Greetings, geeks of all ages! Exciting news for fans of Kamen Rider Saber and Zero-One. We finally have a date for the official Blu-Ray/DVD release of the Winter Movies. After the theatrical release on December 20th, the Blu-Ray/DVD Collection will be released on April 21st.
Kamen Rider Zero-One: REAL X TIME
“If God created the world in 6 days, then I will destroy it in 60 minutes and create paradise.” A sudden, large-scale, global terrorist attack begins when the mysterious S, Kamen Rider Eden, appears with thousands of supporters at his side. As the world around them falls into chaos, Aruto Hiden stands up against S. Together with Isamu Fuwa, Yua Yaiba, and their allies, they transform into Kamen Riders to fight the enemy while uncovering the truth behind the incident. Who is the unbelievably powerful S? What is the paradise that he is trying to create? Overcome the boundary between humans and AI and save the world in 60 minutes!
Kamen Rider Saber: The Phoenix Swordsman and the Book of Ruin
The sealed Book of Ruin is unleashed by the mysterious Immortal Swordsman. As darkness flows out of the book, the Real World and the Wonder World are swallowed up and at risk of destruction. Touma, alongside the members of the Sword of Logos, must fight the Immortal Swordsman and stop the crisis. What will befall Touma and the world as the end draws near?
With the official release of the movies coming soon, I’m looking forward to the chance to finally see them. As I don’t live in Japan, I did not have the opportunity to see it in theaters. Thankfully, with the home release a mere month away, it won’t be too much longer before I can. Kamen Rider Zero-One is one of my favorite seasons, and the movie looks to be an excellent conclusion to the story of the series. As for Kamen Rider Saber, while it started out rough, the show has become better as it entered its second arc. Hopefully the show can keep up the pace and deliver a great story with amazing action.
Greetings, geeks of all ages! It’s me, Professor of Toku (self-proclaimed), Zach J., TD. (not an actual title). If you’re reading this, that means you’re back for another exciting installment of the Tokusatsu 101 series. Or, this is the first article of mine that you’re reading. In which case, welcome and consider reading the other entries in this series. This article will be talking about the Seasons of Rider in the Heisei Era.
In the last article, I gave a rundown of the different Eras that Kamen Rider is split into. It was a long, but necessary explanation. This time, it will be giving you simple synopses of the Seasons of the Heisei Era as well as my personal ratings. This will be done in two parts as there are 21 (technically 22) seasons to cover. I will not be covering the Showa Era mostly because the shows are not as readily accessible in decent quality. The only one that is readily available for streaming is the original Kamen Rider from 1971. If you’re interested in watching it, you can officially watch it at Shout Factory TV through their TokuSHOUTsu channel. Also, I will not be covering the Reiwa Era seasons as the second one is still ongoing. Now then, let’s do this!
2000: “A new hero, a new legend”
In the year 2000, an archaeological dig uncovers an ancient tomb hidden in the mountains. Inside, a mysterious belt is discovered alongside a warning. The team that discovered the tomb is attacked by a strange monster shortly after. When this unidentified lifeform follows after the belt and attacks the investigators, professional dream chaser Yusuke Godai puts on the belt and transforms into Kamen Rider Kuuga. Now he must face off against these unknown creatures and solve the mystery of their appearance.
For the first entry of the Era, it is a pitch perfect start. The story is well told and maintains a good pace throughout, with an excellent ending. The tone of Kuuga is more dramatic when compared to previous seasons. And while they are archaic, the visual effects for the time are great and well put together. My only real gripe is that it only features a single Rider throughout, though that’s a personal nitpick rather than an actual knock on the season. Still, if you’d like to watch Kuuga, you can officially watch it over at Shout Factory TV via their TokuSHOUTsu channel.
Personal Rating: 10/10, a must watch.
2001: “Awaken the soul”
Shoichi Tsugami does not remember anything of his past. He has no recollection of where he came from or how he got to where he is. However, when he finds himself around the mysterious creatures called Unknown, he transforms into the equally mysterious Kamen Rider Agito (pronounced AH-gi-toe). What are these creatures? How did he obtain these powers? What does it mean to have these powers? Shoichi must find the answers to these mysteries and many more as he goes on his journey of discovery.
Another excellent entry in the series, Agito is a well made season with good use of practical and special effects. The story itself maintains a good balance of drama and comedy, as well as a good sense of mystery. Not to mention, the Rider designs in this season are well done. I am partial to how they handled G3 as a man-made Rider that has to take the time to actually equip the armor rather than transforming with a belt.
Personal Rating: 9/10, highly recommended
2002: “Those who don’t fight, don’t survive”
In a parallel world, an unseen war is being fought. A Rider War, fought between thirteen chosen Riders, rages on. As the battle goes on, journalist trainee Shinji Kido investigates a missing persons case. This investigation eventually leads him to being pulled into the Mirror World and right into the fray. Now, after making a contract with the mysterious dragon Dragredder, Shinji transforms into Kamen Rider Ryuki and must fight in the Rider War or become another casualty.
This season introduces the concept of Rider Wars into the series, as well as having Riders being the main villains of the show. While the concept is fresh and the idea is well fleshed out, the season loses steam towards the end. And though the season is filled with great moments, it ultimately falls short when it comes to the ending.
Personal Rating: 7/10, fun to watch.
2003: “Running instinct”
The world is beset by the appearance of the Orphnochs, monstrous creatures that begin targeting the human populace. Major tech conglomerate Smart Brain has developed a series of power suits called Rider Gear. Before they can be put to use, they are stolen by the company’s former chief. When one of the chief’s foster children is attacked, lone wolf Takumi Inui is dragged into the fight. Donning the Rider Gear, he transforms into Kamen Rider 555 (pronounced Faiz, alternatively rendered Kamen Rider Φ‘s). Now he must battle against the Orphnochs in order to keep humanity from being wiped out.
This season is a more serious drama/soap opera type of season, with much of the focus being on the characters and the relationships between them. However, while the character focus is appreciated, there are plot holes that drag down the quality of the season. That said, I still enjoy this season quite a bit. The bleak tone of the season and overarching plot are handled well.
Personal Rating: 7/10, fun to watch.
2004: “Take the trump card of fate”
Long ago, a massive battle known as the Battle Royal was fought among fifty-two creatures known as the Undead. After a hard-fought battle, the Human Undead stood as the victor. With the battle over, the Undead were sealed away as Humans prospered. In present day, archaeologists discover the sealed Undead and release them, beginning another Battle Royal. To keep humanity safe, the organization BOARD has developed the Rider System. Now, the new recruit Kazuma Kenzaki transforms into Kamen Rider Blade to stop the Undead and seal them away.
Blade as a season is full of ups and downs. The first half of the season is not particularly well done, with many memes and jokes revolving around many of the earlier moments. However, starting with the second half, the season becomes much better. The production staff shifted the season to make it more serious in tone, with the ending of the season being one of the best in all of Rider. That said, it does take thirty or so episodes to get into the better part of the season. While I still enjoy the season, memes and all, it is difficult to ask someone to keep watching to get to episode thirty-one for the best parts of the show.
Personal Rating: 8/10, a great season to watch.
2005: “To us, there are heroes”
Deep in the mountains, there exist different types of Kamen Rider: Oni. These Oni, masters of combat with sound, defend humanity from the threat of the man-eating Makamou. One of the Oni, Kamen Rider Hibiki (pronounced HEE-bee-key), meets a young boy who wishes to learn from him. While this young boy transitions into high school life, he seeks the advice of Hibiki. Forming a strange master-apprentice relationship with the boy, Hibiki must defend the world while teaching a young boy about the pains of growing up.
If the description sounds like a mess, that’s unfortunately because this season is one. Due to many production issues behind the scenes that led to a major staff change, the quality of the season suffers greatly. The season itself has an interesting concept in presenting Oni as Kamen Rider that fight using musical instruments. However, the overall quality of Hibiki suffers from trying to balance what ends up being three shows at once. Ultimately, while parts of it are enjoyable, this season is easily one of the worst in the series.
Personal Rating: 4/10, don’t force yourself to watch the whole season if you don’t want to.
2006: “Walk heaven’s path to rule over everything”
Seven years ago, a meteorite landed in Japan, bringing along with it extraterrestrial passengers. The Worms, bug-like monsters capable of mimicking people near-perfectly, now threaten the daily lives of the people. In order to combat this menace, the military technology company ZECT creates new gear called Zecters. These Zecters harmonize with their users to transform them into Kamen Riders capable of fighting against the Worms. The man who walks the path of heaven, Soji Tendo, harmonizes with the Kabuto Zecter to transform into Kamen Rider Kabuto (pronounced KAH-boo-toe).
This is the season that introduced me to the Kamen Rider series. It was the discovery of this show that led me down the path of becoming a TD (not a real doctorate) and changed my life forever. If you had asked me ten years ago, I would rate this show a perfect ten out of ten. However, as I’ve grown up and become more versed in storytelling, I can say that this season is not without issue. What ultimately brings down the rating of this season is the main rider himself. While he has excellent moments as the hero of the story, he is very much a boring, invincible hero that doesn’t change much over the course of the season. That said, while he himself doesn’t change much, he influences many of the characters around him, leading them to great change over the course of the story.
Personal Rating: 8/10, a great season to watch
2007: “Traveling through time, here I come!”
Imagin, beings capable of traveling through time by granting people wishes, seek to change the past and destroy the future. Ryotaro Nogami, a terribly unlucky young man, one day finds a strange train pass lying in a nearby gutter. Soon after, he is possessed by one of the Imagin. This red devil-like being tries to coerce him into making a wish, but ultimately ends up fighting alongside Ryotaro, who transforms into Kamen Rider Den-O to fight against the Imagin. The train from earlier, the DenLiner, takes both him and the Imagin in as passengers. Together, they must stop the other Imagin from running rampant and destroying the future.
This is easily one of the most popular seasons of Kamen Rider. Den-O as a whole is much more light-hearted when compared to previous entries in the series. But while the comedy is much more prevalent, this does not mean that there are no dramatic moments. In fact, the excellent balance between drama and comedy is what makes this season so hugely popular. The overarching story is handled well, the character’s interactions are fun to watch, and the growth of the relationships between characters is incredible.
Personal Rating: 10/10, a must watch.
2008: “Wake up! Break the chains of destiny!”
Lurking hidden within society, there are creatures known as Fangire. These monstrosities consume the life force of humans in order to survive. In 1986, a lone Fangire Hunter hunts the monsters down to protect humanity. One day, she comes across Otoya Kurenai, a master violinist and ladies man. This leads him to get entangled in the battle against the Fangires. Twenty-two years later, Otoya is missing, leaving his reclusive son Wataru to pick up the fight in his stead. Now, Wataru fights against the Fangire menace as Kamen Rider Kiva alongside Kivat-Bat the 3rd.
This season is interesting, though a bit difficult to follow if you don’t pay close attention to the story. The story follows both father and son during their respective time periods, 1986 and 2008. While the general plot line is difficult to follow, the characters and their relationships are fun to watch. However, this is not a season you can play in the background while doing something else and still follow along with the story. Not to mention that jumping between two different time periods constantly makes the pacing seem a little too fast since we as the audience have to follow two different heroes.
Personal Rating: 6/10, a fun season, but suffers from too much clutter.
2009: “Destroy everything, connect everything”
Tsukasa Kadoya is a young photographer who somehow cannot take photos correctly. Every time he does, the photo comes out distorted and blurry. He has no memories of why that is or how he ended up where he is. However, his peaceful life is forever changed when strange curtains of light start appearing out of nowhere. These curtains of light cause turn out to be signs of several worlds joining as one. In order to keep this from happening and destroying the world, Tsukasa transforms into Kamen Rider Decade. However, Decade is heralded as the Destroyer of Worlds. What truths are hidden away by his lost memories? Is Decade the savior of the world, or the destroyer?
This season celebrates the ten year anniversary of the Heisei Era of Kamen Rider. As such, Decade focuses on interacting with the past Riders and celebrating each season. Unfortunately, this is another season plagued with many production issues. All of these production issues led to Decade being one of the shortest seasons of Rider at the time, coming in at a mere thirty episodes during its original run. When the season was re-run, the final episode was recut and edited to become two episodes, bringing the final episode count to thirty-one. These production issues, along with the plot problems of the story itself, leads to Decade being on the lower end of the scale for me.
Personal Rating: 5/10, an okay season, but feel free to skip it.
Woo, okay, that was a lot to cover. I hope you’ve been sticking through with me for the entire article. There’s a lot of stuff to cover and even more things to cover for the next article. So please, join me next time when I cover the second half of the Heisei era seasons! It’ll be a fun one, I guarantee it.
Greetings, geeks of all ages! Welcome back to Tokusatsu 101, your introduction to the wonderful world of Toku and Kamen Rider. I am Zach J., TD (not an actual title), your guide throughout this series of articles. Last time, I explained the genre of Tokusatsu and gave a basic overview of Kamen Rider. In this article, we’ll be going over the different Eras of Kamen Rider. There’s a lot of ground to cover, so let’s get cracking!
The Imperial Calendar
Before I explain the different eras, I must explain what the division of eras is based on. In Japan, they have their own calendar called the Imperial Calendar. This is based on the current reigning Emperor of Japan. In anime and other Japanese media, I’m sure you’ve heard references to different periods of time. Most notably, Demon Slayer takes place during the Taisho Period. There are many different Periods of time that are commonly referred back to, such as the Edo Period, the Sengoku Period, and the Meiji Period. It is these different periods of time are what make up the Imperial Calendar. Currently, there are three eras that concern us when talking about Kamen Rider: the Showa era, the Heisei era, and the Reiwa era.
The Showa era, the era of Emperor Hirohito which went from 1926 to 1989, is the first era of Kamen Rider. The first Kamen Rider debuted in 1971, and marked the start of a cultural phenomenon in Japan. The story begins when biochemistry student Takeshi Hongo is kidnapped by the evil organization Shocker and turned into a cyborg. He escapes their clutches before they can brainwash him into obeying them. This proves to be their undoing, as Hongo now devotes himself to fighting Shocker wherever they appear as the Kamen Rider.
After this first season, we would get 9 more seasons of television during the Showa era. Including Black RX, which was being filmed during the transition from the Showa to the Heisei era, and the 3 films that were made in the 90s, the Showa era has 15 main Riders (technically 14 since Black and Black RX are the same person). They are counted as Showa Riders even though they were not produced during the era itself.
Return of the Rider
The Heisei era, the era of Emperor Akihito which went from 1989 to 2019, marks the return of Kamen Rider. After the last film produced for the Showa era in ’94, there would be no new Riders until the new millennium. In 2000, Kamen Rider made its triumphant return with Kamen Rider Kuuga. After unearthing an ancient tomb, a group of archaeologists find themselves under attack by a strange creature. This unidentified lifeform follows them when they take. In order to fight this monster, Yuusuke Godai dons the belt and becomes Kamen Rider Kuuga.
Since 2000, there has been 1 season of Kamen Rider a year, every year. This means that the Heisei era has 20 seasons of Riders. Every production has a new crew that leads the charge and oversees each season. Alongside each season, they also produce 1 to 2 movies with that years’ Rider. If a season is popular enough, it will also receive extra side productions well after the season is over. For instance, Kamen Rider Gaim, which finished airing in 2014, is receiving a new Gaiden production in the near future.
The Reboot Riders
During the Heisei era, 2 separate reboots that aren’t counted towards the Heisei Generation Riders were made. There are 2 films that reboot the original Kamen Rider, with Kamen Rider V3 appearing in the second film. These reboot films are much darker in tone than their original counterparts. Kamen Rider The First is a Sci-Fi Action flick, while Kamen Rider The Next is mainly a Horror film. While I am not a fan of the muted color palette of the films, I am a huge fan of the updated suit designs.
The second reboot project is Kamen Rider Amazons, which is available on Amazon Prime Video in the west as Amazon Riders. Compared to regular seasons of Rider, Amazons is bloodier and more violent. Imagine if Tokyo Ghoul was a live-action show involving men in suits fighting each other. The story of Amazons unfolds across two seasons and a final film. I absolutely love Amazons and would highly recommend it if you’re a fan of Tokyo Ghoul.
New Age of Heroes
Now, we find ourselves in the Reiwa era of Kamen Rider. The Reiwa era, the era under Emperor Naruhito which began last year, is the current era of Japan. With the changing of Emperors comes the dawn of a new era. As such, the generation of Reiwa Riders starts with Zero One, which debuted on September 1st, 2019. In a new age of technology, artificial beings known as Humagear have become a large part of modern society. Humagear are capable of performing any tasks associated with their designated roles. After his grandfather passes away, Aruto Hiden has the responsibilities of a Tech CEO thrust upon him. In order to protect the Humagear his grandfather created, Aruto assumes the role of Kamen Rider Zero One.
As of the writing of this article, we are only 7 episodes into Kamen Rider Saber, the current season.
Issues in Continuity
In regards to continuity, most seasons of Rider are standalone with little to no crossover. The first five seasons of the Showa era are the exception, as they are closely interconnected. There are only a few instances in the Heisei era of the stories being connected. Even then, those instances are little more than a brief mention of a previous Rider. It’d be more accurate to call it an Easter Egg for fans who have seen that season of Rider than it is an important plot point. The other instance of series crossover besides the movies is a cameo of the Rider from the next season. Starting around the second half of the Heisei era, the Rider of the upcoming season will cameo in the last episode of the current one.
However, there are specific crossover movies that brings together two or more seasons of Riders. These crossovers typically release during the winter time of each season, with later movies being loosely canon to the season it’s tied to.
Boy was that a slog, but I’m glad you got through the entire article and made it all the way here. Congratulations! You don’t really win anything here, but hey, thanks for reading all the way through this article. I know it’s a bit of a long one, but that’s only because there is so much history to cover when it comes to Kamen Rider. If you have any questions, feel free to leave them in the comments and I’ll try to answer them to the best of my ability. Tune in next time when I give generic summaries of the Heisei era seasons and give my recommendations for which ones are good to start on.
Greetings, geeks of all ages! Tokusatsu is a genre that I, as a geek, am absolutely in love with. As Kat and Tat have started reacting to Kamen Rider, I think it is appropriate to teach everyone here about Tokusatsu. So allow me to be your guide and show you the greatness that is Kamen Rider. I am Zach J., TD. (not an actual title), self-proclaimed Professor of Tokusatsu.
The Tokusatsu Genre
I’m sure the first thing you want to know is this: “What in the world is Tokusatsu?” Simply put, Tokusatsu is a genre of live-action media that heavily uses special effects. The term “Tokusatsu” is a contraction of the phrase “特殊撮影 [Tokushu Satsuei]” which can be translated as “Special Effects Filming”. Typically speaking, most productions of Tokusatsu are either Sci-Fi, Fantasy, Horror, or a mix of all three. A very famous example of Tokusatsu is the Godzilla film series. The original movies all involved making special sets for men in rubber suits to destroy as kaiju.
There are many different Toku shows out there, with some of them having American adaptations. The most successful example is Power Rangers, the adaptation of the Super Sentai series. However, there were many other attempts to bring Toku shows to the West. If you grew up in the 90’s, I’m sure you were at least aware of VR Troopers, Big Bad Beetleborgs, and Superhuman Samurai Syber Squad. These shows were adaptations of Kikaider, the Metal Heroes series, and Gridman respectively. Naturally, Kamen Rider also had two American adaptations in Masked Rider and Kamen Rider Dragon Knight.
Genealogy of Justice
There are a great number of Toku shows to talk about, but today we will focus on Kamen Rider. So, what exactly is it about? To put it simply, Kamen Rider is a series that explores the idea of justice and the choice to uphold it, regardless of origin. From the very first season to the current season, the main story theme remains the same. Whether you’re a brilliant physicist, a wannabe hard-boiled detective, or a humble novelist, it is your choice to use your power to fight for what you believe in.
Each season tackles the theme of justice with different motifs and story devices. One season revolves around the misadventures of a young man down on his luck. He is frail and timid, but through his journey finds strength and confidence as he defends the people around him. Another season centers around rival groups of dancers trying to become the best at what they do. However, as the story continues, they find themselves trapped in a battle that risks the very fabric of reality. They must learn to deal with the grim realities of the world or become victims of it. Whatever the themes are, I’m sure there is a season that will appeal to you.
The Man Behind The Mask
Kamen Rider is the brain child of Shotaro Ishinomori, a man many revere as the King of Manga. Known for his high-speed drawing style, Ishinomori is responsible for creating Kikaider, Inazuman, and the Super Sentai series. He dedicated his life to the creation of many series, writing over 128,000 pages of manga in his lifetime. This feat was recognized posthumously by Guinness World Records for Most Comics Published by a Single Author. Without a doubt, he has made huge contributions to Japan’s pop culture, creating two of its biggest superhero franchises.
Influence on Japanese Pop Culture
Today, Kamen Rider is undeniably a large part of Japanese culture. Without a doubt, Kamen Rider is the gold standard of superhero in Japan. It has been referenced in many anime, video games, live-action dramas, and even western animation. Kamen Rider has made a handful of actors very popular in Japan. Most notably Takeru Satoh who played the hapless Ryotaro Nogami in Kamen Rider Den-O, Masaki Suda who played the mysterious amnesiac Philip in Kamen Rider W (pronounced Double), and Sota Fukushi who played the high school delinquent Gentaro Kisaragi in Kamen Rider Fourze (pronounced Four-zay).
However, perhaps the biggest thing going for the series is its endless supply of merchandise. Ranging from action figures to clothing and even candies, merchandise for the show is everywhere. Something that I have gotten into collecting is the role-play toys and gimmick items. These lovely little items allow you to act out the transformation sequences and finishers from the show. And while it is expensive, it is a price I will gladly pay to support the series I love.
There is so much more to cover with Kamen Rider, and I intend to cover it. Over the next several weeks, I will write out more in this series of articles I am dubbing Tokusatsu 101. Stick around for the next part of this article series in which I will cover the Eras of Kamen Rider and the continuity of the seasons, or lack thereof.