Kamen Rider ZO
is a 1993 Kamen Rider
film produced to celebrate the franchise's 20th anniversary.
Geneticist Dr. Mochizuki splices grasshopper DNA into his lab assistant, Masaru Aso, who stumbles from the lab and goes comatose in the middle of the woods. Mochizuki's next experiment has even more dire results: He creates the Neo Organism, a diabolical mutant life form
that holds him hostage when he won't complete its development. It creates a separate body for itself, Dorasnote
, and tries to kidnap Hiroshi, Mochizuki's son, to force him to do as it demands, but he sends a telepathic call for help to Masaru, who transforms into Kamen Rider ZO to battle Doras.
Footage from the movie was used in Saban's Masked Rider
, with ZO appearing only in faraway shots.
The movie was also adapted into a Full Motion Videogame by Wolf Team
for the Sega CD under the title The Masked Rider: Kamen Rider ZO
(not to be confused with Saban's Masked Rider
), where it received a poor dub into English and also had scenes deleted. It was not well received.
There is also a novelization (which greatly expands on both Dr. Mochizuki and Neo Organism's motivations) and a manga (which adds a character and makes Dr. Mochizuki more of a traditional Mad Scientist
ZO would appear in several later Kamen Rider
movies, with the cameos being more minor as the years go on.
Kamen Rider ZO provides examples of:
- Absent-Minded Professor: Hiroshi's grandfather. (The adaptations expand his role a little, and a Deleted Scene, where he shows up ready to protect Hiroshi with a lightning gun-rod and meets ZO, would've given him more of a Bunny-Ears Lawyer feel.)
- All There in the Manual: ZO is a prototype for Neo Organism, and wasn't supposed to be strong enough to win in a straight fight with Doras. However, Masaru absorbed enough energy from nature while asleep in the mountain for 4 years, and even gained certain abilities he didn't originally have, being able to return to his human form among them.
- Body Horror: Neo Organism's true form.
- What it does to Dr. Mochizuki after capture.
- Claymation: ZO vs. Spider Woman Doras
- Cool Bike: The Z(et) Bringer. Transforms with Masaru, and is wreathed in green flames while doing so.
- Crossover: With Kamen Rider J in the short 3D movie Kamen Rider World.
- Daddy Had a Good Reason for Abandoning You: Dr. Mochizuki, though the reason for his becoming a Mad Scientist really isn't clear in the movie.
- Dark Reprise: The main song instrumental plays after the Neo Organism absorbs ZO into it's body.
- Giggling Villain: Neo Organism, though in this case it comes off as it being too young to pull off an Evil Laugh. The one it gives when ZO puts his fist into Doras during their last fight is extremely unsettling, with rising inflection.
- Homage: Of the original Kamen Rider. Most of the story elements, if you squint a little, are very similar to what was done in that show.
- Implacable Man: Doras. no matter what he did, Hiroshi simply couldn't escape this thing. ZO takes its arm off? It just builds a new one. He runs it over with a motorcycle out a several story window, resulting in it falling on a jagging piece of metal and being impaled? It's put out of commission for the moment, but just gets back up and sends two monsters after the kid. It could give a Terminator a run for its money.
- Improvised Weapon: ZO has no explicit weapon of his own, but uses objects in his environment several times in battle. He even impales the Kumo Woman on a piece of her own leg he broke off to kill her.
- Its Pronounced Tropay: Spoken as "zet oh", not "zee oh" or "zoh".
- Laser-Guided Amnesia: Averted. While it appears that Masaru wakes up with no knowledge of who he is other then needing to protect Hiroshi, aside from being out of the know for a few years he actually remembers everything and is simply very single-minded about his new mission.
- Impaled with Extreme Prejudice: ZO ends most of his fights by impaling his enemy on something, either a weapon of some sort or his own fist with a Rider Punch.
- Mad Scientist: Dr. Mochizuki. The novelization gives his Start of Darkness as being intense sadness when his wife died, with Neo Organism being an attempt at a lifeform that would never need to feel such pain.
- Mechanical Monster: The 'body' Neo Organism constructs out of junk is called Dorasnote . It is entirely unstoppable, and ZO has to settle for ramming it out a building from several stories up onto a sharp piece of metal, the first time they tangle. It doesn't seem to have any sapient intelligence at all until Neo Organism reveals itself at the factory - afterwards, Neo Organism appears to take direct control of Doras.
- Mythology Gag: Doras' henchmonsters are based on a spider and bat. And killed in that order.
- Naked on Arrival: Masaru Aso. (It's not clear in the movie if he was released or if he escaped from the operation that turned him into ZOnote , but he apparently ran for a while before falling asleep in a mountain.)
- No Name Given: Masaru Asou is never actually referred to by name in the movie. (A cut scene indicates that Hiroshi's grandfather would've called him by name in his ZO form.)
- Nostalgic Music Box: Hiroshi's musical watch.
- The Oner: It's only about 1:40 long, but the first fight scene with Doras at the factory is all one take. The camera isn't mounted, and they fight around a central pillar - at one point, the camera operator is lifted up onto a walkway 3 meters up and lowered again as the fight continues below him.
- Punny Name: ZO's name was chosen because it resembled the number "20". The film was a commemoration of the franchise's 20th anniversary.
- Robo Cam: Doras has this ability and uses it to identify Hiroshi and ZO.
- Shout-Out: From Masaru's portrayal throughout most of the movie to the Doras initial formation sequence and sound effects, seems very similar to another movie from earlier in 1990s about a mysterious protector trying to save a targeted child that initially distrusts.
- Alternately, it's not too dissimilar to what the original Kamen Rider did very early on, and even Doras' shapeshifting isn't out of character for 70's Rider monsters.
- We Can Rebuild Him: Masaru Aso/ZO, Subverted in case of Masaru/ZO as he appears to be fine when it is done AGAINST his will.