Kamen Rider: The Next

Director: Ryuta Tasaki

If you had a line-up of the Kamen Rider, Ultraman, Zebraman and the Powder Puff Girls I am not sure I could have picked out the Kamen Rider before seeing this film. The character has been around for ages I believe in a television series and other incarnations but it is just one of those things that skipped under my radar. Still I thought this might be fun and it was in a Saturday morning kiddie TV kind of way and I was half expecting to see pop ups like “Wham”, “Crunch” and “Bang” appear on the screen – though I don’t recall any flashes of naked female breasts or having a woman seductively rub her private parts in any of my childhood morning viewing. If only. The producers assume the viewer has some previous knowledge of this Japanese superhero as well as having seen the first film, Kamen Rider: The Movie. I hadn’t and so it took me a few minutes to realize that the timid and ignored high school teacher Takeshi (Masaya Kikawada) was in fact The Kamen Rider. It also took me a while to understand why these guys in weird insect like costumes kept appearing to try and beat him up. They are the Shockers and seemingly Takeshi was once part of their union and they don’t appreciate the fact that he now wants to teach science to kids who think he is a wimp. The Shockers are also trying to take over the world by spreading minute nano robots among the populace turning them into creatures the Shockers can control. They are led by the very cool and very hot Chainsaw Lizard (Rie Mashiko) who keeps trying to remove various body parts from the Kamen Rider when she isn’t coming on to him like a Mae West wannabe.

In another parallel thread, the female pop singer Chiharu (Erika Mori) isn’t returning the calls of her good friend Kotomi (Miku Ishida) who just happens to be one of Takeshi’s students. He gets involved in Kotomi’s life and if he weren’t a super hero one might suspect that he has more in mind than being a good teacher as she is more than a bit cute. Kotomoi is also surprisingly nonplussed about her teacher suddenly turning into a jumping punching costumed super hero – must happen in Japan all the time. Chiharu is having some issues – a video song that is rumored to kill her fans and a ghost that wants her face – and this is putting her on edge and not acting very sociable. But mainly what the film has going for it is some fairly solid fight scenes with loads of flips and somersaults occurring on a regular basis, the fun insect costumes and a need to have something happen every few minutes to keep the kids from dozing off. I know I didn’t.

My rating for this film: 5.5