I want you to want me: when your favourite stories think you’re just a girl, whatever that means


Non-male identified viewers from countries whose television networks show Kamen Rider, please get in touch and tell me if you also have feelings about these things? Thank you!

Friends, Riders, everyone

Let’s talk about Tackle.

Denpa Ningen Tackle, or Electro-Wave Human Tackle, or as I like to call her Kamen Rider Tackle.

Photobucket

Hey, you know what? Kamen Rider is sexist! Now, keep reading; Kamen Rider is also an aurora borealis of my soul, a tip-top piece of children’s programming & a genius metaphoric treatise on living with and inspiring yourself despite knowing all of your own faults. I love it. But it’s sexist.

We’ll talk more about this another day (that’ll give you time to think?) because today it’s Tackle time and I have been thinking about her/this a lot. I don’t want it to get lost. Let’s begin.

Tackle is the secondary hero of Kamen Rider Stronger (1975). She’s introduced before Shigeru – the main character, Kamen Rider Stronger – and when we see their “origin” one episode later we get Shigeru/Stronger escaping the villains’ base with the cyborg strength he’s gained from them via subterfuge, finding Yuriko/Tackle manacled to a table much like the one every Kamen Rider before then was created on, underestimating her due to her lady status, and then:

Photobucket
Photobucket
Photobucket

She, like him, has been bodily altered by the cruel organisation BLACK SATAN. She has gained a jazzy insect-themed henshin‘d form, and superpowers, and a cool cyborg hero name. They are the same.

Throughout the series she is established as slightly less effective than Stronger (it’s in the name, I guess); several of the evil cyborg monsters they fight have been equipped with some magical “not affected by electro-magnetic wave-beams” get-out clause and so there’s not too much she can do to them. She will continue to take out legions of grunts, and attempt to fight said monsters and/or rescue human hostages. She takes basically the same place in the battle-story as the G3 does in the later series Kamen Rider Agito – Kamen Rider G3, that is. This is the crux of my dissatisfaction with how Tackle is written/remembered/treated: She is not given the title of Kamen Rider. This is insulting.

Photobucket
Photobucket
Photobucket

It’s insulting because there is ONE observable reason why she isn’t recognised as a Rider, and it is: because she is a girl!

Photobucket
Photobucket

There is nothing else standing in the way – the G3 is a Rider. Riderman* is “the fourth Kamen Rider” – Riderman appears in no more than nine episodes of his series! Yuriko is in thirty, whereupon she dies. Riderman dies, sacrificing his life for the greater good after previously spending an unknown amount of time being a scientist in the name of evil; the last thing he hears is validation: you are a Kamen Rider. Yuriko dies sacrificing her life for the greater good after spending thirty episodes being a heroic comrade and losing her own brother to the organisation that altered her body.. Nearly forty years later she remains not-a-Rider. The V1 system, which appeared in two scenes of Agito before it was scrapped, has debate as to whether or not it is a recognised Rider. That is: some argue in favour of calling a mech suit inhabited by a jackass policeman for four seconds Kamen Rider, whilst Tackle’s non-Riderness is explained and re-explained. HE DOESN’T EVEN GET ON A BIKE EVER! Boo.

Gender is un-seen (missing the forest for the trees, yeah?) as such an implacable fact that Tackle “just isn’t” Rider material. She does everything that male Riders do, she does it for longer than some. She ticks every other box!

Photobucket

I like Yuriko, as a person. In the early episodes she has that amused wickedness in her face, and even later when she and long-time KR support character Tachibana had their teeth filed down a smidge – after that start in leathers she spent a lot of the series in dungarees and hair bobbles – she was cheerful and fierce. Never one to back down! keep trying, keep trying, keep trying. Very Kamen Rider.

This was in 1975. Now of course “there are female Riders in Heisei**”! Now, of course these female Riders (bar one, sort of three) appear in supplemental, alternate-reality theatrical releases only. A female lead? Nooo! A female regular support Rider? Nooo. Kamen Riders, they be boys.

I said ‘bar one, sort of three’, so let’s go over those. Kamen Rider Shuki: If you’ll click that link you’ll see her listed under “other Oni Riders”. “Other”, dudes. That’s the one. The two sort-of others are the versions of Kamen Rider Amaki and Kamen Rider Larc who both appear in perhaps three Decade episodes – I suppose that Amaki might count as having appearted in Hibiki-the-series as well although I believe her henshin is momentary. These are basically cameos, which are important but not important enough. They also take place within alternate realities. In fiction saying “alternate reality” is saying well, this doesn’t COUNT-count, although it is very stirring.

P.S. of course, eventually they die. So do all the Riders thanks to Decade’s dark purpose; the fact remains that they do not survive.

Kamen Rider Femme and Kamen Rider Larc Original Version each appear in one of the traditional “this season of Kamen Rider is nearly over so we’ll release an alternate-ending future in theatres where everything bad happens and things are horrible” films. Femme (series KR Ryuki) cons men out of money with her wiles and shares a romantic scene with Ryuki where she helps him get something out of his teeth and ties his shoelace for him (seriously) – then later she dies. Her power of ‘make distracting feathercloud’ is pretty cool and something feminine-looking that’s actually USEFUL, which is nice. Larc (series KR Blade) is a rude asshole, and then she dies. When I started writing this a few weeks ago I didn’t know that EITHER of them died – things are worse than I thought, and I thought things were rubbish!

Perhaps you think that these semi-Riders of the apocalypse should be enough. Is a bit-part in some films, a background character or two in one series out of twenty three, and some cameos in a cameo-stuffed anniversary series all that YOU would ask? What if you were given a first-tier support character for the bulk of a full series, who had everything but the name? Everything but the recognition? What if this was real life?

Hey, girls! You can do what boys do.. sometimes! Ohh, WAIT. Wait! No, sweetie, you won’t get straight-up recognised for it. You’ll get your own word. Girl-version. You won’t sound like you gained that full achievement, but hon – you’ll know that you did, deep inside. Just don’t tell anyone. They’ll say you’re wrong and they’ll be right!

Photobucket

Part two: honouring Tackle

(read right to left)

Photobucket

In the manga series Kamen Rider Spirits there is a reason given for why Tackle isn’t Kamen Rider Tackle. The reason (I must admit my knowledge comes from scanlations so there may be some room for movement here) is that Stronger, who was apparently in love with her (not terrible, but not necessary), felt that her death had freed her from the dark destiny of Kamen Riding. It’s a big ole trope that to be a Kamen Rider is to bear a great weight, that your changed body is a threat to your humanity etc etc. The angst of masked riding is a big part of why the franchise appeals to me so much – they all doubt themselves awfully but deal with it. It’s not a horrible reason! It’s just horrible that there had to BE a reason. Spirits was a fix from a guy who seems to really love Stronger’s series – a guy who wanted to show Tackle the proper respect but who was working within an established franchise where Tackle is not a Kamen Rider. I can appreciate the effort.

EDIT Nov 2012: having finally seen Tackle’s death episode I have a little more to say about this in a post I haven’t written yet, but I also need to point out that the love scene between Tackle and Stronger DOES appear in the series proper as well as in a Spirits flashback. It’s without precedent, but it’s really nice. Really sad and really nice.

Photobucket
Photobucket

In Movie Taisen 2010 the first third is essentially the last episode of Kamen Rider Decade. Decade is an alternate reality visiting, Rider cameo series. In MT2010 we meet a version of Tackle (she gets a bigger part than Decade Riderman did // she appears much after he did // Riderman was played by Gackt // that was really cool actually).

Photobucket
Photobucket
Photobucket

Her section hinges upon the fact that she’s disrespected and forgotten. She’s “dead” and trying not to be, no-one “looks at [her]“, she attaches herself with adoration to Decade because he’s the one person who “really sees” her. Within the context of the written television show Kamen Rider Decade this is thematically perfect. Decade’s original concept may have been hamstrung and kneecapped and cramped down to thirty-odd episodes but I love loved the metafictional This Is Why We Must Fight bullshit that they ended up with. Decade travels through the alternate worlds so that people are reminded of and become inflamed about the original versions of those series? Brilliant! Decade has to fight and kill each Kamen Rider so that the Riders remain current in the minds of viewers, and their stories aren’t lost to dust? Perfect! Tackle is a misfit loner with existential pain about nobody really seeing her, with great gratefulness to Decade (the character) because Decade (the show) has featured her & brought her back into the public eye, officially?

Photobucket
Photobucket

Yes, it totally works! But it also exists as, look at this drippy female, hanging on to this boy, still existing in this non-Rider state within a male Rider’s context. It’s a reminder, and a heartfelt salute, but it’s a salute to somebody who’s been left sitting in a ditch.

Perhaps it’s redundant to complain about any Rider giving a less than stellar showing in Decade as each one is alternately represented and eventually defeated by him, but it also burns my biscuits that Tackle’s Decade death one-downs her original last stand. Observe:

Photobucket
Photobucket
Photobucket
Photobucket
Photobucket

I have it on fairly good authority that Stronger-Tackle takes her killer with her and that her death was heroic in the wider sense. Decade’s Tackle fades away telling how she sacrificed her unlife to save Natsumi.. because Tsukasa (Decade), who cares for Natsumi, gave Yuriko the gift of basic human recognition. Bechdel test? Huh? Oh, and that wasp-woman who Tackle electrocuted with her last efforts doesn’t even die of it. She gets killed by her own wicked science baby.

After Decade is destroyed by Kamen Rider Kivala (a lady Kamen Rider, from a film, whom I love, who is Natsumi, whom I love, and who is the only female rider to end her canon not dead) and returns thanks to the emotional attachments he’s made to the past and alternate Riders and his supporting cast, the final touch is given by Decade’s version of Tackle. She’s important, she’s important – but we still won’t call her Rider. Whyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyy.

Photobucket

Another observation: 1975 Tackle’s T-blobs are attached to the front of her jacket and sit above her contours. 2010 Tackle’s T-blobs are individual half-spheres of breast armor.

Like.. anonymous reader, do you get sexism? It’s not that anyone behind Kamen Rider is saying, girls can’t have superpowers or girls can’t fight monsters, or even girls can’t make good characters (Kamen Rider has some AMAZING lady characters, you will read about them here in the future). It’s not saying girls or women can’t go through exactly the same harsh experiences as boys or men or that they – WE – can’t believe in the same principles. But Kamen Rider, the franchise.. It’s saying that when girls DO do those things, it’s not interesting or relevant enough to be on screens every week. It’s been un-Ridering Tackle for thirty-seven years and it wouldn’t do, hasn’t done, that to a chap. The only difference is that she is perceived as female, and that female is perceived as ~different. Despite the fact that the events of the canon MAKE HER THE SAME.

Photobucket

This is nurture.

NEXT TIME: we talk about dead girlfriends, dead sisters, and the snatching of Ridership from beneath the nose of the female audience! Hurraaay!

Y’know, it’s not like the people behind the scenes don’t know about this problem. The supplemental webisodes for Decade are little fizzbombs of meta deliciousness and one of them features Natsumi decrying the minute percentage of Riders who are ladies. Daiki – incidentally the character who mocks Decade-Tackle re: her pre-deceased status – tells her about Denpa Ningen Tackle; Stronger bursts in and agrees with Natsumi that she should be KAMEN RIDER Tackle. Tsukasa (Decade) acts like a weirdo with some roses and agrees that they should take a petition to the Boss of Who Gets To Be A Rider. So they do! They get to the building, they take the lift, they all look so keen and determined, everything is perfect and wonderful and you can’t help but believe in the good intentions of everyone everywhere****–

They gut it and me when the Boss’ chair turns around and -! It’s Tackle! Then it’s immediately the end! Big fuckin’ hilarious visual punchline. Punchline to the Auto Vajin.***

Worstest and worser, the female Rider in the Fourze supplemental film material? The one who’s named in human form after Misaki Yuriko, Tackle? Kamen Rider Nadeshiko. Click the link. Who is not even an actual human, but a SPACE SUBSTANCE SKILLED AT MIMICRY.

What’s an audience supposed to do with that?

An audience that’s still learning what to expect “woman” to mean?

This IS a children’s programme.

Photobucket

Non-male identified viewers from countries whose television networks show Kamen Rider, please get in touch and tell me if you also have feelings about these things? Thank you!

*Freaking Riderman! I try not to resent him – hate the writers not the written – but.. fshhh..
**Heisei being the shows since 1999, basically
***This is a hilarious joke because there is an actual piece of kit in series Kamen Rider OOO called the Birth Driver, as well as Kamen Rider Birth and Faiz has something called/fanlated as the Auto Vajin. Of course the creators do not expect their target audience to be english women. But yu gais. If anyone should wield these things..
**** I do believe in the good intentions of the Kamen Rider creative teams. I do! I don’t think they seem like butts at all, they produce a product that I love, and their supplemental material is full of humour and joy. Nevertheless, they ain’t perfect no no.

Stronger subs from Mignight Crew
Spirits scanlations by Wolfgang_von_bullet & GreatTeacherStone
Decade subs from tv-nihon

About these ads

About Claire Napier

Real cool gal
This entry was posted in angry eyes, bitterness, bollocks, character design, characters, children are the future, comics, cultural religion, feminism, films, history, how annoying, information, inspired by, insulting the professionals, Kamen Rider Fashun, leather, LOVE, me, photographs not drawings, reference pictures, resources, responsibility, SPOILERS, stories, STRONG OPINIONS, themes, things i hate, things i heart, things to change, why do you do this toei and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to I want you to want me: when your favourite stories think you’re just a girl, whatever that means

  1. Mechagodz says:

    Riderman doesn’t even die for the greater good. He jumps in the way when Kamen Rider V3 launches a powerful attack that would’ve killed Great Leader. Needless to say, I hate Riderman.

  2. Pochi_v3 says:

    I’m sorry I would gladly disagree on you on why I believe that Tackle should not be a Kamen Rider.
    Yes, I am a Man. No, I am not sexist to a point that I would not give credit when credit is due. We are all sexist in some way, it is our human nature.
    Anyway in order to understand the reasoning of why I believe she should not be a Rider we need to understand the huge differences in the Showa, Heisei, and Neo-Heisei era of Kamen Rider.

    Showa Era Kamen Riders are a double-edged sword. They fight for justice but they do it for personal reasons. Most do it for revenge. They are a hero who cannot be human and thus have no choice but to fight in order for others not becoming like them. Because in the Showa era people didn choose to become riders. It is forced onto them.

    Heisei Era Kamen Riders are more of a drama with a tokusatsu twist. It goes shows that the riders and the monsters are one of the same. And that being human is as bad as being a monster. Kamen Riders in this era do not actually call themselves “Kamen Rider” but just “Riders” and did not glorify themselves. People often chose to be a Rider.

    Neo-Heisei Era Kamen Rider can be summed up in one sentence. Kamen Rider is a hero who does everything that is good and has good outcomes.” As much as I hate this idea it is what defines this era. They glorify Kamen Riders as people who fight for justice because justice is good. I believe that this Era in itself should be treated separately from the rest of the era’s because of how it is so drastically different from the rest. Everyone chose to become a Rider because its good according to the current era.

    So why do I believe that Tackle shouldn’t be a Kamen Rider?
    Because a Kamen Rider in the Showa Era (which she is a part of), a Kamen Rider is no longer human nor can they return to being one. Everyone around them, their loved ones, are dead. They have no place to go and often have to isolate themselves from society because they are dangerous. They did not choose to become a Kamen Rider, it was forced upon them and some are even brainwashed to kill people and kidnap them (Niigo and Riderman). The origin of Kamen Rider in this era is that they are kidnapped, those around them are killed, they are brainwashed and they rebel because someone helps them escape. The monsters they fight used to be humans as well. The same type of humans who are kidnapped and their human body altered, brainwashed and made to do the bidding of the evil organization. In short, when Kamen Rider kills a monster, he has no choice but to kill the person trapped inside the monster’s body. Kamen Rider is a murderer and they know this. As long as they fight they commit themselves in killing the monster and the person. They fight for justice, but their justice is to atone for what they are doing. They fight in order to stop others from becoming like them. Robbed of their life and transformed into a killing machine.

    So when we remember Kamen Rider Ichigo through ZX we remember them not as heroes, but as cyborgs who protect us while bloodying their hands. When Tackle was buried as a woman Shigeru Joe (Stronger) was remembering her not for what she had become but rather as the person that she could not become. He does not remember her as a person who’s life was abruptly taken from her and her body tampered with. He remembers her as a woman; a woman who can smile, a woman who doesn’t have to fight, a woman who can give birth, a woman who was human.

    If any Kamen Rider died in the Showa Era, the author (Ishinomori) would bury them as normal humans rather than a Rider. Because to Ishinomori being a Rider is not a title, it is a reason to live.

    By the way Riderman doesn’t become an official Kamen Rider until the last episode of Kamen Rider V3. The reason is because Riderman used to work for Destron, helping create technology that kills people. After being overthrown and his hand decapitated by a Destron officer, Yuuki (Riderman) fought against Destron but not with V3. But after he started living like the rest of the Riders (alone, and seeing the difference between them and normal humans and how dangerous they are and also seeing the effects of the evil organizations in society) Yuuki (Riderman) starts to understand that what he had been doing was wrong. And a few episodes before the last episode of V3 Riderman confronts V3 and says he wants to atone for his sins. But V3 believes that Riderman only wants revenge. And when Riderman detonates the pluton missile away from the city V3 considers him as a Rider because he had done the good thing even though his body was made for evil (revenge). V3 knew he wasn’t going to die (Spirits) so he is still a Kamen Rider. In Spirits he still atones for his sins. He does this by fighting against evil and by living with the guilt and regret of the thousands of lives that he had helped take.

    Showa Era Kamen Riders do not fight because its good or because of justice. They fight because they have no choice. They are the only ones who can combat the growing darkness. Even Tachibana-san in Spirits don’t want them to fight, specially after they had finished destroying their evil organizations. Because as much as Tachibana wants the Kamen Riders to live peacefully he knows that they cannot.

    Tackle shouldn’t be remembered as a Showa Era Kamen Rider, she should be remembered as Yurkio Misaki, the woman who lived. Not as Electro Human Wave Tackle, the cyborg who had no choice to fight and kill.

    • I disagree 100% with your analysis of what makes a Showa rider. Heisei and Neo-Heisei, we’re in accord so far, but Showa? No. Your reading of their motivations to fight is fundamentally different to mine; they see it as duty, and duty is a part of life–not an evil in itself. Being Kamen Rider is to suffer, but to live at all is to suffer.

      Tackle may or may not have been kidnapped and forcibly changed into a cyborg; we don’t know, all we see in her origin is her decision to fight alongside Stronger. Stronger, by the way, personally decided to be altered and become (what was eventually known as) Kamen Rider Stronger. What we know about Yuriko is that she had one brother–who was a scientist for Black Satan, and eventually, as all scientists who get any plot focus must, he dies by their hand. Her one family member is lost to evil. She has a nomadic life with two friends: an older male mentor (Tachibana), and her fellow Altered Human: Shigeru, Kamen Rider Stronger.

      So basically, I think your argument is flawed. But even if I couldn’t see any holes in it, you’d still just be creating detailed and thoughtful apologia for what pans out as a franchise which doesn’t acknowledge its Showa era’s one female hero. And which echoes that oversight by their completely shitty track record in heisei and Neo-Heisei too.

      No sale! But lets talk again, about other Rider matters.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s