Like with the Godzilla franchise, the Kamen Rider franchise is split into “Showa” and “Heisei” eras. The difference, according to the Kamen Rider fan wiki, is that there are two “phasses” (that’s how they spell it) of the Heisei era and now continues into the “Reiwa” era, all named after the current period of Japan according to the new emperor I believe. (Like England, Japan keeps their royal lineage going but they don’t really operate in government affairs. I think. I’m an American. What do I know?) The Showa period riders are usually the victims of that series enemy, like Shocker in the original series. The Heisei and Reiwa era Riders use either magic or technology but they still use a belt to transform and there’s still at least some connection to the enemy, like in tonight’s showcase, Kamen Rider Kuuga.
This series follows Yusuke Godai and friends as they deal with the Grongi tribe, one of the kabillion ancient races that apparently lived in Japan eons ago. (Seriously, there’s more ancient races and communities in Japanese superhero shows than there are heroes to fight them. Followed closely by the few thousand anti-kaiju organization in the Ultraman universe.) The first episode features how Godai got his hands on the Rider Belt for this series, the Arcle, and the arrival of the Grongi (though in typical Japanese hero (and 90s comics) fashion you have to wait for the next episode for enough backstory to know what’s happening). Enjoy.
One thing I’ve noticed about the modern Riders compared to the few classic era shows I’ve seen (Kamen Rider Black is my favorite and I hope to finish that someday) is the quality of the footage. While the old shows and movies looks like they were recorded on film the new stuff looks like it was done on a camcorder, and while the cinematography had improved and the special effects have…mostly improved this hasn’t changed. It makes the show look cheap and the SFX on this show are really dated. I’ve noticed this is a problem for Power Rangers and was for Kamen Rider Dragon Knight, which at least tried to look like film even if it was probably recorded digitally and was most likely edited so. Still, it otherwise looks good for its time.
If you want to see more episodes Shout Factory TV has the whole series up for free on their streaming service and it airs on the Pluto TV TokuSHOUTsu channel. I’m not sure why Shout Factory decided to jump so far ahead. They went from the original series right to the tenth one. Maybe because it was the first one of the Heisei era, but you’d think they’d go on to the second one in proper order. So will the next one be Kamen Rider W? It’s the first show of Heisei phasse 2 and a favorite among Western fans of the series. (I’ve seen a few fansubbed episodes and I liked it.) Or will they go with the current Zero-One, the first show of the Reiwa era? (I did some homework tonight.) We’ll have to wait and see.