Anyway, pop culture news, video game comment, TV news, music news, comedy in general; all of this is being put aside so I can talk about something that I hold very dear to me:
Armoured bug men.
This article is going to get weird. Prepare for Japan.
Okay, I’ll be the first to admit that good old Mighty Morphin’ does not hold up nowadays, which does make me more excited for the upcoming movie reboot, and it’s probably what played such a huge part in the success of the Power/Rangers fan movie, which took a dark and gritty angle on the MMPR world. Clearly, the market to bring back costumed heroes on the big screen is back in open season, so I’m here to offer you something new to add to that list.
But we’re not here to talk about the Sentai. It’s time to enter the world of Kamen Rider; arguably the most popular entertainment franchise in Japan since 1971.
Much like the Power Rangers, there are a hell of a lot of Kamen Riders. It roughly equates to around 31 series with unique protagonists. Luckily for you, you don’t really need to know about how it all began to start enjoying new Kamen Rider stuff. Just pick a series, watch and enjoy. But for the sake of this article, I am going to give you some primer information about the franchise before we start looking at individual series in the next article.
Unlike Power Rangers, Kamen Rider relies on fewer people to defend the world. So, instead of your basic team of five Rangers, which would later expand to include a sixth or more, Kamen Rider ordinarily starts out with one Rider, then introduces a second half way through. There are exceptions to the rule, however. A lot like Power Ranger series that feature three Rangers instead of five, you do get Kamen Rider series that starts off with multiple riders from the get go.
You may think that would be a detriment to the enjoyment of the show, but the monster-of-the-week stories give you chance to get used to team dynamics, introduce new power ups and finishing moves and even multiple riders. At this point, the main villains normally operate from the shadows until going all out to beat the riders later on. Again, you wouldn’t care about the heroes beating them unless it built it up. It does lead into a nice, steady arc that means when the fights with the big bads come along, you’re insatiably hyped for that moment.
Enter the Drivers: Kamen Riders change into their armoured forms using overly complicated belt buckles loaded with technological gimmicks made to sell overpriced toys. But holy shit are transformations, or ‘henshins’, just fucking cool to watch. No overly zealous roll call nonsense, just pure, badass, 'transforming-and I-know-it' excellence. And you get this or variations on this every episode you watch. Obviously, as the rider count increases, so do the henshins. And they never get old.
Strength In Numbers?
It probably has a lot to do with how good the choreography is in these shows. Suit actors are highly paid and very technical stunt actors that will make sure the crazy scripts come to life. I’ll put it this way; why don’t you try clambering into a skin-tight plastic suit, then attaching a heavy helmet and armour pieces, then handing a stupidly oversized weapon, THEN doing a fight scene in it which culminates in a huge flying kick. There is art in what these people do for sure.
Remember The Rider
Kamen Rider understands that. You’ll want to be one Rider for one reason and another Rider for completely different reasons. And you’ll know your Riders apart. For example, take a look at the current Kamen Riders, Kamen Rider Drive and Kamen Rider Mach.
The Sentai series is consistently playing second fiddle to the Rider series and with good reasons. Firstly, Sentai is aimed at much younger children on the whole. You need only take a look at the ToQgers, last years Sentai, to know that. Hey kiddies, come on board the fun train to fun town!
The Sentai shows tend to play it a lot safer. Again, there are exceptions, but it’s normally the same old friendship beats all, ‘Heart of the Cards’ bullshit and it can get stale easily.
Where Do You Want To Start?
Over the next few articles, I want to talk about some of the Rider series that I’ve watched and my thoughts on them. This will include series recommendations, toy collection overlooks and highlight reels. If your interest has even been slightly piqued by this, I’d fully recommend trying out a series or having a butchers at what I have to say in future articles. Rider series are still airing up to today and even if you don’t like the current one, there’s over fourty years of history to choose from.
Join me next time for the two-in-one Rider detective who counts up criminals sins…