My Own Review On Kamen Rider: Older Than Super Sentai But Not The Longest Consecutive Tokusatsu Series

While it may be chronologically order than Super Sentai but it's not the longest consecutive Tokusatsu series produced by Toei. It also had competitors within Toei namely Super Sentai and Metal Hero. So let's get started shall we? Remember, this is again very limited and I'm just sharing what I've known since I haven't seen much of the older era. While Kamen Rider Ghost is currently airing and Super Sentai will have its 40th anniversary, let's try to review on Kamen Rider's existence.


Kamen Rider, the Showa era

Kamen Rider started out as Shotaro Ishinomori's series. Unlike Super Sentai, it wasn't very consecutive as it can be evidenced by this timeline that showed there were hiatuses in between. While Super Sentai had a two year hiatus in between JAKQ and Battle Fever J, Kamen Rider had more of them.


The first Kamen Rider took place from 1971 to 1973 running a total of 98 episodes. Earlier shows tend to run that long to the point sometimes quality is compromised. One of the earlier inspirations for Tokusatsu (made by Tatsunoko) was Gatchaman which had three seasons. Gatchaman may have inspired the Super Robot Anime, earlier Super Sentai (Goranger) and eventually Chojin Sentai Jetman as a Gatchaman-inspired Super Sentai. I really went, "HUH?!" whe I learned that the first Kamen Rider had 98 episodes, it's the first show to have a secondary rider, the accident met by Hiroshi Fujioka and how it was. This was also the star of the "Great Leader" era for the Showa Era.

When I read the story of Takeshi Hongo being operated into becoming a cyborg, it made me think, "So what's where they got the idea of Kamen Rider Black from!" The whole story started with the start of the evil organization known as Shocker started its mission for world domination. In a sense, Kamen Rider villains of the Showa era started the definition of villains with stupid plans to take over the world, gets desperate, fights the heroes themselves then we'll get more villains with stupid plans to take over the world.


The next series was Kamen Rider V3. When I learned of its existence, that's when I learned of the existence of Eric Quizon Hiroshi Miyauchi as a popular Tokusatsu legend. The show serves as a direct sequel to the first Kamen Rider. The hero of the series is Shiro Kazami against the new organization known as Destron. Unlike his predecessors, he is transformed into a cyborg by the first two Kamen Riders. The show lasted for 52 episodes which made it not too long nor too short.


Kamen Rider X on the other hand would only last up to 35 episodes on the year 1974. The hero is Jin Keitaro who's turned into a cyborg by his father so he can fight the Government of Darkness. It didn't last for a year so by October 12, 1974 it ended. It was followed up by Kamen Rider Amazon a week later which lasted for only 20 episodes.


Kamen Rider Amazon is so far the shortest running Kamen Rider. I have seen this series from start to end which I thought what a waste it only had 24 episodes. There was really not much development for Geddon and Garanda Empire. As a Kamen Rider, he uses a band instead of a belt and he uses unorthodox tactics. Monsters usually didn't explode but rather bled to death. The supposed violence ends up becoming laughable at times because the monsters were so fake and the paint was obviously blood. But still, it was a fun ride.


A week later, we had Kamen Rider Amazon which ended up ending on December 27, 1975. Goranger started its airing on April 5, 1975 as the first Super Sentai where it was said, "If one is a hit, why not five?" Kamen Rider Stronger only lasted for 39 episodes (similar to Metalder and Changerion). This became another series to try and conclude the Kamen Rider era. All the previous Kamen Riders both primary and secondary showed up to conclude the series. But it wasn't the last of Kamen Rider.

During the four year hiatus, Goranger ran for two years and ended in 1977. 1977 was also the year JAKQ aired on television but for only 35 episodes. Sentai before it became known as Super Super came to a two year hiatus.


After a four year hiatus, I guess fans wanted more of Kamen Rider and Toei wanted more money. By 1979, this show lasted for 54 episodes. Ratings must have been good huh? A new version of Shocker known as Neo-Shocker returns. Dr. Keitaro Shido a scientist who's forced to work for Shocker manages to turn the hero Hiroshi Tsubaka into Skyrider. This series also had a weird ending because the Kamen Riders seemed to die after fighting the "Great Leader" who appears in the form of a dragon.


Kamen Rider Super-1 appeared just one year after Skyrider. He's the first astronaut themed rider meant to fight Dogma and Jin Dogma kingdom. When I learned of Kamen Rider Fourze being space themed, I thought that they might have had Kamen Rider Super-1 in mind. The fight was against both Dogma and later Jin Dogma. The show introduced the gimmick of using gloves so I thought, couldn't Kamen Rider Fourze also use gloves too? The innovated concept could have been re-used in Fourze with better special effects. So really, why Fourze why? Kengo needs a spanking... just kidding! This was during the year 1980 and it ended in 1981. Then again, why the hiatus? There was a TV special by August 14, 1982 which Shun Sugata starred the movie-only rider. So why didn't ZX turn into a series?


By October 4, 1987 up to October 9, 1988 we'd have Kamen Rider Black. It was a six year hiatus and what amazed me was to know this from Toku Warriors. What I was surprised to learn when I was a teenager that Black wasn't the only Rider, that there were many before him and many came after him but in-between, there was this hiatus in terms of Kamen Rider series. What also shocked me was to learn from the Fantasy Leader this series was meant to be a standalone compared to the rest of the Showa era. This was also my very first Kamen Rider.

Kamen Rider Black introduced a lot of innovations and rehashes at the same time. While you had a hero who was operated on by the villains (the cult structure is anything but new but this time, there were no formal footsoldiers helping Gorgom) but it's the first show to introduce the first evil Kamen Rider in Shadow Moon. In-between, the show introduced Saint Sword Bilgenia who was the Scott Evil of Kamen Rider villains. Too bad that he was written off for some reason. I mean, it could have been better if Bilgenia still stayed behind, plotting against both Black and Shadow Moon. But I felt like Jun Yoshida had his reasons for leaving.

Kamen Rider Black was so good so they thought a sequel was needed. What's funny is that if you add the number of episodes Black (51 episodes) and Black RX (47 episodes) you get the number 98, the same number of episodes the first Kamen RIder had. Black RX was a lighter sequel where Kotaro must fight the forces of the Crisis Empire. While Black was meant to be separate continuity but Black RX ended up bringing back the 10 other Riders. I always wondered why Black RX had a photo with the other Kamen Riders and who were they? Then I would realize that there were a lot of Kamen Riders I never knew existed and that he's the first to have multiple forms, a concept that was later added. I guess people back then were either expecting too much of from Black's sequel or new ideas weren't so readily accepted that time. Then came that wrap-up of sorts that by 1989, it seemed there wouldn't be any new Kamen Rider series but there were a couple of TV specials.

During 1992 to 1994, we had Shin, ZO, J and Kamen Rider World as short films rather than actual series themselves. So it looked bleak that Kamen Rider would return as a TV special. In 1995, there would be Saban's Masked Rider which failed miserably. I would think that Saban's Masked Rider failed because of the popularity of Power Rangers and its horrible production that made it look like it was a bootleg fan film rather than a licensed localization for Kamen Rider. Before that, Saban's Masked Rider would try to experiment a crossover that would be inevitably repeated on Kamen Rider Decade at the same time, it may have predicted how Decade might turn out so horrible.


Kamen Rider, the Heisei era (still ongoing)

In between 1989 to 2000 you can see an 11 year hiatus when it came to making new Kamen Riders. I always wondered why the hiatus. Was it because people lost interest in Kamen Rider or was Super Sentai that popular? Metal Hero did have some problems during the 90s but there may have also been good shows which some of them took ideas from American superheroes (ex. Janperson from Robocop, one might view the Rescue Police Trilogy as something straight from American-produced superheroes instead of Japan). What really happened, I couldn't really tell?


Kamen Rider Kuuga became the opening of a new millenium. Timeranger aired on February 13, 2000 while Kamen Rider Kuuga aired on January 30, 2000. I would think those series either broke ground in one way or another. But a lot was going to change and this was also Naruhisa Arakawa's chance to shine as a headwriter. We really need him in the Rider franchise again! Kuuga is one weird show and it's the weirdness that made me like it. While Ishinomori died in 1998 but two years later, this show came. Unlike the Showa Riders, the show tried to differentiate its villains and writing styles from Super Sentai. Fans of Heisei era who haven't seen Showa may not immediately adjust to the differences. In the Showa era, villains were usually cooking up their stupid plans to take over the world. Kuuga changed all of that from villains who were playing a deadly hunting game vs. Kuuga hunting them, monsters do not get defeated at the end of the episode and would usually take two episodes before a monster is defeated. Kuuga returned the multiple forms while he had to rely on using certain objects for his weapons as an experimental concept.

For a show that might have been an experimental show, it was a success. The show had both Naruhisa Arakawa and Toshiki Inoue working in tandem. But I think Timeranger would also affect later Kamen Rider series.


Kamen Rider Agito came next which some considers as Toshiki Inoue's magnum opus. Inoue was responsible for Jetman and the cult hit Changerion (which lasted for only 39 episodes due to ratings). This was where Inoue can be said to be at his best though the show can also be meet with criticisms. The show starts off with a suspense factor because you just don't know what's happening, the main hero Shouichi has no idea where he comes from and the police must solve a series of complicated murders. It also brought the idea of human evolution by supernatural means as the theme of the show carried with the Lords as the protectors of humanity but why are they killing certain people? The show would also introduce some characters whether you like or it for better or for worse. Some people may have considered Hojo Toru to be a very annoying person indeed.

What was amazing was that at this year, Power Rangers Time Force was also airing during its airing. This show also presented a contrast with Super Sentai's execution. While Super Sentai after Timeranger started toning things down from action scenes to story themes to post-Zordon era Power Rangers levels (ex. You hear people getting hurt but you don't see much of them, less serious themes) but Agito at that time was still a darker, edgier show. So I guess Agito's seriousness while Gaoranger was a fun season that passes post-Zordon era Power Rangers standards of the 90s of being well-balanced in terms of seriousness and action scenes, Agito had a lot of badass action along with it. It also brought back the idea of secondary riders to a whole new level.


Kamen Rider Ryuki was a very different Rider show and could have outdone itself it wasn't for executive meddling. It was said that both Yasuko Kobayashi and Toshiki Inoue had a "Writer War" while others say that executive meddling brought the show down. The show itself features a much different approach that instead of a Kamen Rider fighting through a monster of the week, you instead had Kamen Riders who were fated to pit each other in a death duel. Much of Ryuki was potential for me like how will Shinji, Renn and Shuichi face each other eventually or Takeshi as Ouja was a real pain for just everyone as a murderous bastard that Shadow Moon looks pale to me. A lot of the series at first had a good start but one way or another, perhaps parental complaints might have caused it to tone down. So I wonder, how did Ryuki's popularity go in contrast to Hurricanger that year?


Kamen Rider Faiz became Toshiki Inoue's all it's just me work, trying to make it more serious in contrast to Naruhisa Arakawa's Abaranger. But one can see Inoue while he was still trying to do his best ended up either "That's it, I give up." or he got cocky. Did he really burn out beyond belief or did he just quit when he wrote Faiz? More likely, he burned out and he did make a cameo in the finale! I just thought that what's weird or not is that Power Rangers Time Force took place in 2001 and in 2003, we'd get Kamen Rider having a mutant/human war which both shows might be inspired by Marvel Comics. Inoue also had brought in one really bad a**hole in Masato Kusaka who has a hatred for Orphnochs and is thinking about just trying to live after some time. Kusaka might be comparable to Timeranger's selfish bastard Captain Ryuya that while both don't seek to dominate the world, they manipulate both the heroes and the villains for their selfish ends without any direct control. Takumi's role as the hero who's also an Orphnoch here was interesting. Faiz had potential but I guess Inoue was just burning out in this one or may have decided to quit, make a cameo at the finale. What's funny was that later, Faiz's finale may have inspired ToQGer's finale in some way.


Kamen Rider Blade is another season that tends to get mixed due to lower quality acting. This was also the series to feature two halves of head writers. Shouji Imai wrote the first half and Sho Aikawa (responsible for Boukenger) wrote the second half. I thought Aikawa can write cool stuff though he can be very hit or miss at times. Junichi Miyashita and Toshiki Inoue wrote a few episodes, with the latter actually attempting comedy. I thought this series was also pretty cool with how they sought to reseal the Undead that were plaguing Japan. In contrast to Dekaranger, this show was a very serious one indeed.


Kamen Rider Hibiki is a very weird show. Sure I like the designs but I tend to find this show boring during Tyuyoshi Kida's run. Ugh, I thought that Toshiki Inoue's involvement was good but the later part was a collapse. So what's with the show? I thought that the show lacked conflict in the first half and Inoue brought it in the second half. The show's battle against the Makamou for me felt like it can get interesting but it can also get really bad at the same time. Inoue's episodes managed to be better for me but later, the way the show's wrapped up makes it worse than most of his finales. Even Faiz's finale ends up looking better. Interestingly, it was during the same year Magiranger was aired with both shows having mystical enemies.


Kamen Rider Kabuto might be best considered as Shoji Yomeura's one shot wonder. I thought this show could either get boring or interesting. Toshiki Inoue's episodes were good though. Some people may have complained about the frequent use of the cooking motif or you might think Shouji Tendo is not a likable character. I always thought the Worms plot were really among the scariest, best done Kamen Rider villains ever. This show itself also showed humanity's collapse with how somebody from ZECT becomes more evil than the Worms namely Masato Mishima. The whole series was still entertaining but not that entertaining for me.


Kamen Rider Den-O was the start of an era of lighter and softer Kamen Riders for the Showa era. I'll admit no matter how I invert it, the lighter and softer Kamen Rider Black RX still has a decent amount of nightmare fuel with Crisis Empire's rather silly plans. While Yasuko Kobayashi as Timeranger's head writer did a good job with time travel, here I felt it's pretty mixed or should we blame Shinichiro Shirakura as the producer? All the time travel here gives me migraines trying to trace the story and while some love complex stuff but here, it just got too complex. I'd probably watch Power Rangers Time Force instead of this show. Trying to explain Alex's sudden return is a lot easier than the time-lost loopholes here. But this show still is pretty popular to kids while I'm not really liking this show as much. Gekiranger also aired that year which was also a serious Super Sentai season that had a lot of nightmare fuel in it in contrast to this lighthearted season.


Kamen Rider Kiva, what do we have to say? Okay, this is Toshiki Inoue's another attempt at comedy and fans were really confused on what to think about it. I'm a Kamen Rider Kiva fan, no questions asked. I love how the show tends to make fun of a lot of previous successes like Radiguet's amnesia, two Riders fighting for the crown and some lovey-dovey stories. The hero Wataru Kurenai appears as some idiot (but I don't hate him) who is actually half-Fangire. The story revolves around trying to stop the Fangires from destroying humanity. While it does contain horror elements but it fails to be scary and instead, we get a lot of rainbows and teddy bears instead. I thought that the way this show carried out its horror-comedy has been ten times better than ToQGer IMO. While it does feel Nick-Toonish and I dare to compare it to Danny Phantom (you can also read my silly story here), I really was entertained watching this otherwise silly show. Go-onger was also airing that year as a comedy series. Both shows are worth the watch.


Oh boy where do I begin? You know how much I really have a low regard for this show. The show had potential and the actors were better than Saban's Masked Rider, there was a real budget but I felt like the more I watched it, the more I think, "Man, it's almost as horrible as Saban's Masked Rider!" The tenth anniversary of the Heisei era deserved better than this. I guess they couldn't get the original actors so alternate reality worlds were created instead. I guess like Saban's Masked Rider, it was also failing to get the ratings it wanted so they ended up doing the Shinkenger/Decade crossover. The crossover was much better than Saban's Masked Rider with Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers but failed to really give the show better ratings. I guess the show's cancellation at episode 31 and having a movie finale two months later was proof of lower ratings. This also caused Kamen Rider to begin a new season near the end of the year than the beginning of the year like it did with the Showa era.


Riku Sanjo became the head writer of one of my favorites Kamen Rider W. Unlike the other Kamen Riders, I'd admit this one was unique because it required two people to become one Kamen Rider at the same time, monsters were not killed but only reverted back to human form. Both Shotaro and his assistant Philip were the elements of W. Shotaro merges with Philip's soul so he could become Kamen Rider W. The monsters of the week were called Dopants who accepted that Gaia Energy from The Museum (which is Philip's estranged family). When they become Dopants, they get addicted to it hence the name. Like Den-O and Kiva, the show is lighter and softer. The show also featured a lot of Super Sentai alumni guesting such as Ayumi Kinoshita (who had a badass performance) and Nao Nagasawa (her worst guest role IMO).


After Samurai Sentai Shinkenger, Yasuko Kobayashi returned for a short time to write Kamen Rider OOO and I'm a fan of this series. While I didn't like Kamen Rider Den-O as much, OOO was full of funny stuff I could enjoy. The plot revolves around the rise of the Greeed where Eiji Hino inherits the powers of a villain. The original Kamen Rider OOO was a greedy king who later had a descendant in Kosei Kougami (who looks like Haim Saban). I always thought that Kougami Foundation was a parody of Saban Group of Companies. While the series was lighter and softer, I felt like this was a Public Service Announcement against the consequences of greed. Along the way, Dr. Maki would also show himself to be a human more evil than the recurring antagonists, the Greeeds. It may not be as good as Kamen Rider W but I'm a fan of it.


Kamen Rider Fourze is one fun silly series for me, no questions asked. Unlike most Kamen Riders who are adults, this was the first one to explore the concept with a high school student so shades of Saban's failed Masked Rider anyone? Gentaro Kisaragi appears like as if he's a Japanese version and teenage version of Sheen Estevez, it's almost like a Planet Sheen sequel. Along the way, he meets other teenagers in Amanogawa High School. It also brings back the concept of monsters that just revert back to human form from Kamen Rider W, except I thought it was better done. Much of the show managed to teach lessons about high school life. I guess Toei felt like they needed for PSAs for their shows. What was also coincidental was that Shun Daimonji who was pretty much "robotic" would end up having a lookalike in Troy Burrows for Power Rangers Megaforce.


Perhaps due to the popularity of Harry Potter and Lord of the Rings, I believe that's why Kamen Rider Wizard exists. I felt like this show manages to do better than Magiranger or maybe am I just blinded by Medusa's cuteness? I felt like the show itself was another attempt at using horror elements in comedy such as Kamen Rider Kiva. But unlike Kamen Rider Kiva, it's got well Tyuyoshi Kida who I felt made the first half of Hibiki a drag to watch. This would also be where Takaaki Utsunomiya wouldn't be so good as a producer either. While I do still find this show fun but it wasn't as good a ride as Kamen Rider Fourze.


Kamen Rider Gaim is where I'd say a huge improvement after some time. It moved forward and managed to polish Ryuki's concept of Battle Royale. While the Riders did look ridiculous but the story isn't. It might not be as serious as Kamen Rider Ryuki but it was delivered so well it made up for my dislike for ToQGer. I felt this show had better execution with the Battle Royal theme, conflicts and so on in the quest for the Golden Fruit. The show itself tries to explore the imperfections of humanity, why trying to rewrite the world can be risky, betrayal and redemption. As the story goes on, I felt like the real enemy that everyone had might either be themselves or their friends. While it may not have evil riders as bad as those as Ryuki but this show outdid Ryuki in trying to write a better Battle Royale. The concept was lighter and softer but it was better carried out.


Finally, a police themed Kamen Rider and not just a detective. While I felt like Riku Sanjo's writing didn't please me with Kyoryuger but good thing he did get his charm with Kamen Rider Drive. I felt like this series tried to mix some elements from Jiban (except Shinnosuke doesn't turn into a cyborg), the rise of the Roidmudes as an artificially produced breed of humans and how this series while having comedy moments, it also had serious moments. I did like how it teaches the dangers of science without conscience, the dangers of one's desires or how humanity can collapse so low with Banno's arrival. For me, this show actually is better than Kamen Rider W.

Closing words

So what's your thoughts on the history of Kamen Rider? As of late, I felt like the newer Kamen Rider series have been better than the recent Super Sentai and Power Rangers series.

Comments

  1. Uh, the ZX television special aired on January 3, 1984, not August 14, 1982. That particular date featured a special radio drama broadcast during at episode of "All Night Nippon".

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  2. My thoughts on some series:

    *Fourze - The Tohoku earthquake took place a few months before it's premiere, so Toei felt the need for a lighthearted series.

    *Wizard - Had a good start and end, but had a meh middle (meh-ddle? :p ). However, I can say that one episode that I liked was the debut of Infinity Style.

    *Gaim - I guess a lot of people laughed at the fact that the Riders were themed after fruits, but took it back when the series started. Yup, ridiculous-looking Riders but the super-intense story made a lot of people overlook the Rider designs. Should I also mention the Arms Change toyline might be one of the best KR toylines ever?

    *Drive - I had my doubts with Riku Sanjo being its writer, considering how Kyoryuger ended up (I found Kyoryuger enjoyable, though, but I guess it would have been better had it not been too Daigo-focused and, personally, if it weren't for the rather underdeveloped DaigoXAmy romance [I keep on saying Meeko is the more logical choice for Daigo, but nope, they went with Amy instead. I would have been fine with it had the romance been developed properly, but it felt forced and it hurts more for me since I had a huge crush on Amy]). But in a way, Riku Sanjo proved through Drive that he hasn't lost his touch. Though I feel, like Kyoryuger, that it had some misogynist feel on it, especially because a lot of people complained Kiriko had a potential to be a Rider yet it did not happen; it also felt like Kiriko went from badass lady cop to just being a convenient lover for the main protagonist (I gotta give kudos to Rio Uchida, though, because she may not be an action type and "her" stunts were obviously done by a stunt double yet she still pulls it off that I feel it's comparable to Rin Takanashi's performance as Mako Shiraishi/Shinken Pink. But too bad cuz it feels all that initial badassness went down the drain due to the writing.....)

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