This year marks the 40th anniversary of masked, motorbike-riding super hero "Kamen Rider" ("Masked Rider"). How will this milestone be marked? Why, with hotpants.
A Japanese record label is teaming up with the franchise's production company to create "Kamen Rider Girls", a Japanese pop unit with five girls ranging in ages 18-20 and representing different incarnations of Kamen Rider.
Kamen Rider is a tokusatsu TV series that debuted in the early 1970s.
The show spawned movies, manga, video games and even international adaptations like Masked Rider in America.
During the previous decade, tokusatsu shows began increasingly popular with the advent of Ultraman. But Kamen Rider owed more to a late 1950s program called "Gekkou Kamen" or "Moonlight Mask".
The program debuted in 1958. Moonlight Mask, with his bike and pistol, was a hit with the kids. While American kids in the 1950s were dressing up as Davy Crockett, Japanese kids were wearing capes and turbins. While the show was later cancelled, movies followed as did an anime.
While Gekkou Kamen was clearly an influence, Kamen Rider wasn't a straight up copy. Gekkou Kamen is more like the Lone Ranger, and Kamen Rider is more like, say, Spider-Man with the protagonist transforming into Kamen Rider.
Kamen Rider's grasshopper design was no accident, and would help influence generations of bug-based heroes in video games and differed from forerunners like Super Giant, a steel tights wearing superhero.
Forty years of Kamen Rider history, several generations of the Japanese males all reduced to five ladies singing pop tunes. Well, five for now, because there are plans to add more members in the future.
The Kamen Rider series is unabashedly commercial. The goal is to entertain, sure, but also sell toys to little boys. Even under that veneer of rampant commercialism, there is brilliant character design and all around cool. No idol group, male or female, no matter how good can do that justice. Then again, that's probably not the point.
The group's first single, "Love Rider Kick", goes on sale on December 15.
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仮面ライダーGIRLS初お披露目! 「スーパーヒーローミュージックスタジオ」 [マイコミジャーナル]