So you have Tokusatsu shows. You have the ones that have been exported – various seasons of Super Sentai (Power Rangers), Kamen Rider (Masked Rider, Kamen Rider: Dragon Knight), Ultraman, Juukou B-Fighter& B-Fighter Kabuto (Big Bad Beetleborgs), Superhuman Machine Metalder, Dimensional Warrior Spielban & Space Sheriff Shaider (VR Troopers). Probably more!
But the only ones of these that I have ever watched in original-flavour, that is, japanese language, subtitled, no american scenes cut and pasted in.. are at least a little bit of every Super Sentai (full seasons of Aba and Deka!), and a whole bunch of Kamen Riders.
I loooove them. They’re just so delicious. They’re amazing.
It’s good ole interpersonal group dynamics with lots of ‘you understand what I mean so I need only give you this look/word/shoulder-clap’ (that is MY KIND OF COMMUNICATION), cushioned by magical science-superpowers and suiting up with catchy buzzwords and high stakes, and it’s all graphically designed and wardrobed and art-directed beautifully. Mmmmnom nom nom nom nom.
A Kamen Rider, you see, is a dude (always a dude. occasionally – five occasions, I think, since 1971 – a female rider has joined late in the series (1, and her name was Kamen Rider Femme) or temporarily henshin’d (4)) who has a) a motorcycle and b) a suit and mask that evokes bugginess. They have all sorts of different themes and all sorts of different stories and villains. Different numbers of Riders per series. Suit up (Henshin!) for power to fight scary monsters (guys in wonderfully crafted suits). Often, lots of personal angst. Super awesomeness.
Now I have an enormous fondness for the red-yellow-blue(-pink-green-black-white) Sentai teams. They bring me huge joy and giddiness and are full of genuine heroics and touching moments and character work and, like, kindness to children and stuff. If you told me to give them up I would think wistfully of nailing you into a barrel and rolling it into the sea.
But I will say – I will say that of the two, Kamen Rider is the stylish franchise. I’m gonna show you how. It’s gonna take a while; we’ve got.. what.. twenty-five series-worth?
(Not that my peeps in the three-to-five-to-variable person teams dress poorly or have bad hair! Oh no, no they don’t. But.. look at these guys.)
In civvies, that is. The suits are a post for another day. The history? Also another day.
The very early years:
Look at that hair. Texture. Sculpture! Those whips and whorls! It’s jaunty, but that is business hair. And the trousers, oh boy. FLARES. Flares are the trousers of imaginary royalty. They go, whooosh! Tight and then loose, I feel they make a person look so competent. And a little blase about how competent they are. Flares can be many things, but (if we want to get all James Bond-objectifying) a masculine persona within flared trousers begins to look a little like a Walther PP. Pew pew!
It’s actually pretty tricky to track down decent images of the older stuff. But you see what I mean about stylish roots.
Kamen Riders, in the last eleven years, have started in September and run for about a year. 2010′s Rider is Kamen Rider OOO (pronounced “Oohz”). You wanna meet the three protagonists? Let’s do that. Screencaps from the first episode, courtesy of tvnihon.
Here’s the title for episode one, by the way –
Here is The Mysterious Inhuman Guy:
Oh mahh gaaaahhhh that haaaiiiirrr
WHAT IS IT DOING
Making me happy, that’s what! It’s so daft! He wears it so seriously! It’s like a real person is on my screen, despite the fact that he is a demonic entity that lives inside of a glove.
Casuals! “Just the right amount of oversized”, as the high-ups say. Dark pink and red, smart, smart. Aww c’mon, you look at him, you think “this is a fashion kid”. I don’t have to convince you all over.
Here is The Girl (little sister of the man whose body the above has inhabited; bafflingly strong):
That hat! I approve of that hat. It’s whimsical but not twee. It reminds me of my hat. Her friends all have their own identifiable styles even in this one background appearance, and Hina’s own is.. shit, I’m out of practice with my j-kei. It’s not quite mori girl, it’s a little bit country-kei, it’s relaxed enough to be believable without being intrusive or making her an extreme personality. It’s gentle, but it’s not weak.
Here is the Rider:
You can buy these pants. Official ones. Right here
And here are the Rider’s clothes!
Good boots. Businesslike and with connotations of asskickery, but you can still believe this kind of laid-back drifter would wear them. They’re kind of steampunk-ish, actually. Eiji, by the way, only feels he needs small change and underpants as the luggage of his life. See above.
It’s just.. realistic, isn’t it? Kamen Rider characters are never average-person clothed. They, every time, impeccably dress the character. The women aren’t dressed for cheesecake (and it’s not uncommon for the men to get a bit nude (below: Kiva, OOO, OOO). My current favourite (no OK, one of my two current favourite – I have a major love-on for Decade) series, Blade, has one of the best character wardrobes I have ever seen. It’s Brock Samson-good, though it’s nothing like Brock’s clothing set. But we’ll get to that!
I watch any series of Kamen Rider and I want to get up and shout THIS SHOW LOOKS SO GOOD! I LOVE THESE STORIES! I COULD BE A KAMEN RIDERRR! I WANT THOSE SHORTS! Oh yeah. There’s more of this coming.
I know, Eiji.
Next time: Kiva!
I have so much to say on the subject of Kamen Rider Wardrobes. Happy dance!