A Serious Discussion about Kamen Rider

Kamen Rider has been on my bucket list since high school and I recently gave it a shot. I have watched Black, Decade, Kuuga, and am working my way through Kabuto right now.

Let me first say that I love the show. The costuming (though at times sometimes a bit too silly) is always interesting and great too look at in spite of having a rather predictable rise and fall (most conflicts swiftly ending in a satisfying "Rider Kick" of one sort or another). And even the general themes of friendship and good old determination triumphing over evil are presented in a mostly genuine fashion and in spite of being overwhelmingly cliche are surprisingly heart-warming.

I have heard it said that Tatsu's loose connection with continuity is something that not only sets it apart from western scifi but also can be seen as a strength from a creators stand point with each new series having freedom to move in exciting new directions. Also, I have heard it said that these shows are made for children (which may be true) and therefore are kept simple by design.

In the light of more serious and dark shows like Kabuto, I would like to ask if you think that the creators of Kamen rider may be underestimating there audience. Is it laziness that drives them to switch gears half way through series or play and flirt with continuity and then totally abandon it? Could just a little attention, even a nod here and there to past series, transitions similar to how Doctor Who hands down the reigns every few seasons make the series stronger or would it bog it down? The producers of Kamen Rider have always seemed to love crossovers (and I know most fans do); it seems like they are missing a chance to take the whole franchise to the next level.

What do ya'll think?
 

Khaiden

Heroes are forever
First, I really wouldn't consider Kabuto on the ''serious and darker'' list of shows. Of those you've watched, Kuuga and BLACK would definitely go there. Yes, BLACK has a ton of episodes that take it very far in the "silliness" scale but when it has to get serious, it doesn't hold back.

On the subject of continuity: in few words, it all has to do with production, and if there's anyone you want to put a blame on, it's Toei and Bandai. To keep things fresh every year they change all the staff: new writer, new producer, new director, etc. They repeat them sometimes, but never 2 years in a row.

Since there's a different producer every year, continuity is not looked at much these days, though it should be noted that it's definitely better than it was during the first Heisei decade (00-09), which can be attributed to Kamen Rider Decade and the "crossover" movies.
See, how I quoted the term crossover, let me take you back to the 70's and a little bit of the 80's, in what is known to most as the Hirayama era:

It is named such because the producer for all first 7 Kamen Rider series (and the ZX special) was the late Tohru Hirayama. All of them followed a near-perfect continuity with each other (Skyrider was initially a reboot, but since it never outright contradicted anything that came before, it was able to be repackaged as another show in the universe, and previous Riders returned).
I hope I don't come off as biased since I was first introduced to Kamen Rider through this era, but there has never been better continuity than the one here, and again, I guess it's all attributed to the fact that they shared the same producer.

When BLACK came, it became the first series to not have any connection whatsoever with its predecessors. BLACK RX later brought back the first 10 Kamen Riders but only until the very end, and even then the execution could have been better.

The key thing for me about the Hirayama era is that the word "crossover" never came to mind when you saw Riders teaming up, it's just what they did, they were not separate series taking place in their own worlds, it was all part of the same universe. And I guess I'm even more biased since V3 was my first series, but it has caused me to think of every Rider series as another season rather than an entirely new show. It's certainly true in this first era, but not so much in the others. Nevertheless, no matter how much time passes between a team-up, I just can't ever find the word "crossover" come to mind unless Sentai, Metal Heroes, etc. are involved.

Nowadays, you see the most continuity in the movies (especially Movie Wars), though they had made a bigger effort to create something more cohesive everytime older Riders return. It's step by step, with some tripping here and there, but we're getting there. But, even then, it still depends on the producer.
The one that has cared the most about this is Hideaki Tsukada, who was producer for W and Fourze. Another problem with continuity in the first Heisei decade is that most producers did not even bother to link the movies together with the series (not considering those that are "What if?" scenarios or take place in an alternate universe), in both of those series he produced, all movies have been able to fit in perfectly and have even gotten a mention or some element of it appear in the show.
He's the only one that has introduced a common element between series in the Heisei era with Foundation X, but it hasn't been seen that much. It had a lot of potential to link series together, but since Tsukada is not around for every series, not much else happened with it.

The number one producer who seems to disregard continuity is Naomi Takebe. Curiously enough, she has been involved with Kamen Rider since Ultraman vs Kamen Rider and was producer for Den-O, a series that directly linked the summer movie to the show, even more so than W and Fourze would later do. For the most part, however, she's been known to royally screw the placements of movies that aren't even meant to be an AU, the most notable examples are the Kiva summer film and Movie War Core. It gets even worse in Core because it involved another series, and these continuity issues extend to it by consequence.
I'd like to know how much input the writer gets on these sorts of things, though. I don't want to point all fingers to the producers and put all the blame on them.

Will we ever have direct connections from one series to the other again? (It doesn't need to be that big, it can just be one cast member staying for 2 series, doesn't even need to be a Rider) I don't think so. Toei seems more concerned with catering to Bandai for their money. That's the part where kids come in, not the writing or continuity. These shows can truly be enjoyed by all audiences, so the part in which you'll see "this is for children" the most is in the merchandise, and these days is the one that matters the most.
But, every here and there, they bother to bring previous Rider back, and it's a matter of opinion whether these efforts have been disrespectful or given them the justice they deserve. Personally, I find it's a little bit of both.

Other Toku series that have been around for long have had a similar pattern to this:
Sentai started with Goranger, and later JAKQ made some connections to it in the team-up movie and did not seem to be stand-alone (even though Hiroshi Miyauchi had two entirely different roles in each show). Sun Vulcan was a direct sequel to Denjiman, and it's the last time a series would not be stand-alone until Gokaiger.
Power Rangers went nuts with linking series together... until around Time Force, where each series now became stand-alone.
Metal Heroes' first three shows were direct sequels of the previous one, and they're known as the Space Sheriff series for that reason. But I'm not sure if this is a good example since the term "Metal Heroes" is not exactly meant to say they are all one franchise as Sentai or Rider, but because they seemed to have a certain common element. Unlike Sentai and Rider, having continuity between them doesn't come to mind that much. I still don't understand why they are grouped together.
 
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Lockon

Member
I'd say the Metal Hero thing is a bit of a catchall term, as it's definitely the least defined group, at least outside of suit design and basically being NOT Rider or Sentai.
 
Metal Heroes' first three shows were direct sequels of the previous one, and they're known as the Space Sheriff series for that reason. But I'm not sure if this is a good example since the term "Metal Heroes" is not exactly meant to say they are all one franchise as Sentai or Rider, but because they seemed to have a certain common element. Unlike Sentai and Rider, having continuity between them doesn't come to mind that much. I still don't understand why they are grouped together.

There's also the "Rescue" trilogy of Metal Hero shows that comprises of Tokkei Winspector, Tokkyu Shirei SolBrain, and Tokusou Exceedraft which all share Hiroshi Miyauchi as the chief (although apparently Miyauchi doesn't show up in Exceedraft until the final arc). Plus, B-Fighter Kabuto is a direct sequel to Juukou B-Fighter. The latter also has Tokusou Robo Janperson and Blue SWAT show up in its finale, but I don't know if that effects continuity in any way.

Also, B-Robo Kabutack and Tetsuwan Tantei Robotack are connected somehow but Wiki's vague about their connection except that they starred in a special together and Robotack is a "partial sequel".

Metal Heroes did have some continuity outside of the Space Sheriff series but it had several shows within their own separate continuities. Kyojuu Tokusou Juspion, Jikuu Senshi Spielvan, Choujinki Metalder, Sekai Ninja Sen Jiraiya, and Kidou Keiji Jiban are all completely separate from one another, and Janperson and Blue SWAT stand alone except for the aforementioned crossover with Juukou B-Fighter.

I'm sure you knew all of that, but I'm just embellishing on some details for those who don't.
 

Scissors

Member
Kabuto, being an anniversary show, actually had a lot of nods here and there.
It has been a long time since I watched it, but I do remember little neat things like a woman having the Faiz dial-sounds on her cellphone and "Akatsuki-go" (name of the ship from Agito) being written on a board.
Heck, even Hongo from THE NEXT had a small cameo.

Agito also did this. In the very first episode we have the police mentioning the "unidentified life forms" and one of the main characters even mentions Kuuga, as he thinks that Agito is similar to him.
And again, if you pay attention to the small details, the show really likes to pay homage to the old shows through the suit designs.
For example, with Agito being the second Heisei Rider show, they let him fight a Jaguar monster in the first episode, just like V3 did in the second Showa Rider show.
One of the Riders in the show is also designed after Rider 1.

It seems like you have not watched all the KR shows yet.
Trust me. The more you watch, the more nods you will notice here and there =)
 

Ryuutaros

"Training."
Didn't some of the Unknown suit designs pay homage to classic Rider villains? I'm pretty sure that Scorpion Lord was based off of Doktor G. Didn't Boukenger do this as well?
 

Black Fang

Active Member
The Boukenger monsters were based off past mechas.

Heck, even Hongo from THE NEXT had a small cameo.

Technically THE FIRST since THE NEXT hadn't come out yet, but that's a minor detail :p

For example, with Agito being the second Heisei Rider show, they let him fight a Jaguar monster in the first episode, just like V3 did in the second Showa Rider show.
One of the Riders in the show is also designed after Rider 1.

Didn't some of the Unknown suit designs pay homage to classic Rider villains? I'm pretty sure that Scorpion Lord was based off of Doktor G. Didn't Boukenger do this as well?

And the Turtle Lords were based off Turtle Bazooka, the Crow Lord Telemacro, etc.

I think all of the Unknowns are based off Showa monsters.
 

Liac0s

Member
Foundation X could be a great way to connect the Riders in one single timeline, but it seems TOEI doesn't care about that. I haven't watched any Showa seasons, so I can't talk much about them. But I have watched every show since Kabuto, while having a basic knowledge over the previous seasons' stories, and I can say one thing... Decade broke everything...

What I like about the Neo-Heisei Era is how they made a link between the shows. Foundation X is involved in W, and later on OOO and Fourze. In the end of OOO we get teased with Gentaro and Yuki holding an astro-switch. In the end of Fourze we get teased with Haruto eating a donut and Mio getting obsessed over his Flame Ring.

THAT is what they should do. Make a small, almost unimportant, connection. And not only is it something nice to see, but it also allows them to make a cameo of the newest Rider in the currect Rider's summer movie. Nobody needs an explanation on why Fourze helped OOO without having Decade travel him to OOO's world.

They did try to do something different with Gaim, which I can't say whether it failed or not since I don't remember it correctly. It sucks how they didn't do something little for Drive at the end of the last episode. At least showing a shift car.

Anyway, what I'd love is for TOEI to start caring about the show itself again. If they start fixing up what they broke with Decade soon, the 20th anniversary season could be a masterpiece. They could bring back Decade for a second season. Decade doesn't have to be a an exclusive tribute to the first Decade of the Heisei Era, but to each Decade of it. Bringing him back with a new form which is influenced by the previous 9 riders would be epic... There aren't much things tho. What I could possibly see them doing is giving him cards that allow him to add new weapons on his armor, or make it sligtly different, in the style of the switch modules and the tire koukans. Give him a Kachidoki-like form which can grant access (later) to a new Complete Form. They could even do the same thing for DiEnd. We got SO many secondary and extra riders... Imagine a new Crossattack-like card which can adapt to the Riders summoned by DiEnd. For example, he summons all the Genesis Riders (even Baron Shin) and using the crossattack card, he gets to show alongside with them. (Maybe his new "driver" being a hybrid bow/gun weapon?) Or summoning Gaim and Zangetsu (and if you want Bujin Gaim and Jam as well) and using their Musou Sabers to shoot!

Of course since they would have been working on it for years, they could make a great plot and give us an actual dai-service. My ideas might sound totally unrealistic (and of course I don't expect anything great to happen in the 20th anniversary season), but I just want to have some slight hope...
 

Shogun_Master

Why is every good TV show Cancelled
Ok, I admit the end part of this is conjecture and I could be way off, but I think this is more of a result of how television is traditionally done in Japan. In the US, TV shows belong mainly to the creator and/ or his estate with a company mainly just having sydication or release rights. New contracts are signed season by season where a company is contractually obliged to show it and the creator is contractually obliged to deliver on time, and only give up a small amount of freedom to other writers hired and the notes/ thoughts/ ideas of their producers & syndicators. However, a show is generally meant to keep going on until either the fan-base or the creator decide that they're done.

In Europe, they're allowed to break it up more on the base that the creators can quit short term to think out plot lines better and return to sign a new seasonal or special contract, but still can't just up and quit midseason. Not to mention, seasonal contracts being much more flexible in terms of numbers of episodes.

In Japan, especially with children's shows, since they seem to be the only ones who follow this rule, any creator of a series keeps the rights of the character, but the production company/ merchandisers gets the rights to the show. Assuming they want to, they can continue making more seasons, but it can't be thoroughly related to what came before without special permissions?

I'm honestly not sure if this is the rule, ever was a rule, the exact way it's carried out or how it has affected the culture of Japanese television, but it's something I've wondered about myself. The only show that really hasn't been anal about that was Metal Hero, where they continued a single storyline two or three seasons multiple times in it's ten year run. But, it really seems like it's out of the actual creator's hands.

Personally, out of the Kamen Rider series' I've seen, there were three that may have either benefited from more time or been able to continue, one that ran out of ideas really quick and one that was so preoccupied with the serial cop show vibe that it never really seemed to get as good as it felt like it could have. And, it's not like they're going to continue the story in movie form unless it's met with both mass fan support, a potential idea that lives up to the original show (at least, in concept) and it seems commercially viable. So far, I think the only Rider series that got that was Den-O.

I also don't think it's laziness that messes with a series' viability. That's based entirely on the writers, the producers and how well they are able to work together to create a great plot that can and will span 40-50 episodes comfortably and still end well. That still seems like something Toei's staffers have to work on. They need to be able to agree on something because it's entertaining, unique & works overall and not because they're worried how people will react or get caught up with certain characters to the point where they don't ever want anything bad to happen to them. Almost all recent examples of western writing that have amassed a large following did so either because the writer threw out all their inhibitions, or they fueled the story with particular beliefs/ views/ emotions and actually created art. And it always seems to go best when you strike a fair meeting of the two.
 
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Toku Prime

Well-Known Member
Also, I have heard it said that these shows are made for children (which may be true) and therefore are kept simple by design.
I don't think there's any "may be true" about it nowadays. Rider airs as part of TV Asahi's "Sunday Morning Kids Time" block, Bandai have been sponsoring the show for over 20 years, it's been 12 years since we had a main Rider that could transform without sticking a toy in his belt, Gaim's head writer confirmed that Bandai tell Toei what the theme for each year will be, and of course there's the "Hibiki screwjob". I think it's pretty beyond argument that modern Rider exists to sell toys to children.

That does have certain effects. I've heard it said that there's a five year turnover for fans - that pretty much all of the kids who watched Double will have moved on and won't be watching Drive. Certainly, when Super Hero Taizen came out (during Fourze's run) there were reports that lots of kids were coming out of the cinema asking who Decade was.

And on a personal level, I quite liked that part of the Heisei period where Rider shows were all different continuities, simply because it meant that they ended. I know that sounds weird but having a definite end meant that (in theory) you had a proper climax to build to, and IMO there's a certain satisfaction to that. Modern Rider shows don't have that same finality to them because they have to leave things open for other movies or future cameo appearances.
Could just a little attention, even a nod here and there to past series, transitions similar to how Doctor Who hands down the reigns every few seasons make the series stronger or would it bog it down?
I don't think Doctor Who is the best comparison any more. Modern Who is broadcast (in the UK) on primetime Saturday evening and is actively marketed as a show for the whole family rather than only for kids, and due to the way the BBC is funded there's no commercial pressure on the show to get good ratings or sell toys. Plus there are 13 episodes of Who per year, while Rider will have 47-50 plus at least three movies, so each Doctor probably has a similar amount of time in the role to a Rider.
 

Khaiden

Heroes are forever
And on a personal level, I quite liked that part of the Heisei period where Rider shows were all different continuities, simply because it meant that they ended. I know that sounds weird but having a definite end meant that (in theory) you had a proper climax to build to, and IMO there's a certain satisfaction to that. Modern Rider shows don't have that same finality to them because they have to leave things open for other movies or future cameo appearances.
Not all of them, OOO ended in a very conclusive "no going back" note. Movie War Megamax expanded upon that but at no point did Kobayashi had to rewrite her story to allow certain characters to return. There's a similar situation with Gaim. Hey, now that I think about it, so did Wizard. Hell, going back to the Showa era, Skyrider ended in a very conclusive manner.

I want them to keep bringing back Riders and other characters, but the shows themselves need not be limited by this and they can tell their whole conclusive story, with no going back. It is the creative challenge of future movies to explain how they came back. Will we ever know why Ryuki is still around?

Sometimes I wonder if Hibiki and Faiz were ended in such a way because they thought of the possibility of using those characters in the future.

And that being said, many of those stories left things open enough for a return of the main Rider to not seem odd: Agito, Faiz, Blade, Hibiki, Kabuto, Den-O & Kiva. Kuuga and Ryuki seem like the only ones in which one immediately needs an explanation as to why they're still able to transform into Kamen Riders.

I don't think Doctor Who is the best comparison any more. Modern Who is broadcast (in the UK) on primetime Saturday evening and is actively marketed as a show for the whole family rather than only for kids, and due to the way the BBC is funded there's no commercial pressure on the show to get good ratings or sell toys. Plus there are 13 episodes of Who per year, while Rider will have 47-50 plus at least three movies, so each Doctor probably has a similar amount of time in the role to a Rider.
Rider is for the whole family. Toys are the main element that's marketed towards children only.
 

Goty

Member
Not all of them, OOO ended in a very conclusive "no going back" note. Movie War Megamax expanded upon that but at no point did Kobayashi had to rewrite her story to allow certain characters to return. There's a similar situation with Gaim. Hey, now that I think about it, so did Wizard.

The way OOO ended wasn't as drastic as Ryuki's, though, as there was no main Rider dying, losing his powers or anything. Same for Wizard. The "problem" with Gaim can be easily solved too, as the last episode of the tv series showed. As you said, the continuity doesn't need to be affected if at least the main character can come back with no need of further explanations, and they seem to have that in mind these days.

As much as i dread Ryuki's ending, i feel like they can't get away with such "out there" stuff if they wanted, due to the movie limitations, and i kind of miss the unpredictability of that. But those were different days.
 
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CannibalS

Guillotine Gorilla
Why do we need a comic book-styled diegetic continuity anyway, when its been consitently proven that one can do crossovers regardless of some weird mental gymnastic.

Its all about the symbolic value anyway.
 

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