Kamen Rider Series
The Kamen Rider Series (仮面ライダーシリーズ Kamen Raidā Shirīzu, translated as Masked Rider Series) is the overall name of a franchise of Japanese tokusatsu. The franchise began in 1971 with a show titled Kamen Rider which followed college student Takeshi Hongo and his quest to defeat Shocker. Over the years, the popularity of the franchise has grown and the original series has spawned many television and theatrical sequels. The cultural impact of the series in Japan resulted in Akimasa Nakamuranaming two minor planets in honor of the series: 12408 Fujioka, after actor Hiroshi Fujioka, known for his portrayal of Takeshi Hongo/Kamen Rider 1, and 12796 Kamenrider, after the series, itself.
The Kamen Rider Series originally began under the title “Masked Hero Project”. Produced by Toru Hirayama (平山 亨 Hirayama Tōru), the series spent nearly five years on hold while Hirayama worked on other shows and searched for a proper character designer. In 1969, Shotaro Ishinomori, who was a known face in tokusatsuat the time, was approached by Hirayama to have his Skull Man manga adapted for the Masked Hero Project. Originally the project was rejected due to criticisms that it was too violent for the timeslot it was given. After the duo reworked the story and designs, the final Kamen Rider design, a grasshopper, was chosen by Ishinomori’s son. This drawing would go on to become the original Kamen Rider 1, after some modification.
Kamen Rider premiered on April 3, 1971, to lower than expected ratings, and verged on the brink of cancellation. During the filming of episode 10, Fujioka Hiroshi, the actor of Kamen Rider 1, was thrown off his motorcycle during the filming of a stunt. Crashing into a telephone pole, he shattered both his legs. Toei then went through many methods to have Hongo appear less and less until episode 13, when Ichimonji Hayato was introduced. Until episode 52 when Fujioka Hiroshi returned, Ichimonji Hayato was Kamen Rider 2 and the star of the show. Upon his return in episode 53, Hongo became the main character once more. Both Kamen Riders 1 and 2 would go on to appear in every show in the first half of the Shōwa era. The continuous run from April 1971 to January 1976 distinguished itself by featuring the recurrent mentor character, Tobei Tachibana (立花 藤兵衛 Tachibana Tōbee).
After a four year hiatus, the series returned to television broadcast in October 1979 for two years. In these new shows, the role of Tachibana was replaced by a similar character named Genjiro Tani (谷 源次郎 Tani Genjirō). Airing in 1984, the Kamen Rider ZX special, Birth of the 10th! Kamen Riders All Together!!, became the last project in the franchise to be produced by Hirayama.
Kamen Rider BLACK was the first series that neither indicated nor hinted at any relationship with its predecessors. Kamen Rider BLACK was the first show in the franchise to feature a direct sequel, Kamen Rider BLACK RX, the basis of Saban’s Americanized Masked Rider. RX‘s finale showed the ten previous Riders return to help BLACK RX defeat the Crisis Empire, this is the last time any Rider from a previous show would appear in another series. Kamen Rider BLACK RX was the final show to be produced during the Shōwa era, its broadcast spanning from the Shōwa era and into the beginning of the Heisei era.
Being completely absent from television during the 1990s, the franchise was kept alive mainly by stage shows, musical CDs, and the Shin, ZO, and J movies, though many fans classify the movies as part of the Showa series as they treat Ishinomori’s passing the pinnacle of the Showa era. Toei announced its new project, Kamen Rider Kuuga, in May 1999. Kuuga was part of a Kamen Rider rebirth that Ishinomori had worked on in 1997, planning for a leadup into the 30th anniversary. However, Ishinomori passed away before he could see these shows materialize. During the summer of 1999, Kuuga became publicized through magazine ads and commercials. On January 30, 2000, Kamen Rider Kuuga premiered to high ratings, which would throughout the anniversary series, Kamen Rider Agito. It had three main Riders, Agito, Gills and G3. Agito also began the trend of having the ending theme song play during the climactic scene instead of the end credits (this would be briefly broken in Kamen Rider Hibiki).
In 2005, Kamen Rider The First was produced. The movie was an original reimagining of both the manga and original television series. Various characters from the original series had their storylines altered to fit the time span of the movie. Masaya Kikawada portrays Takeshi Hongo/Kamen Rider 1 and Hassei Takano (previouslyMiyuki Tezuka/Kamen Rider Raia in Kamen Rider Ryuki) as Hayato Ichimonji/Kamen Rider 2.
The year 2007 brought Kamen Rider Den-O, the eighth series, taking a turn from past Kamen Rider series, introducing a Kamen Rider that is completely unsure of himself. The series marks the first time a mecha has been used in the franchise, the Den-Liner; a bullet train that can travel through time. This series only had two Riders, Den-O and Zeronos, but they had multiple forms that they could switch between, similar to BLACK RX, Kuuga, and Agito. Due to the large popularity of Den-O, a second theatrical production, crossing over with the 2008 series Kamen Rider Kiva was released in theaters April 12, 2008, becoming the top film in its opening weekend and grossing 730 million yen. In addition, Animate is producing an OVA tentatively titled Imagin Anime that features SD versions of the Imagin that are contracted to Den-O and Zeronos that have been featured in the company’s other Den-O products. Finally, a third movie, called Farewell, Kamen Rider Den-O: Final Countdown with two more new Riders serves as an epilogue to the series. There has never been a third film for one series before.Takeru Satoh claims that this is because of the series’ comedy.
There was also a sequel to Kamen Rider The First in 2007 titled Kamen Rider The Next, based on the events of Kamen Rider V3. It featured Kazuki Kato (previouslyDaisuke Kazama/Kamen Rider Drake in Kamen Rider Kabuto) portraying Shiro Kazami/Kamen Rider V3. Kikawada and Takano reprise their roles as Hongo/Kamen Rider 1 and Ichimonji/Kamen Rider 2.
Although each entry in the series is different, each one shares similar traits with one and another. All generally involve at least one young adult male transforming into a Kamen Rider to fight various monsters and organizations linked to that specific Kamen Rider’s origin. As the series progresses, the Rider often learns more about the monsters in the series, other Kamen Riders or the origin of his powers. Early Kamen Riders were generally based on grasshoppers, but this practice has only been done twice in the newer set of shows. Usually referred to as Rider Machines, motorcycles are an integral part of the series. Since Kamen Rider Agito, Honda has provided motorcycles for the series’ productions.Early Kamen Riders wore scarfs along with their costumes, but this practice was dropped with Kamen Rider BLACK.
A trait shared among recent Kamen Riders is their ability to change forms and become stronger versions of themselves. The first power up appeared in Kamen Rider Stronger which was used by the title character. Kamen Rider BLACK RX had multiple forms, Roborider and Biorider. Since then, every title Kamen Rider in the Heisei era has had at least one power up with Kamen Rider Kuuga having the most.
All Shōwa era Riders gained their powers through some form of surgical alteration to their bodies, a practice seen only once in the current era with Kamen Rider Dark Kabuto (unless the Shocker Hoppers would be taken into consideration). The Heisei era of Kamen Rider varies greatly in its use of Kamen Riders. Whereas all early Kamen Riders fought on the side of justice and peace, there have been numerous Kamen Riders in the Heisei era that have fought for personal reasons such as greed, revenge and the personal enjoyment of battle. Because of this, recent Kamen Riders have become less eager to immediately join the battle of justice.
Combat techniques generally remain somewhat consistent between series. The “Rider Kick” has become known as the signature attack for Kamen Riders. Although no Heisei era Kamen Rider before Kamen Rider Kabuto named their kick “Rider Kick”, it has still been a staple for every Kamen Rider series. Other variations include the Rider Chop and Rider Punch.
- Kamen Rider (仮面ライダー Kamen Raider)
- Kamen Rider was the very first show in the franchise, airing from 1971 to 1973, the series set up many themes that are still used today. The series followed the battles of the first two Kamen Riders against Shocker and later Gelshocker. The series ran for 98 episodes, making it the longest series to date.
- Kamen Rider V3 (仮面ライダーＶ３ Kamen Raidā Buisurī)
- Airing from 1973 to 1974, the series ran for 52 episodes and followed Shiro Kazami on his quest to gain revenge against the group that murdered his family. Later on, Riderman, the fourth Kamen Rider is introduced as the first long term villain Kamen Rider. The original Kamen Riders also make various appearances over the course of the series to help Kazami.
- Kamen Rider X (仮面ライダーＸ Kamen Raidā Ekkusu)
- The series aired in 1974 and ran for 35 episodes. Keisuke Jin and his father Kentaro Jin are attack by the Government Of Darkness (GOD), Keisuke and Kentaro are both mortally wounded in the attack, but before he dies, Kentaro transforms his son into Kamen Rider X. Many of the monsters Kamen Rider X faced were based on Greek mythology and later on various animals.
- Kamen Rider Amazon (仮面ライダーアマゾン Kamen Raidā Amazon)
- Kamen Rider Amazon aired from 1974 to 1975, airing just 24 episodes, it is the shortest Kamen Rider series to date. Daisuke Yamamoto, an orphan lost in the Amazon has grown up with an Amazon tribe and lead a peaceful life until his tribe was attacked by Gorgos. Before dying, his tribe elder turned Daisuke into Kamen Rider Amazon. This was the first Kamen Rider not to use a belt to transform and the first series not to have any previous Kamen Riders appear, although Amazon meets his seniors in the next series.
- Kamen Rider Stronger (仮面ライダーストロンガー Kamen Raidā Sutorongā)
- Airing in 1975, this was intended to be the final Kamen Rider series and aired 39 episodes. Shigeru Jou joins Black Satan after the murder of his best friend and mentor. Knowing the organization to be the culprits, he allows himself to undergo an operation that changes him into Kamen Rider Stronger. Later on, Black Satan is defeated and a new group known as Delza becomes the series enemy. Stronger is later joined by Electro Wave Human Tackle, a female warrior who later sacrifices herself to save Stronger from a powerful opponent. This was also the first series to have a temporary power up for the main character.
- Kamen Rider (Skyrider) (仮面ライダー（スカイライダー） Kamen Raidā (Sukairaidā))
- Airing 54 episodes from 1979 to 1980, Kamen Rider was intended to be a reboot of the franchise.[original research?] Intended to be a remake of the original series, the idea was slowly phased out as references to the past were made and senior Kamen Riders made guest appearances. Hiroshi Tsukaba is kidnapped and transformed into Kamen Rider as a means to help Doctor Shiro escape Neoshocker. During the course of the series, former Kamen Riders appear and Kamen Rider is dubbed Skyrider by Kamen Rider Stronger to differentiate him from the original Kamen Riders.
- Kamen Rider Super-1 (仮面ライダースーパー１ Kamen Raidā Sūpā Wan)
- Airing from 1980 to 1981, the series ran for 48 episodes. Wanting to become an astronaut, Kazuya Oki undergoes an operation that allows him to survive in space. The area were he is operated in is attacked by the Dogma Empire and Kamen Rider Super-1’s peers are all killed. Super-1 has special gloves that allow for different attack types.
- Kamen Rider BLACK (仮面ライダーＢＬＡＣＫ Kamen Raidā Burakku)
- Airing from 1987 to 1988, the series ran for 51 episodes. After being kidnapped by the cult Gorgom on the night of their 19th birthday, stepbrothers Kotaro Minami and Nobuhiko Akizuki are submitted to a mutant surgery with the purpose of becoming the candidates to be the next Creation King. Kotaro escapes before the brainwashing, with help from his foster father, and turned against Gorgom. He soon finds out the horrific truth from his stepfather: Gorgom originally killed his true parents. Later on, Kamen Rider BLACK must battle with his brother, who has become the trump card of Gorgom, Shadow Moon.
- Kamen Rider BLACK RX (仮面ライダーＢＬＡＣＫ ＲＸ Kamen Raidā Burakku Aru Ekkusu)
- Airing from 1988 to 1989 for 47 episodes, Kamen Rider BLACK RX is the ninth and final show in the Shōwa era of shows. Years after the defeat of Gorgom, Minami Kotaro is kidnapped by the Crisis Empire. After refusing to join them, he is thrust out into space where he undergoes the change to become Kamen Rider BLACK RX. This series marked the end of the Shōwa era of shows.
- Kamen Rider Kuuga (仮面ライダークウガ Kamen Raidā Kūga)
- Airing from 2000 to 2001 for 49 episodes, this was the first Kamen Rider series in 11 years and the start of the Heisei era of shows. Yuusuke Godai finds an ancient artifact that allows him to transform into Kamen Rider Kuuga to battle the Grongi forces. Having 11 forms, this series had more power ups than any before or after.
- Kamen Rider Agito (仮面ライダーアギト Kamen Raidā Agito)
- Translated as Masked Rider ΑGITΩ, Kamen Rider Agito ran from 2001 to 2002 for 51 episodes. This was the first series to feature more than one Kamen Rider as the main character at the same time. Shouichi Tsugami has lost his memories, he lives with a foster family and fights against the Unknown as Kamen Rider Agito. Looking for the origin of his power and his lost memories, this series follows Kamen Rider Agito, G3, Gills and Another Agito.
- Kamen Rider Ryuki (仮面ライダー龍騎 Kamen Raidā Ryūki)
- Airing from 2002 to 2003, Kamen Rider Ryuki ran for 50 episodes and drastically changed the mold of Kamen Rider. Shinji Kido, a reporter, forms a bond with a creature known as a “Contract Beast”. Becoming Kamen Rider Ryuki, Shinji joins the war of the 13 Kamen Riders. All fighting for various reasons, the winner of the war will be granted a single wish. Due to low ratings, this series was on the verge of cancellation for a time. This was the last series to have any form of continuity with a previous series.
- Kamen Rider 555 (仮面ライダー５５５（ファイズ） Kamen Raidā Faizu)
- Airing from 2003 to 2004, Kamen Rider 555 (translated as Masked Rider Φ‘s) aired for 50 episodes. A group of evolved humans known as Orphenochs are starting to take control of the world. It is unknown how much of the human population is not an Orphenoch. The Orphenochs are protected by a company called Smart Brain, the creators of the three rider belts. A young loner, Takumi Inui, is unwillingly drawn into the conflict between the Orphenochs and humans and becomes Kamen Rider Faiz to save the life of Mari Sonada. Among the Orphenochs are renegades who wish to fight to protect humans rather than kill them. The series follows Takumi, the renegade Orphenochs and two other Kamen Riders who are both enemies upon their entrance to the series.
- Kamen Rider Blade (仮面ライダー剣（ブレイド） Kamen Raidā Bureido)
- Airing from 2004 to 2005 for 49 episodes, Kamen Rider Blade (translated as Masked Rider ♠) returned to the card motif introduced in Ryuki. Kenzaki Kazuma has just recently become the user for the Kamen Rider Blade system. Months after becoming a Kamen Rider, the BOARD agency that he is apart of is attacked and nearly wiped out. Trying to discover the reason behind the attack, Kenzaki unwittingly becomes part of the Battle Royale. Later joined by three Kamen Riders, Kenzaki ultimately has to make the toughest decision in his life and make a choice between his friends’ happiness and the safety of the human race.
- Kamen Rider Hibiki (仮面ライダー響鬼（ヒビキ） Kamen Raidā Hibiki)
- Airing from 2005 to 2006, Kamen Rider Hibiki ran for 48 episodes. Kamen Rider Hibiki’s main focus is the story of the teacher and apprentice-like relationship of Adachi Asumu and the title character. Adachi Asumu is a young boy who is unsure of his own skill and worth, and at a crossroads in his life as he transitions to high school. As the series progresses, he learns what it is to be a man, more confident in his own power. The secondary focus of the series is the age old battle of the Kamen Riders (referred to as Oni in this program) and the Makamo, demons that can only be defeated using “pure sound”. The series follows the training and changes of the four main Oni, Hibiki, Ibuki, Todoroki and Zanki. The series was plagued by controversy behind the screen, starting with the firing of the principle writers and directors and later leading to drastically altered stories.
- Kamen Rider Kabuto (仮面ライダーカブト Kamen Raidā Kabuto)
- Airing from 2006 to 2007 for 49 episodes, Kamen Rider Kabuto was seen as a “return to the basics” after years of new styles and themed gimmicks. Kamen Rider Kabuto revolves around the story of a man named Souji Tendou. He has trained his entire life while waiting for the Kabuto Zecter so that he may properly take up the name of Kamen Rider Kabuto. Making many enemies while at the same time meeting other Riders with mysterious origins, Tendou attempts to accomplish his goal at all costs; Protecting Hiyori by destroying all other Worms that would make life difficult for her. Making a friend in Arata Kagami, who later becomes Kamen Rider Gatack, the two work together and protect Hiyori along with humanity from the alien Worms that arrived from a meteorite seven years ago.
- Kamen Rider Den-O (仮面ライダー電王 Kamen Raidā Den’ō)
- Airing from 2007 to 2008 for 49 episodes, Kamen Rider Den-O follows the story of Ryotaro Nogami, a young man with incredibly bad luck who is discovered to be a Singularity Point, a human who can exist separate from time itself. When he is possessed by a future life-form called an Imagin, he reluctantly becomes Den-O to fight the malignant Imagin that are traveling back in time to 2007 to grant the wishes of weak-hearted humans so they can travel back further and alter the course of history in their favor. He also tries to protect his sister Airi from the past that she cannot remember. He boards the time-traveling train called the Den-Liner and meets the brash and tomboyish Hana, the eccentric Owner, the waitress Naomi, and his own Imagin: Momotaros, Urataros, Kintaros, and Ryutaros. Soon enough, a man named Yuto Sakurai appears and is another Kamen Rider who fights to protect time with the aid of his Imagin Deneb and the Zero-Liner.
- Kamen Rider Kiva (仮面ライダーキバ Kamen Raidā Kiba)
- Airing from 2008 to 2009 for 48 episodes, Kamen Rider Kiva revolves around two characters and two storylines: Wataru Kurenai who becomes Kamen Rider Kiva to battle the stained glass energy vampires known as Fangire in the year 2008, and his father Otoya Kurenai whose interactions with the Fangire and Fangire Hunters in the year 1986 directly affects the life of his son.
- Kamen Rider Decade (仮面ライダーディケイド Kamen Raidā Dikeido)
- Translated as Masked Rider DCD, Decade premiered following the finale of Kiva in 2009. It is billed as the 10th anniversary of the Heisei Rider Series. In Decade, Tsukasa Kayoda must protect his dimension from being destroyed by the dimensions of the previous nine Kamen Riders.