A while after the announcement of the 40th Anniversary Kamen Rider film, I was rather excited despite not following Kamen Rider for quite some time. For the unenlightened, I dropped out of the genre around the beginning of Kabuto and have never gotten back into watching it regularly. Not even when promised a ‘return of Kuuga’ in Decade which turned out to be nothing more than a lame sidekick to the title character.
The genre continued to annoy me further as it progressed onto Den-O, Decade, Double and finally OOO. I must admit I was mildly pleased with both Kurata Tetsuo and Tsubaki Takayuki returning in Decade amidst a bevy of disappointments (Onodera Yuusuke being the most guilty), but the series still failed to recapture my interest in the franchise. Furthermore, the constant reappearance of Den-O and the heavy emphasis placed on it by Toei is like a bad taste in your mouth that never goes away, and they’ve proven it once more by bringing Den-O back in the new film, though they’ve made a little sense at least with the premise. Time travel? Ok, justifies Den-O’s return.
Then they did the unthinkable.
And that’s not all of them. According to reports, Toei are lining up even more of the Girls. And if that’s not bad enough, they will be doing the theme song for the new film. What could possibly be worse?
The answer: Kamen Rider Girls’ cover of Let’s Go!! Rider Kick.
Yes, Let’s Go!! Rider Kick. The song which kickstarted 88 of 98 episodes of the original Kamen Rider series. Without a doubt the greatest Tokusatsu opening theme song ever, ruined by a group of female adolescents who looked like they jumped right out of the latest Japanese AV release. Whoever approved this should be fired for bad marketing sense. Whoever thought a bunch of scantily-clad girls would do well for a show with a target audience of little kids and their moms (Remember, Kamen Rider’s target audience is not the random overweight non-Japanese guy who cant fit his DX henshin belt).
Most fans who were sad to see the Rider Chips go may have been pacified with the one-off appearances of the likes of Tourbillon, Gackt and Kamiki Aya, but the Girls are a whole new issue altogether. What does their appearance (and the likely addition of future members) spell for the future of a franchise I once loved as a kid and teenager?
Toei had a gazillion singers at their disposal in the Golden and Silver ages of Tokusatsu who would be more appropriate for the occasion, like Mizuki Ichirou and Shimon Masato, but they chose to form a new girl group which has absolutely nothing to do with Kamen Rider’s history at all. I would think that Mizuki and Shimon would cost much less to hire than the Girls, and deliver much more quality and passion for the milestone of a genre they helped succeed. Heck, they might as well have gotten Fujioka Hiroshi to sing it since they brought him back!
If I were to pick one thing Toei did right this time round, it would be that they’ve brought back Fujioka Hiroshi, Sasaki Takashi and Miyauchi Hiroshi to voice the original three Kamen Riders, though I will be skeptical until the I actually watch the film, keeping in mind the All Riders vs Daishocker smoke-out when they had the ‘Big Three’ appear at press conferences and movie premieres, but entirely different voice actors in the film, most notably Inada Tetsu (Doggie Kruger from Dekaranger) voicing Kamen Rider 1!
It’s all still a big question mark whether Toei will make or break this film, and what they intend to achieve with the Girls, but one thing’s for sure, the genre has sold itself out. The degeneration of Kamen Rider is now complete.