How Dueling Kamen Riders in Kamen Rider Ryuki Represent Ishinomori’s Ideas
Kamen Rider has evolved over the years, but is it something Shotaro Ishinomori would have been pleased with?
Kamen Rider Ryuki featured Kamen Riders with their own unique motivations. Some fought to protect loved ones, some fought for the thrill of killing, this show would abolish the idea that a Kamen Rider is automatically a representative of justice. Cards were selected as the major toy element in the show due to the popularity of Yu-Gi-Oh at the time. Kamen Rider Ryuki went on to win the “What is your favorite character?” poll from Bandai in 2002. Ryuki was, at the time, the most successful Kamen Rider series, selling 13.9 billion yen worth of product.
TV Asahi Director of Movie Business and General Bureau Organizer Motoi Sasaki says “We received confused calls from viewers at the sight of Kamen Riders fighting each other. It had become a serious topic. I think the series was able to keep the strength and kindness that had always been the root of Kamen Rider unchanged while still tackling this interesting topic.”
“Since it’s Kamen Rider, there’s still much that can be done,” says Toei producer Shinichiro Shirakura. “It’s not always going to be a remake of the Showa Rider series. You must give meaning to this series. However, I will always defend the Ishinomori-isms. The biggest difference between the Showa Rider series and the Heisei Rider series is whether Mr. Ishinomori lives on with it. I can’t ask for his approval but when you remove the modernity of Heisei Rider, Shotaro Ishinomori lives on, which is a reason to make Heisei Rider.”
Shirakura says that there are three recurring major elements from Kamen Rider that he calls “Ishinomori-isms”. The first is the idea of “fight against the self”. Kamen Rider, who was created to be a soldier of the enemy Shocker organization, fights against other remodeled humans like himself. The second Ishinomori-ism is “parricide”, the goal of ultimately destroying that which created you. In Kamen Rider’s case, he was created by Shocker and fights with the aim of destroying their organization. The final Ishinomori-ism is “denial of the self”. Even if Shocker is destroyed, the self, who is a remodeled Shocker agent, remains.
“You must be resolute that the blade pointed towards the enemy can be pointed towards yourself as well. These are the three pillars of Kamen Rider,” says Shirakura.
Since then, the Heisei Rider series has continued, tackling different themes with their own world views. Kamen Rider Faiz features a monster who becomes a Kamen Rider and is a show made in a contemporary style that focuses just as much on the monsters as it does the heroes. Kamen Rider Hibiki features heroes who use the powers of demons while Kamen Rider Den-O changed the vehicle the Rider uses.
Masato Hayase is the final assistant to have worked with Shotaro Ishinomori and has contributed a great many designs for shows from Kamen Rider Agito through Kamen Rider OOO. Hayase says, “To make something new means to discard something. When I design things, I think about what Mr. Ishinomori would have designed and I worry that there’s a gap between us. There are always fans of the older things and every time a new design is unveiled, you’re hit with talk of ‘Ishinomori would be rolling over in his grave right now,'” (laughs) “But I can sort of understand those feelings. That said, there was a person named Shotaro Ishinomori and he constantly tackled new ideas that expanded the world, so I think he would be pleased with the Heisei Rider series.”
August 18, 2018 at 5:55 pm
Then why Has Shirakura’s productions been cited as the most offensive with regards to the actual ideals, themes and motifs seen of Ishinomori’s work? he’s been repeatedly showcased in projects he’s directly helmed (kamen rider Taisen) to act in offense TO ‘ishinomori-isms’ he says to champion. Moreover, his three cited- overarcing aspects aren’t really seen much in Ishinomori’s work or are utilized far differently; if anything they’re unintentional motifs read into that act in conflict with the greater themes of kindness and humanity that are more emphasized across the board and remain consistent among all Ishinomori-styled heroes. it appears Shirakura is more focused on origin, and neither the development nor over-arcing direction to their adventures and the commonalities to their stories which conflict with those three stated recurring elements; nor does it acknowledge the role of self-sacrifice in Ishinomori heroes’ tales or the motivations behind their actions that is more informative to the related characters to them that made them timeless.
If he’s a defender of Ishinomori’s work, then he has done The WORST possible job he ever could have considering he’s the biggest abuser towards content the man originally created. And that’s not just kamen Rider, Look at how awfully The kamen Rider reboot events, Kikaider reboot and The 009-1 movie were received, to say nothing of any time a vetran has returned during Shirakura’s tenure for crossover events?
AS for Ryuki’s popularity, time has shown it that such was a fluke where the popularity was from those unfamiliar with Kamen Rider/Ishinomori’s work, or cared nothing about kamen Rider and were there for the violence and moral bankruptcy. It’s had a lot of reconsideration, led the franchise into a death spiral it took years to escape, and was almost cancelled mid-run due to how reviled it was with existing fans. Has everyone forgotten that, or was that viewed as ‘not relevant’?
August 20, 2018 at 10:57 am
Shirakura does seem to place attention grabbing headlines above any kind of integrity, which definitely hurts his productions, especially the movies, but I don’t think what he’s saying there is wrong.
The three Kamen Rider elements for example, although not overall Ishinomori traits seem through all his work can be seen in his direct Rider work. The first two can be seen in both the original manga and Black, and the “denial of the self” is a big element in his Black manga, which plays with visions of the future that even make Kotaro doubt himself. Evil Riders also was something present in both of Ishinomori’s Rider manga with the Shocker Riders and Shadowmoon and the “Demon King” in the Black manga (who was identical to Black there). If anything, it seemed like evil Riders seemed to be disliked by Toei’s old staff – They were the ones that after the original series basically attempted to deny that the Shocker Riders existed, equaling them in recap episodes and written material with random monsters that used disguise abilities to mimic the Riders, in spite of the original tv series itself promoting “8 Kamen Riders!”.
Also, I’d think “self-sacrifice” is part of “fight against self” and “denial of self”.
Regarding Shirakura’s treatment of past Riders, I think it depends a lot on the other members of production. It has been mostly trash in the movies directed by Kaneda, but it was done fairly well in the Shibasaki movies (Rider Taisen and SHTGP) and the mini-series also produced by Shirakura (Kamen Rider 4 and GoRiders – although these are just Heisei era Riders, but including guest from even a decade earlier).
I can see why some people question the portrayal of Hongo in Rider Taisen though, and the conflict does rely on an arbitrary plot device (if you’re attached to dead people, the dead will rise and attack Earth!), but I like the idea behind it. He has been fighting for 40 years and that colder attitude is a result of that. In spite of that, he’s still heroic and taking charge. He is portrayed as an active character rather than a passive background element or acting like one day hasn’t passed since we last saw them – two mistakes that many franchises seem to make when bringing back veterans like that.
Then you have the two endings, which are rushed and really needed more time to work, but are basically just Hongo testing the Heisei Riders, like shown clearly on the Showa ending when Kouta figures it out and the fighting stops.
I agree that he mostly messed up the reboots though, but it’s kind of understandable in the case of The First/The Next, since up to that point Inoue only had successes – so giving him freedom and control over their direction likely seemed to be an easy bet. It just happened that Inoue’s streak of successful productions ended right alongside them with his work during Kabuto and Kiva (Even his Hibiki episodes hated by the fanbase had been a success with higher ratings than the first half of the show). Shirakura wasn’t involved with 009-1 though.
September 9, 2018 at 6:43 am
No, Kotaro, aka KR Black, didn’t “deny the/him self”, he denied the “role” that was imposed on him by Gorgom, aka being the new Century King.
“Evil Riders also was something present in both of Ishinomori’s Rider manga with the Shocker Riders and Shadow Moon and the “Demon King” in the Black manga”. Yes, they were Riders, but they’re not “KAMEN” rider. The term “Shocker Rider” was created to differentiate the Riders who fight for evil from the ones who fight for good and justice, aka Kamen Rider. Shadow Moon wasn’t a Kamen Rider, he’s the opposing force of Kamen Rider, an Anti-Kamen Rider, a Rider-like villain, and he never deserved the title of Kamen Rider.
In short, in Shotaro Ishinomori’s original concept, only those who fight for justice deserve the title of Kamen Rider, and those who fight for selfish reason or evil will never deserve that title. There’s Evil Rider, sure, but there’s never an Evil Kamen Rider.
Also, “self-sacrifice” isn’t part of “fight against self” and “denial of self”, it doesn’t have anything to do with those term. It’s about “let the life of one’s self go for a purpose”, there’s no “fighting”, there’s no “denial”, there’s only accepting the fact that there’s something greater and more meaningful than the self existence and willing to let go of that self because of it.