Me And Kamen Rider: A Bumpy Ride Down The Nostalgia Road

Hello you handsome strangers. Today, I’m going to talk about a very important staple of my childhood.

Okay, it wasn’t that important as a ‘staple of my childhood’ as other things were, but it’s still nice.

Recently, I’ve been looking up cartoons I used to like as a kid on TV Tropes. Partially it’s because of the nostalgia, but also because I never saw how they ended/forgot how they ended/wanted a bowl full of paella.

And whoop de doo, I found Kamen Rider: Dragon Knight.

So, Kamen Rider. In case you don’t know, Kamen Rider is a series of live-action superhero tokatsu shows created by Shotaro Ishinomori and produced by Toei animation. It started in 1971 and will probably continue on until the Milky Way and the Andromeda Galaxy collide. It is widely known for revolutionizing the ideal stereotype of superheroes in Japan. It is also the inspiration for many anime such as Sailor Moon, Science Ninja Team Gatchaman, Devilman and the unforgettable Super Sentai. Ishinomori died in 1998, but the Kamen Rider franchise lives on. The most recent release is Kamen Rider Build.

As mentioned above, Kamen Rider has a lot of live action shows released. As of now, they have 28 installments. Like, they release a new series every year.

TV Tropes says ‘The central concept is that a lone hero undergoes some great tragedy at the hands of an evil far bigger than they are (usually a large organization with a secret and sinister agenda) but rises to use the technology of the villains against them and as a general force for good. While the interpretation of this theme can vary wildly from year to year, every Kamen Rider series embodies this in one way or another. Another important theme is that the hero regrets the act of fighting, but is forced to for the sake of humanity; this is shown by the iconic ‘teardrops’ coming from the eyes of the helmet’.
So, let’s begin my story with Kamen Rider.

I was in fifth grade when I heard of Kamen Rider. The first show I watched of it was Kamen Rider: Dragon Knight (2009), based off Kamen Rider Ryuki. It was the second Western Adaptation of the Franchise, first being Masked Rider, which was based off Kamen Rider Black RX.

The first thing I thought when I watched it was: What sort of Power Rangers show is this.

To me, it seemed like a copy of Power Rangers. I had no idea there was a whole Franchise, alive and kicking.

Every night, I used to watch the show and the kids at my school would talk about it.

The theme song was catchy as hell. KAMEN RIDER, DRAGON KNIGHT, TOGETHER WE WILL FIGHT THE FIGHT, KAMEN RIDER DRAGON KNIGHT, COME ON LET’S FIGHT. There were even a bunch of kids at my school who pretended to be the Kamen Riders themselves. A boy in my class sang the theme song at the top of his lungs. This show would be engraved in the skulls of young children as one of the best shows ever.

The main character of the show is Kit Taylor. Kit was an ordinary boy. When he turned 18 he could leave foster care and came home only to find a deck of Kamen Rider cards. This was planned by Zaviax, the evul bad guy. Turns out Kit is the genetic Mirror Twin of Adam (aka his counterpart of an alternative universe), and Zaviax wants him because only the genetic mirror twin could use the deck, and Adam was the original rider. Zaviax is from the alternative universe which was destroyed and wants to enslave earth to rebuild it. Kit’s not the only one. He attempts to draw in many other riders, such as Sting, Strike, Thrust and Kase into his dastardly game. It turns out this is all linked to Kit’s estranged father.

Zaviax offers Kit a chance to the dark side, but Kit flips him the middle finger. This establishes their relationship as enemies. But don’t worry, Kit has an ally, Len! Len is also a Kamen Rider, but is unsure about trusting Kit because he’s Adam’s GMT, and Adam betrayed the original K-Riders. However after a bit of action and ho yay, they become friends. Kit says to Len ‘It’s all because of you I have a kick me sign on my back!’. BFFs for life, amirite?

Kit has a muggle friend called Maya. Maya became friends with Kit after he saved her life. She runs a bookstore. It’s later revealed she has an evil boss who is working with the government or something to defeat the Kamen Riders.
We find more. Sting’s tragic backstory, that would make the stoicest soul weep. Why Adam betrayed the riders. Kase and Len’s pasts. And Chris. CHRIS WHYYYYYYYYYYY.

Are you hooked in yet? You better be or if you continue reading this post you’ll look like a moron.

Across the series, we spend time with our heroes fighting bad guys and finding more secrets about the dark and cruel world they live in. I admit, the first 5 episodes have lousy pacing, but you’ll thank me later when more riders come to the party and brawl.

When the show ended, it hurt. I never realized how much I loved it until it was gone. Sometimes I could find myself listening to the theme song in my head. My favorite character was Kase/Siren.

And the one day, I found ‘Kamen Rider’ on TV Tropes.

I was first hit with the nostalgia of that word. Like I said, I didn’t appreciate Kamen Rider until it was gone. I remembered how much I wanted it back, so I clicked on the Franchise link.

Holy S***. Kamen Rider was a franchise? I thought it was just a Power Rangers knockoff done better than Power Rangers. Wait, it covers more mature topics like politics? I thought it’s target demographic was 8 year olds. There’s blood and gore and violence? Dammit Power Rangers, why can’t you be like these guys?

I found out there was more to Kamen Rider than what I thought. I checked out the other shows, like
Shin Kamen Rider Prologue (1992): This was the darkest of them all. It was actually a movie. There were meant to be more installments but and people lacked interest in it and Ishinomori passed away in 1998. But damn, Shin REALLY burnt down the hero genre and reconstructed it again. The body horror and gloomy setting seriously nailed it all in. This is truly a movie the fanbase will never forget.

Kamen Rider Ex-Aid (2016-2017): Imagine combining video games with medical drama and a whole lot of awesome graphics that makes you wish you were playing the game. A new take on the Franchise as a whole. Sadly, at the end, they never found a cure for the bugster virus but at least they did what they could to preserve humanity. That was one bittersweet ending.
There was Kamen Rider Fourze, Kamen Rider Black, Kamen Rider 555, Kamen Rider Ryuki, Kamen Rider Kuuga, the original series Kamen Rider and so much more.

The shows were amazing. Each one was different, but were filled to the brim with darkness, grit, tearjerker moments ad bittersweet endings. I thought it was aimed at kids, but it was so mature. Honestly, it blew off the entire ‘shows with men in suits are for kids’ trope.

Fun Fact: Gen Urubochi of Puella Magi Madoka Magica fame was the writer for Kamen Rider Gaim. No seriously. I could not believe I had been missing out on something so good for years.

Imagine finding a little chunk of your childhood was so much more. That’s how I felt.

So, to this day, I am officially part of the crazy fandom of Kamen Rider.