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Kamen Rider Amazon is Toei’s second 1974 entry and fourth overall entry into the Kamen Rider franchise (the first being Kamen Rider X). Drastically different from its predecessors in tone and setting, the titular character, Amazon (or Daisuke Yamamoto, which he is never addressed by), was the sole survivor of a plane crash which claimed both his parents.
Raised by an Incan tribe, his world is soon turned upside down when the Ten-Faced Demon of the Geddon terrorist organisation massacres his entire tribe in search of the mythical Gigi armlet. The tribe elder, before dying, entrusted Amazon with the armlet and performed a mystical operation on the young man, bonding the armlet with his body and giving him the ability to transform into Kamen Rider Amazon. He then tells Amazon to head to Japan to look for “Kousaka”, while Geddon continues to pursue Amazon and the Gigi armlet for mysterious purposes…
I’ll have to admit that Kamen Rider Amazon wasn’t exactly a Rider series that appealed to me as a kid, especially with the title character’s slightly over-the-top and Tarzan-like appearance in his human form.
However, seeing that it was one of the few series that was fully subbed in English (not the impossible task in the world to do, given the series only had a short run of 24 episodes), I decided to pick up Amazon and let it surprise me. As it turned out, it really did!
One of the things I like most about the series is the emphasis on the element of friendship, especially on Amazon’s with little Masahiko. The “circle of friendship” soon grew to include Masahiko’s older sister Ritsuko, a reformed Geddon-juujin (beast man) in Mogura Juujin (Mole Beastman), as well as the familiar Tachibana Tobei, mentor to Amazon and his senior Riders. Together the five of them worked together to defeat Geddon and later the Garanda Empire, although the series ended with four remaining due to a “death in the family” which I will not mention here. I also appreciate the process of Amazon’s integration into Japanese society with the help of his friends, but it felt weird to me that he learnt how to speak Japanese coherently in a week (he was taught by Masahiko sometime in between Episodes 12 and 13).
WHAT WENT WRONG
Despite all the positives, it was apparent at some points that the series suffered from some confusion or receptivity problems over its tone and direction. The level of violence was turned up several notches in comparison to past Rider series, with Amazon frequently decapitating his adversaries (with accompanying blood spurts), yet as it progressed, the level of violence decreased. The decapitation remained, but Amazon”s enemies stopped bleeding. There were also several tender moments between Masahiko and Amazon, with the former slowly seeing our hero as a surrogate brother. Amazon also became less violent as he became more civilised.
SHOULD YOU WATCH IT?
In all, Amazon was a pretty fun series to watch, and a very quick one to complete as well (I completed it in a week, in between work and real life). Amazon also retains lots of traditional elements common to a typical Showa Rider series, like the motorcycle action, secret bases and over-the-top world domination plots, but Amazon does not get any help from any of his seniors along the way, despite being mentored by Tachibana. The changes to the story direction, although causing some inconsistency to the series, does not affect its level of entertainment.
So if you’re looking for a different yet entertaining series to catch, Kamen Rider Amazon may just be the one you need to see.