Takeshi Hongo is an expert motorcycle racer and a young genius with an IQ of 400. He is abducted by the secretive company Shocker and turned into a cyborg as part of a fiendish plot to take over the world. Just before his brain is irrevocably transformed, Hongo manages to escape his hidden prison with the assistance of his respected teacher Dr. Midorikawa, a scientific genius who has been forced to work for Shocker. Hongo, with his indomitable spirit and sense of justice, names himself the Masked Rider and uses his motorcycle, Cyclone, and the superhuman powers imbued in him by Shocker to combat the organization's evil ambitions!
Source: Ishimori Productions
It mixes together a few cool and detailed images with a host of mediocre pictures and a few absolutely horrendous shots. The motorcycles generally look pretty cool and some of the panoramic and climactic shots are well done. But Takeshi Hongo's shirtless body looks offputting, as does the torso of the Kamen Rider suit. The ringlet action lines showing circular movements are dumb and are drawn on top of the moving bodies, obscuring them. The technique of having multiple sequential shots to emphasize certain moments of movement wasn't a great technique. Several of the characters look the same, for all intents and purposes. In each chapter, Kamen Rider has a series of fights against an animalized sub-boss, some thematically appropriate minions, and often some mind-controlled normies. Several of the fights start with Kamen Rider falling into an ambush and several end with the bad guys destroying themselves through ill-thought attacks. The action sequences largely consist of a bunch of lunging and otherwise exaggerated movements, but the punches and kicks aren't drawn in such a way that they look like they're actually making contact. Though all of that said, I must admit that the action does generally feel intense and gripping. The two biggest problems with the series are the overall bad artwork--which I've already touched upon--and the corniness. The fights and drama and character emoting are all exaggerated to such a degree that it comes across as corny. It doesn't help that the villains are such cardboard cutouts of villainy and that the transitions between scenes are very abrupt. The evil organization that Kamen Rider is fighting is called Shocker and has the ultimate goal of world domination. There are several jabs at the ills of modern society, including the corruption of the government, the over-industrialization and destruction of nature, and way that technologies (like TV) can be used to pacify and control the masses. There was a development at the end of the second volume which I was not expecting, but I'm actually not sure if it ended up being a good development. It led to the author basically just switching the protagonist's backstory and side characters, essentially dropping the old ones. After that transition, I also noticed a shift in tone to include more gags and the fights started feeling less focused and more scattershot. I wasn't impressed by the climax and ending (and would've probably rated it as a 4/10 if these latter sections weren't so lackluster). For how short this series is (relatively speaking), there isn't nearly enough cohesion in the narrative flow. For reference, the main enemies that Kamen Rider fights against are Spiderman, Batman, Cobraman, the duplicate Kamen Riders, Crabman, a butterfly woman, and "Big Machine." There are others, but they are more sideshows than main attractions.
Kamen Rider is a classic in the shonen genre, being one of the main heroes who helped the genre ride into the mainstream. We follow the story of Kamen Rider as he fights and triumphs over evil, in several action packed, fun filled adventures. The series is an absolute must read for any lovers of shonens and superheroes.
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