Trust me by the end of this you’ll understand that first line. So you probably know by now that I really like Japanese superheroes. The fascinating costumes and approach to the idea of being a superhero is just fascinating to me, that being said Kamen Rider is one of my favourites, especially the first character to be called Kamen Rider.
‘Kamen’ is Japanese for masked. Beginning as a manga written and drawn by Shotaro Ishinomori is was later adapted into a TV show as part of the Tokusatsu genre – Tokusatsu being the genre in which traditionally houses Japanese superheroes. Usual conventions would be practical effects, costumes, and a superhero theme.
Takeshi Hongo was a brilliant chemist and keen motorcyclist who one days witnesses a murder of scientist by the underground criminal organisation called Shocker. The killer is called Spider man (not the one you’re thinking..). Hongo is then kidnapped and undergoes an operation which turns him into a super powered cyborg.
Before he is brainwashed Hong escapes. He decides from then on to use his new power to fight Shocker and use his bike to help him along the way. From then on in Hongo battles monsters in a villain a week routine. As the show progressed other riders were introduced.
Eventually the show adopted a ‘reboot a year’ format in which one season would on one rider and next year he’d be replaced with a different character and story. Think like Power Rangers in Space then Power Rangers Lost Galaxy.
Hongo’s special attacks were mostly special kicks and punches usually accompanied by him yelling “Rider Punch!” By adding ‘Rider’ in front of anything, Hongo developed a number of different moves focusing on wind weather patterns. Culturally Kamen Rider is like the Western Spider-man.
All over Japan you can find Kamen Rider statues along with a Gundam one as well and during the 2011 earthquake one statue in the city of Miyagi stood firm and wasn’t damaged.
As one last ‘little did you know’ fact, the 90’s TV show Masked Rider was based off one of the many iterations of the riders but the creator of the show was angry with the a treatment of the show and revoked the rights to produce it. This Masked Rider even appeared in Power Rangers.
Another attempt was tried in 2007 with Kamen Rider Dragon Knight and more recently Saban have announced their intention to produce another adaptation called Power Rider.