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Shinsei Adachi, Shigehiro Fukushima
Chizuru Kitagawa, Takiko Mizunoe, Daijirô Natsukawa
Writing Credits:
Nobuo Adachi

Jewel thieves become interested in an invisibility formula invented by Professor Nakazato and want to use his invention to acquire a diamond necklace called the "Tears of Amour".

Rated NR.

Aspect Ratio: 1.37:1
Japanese LPCM Monaural
Supplements Subtitles:

Runtime: 83 min.
Price: $39.95
Release Date: 3/16/2020
Available As Double Feature with The Invisible Man Vs. The Human Fly

• “Transparent Terrors” Featurette
• Trailer
• Image Gallery


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The Invisible Man Appears [Blu-Ray] (1949)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (April 15, 2021)

Though not as famous as the 1933 version by James Whale, 1949’s The Invisible Man Appears offers another take on the HG Wells character. This one comes from Daiei, the same studio responsible for the Gamera franchise.

A scientist named Professor Machiko Nakazato (Chizuru Kitagawa) invents a formula with special powers. When imbibed, it allows a person to turn invisible.

This takes a dark path when jewel thieves learn of this potion’s existence. They kidnap Professor Nakazato so they can force him to give them the formula and they can use its abilities to steal a valuable necklace.

According to this Blu-ray’s press release, Appears offers one of the earliest science-fiction/special effects movies made in Japan. Indeed, these materials claim it offers the oldest surviving example of that genre.

If so, that makes Appears an interesting historical footnote. Unfortunately, it doesn’t mean that we find an especially interesting story.

Much of the issue stems from the fact that we don’t really invest in the journey taken by the gangster who turns invisible. Whereas the 1933 Universal movie gave us a compelling exploration of what happened with its lead, we never view this flick’s invisible man as much more than a violent lout.

In the 1933 film, the formula drove Jack Griffin nuts, and we followed his descent. Here we get more of a mystery, as the film leaves the Invisible Man’s identity unknown for quite a while.

When we finally learn the person involve, we don’t especially care. Appears sets up this role to a moderate degree in its earlier moments, but not enough for us to dig into his fate or actions.

The absence of a strong protagonist becomes a notable weakness, as does the general “who cares?” aspect of the main plot. All of this revolves around a basic jewel heist, and the movie can’t find a way to make this seem especially compelling.

Appears does offer a fairly stylish affair, and it can come with decent suspense. Even without a strong set of characters, the tale adopts a tense tone that allows us some excitement.

It also comes with effects that seem fairly solid for their era. While Appears doesn’t really advance these techniques beyond what Whale and company did 16 years earlier, these elements nonetheless hold up for the most part.

Really, I can’t call Appears a bad movie, for it keeps us engaged enough across it brief running time. That said, it fails to do anything well enough to become more than a passable diversion.

The Disc Grades: Picture C-/ Audio C/ Bonus C

The Invisible Man Appears appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 1.37:1 on this Blu-ray Disc. A disclaimer at the film’s start warns us that the film’s surviving elements come from a flawed 16mm print, so don’t expect impressive visuals.

That said, the end result didn’t look quite as bad as the disclaimer implied. As expected, the biggest issues stemmed from source flaws, as those occurred fairly frequently.

This meant specks, marks and other defects. The frame also lacked stability and showed a lot of “weave”.

Sharpness usually seemed acceptable, though also erratic. Nothing razor sharp occurred, but the image mainly showed adequate clarity and accuracy, with only some moderate softness in wider shots.

Blacks looked dense most of the time, though the film sporadically seemed excessively bright. This usually appeared connected to visual effects shots.

Shadows were a bit flat but generally positive. I gave this a “C-“ as I didn’t think it looked bad enough to dip into “D” level, but the film definitely came with issues.

I also felt the PCM monaural audio of Appears seemed lackluster but acceptable given the movie’s age and origins. I couldn’t easily judge intelligibility since I don’t speak Japanese. Nonetheless, the lines lacked much edginess and they appeared reasonably well-rendered.

Music was generally adequate. The score could sound somewhat shrill at times, but it usually appeared acceptably full.

The same went for effects. While these occasionally came across as distorted, they still provided acceptable clarity. Nothing here was memorable, but the mix was fine for its period.

Only a few extras appear here, and the main attraction comes from Transparent Terrors, a 24-minute, 40-second chat with film historian Kim Newman. He discusses the history of invisible men in movies, with some emphasis on the two Japanese projects on this disc. Newman offers a nice overview of the subject matter.

In addition to the trailer for Appears, we get an Image Gallery. It shows 24 shots that mix movie images and publicity materials. It becomes a decent compilation.

As an early example of Japanese cinematic science-fiction, The Invisible Man Appears deserves some attention. As an interesting movie, though, it seems pretty mediocre. The Blu-ray comes with erratic picture, decent audio and minor bonus materials. Appears winds up as watchable but not memorable.

Note that Appears comes on a single-disc release alongside 1957’s The Invisible Man Vs. The Human Fly.

Viewer Film Ratings: 2 Stars Number of Votes: 1
0 3:
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