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Series / Kamen Rider

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Kamen Rider, Takeshi Hongo, is a cyborg. He was modified by Shocker, an evil secret society that pursues world domination.

Kamen Rider has pledged to fight against Shocker for the sake of freedom for all humanity.
The Opening Narration.note 

The one that started it all.

Kamen Rider (translated in English as Masked Rider) is a Japanese tokusatsu series created by Shotaro Ishinomori and produced by Toei Company. It is the first entry in the Kamen Rider series aired from 1971-1973.

Takeshi Hongo was once an ordinary college student and motorcycle enthusiast until the day he was abducted by a secret evil organisation called Shocker. Taken to their underground labs, Takeshi became a victim of Shocker's Super-Soldier program and was transformed into a cyborg against his will. But before they could complete his Brainwashing, Takeshi was set free by the Heroic Sacrifice of an unwilling Shocker scientist named Professor Midorikawa. Now Takeshi uses his physical and mental enhancements to fight against Shocker and prevent another tragedy like his, re-christening himself as the Kamen Rider.

He is later joined by Kamen Rider 2: Hayato Ichimonji, a photographer who Takeshi saves from the same Super-Soldier program. His second ally is Kazuya Taki, an intrepid FBI agent investigating Shocker.

Kamen Rider has had three theatrical tie-ins during its run: Go Go Kamen Rider is an expanded version of episode 13, while Kamen Rider Vs Shocker and Kamen Rider Vs Ambassador Hell are original stories.

On February 28, 2021, Seven Seas Entertainment announced that it will be releasing the original manga. The manga was released on January 4, 2022.

Now it has its own character page.

See also Kamen Norider, the Affectionate Parody.

Voted #1 series in the Showa era and #9 product overall in NHK’s All Kamen Rider Popularity Vote.

Recurring Kamen Rider tropes include:

  • Automobile Opening: As is the norm for Showa Riders, a good portion of the Opening Credits is Kamen Rider riding the Cyclone.
  • Badass Biker: Both Kamen Riders.
  • 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.
  • Calling Your Attacks: "Rider Kick!" etc.
  • Combination Attack: When the two Riders fight together, it typically ends with a monster being subjected to a Double Rider Kick.
  • Cool Bike: Kamen Rider's Cyclone motorcycle. A second, improved Cyclone is used by Ichimonji when Hongo leaves to fight Shocker overseas. By the time Hongo returns to Japan, his Cyclone has been modified to more closely resemble Ichimonji's. Later, the two Riders both receive a replacement model, the New Cyclone. Shocker Rider No. 1 also rides the Fake New Cyclone, the only one of the six Shocker Riders shown with a bike.
  • The Dragon: The Great Leader of Shocker goes through four successive executives who he has oversee operations on his behalf, and face down the Kamen Riders when they're out of kaijin.
  • Evolving Credits: Over the course of the series, the opening titles are remade a total of four times with modifications in between.
    • #14 debuts the second opening sequence, replacing Rider #1 with Rider #2 and the theme Let's Go Rider Kick (Hiroshi Fujioka ver.) with Let's Go Rider Kick (Masato Shimon ver.).
    • #40 debuts the third opening sequence.
    • #53 debuts the fourth opening sequence, replacing Rider #2 with Rider #1.
    • #68 debuts the fifth opening sequence
  • Last Villain Stand: Shocker executives send out monsters for a number of episodes before making theirs. Colonel Zol's is #39, Doctor Shinigami's is #68, Ambassador Hell's is #79 and General Black's is #98, the final episode.
  • Finishing Move: The Double Riders have a variety of techniques, the most iconic being the Rider Kick. Others include the Rider Punch (favored by Rider 2) and the Rider Chop.
  • Henshin Hero: Pretty much the Trope Codifier for Japanese media. At first, Hongo reconfigures the Cyclone bike into its transformed form to increase its speed via Nitro Boost, for the Typhoon belt to absorb the wind to change him into the Kamen Rider. Then after Shocker created another Kamen Rider, Ichimonji strikes a pose and shouts out "Henshin" to transform into Kamen Rider 2. Hongo adapts the Henshin pose later on after gaining its upgrade form as Kamen Rider New 1.
  • Mid-Season Upgrade: Somewhat reserved compared to later series. When Rider 1 returns to Japan, his suit has changed slightly in appearance (nicknamed "Sakuraijima #1") and his Cyclone bike has been modified to bring it in line with the improved model used by Rider 2. When Rider 1 takes the show back full-time, he gets new powers (becoming New #1) and a New Cyclone along with some new duds to go with them. Rider 2 also gets a power-up to match his predecessor when he starts Commuting on a Bus.
  • Monster of the Week: Shocker's monsters are generally human cyborgs blended with animals. Gel-Shocker's monsters are distinguished in that they are a combination of two radically different animals in one.
  • Mooks: Shocker Combatmen, who appear to be screeching masked humans in jumpsuits, tend to be cannon fodder accompanying the monster of the week. When Shocker becomes Gel-Shocker, they are replaced and killed off en masse by the new and stronger Gel-Shocker Combatmen.
  • Narrator: The late Shinji Nakae narrates the series.
  • Nebulous Evil Organisation: Shocker. Come episode 80 they merge with another, Geldam, formally becoming Geldam-Shocker, commonly known as Gel-Shocker for short.
  • One-Winged Angel: Shocker's executives are modified humans who reveal their true forms in their Last Villain Stand. Colonel Zol's is Golden Wolf Man, Doctor Shinigami's is the squid-like Ikadevil, Ambassador Hell's is the rattlesnake-like Garagaranda and General Black's is the leech-chameleon hybrid Hiruchameleon.
  • Phlebotinum Rebel: Both Kamen Riders were lab experiments created by Shocker who escaped and rebelled.
  • Scarf of Asskicking: Though it's not visible in the page image. See here on the old costumes before a Mid-Season Upgrade.
  • Take Over the World: Shocker's objective. Thanks to Time Travel, they actually succeed in the films Let's Go Kamen Riders (2011) and Super Hero Taisen GP (2015).
  • Theme Song Power Up: The opening song Let's Go Rider Kick plays every time Kamen Rider beats the monsters of the week. Well, it's a tokusatsu series!
  • Transformation Trinket: The ever famous Transformation Belt, which gives Hongo and Ichimonji the power to transition into their Rider forms.
  • Villains Act, Heroes React: Establishing this trope as the norm for the franchise, Shocker generally sends forth a MOTW with an Evil Plan Once an Episode, with our Kamen Rider then arriving on the scene to stop them.
  • Villain Song: Three of them: "The Demonic Shocker", "Monster Song", and "Oh! Shocker".

Trooopeeer... HENSHIN!

  • Alas, Poor Villain: When Shocker became Gel-Shocker, the first order of business was to dispose the weaker members - namely the human Shocker mooks, who were gruesomely killed by the monsters.
    • Bat-Man in the original manga, after being impaled with a cross, Kamen Rider 1 feels a bit sorry for him since he was probably also a man turned into a monster against his will.
  • Alternate Continuity: Series creator Shotaro Ishinomori 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.
  • Back from the Dead: Starts the tradition of bringing back old monsters when they are needed. The common explanation in the franchise is that they have returned "from hell" by the power of the Great Leader. However, #16 does also establish that Shocker can create a new incarnation of a cyborg monster simply by modifying another human.
    • #13 has the return of all of the Shocker monsters faced up to that point led by a new monster, Tokageron.
    • #27 has Mukaderas being assisted by a revived Gebacondor and Sarracenian.
    • #37 has Torikabuto assisted by revived monsters Kanibubbler, Mukaderas, Mogurang, Armadillong.
    • #41 has Ghoster assisted by revived Armadillong and Mogurang.
    • The film Kamen Rider vs. Shocker has Zanjioh assisted by a massive army of revived monsters.note 
    • #66 sees the return of Zanjioh, Jaguarman, Poison Lizard Man, Harinezuras and Saigang.
    • #68 shows Saigang and Kabutorong alive again.
    • The film Kamen Rider vs. Ambassador Hell has another monster army.note 
    • The Grand Finale has an army led by Reconstructed Ganikomoru.note 
  • Badass in a Nice Suit: For the early episodes of the series, Hongo is typically dressed in a black suit and matching tie. Hayato meanwhile typically sports a nice khaki jacket and a red muffler.
  • Big Bad: The Great Leader, the mysterious master of Shocker and later Gel-Shocker.
  • Boss Rush: Hongo's last great battle in the first part features all of the Shocker cyborgs he fought over the past 12 episodes being resurrected to crush him once and for all. He surprisingly holds his own against them in the show, but he perishes in the manga adaptation.
  • The Chew Toy: Shocker combatmen mooks get a lot of abuse from both the Riders and monsters.
  • Chuck Cunningham Syndrome: Happens to pretty much every supporting character with the exception of Tobei Tachibana. Ruriko averts this in that she at least had an explanation for leaving, but not for not having returned with Hongo.
    • Taki's first appearance in Episode 11 sees him getting married. This would be the first and last time we ever see or hear about his new wife.
    • Shiro, the waiter at Tachibana's Snack Amigo, disappears shortly after Tachibana establishes the Racing Club, last appearing in #15.
    • Hiromi Nohara, who was introduced as a friend of Ruriko's in #1, last appears in #34.
    • Of the three girls introduced in #14, Michi is the first to go, last appearing in #25.
    • The second is Mari, who last appears in #38.
    • Emi and Mika are introduced in #40, having aided Hongo in Europe. Mika last appears in #52, while Emi lasts to #68.
    • Tokko was introduced in #53 to replace Mika and lasts up to #69.
    • Goro Ishikura, kid brother of Yuri, the third Rider Girl introduced back in #14, last appears in #65, shortly following the introduction of his friends Naoki and Mitsuru. His disappearance is especially jarring since his sister lasts all the way to the final episoded along with Naoki, Mitsuru plus Yokko and Choco, new girls introduced in #70. However, none of these five appear at all in the follow-up series, V3, nor does Taki.
  • Cliffhanger Cop Out: The penultimate episode has Hongo rendered a Human Popsicle while his friends are about to be used for a blood ritual to bring Gel-Shocker’s monsters back from the dead. The next episode opens with Ichimonji pulling a Big Damn Heroes moment by rescuing them.
  • 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...
    • Also, if there's an episode with the Double Riders, it's bound to end this way for the monster. You even get to see the beatdown from the monster's point of view!
  • Darker and Edgier: Very much compared to the other Toku shows of the time, especially the Super Sentai made later 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.
    • The manga is this to the original show, featuring a more depressing setting, less optimism and a bleaker ending.
  • Death by Origin Story: Professor Midorikawa, the Shocker scientist who frees Hongo and helps him escape, dies not long after doing so.
  • "Do It Yourself" Theme Tune: Until Episode 13, the theme was performed by Hiroshi Fujioka. Masato Shimon, who also sings the ending theme, took over in episode 14 after 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. It began showing up in Episode 6, but it wouldn't see frequent usage until after episode 13.
    • 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 technique where a villain's demise was indicated by a shot of beaded necklaces being unspooled 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, it was still unnerving.
  • 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 Virtuous Character Copy of Skull Man with the Unwilling Roboticisation angle comes from Cyborg 009.
    • This reference was brought full circle when Kamen Rider Skull was created for Kamen Rider Double.
    • In Ishinomori's manga, Hongo is pretty well a grasshopper-themed version of Batman: He operates out of a super-advanced laboratory built beneath his family's mansion with the help of his loyal butler.
    • Shocker is arguably one to Black Ghost.
  • Fake a Fight: When Taki, Tachibana, Ichimonji and a Victim of the Week get thrown into Starfinjer's prison in Episode 18, Taki brings up the bright idea of starting a fight to get the guards' attention and ambush them. While the normal throws an actual punch, the plan (which was just swinging wildly and shouting at each other) worked like a charm.
  • 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!) until Hayato Ichimonji was introduced and Hongo was Put on a Bus temporarily.
  • Four Is Death: The majority of Episode 44 takes place in a graveyard, appropriately enough.
  • 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 I.Q. 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 populace, 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. The first Phirasaurus, the next Kaijin, is killed by his own Deadly Gas.
  • 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 is actually a humanoid cyclops... thing who wears a wraith of snakes to conceal his true face. We don't get much elaboration on it however before he dies and sets his base to self-destruct.
  • 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 I.Q.: Takeshi Hongo is chosen by Shocker for, among other things, possessing an IQ over 600.
  • Invasion of the Baby Snatchers: Episode 27 basically starts out as a plot to kidnap children, complete with creepy guy with a van.
  • Kidnapped for Experimentation: Many of Shocker's Super Soldiers were abducted to be placed into the program. Hongo and Ichimonji manage to avoid the brainwashing phase, however, allowing them to fight back.
  • Legacy Character: An alternative method of replacing Kaijin demonstrated in #16; when the first Phirasaurus is killed by his own Deadly Gas, a man strong enough to withstand it is selected to become the second Phirasaurus.
  • 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.
  • Monster Misogyny: Gebacondor, the kaijin of episode 11, only targets young women wearing white after he was awoken by drinking the blood of a bride.
  • No One Sees the Boss: The Great Leader doesn't appear until the last episode, a tradition kept throughout the 70's.
  • 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.
  • The Oner: Episode 65 has an 80-second continuous shot of Hongo fighting his way through a line of Shocker goons below a miniature ski lift. The camera is mounted on one of the ski lift cars, following the action.
  • Put on a Bus: Hongo and Ruriko leave Japan to fight Shocker in Europe after #13 with little prelude and Ruriko 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.
  • 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.
    • On Shocker's side we have the cold and calculating Doctor Shinigami and the hot tempered Ambassador Hell.
  • 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.
  • Retronym: Hongo's masked identity was known simply as Kamen Rider, same goes for Ichimonji. It is only when they start appearing together that they become known as Rider #1 and #2 respectively.
  • Rival Turned Evil: The monster Scorpion Man was once a fellow student of Hongo named Hayase, who let himself become a monster to get at Takeshi.
  • Sham Wedding: Multiple, all set up by the goons of Gebacondor's crew. They officially hold short ceremonies for couples, but it's really a front to ambush them when they're least aware and kill them for their blood. Particularly, they go after the brides and kill the grooms.
  • Social Circle Filler: The Tachibana Racing Club is a group of interchangeable fangirls and children who hang around Hongo and Ichimonji and act as Damsels in Distress in practically every other episode. Members are replaced frequently with no explanation as to where they inevitably disappear to.
  • 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.
  • 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, the military, and most notably governmental parties in the manga
  • Was Once a Man: Shocker's kaijin, all of whom were humans converted into animal monsters.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: A rare number of Shocker's human members make a Villain: Exit, Stage Left, their fates remaining unknown.
    • 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 led 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 throwaway line about Shocker sparing the men for experimentation, which has some disturbing implications for the women we specifically saw showing up at the trap.
    • Hurricane Joe, a secondary villain episodes 16-17, disappears after being bested by Kamen Rider 2.
    • Most notably is Doctor D, the white-haired Shocker scientist who identifies Kamen Rider 1's weakness in #97, the penultimate episode. His fate was revealed 42 years later.
  • Would Hurt a Child: Children are frequently threatened and kidnapped by Shocker's kaijin.
  • Wrestler in All of Us: Both Hongo and Ichimonji have several grappling attacks in their repertoire, including the Rider Reverse (shoulder throw), Rider Head Crusher (head scissors), and Rider Swing (Human Hammer-Throw).
  • You Killed My Father: Ruriko initially believes that Hongo, rather than the off-screen Man Spider — killed her father. She does learn otherwise, however.

Alternative Title(s): Kamen Rider 1971


Takeshi Hongo

The original. Accept no substitutes.

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