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Kamen Rider

Entry updated 22 July 2021. Tagged: Film, TV.

1. Japanese live-action tv series (1971-1973; vt Masked Rider). Created by Shotaro Ishinomori. Toei Company. Directors include Itaru Orita, Masahiro Tsukada and Minoru Yamada. Writers include Masaru Igami, Masayuki Shimada and Mari Takizawa. Voice cast includes Hiroshi Fujioka and Takeshi Sasaki. 98 24-minute episodes. Colour.

This was the series that began a very successful Tokusatsu Superhero franchise (see 2 below).

Takeshi Hongo (Fujioka), a Grand Prix motorcyclist and biochemist (see Scientists) with an IQ of 600 is kidnapped by Shocker, an organization plotting world domination by turning everyone into Cyborgs and Genetically Engineered Mutants, making them obedient puppets. Hongo is made into a cyborg and has grasshopper DNA added, but escapes before being brainwashed: adopting a motorcycle helmet with a grasshopper design, he becomes Kamen Rider, dedicated to defeating Shocker.

In virtually every episode he fights a different Shocker agent, which are Kaijin (see Kaiju): in this series they are human/animal (sometimes plant) hybrids – oddly, the first two are called Spider Man and Bat Man. Other hybrid non-human halves include praying mantis, dinosaur, mushroom, ant, ant-lion, anteater, yeti, rhino, jellyfish, unicorn, horsefly, leech, trilobite, toad and caterpillar (later, moth). Kamen Rider foils Shocker's plans, which include human experimentation, attempting to destroy Tokyo, seeking Nazi treasure and constructing a cobalt bomb. Towards the end of the series Shocker is defeated, so it combines with another evil group, called Geldam, to become Gel Shocker: their Kaijin are hybrids that combine two animals with one human (for example, crab/bat, jellyfish/wolf, sea anemone/jaguar). By the end of the series Gel Shocker is destroyed and its leader apparently killed.

Fujioka did all his own motorcycle stunts, breaking a leg during the filming of episode 10; previously unused footage was used until episode 14, where Shocker attempts to turn Hayato Ichimonji (Sasaki) into a new, evil Kamen Rider: but he is rescued by Takeshi to become Kamen Rider 2. Takeshi now departs Japan to fight Shocker overseas, reappearing in episode 49; the two then work together until 53 when Hayato leaves (guesting occasionally, including in the finale). On his return Fujioka was no longer allowed to perform his own stunts.

The show's intended audience was older than that of the later Super Sentai series, with a more sober tone; for example, Hongo's cyborg strength means he worries about accidentally injuring the innocent, whilst also brooding over whether he's still human. The monsters are largely unexceptional (they would become more interesting in later series) and, given the number of episodes, it is unsurprising that there is some sameness to events, particularly with the fight scenes. [SP]

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2. A long-running (1971-current) Superhero franchise in the Tokusatsu genre, made by the Toei Company. It was created by Shotaro Ishinomori, who would go on to even greater success with the Super Sentai franchise.

The Kamen Riders are the show's Cyborg protagonists (see Superheroes): typically, they are either cyborged by the villains or by the forces of good to defeat the villains – atypical examples include being raised and operated on by a relic Inca tribe; an astronaut modified to survive in space (see Space Flight); altered by an ancient civilization's Technology; and transformed by a creature from a mirror Dimension. Their uniform, resembling brightly coloured motorcycle gear, is often Powered Armour. Initially just strong, fast and athletic (with exaggerated body language and deadly kicks), in later years a Rider's range of abilities would widen, powering up into different forms, each with specific strengths (see Superpowers). They also use motorcycles a great deal. Originally a series or film would feature a single Kamen Rider, though sometimes with appearances by his predecessors; but from Kamen Rider Agito (2001-2002) there would increasingly be two or (usually) more, including the occasional female rider. Singularly or as a team, the heroes combat an organization from the present, past, future or another dimension – who might be humans, Monsters, Aliens, AIs or a combination thereof – desiring to rule or destroy humanity; they use colourful and thematically linked operatives who provide the episode's monster-of-the-week (or fortnight). A notable difference between Kamen Rider and Super Sentai is the lack of giant monsters and mecha, the kaijin (see Kaiju) invariably being human sized.

After the popular first series, Kamen Rider (1971-1973) (see 1 above), several sequels followed – though with an occasional short break – until a long hiatus after Kamen Rider Black RX (1988-1989) (though films and a tv special continued until 1994), ending in 2000, when it was revived to begin its unbroken run to the present day (early 2021). Each series usually worked (increasingly loosely) with the basic format of the first series. For instance, the second series, Kamen Rider V3, has motorcyclist Shiro Kazami (Hiroshi Miyauchi) fighting Destron, an organization seeking world domination. They kill his family, so he asks Kamen Riders 1 and 2 (from 1.) to turn him into a cyborg – initially refusing, they do so when he's fatally injured. Destron's kaijin are generally more memorable than the first series: most are humanoid animals fused with technology – TV Fly (he has televisions for eyes), Turtle Bazooka, Guillotine Dinosaur, Missile Gecko, Hammer Jellyfish, Chainsaw Lizard, Quoit Stag Beetle etc. – and they are invariably despatched by one of V3's specialized kicks. The third series, Kamen Rider X, has the hero cyborged by his dying Scientist father, to fight G.O.D. (the Government of Darkness): their kaijin are either based on Greek Mythology, or a combination of animal and a historical/fictional figure – such as Horned Beetle-Lupin, Ant Capone, Tiger Nero, Scorpion-Geronimo and the latter's vengeful son, Scorpion-Geronimo Jr. ... however, most memorable was Starfish Hitler.

Kamen Rider (1979-1980) was originally intended as a reboot, but during its run it shifted into a continuation of earlier series. Kamen Rider Kuuga (2000-2001), tasked with restarting the franchise after the hiatus, has an archaeological dig accidentally resurrecting an ancient race, the Gurongi, who had been imprisoned by a hero, Kuuga. Now revived, they return to their favourite game – killing humans. However, the dig also found Kuuga's belt (an artefact of advanced technology). The belt is passed to a researcher, whose friend is the amiable Yusuke Godai (Joe Odagiri), who gets strange flashbacks whenever he sees it: when a Gurongi seeks to grab the belt, Yusuke girds it and transforms into Kamen Rider Kuuga. Throughout the series he fights each of the Gurongi, until defeating their leader in the finale.

Kamen Rider Hibiki (2005-2006) was also begun as a reboot, but of an earlier Ishinomori television series, Henshin Ninja Arashi (1972; 47 episodes) about a hero in the Edo period fighting evil ninjas (who can become half animal): initially intended to replace Kamen Rider (due to the previous series low toy sales), a change of heart meant the concept was restructured (including being set in the present day) to be a part of the franchise instead. A noteworthy series was Kamen Rider Gaim (2013-2014), whose head writer was Gen Urobuchi, who wrote the celebrated Puella Magi Madoka Magica (2011): set in a Japanese city run by the Yggdrasill Corporation, it centres on competitive dance teams (some of whose members become Riders) and monsters that arrive through dimensional cracks. The latter come from the Helheim Forest, which had invaded the world on the other side of the cracks, almost wiping out its population, and is now coming to do the same to Earth. There is a hunt for a forbidden fruit that could defeat this enemy (Religious references are frequent).

An entertaining low-budget show intended to sell Toys, Kamen Rider has for most of its run been largely more serious and thoughtful than Super Sentai, though still using Humour; but since Kamen Rider Den-O (2007-2008) some series have been more light-hearted. However the webseries Kamen Rider Amazons (2017-2018) and the film Kamen Rider Amazons: The Last Judgement (2018) – which rework Kamen Rider Amazon (1974-1975) – were very dark and violent (see Horror in SF), featuring much gore (such as someone being cut in two) and cannibalism (including children farmed for food).

Following the success of adapting the Super Sentai series into the Power Rangers franchise (1993-current) for the US market, it was decided to try the same for Kamen Rider, resulting in Masked Rider (1995-1997; 40 episodes), which reworked Kamen Rider Black RX. Another attempt was Kamen Rider: Dragon Knight (2008-2009; 40 episodes), using Kamen Rider Ryuki. Neither proved popular.

In the seventies three films featuring Super Rider, who was inspired by Kamen Rider, were made in Taiwan: The Super Rider V3 (1975; original title Shan Tien Ch'i Shih; vt Lightning Knight V3), based on the television series Kamen Rider V3; The Five Of Super Rider (1976; original title Shǎn Diàn Wǔ Qí Shì X; vt Lightning Five Knights), based on the tv series Kamen Rider X; and Super Riders with the Devil (1976; original title Shǎn Diàn Qí Shì Dà Zhàn Dì Yù Jūn Tuán; vt The Lightning Knights Battled the Hell's Legion; vt Super Rider Against the Devils), based on the films Kamen Rider vs. Shocker and Kamen Rider vs. Hell Ambassador.

Elsewhere, Thailand's Chaiyo Productions asked the Toei Company for permission to use Kamen Rider in a film; when this was not forthcoming, they went ahead and made it anyway: Hanuman and the Five Riders (1975; original title Hanuman pob Har Aimoddaeng; vt Hanuman and the Five Ant Men; vt Hanuman and the 5 Kamen Riders, vt Hanumān to Gonin no Kamen Raidā); Hanuman is the Hindu god, who teams up with the Riders. About half of the footage was lifted from the Kamen Rider X film Five Riders vs. King Dark.

In addition to the productions listed below, there were numerous, usually light-hearted, videos/DVDs called Hyper Battle videos sold with magazines. The Fan Club also released original material on their website – such as Kamen Rider Zi-O: Supplementary Plan (original title Kamen Raidā Jiō Hokan Keikaku), comprising 16 shorts that accompanied the 2018-2019 series. There have also been related Manga, novels and Videogames. [SP]

List of Kamen Rider series

Television unless otherwise stated. Television specials are asterisked.

  • Kamen Rider (1971-1973; vt Masked Rider; 98 episodes) IMDb
  • Kamen Rider V3 (1973-1974; original title Kamen Raidā Buisuri; vt Masked Rider V3, 52 episodes) IMDb
  • Kamen Rider X (February-October 1974; 35 episodes) IMDb
  • Kamen Rider Amazon (1974-1975; 24 episodes) IMDb
  • Kamen Rider Stronger (1975; 39 episodes) IMDb
  • All Together! Seven Kamen Riders* (1976; original title Zen'in Shūgō! Shichinin no Kamen Raidā!!) Wiki
  • Immortal Kamen Rider Special* (1979; original title Fumetsu no Kamen Raidā Supesharu; vt Humetsu No Kamen Rider Special) IMDb
  • Kamen Rider (1979-1980; vt The New Kamen Rider (Atarashii Kamen Raidā); vt Skyrider (Sukairaidā); vt Kamen Rider Skyrider; 54 episodes) IMDb
  • Kamen Rider Super-1 (1980-1981; 48 episodes) IMDb
  • Birth of the 10th! Kamen Riders All Together!!* (1984; original title Jūgō Tanjō! Kamen Raidā Zen'in Shūgō!!; vt Kamen Rider ZX: Birth of the 10th! Kamen Riders All Together.) Note: This special was supposed to set up a new series featuring Kamen Rider ZX, but it was never made. IMDb
  • This Is Kamen Rider Black* (1987; original title Kore ga Kamen Raidā Burakku da!!) Wiki
  • Kamen Rider Black (1987-1988; 51 episodes) IMDb
  • Kamen Rider 1 through RX: Big Gathering* (1988; original title Kamen Raidā Ichigō~Āru Ekkusu Daishūgō) Wiki
  • Kamen Rider Black RX (1988-1989; 47 episodes) IMDb
  • Ultraman vs. Kamen Rider* (1993; original title Urutoraman tai Kamen Raidā) IMDb
  • Kamen Rider Kuuga (2000-2001; 49 episodes) IMDb
  • Kamen Rider Kuuga: First Dream Of The New Year* (2000; original title Kamen Raidā Kūga Shinshun Supesharu, 1/2/2001; 2 previously seen episodes and a new one) Wiki
  • Kamen Rider Agito (2001-2002; Masked Rider ΑGITΩ; 51 episodes) IMDb
  • Kamen Rider Agito Special: Another New Transformation* (2001; original title Kamen Raidā Agito Supesharu Aratanaru Henshin) Wiki
  • Kamen Rider Ryuki (2002-2003; 50 episodes) IMDb
  • Kamen Rider Ryuki Special: 13 Riders* (2002; original title Kamen Raidā Ryūki Supesharu Sātīn Raidāzu) IMDb
  • Kamen Rider 555 (2003-2004; original title Kamen Raidā Faizu; vt Kamen Rider Faiz; 50 episodes) IMDb
  • Kamen Rider Blade (2004-2005; 49 episodes) IMDb
  • Kamen Rider Blade: New Generation* (2004) Comprising previously seen material. Wiki
  • Kamen Rider Hibiki (2005-2006; 48 episodes) IMDb
  • Kamen Rider Kabuto (2006-2007, 49 episodes) IMDb
  • 35th Masked Rider Anniversary File* (2006) A look back at the history of Kamen Rider that accompanied some episodes of Kamen Rider Kabuto. Wiki
  • Kamen Rider Den-O (2007-2008; 49 episodes) IMDb
  • Kamen Rider Kiva (2008-2009; 48 episodes) IMDb
  • Kamen Rider Decade (2009; 31 episodes) IMDb
  • Kamen Rider G* (2009) Appeared as a segment in the Japanese boy band SMAP's television show, SmaSTATION. IMDb
  • Kamen Rider W (2009-2010; 49 episodes) IMDb
  • Kamen Rider OOO (2010-2011; 48 episodes) IMDb
  • Kamen Rider Fourze (2011-2012; 48 episodes) IMDb
  • Kamen Rider Wizard (2012-2013; 53 episodes) IMDb
  • Kamen Rider Gaim (2013-2014; 47 episodes) IMDb
  • Kamen Rider Drive (2014-2015; 48 episodes) IMDb
  • D-Video Special: Kamen Rider 4 (2015; web series, 3 episodes) IMDb
  • Kamen Rider Ghost (2015-2016; 50 episodes) IMDb
  • Kamen Rider Ghost: Legendary! Riders' Souls! (2016; original title Kamen Raidā Gōsuto: Densetsu! Raidā no Tamashī!; web series, 7 episodes) IMDb
  • Kamen Rider Drive Saga (2016-2019) 6-part series: 3 released as OVAs, 1 CD story and 2 web episodes. Wiki
  • The Legend of Hero Alain (2016-2017; original title Aran Eiyū-den) Blu-ray series, 4 episodes. Wiki
  • Kamen Rider Ex-Aid (2016-2017; 45 episodes) IMDb
  • Kamen Rider Snipe: Episode ZERO (2017; original title ZERO Kamen Raidā Sunaipu Episōdo Zero; Blu-ray series, 4 episodes) Wiki
  • Kamen Sentai Gorider (2017; web series, 3 episodes) IMDb
  • Kamen Rider Amazons (2017-2018; vt Amazon Riders; web series, 26 episodes) IMDb
  • Kamen Rider Build (2017-2018; 49 episodes) IMDb
  • Kamen Rider Build: Raising the Hazard Level – 7 Best Matches (2018; original title Kamen Raidā Birudo Hazādoreberu o Ageru Nanatsu no Besuto Matchi; web series, 3 episodes) Wiki
  • ROGUE (2018) Blu-ray series, 3 episodes. Wiki
  • Kamen Rider Zi-O (2018-2019; 49 episodes) IMDb
  • Kamen Rider Zi-O Spin-off (2019; web series, 8 episodes). Wiki
  • Kamen Rider Zero-One (2019-2020; vt Kamen Rider 01; 45 episodes) IMDb
  • Kamen Rider Saber (2020-2021; 20 episodes) IMDb

List of Kamen Rider films

OVAs are asterisked.

  • Go Go Kamen Rider (1971) Adapted tv episode. Wiki
  • Kamen Rider vs. Hell Ambassador (1972) IMDb
  • Kamen Rider vs. Shocker (1972) IMDb
  • Kamen Rider V3 (1973; adapted tv episode) IMDb
  • Kamen Rider V3 vs. the Destron Monsters (1973; vt Kamen Rider V3 vs. Destron Mutants) IMDb
  • Kamen Rider X (1974) Adapted tv episode. Wiki
  • Kamen Rider X: Five Riders vs. King Dark (1974) IMDb
  • Kamen Rider Amazon (1975; adapted tv episode) IMDb
  • Kamen Rider Stronger (1975; adapted tv episode) IMDb
  • Kamen Rider: Eight Riders vs. Galaxy King (1980) IMDb
  • Kamen Rider Super-1 (1981) IMDb
  • Kamen Rider Black: Terrifying! The Phantom House of Devil Pass (1988; vt Kamen Rider Black: Fear! Evil Monster Mansion) IMDb
  • Kamen Rider Black: Hurry to Onigashimab (1988) IMDb
  • Kamen Rider Black RX: Run All Over the World (1989; 3D film; vt Kamen Rider: Stay in the World) IMDb
  • Shin Kamen Rider: Prologue* (1992) Wiki
  • Kamen Rider SD* (1993) The show's only Anime. IMDb
  • Kamen Rider ZO (1993) IMDb
  • Kamen Rider J (1994) IMDb
  • Kamen Rider World (1994; 3D film for amusement parks) IMDb
  • Kamen Rider Agito: Project G4 (2001) IMDb
  • Kamen Rider Ryuki: Episode Final (2002) IMDb
  • Kamen Rider 555: Paradise Lost (2003) IMDb
  • Kamen Rider Blade: Missing Ace (2004) IMDb
  • Kamen Rider Hibiki & The Seven Senki (2005; vt Kamen Rider Hibiki & the Seven Fighting Demons) IMDb
  • Kamen Rider: The First (2005) IMDb
  • Kamen Rider Kabuto: God Speed Love (2006) IMDb
  • Kamen Rider Den-O: I'm Born! (2007) IMDb
  • Kamen Rider: The Next (2007) IMDb
  • Kamen Rider Den-O & Kiva: Climax Deka (2008) IMDb
  • Kamen Rider Kiva: King of the Castle in the Demon World (2008) IMDb
  • Saraba Kamen Rider Den-O: Final Countdown (2008) IMDb
  • Cho Kamen Rider Den-O & Decade Neo Generations: The Onigashima Warship (2009) IMDb
  • Kamen Rider × Kamen Rider W & Decade: Movie War 2010 (2009) IMDb
  • Kamen Rider Decade: All Riders vs. Dai-Shocker (2009) IMDb
  • Kamen Rider × Kamen Rider × Kamen Rider The Movie: Cho-Den-O Trilogy (2010, Three films) IMDb
  • Kamen Rider × Kamen Rider OOO & W Featuring Skull: Movie War Core (2010) IMDb
  • Kamen Rider W Forever: A to Z/The Gaia Memories of Fate (2010) IMDb
  • Kamen Rider × Kamen Rider Fourze & OOO: Movie War Mega Max (2011) IMDb
  • Kamen Rider OOO Wonderful: The Shogun and the 21 Core Medals (2011) IMDb
  • Kamen Rider W Returns: Kamen Rider Eternal* (2011) IMDb
  • OOO, Den-O, All Riders: Let's Go Kamen Riders (2011) IMDb
  • Kamen Rider × Kamen Rider Wizard & Fourze: Movie War Ultimatum (2012) IMDb
  • Kamen Rider × Super Sentai: Super Hero Taisen (2012) IMDb
  • Kamen Rider Fourze the Movie: Space, Here We Come! (2012;vt Kamen Rider Fourze: Everyone, Space is Here!) IMDb
  • Kamen Rider × Kamen Rider Gaim & Wizard: The Fateful Sengoku Movie Battle (2013) IMDb
  • Kamen Rider × Super Sentai × Space Sheriff: Super Hero Taisen Z (2013) IMDb
  • Kamen Rider Wizard in Magic Land (2013) IMDb
  • Heisei Riders vs. Shōwa Riders: Kamen Rider Taisen feat. Super Sentai (2014) IMDb
  • Kamen Rider × Kamen Rider Drive & Gaim: Movie War Full Throttle (2014) IMDb
  • Kamen Rider Gaim: Great Soccer Battle! Golden Fruits Cup! (2014) IMDb
  • Kamen Rider × Kamen Rider Ghost & Drive: Super Movie War Genesis (2015) IMDb
  • Kamen Rider Drive: Surprise Future (2015) IMDb
  • Gaim Gaiden: Kamen Rider Zangetsu and Baron* (2015) IMDb
  • Gaim Gaiden: Kamen Rider Duke and Knuckle* (2015) IMDb
  • Super Hero Taisen GP: Kamen Rider 3 (2015) IMDb
  • Kamen Rider 1 (2016) Wiki
  • Kamen Rider Ghost: The 100 Eyecons and Ghost's Fateful Moment (2016) IMDb
  • Kamen Rider Heisei Generations: Dr. Pac-Man vs. Ex-Aid & Ghost with Legend Riders (2016) IMDb
  • Chou Super Hero Taisen: Kamen Rider vs. Super Sentai (2017) IMDb
  • Kamen Rider Ex-Aid: True Ending (2017) IMDb
  • Kamen Rider Ghost Re-Birth: Kamen Rider Specter* (2017) IMDb
  • Kamen Rider Heisei Generations Final: Build & Ex-Aid with Legend Riders (2017) IMDb
  • Kamen Rider Amazons: The Last Judgement (2018) IMDb
  • Kamen Rider Build the Movie: Be the One (2018) IMDb
  • Kamen Rider Ex-Aid Trilogy: Another Ending* (2018) Three films: Brave & Snipe, IMDb; Genm vs Lazer, IMDb; Para DX with Poppy, IMDb
  • Kamen Rider Heisei Generations Forever (2018) IMDb
  • Kamen Rider Build New World* (2019) Two films: Grease, IMDb; Cross-Z, IMDb
  • Kamen Rider Reiwa The First Generation (2019) IMDb
  • Kamen Rider Zi-O: Over Quartzer (2019) IMDb
  • Kamen Rider Saber the Movie: The Phoenix Swordsman and the Book of Ruin (2020) IMDb
  • Kamen Rider Zero-One: Real×Time (2020) IMDb
  • Kamen Rider Zi-O Next Time: Geiz, Majesty* (2020) First of a sequence of two films. IMDb

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