This ICHF was written by Raffael Coronelli, who you can find at daikaijuyuki.com. I may have made a few touch ups and notes here and there, but the bulk of this entry is their work!
Editor’s Note: Image borrowed from http://wikizilla-role-play.wikia.com/wiki/Redman
Some time in early 2016, Tsuburaya productions began uploading a series of videos to their official YouTube channel. Produced in the mid 1970’s for a children’s television variety program, the shorts had been largely forgotten amongst the company’s more popular and substantial productions like Ultraman. I’m not sure I remember the exact circumstances under which I first watched it, but I remember what it felt like. It was as if I’d stumbled on the kaiju version of a snuff film, actors in costumes wrestling and beating each other, the “hero” mercilessly bludgeoning and stabbing the monster to death. To paraphrase David Cronenberg’s Videodrome, there was no plot — just violence.
At the center of these shorts was Redman — dubbed the “kaiju hunter” by his later comic book. He seemed to be on a mission to literally destroy all monsters, regardless of whether they were actually threatening anyone or anything. Set in a desolate wilderness, feeling almost post-apocalyptic or like some purgatory realm, the show depicted its ostensible hero without any sympathetic qualities whatsoever. Only the kills got more creative, more hilariously uncomfortable to watch, from stabbing a poor creature over and over with his Reddo Knife, to impaling them with his cross-hilted spear, to throwing them over a cliff onto the show’s cameraman.
From the strange snuff film quality of the episodes, the viewer could start to pick out elements left in the frame by accident rather than any intended plot. That was exactly what comic artist Matt Frank did when he was tasked with resurrecting the character for a 2018 graphic novel series. The first volume depicts Redman in a setting that wasn’t produced for a children’s television program — it’s from a realm unknown, filmed for an audience unknown, and we merely saw it by accident. This firmly plants the story in the realm of cosmic horror, its inexplicable nature played up and amplified for the sake of intrigue. Along the way, visible influence from the slasher genre is apparent, with Redman stalking helpless monsters, appearing in their nightmares, destroying them again and again.
One could argue that Redman is not a horror character due to his original intent as a heroic figure, but you’d be hard pressed to say that his appearance is meant to elicit the joyful power fantasy of a traditional superhero when almost all of his appearances elicit revulsion from anyone who views them. Further, the development of his “mythos” in the comic adaptation displays him as a specter of doom for innocent creatures in a realm beyond our reality. It’s my belief that Redman is not an embodiment of justice against a monster threat, but of pure violence and brutality with no rhyme or reason. As you watch the show, you become desensitized to the spectacle, always craving the next new way Redman will obliterate his target. Maybe Redman is waging a war and doesn’t stop at civilian targets — or maybe he thirsts for the killing, for sport, or for bloodlust. What truly pushes him to horrify is that he doesn’t feel like a parody of Ultraman like in the film Big Man Japan. His presence is truly unnerving, never telling you why he’s doing what he does or how he came to do it — all he does is kill. That’s the appeal of him as such a strange figure in tokusatsu, and the reason he’s risen to his popularity as a cult icon. Redman is violence.
Editor’s Note: I’m ecstatic that we get to kick off this ICHF Jam with not only a fairly obscure horror character, but one from the kaiju genre as well. A very fitting start considering the nature of this website.