As we close out the year that marked the 40th anniversary of the original Kamen Rider series, Japan is still celebrating the ongoing tokusatsu franchise. While Kamen Rider: the Diner has opened in Tokyo's Ikebukuro district, a new Kamen Rider art exhibition has opened in Yokohama.
Tokusatsu (special effects) heroes made their debut on Japanese TV in 1958 with Kohan Kawauchi's masked vigilante Moonlight Mask. Despite its popularity, Moonlight Mask met an unceremonious end in July 1959, when the series was cancelled due to liability issues concerning children imitating Moonlight Mask's stunts.
The next landmark in motorcycle-riding live-action superheroes came thanks to Shotaro Ishinomori (January 25, 1938-January 28, 1998). In the mid 60's, Ishinomori was approached about developing a new masked hero based on his vengeance driven anti-hero Skull Man, but the idea was ultimately dropped due to the violent spirit of Ishinomori's work.
By 1971 Ishinomori had reworked the premise. Rather than a skull, his hero would have the face of a different object of boys' fascination: a bug; specifically a grasshopper. And like Kikaida or the heroes of Cyborg 009, this kamen ("masked") motorcyclist hero was alone in a battle against the sinister architect of his creation. In this case, biochemistry student Takeshi Hongo was able to escape the evil organization known as Shocker's attempt to turn him into a cyborg agent. Freed before his will and conscience were scheduled to be removed, Hongo turns his ability to undergo a henshin (transformation) into the superpowered Kamen Rider 1 against his would-be masters.
Ikebukuro's Kamen Rider the Diner, commemorating the series' 40th anniversary, will be open until the spring.
Fare at the 60-seat diner is based on "Kamen Rider," including dishes dedicated to the secret syndicate Shocker, such as "evil syndicate risotto" made of squid ink, and a Kamen Rider No. 1 soda float.
The Kamen Rider exhibit at the Broadcast Library in Yokohama, Kanagawa Prefecture features picture panels of every Kamen Rider, ranging from the first series begun in April 1971 to recent versions, a copy of the first story of the manga version of Kamen Rider by Shotaro Ishinomori, on which the TV series is based, and illustrations of the program drawn by 78 artists in Japan.
The exhibit runs through February 12th.