Shin Kamen Rider or Masked, He’s still A Ronin At Heart

Instead of turning the franchise into a cinematic blockbuster Shin Kamen Rider is still very much a 70s superhero film about a lonely soldier boy.

Shin Kamen Rider Movie PosterFantasia Film Festival 2023 and Available to Stream on Amazon Prime as Shin Masked Rider
Spoiler Alert

Hidiki Anno’s Shin Kamen Rider is his latest entry to a self-contained universe, and it doesn’t change the story of Takeshi Hongo (Sôsuke Ikematsu) becoming the bug-like superhero by much. Although he isn’t ready to identify himself as Kamen, what he discloses is that he’s a Masked Rider.

By tacking the word “Shin” on front, this filmmaker isn’t making this film to bring in new fans. Instead, what he adds is a Frankenstein element to appease those in the know. The internal conflict this hero must be feeling has been explored before, and when Anno is involved, it’s sure to be good! This change to an kids television show to an adult one is a tonal shift I’m liking.

And as for what we learn about prāṇa is vital to understanding why these creations exist. This essence sustains not only the mutants that roam this world but also to everything in existence. Because Takeshi has the strength and grace of a grasshopper, just what he is in relation to nature gets examined. He’s no Kung Fu master yet, and how everyone sees him is that of a monster. The devastation he brings in the opening act establishes what we as viewers can expect. But as for whether he is capable of controlling his rage, that’s the key to understanding what this movie is truly about.

Shin Kamen Rider Ruri-chan

Along the way, Ruriko Midorikawa (Minami Hamabe, pictured above) is a guide. She tells this man what he needs to know, and as for how she can help, it’s a weird one. She’s the daughter of Hiroshi, a scientist who helped transform Hongo into a fighting machine, and while she tries to fight alongside him, she’s fairly weak. Personally, I think she wants to be like Alita from Gunnm (Battle Angel) because of the jacket she wears. She’s not an augment and she doesn’t belong in the front lines. That’s because there are other enemy Augs who can make quick work of her.

However, SHOCKER has other ideas. This organisation is bad, and has fully turned Ichiro (Mirai Moriyama) and Hayato Ichimonji (Tasuku Emoto) to their side. When the former is Ruri’s brother, there are some personal stakes involved, and as for whether he can be reprogrammed, that’s a soft subplot worth noting.

As longtime fans know, this terrorist group is led by an entity that can’t be easily put down. Although it began life as a think tank organisation to become a rogue AI, the fact it lives as the latter suggests it survives and has a backup encoded somewhere. The story isn’t over yet.

Toei Studios wants Anno to make more films, but as for whether he wants to continue, the choice is his. I’m open to the idea, but I’d rather see him finish what he started with Shin Ultraman before continuing with Kamen Rider. Both are old enough to warrent updates, but the former edges out the latter by a few years. With nearly all of the 70s lexicon of famous Japanese heroes revamped for a modern audience, I have to ask who’s next? I think everything has been done!

As much as I like to see Shin Gamera added to the mix, he is from another studio. To feature him along with other figures in an all out extravaganza would be great, but that’s not Anno’s goal. It can be imagined as fan fiction, and I’m sure someone is on it!

3½ Stars out of 5

Shin Kamen Rider Trailer

Author: Ed Sum

I'm a freelance videographer and entertainment journalist (Absolute Underground Magazine, Two Hungry Blokes, and Otaku no Culture) with a wide range of interests. From archaeology to popular culture to paranormal studies, there's no stone unturned. Digging for the past and embracing "The Future" is my mantra.

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