Film Review: Kamen Rider: The Next (2007)

Also known as: Masked Rider: The Next (alternative English title)
Release Date: October 27th, 2007
Directed by: Ryuta Tasaki
Written by: Toshiki Inoue
Based on: Kamen Rider and Kamen Rider V3 by Shotaro Ishinomori
Music by: Goro Yasukawa
Cast: Masaya Kikawada, Hassei Takano, Kazuki Kato, Miku Ishida, Erika Mori, Tomorowo Taguchi, Goro Naya

Toei, 93 Minutes


As I stated in my review of the previous Kamen Rider film, I remembered liking this one a bit better. Well, seeing it for the first time in a long while, that’s still true.

Really, this is kind of more of the same but it picks up the story where Kamen Rider: The First left off.

That film was a reboot (or retelling) of the original Kamen Rider TV series. This film was a sequel to that but also a reboot of the second TV series, Kamen Rider V3.

Like V3, this introduces the third Kamen Rider hero and also has him work alongside the previous two. However, there are some very stark creative differences between the original story and this version of it.

The main thing that these films do is that they increase the violence exponentially to appeal to a more adult audience. This one goes even further than its predecessor, which seemed like it was more a test run to see what they could get away with in what’s predominantly been a kid friendly franchise.

I loved the villains in this, specifically Scissors Jaguar. Man, what a sadistic asshole that guy was but for fans of this type of stuff, he was fun as hell to watch.

The special effects and fight choreography in this are pretty much the same as the previous movie but I found myself enjoying the action more.

Rating: 6.5/10

Film Review: Kamen Rider: The First (2005)

Also known as: Masked Rider: The First (alternative English title)
Release Date: October 26th, 2005 (Tokyo Film Festival)
Directed by: Takao Nagaishi
Written by: Toshiki Inoue
Based on: Kamen Rider by Shotaro Ishinomori
Music by: Gorou Yasukawa
Cast: Masaya Kikawada, Hassei Takano, Komine Rena, Hiroshi Miyauchi, Eiji Wentz, Ryoko Kobayashi, Sada Mayumi, Issa Hentona, Hideyo Amamoto, Itsuji Itao, Kanji Tsuda

Toei, 91 Minutes


I haven’t seen this since around the time that it first came out on DVD in the US, which probably wasn’t too long after its 2005 theatrical release in Japan.

This also had a sequel, which I remembered liking better, as it leaned even heavier into the violence and edginess that this strange retelling of the original two Kamen Riders origin introduced.

This plays much darker and more like horror than the standard Kamen Rider television series. It’s a reboot but it was made for an older audience that had grown up with the shows but found them to be too kiddie for typical adults.

For what this set out to do, I think it achieved its goals fairly well. This isn’t in any way superior to the source material but it definitely respects it and still homages it in a good way that captures the aesthetic and vibe. It looks and feels like a modern tokusatsu production but with a bigger budget and without having its hands tied by the creative limitations of a children’s show.

I thought that the acting was decent. None of it as particularly great but also, none of it felt overly hokey or cheesy like typical tokusatsu shows often times deliver.

I thought that the special effects were good. The costumes were top notch and looked impressive. My only gripe in that regard is that I felt like the Shocker foot soldiers would’ve looked a lot cooler if they kept their classic costumes and lucha libre style masks.

Ultimately, this was a really interesting experiment. I think it paid off for what it was and it didn’t do anything to diminish the legacy of the intellectual property unlike just about every Hollywood reboot and remake over the last decade or more.

Rating: 6.25/10

TV Review: Kamen Rider Black RX (1988)

Also known as: Masked Rider Black RX
Original Run: October 23rd, 1988 – September 24th, 1989 (Japan)
Created by: Shotaro Ishinomori
Directed by: various
Written by: various
Music by: Eiji Kawamura
Cast: Tetsuo Kurata, Jun Koyamaki, Rikiya Koyama

Ishimori Pro, Toei Company, 47 Episodes, 25 Minutes (per episode)


Kamen Rider Black RX is only the third Kamen Rider series that I have seen in its entirety, after Kamen Rider V3 and Kamen Rider Black. This series is a direct sequel to Kamen Rider Black and features the same hero, although he is defeated early only to be reborn as RX.

This series is very consistent with its predecessor, which was fantastic. However, it actually ups the ante towards the end, as in the last few episodes, all the previous versions of Kamen Rider show up to offer their assistance. It was the first Kamen Rider story to feature all the Riders since the 1984 TV film Birth of the 10th! Kamen Riders All Together!!

Having defeated Gorgom in the previous series, our hero Kohtaro is now a helicopter pilot and lives with the family who owns that business. The new villain group are aliens that call themselves the Crisis Empire. They plan to take over Earth, killing all the humans because humans don’t respect the Earth. It is a simple story line that has been used in tokusatsu (and sci-fi, in general) since the beginning of the genre.

Kohtaro doesn’t just become RX, he also takes on the guise of a few other Riders with specific powers. Bio-Rider, for instance, can shrink down in a similar fashion to Marvel’s Ant-Man. Also, he has his talking motorcycle and a sweet car that looks an awful lot like Frankenstein’s car from Death Race 2000.

The action is solid, the stories are good and this series has some pretty neat looking monsters. Nine television series into this franchise and the minds behind Kamen Rider still prove that they are creative and have some fresh ideas.

The version of the show I have is a bit tough to watch, at times. This was never released commercially in the United States with proper subtitles or dubbing. That is kind of unfortunate, as the show was re-edited into a U.S. show called Masked Rider. This was done in the same way that Super Sentai shows were being re-edited into the Power Rangers franchise. In fact, this show was made to be a spin off of Power Rangers in the U.S.

The reason the version I have is tough to watch is because the DVD set is from Malaysia. Just imagine a Japanese show translated into English by Malaysians. Yeah, a lot of things get lost in translation or are very confusing. Also, character names are not consistent. In fact, RX was called “Superman Black RX” and Rider Man from Kamen Rider V3 was “Black Superman”. The subtitles also constantly warned of Earth being taken over by “queer devildom”, whatever the shit that means. Also, some of the characters had Chinese names instead of Japanese names. But this is what happens when you get DVDs of shows you like from Malaysian sellers on eBay.

Malaysian weirdness aside, it really didn’t ruin the show. Its quality shined through and Kamen Rider Black RX was pretty close to perfect for a tokusatsu show.

Rating: 9/10

TV Review: Kamen Rider Black (1987-1988)

Also known as: Masked Rider Black
Original Run: October 4th, 1987 – October 9th, 1988 (Japan)
Created by: Shotaro Ishinomori
Directed by: various
Written by: various
Music by: Eiji Kawamura
Cast: Tetsuo Kurata, Akemi Inoue, Ayumi Taguchi

Ishimori Pro, Toei Company, 51 Episodes, 25 Minutes (per episode)


Kamen Rider Black was the second Kamen Rider series that I have seen in its entirety. The other was Kamen Rider V3, which I adored.

Black compared to V3, is much more serious in tone. It is still a Japanese tokusatsu television show, so it comes with a big helping of cheese and weirdness but Black was balls to the wall bad ass and a lot of fun.

In this series, two teen stepbrothers are kidnapped by the evil cult Gorgom. They are then surgically turned into cyborgs referred to as Century Kings. Prophecy states that they will have to battle each other to the death with the winner taking over the role of the Gorgom god and leader, Creation King. Kotaro is rescued by his foster father before he is brainwashed: the final step in the cyborg process. The show then sees Kotaro, as Kamen Rider Black, go on to use his new powers to battle Gorgom and eventually, his brother Nobuhiko, who is another Rider called Shadow Moon.

Despite being full of tokusatsu tropes, the seriousness of Kamen Rider Black was a really good change to the franchise. It was dark and sincere. The relationships felt real and for a tokusatsu show, it was well acted.

The villains were incredibly cool in this series. The three Gorgom priests were great bad guys and had a legitimately frightening vibe, unlike villains of the Super Sentai franchise. The monsters were still guys in kaiju-like rubber suits but they were less elaborate and colorful and more like actual evil beasts. Sword Master Bilgenia was a mystical samurai-like character that was a great foil to Kamen Rider Black throughout the middle part of the series. Bilgenia had one of the coolest outfits ever. However, it was Shadow Moon, the evil Rider and stepbrother of Black, that was the coolest character of them all.

Kamen Rider Black had a lush and exciting world. It had great action, better acting than most tokusatsu shows and some spectacular stunts. Another big highlight was the music; the soundtrack for this series was stellar.

Now I am excited to get into Kamen Rider Black RX, which is a direct sequel to this series.

Rating: 8/10

Film Review: OOO, Den-O, All Riders: Let’s Go Kamen Riders (2011)

Release Date: April 1st, 2011 (Japan)
Directed by: Osamu Kaneda
Written by: Shōji Yonemura
Music by: Kōtarō Nakagawa
Cast: Shu Watanabe, Dori Sakurada, Ryosuke Miura, Riho Takada, Rina Akiyama, Kenjirō Ishimaru

Toei Co. Ltd., 93 Minutes


OOO, Den-O, All Riders: Let’s Go Kamen Riders is not just an insane title, it is an insane movie. And I mean that in the best possible way.

This film only works if you are a fan of tokusatsu or at least are familiar with the style. This is a fan service movie. The whole point of it is to be over the top and as balls to the wall as possible. It was also made to feature every Kamen Rider ever, as well as many of their sidekicks, allies and villains. It also features other major heroes from other shows put out by Toei.

All of this is crammed into a 93 minute theatrical feature. There is just so much happening and trying to make sense out of most of it is somewhat futile. But this is Kamen Rider and this was made to celebrate its 40th anniversary; so all chips were in!

There is a semi-coherent story but it relies on you knowing all the characters well enough, so that they don’t have to properly develop them. While I am familiar with multiple Kamen Rider characters, I wasn’t familiar with OOO and Den-O, the primary two Riders in this film. Although, it wasn’t too hard to figure things out once the movie got going.

Let’s Go Kamen Riders is mostly non-stop action that only stops to build the narrative a bit. It isn’t supposed to be a great film, by any means. It is just supposed to be the ultimate Kamen Rider team-up movie of all-time. These tokusatsu team-up films are pretty common among all the top franchises but with each new one, the ante must be upped. In the case of this feature, the ante was upped so high, that I don’t know if it could ever be surpassed.

The climax of the film was pretty long but it was awesome. And yes, I mean “awesome” in that it actually inspired awe.

The finale started with three Kamen Riders about to be publicly executed. Then, one-by-one, every Kamen Rider in history entered the scene, ready to combat the combined evil forces. The more Kamen Riders joined, the bigger and more intense the battle became. Then it just kept escalating. Mega fight in the city, mega fight in the quarry, mega fight against a giant, mega fight against a massive god, it just never stopped. Well, it did eventually but the final attack damn near breaks the entire universe.

I thoroughly enjoyed the experience of OOO, Den-O, All Riders: Let’s Go Kamen Riders. It was not a great movie but it was incredibly entertaining and exciting to a fan of the series. I audibly said to myself, “Holy fuck” about ten times in the last twenty minutes. I never audibly say anything during a movie.

Rating: 7/10

TV Review: Kamen Rider V3 (1973-1974)

Also known as: Masked Rider V3
Original Run: February 17th, 1973 – February 9th, 1974 (Japan)
Created by: Shotaro Ishinomori
Directed by: various
Written by: various
Music by: Shunsuke Kikuchi
Cast: Hiroshi Miyauchi, Hizuru Ono, Akiji Kobayashi, Takehisa Yamaguchi

Ishimori Pro, Toei Company, 52 Episodes, 25 Minutes (per episode)


I wanted to start with the first Kamen Rider series. Unfortunately, I couldn’t find a copy of it on DVD or on any other format. So I had to start with the second series in the franchise, Kamen Rider V3.

I have seen Kamen Rider stuff before, most notably, the American series Masked Rider, which used footage from Kamen Rider Black RX the same way that Mighty Morphin Power Rangers used footage from Kyōryū Sentai Zyuranger. I always liked the style and concept of the series but I had never seen a Japanese version of the franchise in its entirety.

In Kamen Rider V3, we are introduced to Shiro Kazami, who witnesses a murder by the evil organization Destron, a group comprised of members of Shocker, the antagonists of the original Kamen Rider series. After several failed attempts at killing Kazami, Destron orders his family murdered, which Kazami witnesses. Kazami and his female friend Junko are saved by his high school teacher, who ends up being Kamen Rider 1. Then Kamen Rider 2 shows up. Wanting revenge on Destron, Kazami begs the two Kamen Riders to transform him into Kamen Rider V3.

This series is action-packed and that might be an understatement. Every episode is full of fights and major battles between V3 and the forces of Destron. As V3 beats each monster, who all stick around for a few episodes, he is greeted by a new menace. As the series progresses, even the leaders of Destron change, showing that their numbers are huge.

All the monsters in Kamen Rider V3 are really cool. They have a kaiju feel, even though they never grow to gigantic proportions. Each monster is some type of animal mixed with a specific weapon. You have Scissors Jaguar, Turtle Bazooka, Squid Fire, Machine Gun Snake, Chainsaw Lizard, Toad Boiler, Chain-Sickle Lady Bug, Guillotine Dinosaur, Syringe Spider, Heater Cicada and a ton of others.

The style of this show is pretty awesome. It has a great Japanese 1970s vibe and the music is pretty exceptional. The theme song to the series is one of the best tokusatsu theme songs ever produced. Although, the song from the original series is slightly better.

Ultimately, Kamen Rider V3 is a great show. It is an adrenaline rush through all 52 episodes and it never gets dull. There aren’t filler episodes like many American shows and every chapter serves a real purpose to the overall narrative.

In the end, this is one of my favorite tokusatsu shows of all-time. It also has me excited to see other Kamen Rider shows from the same era.

I’m actually waiting for the DVDs of Kamen Rider Black, Kamen Rider Black RX and Kamen Rider X to show up in my mailbox.

Rating: 9/10