Kamen Rider, Takeshi Hongo, is a modified human. He was altered by Shocker, an evil secret society with aspirations for world domination. Kamen Rider fights against Shocker for the sake of human freedom!
The one that started it all.
It aired from 1971-1973.
Kamen Rider was originally Takeshi Hongo, college student and motorcyclist. One day, the forces of the evil organization, Shocker, nabbed him and subjected him to experiments to turn him into an elite agent of evil.
However, Hongo was saved from being inducted into Shocker's ranks
by the sacrifice of an unwilling Shocker scientist, Prof. Midorikawa. Now, as Kamen Rider, Hongo defends the world from Shocker's aspirations; later, he is joined by intrepid FBI agent Kazuya Taki. After that, Hayato Ichimonji, a photographer saved from reconditioning by Hongo, joins the fight as Kamen Rider 2.
The original Kamen Rider provides examples of:
- Adult Fear: Episode 27 basically starts out as a plot to kidnap children, complete with creepy guy with a van.
- Alas, Poor Villain: When Shocker became Gel-Shocker, the first order of business was to dispose of the weaker members - namely the human Shocker mooks, who were gruesomely killed by the monsters.
- Alternate Continuity: Series creator Shotaro Ishimori wrote and drew a Kamen Rider manga alongside the series, which goes into a very different direction - Hongo is killed by the Shocker Riders. Ichimonji, one of the latter, fights off the brainwashing and replaces him. Hongo later returns as Rider 1 as his brain was saved and placed into a mechanical body.
- Badass: Hello? Hiroshi Fujioka as Takeshi Hongo, anyone? This is where every Rider badassery starts.
- Takeshi Sasaki (Hayato Ichimonji) and Jiro Chiba (Kazuya Taki) also count.
- Badass Biker: Both Kamen Riders.
- Big Bad: The Great Leader of Shocker and Gel-Shocker.
- By the Power of Grayskull!: The series' signature phrase "Henshin!" did not appear until Kamen Rider 2 was written in. Hongo's wind-powered transformation initially involved simply exposing the belt turbine while riding, or while flipping through the air, with nary a word said. Ichimonji, however, had a belt that's still wind-powered, but with a sort of cover over the turbine. The henshin command caused it to open.
- The Chew Toy: Shocker mooks get a lot of abuse from both the riders and monsters.
- Chuck Cunningham Syndrome: Ruriko joins Kamen Rider 1 on his worldwide Shocker-busting tour in Episode 13 with little prelude and having apparently been as much in the dark as everyone else during the "Where's Hongo?" arc. Her departure consists of Ichimonji pretty much saying "oh, and Ruriko went with him." And when Hongo returns, Ruriko does not.
- Cool Old Guy: Tobei Tachibana. He even sometimes gets to smack around Shocker mooks, though the Riders and Taki are much better fighters.
- Crapsack World: In the manga version, the world is a lot more uncomfortable place where rapid industrialization, governmental corruption and neglect runs deep, leaving the rest of the population having to suffer for it. Shocker itself was explicitly a product of this very system, and at the end it's greatly implied that the corrupt system that bred the problem of Shocker in the first place sees little chance of actually improving.
- Curbstomp Battle: Rider 1 shows no mercy to Catfishgiller...
- Darker and Edgier: Very much, especially compared to Super Sentai made by the same creator. However, after episode 13 the grittiness was toned down slightly to avoid a possible cancellation. It worked.
- The whole franchise remains a bit Darker and Edgier than its sister series; though not as gritty as the very early episodes, you're probably gonna suffer more, and lose people whose deaths were not the obligatory origin story ones if you're a Rider than if you're a Ranger.
- Death by Origin Story: Professor Midorikawa.
- The Dragon: Four dragons to be exact: Colonel Zol, Doctor Shinigami, Ambassador Hell and General Black.
- "Do It Yourself" Theme Tune: Until Episode 13, the theme was performed by Hiroshi Fujioka. Masato Shimon took over in episode 14, when Kamen Rider 2 showed up.
- Early Installment Weirdness: Compared to the rest of the series, regarding the transformations. As mentioned above, Ichimonji was the first Rider to have a traditional henshin sequence. And in the very first instance, he zips open his vest (to expose his belt) in the middle of posing. Later, the henshin movements become an unbroken sequence of poses.
- More noticeably, the iconic Rider Kick was nonexistent at the start, and the first named finisher in the series was the Rider Throw.
- The standard Toku Defeat Equals Explosion didn't show up for a dozen or so episodes. Monsters until then went out with a variety of rather unconvincing disintegration effects, including an especially bizarre one involving beaded necklaces being unspooled onto a completely unrelated background in reverse.
- And in its earliest, grittiest days, there were no special effects for it; villains being tossed off roofs with the "effect" being blood spraying over the ground was not uncommon. Even if it was clearly red paint being thrown from offscreen... damn.
- Eccentric Mentor: Tobei Tachibana, who shows up for pretty much the entire Showa era.
- Evil Old Folks: Dr. Shinigami.
- Evil Twin: Shocker Riders, a whole team of them!
- Expy: Kamen Rider was actually developed as a more family friendly version of Skull Man.
- This reference was brought full circle when Kamen Rider Skull was created for Kamen Rider Double.
- Fake Shemp: To write around Fujioka's accident, Toei used stock footage of him out of costume and a stuntman in costume and voice actor Rokuro Naya (brother of Gorō Naya, aka the Great Leader!)
- Fully Absorbed Finale: Although the series wasn't cancelled, the final episode hints strongly that Shocker's leader survived, and that plot thread only would be finally resolved in Kamen Rider Stronger's finale, which brought back Hongo and Hayato and also featured Tobei Tachibana. Until the next series, anyway.
- Genius Bruiser: If the fact that he's a brilliant college biochemistry student doesn't convince you, his Improbably High IQ will.
- Government Conspiracy: In the manga adaptation, it later turned out that the government was in fact the original idea-men behind Shocker's grand operation, meant to assert total control over their populance, which Shocker took for their own benefit
- Hoist by His Own Petard: Saboteguron, the first Monster of the Week faced by Kamen Rider 2, is taken out by one of his own Cactus bombs.
- Horrifying Hero: The effect isn't as striking nowadays, but Kamen Rider when it came out was a noticeably much more intimidating and surreal figure compared to other heroes at the time such as Ultraman. In-universe, Riders are often mistaken for monsters during this and a couple of other early series.
- Humanoid Abomination: The Great Leader
- I Am a Monster: Both Takeshi and Hayato have these moments in some episodes and in the original manga by Shotaro Ishinomori, they feel bad about their cyborg condition.
- Idiosyncratic Episode Naming: With only minimal exceptions, all the episodes name the villain Kamen Rider would face.
- Improbably High IQ: Takeshi Hongo is chosen by Shocker for, among other things, possessing an IQ over 600.
- Jack of All Stats: Kamen Rider 1
- Lightning Bruiser: Kamen Rider 2
- Long Bus Trip: When the original Kamen Rider left Japan for a while to fight Shocker around the world, Ruriko Midorikawa went with him. She never came back.
- Mid-Season Upgrade: When Rider 1 returns to take over the show, he gets new powers and a new bike, along with some new duds to go with them. Rider 2 also gets a power-up a bit later.
- Mooks: Shocker Combatmen, who appear to be screeching masked humans in jumpsuits, tend to be cannon fodder accompanying the monster of the week.
- One-Man Army: The idea behind Kamen Rider was to have a lone hero to stand up against a much more vast, oppressive majority, turning the Kamen Riders effectively into this.
- One-Winged Angel: Shocker's generals each had a monster form they'd unveil for their final battle against Kamen Rider.
- Phlebotinum Rebel: Again, both Kamen Riders.
- Real Life Writes the Plot: Hayato Ichimonji, and more importantly Kamen Rider 2, were created when Hiroshi Fujioka, who played Hongo, shattered his leg in a motorcycle stunt gone wrong.
- When Fujioka broke his leg and needed to be replaced, the writers came up with four possible solutions to continue the series: get a new actor to play Takeshi and act as if nothing has changed, give Takeshi a cosmetic surgery to explain the different actor, retool the series completely by changing the main character and setting, or simply continue the same story with a new main character. Ultimately they went with the fourth choice and they were eventually able to get Fujioka and the original Rider back on the show after he recovered.
- Also, in the episodes leading up to Ichimonji's arrival, there were a few episodes where they used stock footage and a voiceover (who sounded nothing like Fujioka) for Hongo, and as they began to run out, the supporting cast really got to shine as there were more and more episodes where Hongo's only involvement was fighting the monster while suited up and then riding off without a word. Ruriko, Tachibana, and eventually Taki would do all the investigating and figuring out what was going on, and Tachibana really grows into the guy we're going to know the rest of the series and across series yet to come. The series took on quite a different, more mysterious feel.
- Red Oni, Blue Oni: Hayato Ichimonji/Rider 2 and Takeshi Hongo/Rider 1 respectively. Hayato Ichimonji is a lot more flirty and madcap than the serious and straight-laced Hongo (albeit with a lot more levity than usually associated with Blue Onis). However, it's slightly subverted in that the former took things in a more personal level, whereas the latter wouldn't give up a chance to openly laugh at the villains.
- Appropriately enough, Rider 2's suit is universally recognized as having red gloves and boots, and in Rider 1's original appearances he was blue.
- Reluctant Mad Scientist: Professor Midorikawa only served Shocker to insure the safety of his daughter, Ruriko.
- As did a lot of other scientists over the course of the show.
- Replacement Mooks: Gel-Shocker completely eliminates Shocker's former Shocker troops and replaces them with new Gel-Shocker combatants. In addition to being stronger, they also could turn into paper sheets that allow them to move through the air.
- Rival Turned Evil: The monster Scorpion Man was once a fellow student of Hongo's named Hayase, who let himself become a monster to get at Takeshi.
- Scarf of Asskicking: Though it's not visible in the page image. See here on the old costumes◊ before a Mid-Season Upgrade.
- Side Kick: Kazuya Taki.
- Surreal Horror: A mild example of this, but nonetheless, in the first 13 episodes of the series, Shocker, from their headquarters to their monsters and combatants, were often filmed in very bizarre and deranged ways. Lighting changes, experimental camera angles and just the more alien feeling compared to the more mundane parts. Especially notable is whenever Shocker's presence itself starts changing the ordinary setting into something more surreal. This was mostly dropped after Ichimonji came around though.
- Suspiciously Similar Substitute: Averted. When it turned out that Fujioka needed to be replaced, the character Hayato was created to be the new main protagonist and titular hero. However, rather than being a Hongo clone, Hayato had his own distinct appearance, a clearly different personality and the tone of the show became a bit more light-hearted with his introduction. As a result, he stood out from his predecessor and the series' ratings actually rose during his tenure as protagonist.
- Theme Song Power Up:The opening song Let's Go Rider Kick plays everytime Kamen Rider beats the monsters of the week. Well,it's a tokusatsu series!
- Those Wacky Nazis: Shocker's use of Nazi theming is far from subtle at times. Some of the official info suggests that Shocker was established by surviving Nazi officials.
- Hell, their Christmas episode involved Ichimonji Hayato dropping a mountain on a bunch of old Nazis who'd gathered up for a party. That, and to become wolf monsters.
- However, the manga and subsequent background material actually subvert this later on, by revealing Shocker to have ties with numerous other organizations and groups, including religious cults, militaries, and most notably governmental parties in the manga
- Villain Song: Three of them: "The Demonic Shocker", "Monster Song", and "Oh! Shocker".
- What Happened to the Mouse?: Episode 10 involves Shocker conning unsuspecting dog owners into offering up their animals for a human sacrifice, and then kidnapping said owners. While we're sadly lead to believe the poor dogs didn't make it, what happened to the kidnapped men and women is never really stated. Well, other than a throaway line about Shocker sparing the men for experimentation, which has some disturbing implications for the women we specifically saw showing up at the trap.
- You Killed My Father: Ruriko initially believes that Hongo, rather than the off-screen Spider Man, — not that one — killed her father. She does learn otherwise, however.