Golden Batman is a Korean animated movie from 1979 based on a 1967 anime series called Golden Bat or Ogon Bat in Japanese. Created by Takeo Nagamatsu in the 1930s, Ogon Bat is a Japanese superhero that predates the likes of Superman, and Batman. Much to my surprise, Ogon Bat is considered to be the world’s first superhero. Borrowing more traits from Superman than the name of the 1979 film would imply having super powers that include superhuman strength, invulnerability, and the ability to fly. In the original Korean-Japanese production of the 1960s anime series (according to what little information could be found on this series), Golden Bat is apparently the last surviving Atlantean who fights crime wearing a golden skull mask. If you see the poster, or promotional art you’ll notice that the golden skull mask is nowhere in sight. Turns out in 1979 Golden Bat design was updated to resemble Batman.
Now, the only viewable copy of Golden Batman is a Spanish dub of the film since the film never officially received an international release in the US. Probably because the new character designs rips off Batman. You either have to search to the ends of the world to find an old VHS tape, or search desperately online. If Golden Batman was dubbed in any other language besides English, or Spanish that would be the end of the story. There’s no English subtitles either so unless you know you’re Korean, or Spanish well you’re sadly out of luck. However, that is not the case for me so I’ll discuss the actual film.
Golden Batman (or Black Star vs. Golden Bat according to the announcer in the beginning of the film) story follows a bunch of kids, and their talking pet dog trying to prove their bravery for their dying sick friend. There’s also a subplot revolving around villain Black Star who is kidnapping the world’s top scientists to develop a weapon that can make him take over the world. Pass the opening credit sequence which has cheesy music the first thing the villain, Black Star, is shown doing is watching a news broadcast. This news broadcast basically clarifies a scientist is working on “Rocket TM” which is described to be a robot for an Aerospace Science Central. Black Star after seeing the newscast decides to call the Aerospace Corporation, and announces to them in a phone call that he’s planning to steal the blueprints to “Rocket TM”. With this information you think the Aerospace Science Central would signal Golden Bat, or sing his Korean theme song to make sure Golden Bat appears at the scene in advance to stop Black Star. The Aerospace Science Central does not do that, and instead a army of clone security guards that were in charge of protecting “Rocket TM” fear at the sight of Black Star.
This event make news waves where whoever translated the script into Spanish felt the news broadcast should say (paraphrasing) “We’re living in a time of authentic danger”. Leading me to speculate that regular crime committed by normal people in this world is not considered “authentic danger”. There’s also a pointless cutaway to a child crying where the mom threaten her kid she’ll call Black Star if he doesn’t stop crying. It contributes nothing to the story, but that some hilarious cruel parenting right there. It only takes around six minutes before Golden Bat actually makes first his appearance in the film for some further nonsense. Aside from his ridiculous character design the members of the mafia show their fear by doing some sort of invisible orgy from what I could interpret from the animation. You got one mafioso thrusting the air, and another mafioso thrusting the floor repeatedly. This leads into a badly animated action scene where Golden Bat wins easily. After stripping the mafia down to their underwear, and leaving one of them a red Bat on their chest Golden Bat leaves the scene. So why did Golden Bat go to the hideout of the mafia if it wasn’t to retrieve the blueprints is never explained. Well, Golden Bat is did strip down several mafioso down to their underwear so he had a plan of some sort that wasn’t aimed at kids (the film intended demographic).
This goofy fight while entertaining sadly isn’t followed up on. Instead of following the last surviving Atlean fighting evil on Earth the film shifts focus to a bunch of annoying kids that really like Golden Bat for the majority of the film. Given the film is barely an hour, and ten minutes long the kids remain static characters. Along with the one dimensional kids, neither do Golden Bat, or the villain Black Star have much personality to them than stating the obvious between good, or evil. The movie also has a easy to follow story where you’re just meant to accept everything at face value. There’s a talking Cat, and a talking Dog that wears boxing glove in the film that everyone simply accept in their everyday normal life in this world. In one scene, there’s a kid who disguises himself as Golden Bat to scare off the mafia, yet the disguise changes his height, body structure, and voice simultaneously. I could buy the mafia falling for the disguise, and even Golden Bat flying out of a Lava pit unscrathed, but an entire costume changing a kid body structure is just pushing it.
Among various nonsense of the writing there is Toltry (the main character) father who claims it is normal for his son to break his neighbor windows. I bring this up because the film does this frequently. It shows something to the viewer that is inconsequential to the story, and goes about it business like nothing happen. So for like 40 minutes it does this until eventually the kids discover Black Star cave by accident. The film tries to setup drama by having a sick dying kid in the film, and revealing his tragic backstory through flashback. I laughed at this part in the film so that tells you how much I cared. Not only was the currently sick kid bald for some reason when his mother died, but became good friends with neighborhood kids on a whim. I would have taken the scene seriously if what sounded like bad porno music (the bad voice acting didn’t help either) wasn’t playing in the background during the flashback. Also, in the flashback a kid shed tears, and his tears goes through his glasses. That’s the kind of things you’ll notice when boring kids character are meant to carry an entire film. It’s difficult to care them too when they’re idiots. In one scene, Toltry tells his friend they should leave before they are discover by Black Star henchman. Instead of immediately leaving the evil layer the kids stand in the same place until an announcement finishes saying someone entered the evil headquarters. I know Toltry is the same character is who did animal impression to cheer up his dying friend in an earlier scene, but that was seriously stupid.
The best part of the movie is easily whenever Golden Bat appears on screen because ridiculous things happen on screen. It’s a shame he’s delegated into the background since the climax is the highlight in the movie. During the climax, the film could care less about the tiny details like logic, and rational thinking as Golden Bat beats up everyone in his path. Golden Bat fights against an army of clone henchman, a robot, and eventually the villain with just whatever came up to the animators mind. Golden Bat is so powerful that he even survives falling into a pit of Lava, and flies out of it without a scratch to fight the villain of the film. The final confrontation is entertaining seeing Golden Bat fight a villain who can seemingly shoots laser out of anything he touches. If the movie offered more cheesy superheroes antics over annoying kids than the film would have been more enjoyable, though probably just as badly written. It would make the moment where Golden Bat karate chops off Black Star arm off look less out of place given the intended audience was obviously for kids.
Animation is odd. Unfortunately I was unsuccessful in finding the studio behind this film. Then again I guess it’s for the best since the animators have a clear butt fetish in the film. Characters are slapped in the butt, kick in the butt, patted on the butt, and a couple of shots to show fat kid butt. Putting some detail into them which questions where the animators priority were at. Throughout the film there’s many examples of bad animation like a character face being colored differently from the rest of his body, a kid head going through a bed sheet even he’s a couple feet away from it, and Golden Bat flying off seemingly out of thin air from a window. My favorite pieces of bad animation is the constant jittering from all the characters in the film that never stops. It’s quite an accomplishment when the animation is so bad that still animation wasn’t done properly. However, the non stop jittering of characters make can scenes unintentionally funny when taken out of context. Usually making it seems like characters are doing something sexual like making it appear like a fat kid is giving his dog a rough time.
I saw the film with a Spanish dub, and regardless of what language you actually understand you can obviously tell this is horrible voice acting. Now I can’t list any specific voice actors since the credits are written in Korean, and the Spanish dub didn’t list any Spanish voice actors in the closing credits either. The only voice actor I would give any compliment to is whoever voiced Golden Bat did a good job in his role. His role was rather limited in screen time, but the voice actor felt self-aware of the role he was playing, and chose to ham it up. It felt appropriate with the tone of the film. Golden Bat was also the only voice actor whose performance was remotely enjoyable because he was intentionally campy. Even though Golden Bat was the hero the evil laugh of Golden Bat as he beats up people is hard not to enjoy. Every other voice actors was terrible. The whole cast simply not caring about their performances. The only things that aren’t dubbed in Spanish are the Korean song tracks. Including two moments where the kids sing Golden Bat theme in their original Korean language, and oh man it’s awful! The kids are out of sync, can’t sing those high notes, and also can’t sing.
Golden Batman is an interesting piece of animation history, as well the source material it’s based on, but there’s nothing to see here. Golden Bat takes a back seat in his own movie even though he has top billing in the film title. While unintentionally funny in parts the annoying voice acting, and the amount of time it likes to waste on pointless diversion it’s better to leave this relic of the past unseen.