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I'm Kamen Riding Across The The Two Eras of the Kamen Rider Franchise!

The Kamen Rider franchise had two eras namely the Showa era and the Heisei era.  After hearing of the Kamen Rider Taisen movie where both Showa era Riders and Heisei era Riders (I am yet to see the film) must join forces to save the day.

My first ride... learning about the Showa Era Riders!

Back then, the only Kamen Rider I knew was Kamen Rider Black (shown on IBC-13 as Masked Rider Black, which the term Kamen means Masked) and its sequel (which I saw on Cable TV dubbed in Cantonese so I didn't understand a thing) and I had no idea other Kamen Riders existed, I just wondered who the other Kamen Riders with Black RX were in the trading cards or toy boxes.  I'll admit I was pretty out of the blue with the Kamen Rider franchise back then.  It wasn't until later that I was a teenager did I learn of other Kamen Riders' existence and how they were connected when I finally had my rather limited dial-up card before Internet DSL was introduced or two, reading Questor Magazine or three, I played the Kamen Rider games on the Playstation One while being unable to understand a single detail!  

Soon I learned of the big name of Shotaro Ishinomori, sadly only after he passed away because it was around 2001 when I heard of his name.  I learned about Cyborg 009, the inspiration of Kamen Rider and how there was also that very first Kamen Rider.  I soon started to do some research and reached various fan sites (which I believe many of them are down) and later started reading Igadevil's Kamen Rider page, it was also then I learned that the real name of Robert Akizuki (hence that's where my blogger name's surname came from) was really known as Kotaro Minami and that Stephen Akizuki was really Nobohiko Akizuki.  I wasn't all that surprised because it was a dub and name changes do happen.  I was also at that time, discovering about Zyuranger and the other post-Jetman Sentai, became a temporary Super Sentai purist (and hated Power Rangers for a time calling it bootleg) and discovering Super Sentai earlier than Bioman such as Goranger and Battle Fever J.  Wow, that was one ride especially when I learned that the first Super Sentai had no giant robot and Battle Fever J was the very first to have it!

It was thanks to that discovery I soon discovered that some Kamen Rider seasons had secondary Riders in them like the first Kamen Rider had Kamen Rider Nigo and Kamen Rider V3 had Riderman.  I always thought Riderman had his own series and later, I discovered Kamen Rider ZX was just a television special that never became a series.  What also shocked me was the existence of this "Great Leader" who was voiced by the late voice actor Goro Naya.  At first, it made me wonder why Destron's leader and Shocker's leader sounded so alike (based on the PS1 games anyway) and later, I figured out they were both voiced by the same person.  The Great Leader was one malevolent being that existed in the Showa era, somehow trolling all the Kamen Riders with several decoys.  I mean, Shocker's "leader" was nothing more than a robot or that in Kamen Rider V3, we had a mechanical skeleton with a tape recorder inside it.  That guy was a serious troll who is apparently still hidden.  I would believe that only after Black RX defeated Crisis Empire that this malevolent being was forever destroyed.  He would later have another incarnation in the Heisei era crossovers.

Later I would learn of how Kamen Rider Black and Black RX were just connected, although some fans criticize the rather loose connection.  Now I do like both series but Black has been the better and more beloved of the two.  I mean after Kamen Rider Black ended, Black RX became the less popular sequel to the beloved rider.  From what I hear, Tetsuo Kurata liked Black better because Black RX had excessive humor, which I agree to his opinion.  After Black RX, we had Shin, JO and J as movie only Riders, they never became a series which were during the Showa era.  However I still want to credit Black RX for introducing new stuff like a lighter and softer Kamen Rider series (which was repeated in later Heisei riders) and having more than one fighting form.

This part is quite short considering I haven't seen much of the Showa era.

Riding across Heisei era Riders...

The Kamen Rider series came to a standstill for quite some time.  On May 1999, Kamen Rider Kuuga was announced but at that time, Shotaro Ishinomori had already died at only 60 years old last January 28, 1998 just three days after his birthday.  On January 30, 2000 the first new rebirth rider known as Kamen Rider Kuuga premiered.  It was under the direction of Shigenori Takatera (who was later replaced by Shinichiro Shirakura) and Naruhisa Arakawa with Toshiki Inoue as a secondary writer.  The story was about Yuusuke Godai who was called to wear the Kuuga belt and defend the world from the Grongi, a group of monsters who speak a different language from normal humans.

The whole idea of a Kamen Rider rebirth also changed the way Kamen Rider would be written.  At first, I still expected villains with their silly, rather convoluted or simply unbelievable plans (quite akin to Super Sentai villains) to achieve world domination or whatever their main objective is.  Instead, Kamen Rider Kuuga introduced a very different formula where a monster wasn't necessarily beaten by the end of the day.  It did get a few stuff from Black RX like allies the introduction of multiple forms though the hero doesn't immediately learn how to use his forms.  Instead, he learns how to use them following a more "realistic approach" in handling his powers which was just a bit of formula to follow.

Another show that started something new was Kamen Rider Agito which returned the idea of secondary riders.  While intended to be a sequel for Kamen Rider Kuuga, however it looked like that Toei decided not to as not to "waste" the efforts of Godai.  The whole show was more or less atypical since the real conflict was more on human evolution itself, controlled by the Lords and the twin brothers Light and Darkness who can be viewed as necessary dual forces.  Agito was Toshiki Inoue's magnum opus though he would also write Kamen Rider Faiz (which he made a cameo in it) and Kamen Rider Kiva while he also wrote a quarter of Kamen Rider Ryuki.  With that in mind, it's safe to assume that the Heisei era Kamen Riders are each of their own continuity similar to how Super Sentai operates.

Kamen Rider Ryuki tried the battle royale formula.  Rather than having a singular hero battle the monster of the week, the riders of Ryuki were focused on getting that one wish.  I felt Ryuki was pretty much a show hit by executive meddling especially if you happen to know the finale or the way things happened.  In this show, Toshiki Inoue and Yasuko Kobayashi were a tandem (they also worked together with Kamen Rider Decade) and produced by Shinichiro Shirakura (the same producer who went to produce Super Hero Taisen).  The concept was later repeated with Kamen Rider Gaim under the production of Naomi Takebe and written by Gen Urobuchi which I felt also had a writer/producer war.  While I felt Kamen Rider Ryuki eventually fell nowhere, fortunately Kamen Rider Gaim managed to fix that error and made a better battle royale Kamen Rider season.

Based on the first three Heisei shows, it's easy to see how Kamen Rider has followed a fantasy television drama type of format.  Kamen Rider Kuuga had you to wait for two episodes before a monster got disposed of.  Kamen Rider Agito always had cliffhanger endings and sometimes, a monster doesn't really appear at all even if a battle happens.  Kamen Rider Ryuki and later Kamen Rider Gaim felt more like a fantasy television drama of warriors fighting each other for the ultimate reward.  In short, I felt like Kamen Rider had broken away from the traditional mold, pretty much differentiating its villains from Super Sentai villains.

Kamen Rider Decade a series I disliked somehow set the VS Universe for Kamen Rider and would somehow explain why crossovers happened.  The whole idea of Kamen Rider Decade was the nine worlds (actually the nine series prior to Kamen Rider Decade) having Alternate Reality versions, each world somehow got corrupted and the finale took place only in the movie as the series had no finale until the Kamen Rider Decade movie came out.  I may not like the series but it can be notable for actually having the first Super Sentai and Kamen Rider crossover for the television sets.  Since it only lasted for 31 episodes, you end up seeing Kamen Rider shows usually ending in September or early October and airing in October.  Just a note to myself, Kamen Rider Black aired on October 4, 1987 and ended on October 6, 1988.

Later Kamen Rider series ended up usually focusing on having a less serious mood like how Super Sentai has been after Timeranger.  Seasons like Kamen Rider W, Kamen Rider OOO, Kamen Rider Fourze (which features the first official teenager to be a Kamen Rider instead of an adult), Kamen Rider Wizard, Kamen Rider Gaim and Kamen Rider Drive (which is currently airing).  I seldom call the post-Decade era of Heisei Kamen Riders to have become of a Teen Nick or Teen Disney turned into a Kamen Rider.  The pre-Decade Kamen Riders did also feature some less serious seasons like Kamen Rider Den-O and Kamen Rider Kiva though I feel the post-Decade seasons tend to be even less serious than the two shows I just mentioned.

Final thoughts

Whether it's the Showa era or the Heisei era, it's important to keep an open mind about them.  At first, I wasn't so open-minded about the Heisei era and took that Toku break.  Later, I ended up thinking, "Hey it's not bad." or that each era had its own charm.  It would be best to check out shows from both eras to fully appreciate the franchise.  But again, I'm just a passing by Tokusatsu fan who may never become a die hard fan.  Meanwhile, I am trying to come up with an article on whether or not Kamen Rider should be adapted for the American audience.

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1 Response
  1. Anonymous Says:

    pag katapos manuod lalabas ng bahay at mag lalaro bilang mask rider sa labas hangang mauwi sa suntukan.. 90's day - Buy Video Games for Consoles and PC - From Japan, Korea and other Regions
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