JNC THEATER: Operation: Mystery! and the Tortoise

Operation Mystery Subaru Tortoise 04

Kaiki Daisakusen (or Operation: Mystery! in English) was a 26-episode Japanese TV series about a team of investigators dispatched to solve cases involving supernatural phenomena. The SRI, or Science Research Institute may have been Japan’s 1960s counterpart to the FBI’s X-Files department, but Mulder and Scully never had a car this cool. 

The SRI’s dedicated vehicle was a called the Tortoise, supposedly named for its (fictional) bulletproof glass shell. Unlike star vehicles from other Japanese sci-fi shows of the era, it wasn’t simply a recognizable production car with a bunch of crap tacked on. Instead, the futuristic gull-winged two-seater was based on a Subaru 360.

The SRI’s second car was far more identifiable. A metallic blue S50 Toyota Crown, outfitted with communications equipment, served as backup and appeared largely stock except for the SRI crest on its door.

However, since the broadcast spanned from September 1968 to March 1969, a parade of 1960s Japanese sports cars would often make guest appearances. The result was a veritable greatest hits album, including a Datsun Fairlady roadster, Honda S600 and Toyota 2000GT.

Of course, no proper TV star car in Japan would be without a toy version, and the Tortoise does not disappoint. The Crown, too, exists in diecast form as a Tomica issued by the Toyota Automobile Museum.

Operation Mystery Subaru Tortoise 13

Unfortunately, precious little is known about the fate of the Tortoise. It was built by an outfit known only as Haruki Automotive Industry Co., Ltd. by Kihachiro Haruki. At the time, it cost about ¥1 million according to a blog post apparently written by Mr. Haruki’s son.

Thanks to Mario the Multipla for additional images and info.

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15 Responses to JNC THEATER: Operation: Mystery! and the Tortoise

  1. DesignerD says:

    All these years, I’ve been drawing cars wrong… I’m in love with this thing!

    • Randy says:

      I’ve seen some things (American, anyway) that were designed by the designers off-the-clock. Kind of wondering if you guys do that sort of thing. Y’all could do someting interesting that the brass might really like…

      . . . and if you do, could you even disclose something like that . . . ? (Insert conspiracy theory here!)

  2. Brad D. says:

    Who makes that model of the Tortoise? I would love to find one.

  3. Randy says:

    I’m actually diggin’ the jacket in that first pic…

    I’ll look, but I seriously doubt I’ll find the vids of this on youtube.

  4. Dave says:

    For some reason this Tortoise reminds me of a Cosmo Sport…a kei-car-ized Cosmo Sport. Still, I love it! The show also sounds a bit like that British show Primeval. I want to watch it!

  5. moominsean says:

    No episodes on youtube, but digging this song from the show…


    • Randy says:

      Interesting. The reverb is what just SCREAMS ’60s, but the overall could be music for even a non-paranormal detective show.

      Based on my clicking a couple of things there, the show’s been reborn in the past couple of years. The only readable text to me was “No. 24” in the title. If you understand Japanese, you’d be golden, but that doesn’t help me… “Somebody” was killing women ~ in some mysterious way ~. Didn’t know it was new ’til the outdoors shots, with the new Hondas.

      When I googled: operation mystery tortoise model

      One of the links is to “The Secret Space Base” blog (Sci-Fi and Cool Toy Blog). Here’s the link:


      It’s an article from November 16, 2013.

      Maybe if somebody e-mails the guy, he can tell you a manufacturer’s name, or something about HIS model. A couple of the other toys on the page are Konami, so maybe that’s a starting point?

      Quick poking around yielded nothing. The pix on the search results lead back to here. Great for the site, but not really helpin’ to find the toy.

  6. Kuroneko says:

    That song is pretty neat! Here’s some goods:


    Including a few models. Neat stuff! Neko.

    • Randy says:


      1/43 scale of a smaller-than-original kei car… Wow…

      I wonder if these are “leftovers” found in someone’s attic, or if they’re new.

  7. Toyotageek says:

    Found at least one episode on a site called Dailymotion

    怪奇大作戦-#01. 壁ぬけ男 by krpn6209

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