Localizing Kamen Rider

Now, I’m sure that most of the people who come to this site know about Kamen Riders (don’t lie; as of the writing of this post, the most frequently viewed topic on this site is Top 5 Heisei Kamen Rider Series), so most of you have at least a working knowledge of the fact that our beloved bug-eyed battling hero has only made a few appearances in the United States.

Officially, the only Riders who have been shown in the United States have been Kamen Riders V3, Black RX, and Ryuuki. Now, V3 was the only Rider to be embraced by any large-scale American audience; that audience being Hawaiians. Black RX was brought over as the horrendous Masked Rider series. Don’t remember it? Well, This ought to refresh your memory.


And that’s why we didn’t get another translation til the adaptation of Kamen Rider Ryuuki into Kamen Rider Dragon Knight. And even though Dragon Knight was cancelled two episodes before it ended, it still was good enough to win a day-time Emmy. Now, how does one make Kamen Rider likable in the states? Super Sentai still runs in the States as Power Rangers. Even the oft-forgotten Metal Heroes live on in the realm of Nostalgia in the forms of VR Troopers and Big Bad Beetleborgs. How is it that the mighty Kamen Riders have yet to make windfall on the states?

For one, since it’s technically a children’s show, American broadcasters want to dumb it down to the mindless squalor of an American’s children show. In Kamen Rider Black RX, the story starts out 5 years after the end of Kamen Rider Black with Black trying to lead a normal life until an alien race kidnaps him, damages his power source, and throws him into the void of space. However, instead of killing him, this experience causes him to evolve by absorbing the power of the sun and swears to defeat the invading aliens. This is apparently too fucking awesome for American children to watch, so we instead got Mork and Mindy with superpowers. That’s why, if Kamen Rider is to be localized to the states, we have to reclassify it.

Step 1: American Kamen Rider has to be for Young Adults.

Unfortunately, we live in a country where children are only allowed to watch things that are educational or comedic. Anything that’s dramatic is usually “too extreme for their sensitive eyes and minds.” As such, most of the original Kamen Riders are just too adult for today’s children’s demographic, as they are usually men forced into becoming cyborgs by evil organizations and decide to give up a normal life to fight for the freedom of all people. In Kamen Rider V3, he asks to become a cyborg to avenge the deaths of his family and is often times commented on being a man who gave up love and happiness so that he could protect our love and happiness. If that’s not a bad-ass inspirational hero, I don’t know what is. In fact, thanks to the amazing Kamen Rider SPIRITS manga, there is a scene that encapsulates why Kamen Rider is such an amazing role-model:


Unfortunately, since this mentions the non-existence of God and this is followed by Kamen Rider #2 graphically splitting a Spider-Human in half with a Rider Kick, we have the primary reason why the Riders can’t be shown to American kiddies: they’re incredibly violent. The difference between Rangers blowing up monsters and Riders killing monsters is that, often, these monsters are or were people.

So, the only way that we’ll ever get the Riders over here properly is to have them be presented as heroes for Young Adults. I say young adults, because the Teen Demographic in the states is essentially the same as the children’s one, except with less cartoons and more pop singers. Also, young adults are in the state of that initial “now that I’m a grown up, I can do whatever I want”, so they won’t be embarrassed to watch a show about men transforming into bug cyborgs to kick ass.


One unfortunate thing that happens to shows when they come over to the states from other countries is that try too hard to “Americanize” them. The aforementioned Black RX suffered from this, as do some of the Super Sentai shows when they come over (GoGo Sentai Boukenger was AWESOME. Power Rangers Operation Overdrive was SHIT), but then we have cases like the original Hawaiian release of Kamen Rider V3 and Mirai Sentai Timeranger’s translation into Power Rangers Time Force, where almost nothing was changed from the original. So, I’d say that one of the best ways to bring over Kamen Rider is to either bring it over JUST SUBBED or to have an all Asian cast and have them do the lines in English, word for word, completely recreating the visual cues of the original. Now, I know that some of the jokes would be lost/incomprehensible, but one can find similar enough versions to make it work. The closest one that comes to mind is the IkaDevil joke in the Decade movies, where Natsumi’s grandfather asks for Squid and a Beer (ika de beeru), which sounds like he said IkaDevil (ikadebiru), making him turn into Dr. Shinigami, the human form of IkaDevil. That could be done by having an old Asian actor speak with an accent, have him always pronounce ‘the’ as ‘de’, or just say that that’s what how you order squid with a beer at a ramen stand. Not that hard, honestly. But, when it comes to marketability, Americans are always nervous about losing audiences based on something being to foreign. So what current media can allow for you to be foreign without having to do things like get ethically specific actors?

Step 3. Animate American Kamen Rider

(note: This isn’t real, but god damn, I wish it was.)

Now, this one is going to be the one that’ll get the most flack, as not all Toku fans are Anime fans, not all Anime fans are Toku fans, and one thing that both parties despise the most is adaptation decay (not to mention the cost of having to actually animate a Kamen Rider series from live action footage, without changing anything). BUT, I’ll ask you this: how many non-Hawaiian Kikaider fans are there that watched the original Toku version as opposed to the animated OVA that was released country-wide and shown on [adult swim]? An animated version of Kamen Rider could come over and be well received, because you can keep all of the names the same. I hate to use this show as an example, but think about BLEACH. They all have their original names, and they typically use the same names for all of their attacks, locales, and power-ups. Ichigo Kurosaki isn’t Barry Blackbeer, his zanpakuto, Zangetsu isn’t his spirit sword, Ghost Buster, and Bankai aren’t called Super Forms. If animated, you can get away with having the original Japanese opening theme songs, you can have them take place in Japan, you can have Takeshi Hongo be Kamen Rider #1, and the Riders can shout “HENSHIN” when they transform.

Step 4. What order do we show it in?

Let’s say that Saban has once again gotten the license to Kamen Rider and they don’t want to repeat the travesty of This shit. Now, the last time they had it, they HAD to go with Black RX, because it was the most recent. Even though Black was the series preceding it, the last Rider series before Black/Black RX  was Kamen Rider Super-1, which came out in 1980; far too old to trick kids into thinking that it was a brand new show. Now, I’d love to have all of the Showa Riders show up first and then the Heisei Riders. Saban would most likely go with the most popular of the Heisei Riders first. However, with the release of Kaizoku Sentai Gokaiger, Saban might finally have the chance to show the 15 Ranger teams that preceded the Mighty Morphin’/ZyuuRanger team. Once again, not a hard feat to pull off if done right. You can even have the same opening footage and explain that EVERY RANGER TEAM had to sacrifice their powers/access to the Morphogenic field to stop the Space Empire Zangyack from taking over the Earth, introducing the older 15 plus DaiRanger, as the other Ranger Teams Zordon had given power to fight for justice (with DaiRanger being the “original” team to have the Thunder Powers). This could mean that the older Riders could be introduced in a similar fashion. Should they be animated, I wouldn’t mind the Showa Riders getting their shows “condensed” (read: Showing only the most plot relevant/most iconic episodes) or make a movie for each, explaining their powers, origins, tragedies, and how they came together with the other Riders.

Now, as for choosing which Heisei series to go with first. It should be clear to everyone that the reason why Ryuuki was the first of the series to be chosen to be brought over by Adness Entertainment to become Kamen Rider Dragon Knight:

TOYS. 13 Riders = 13 Toys, plus all accessories = A hell of a lot of money if it becomes popular. And lets not kid ourselves folks; little kids aren’t the only people who buy toys. If that were then Figmas, Revoltechs, McFarlane Toys, SIC figures, Marvel Toys, Art Asylum, and others would have either gone out of business or would have never have been made in the first place. Now, keeping that in mind, if one wants to get the most Riders out of one show, which would it be?

Hmm… One would think that Decade’s a no-brainer. Unfortunately, you have to think about the fact that, should you want to do the other Rider series after Decade, you’d have to deal with this:

If Decade is guilty of anything, it’s that it changed the basic story and origin for all of the Riders , with Kuuga, Agito, and Kabuto getting the relatively least changes and Den-O getting no changes (but was still happening during Cho Den-O, and not regular Den-O), meaning that you’ve either got to go with making the America versions BE the AR Worlds or try to get away with explaining to people that the worlds that you showed them the first time aren’t the ones they’ll be getting for the rest of which ever series come after Decade. The audience may not be kids, but if you told someone that you were going to make a spin off of the Pokemon anime featuring the adventures of Ash’s Charmander’s original trainer and show them Digimon, people are going to be REALLY confused.

So, what’s the Rider series with the NEXT largest cast?

Good Point.


Hibiki is so different from other Rider series that the other series would suffer from it. If you didn’t know, Hibiki was supposed to be its own shown, but was turned into a Kamen Rider show. That doesn’t mean that Hibiki isn’t good… it’s just not as Rider as the other series. Once again, if you call Digimon Pokemon, people are going to be confused. That doesn’t mean that Digimon is bad; it’s just not Pokemon.

So, that leaves only one show that has quite a nice number of Riders in it. (Read: more that 4)

Yes, Den-O. It’s…

Wait. No, not Den-O.


I’ll admit, I hated Kabuto himself for a while for being such an ass, but it’s the perfect show to localize first. It’s Rider-tastic, has quite a large number of Riders, since it’s an Anniversary series, it has calls to the original Showa Riders (1, 2, 3, RIDER KICK), and it’s a fantastic series to boot. But why Kabuto and not Den-O first?

Part of the comedy of Den-O is that Ryutaro is incredibly unsure of himself as a Rider. The fact that someone as bumbling as him is a Rider in the first place is incredibly hilarious, which is why you need the even more hysterical, but more “competent” Taros-tachi to actually do the fighting. Also, since all the other Riders aren’t as comedic as Den-O, one might want to have him not be first, so as to set that the Riders are typically serious heroes. As such, Den-O should come in as maybe the third or even fourth series for the American Riders.

If that’s the case, who should be second and third?

In my opinion, Faiz should be the second series following Kabuto’s first. Why Faiz? Faiz is one of the more grim of the Heisei Riders. Within the first episode alone you see a couple of people have their hearts stabbed and evaporated from within their own bodies. Not to mention the betrayals and surprises; this would be the series that would solidify Kamen Rider as a series for Young Adults to Americans. Also, the Power Suit nature of the suits in Faiz would be more like Iron Man, a hero that Americans are not only familiar with, but seem to like quite a bit, especially in recent years (I feel like his movies where  more positive PR for him than just to set up the Avengers cycle, what with Civil War and all).

After Faiz?

Kamen Rider Blade. Why Blade? Four Riders, and an interesting plot. Plus, the series is the last of the ones that have a lot of extra Riders that interact with the main Rider on an ultra constant basis. At this, point, Den-O can be shown. Now, after Den-O?

W. That’s right, Kamen Rider W. Why Double? Because Double still has the humor that Den-O brought to the franchise as a whole, but goes back a bit to the serious nature of Kamen Riders. W is one of those Riders who both Americans and Japanese could find awesome, as, he’s not only a Kamen Rider, but he doesn’t kill his enemies, but rather stops them for their crimes like an American superhero. Also, I want to W to be the set up for the next two series.

The Kuuga/Agito cycle. Since, Agito is the direct sequel to Kuuga, and Kuuga was the big Kahuna of multiple forms, coming in with 11 different forms (was, as OOO will be overtaking that by the end of his series), it’s only fair to have them shown together. Many people also say that Agito is the best of the Heisei series, so I want everything that might do badly after this point.

After Agito, it’s really just who wants to do Ryuuki, Kiva, Hibiki, Decade, and OOO, . Honestly, I’d have it be in that exact order. I haven’t seen enough of OOO to put it higher than the Kuuga/Agito cut off or ahead of any of the other series. Since Ryuuki already got it’s spot in the sun, as far as already having been brought over, the question of whether or not to even include it at all would come up. If anything, Show the movie, or have the cast of Dragon Knight reprise their roles for AR Ryuuki World in Decade. Kiva, while AMAZING in the beginning, suffers from it’s really weak middle. Also, it would be good to show it so far in the future that vampires actually become a viable interesting fictional character again. Let’s be honest; 10 years ago, if you had a book where a vampire was unaffected by sunlight, it’s pants-shitting time, because they’re because some sort of Devil Beast that could kill every single one of Dracula’s forms in Castlevania five times over in one shot. Nowadays, there’s nothing scary about that, or anything else about vampires. Even them being tragic figures is a joke now. Therefore, Kiva gets the short end of the stick on both accounts. I already listed why Hibiki might do poorly, coupled with the fact that it’s so very Japanese and (if I remember correctly) was nearly cancelled when it was running. And, of course, Decade comes in after this, as he had 9 of the 10 aforementioned Riders (and technically W, if you include the Dai Shocker movie).

Honestly, having the Riders over in America would be really awesome. Even if it was just DVD only, no dub. Hell, if Kamen Rider the First could be brought over, there’s hope that the Riders will stand triumphant over the shores of America, delivering a well needed RIDER KICK to live action television.

And if anything, there’s my idea of having Kamen Rider ZO being a Marvel character who everyone considers to be the Japanese Spider-Man, with both he and Spider-Man resenting the statement.


4 Responses to “Localizing Kamen Rider”

  1. 1 kevin
    June 24, 2011 at 12:13 pm

    Fuckin awesome blog man. I lived in the Philippines for a year and a half in the early 90’s (90-92) and I loved watching Masker Rider Black. When I moved to the states I never heard about it again. That was a good read.

  2. 2 Puck
    July 23, 2011 at 4:18 am

    Actually I have a subbed DVD of Kamen Rider The First.
    bought it at Youmacon 2010 for 20 bucks. it even has “The Making Of” and a few trailers, such as the Hakaider movie and Zebraman, which looks fucking awesome.

  3. 3 Sparks
    August 12, 2011 at 8:42 am

    they already made an adaptation of ryuki called kamen rider dragon knight. Its actually a good atempt on americas half and you should try and wach it. I don’t think its as good as the japan kamen rider series but its a good second atempt. I say second because the tryed before back in the 90’s dering mity morfing power rangers and was an adaptaition of Black RX! But sadly the show was terable and I’m not giving you the name because I don’t want your heart to stop If your a hard out Black RX fan.

  4. 4 Kyoji
    August 15, 2011 at 5:23 pm

    Yeah, I watch bits of Dragon Knight when it was on; it was decent. As for Saban’s Travesty aka Masked Rider, I hated the show when it was actually on; quadruply so when I delved more into the world of Kamen Rider. Which is why I provided links to it’s opening as an example of how to not bring over a Rider series.

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