The Human Vapor
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The Human Vapor (ガス人間第一号, Gasu ningen dai 1 gō, lit. Gas Human Being No. 1) is a Japanese science fiction film directed by Ishirō Honda. The film is the story of a librarian (Yoshio Tsuchiya), his love for a dancer and his ability to change into a gaseous form.
|The Human Vapor|
Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Ishirō Honda|
|Produced by||Tomoyuki Tanaka|
|Screenplay by||Takeshi Kimura|
|Music by||Kunio Miyauchi|
Detective Okamoto (Tatsuya Mihashi) is on the trail of a mysterious bank robber. The investigation leads him to a dancer, Fujichiyo Kasuga (Kaoru Yachigusa), and her servant, Jiya. Okamoto's girlfriend, newspaper reporter Kyoko Kono (Keiko Sata), insists on helping him investigate, despite him not taking her seriously. Shortly thereafter, another bank is robbed, with the culprit somehow evading all security measures, surviving gunfire from a cop, killing the cop and an employee, and then vanishing.
Kyoko informs Okamoto that Fujichiyo is from a wealthy and respected family but has not performed in some time. Okamoto also learns from his boss Tabata (Yoshifumi Tajima) that the cop and employee killed at the bank died by asphyxiation. Okamoto and Kyoko then discover that Fujichiyo is planning to perform again but is reticent about the details. They follow her to a library where the librarian Mizuno (Yoshio Tsuchiya) tells them that she has been studying ancient songs and engravings. Fujichiyo also approaches a respected chamber music tutor named Osaki (Kamayuki Tsubono) and offers him 200,000 yen to perform. Okamoto relays these findings, and his suspicion of her possible sponsor, to Tabata, who recommends continuing to investigate Fujichiyo's dealings.
A suspect is arrested after making a call to Kyoko's newspaper announcing the date and time of the next robbery, but Okamoto and Kyoko feel that his story does not add up. Their suspicions of Fujichiyo appear confirmed when she attempts to pay for a theater space with stolen money. She is arrested and questioned but refuses to say where the money came from.
Some time later, the librarian Mizuno surrenders himself to the police and offers to show them the method he used to commit the robberies. He is brought to the second bank he robbed, where he demonstrates his ability to turn himself into a gaseous form, thus allowing him to evade gunfire, pass through vault bars, kill another cop by asphyxiation, and escape through an overhead window. He demands Fujichiyo's release and disappears. Fujichiyo still refuses to cooperate and is kept in custody. Mizuno attempts a rescue but she refuses to leave and be seen as a criminal herself. Mizuno instead releases the other prisoners, causing a clash with police.
Kyoko convinces her newspaper to print an invitation to Mizuno, who arrives at the designated time and place. He explains that a scientist named Dr. Sano (Fuyuki Murakami) experimented on him and caused his transformation. Mizuno then killed Dr. Sano in a rage but is now grateful for his powers and the chance to help his love Fujichiyo dance again. The police arrive and attempt to subdue Mizuno, but he escapes once again.
The police are soon forced to release Fujichiyo as she cannot be charged. She proceeds with her performance plans despite the musicians' refusal to attend out of fear. Mizuno visits her and declares his love, saying he would do anything for her. Dr. Tamiya (Hisaya Ito) meets with Okamoto and Tabata to devise a plan to destroy the Human Vapor using explosive gas in the theater where Fujichyo will perform. Kyoko pleads with Fujichiyo to cancel the performance, but she refuses, feeling it is her destiny and expressing love for Mizuno.
On the night of the recital, as media and emergency crews observe the theater, a number of onlookers enter demanding to see the Human Vapor. Mizuno stands before them, announces that he is the Human Vapor, and transforms, scaring the crowd away. Fujichiyo and Jiya insist on continuing, and despite Kyoko's pleas, the switch is thrown to detonate the theater, but Fujichiyo has sabotaged the circuit board. As the performance ends, Fujichiyo and Mizuno embrace. Fujichiyo clandestinely pulls out a cigarette lighter and strikes it, destroying herself, the theater, and Mizuno, who returns to solid form in death.
- Tatsuya Mihashi as Detective Okamoto
- Keiko Sata as reporter Kyoko Kono
- Kaoru Yachigusa as Fujichiyo, the dancer
- Yoshio Tsuchiya as Mizuno the Vapor Man
- Bokuzen Hidari as Fujichiyo's guardian
- Hisaya Ito as Dr. Tamiya
- Takamaru Sasaki
- Tetsu Nakamura
- Murakami Fuyuki
- Ren Yamamoto
The film was distributed in Japan by Toho on December 11, 1960. It was later released in the United States as The Human Vapor by Brenco Pictures with an English-language dub May 20, 1964. The film was released as a double feature with Gorath, and was edited down to 79 minutes.
In a contemporary review, "Whit." of Variety declared the film plot superior to its companion double feature Gorath and that its special effects by Eiji Tsuburaya were "expert", while the acting was "competent". The review concluded that the English-language dub they watched was "far from gratifying" and that when the lips did not match the English dialogue it "decreased realism".
- Galbraith IV, Stuart (1994). Japanese Science Fiction, Fantasy and Horror Films. McFarland. ISBN 0-89950-853-7.CS1 maint: ref=harv (link)
- Galbraith IV, Stuart (2008). The Toho Studios Story: A History and Complete Filmography. Scarecrow Press. ISBN 1461673747. Retrieved October 29, 2013.
- Willis, Donald, ed. (1985). Variety's Complete Science Fiction Reviews. Garland. ISBN 0-8240-6263-9.CS1 maint: ref=harv (link)
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