Why is Sentai expected to take risks but Kamen Rider expected to keep convention?

lazycoconut

I liked him when he wasn't a god
I asked this question over at the Ask.fm page for Low Visibility (Lynxara & MattComix's podcast) and they said they would address it in the future. I'm looking forward to that, but wanted to throw the subject out there because with Gaim starting it's been in my head for a while:

It seems to me that fans expect Sentai to be bold, experimental and challenge the traditional formula of the show, but they expect Kamen Rider to maintain certain elements every time and stick to the "karate bugman" image. They are harsher when they think Sentai is "playing it safe", and when they think Kamen Rider has strayed too far from what the franchise "should" be. For instance, look at the most common criticisms of Goseiger (that it's "bland", formulaic, predictable, too "safe", no creative risks taken) vs Fourze (it doesn't make much use of the iconic bikes or insect design, and people complain that it was too slapstick to be recognisable as a Kamen Rider series.) Conversely, the most commonly praised aspects of Gekiranger and Go-Busters (supposedly being fresh and different and shaking up the conventional image of Sentai) vs W (giving a modern touch to the classic Rider look and elements of Showa Rider.)

Now, why? My initial thought was that it's just what people think will make for a more "mature" and adult-appealing show: Sentai will push the envelope and look beyond its target audience of pre-schoolers, while Kamen Rider will maintain the "darker" image associated with Showa and early Heisei. But in retrospect, I'm not sure it's that clear-cut. Thoughts?
 

Glamador

Member
Because people are fickle and base criticisms on either their own personal tastes or what they perceive as others' tastes in order to fit it?

What is criticism, really? It's an attempt to A) identify where quantifiable mistakes have been made in a production and B) put words to feelings of like or dislike that the reviewer felt while partaking in the media in question.

So inevitably you'll get people that are bored of Sentai formula crying for change because that's how they are trying to explain the vague feeling of dislike that they felt watching it. Conversely, you find people that wish Kamen Rider would go back to its roots acting the same way.

The other reason is that complaints always cry louder than praise. It's easier to identify what makes something bad than what makes it good. So no matter WHAT you're looking at, if you're reading a critical review, then you'll see complaints made against whatever might be perceived as a negative, whether that's contradictory between series or not.
 
It seems to me that fans expect Sentai to be bold, experimental and challenge the traditional formula of the show, but they expect Kamen Rider to maintain certain elements every time and stick to the "karate bugman" image.

...

Now, why?

People want what they don't have.

Sentai's structure is rigid and highly codified. With a few exceptions, series don't vary all that much. There's not been, historically, a lot of experimentation with form, so people crave it.

Kamen Rider is wildly different from era to era (or even series to series) and adheres to a less consistent form. The story-structure is constantly revamped, so people crave familiarity.

In either case, fans tend to want what they're not used to getting.
 
Last edited:

Ivanhobe

The Extraordinary Fan(boy)
I think the real issue here is that both Super Sentai and Kamen Rider are shows that stick to a formula, and what makes formulaic shows appealing (at least to me) is to see how they can play around or re-invent themselves with each iteration.

*For a perfect example of how a good formulaic show must be, watch Android Kikaider*

In the case of Sentai, the show has been always constrained by a strict formula, but the best shows on the franchise are the ones who add something new or bring a different spin to old concepts; Jetman added human drama, Zyuranger created the sixth ranger tradition, Dekaranger used the weekly case concept and Shinkenger applied an old Samurai Formula to create super warriors or something.

My point is, the best SS seasons are the ones that do something unique, and the worst ones tend to be the season that do nothing remarkable, they limit themselves to follow all the tropes that have been used before and that´s why some people complain of the show being too formulaic; once you removes the uniqueness, all that´s left is the formula.

As for Kamen Rider, the problem is the polar opposite; since the beginning the franchise had a defined concept and most shows have sticked to the basic elements of what makes Kamen Rider, but in an effort to keep it relevant the franchise has reinvented itself so much that modern show do not resemble the original Kamen Rider enough, and even though they are all good shows, some of them even great, there comes a point where you can´t shake the feeling that you could remove the words "Kamen Rider" from the title and that wouldn´t change a thing.

Asides from that there is also the case of those self entitled fans that think the creators of the show owe them something and go rage-rambling if a show is not like they want it to be (as was the case with Go-Busters), but i think the world would be a better place if we just ignore those people.
 

Toku Prime

Well-Known Member
As for Kamen Rider, the problem is the polar opposite; since the beginning the franchise had a defined concept and most shows have sticked to the basic elements of what makes Kamen Rider, but in an effort to keep it relevant the franchise has reinvented itself so much that modern show do not resemble the original Kamen Rider enough, and even though they are all good shows, some of them even great, there comes a point where you can´t shake the feeling that you could remove the words "Kamen Rider" from the title and that wouldn´t change a thing.
I never really understood why this was a complaint. Rider needed to do this to survive. The Showa era shows were locked into their initial formula, and look what happened. Within five years it'd been booted to another channel and dropped. It was revived twice, only to falter again within a couple of years each time. Compare that to the Metal Hero series, which embraced re-inventing itself and lasted for 17 straight years. When Rider finally got the chance to take MH's timeslot, they inherited some of it's tropes, including the constant re-invention. Now we're about to enter the 15th straight year of Kamen Rider. History would suggest that the basic Rider formula wasn't capable of sustaining the franchise in the way that constant change has.
 

shamrocknroll

The Ranger with the Cowbell
I think this goes back to another thread about sentai themes. With a team there is just more you can do than just with one or two main characters. Take for example, dinosaur or elemental themed sentai. Stuff like elements and dinosaurs weren't just one type of something, they were groups. With Sentai you can have many tropes (although I don't like that term) associated with say elements. Along with the already standard sentai tropes.

Now look at Rider. His main thing is beetles. Yes he has diverged over the years but still when an average Joe thinks of Kamen Rider he thinks about beetles. A single type of insect used for years. Look at the themes and what the response was. Den-O wasn't well-liked, Hibiki and Kabuto were pretty bad and now Wizard. All weren't beetle themed. Maybe it's just because at that important writing meeting where Sentai decided to say "Let's shake it up." Kamen Rider said "No thanks."

To me it's just the fact that Rider can't really evolve unless it wants to be Sentai-lite or at least that's how I see it.
 
Last edited:

lazycoconut

I liked him when he wasn't a god
Asides from that there is also the case of those self entitled fans that think the creators of the show owe them something and go rage-rambling if a show is not like they want it to be (as was the case with Go-Busters), but i think the world would be a better place if we just ignore those people.

Well reportedly, that was the reaction of a lot of the Japanese fans - they felt that Sentai should always be for young children and that Go-Busters had tried too hard to be edgy and court an older audience (leading to the "too dark" quote from the head of Bandai.) It hasn't stopped Toei trying out some new things in Kyoryuger, but it's taught them there's at least one creative direction they can't take (for the foreseeable future) if they want commercial success. Similarly, they learned from Geki and Goseiger that they'll get a bad reaction if they try to do plots that are too villain-heavy
 

Ivanhobe

The Extraordinary Fan(boy)
I never really understood why this was a complaint. Rider needed to do this to survive.

I don´t see it as a complain either, my second favorite Rider show is Den-O, and we can all agree that this is the least Rider-ish season in the franchise.

The problem here is that when you work with a formula, you need to both reinvent yourself every season/episode, but you also need to keep things within a certain framework; Sentai needs gian robots, Rider needs motorcycles and Ultraman needs rubber suits.

Basically the formula is what keeps people coming back to a show and it gives them some sense of familiarity, but the issue some have with modern Rider is that instead of reinventing its own formula, the franchise seems to be trying to ditch it completely until one day it won´t be Kamen Rider anymore, it will just be the "Generic Hero Fights Monsters to sell toys" show.

While i can agree that this mentality can be exagerated by some, i also agree with it to some degree: there are certain elements on Rider that draw me to it, namely the idea of the tragic lonely hero and the awesome bikes, and i don´t want to see those elements dissapear from the show; even if i like to see how the franchise re-invents itself, i don´t want to see it loose its identity.

lazycoconut said:
Well reportedly, that was the reaction of a lot of the Japanese fans - they felt that Sentai should always be for young children and that Go-Busters had tried too hard to be edgy and court an older audience

That is what i was getting at, Go-Busters re-tool came because the japanese fans refused to accept the show on that premise, so instead of letting the franchise evolve they demanded for the tradition to be kept.

Thinking about it, the japanese culture seems to be really defined by its traditions, and after 35+ years Super Sentai has become precisely that. This can be considered good because, well, it is hard to imagine a world without Super Sentai, but it also means that a lot of people will refuse to see their tradition tempered with.
 

lazycoconut

I liked him when he wasn't a god
I don´t see it as a complain either, my second favorite Rider show is Den-O, and we can all agree that this is the least Rider-ish season in the franchise.

Den-O was a hit for Toei, the problem came with repeating its formula until audiences got tired of it (it was still relatively fresh for W, but didn't work so well for the subsequent seasons.) So that's being changed up again with Gaim


That is what i was getting at, Go-Busters re-tool came because the japanese fans refused to accept the show on that premise, so instead of letting the franchise evolve they demanded for the tradition to be kept.

Thinking about it, the japanese culture seems to be really defined by its traditions, and after 35+ years Super Sentai has become precisely that. This can be considered good because, well, it is hard to imagine a world without Super Sentai, but it also means that a lot of people will refuse to see their tradition tempered with.

That's just it, there is really not much incentive for Toei to change things up unless profits are flagging. They know a lot of their adult fanbase prefers convention, the general image of the franchise in Japan is that it's all the same thing, and that children watch for a year or two at the most before moving onto other things. That's why they can get away with repeating themes/concepts. Look at Kyoryuger where people complain that "Utchy's intro is just like GaoSilver's!" and "it's too soon for another dinosaur Sentai!" The majority of Kyoryu's audience would not even remember the Gao and Aba tributes in Gokaiger, and hadn't been born when those shows were actually airing.
 

Burkion

SLICE
Now look at Rider. His main thing is beetles. Yes he has diverged over the years but still when an average Joe thinks of Kamen Rider he thinks about beetles. A single type of insect used for years. Look at the themes and what the response was. Den-O wasn't well-liked, Hibiki and Kabuto were pretty bad and now Wizard. All weren't beetle themed. Maybe it's just because at that important writing meeting where Sentai decided to say "Let's shake it up." Kamen Rider said "No thanks."

Beetle?

Buddy, I think you've gotten your insects mixed up. The original Riders were Grasshoppers.
 
I think it might also have to do with the toy structure needed for Kamen Rider, but looking at the toy catalog I might have to say I think Gaim is taking risks with four Riders from the start.
 

Bigdog

New Member
I never really understood why this was a complaint. Rider needed to do this to survive. The Showa era shows were locked into their initial formula, and look what happened. Within five years it'd been booted to another channel and dropped. It was revived twice, only to falter again within a couple of years each time. Compare that to the Metal Hero series, which embraced re-inventing itself and lasted for 17 straight years. When Rider finally got the chance to take MH's timeslot, they inherited some of it's tropes, including the constant re-invention. Now we're about to enter the 15th straight year of Kamen Rider. History would suggest that the basic Rider formula wasn't capable of sustaining the franchise in the way that constant change has.

It's the way the Riders were done that dropped the ball on the Showa Riders, not the fact that they kept the same look and ethos.

What needed to happen is for the show to mature and evolve, but still keep its core ethos and even look. By straying way too far from the original show, its like watching a newer iteration of Metal Heroes than a Kamen Rider, with the exceptions being:

-Kuuga 4.
-Agito
-Faiz 5.
-Ryuki ,to an extent. Well not really, so ignore this. 4-5?
-Blade. 1
-Kiva? Have only seen a fancut of Ixa's story and a couple episodes.
-W. Possibly, but I've only seen the one film.
-OOO. 17.
-Fourze. 3.

I've seen a variety of episodes of the Showa from two of Shodai, 1 of V3, 4 of Amazon, 1 of Super 1, 5 of Black, with the exception of X. With reading a bit of the original manga and much of Spirits, I have to say these are the few that do capture the essence of the series without looking like utter crap.

It would be nice if Rider got a consistent theme or storyline like the Showa did, while testing new things and bringing some back, like Amazon and Shin. I kinda wouldn't mind seeing a Rider that was geared differently.

But for Sentai? I can't understand that fanbase in Japan. I believe Go-Busters problem was that after the first ten , I've heard it dragged its feet. In addition, it felt like I already watched an entire season going how too fast the plot moved to get rid of the main villain.

In previous Sentai, like the Showa era, the villains lasted throughout the series and were a consistent threat. They didn't switch , but were more gradual and escalated. This lead for the 80s to get second robots to fight the stronger villains. And eventually , upgraded powers. Also, the impact the villains had was more far reaching and real, which subsequent series lost.

I've seen an episode of Goranger, JAKQ and that crossover, 1 of Denjiman, 5 of Sun Vulcan, 1 of Goggle Five, 2 of Dynaman, 3 of Bioman, 1 or 2 of Liveman, 1 of Turboranger, 6 of Jetman, and 10 to 11 each of Zyu-Kakuranger. After seeing a single episode of Ohranger, I really don't see many until Aba, Deka and Magi, which are just 2-3 episodes each, while 2 for Boukenger, 4 of Geki, 1 of Goonger ,7 for Shinkenger, 7 for Goseiger ,2 for Gokaiger and 11 for Gobusters. Out of Kyoryuger I've only seen 3. I basically seen the majority of each series in samples.

Having no nostalgia for any of these shows, I realized that nonetheless, the urgency for later series went down as the heroes get everything without suspense or much drama, or if it did, didn't so so well much of the time.
 

NeonZ

Active Member
I never really understood why this was a complaint. Rider needed to do this to survive. The Showa era shows were locked into their initial formula, and look what happened. Within five years it'd been booted to another channel and dropped.

Keep in mind that Rider got kicked out to another channel after Amazon which certainly mixed up the formula quite a bit, and even was modified halfway through to be more traditional, although that didn't seem to help much.

In fact, one could argue that Rider has always been very experimental. Something like Amazon changed basically everything about the show aside from keeping Tachibana Tobei around and the "modified human" protagonist. Stronger, although having more traditional villains for the first half, had yet again an untraditional hero (and an super heroine ally) and actually dumped the monster of the week formula for its second half. It was only 1% behind Goranger in ratings, so, the fact that it was airing in a different station seems to have weighted quite a lot to end Rider there.

Black, although going back to basics in several ways, removing the extra equipment and abilities from the last few Riders before it, also added its own twists, like no grunts. Black RX, aside from keeping the same character as the protagonist, was different from Black in every way too, and it was successful. Black RX not getting a sequel has been controversial even in Japan.

Now, you're right in some points. While it attempted to be a traditional show, Skyrider seemed to be a failure, and only was rescued when they turned it into a crossover series. Meanwhile, Super-1, which yet again attempted to be traditional, aside from the "hands", pretty much was a complete failure that got moved to a different timeslot midway through and then left no successor.

Don't forget though, with your metal hero comparison, that Kamen Rider, unlike Sentai and Metal Hero, isn't entirely owned by Toei. So, it's not that surprising that while both Super Sentai and Metal Hero thrived, Rider was sidelined.
 

SamuraiEchidna

Active Member
Why is Rider expected to stay the same, while Sentai expected to take risks? Well, I can only think of one answer...

To me, this is a very ADULT criticism. Normally, Sentai is considered to be the brighter and more kid-friendly show that promotes friendship and teamwork, while Kamen Rider is the darker show that tends to focus on the solo hero and what can come out of rivalries. It's like comparing Superman to Batman, and adults (keep in mind, I use the term "adults" loosely) LOVE Batman. They love when it gets darker and edgier, when the show treats you like an adult, etc. In some respects, like Superman, Sentai is more of an acquired taste.

But you know what? I've been looking lately at who the intended audience for things is. So let's see here... We know it isn't a Western audience since we'll have to download fansubs if we want to see it. So like it or not, Japanese KIDS and CHILDREN are the target audience for these shows. Now you could say that they're more like family shows than kids shows, I also like that kind of thinking, but let's face facts. Teens and Adults are more like a second-hand demographic. Most teens have moved on, so you'll be lucky if you can find a few who still like these kinds of shows. And parents are mostly just watching the shows to monitor what their kids watch, so making fans out of them is pure coincidence and is usually a case-by-case scenario.

For example!
I was watching Jurassic Park: The Lost World with an 11 year old just recently. There was an off-screen death hidden by some logs, but you saw dinosaurs chase after the victim, you heard the screams of agony, and you saw the blood wash up in the ravine when the screams stopped. The child responded to this by saying "Why didn't they show what happened behind the logs?" His parents are okay with letting him see things like Horror movies, by the way. As you can see, subtlety was lost on this kid. And it wasn't the first time either, we saw a few movies together, and things that adults would have understood just went right over his head.

So when it comes to people saying what Tokusatsu properties *SHOULD BE*, I try not to take too much stock in it, unless it's so bad that even the kiddies are complaining. Sure, I've done my share of complaining on the FEW titles I didn't like, but over all, I'm a VERY open-minded guy who doesn't mind trying new things or even returning to more of a status quo. I liked shows like MagiRanger and Fourze; a show that didn't do much to shake things up for Sentai and a show that was drastically different for Kamen Rider! Outside of that, I'll let the ratings in Japan talk for themselves. And as others have said, Toei usually only cares about how much of a profit they can make. After all that, what more needs to be said? :)
 

Goty

Member
Asides from that there is also the case of those self entitled fans that think the creators of the show owe them something and go rage-rambling if a show is not like they want it to be (as was the case with Go-Busters), but i think the world would be a better place if we just ignore those people.

Uhh...you should replace "the case with Go-Busters' by "the case with every new series". Because you see people doing that every year...and the Go-Busters' criticism goes way beyond that.

Anyway..."Sentai expected to take risks and Rider expected to keep conventions"? This is a complicated matter, but i'm not sure that's a general view. Rider has its fair share of conventions that people take for granted ("Henshin", belt, bike, etc), and if at least one of those is missing, people will definitely complain. Sentai is the same, but it has an even higher amount of conventions. While those tropes give Sentai a more formulaic feel, if they're lacking, there will obviously be a lot of complaints too. Everyone knows that, we've been there. So what kinds of "risks' are they expected to take, exactly? Only thing i know, they can't just abandon what fans came to love and expect from Sentai. As someone who likes it more than Rider, i'm pretty sure of that.
Anyway, a series can easily be fresh, fun and inventive while keeping the Sentai essence. Maybe the people who expect Sentai to take more risks, change and leave that essence behind aren't exactly the biggest fans of the genre.
 
Last edited:

lazycoconut

I liked him when he wasn't a god
^ Yes, some people don't like it if they think a Sentai season is too different. It just seems to me that the reaction is worse if it's Sentai than Kamen Rider - in a lot of discussions on here and other sites I've seen, it's like one of the worst things you can say about a Sentai is that it's "safe" or "formulaic", while people long for Kamen Rider's past when the heroes were all cyborg "karate bugmen."
 

Now on Kickstarter

Latest News

Who's on Discord?

Top