SENTAI AKIBARANGER (非公認戦隊アキバレンジャー, Hikoonin Sentai Akibarenjaa, 2012), Hikasa also produced many notable shows in the original Metal Hero series, including the original SPACE SHERIFF SHAIDER and HEAVY METAL B-FIGHTER (重甲ビーファイター, Juukoo Bii Faitaa, 1995). This will be one of his first standalone film credits, though his involvement has prompted speculation about Toei possibly using the film as a springboard for launching a new Metal Hero TV series.
SPACE SHERIFF GAVAN: THE MOVIE screenwriter Yuuji Kobayashi has written for a number of Tsuburaya Productions’ Ultraman series. His Ultra credits include ULTRA Q: DARK FANTASY (ウルトラQ Dark Fantasy, Urutora Kyuu: Daaku Fantajii, 2004), ULTRAMAN MAX (ウルトラマンマックス, Urutoraman Makkusu, 2005), ULTRAMAN MEBIUS (ウルトラマンメビウス, Urutoraman Mebiusu, 2006), and ULTRASEVEN X （ウルトラセブン エックス, Urutorasebun Ekkusu, 2007). He was also an episode writer on the clever Ultraman homage BIO PLANET WoO (生物彗星ＷoO, Seibutsu Suisei Uu, 2006) and Amemiya Keita’s gothic henshin hero shows, GARO (牙狼〈GARO〉（ガロ）, 2005) and GARO: MAKAI SENKI (牙狼〈GARO〉～MAKAISENKI～, 2011). Kobayashi has done relatively little work for Toei before, contributing only a few episodes to GEKI RANGER (獣拳戦隊ゲキレンジャー, Juuken Sentai Gekirenjaa, 2007).
The film’s action director is longtime suit actor Toshihiro Ogura of Japan Action Entertainment. His best-known work to Westerners was probably in the Godzilla “Millennium Series” films, where he played the monsters Anguirus, Ebirah and Keizer Ghidorah in GODZILLA: FINAL WARS (ゴジラ ファイナルウォーズ, Gojira: Fainaru Woozu, 2004). In TV tokusatsu, Ogura began suit acting in the ground-breaking 1996 series CHANGERION (超光戦士シャンゼリオン, Chookoo Senshi Shanzerion, 1996), and then moved on to do a variety of roles in Toei’s Metal Hero, Heisei Kamen Rider, and Super Sentai series. SPACE SHERIFF GAVAN: THE MOVIE is Ogura’s first turn as action director, following in the footsteps of other notable Toei suit actors like Kazuo Niibori and Hirofumi Fukuzawa who transitioned into roles as action directors.
The special effects for SPACE SHERIFF GAVAN: THE MOVIE are directed by Hiroshi Butsuda, a veteran of Toei’s various henshin hero productions both on television and in theatrical films. His earliest work with the company goes back to 1990, when he began working on the Super Sentai series of shows. Butsuda also did work on Metal Hero and Heisei Kamen Rider, as well as one-off projects like PRETTY GUARDIAN SAILOR MOON (美少女戦士セーラームーン, Bishoojo Senshi Seeraa Muun, 2003). Outside of the Toei henshin hero oeuvre, he’s worked on films like DEVILMAN (デビルマン, Debiruman, 2004) and LORELEI: THE WITCH OF THE PACIFIC OCEAN (ローレライ, Roorerai, 2005).
Running Time: 82 Minutes
Japanese Release Date: October 20, 2012
Geki Juumonji/Gavan Type-G: Yuma Ishigaki
Retsu Ichijouji/Gavan: Kenji Ohba
Toya Okuma: Takuya Nagaoka
Itsuki Kawai: Yukari Taki
Sherry: Suzuka Morita
Commander Qom: Toshiaki Nishizawa
Kai Hyuga/Sharivan: Riki Miura
Shu Karasuma/Shaider: Hiroaki Iwanaga
Kill Witch: Sanae Hitomi
Don Horror: Shozo Iizuka
Narrator: Kiyoshi Kobayashi
Director: Osamu Kaneda
Original Concept: “Saburo Yatsude”
Screenwriter: Yuji Kobayashi
Producer: Jun Hikasa
Cinematographer: Wataru Kikuchi
Music: Michiaki Watanabe, Kosuke Yamashita
Action Director: Toshihiro Ogura
FX Director: Hiroshi Butsuda
International Sales: Toei
© “Gavan” Production Committee (Toei, TV Asahi, Toei Video, Kinoshita Group, Toei Advertising, Bandai, Nippon Columbia) © Toei