Because I am going to tell you.
I am now watching three of the four TV Asahi Sunday morning kids shows on a weekly basis, Kamen Rider Wizard, Doki Doki Precure and most recently, Zyuden Sentai Kyoryuger.
A curious thing that has happened recently is that all three, within weeks of each other, have dealt with idea of a superhero’s secret identity and the most usual reason given in US superhero comics for having one. Namely, to protect those around you.
Spider-Man’s excuse for keeping his identity secret is he feels that if people knew, villains would target his loved ones. Plenty of other heroes have a variation on this, but Spidey’s is perhaps the most archetypal in this regard.
One aspect of this choice that Spider-Man rarely deals with head on is guilt over constantly lying to his friends and family.
In episode 2 of Doki Doki! Precure, Mana thinks she should keep her identity as Cure Heart a secret from her best friend Rikka, for pretty much the same reasons as Spidey. Only her case it’s from advice given to here by magical cute animals who turn into magic cell phones. However, straight away the lying affects her friendship, so she ignores the advice and reveals her identity. Friendship is saved and no one is placed in any danger.
Later in episode 4, we get a different take on secret identities, more in line with a superhero like Batman, where we learn Alice (Cure Rosetta) is using her family’s wealth and influence to ensure no one captures their transformations on film. It’s not so much to protect family and friends as it is to ensure their effectiveness as superheroines.
Alice is very much Batman, right down to the faithful butler.
Meanwhile over in the newest sentai show, Zyuden Sentai Kyoryuger, the first episode ended with 4 of the 5 heroes refusing to reveal their identities to one another. In episode 2, the focus is on the Blue and Pink Kyoryugers and why they hide their identities. Blue, 32 year old handyman Nobuharu Udo, keeps his hidden to protect his sister and his niece. Like Mana, by the end of the second episode he’s learnt the error of his ways and now his niece knows he’s a superhero (they still keep it secret from her mum).
Amy Yuuzuki (Pink) on the other hand, is trying to keep up the pretense of being ladylike in front of her butler, rather than the badass martial artist she really is. Like Blue and his niece, by the end of the episode, her butler is fully aware that she’s a dinosaur summoning superhero.
From previews of episode 3, it looks like we’ll be dealing with Green’s reasons for keeping his identity secret, his disapproving father.
And talking of disapproving family members, the current arc of Kamen Rider Wizard deals with Beast trying to keep his superhero identity secret from his disapproving, over protective, grandmother. This has strong echoes of the Peter Parker / Aunt May relationship, though Peter Parker never pretended that Spider-Man was actually Spider-Woman in order to throw his Aunt off the trail.
And I’m pretty sure that Aunt May never offered to be turned into a monster and fed to her nephew to save his life. Which is where this arc appears to be heading.
As I said at the beginning, it’s curious all three should hit similar notes within weeks of each other. It makes me wonder if there was some sort of network or studio note to have something to discourage the kids watching from keeping secrets. Or they all liked the ending of the first Iron Man film. Or maybe it was just a coincidence.
I will say that watching all three of these shows together has really made me appreciate them more, as you start to see elements and influences they share.