STAR WOLF, or, he tried to kill me with a forklift!
June 27, 2012 3:43 AM   Subscribe

スターウルフ, "Star Wolf," was a half-hour sci-fi TV show produced and aired in Japan in 1978. (TV Tropes page -- addiction warning) It had somewhat cheesy special effects, understandable being a TV series made just one year after Star Wars, but it made up for it with style, energy, and ACTION PACKED MUSIC.

American viewers will know it best as the show ripped apart and reassembled into two Fugitive Alien movies by Sandy Frank Productions, then shown on two memorable episodes of Mystery Science Theater 3000. (Episodes on YouTube: Fugitive Alien, its sequel.) Although the Japanese show got at least two seasons (the second under the title Space Hero Star Wolf), only the first four episodes appear to exist on the internet. Here they are: One - Two - Three - Four. (There are no subtitles, but you should be able to figure out what is going on if you've seen the MST episode.)

Star Wolf concerned Ken Shinsei, a member of the evil race of the Star Wolves who live on the planet Varna (or "Valna Star"), the terrors of the universe. But Ken is really an Earthman, raised by the raiders since youth, and has gained super strength from growing up in Varna's high gravity. When he interrupts his pillaging to protect a woman and child from his murderous friend and teammate and accidentally kills him, his adopted people brand him a traitor. He escapes and hooks up with the crew off the oldest ship stationed on the Earth, the Bacchus III, run by the alcoholic and awesome Captain Joe, whose family it was that Ken was trying to protect, gasp shock.

Info on the Sandy Frank movies on MST fan site Satellite News: Fugitive Alien and Star Force: Fugitive Alien II. From the show: the infamous Fugitive Alien Medley, a.k.a. "He Tried to Kill Me With A Forklift."

Even if you're a MSTie, you may not know that it's all based on the Star Wolf trilogy, a series of sci-fi novels by American Edmond Hamilton.

This is posted because, although it has faults, the show is actually watchable, and one or two notches better without Sandy Frank's editing. And you might disagree with me on this, but the music is awesome.
posted by JHarris (24 comments total) 29 users marked this as a favorite
Thanks to filthy light thief, who I conversed with three years ago about the possibility of doing a Star Wolf post. I finally got around to it!
posted by JHarris at 3:49 AM on June 27, 2012 [3 favorites]

Huh. I didn't watch the whole Fugitive Alien Medley link -- it's turns out it's actually a collection of "forklift riffs" from the movies. Which is good and cool I think, but not exactly what I presented it as. Sorry about that chief.
posted by JHarris at 4:02 AM on June 27, 2012

Crazy, just watched part of this episode of MST3K on Netflix last night, randomly. I was thinking it was unusual and interesting for a MSt3K pick because it held together narratively and wasn't the usual checklist of bad: bad production, bad writing, bad narrative, bad acting. The acting and the narrative weren't bad. The story reminded me a lot of Firefly.
posted by bleep at 4:22 AM on June 27, 2012 [2 favorites]

Neat. Never heard of this, looks good.
posted by MartinWisse at 4:48 AM on June 27, 2012

I've already managed to annoy my SO by playing ultradramatic Japanese action music at top volume.

posted by ShutterBun at 5:01 AM on June 27, 2012 [4 favorites]

Although I'm a huge MST3K fan, I have no sense of nostalgia for most things Sandy Frank. "Master Ninja" on the other hand....
posted by KevinSkomsvold at 5:06 AM on June 27, 2012 [1 favorite]

Master Ninja Theme Song!
posted by eriko at 5:10 AM on June 27, 2012 [2 favorites]

eriko: Master Ninja Theme Song!

I have performed this live, with my surf band. It was awesome.
posted by Dysk at 5:19 AM on June 27, 2012 [3 favorites]

I have performed this live, with my surf band. It was awesome.

Show, don't tell.
posted by zamboni at 5:57 AM on June 27, 2012 [3 favorites]

Wish that I could :(
posted by Dysk at 6:00 AM on June 27, 2012

God damn it Eriko! To this day, I cannot enjoy C&C Music Factory's iconic "Everybody Dance Now" without expecting the words to be "Master Ninja Theme Song!"

It took years of slowly, carefully allowing that whole bit of pop culture to recede into the past. And here you go bringing it all back up again. Thanks. Thanks a lot. jerk.
posted by Naberius at 6:09 AM on June 27, 2012 [1 favorite]

Oh, Metafilter.
Introducing me to Master Ninja Theme Song is the best thing you have done today.

Finally, I have found a ringtone everyone will love!
posted by Mezentian at 6:31 AM on June 27, 2012 [2 favorites]

Master Ninja Theme Song!

C'mon, you can't just bring it up without linking to it.
posted by Rangeboy at 6:45 AM on June 27, 2012 [1 favorite]

I've heard this theme music somewhere before.
posted by swift at 6:55 AM on June 27, 2012

The source of one of my favorite easter eggs from Escape Velocity shareware game series.
posted by radwolf76 at 7:00 AM on June 27, 2012 [1 favorite]

Thanks. Thanks a lot. jerk.

My work done, I head off into the sunset, as my theme song swells....

The earworm's in, the work day is over
he can't stop hearing the song
he'll try to kill me with a forklift!

posted by eriko at 7:01 AM on June 27, 2012 [3 favorites]

But does it contain Sea Chicken?
posted by Nomyte at 7:07 AM on June 27, 2012

I can't believe I've not added a Master Ninja Theme Song tone to my phone! Clearly, it's something I must do!

Actually, I should set all my tones to something MST3K related. That would be better.
posted by SentientAI at 7:44 AM on June 27, 2012

I want to tell you a story from way way back
Truck on down and dig me, Jack
There's Big Ken!
Little Ken!
Forklift Ken!
No-lines Ken!
Look at brother, look at brother, look at brother -- The Other Ken!

Who's the greatest crew around
Makes Captain Joe jump up and down
Who's the talk of Varna town?
Five Guys Named Ken

You can thank Ed Hamilton
This stuff dribbled out his pen
Like Captain Future and the Futuremen!
Five Guys Named Ken

They came out of nowhere, been stuck here for an age,
But they rate high and you'll know why, when you see that 10-per-ture gage!

High brow, low brow, all agree
They're the best of Bacchus III
I'm telling you, folks, you gotta to see!
Five Guys Named Ken

One guy; Big Ken
Two guys: Little Ken
Three guys: Forklift Ken
Four guys: No-lines Ken
Five guys: The Other Ken

Five little guys named K-e-e-e-e-en!!


With apologies to Louis Jordan, et al
posted by Herodios at 8:52 AM on June 27, 2012 [1 favorite]

posted by tzikeh at 9:13 AM on June 27, 2012

Hey everybody, let's sing the Sandy Frank song!

Sandy FRANK! Sandy FRANK!
He's the source of all our pain!
Sandy FRANK! Sandy FRANK!
Gets horrid movies from Japan!
Sandy FRANK! Sandy FRANK!
Films are always poorly dubbed!
Sandy FRANK! Sandy FRANK!
Thinks that people come from trees!
posted by DecemberBoy at 11:28 AM on June 27, 2012 [3 favorites]

I like MST3K a great deal, but these days I don't think a meme based on that show, no matter how silly and addictive, is enough for a post. I did want to make this about the Japanese show with only a passing mention to the MST3K stuff.

But there's not really an awful lot on the internet about Star Wolf, outside of the MST context, other than the character's original names. (Ken's name really is Ken, and Captain Joe's name is unchanged, but Rocky's real name is Ryu, and Tammy's is actually Hime, or "Princess.") While Sandy Frank's editing doesn't do the show many favors, it does get across the basic story, and it leaves much of the music intact, although without the theme sequence at the start of each show I think it loses some of its impact. I even resorted to searching a bit with Google Translate on, always fun given how poorly it accepts to the Japanese language, to try and find out more information on it. I found out one of the main characters dies in the show's run, but not a lot else. It didn't help that there is a certain other Star Wolf out there, from a popular video game series, that for all I know might have been included as a reference to the TV show.

There's some more info on the show in the comments of the entry on Fugitive Alien 2 in the Satellite News MST3K episode guide, written by user Spalanzani: 1 - 2

My failure to dig up more disappoints me because Norio Maeda's music rocks hard. Full on orchestral stuff that must have been a large portion of the show's budget. The MST guys fixated on what will forever be known as the Forklift Song because it's damn catchy, and the rest of the music on the show is the same, and they came up with lyrics for most of it in the Fugitive Alien Medley (there, an actual link to it).

I've noticed that great music can turn a mediocre property into something that everyone subjectively thinks is awesome, and that might be the case here. So please enjoy the "ACTION PACKED MUSIC" links in the post, every song in every one of them is an earworm. Every damn one of them.

BTW: There appears to be some Star Wars reference sequences in the show, and there's some clips included as part of one of the song compilations that show Ken in a spaceship wearing a very Han Solo-ish getup in a dogfight with the evil Halkon wearing the headcovering piece of Darth Vader's hat.
posted by JHarris at 12:51 PM on June 27, 2012

Yes, yes I imagine he would be.
posted by JHarris at 3:58 PM on June 27, 2012

Nice music. Wish I could put it on my MP3 player.
posted by Canageek at 5:09 PM on June 27, 2012

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