Monday, September 15, 2014

Kamen Rider writers : late Showa era

1)  The "Kamen Rider" reboot era.

After Kamen Rider Stronger, the Kamen Rider franchise seemed over on TV. However, four years after the end, Ishinomori decided to revive the Kamen Rider franchise, and the new series, airing in 1979 was pretty much a reboot of Kamen Rider, even calling itself "Kamen Rider" like the original; fans often call that series "Skyrider" after its main character, who's able to fly once transformed to avoid the confusion with the original show. Even the villain group was pretty much a reboot of the  original villain group of Kamen Rider :  "Neo-Shocker". Skyrider had also several veterans Riders making appearances through the show, in special episodes. The following year, a new Kamen Rider series, Kamen Rider Super 1 aired, keeing the continuity with Skyrider by keeping a mentor like figure, Genjiro Tani (who was pretty much the replacement ofr Tachibana). However, the rebooted Kamen Rider franchise only lasted two years on TV, and Kamen Rider went again on hiatus after Super 1.

Masaru Igami came back as main writer for Skyrider, but in Super 1, he only remained as secondary writer, letting one of his secondary writers, Takashi Ezure become the main writer

Kamen Rider (Skyrider) (54 episodes)
Masaru Igami (head writer) : 1-5, 7-9, 12-14, 16-21, 23 (18 episodes)
Kimio Hirayama : 6, 10, 15 (3 episodes)
Takashi Ezure : 11, 25, 30-32, 36-37, 43, 45, 47, 52-54 (13 episodes)
Katsuhiko Taguchi : 26-28 (3 episodes)
Katsuhiko Takada : 22, 29, 34-35, 38-41, 44, 48-49 (11 episodes)
Kyoko Sagiyama : 24, 33, 42, 46, 51 (5 episodes)
Seirou Suzuki : 50 (1 episode)

Kamen Rider Super 1 (48 episodes)
Takashi Ezure (main writer) : 1-3, 6, 9, 12-13, 16-17, 21-25, 29, 34, 38, 41, 46-48 (21 episodes)
Katsuhiko Takada : 4-5, 8, 10, 14, 18, 27 (7 episodes)
Kyoko Sagiyama : 7, 19, 31, 44 (4 episodes)
熊谷節 : 11, 15, (2 episodes)
Masaru Igami : 20, 26, 28, 30, 32, 35, 37, 39, 42, 45 (10 episodes)
Sukehiro Tomita : 33, 43 (2 episodes)
吉田耕助 : 36-40 (2 episodes)

A little analysis : Masaru Igami came back as head writer in Kamen Rider Skyrider, but, interestingly, it seems he pretty much left in the middle of the series, as if the series had a change in head writer in the middle of the show; interestingly, it's at the same time that one of the secondary writer, Hirayama (who is also an episode director), stopped being involved as well. At that time, the one who pretty much took over as head writer seemed to be Takashi Ezure, who wrote the most episode afterwards, and with him, two important secondary writers came: Katsuhiko Takada, who wrote a similar amont of episodes as Ezure did, and Kyoko Sagiyama.
Ezure would become afterwards the main writer of Super 1, and would keep Takada and Sagiyama as important secondary writers. However, interestingly, Igami came back in the second half of Super 1 to become again a major secondary writer, pretty much taking over Takada who stopped being involved in the writing after episode 27. Igami wrote the most episodes after Ezure.

2) The Kamen Rider Black era

After a 6 year Hiatus, the Kamen Rider franchise came back again on TV. Once again the franchise was rebooted, but this time, the series would have no link to its predecessors, and while its concept was similar to its predecessors (the hero being modified for an evil organization, Gorgom), the story had completely new characters, and the heart of the story being the confrontation between the hero Minami Kotaro, who escaped the evil organization and became Kamen Rider Black, and his  brainwashed brother figure who couldn't escape and was successfully brainwashed, Nobuhiko Akizuki, who became his worst enemy as Shadow Moon. Kamen Rider Black ended in a bittersweet ending, with Gorgom being destroyed, but Kotaro was forced to defeat Shadow Moon and he ended up alone.
Kamen Rider Black was so successful it was followed by a direct sequel, Kamen Rider Black RX, who followed the adventures of Minami Kotarou after the first show, and his fight against the Crisis Empire. Black RX was more light hearted, and very often felt like a fantasy show similar to some Metal Hero shows, especially given the Crisis Empire felt like a classic Metal Hero villain group (it's telling that the actress playing Maribaron, a major antagonist, plays regularly villainesses in the Metal Hero franchise). Despite the short return of Shadow Moon, the introduction of several forms for the main hero (a concept which would be used a lot later), and, in the last arc, the return of the veterans Riders, Black RX wasn't popular enough to allow the franchise to go on, and Kamen Rider would start its longest hiatus on TV, with no new series for more than 10 years, until Kamen Rider Kuuga.

Kamen Rider Black was the first Kamen Rider series where Masaru Igami wasn't involved, confirming once again how the show was supposed to be in a new era. Interestingly, the Black era was the first era where most of the writers were (or would be) involved in the twoother major Toei toku franchises : Super Sentai and Metal Hero.

Kamen Rider Black didn't have a head writer from beginning to end : Shouzo Uehara started writing the show, but left after writing a few episodes, and it seems that the ones sharing the job as head writer were Sugimura and Miyashita.
It's interesting to notice that the writers who were the most involved in Kamen Rider Black were pretty much the three most important Metal Hero head writers, Uehara, Sugimura and Miyashita.
Those three were also heavily involved in the Super Sentai franchise, Uehara and Sugumra being major head writers at two different eras, and Miyashita becoming had writer of Hurricanger.
Interestingly, two secondary writers from the previous era came back: Katsuhiko Taguchi and Kyoko Sagiyama. Sagiyama was also involved as secondary writer in the sentai franchise and would be then become an important Metal Hero secondary writer. A major tokusatsu writer also made his debut in Black : Naruhisa Arakawa.

In Kamen Rider RX however, the head writer would be a veteran Kamen Rider writer, who was very involved in the first reboot era : Takashi Ezure. Miyashita and Sagiyama stayed as secondary writers, and another writer, Kenichi Araki was involved as well. Unlike in Kamen Rider Black, RX had its head writer staying from beginning to the end, handling more than half of the episodes (the first one to do so).
The Kamen Rider Black era were the first toku shows where Miyashita would have a major involvement : he is with Sagiyama, the only one who wrote a significant number in both Black and RX, and he would become later a major Metal Hero head writer.

Kamen Rider Black (51 episodes)

Shouzo Uehara (first major writer) : 1-4, 12 (5 episodes)
Junichi Miyashita (second major writer) : 5, 9, 15, 22, 29, 31, 33, 37, 41, 45, 48, 49 (12 episodes)
Makoto Naitou : 6, 10 (2 episodes)
Takashi Yamada : 7, 11, 18-19, 39, 42 (6 episodes)
Kyoko Sagiyama : 8, 16-17, 23, 27, 30, 40, 44 (8 episodes)
Noboru Sugimura (third major writer) : 13, 20-21 (with Kenichi Araki), 26, 34-36, 38, 46-47, 50-51 (12 episodes)
Katsuhiko Taguchi : 14, 25 (2 episodes)
Kenichi Araki : 20-21 (with Sugimura), 43 (3 episodes)
山口竜 : 24, 32 (2 episodes)
Naruhisa Arakawa : 28 (1 episode)

Kamen Rider Black RX (47 episodes)

Takashi Ezure (main writer) : 1-7, 14-18, 20, 25-26, 29-30, 37-38, 41, 44-47 (24 episodes)
Kenichi Araki : 8, 19 (2 episodes)
Kyoko Sagiyama : 9, 13, 23, 28, 31-32, 42 (7 episodes)
Junichi Miyashita : 10-12, 21-22, 24, 27, 33-36, 40, 43 (with 村山隆策) (13 episodes)
Takashi Yamada : 39 (1 episode)
村山隆策 : 43 (with Miyashita) (1 episode)

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Kamen Rider writers : the early Showa era : Kamen Rider through Kamen Rider Stronger (or the "Tobei Tachibana era")

In 1971, Shotaro Ishinomori created the Kamen Rider franchise, which primary concept is that a man, Takeshi Hongo, is kidnapped by a secret evil organization, Shocker, and changed into a cyborg. However, he managed to escape, and since then, fights relentlessly against the Shocker under the guise of Kamen Rider, a grasshopper like hero, whose powers are the results of his modifications. Riding a bike, he never stops thwarting Shocker's evil plans? He's helped by a man who was his racing mentor, Tobei Tachibana. Soon, another Rider appeared, Hayato Ichimonji, who became Kamen Rider Nigo, and a FBI agent, Taki Kazuya. They fought Shocker until it was at last destroyed.

Kamen Rider lasted two years and 98 episodes, but its success was big enough to have immediately a follow up, Kamen Rider V3, where a man, Kazami Shiro has his family killed by a monster from the Destron army and himself is seriously wounded, but is saved by Kamen Rider 1 and 2, and turned by them into a cyborg, Kamen Rider V3, who decided to fight the evil Destron. Tachibana was still here to act as a mentor and ally, and has even formed the Boys's Kamen Rider squad with Shiro's fiancee, her younger brother and other kids. Late in V3, a new ally appeared, Joji Yuki, akaRiderman, who had been first involved with Destron before being betrayed by Marshal Armor,  and then joining V3 in his fight against Destron. The two first Riders also sometimes appeared in V3, keeping the continuity. Following Kamen Rider V3 went Kamen Rider X, and Kamen Rider Amazon, and at last Kamen Rider Stronger.

In all those shows, Tobei Tachibana was involved as the mentor of the Rider, and the last arc of Stronger brought back all the Rider together to fight the Delza army. which Great Leader was none other than the Great Leader of Shocker. As such, all series had a same continuity and Stronger's final arc was pretty much the final arc of those Rider shows.That's why, I've decided to explore the writers of all those Rider shows at once.

All those early Kamen Rider shows had a same head writer, Masaru Igami, who is none other than Toshiki Inoue's father. Interestingly, Inoue would be heavily involved in early Heisei Rider shows as head writer and secondary writer, while his father is the key writer of the early Showa Rider shows.
However, because Kamen Rider is mostly episodic, many secondary writers were involved as well.

Kamen Rider (98 episodes)

Masaru Igami (head writer) :  1-3, 6-7, 13-17, 26-27, 31, 35, 38-41, 52-54, 62, 64-68, 71, 74, 77-81, 87, 91-94, 97-98 (41 episodes)
Shinichi Ichikawa : 4 (with Masayuki Shimada) (1 episode)
Masayuki Shimada : 4 (with Ichikawa), 19, 23, 33, 36-37, 42, 46, 58-59, 63, 69, 82, 84 (with Shotarou Ishinomori), 85, 88, 95 (17 episodes)
Mari Takizawa  : 5, 8, 12, 18, 24-25, 28-30, 32, 34, 44, 55-57, 60, 86 (17 episodes)
Katsuhiko Taguchi : 9-10, 20-21 (4 episodes)
Takao Nagaishi: 11 (1 episode)
塚田正熙 : 22 (1 episode)
Seirou Suzuki : 43, 48, 72-73, 75 (5 episodes)
Takeo Oono : 45 (1 episode)
Fumio Ishimori : 47, 50, 76, 83, 89-90 (6 episodes)
Takayuki Hasegawa : 49, 51 (2 episodes)
Kimio Hirayama and Minoru Yamada: 61 (1 episode)
Gorou Okeya : 70 (1 episode)
Shoutarou Ishinomori  (creator of Kamen Rider) : 84  (with 島田真之) (1 episode)
Fumio Maruyama : 96 ( 1 episode)

Kamen Rider V3 (52 episodes)

Masaru Igami (head writer) : 1-4, 13-15, 20-21, 25-32, 35-36, 43-44, 47 (22 episodes)
Seirou Suzuki : 5-6, 11-12, 16, 23, 33-34, 38, 45-46, 51-52 (13 episodes)
Masayuki Shimada : 7-8, 17-18, 22 (with 塚田正煕) (5 episodes)
Makoto Naito and Toshimichi Saeki : 9-10 (2 episodes)
Mari Takizawa : 19, 24, 37 (3 episodes)
塚田正熙 : 22 (with 島田真之) (1 episode)
海堂肇 : 39-42, 48 (5 episodes)
Takao Nagaishi : 49 (1 episode)
Kimio Hirayama : 50 (1 episode)

Kamen Rider X (35 episodes)
Masaru Igami (head writer) : 3-4, 9-10, 13-16, 21-24, 32, 35 (14 episodes)
Shuukei Nagasaka :1-2, 7-8 (4 episodes)
Seirou Suzuki : 5-6, 11-12, 18-19, 25-26, 29-30, 34 (11 episodes)
村山庄三 : 17, 28, 31, 33 (4 episodes)
Masayuki Shimada : 20 (1 episode)
Kimio Hirayama and 中瀬当一 : 27 (1 episode)

Kamen Rider Amazon (24 episodes)
Masaru Igami (head writer) : 7, 9, 12-15, 20, 22 ( 8 episodes)
大門勲 : 1-4 ( 4 episodes)
Seirou Suzuki : 5-6, 10-11, 16, 18-19, 23-24 (9 episodes)
村山庄三 : 8, 21 (2 episodes)
Seiji Matsuoka : 17 (1 episode)

Kamen Rider Stronger (39 episodes)
Masaru Igami (head writer) : 1-2, 7, 10-13, 17-20, 31-32, 37-39 (16 episodes)
Seirou Suzuki : 3, 9, 15, 22-28, 30, 34-35 (13 episodes)
Seiji Matsuoka : 4-5, 16 (3 episodes)
村山庄三 : 6, 21, 29, 33 ( 4 episodes)
阿井文瓶 : 8 (1 episode)
海堂肇 : 14 (1 episode)
Takeo Oono : 36 (1 episode)

A few comments : it can be noticed that while Masaru Igami is the main writer of all series, he always writes less than half of the episodes of each season, leaving plenty of secondary writers involved. Among those secondary writers, there is at least one who writes a big bunch of episodes (two in the case of Kamen Rider) even comparable with the number Igami writes. In Kamen Rider, those writers were Masayuki Shimada and Mari Takizawa, who wrote each 17 episodes of Kamen Rider : those two would be less involved in the following series, Takisawa only writing a few episodes of V3, and Shimada, a few episodes of V3 and an episode of X. However, in all series starting with V3, Seirou Suzuki, who was a minor writer in the first Kamen Rider series (he wrote 5 episodes), became the most important writer in the follwoign series, writing a lot of episodes of V3, X, Amazon (in this case, even more than Igami), and Stronger. He almost feels like a co-main writer, notably in X, Amazon and Stronger, when he wrote almost (or even more) episodes than Igami. It's also noticeable that there are several writers who only wrote one episode in a series.

Friday, September 5, 2014

My thoughts on the pre-zyu suits being shown in Super Megaforce

Now this is something that has gotten some fans up in arms. Reasoning has ranged from "They're dishonoring PR by using these suits" or "They're just trying to piggy-back on Sentai's growing popularity in the US". This has aggravated me too but not for those reasons. My reason for being aggravated is that I find it to be a bit disrespectful to the audience as they have yet to explain it. The suits show up so quickly it looks like the editing department was too lazy to cut them out and just hoped no one would notice. The show doesn't want to explain why its altering its continuity by technically making these suits canon.
Writing them off as new powers accessible via Super Mega mode can only stretch so far. In addition to adding the Dairangers, they've also snuck in Yellow Mask and Pink Flash. I sort of give Dairanger a pass because they are post-Zyu and somewhat had a presence in MMPR thanks to the Thunder Zords and Kibaranger being used as the MMPR white ranger. However, there is was no reason not to edit out Yellow Mask and Pink Flash.
They've essentially blown a hole in their own continuity without giving it a proper explanation. It makes the writing department seem lazy when all they need to do is write a short line that roughly says "Your new mode lets you access powers that are from space.". Yeah Zordon did indeed say back in MMPR that there were rangers on other planets but most of their current target audience (young children) probably won't know about that or much about MMPR in general so they won't know to go looking for that piece of continuity. That is all the more reason why they should explain it in-universe for Super Megaforce. It makes me ask why they even bothered to reshoot anything except for Don's GokaiGreen footage if they're gonna let some suits slip through. Heck, Green Flash got a full 3 minute fight scene in the episode "Power of Six".
Some fans have taken it upon themselves to come up with theories to explain their inclusion and while that is a valiant effort, it just doesn't feel right for them to have to do that. It is ridiculous for Saban Brands to expect the fans to fill in the gaps themselves when the burden of explanation rests squarely on the shoulders of their company, not the fans. I'll be keeping a count of all these instances until we get a proper explanation other than the vague "They're powers never before seen on Earth" line. That doesn't just mean they're from space, it could mean they're powers that were stockpiled but never actually given to anyone or a lot of other things.
These suits only being shown for a few seconds (or minutes in Green Flash's case) doesn't make them any less real and they deserve an explanation. In short, do I find it disrespectful? Yes but not for the same reasons that some of the fandom have. Do I find it lazy and inconsistent? Oh most definitely. I wonder just what other suits they'll let slip through.