Tuesday, June 26, 2012

My World : Red Taiyo

Red Taiyo (レッド太陽 Reddo Taiyo) is secretly Atsushi Anzai (安西敦士 Anzai Atsushi), an associate lecturer of astronomy at Tokyo’s Johoku University. Returning home late one night, his motorcycle disappeared into a burst of light. Anzai was greeted by three luminous beings who introduced themselves as the Solar People. These mysterious Solar People bestowed upon Atsushi Anzai both a henshin (transformation) belt and a mission: fight for Japan and the entire world during a coming time of darkness.

Returned to the normal world, Anzai took his newfound mission to heart and created the identity of Red Taiyo (“Red Sun”) with his henshin belt. He uses the powers of the belt to transmute his standard bike into a potent machine dubbed “Sunflare.” Red Taiyo utilizes Sunflare and the enhanced strength granted him by the belt to fulfill his promise to the Solar People.

Red Taiyo is trailed in his ongoing crusade by Kenta Chiba, a bumbling freelance cameraman. Chiba does his best to be helpful, and sometimes even succeeds. Whether he will prove to be a hindrance or an asset in Red Taiyo’s mission has yet to be determined.

If you're a longtime follower of my work, you might recall a character from my elementary school days named Red Circle. As I've mentioned in the past, he was inspired by a one-shot hero "Captain Japan" featured in Marvel's puzzle comic Fun & Games. Red Circle had no connection to Japan, and was basically what I thought was a cool visual.

I love Japanese superheroes, but had felt for a long time I had exhausted everything I wanted to say about them through Return of Jetman. Red Circle is a guy I thought had a lot of potential to fill the role of classic Japanese superhero in my Owariverse. There were two things I had to keep in mind: 1) I couldn't call him "Red Circle" (Archie Comics owns this name, which it has used as a publishing brand) and 2) I didn't want to make him look too much like Battle Japan from BATTLE FEVER J in revamping him.

I've discarded any number of ideas over the last couple of years before hitting on the "right" formula for the newly-rechristened Red Taiyo. I am pretty happy with what I've devised in terms of both design and backstory. It all strikes me as reasonably authentic in terms of the aesthetic I'm trying to emulate (1970s superhero shows).

About the new design - the headpiece is a full-fledged helmet rather than a mask. I mean, he rides a motorcycle, right? The belt is designed in such a way that it could conceivably be converted into a toy every kid would want. And yes, that is a scarf. Gotta have the scarf.

Igadevil proved an invaluable source of assistance in brainstorming ways to make Red Taiyo just right. In fact, he even is the character's sorta namesake! At a loss for a suitably interesting alter ego, I plugged his "real" name into a Japanese name convertor and arrived at Atsushi Anzai! For the record, bumbling sidekick Kenta Chiba gained his name from the result when I put my own name in that generator.

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