It’s a good time to be a Kamen Rider fan, though if it wasn’t for the pandemic and the associated lockdowns it would have been better. In a recent press conference (this video is subbed) Toei announced three new projects they had hoped to have out this year, during the 50th anniversary of the original Kamen Rider series. One is an animated adaptation of a manga remake of Kamen Rider W, one is yet another movie remake of the original series, and the third is another remake, this time Kamen Rider Black. So what you have is three of arguably their most famous Rider series getting a remake. I think they’re taking the wrong lessons from Hollywood. Presumably this is alongside the regular modern entries in the franchise.
Maybe this is a good time for a full season release of Saban’s Masked Rider?
Here me out! Yes, the show has some major issues that I hope to address in a different project. However, Fox was up against the wall and decided to drag Saban Entertainment along. When Fox had their kids line-up they took more risks than most kids shows. Batman: The Animated Series had Commissioner Gordon lying in a hospital bed in one episode after being shot, and they weren’t afraid to have guns look and sound like guns is probably the best example of that. However, you know parent groups. They had a hissy fit because their kids (though I’m convinced many of these groups aren’t run by actual parents but adults who think they know better and think kids are stupid) were playing Power Rangers and getting hurt. This is why VR Troopers ended up in syndication and both Masked Rider and Beetleborgs almost seemed more like modern Nickelodeon superhero sitcoms (except they don’t suck nearly as hard as Nick’s super-coms).
Like Power Rangers the show took Japanese footage for the battles to save on costs and just filmed American actors (or New Zealand actors these days). The show in question is Kamen Rider Black RX, the 9th installment of the Kamen Rider series, a sequel to Black, and the last of the Kamen Rider shows to be produced during Japan’s “Showa” period, making Kotoro Minami the last of the Showa Riders. After his defeat of Golgom at the end of Black (I’m pretty sure that’s right but I haven’t seen the end of the series yet unfortunately) Kotoro tries to retire to the peaceful life, learning to fly helicopters. Then a mysterious NEW organization shows up and tries to get Kamen Rider Black on their side. When he refuses they try to destroy him, but only succeed in enhancing his powers thanks to Kotoro’s Kingstone and the light of the sun. Tonight we see the two-episode origin of Kamen Rider Black RX and the new people he has to hide his superhero identity from. Enjoy.
Okay, we got to see his powers altered. Too bad we don’t get to see what those new powers are like. That’s why I’m adding the second episode, which sees his new powers in action.
Is it just me or is there more of a Sentai vibe to this? RX jumps around like a sentai hero, he has weapons now when previously most of the Riders, including Black, just had his motorcycle and his feet, and as the show gets on he gains two new forms with their own weapons and powers. Toei produces the Super Sentai series so I wouldn’t be surprised if they took a few more cues from it, which would explain why Saban chose this one first, then got surprised when they ran out of Kamen Rider shows for a while. The syndicated second season includes footage from Rider movies Kamen Rider ZO and Kamen Rider J (and I’m pretty sure one of the villains came out of Shin Kamen Rider, the horror themed version of Kamen Rider whose movie name will be reused for the original Kamen Rider re-imagining movie coming up–thanks for the confusion, Toei).
Don’t get me wrong. I like the show and if I ever get to finish Black I hope to get into this series. Black is my favorite of the Showa Riders. When I’ll get to finish it is kind of up in the air. I first found Black thanks to a group of fansubbers called Century Kings, but now Toei is going after fansubbed Kamen Rider and Super Sentai series. I don’t know if Century Kings ever finished (waiting for them is why I didn’t complete Black but there is little US release of Super Sentai via Shout Factory and even less for the Kamen Rider franchise…and none of the Kamen Rider shows has a home video release, including Masked Rider and Dragon Knight. Shout Factory has some Kamen Rider shows on TokuSHOUTsu, while Toei’s official Tokusatsu YouTube channel seems to only be releasing two episode of each Kamen Rider series and takes forever to finish their out Toku shows on the channel. The press conference acknowledged that they know Kamen Rider has fans in the West and are looking to bring their three announced delayed anniversary projects to us Western fans after they’ve premiered in Japan but they need to get those shows out on home video. Kamen Rider The First (the other re-imagining of the original Kamen Rider I alluded to earlier–the horror movie was its own thing) is the only one I know of and I’m not even sure its in print anymore.
Toei, the American superhero fans want more Kamen Rider, as Hollywood keeps trying to take the wind out of superhero movies both within and without (directors showing their elitist bias or the studios putting out questionable adaptation…even Marvel Studios is starting to slip). Our video shelves and streaming bandwidth want more. Give us more Kamen Rider than the first two episodes and whatever Amazon Prime and Shout Factory can coax out of you. We’re telling you to take our money. Get on it!