…Y’know what I haven’t talked about in a while? Kamen Rider. And really, why shouldn’t I? Kamen Rider is one of, if not the, greatest series of the Tokusatsu genre. It’s lasted for four decades (ignoring a television hiatus that lasted from 1989 to 2000), has had crossovers with a number of different series in Japan, including Super Sentai, Ultraman, and Metal Heroes, and has spawned dubs in other countries, including two in English. But, as many people know, one thing that’s needed for an action show is for it to have a kickass opening theme that gets the audience ready for the half-hour that’s about to ensue. Now, other than the opening themes, Kamen Rider HAS had a number of insert themes that are really good too, and I’ll go over some of my favourites later on down the road as well. For now, though, let’s look at my 5 Favourite Kamen Rider Opening Themes, and I think I’m gonna do these in the order in which each season aired, starting with probably the most obvious…
Yeah, you knew this was gonna be up here. While I admittedly prefer the 2000 version of Let’s Go Rider Kick, this is the version used for the official intro, so it’s the one I’m posting. And I’m sure everyone’s wondering what I think of the 2011 cover by Kamen Rider Girls, and…I don’t really have an opinion. I didn’t really care when it was first released one way or the other beyond “Oh, that’s neat, they did a cover for the movie”. I neither really like it, nor am I in the group of people that practically called death down on these women. It’s just a cover, you guys. Get over it. Despite being one of my favourites, though, if I WAS going to rank these, this would probably be near the bottom. No disrespect, it’s just I like the others on this list a lot more. Still, it continues to maintain its position as the definitive Kamen Rider theme. Just, uh, don’t pull a Neo Saban era Power Rangers with us and have a remix of this theme for every season anytime soon, ‘kay?
BLACK! 😀 Okay, while I haven’t watched most of this season, there’s just something about the general aesthetic of Black’s suit that I really love. And dammit all, I LOVE the opening theme to his season. It really gets you in the mood to see this guy lay down some hurtin’ on some Gorgom scumbags. I actually really love the closing theme, too, if we’re being totally honest. That’s why I can’t help but giggle and hum that theme when I watch the net movie for Kamen Rider Decade where all the suit actors are dressed as Showa Era Riders for a race, and Black is just walking like in the end credits. Funny stuff.
YES, for the 150th time, I actually like Kamen Rider Kiva! Honest to God, I don’t get the hate for this series, and I DEFINITELY don’t get the Twilight jabs at it, especially since, while the books had been out for a few years, the first movie didn’t come out until November of the same year Kiva started airing, by which time we’d already had 40 episodes of the series. Really, it just comes off as people being vampired out by that point, and not wanting to give this show a chance. But anyway, getting back to the theme song, I think it’s a really catchy theme, and fits the tone of the series pretty well. Also, good God, the weird-ass imagery. If that didn’t make you wanna watch just to find out what the frak was going on, I don’t know what would do it for ya. Still, as catchy as this theme is, it pales in comparison to the next two on my list, in particular…
FUCK YEAH! I have said before that Kamen Rider W is my favourite season, it has my favourite Rider of all time in Kamen Rider Skull, and Goddamn it, it has probably my favourite opening theme of any Kamen Rider season. It’s energetic, it fits the tone of the series, and the imagery produced gets you ready for this combo of a superhero show and a detective story that balances comedy with tragedy in all the right ways. The only theme I would stack up against it is the last one on this list…
While I don’t think it’s the BEST theme that was produced for OOO, and we’ll talk about THAT later on, the intro theme does exactly as is required: Get your pulse pounding. Granted, with some of the later episodes and some of the more tragic elements of the plot, hearing this energetic and happy theme can kinda result in mood whiplash. And while it’s true that other themes have done this, none quite to the level of OOO. Still, it’s a solid hit, and the opening credits sequence that accompanies the music definitely does a good job of highlighting these three individuals that are caught up in this hectic chase for the Medals.
So, those are my 5 Favourite Kamen Rider Opening Themes. Have a favourite that wasn’t on here? Lemme know in the comments below, and I shall see you guys the next time I talk about Kamen Rider, when I list my 5 Favourite Insert Themes. Ja né!
Have I mentioned how much I love Kamen Rider? *ducks thrown objects* Alright, once or twice. Well, one staple of Kamen Rider that I always like to see them experiment with and upgrade from series to series is the henshin (transform) device, nowadays referred to as Drivers. In a nutshell, it’s a belt (most of the time, anyway) that is used to transform the wearer into their Kamen Rider form. In modern versions, it also unlocks different attacks, power-ups, and form changes to adapt to different opponents. The past few seasons have also used additional items in tandem with the Driver to do these things (cards, medals, rings, etc.). And here are five of my all time favourites here for you all. Oh, and before anyone says anything, the first series I ever watched anything of (not counting Saban’s Masked Rider) was Kamen Rider Kiva, the first season I watched from beginning to end was Kamen Rider Decade, and my personal favourite is Kamen Rider W. So, before anyone accuses me of this, yes, I’m going to be at least slightly biased to the more recent ones. Guilty as charged, let’s get this over with. lol
The personal henshin device of Kamen Rider W, the Double Driver is unique among all henshin devices in that it essentially connects two people into one. It is first strapped onto Shotaro, then a copy appears on Philip. It utilizes purified Gaia Memories, USB port-looking devices that contain the memories of the world. To transform with it, Philip places a Memory in the right side (usually the Cyclone Memory) which causes his consciousness to travel with the Memory to Shotaro’s Driver. Shotaro then plugs it and a second Memory (usually the Joker Memory) in and slides the two apart to form a W shape, thus becoming…
By switching Gaia Memories in and out (Shotaro’s Metal and Trigger Memories and Philip’s Heat and Luna Memories), Kamen Rider W can execute half-changes, turning one side of his body a different colour to reflect the different power-ups granted. Also, a special Maximum Drive slot on the right side is used to allow W to execute a finishing move, accessed by plugging a Memory into said slot. Now, there does exist a Driver similar to this called the Lost Driver, first used by Kamen Rider Skull, that allows a single person to become a Rider that uses the power of whatever Gaia Memory is inserted, but since it works essentially the same, looks the same (minus a plug-in for a second Gaia Memory), and has actually been used by Shotaro and Philip on occasion to become Kamen Rider Joker and Kamen Rider Cyclone, I’m basically grouping it in here.
Kamen Rider IXA is probably my second favourite Kamen Rider, just behind Kamen Rider Skull, and naturally, I really like his Driver too: The IXA Belt. Simply take the Knuckle section, slap it to part of your body (preferably one that won’t hurt like a bastard later), then one it signals that it’s ready, clamp the knuckle back into place to become…
The IXA Belt also comes equipped with its own Fuestles, much like the ones Kiva has. They allow him to hijack Kiva’s weapons, summon his personal vehicle, power up the knuckle section into an attacking weapon, and more. Since the IXA Belt doesn’t lock itself down to a specific user, it means that, in theory, anyone can be IXA. However, that also means that, in practice, only the best for the job could be IXA.
As I said before, MOST Drivers are belts. Here’s an exception: The Diendriver used by Kamen Rider DiEnd. Again, transformation is simple: Insert the DiEnd Kamen Ride Card into the slot on the left side of the gun, load, and pull the trigger, thus transforming into…
Now, wherein Kamen Rider Decade’s Decadriver allows him to assume the forms of other Kamen Riders and mimic their powers, the Diendriver has a different purpose: It summons Riders by having their cards inserted into the slot. Now, whether these are the actual Riders who then do as DiEnd asks, or copies based on their memories that do DiEnd’s bidding, or something else entirely isn’t 100% confirmed. In fact, many times, it feels like they’re one thing, then another thing another time. Like many things in Kamen Rider Decade, they choose not to explain this function too much…which is probably why a lot of people really don’t like that season, because they never frakking explained what the hell was going on most of the time. Still, it’s an awesome Driver/weapon, so I’m not gonna deduct points over that.
The V-Buckle (leave me alone, I don’t know what it’s called in Kamen Rider Dragon Knight) is different among most henshin devices in that it is actually used by a vast number of Riders. Which ones? EVERY SINGLE RIDER from the Kamen Rider Ryuki (Kamen Rider Dragon Knight) series, though obviously one in particular…
There’s an alternate design for the Alternatives, but it pretty much works the same way: Slide the Advent Deck in, and it transforms you into a Rider possessing the powers of said Advent Deck, each one based off a different creature. There’s just something ominous about when one of the Riders from that series drawing a certain card from their Advent Deck, in particular the Final Vent card that allows them to use their finishing move. They make it look as dramatic as possible, especially when they’re about to use it on each other, because you know someone’s about to die (or be Vented in Dragon Knight).
The OOO Driver, belonging of course to Kamen Rider OOO, it can be somewhat complicated to use at times. Basically, slide three Core Medals in, each one in the proper position, and run the O Scanner across all three in sequence to become…
So, why is this complicated? Well, there are seven sets of Medals, plus a few extras found here and there, each colour coded to their set and belonging to different sets of animals (birds, insects, reptiles, etc), and each Medal only works in a specific slot on the OOO Driver, granting a different armour piece to OOO. For example, let’s take my favourite Medals, the red ones. There’s Taka, which is a Head Core Medal, Kujaku, which is an Arms Core Medal, and Condor, which is a Legs Core Medal. To transform, you need Head, Arms, and Legs Medals, and while most of them can be mixed and matched, there’s one set that work entirely as a set only. If you’re missing one, you’re screwed. Plus, there are so many Medals, and at least two extra copies of each Medal, so handling them all can be troublesome. Still, if you can work around it, it’s one of the most powerful Drivers around, as using all three of a specific set grants power equal to the advanced forms of most Riders…although they also can cause you to lose consciousness if you use too much power and aren’t used to it…Yeah, that’s kind of a trade-off. o.O
So, there’s my 5 Favourite Henshin Devices. Got a favourite that isn’t on here? Or perhaps you prefer henshin devices from another series? Drop a line below, and I’ll see you guys next time when I talk about my 5 Favourite Morphers from Power Rangers/Super Sentai. Ja né!
- Kamen Rider Decade (dheoalviansyahgoblog.wordpress.com)
- Decade! Girl (chocojenn.wordpress.com)
- Kamen Rider Craft DX 1.6.2 Mod for Minecraft 1.6.2/1.6.1 (minecrafthd.com)
- Kamen Rider Battride War  Platinum! & Oboro Muramasa (helugame.wordpress.com)
- Gokaiger x Goseiger x Super Sentai: 199 Great Hero Battle (2011) (asianflixs.wordpress.com)
- Tokusatsu Theater at Filmbar (legionofsand.wordpress.com)
- The Legacy of Japan’s Giant Robot Sci-Fi Shows (tested.com)
- Wonderful 101 Trailer Finally Released and the Trailer Looks Redonkulous [Video] (geekosystem.com)
- Obscura Magazine 2013 Summer Issue – The Ultraman Series (freshnessmag.com)
- Film Review: Pacific Rim (rosslangager.com)
It’s time for another instalment of the Kamen Rider Spotlight, and this time we’re going hardboiled as I look at my all-time favourite Kamen Rider of all time, Kamen Rider Skull!
Mentor to Shotaro Hidari, Soukichi Narumi was a true hardboiled detective, but an incident in dealing with the Spider Dopant led to him becoming a Kamen Rider, as well as isolating himself from his daughter when a miniature Spider Bomb implants in him, which would go off if he ever came in direct contact with the one he loved most. He later took on Shotaro as an apprentice and began solving Dopant related cases as Skull, until his tragic end that also began Shotaro and Philip‘s story as W.
Much of Skull’s tech is later passed down to W, or inspires the creation of similar tech. The Lost Driver that the Skull Memory is inserted into looks like a broken half of W’s Double Driver, and in fact was later passed down to Shotaro so that he could become Kamen Rider Joker in case of emergencies where Philip wasn’t available to transform with him. Like with W, it possesses a Maximum Drive slot that allows Skull to his finisher, the Skull Banisher Rider Kick. Also the Skull Magnum, his personal side arm, would later give inspiration to the creation of the Trigger Magnum, and as such operates in much the same fashion. It also grants Skull an additional finisher called the Skull Punisher.
The SkullBoilder is Skull’s modified Honda CBR1000RR motorcycle. It’s kept inside of the mobile garage, the tank-like SkullGarry, which can be called out with the press of a button on the Stag Phone. Both the SkullBoilder and the SkullGarry would later be reconfigured into W’s HardBoilder and RevolGarry.
It’s also worth noting that Skull has an incomplete form that appeared once: Skull Crystal. It’s relatively the same, except that it lacks the S-shaped crack in the helmet, which would usually be covered by Soukichi’s fedora anyway…and by the way, I would just like to note once again for the record that it’s because of W and Skull that I myself have taken to wearing fedoras myself, as a sign of my everlasting fanboyism to these two Riders.
Well, that’s all for this edition of Kamen Rider Spotlight. Next time, we start and finish at a climax. Ja né!
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Music is “Frontline” by Pillar, images are from The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya, Kamen Rider W, and Pokémon.
Well I decided it was time to start blogs about Kamen Rider, and what better way to give my thoughts than to give each Rider their own spotlight and give my thoughts on each of them individually? So with that in mind, let’s take a look at Kamen Rider W.
Two men, one Rider. Detective Shotaro Hidari, and an amnesiac with the ability to enter the ‘Planetary Bookshelves’ Philip. Together, they form a Rider with speed, skill, power, and an uncanny ability to adapt to nearly any situation.
While I probably shouldn’t make claims as far as who I feel is the strongest, weakest, fastest, smartest, etc. Riders are, I will say that W is likely one of if not the most well-balanced of the Kamen Riders. With two minds in one body and the ability to change the two halves of his, or more precisely THEIR, body to better suit his opponents and/or environment, W rarely finds a situation that’s beyond their ability to adapt to. The only real weakness they have overall is that if Shotaro and Philip aren’t able to stay focused and united, their combo can break down. With that said, let’s take a look at W’s various forms.
CycloneJoker is a swift hand-to-hand fighter that can move like the wind. W generally starts battles in this form to start the feeling-out process against opponents and likely due to Shotaro’s affinity for the Joker half. Finishing move is Joker Extreme, a gusty dropkick that sends the two halves splitting apart and then colliding into the opponent before recombining.
HeatMetal is a heavy fighter with a steel rod that burns enemies with intense flames. Although likely the slowest of the different W forms, the blazing Metal Shaft more than makes up for it, as it acts as a powerful weapon from both on offensive and a defensive perspective. Finisher is Metal Branding, focusing all the searing fire into one powerful smack from the Metal Shaft.
Probably my favourite form, LunaTrigger is a gunslinger that can curve his energy shots to always hit his opponents and no one else. The only real weakness it has is that the blasts aren’t as powerful as HeatTrigger‘s, and should the opponent get through them, W is somewhat defenceless. W’s finishing move in this form is Trigger Full Burst, which sends a barrage of charged up homing blasts at the target.
HeatJoker is hand-to-hand fighter with fists and feet furiously aflame. While not as fast as the other Joker Half Changes, HeatJoker packs the most power behind W’s blows. Finishing move is Joker Grenade, which sees W doing a jumping somersault before splitting in half and delivering a pair of burning punches.
CycloneMetal is a fighter that is both speedy and tough. While it doesn’t offer W with as much speed or power as other forms do, it does grant a decent balance. Finishing manoeuvre is the Metal Twister, a flurry of swings from the Metal Shaft that carries a small tornado of energy along with it.
HeatTrigger is a super-powered-up gunslinger that can shoot bursts of flame from the Trigger Magnum. While it lacks the sheer inability to miss that LunaTrigger possesses, the blasts have far more power. The finisher is Trigger Explosion, a massive stream of flame and magma that burns away anything in its path. An upgraded form of this attack was used once in a Twin Maximum, but the resulting blast also burned away at W, injuring Shotaro and forcing them to never attempt it again.
The last of W’s hand-to-hand fighting forms, only this one has more range…a LOT more range. LunaJoker gives W the ability to stretch out limbs near-infinitely. While his blows don’t pack as much power as in other forms, that W can attack from such a range is certainly helpful. Finisher is known as Joker Strange, wherein the two halves split apart with the Luna half duplicating itself and sending out a barrage of extended slaps and chops, followed by two super-powered chops from the Joker half.
CycloneTrigger is a speedy gunslinger that can fire concussive blasts of wind out of the Trigger Magnum. Fast and furious, this form lets W move in fast and get a quick volley of windy blasts in. The finisher is Trigger Aerobuster, which shoots a small tornado of energy at the target, blowing them away.
LunaMetal is a powerful warrior with near-infinite reach, the Metal Shaft now being able to stretch itself to hit anything anywhere. While it loses some of the power once backing it, being able to stretch out that far is a definite plus. Finisher is called Metal Illusion, wherein the Metal Shaft creates golden razor-sharp rings that slash away at foes.
FangJoker is a touch more unusual a form for W, as with this form Philip forms the body instead of Shotaro. As such, it cannot be used for long before Philip’s weaker body gives out. However, in the time that it works, FangJoker provides W with a more ferocious fighting style that cuts down all before him with a series of blades that can be used for close-up and ranged attacks. Finisher is a spinning, slashing roundhouse kick called the Fang Streiser.
CycloneJokerXtreme is the evolved form of W, given new strength and abilities from the Xtreme Memory. In addition to powering up CycloneJoker form’s natural strengths, transforming the Joker Extreme in the massive-tornado-empowered Double Extreme, it also grants access to the Prism Bicker, a sword and shield that can unite the various elemental powers of W’s into a focused blast, the Bicker Finallusion, or a powerful slash, the Bicker Charge Break.
CycloneJokerGoldXtreme is the final and most powerful form of W, so powerful in fact that he cannot achieve it naturally and must be empowered further by an outside force strong enough. It grants W wings with which to fly, and W’s finisher is evolved once again into the Golden Extreme, a shining dropkick that obliterates any foe.
Anyway, that’s all for my first installment of the Kamen Rider Spotlight. Lemme know what you think and if there’s any Riders you’d like me to check out in the future.