Kamen Rider BLACK is the eighth TV series in the Kamen Rider franchise, airing three years after the Birth of the Tenth! Gather All Kamen Riders!! TV special and broadcasted from 1987 to 1988.
An evil cult named "Gorgom", consisting of Two Guys and a Girl in white capes and robes, intend to appoint a new leader by capturing two chosen humans, implanting them with two powerful artifacts called Kingstones, and having them fight to the death. The winner will be crowned the Creation King, and together with Gorgom they will Take Over the World.
Using the promise of power in their new world order, Gorgom recruited many famous and intelligent people to their cause. And the two lucky brothers to be chosen for this project- thanks to the fact that they were born during a solar eclipse- are Kotaro Minami and Nobuhiko Akizuki.
However, Nobuhiko's father suddenly turned against Gorgom and interrupts the brainwashing process. This frees Kotaro from complete brainwashing, but he still retains his strength enhancements and Kingstone. This allows him to transform into "Black Sun", redubbing himself "Kamen Rider BLACK".
And so begins Kotaro's battle against Gorgom to prevent more casualties as well as saving Nobuhiko. However, things take a serious turn for the worse when Nobuhiko suddenly revives as "Shadow Moon", the champion of Gorgom and Kotaro's fated rival.
Gritty and dark, it remains one of the more beloved Showa era Kamen Rider shows. It received two tie-in movies, Kamen Rider BLACK: Hurry to Onigashima and Kamen Rider BLACK: Terrifying! The Phantom House of Devil Pass; and also a Lighter and Softer sequel named Kamen Rider BLACK RX. Decades later, an adult-oriented Alternate Continuity Spiritual Successor web series entitled Kamen Rider BLACK SUN was put in production and was released in Fall 2022 on Amazon Prime Video.
Discotek Media released a Blu-Ray of the show with English subtitles for the United States on February 28, 2023.
Voted #2 series in the Showa era, and #17 product overall in NHK’s All Kamen Rider Popularity Ranking.
Recurring Kamen Rider tropes include:
- Badass Biker: Who else?
- Calling Your Attacks: "Rider Punch!" "Rider Kick!" "Rider Chop!"
- Cool Bike: Battle Hopper and Road Sector
- Finishing Move: Rider Kick. Of course.
- Mook: The first one to avert this traditional trope for Kamen Rider franchise. Gorgom doesn't have mooks, just a lot of Monster of the Week.
- Monster of the Week: Each episode, Kotaro battles the Gorgom Mutants.
- Tie-In Novel: Kamen Rider Black: Project Mad Soldier (1988) was notable for replacing Shadow Moon with a new character, Ayako Hara/Mad Soldier.
- Villains Act, Heroes React: As is the norm for Kamen Rider, Golgom generally sends forth a MOTW with an Evil Plan Once an Episode, with Black then arriving on the scene to stop them.
Tropes associated with Black:
- Anti Anti Christ: Black himself.
- As Long as There Is Evil: Delivered by the Creation King during the final episode. It's kind of a thing with Ishinomori.
- Badass Normal: CIA Agent Ryusuke Taki, the series' resident Expy of Kazuya Taki from the original series. He's not a cyborg like Kotaro, but he's very resourceful and able to hold his own in combat and comes with a handy pistol and a soccer kick (on any round objects) that will bail out Kotaro in the time he needs it the most. He guest stars in two episodes and he's always a big help for Kotaro even while Kotaro does the heavy hitting.
- Bishōnen Line: in the first episode, Kotaro first transforms into a bulky insectoidnote which lasted only for a couple of seconds before the transformation into the black armor was complete.
- In most of Kotaro/Black's Transformation Sequence, his Grasshopper Mutant form can be briefly seen before he goes into his Black form.
- Bittersweet Ending: Kotaro won and destroyed Gorgom, but Nobuhiko is believed to be dead (until Black RX) and he's living alone now because Kyoko and Katsumi fled from Japan after Black appeared to lose a duel to the death with Shadow Moon (though in the end, not quite). Kotaro never resumed contact with them again, since he can't bear to see them again after numerous times promising them to save Nobuhiko, and failing in that regard (not to mention they were told by himself to flee from Japan and start fresh, even after hearing the news of Black's revival in California). A lot of people have also fled Japan and have likely decided to stay abroad as well, even if Gorgom's taken out..
- Cain and Abel: Black Sun and Shadow Moon
- Catchphrase: Kotaro's might as well be "Gorgom!". Also see This Is Unforgivable! below.
- Chef of Iron: Meta example: Tetsuo Kurata can cook a mean steak, as he demonstrated when he kicked Takayuki Tsubaki's butt on a Japanese cooking show; he currently owns and operates his own steakhouse in Japan.
- The Chosen One: Gets to be Gorgom's boss.
- Color Character: The eponymous hero, who was originally known as Century King Black Sun.
- Continuity Reboot: Ishinomori's intention for the series was to make a stand-alone Kamen Rider sequel that didn't require any familiarity with the previous seasons. This idea was abandoned by its sequel RX, mostly the final few episodes.
- Cult: Black fights against a Gorgom mutant (possibly modeled after Baphomet) who somehow has a cult dedicated to him comprised of an entire village's residents. It's one of the more disturbing episodes in the series, with most of the action taking place at night with dark and shadowy shots throughout, including the final confrontation. Gorgom itself is arguably one to the humans working with them.
- Cute Monster Girl: Bishium, possibly; we don't know if that plastic sheet is a mask or actually part of her face. She is also the most humanoid after her transformation, even keeping her face.
- Crossover: Averted in the series. Black was the first Rider series since Kamen Rider Amazon where the main hero did not team up with any of his predecessors.note In fact, it was the first Rider sequel where they did not reference any of the previous Kamen Riders at all, as Amazon's name was given to him by a kid who knew the other Riders. However, Black did get a crossover with his future self in the 3D short film Run All Over the World, as well as with other Riders in Kamen Rider Decade.
- Dark Is Not Evil: Not just on the name. Black is the designated 'Black Sun', soon to be the leader of Gorgom and destroy the world. He's the good guy, through and through.
- Darker and Edgier: As mentioned, it's one of the grittier Kamen Rider series (especially on the heels of the extra-campy Super-1), and has a manga version that's nearly as dark as Shin Kamen Rider: Prologue.
- Deal with the Devil: Gorgom's modus operandi to many influential people in the beginning.
- Depending on the Writer:
- In some episodes, the Gorgom leaders treat the Mutants with reverence, referring to them as "Lord Mutant Name Here" and calling them "beloved." In others they treat them as expendable slaves.
- That just applies to the humans following Gorgom, the priests has got to keep up a good public appearance to appease them.
- Determinator: Kotaro Minami. The amount of sheer guts is so great, not even death can stop him. Literally
- Disney Villain Death: Kotaro's adoptive dad (and Nobuhiko's real dad) in the first episode lives just long enough to Die In Kotaro's Arms after getting dropped from a broadcasting tower.
- "Do It Yourself" Theme Tune: Tetsuo Kurata does the opening of the show.
- Dub Name Change:
- The Filipino dub renamed Kotaro to Robert, and Nobuhiko to Stephen. They even shared the Akizuki surname, thus implying they are blood brothers.
- A variation: The stock transformation word "henshin" was changed to "Rider Change". Because Black became so popular among Filipinos, this was used in all other subsequently dubbed Kamen Rider series (even in Kamen Rider Hibiki, whose Riders don't have transformation phrases) until Kamen Rider OOO, where they did start using "henshin" instead of a Tagalog translation of the word.
- Also going to Market-Based Title, in Indonesia, while the names remain the same, the show is called Ksatria Baja Hitam (Black Steel Knight). Likewise, the stock phrases "henshin" became "Mantra Aji" (but it goes back to the Indonesian equivalent of "Henshin" in later rerun dubs), and "Rider Punch/Kick" becomes "Pukulan/Tendangan Padu Maut" ("Concentrated Death Punch/Kick")
- In Brazil, Kotaro's given name was changed to Isamu (his surname was still Minami), and the show had two titles: Black Kamen Rider (with the Rider's name before the Kamen Rider title, instead of after - however, BLACK RX uses the same Japanese name order, while still referring to Kotaro as Isamu) and Blackman (which was more of a working title before the distributors actually decided to use the Kamen Rider name). Katsumi's name was changed to Sachi. Baraom was the only High Priest to retain his original name, with Daromu changed to Danker and Bishumu being changed to Pérola (Pearl). Birugenia was changed to Taurus. Every technique was changed (the Rider Kick, for example, became the "Mantis Blow").
- Failure Is the Only Option: A lot of Gorgom's plots are actually quite sensible. All it would take is for one of them to actually be completed (Black! You can't Rider Punch the Pacific Ocean!). And yet, Minami Kotaro manages to stumble upon them by chance all the damn time. It helps that he's also incredibly suspicious of everything to Batman-like proportions, but it's quite clear over time that Gorgom fears that Masked Rider Black has a genius tendency to figure out their plans from the slimmest of threads (How does he keep on finding us?!).
- Well it doesn't help that any problem the series can come up with, even a kid being bullied, is secretly a Gorgom plot.
- Probably helps that Black was originally intended to be their king and is using one of their sacred artifacts to transform with.
- Forced Transformation: The wolfman from #4.
- Heel–Face Turn: First Nobuhiko's father, then the Whale Mutant from the final episodes.
- The Hero Doesn't Kill the Villainess: Bishium is the only female among the High Priests. She dies in a failed attempt to kill the hero and herself at the same time. The male villains are all killed by Black.
- Humongous Mecha: the second movie revolves around Gorgom hunting down a scientist who refuses to build one for them.
- In Name Only/Alternate Continuity: The manga adaptation by franchise creator Shotaro Ishinomori has little else in common with the show besides a protagonist named Kotaro Minami. His appearance anticipates Shin Kamen Rider: Prologue by several years.
- Light 'em Up: Kingstone Flash.
- Knuckle Cracking: A part of his Henshin sequence, may count as horrific, as his monstrous grasshopper-man form was visible for a second, though not as much as Shin Kamen Rider.
- Made of Iron: Kotaro. He has fought monsters while in human form, and did it well enough to avoid any injuries. However, there were the strength enhancements...
- Market-Based Title: Known in Indonesia as Ksatria Baja Hitam (Black Steel Knight), and due to its immense popularity, it has the effect of causing every other Kamen Rider in Indonesia to be called 'Ksatria Baja Hitam', even if they're not wearing black, a phenomenon that lasted until the Information Age where internet became available and the Indonesians learn about the actual name. But the Market-Based Title has been supplanted well into the memories of the people already that they don't mind it as a substitute.
- Mythology Gag:
- The first episode has the hero fighting against spider-themed opponents that killed the scientist who rescued him. Just like the first episode of the original Kamen Rider series (though in that case it was only a single spider adversary).
- Speaking of the first KR episode ever, Kotaro dwells on his inhumanity by wrenching a water faucet out with his bare hands like Takeshi did.
- The SIC figure for Black is actually halfway between his TV appearance and the bulky insectoid proto-form from ep. 1.
- Neutral Female / Satellite Character: Mara and Kara, the handmaiden mutants. They stay by Shadow Moon's side, perform ritualistic dance and do nothing else besides. As a result, their ultimate fate is to be crushed by the falling rubble when Gorgom's headquarters are destroyed.
- Non-Serial Movie: Two theatrical movies were made. One set during the Bilgenia arc, while the second one is set during the Shadow Moon arc.
- Odd Name Out: May or may not be deliberate, but in the beginning, we meet Kotaro, Kyoko, Katsumi, and Nobuhiko. The one without a K-name winds up kidnapped, and after being MIA for 2/3s of the series, becomes Black's Evil Counterpart Shadow Moon.
- Oddly Small Organisation: Without taking the Mutants into account, Gorgom is a rather small cult to begin with, even though they are implied to have connections with people in high and powerful positions. Made all the more glaring by the fact that they don't even have any Mooks.
- One-Winged Angel: It appears that the High Priests will have to sacrifice their lives to complete Shadow Moon's transformation, but once he is at full strength, he saves them and upgrades them into stronger forms.
- Power Walk: Much of the end credits. Since he's the only main hero, Black gets to do the Power Walk on his own. Funny enough he did this on a Kamen Rider Decade net spinoff video while every other Showa Rider was running for the goal, and he just did... that.Kenichi Suzumura: Idiot, it's a race!
- Real Men Wear Pink: Applies to Birugenia.
- Scarf of Asskicking: Averted! Black doesn't have a scarf like other Riders (in fact he was the first to eschew the scarf), but he's just as badass as he gets.
- Screw This, I'm Outta Here: some Mutants are ready to quit Gorgom once Black Came Back Strong.
- Sdrawkcab Name: In episode 39, Gorgom tries to brainwash people using a J-pop song titled "Mog-Rog". Kyoko actually points this out to Kotaro when she figures it out.
- Sentient Vehicle: Battle Hopper, Black's main motorcycle, is an actual living thing.
- Soundtrack Dissonance: in episode 47, the Theme Music Power-Up is still playing out even when Shadow Moon is clearly getting the upper hand in his duel with Black. The music only stopped when Shadow Moon dealt the killing blow.
- Technicolor Death: The Mutants go out a little artsier then the standard toku explosion; they get wrapped in cartoon fire and then burst into fireworks.
- The Fatalist: Nobuhiko seems to become this as Shadow Moon. Believing a duel to the death with Kotaro is the only thing left for the two.
- Theme Music Powerup: An instrumental version usually plays when he changes, but if you can hear the words, a monster's about to go down.
- That would be the opening theme and Black Hole Message.
- Inverted when he and Shadow Moon fight, where the theme only starts playing when Black starts to lose.
- There Can Be Only One: This show started this trend years before Ryuki but in a smaller scale, as Gorgom's Century King is decided by pitting Black Sun and Shadow Moon against each other. With the winner would be crowned the next Creation King and to rule the world for the next 50,000 years.
- This Is Unforgivable!: Kotaro says this so often, it's practically his second catchphrase.
- Time Stands Still: One of the Monster of the Week gave two time-misplaced feudal era soldiers a time-manipulating device that causes time to freeze. Kotaro is unaffected because he's a cyborg.
- Two Guys and a Girl: The main Gorgom priests.
- Uncanny Valley Girl: The Idol Singer from episode 39, who is actually a centipede monster whose human form is copied from an actual teenage aspiring idol kidnapped and held prisoner by Gorgom.
- Wham Episode: Episode 47. Shadow Moon succeeded in killing Black, forcing Kyoko and Katsumi to flee from Japan AND putting the world into chaos by the time Whale Mutant brought Black Back from the Dead two episodes later.