Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Kamen Rider Retrospective #1 - Form Changing

Yo everyone, Joeker here. I'd like to give you a welcome to a new series we'll be doing on the blog, called: Kamen Rider Retrospective. In this series, we'll be taking a look back on certain themes or aspects of Kamen Rider, seeing where they originated from and how they've evolved, etc. And this will be the first in the series we'll be taking a look at, something that is commonly seen in Kamen Rider today: Form Changing.

Despite what a lot of fans believe (Mostly Black/RX fanboys), the first form changing Rider was in fact Kamen Rider Stronger. After Stronger had something called an "Electro Dynamo" placed in his body, he had the power to "Charge Up", which not only gave him more strength, but for the first time in Rider history, also gave him a new look.

Stronger, in his Charge Up form.

Charge Up isn't that much of a change to his regular  form. It simply adds some Silver/White to it, but with this his power also increases, with a downfall of only having 1 minute to use up the extra energy he gains in this form, or he will...Explode. With today's standards of form changing, i like to think of this more of a Final form then a simple form change. Form changing was not seen again until 1988, in the series Kamen Rider Black RX. However, in the 1980 series, Kamen Rider Super-1 a concept very similar to that of "Form Changing" appeared.

Kamen Rider Super-1 with his "Electric Hands"
Kamen Rider Super-1 was actually the Rider that inspired me to start this Retrospective series. While he never changed forms, he was able to switch his "hands". Super-1 had an arsenal of different hands, including the Electric, Hot&Cold, Tracker and Power hands. Each one of them gave him different abilities, including the ablity to utilize Fire/Ice or Electricity, or simply giving him more strength, Which is very similar to what we see today with form changing. I personally think Super-1 played a role in opening the gate to the form changing we have today, but i guess that's only my opinion.

The next time a Rider would actually change forms would be Kamen Rider Black RX. An ongoing thing in the fandom is to think of Black RX himself as something of a "Final Form" to Black, but that's irrelevant here anyway, let's get on to his form changing, the first time a rider Completely changed his form.

Kamen Rider Black, BioRider, RoboRider and Black RX
Kamen Rider Black RX could change into two different forms. BioRider and RoboRider. RoboRider had bulkier armor then Black RX, as well as an agility loss, however he gained enhanced Attack and Defense capabilities. BioRider, Black RX's second form, which is more sleeker then RoboRider, and because of that lacks the Defense BioRider has, making up for it with enhanced Agility and Speed, and the ability to transform into "gel" to be able to escape tricky situations. I personally am not a big fan of RX's other forms, At this point, i think the directors of the show were starting to realize "Hey, if we give the Rider more forms, you know, change his appearance a bit, we can sell twice as many toys!" The next main series Rider we saw was Kuuga, the first entry in the Heisei series (according to Toei, that is), who opened up a whole new gate for Form Changing Riders....

Kuuga, and all of his forms.
Kuuga had a grand total of 11 forms all up. His first and weakest form, Growing Form. Is Default Red Form, Mighty Form, his Blue speedy form, Dragon Form, His Green shooter form, Pegasus, and his purple warrior form, Titan. Mighty, Dragon, Pegasus and Titan were later upgraded into "Rising" Forms. His mighty form was later upgraded again into "Amazing Mighty" Form, and later he was given the "Ultimate Form". Since Kuuga, we've seen form changing in every Kamen Rider series, whether it's having multiple forms such as his base forms (Mighty, Dragon, Pegasus, Titan) or having a single Final Form (Ultimate), Kuuga was a great re-haul of the Kamen Rider series, giving it a new spice that would keep viewers entertain, along with entertain a new generation of people.

Since then, every Kamen Rider series has seen form changing in some way. Whether it's just one form, such as Ryuki's Survive form or multiple forms such as Den-O's forms, Form changing has become a core element to the Kamen Rider Series.

I apologize that this is starting to get a bit lengthy, but i still have a couple more things to discuss. The first, is the rider i think had the best way of Form Changing, that being Kamen Rider Den-O.
Den-O's base forms, Rod, Axe, Sword, Gun and Wing.
Den-O has become very popular among children in Japan, and all though the series aired in 2007, it continues to spawn movies to this day. Den-O had the best form changing gimmick by far. The monster's of the Den-O series were called "Imagin", however Ryoutaro (Kamen Rider Den-O) managed to become friends with some Imagin, when these Imagin possessed him, he was able to access the different forms of Den-O. What was good about this that as that it wasn't him fighting; It was the Imagin's possessing him. Why is this good, you ask? Because it was like each form was a different Rider, with a different personality, voice, fighting style, mannerisms, etc. I think that this aspect is something that contributed to Den-O's popularity.

Kamen Rider W and his forms.
In late 2009, the 11th Heisei Kamen Rider series started, Kamen Rider W. W was the first rider made up of two people; one person was the right half and the other the left. Each one of them had their own "Gaia Memories", allowing them to change that sides forms. Allowing them to mix and match forms. This is the first time Mix and Match forms were seen in the Kamen Rider series, and while it is great fun, was it really that good of an idea? Sure, it made more money. But that only made the follow up season also follow this Mix and Match trend...If it worked with this many forms, why not add more, right?

A number of Kamen Rider OOO forms.
The 2010-2011 and currently ongoing Kamen Rider series, Kamen Rider OOO introduced 3 way mix and matching, instead of Left and Right, it used Head, Torso and Legs. Kamen Rider OOO has a possible 100+ forms, and guess what? You can order a figure of whatever of his forms you want. That's right, You can collect all of OOO forms. Talk about a way to earn money, right? I Think this is ridiculous, especially how little this gimmick is used during the series.

I could go on to talk about Kamen Rider Decade and his way of Form Changing, but i'm sure everyone knows about that.

Form changing has become a staple and a core element in the Kamen Rider series. Most fans like it; some hate it. But all i can say for now, is that it's not going anywhere anytime soon, as long Form Changing continues to make more money.

Well, that's it for this Retrospective. I'll be doing another one sometime soon, So, i hope you're enjoying JoekerStraightFlush' Kamen Rider Week, and until next time, be sure to like our facebook page so you'll be able to follow Kamen Rider Week! http://www.facebook.com/JoekerStraightFlush

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