We decided interviewed Kamen Rider fans from the discord server 🆃oei x 🆃suburaya all about their experience with Kamen Rider! Today our interview was with Luka the runner of the discord server and a fellow Kamen Rider fan.
1. When did you first get introduced to Kamen Rider? Which series did you start with?
Surprisingly, one would think to be a Kamen Rider fan you would need a background in liking Power Rangers, but as a kid growing up in England, I never quite found the acting of the series at the time very appealing, so I gravitated towards Ben 10, Marvel, DC and a range of superheroes, especially TV shows like Arrow and The Flash. It was my passion for DC that resulted in me making a friend who would introduce me to Kamen Rider through Kamen Rider: The First, which is a rather dark and mature movie that adapts the story of the first Kamen Rider series in a more modern setting. I somewhat got over my bias towards Power Rangers and just seeing it as cheesy and childish, since Kamen Rider: The First despite having designs initially that wouldn’t appeal to me at the time, I fell in love with the tragic backstory of the characters and the concept of being a hero born to be evil but defying that fate… that message blew my mind away.
After seeing that movie, around 2016, I went into watching Kamen Rider Drive which through also its usage of tragic backstories mixed with form changes that had emotional resignation with the protagonist, resulted in me falling in love with the franchise further, which resulted in me watching Ex-Aid live, and I continue to this day watching new episodes of Kamen Rider each week.
2. What is your favorite part about Kamen Rider stories?
There’s a lot about Kamen Rider I enjoy, especially comedy, form debuts, music and fight scenes, but at the core of all of that, what I enjoy most are redemption stories, or stories about dealing with forms of loss. Seeing characters like Kamen Rider Necrom, or Mach, deal with the loss of someone they care about but piece themselves back together after that, or strive to better themselves, there’s a level of inspiration anyone can take from that strength. It’s funny you’d think in superhero stories it’s characters flying or using super strength that inspires me, but personally it’s seeing characters overcome more human struggles I enjoy. For kids, there’s a lot of value in learning to not give up when you feel sad or you feel guilty, and even as an adult now, it’s a lesson I like to carry with me. To face things head on and be brave about it.
3. If you could be one character from Kamen Rider who would it be and why?
It’s a difficult question for me because in terms of abilities as well as personality, there’s simply too many characters I adore to bits. However, I’ve written a couple Kamen Rider stories with my friends, so if I had to pick a few, it would be Tsukuyomi, Izu and Mei because those characters bring a lot of happy memories to me about playing around with my friends, or waiting for those characters to finally become Riders.
4. What would you tell someone who isn’t sure if they want to start Kamen Rider? How would you convince them to watch?
I would tell them, which has some irony because of Kamen Rider Saber, not to judge a book by its cover. I’m not really a fan of Power Rangers, but I found myself loving Kamen Rider. Each series tends to be its own unique can of worms, with so many being different genres under the umbrella of being a superhero story. I’d also say not to go exclusively by the words of another, and decide what you want to watch as well as what you think of it as an individual. I knew a friend or two who watched YouTube reviews/history videos about the shows rather than trying it for themselves and figuring out what they think. Essentially, don’t go by the words of what my preferences are, or someone else’s, you may end up enjoying light comedies like Kamen Rider Den-O, or you may like edgy and dark like Kamen Rider Amazons. Deciding for yourself with an open mind is my best advice, as I think you only will enjoy what you’re interested in, rather than what you’re forced to watch.
5. How has your experience with the fandom been? Positive? Negative? What is your favorite part?
I run a Discord server known as Toei x Tsuburaya, which includes Kamen Rider and a lot of other Japanese superheroes from Tokusatsu. My experience with the fandom as a result is quite positive, as Discord is a place where you can hear different ideas and opinions, share reviews, spoilers and just feel collective excitement for something, whether it be when a new Rider is revealed, or it’s a return of a beloved character. There’s something wonderful about sharing your love for something with a lot of people, and learning a lot about what you love in the process. I definitely know a lot more trivia and facts as a result. I also went from a Kamen Rider fan to someone who enjoys a lot of Japanese shows I’ve been recommended, like Garo, Ultraman, Super Sentai and Metal Hero.
However, despite the positives including the art, the memes and the fun times, there are people that are occasionally the loud minority in the fandom that I find myself quite appalled at sometimes, although most of those are on Twitter. Whether it be personal threats over liking or disliking a series against popular opinion, harassing actors for smoking publically, or a long list of bizarre things like going on long tirades about a series one hasn’t watched. For example, someone I know that hates Decade only watched up to episode 4, but confidently said they dislike the final form, and everything else about the series, despite four episodes not including any of that. I think disliking the series is fine, but I find this fandom unlike a lot that I’ve been in, there’s a lot of people that actually don’t put in the time to try something before judging it, whether it be positive or negative. A lot of the time this is because they echo what someone else thinks, which is sad… because the beauty of being a fandom is there shouldn’t be such a cult mentality around hating Ghost, or loving Build. I implore anyone to simply think for themselves, and try something before you decide what you think of the entire series. If you like or dislike something, that’s great, but there’s no need to make anyone think the exact same as yourself.
I think sometimes a message people need to hear is… Kamen Rider isn’t everything, and it’s important to listen to the messages of peace as well as empathy that the franchise teaches us to have when we talk to people. Respect actors, and respect the people you talk with.
6. Which series is your favorite and why?
I find it hard to pick a pure favorite, because there’s simply so many things that factor into it. For example, Shinji from Ryuki is my favorite protagonist, my favourite plot is probably Kamen Rider Gaim’s, I have had the most fun watching Kamen Rider Saber weekly with Mum, and of course, there’s my favorite music like in Kamen Rider Kiva. So naturally, how can I pick a favorite when there’s so many series that do the best in something that no other series can really match. Even a series that I dislike, such as Zi-O, I can confess it has the best usage of returning actors in-series than in any series, although the competition is rather thin, laughably. So as cliché as it may be to say, I love almost all series the same for at least something, but if I had to name one, I would pick Kamen Rider Drive because it was my first series and holds a lot of memories for me.
7. How has Kamen Rider impacted your life?
Kamen Rider is what resulted in me meeting my boyfriend, getting me into writing things I enjoy and meeting so many amazing friends, such as Sky, Horobi, Ren, Aster, Ted, Sui, Tai, Bark, Legion, Frix, Kwen, Red, Zaj, Andy, Drive, Charlotte, Meta, Stabby, Sasha, who are all wonderful people you can also meet on Toei x Tsuburaya by searching Kamen Rider on Disboard. It’s a fun community, and I love meeting new people there, whether it be new fans or old.
So, I would say in a sense Kamen Rider made lockdown and the struggle with that so much easier by having episodes or people to look forward to, on top of just being a source of inspiration for writing.
It’s also impacted my wallet buying merchandise, but don’t tell my future kids that…
8. And Finally! What is your all time favorite fight scene from Kamen Rider!
If I had to pick my top three, it’s easily Chaser Mach from Drive because of the emotional connotation of the form which is used against the character’s evil Father, the Yujou Burst Dakashii debut where Makoto and Alain have a beautiful conflict in the rain elevated by music, and finally I would pick the Xross Saber final form debut from the most recent series, as I remember staying up until nearly 4am to watch it with my friends, and it is currently my favourite final form.
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Tatiana Stec is the Co-Founder and Creative Director at All Ages of Geek. You can follow her on Twitter @Tatiana_Stec