Thursday, July 20, 2006

KAMEN RIDER


Kamen Riders One and Two, the heroes of the original Kamen Rider series
Kamen Rider (仮面ライダー, Kamen Raidā, Kamen Rider?), translated as Masked Rider, was a popular and successful Japanese tokusatsu television series created by Shotaro Ishinomori. The series spawned the widly popular Kamen Rider franchise. It was aired on MBS-NET from April 3, 1971 until February 10, 1973. A manga adaptation was featured in Shonen Magazine during the same period.

Plot summary
The story takes place in a world plagued by Shocker, a mysterious terrorist organization. To fulfill its plan of world domination, the group recruited its agents through kidnapping, turning them into monstrous cyborgs using advanced technology and, ultimately, performed DNA manipulation. However, one of the victims was rescued just before the final step, and his name was Takeshi Hongo (本郷 猛 Hongō Takeshi). With his sanity and moral conscience remaining intact, Hongo assumed the identity of the costumed grasshopper-like "altered human" (改造人間kaizō ningen) superhero Kamen Rider and battled Shocker with his newly acquired powers of strength & speed as well as his customized super motorcycle Cyclone.

Live action show
The live action show premiered on MBS in April 1971. Sometime during the shooting of early episodes, an accident happened and caused a severe injury to Hiroshi Fujioka (藤岡弘 Fujioka Hiroshi), the actor playing Hongo. To keep the series going, a second Kamen Rider was introduced in episode 14 to replace Hongo's role as Japan's guardian angel. Hayato Ichimonji (一文字隼人 Ichimonji Hayato), better known as Kamen Rider 2 played by Takeshi Sasaki (佐々木剛 Sasaki Takeshi), did a short sequence of arm-waving motions and uttered "Henshin!" (変身, literally "transform") whenever he wanted to switch from his human guise to the Rider form (Originally the first Kamen Rider had to get enough air to enter his "Typhoon Belt", which he had done by driving his transformable motorcyle). The stylish pose was immensely popular among the young audience and the show became an immediate sensation.
Ratings were further boosted when Fujioka returned to the stage in episode 40, now known as Kamen Rider 1, (and having gained the ability to use a "henshin" pose). The show spanned 2 years and ended in episode 98 with the Double Riders defeating Shocker and its reincarnation Gel-Shocker.

Manga
Many mangas based on the original Masked Rider series had been published, but only the following few were penned & drawn by Ishinomori himself:
1971: Masked Rider
1971: Masked Rider - a remake
1979: Masked Rider (Motion Pictures Continuity)
Spoiler warning: Plot and/or ending details follow.
The original manga in 1971 (1st run) was quite different from the TV series with respect to its response to the Fujioka accident. In the manga, Hongo was outnumbered by twelve Shocker Riders and was subsequently killed. Ichimonji Hayato, initially one of the twelve, received a head injury during the fight & regained his conscience as a result. He then turned against Shocker & succeeded Hongo's role as Masked Rider. Nevertheless, Hongo was resurrected near the end of the series as another of the creator's series, Hakaider, although this version is different from the traditional Hakaider character from Kikaider.

Films
1971: Go Go Kamen Rider: Movie version of Episode 13.
1972: Kamen Rider versus Shocker
1972: Kamen Rider versus Hell Ambassador
2005: Kamen Rider the First: Premiered on November 2005, this movie covers the origin of Hongo and Ichimonji as Riders 1 and 2 respectively with a new story

Main characters

Riders
Takeshi Hongo (本郷 猛 Hongō Takeshi) / Kamen Rider 1 - protagonist (episodes 1-13, 53-98)
Hayato Ichimonji (一文字 隼人 Ichimonji Hayato) / Kamen Rider 2 - protagonist (episodes 14-52); sidekick (episodes 72, 73, 93, 94, and 98)
Allies
Tobei Tachibana (立花 藤兵衛 Tachibana Tōbei) - mentor
Kazuya Taki (滝 和也 Taki Kazuya) - FBI agent
Shocker
The Great Leader
Colonel Zol
Dr. Deathgod
Ambassador Hell
Black Shogun
Crew
Created by: Shotaro Ishinomori
Script by: Masaru Igami, Moriichi Ichikawa, Masayuki Shimada, Mari Takizawa, Hisashi Yamazaki, Takao Chouseki, Masashi Tsukada, Takeo Oono, Fumio Ishimori, Seirou Suzuki, Takayuki Hasegawa, Kimio Hirayama, Minoru Yamada, Gorou Okeya, Shotaro Ishinomori
Directed by: Hirokazu Takemoto, Nobu Orita, Hidetoshi Kitamura, Minoru Yamada, Kazukuri Uchida, Katsuhiko Taguchi, Masashi Tsukada, Shotaro Ishinomori, Atsuo Kumanaka
Photographing: Osamigi Yamamoto
Illumination: Kouosamu Oota
Artist: Mokuo Mikami
Editor: Otokyou Teruhiro (with Ayaki Sugeno)
Record: Mari Fujinami
Assistant Director: Masashi Tsukada
Costume Designer: Tokyo Designs
Technician: Kazutoshi Takahashi
Line Chief: Teruo Itou
Production Charge: Okusouhei Matono
Sound Recording: Otokyou Teruhiro (with Katsushi Oota)
Development: Toei Chemistry
Cooperation: Muromachi Racing Group

Legacy
The Kamen Rider original series produced a great number of spin-offs which remained until today. Several Kamen Rider series were aired in Japan after the first Kamen Rider finished. After Kamen Rider Black RX ended production, the series was put on hold due to poor ratings during the 80's.
There were occasional releases of Riders such as the 1990 "Movie Riders", which were Shin Kamen Rider (considered for various reasons to not be an actual Rider at all by many fans), Kamen Rider ZO and Kamen Rider J. The Kamen Rider franchise was restarted in 2000 with Kamen Rider Kuuga. Since then Kamen Rider has become popular again and has a strong fanbase across Asia in countries such as China, Hong Kong, Indonesia, the Philippines, and Thailand.

Trivia
Originally, Kamen Rider 1's costume was a teal with a white belt and dark teal helmet with pink "eyes" and teal mouthpiece. After the first few episodes, the suit's color was changed to a dull green and the helmet color was deeply darkened with red "eyes". Kamen Rider 2 had the same color green as Kamen Rider 1, although the helmet had a silver stripe down the center, a silver mouthpiece, single-line stripes down the sides of his body, and a red belt. After Kamen Rider 1 returned as the star of the show, his outfit was changed to a brighter green with a red belt, double stripes on the sides of his body, silver boots and gloves, and a helmet colored like Kamen Rider 2's; the suit now connected to the helmet no longer showed Hongo Takeshi's hair. When Kamen Rider 2 returned, his costume was the same as Kamen Rider 1's, except with red gloves and boots instead of silver and single-stripes on the side of his body.
Skullomania from the Street Fighter EX games series closely resembles the first Kamen Rider. This includes his belt buckle, flowing crimson scarf, gloves, boots and the famous Rider Kick.
King of Fighters 2001 marked the debut of "May" Lee Jinju, a student of Kim Kaphwan. She has a second stance called "Hero Mode," in which she turns into a Kamen Rider-type character. One of her Desperation Moves, MAY LEE-THE END, is a parody of a Rider Kick. The name of the attack itself, however , may be inspired by the finishing move of another Ishinomori Shotaro character , Jinzo Ningen Kikaider , who used the "DENJI END" attack to kill enemies.
Actor Hiroshi Fujioka (Takeshi Hongo / Kamen Rider I) later went on to play Segata Sanshiro, the Judo-Master mascot for a series of Japanese Sega Saturn commercials in 1997 to 1998. The character of Sanshiro has become famous among Sega fans in and out of Japan.
For the first 10 episodes of Kamen Rider, Hiroshi Fujioka, being a martial artist, choose to perform his own stunts both as Hongo Takeshi and Kamen Rider; this included both fighting and motorcycle stunts. On one occasion however, Fujioka shattered his leg after a motorcycle stunt went wrong. This prompted the creation of Kamen Rider 2 to continue the series. After Fujioka's injury, Toei decided this was too risky for production, and thus Takeshi Sasaki did not perform his own stunts during his role as Kamen Rider 2. Despite protest upon his return from the injury, Fujioka was not allowed to perform as Kamen Rider 1 when Hongo Takeshi was written back into the show.
The excessive arm waving the Riders did was not merely for show. It was their method to power up before being able to unleash their more powerful moves (explaining why Rider I, for example, did a pose before performing the Rider Kick).
One of the reasons the first Kamen Rider series was popular was that the battles the Riders had with Shocker and Gelshocker took them all over the country. They fought in places ranging from gorges to valleys to ski resorts to ancient castles. The production crew would film these scenes on location thus providing the fights with a beautiful backdrop.
Hiroshi Fujioka walks with a slight but noticeable limp, a reminder of the accident that created Kamen Rider II.
In the Playstation 2 game Kamen Rider: Legacy of Justice, through the miracle of time travel Kamen Rider 1 and 2 join forces with some of their successors, including their direct successor Kamen Rider V3 (the Double Riders coming from a time before V3's creation), Kamen Rider Black and Kamen Rider Agito. Amusingly enough, Agito is quite puzzled when one of Shocker's monsters notes that Kamen Riders still exist even in the future, prompting him to ask the monster what a Kamen Rider is. Later, however, he introduces himself to Kamen Rider I as 'Kamen Rider Agito'. By default, both Riders are in their new forms with 1 in silver and 2 in red, although their first default blue and green forms are unlockable as well.
In the Game Boy Advance game Castlevania: Aria of Sorrow, the Kicker Skeleton enemy, a skeleton wearing a scarf which launches itself into the air to flying-kick the player, is based upon the Kamen Riders.