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Heisei Kamen Rider: Helping Newcomers Grow Into Popular Actors

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In this opinion piece, Soichiro Takeda, an athelete and writer with an expertise in sports, states why he believes that the Heisei Kamen Rider series will keep producing popular actors for years to come.

On April 20, 2019, the Heisei period will end. Kamen Rider ZI-O will mark the very last Kamen Rider series within the Heisei period. The show will always mean something special to this time frame, as it has aired on Sunday mornings since 2000.

Heisei Kamen Rider has also had a tremendous contribution to the entertainment world.

What do Joe Odagiri, Jun Kaname, Hiro Mizushima, Takeru Satoh, Masaki Suda, Ryoma Takeuchi, Sota Fukushi and more have in common? They were all leading actors in Heisei Kamen Rider series. Their careers began to thrive during this time period.

After their series ends, the actors continue their careers. Masaki Suda, who starred in Kamen Rider W as Philip, recently won the 41st Japan Academy Prize as Best Actor and Most Popular Actor.

In recent entertainment circles, the field is crowded. Casting of dramas and movies are often decided by the most powerful entertainment offices and wealthy sponsors.

However, Kamen Rider and Super Sentai series have often cast newcomers to the entertainment world. These series are seen as gateway roles to becoming a star actor. The requirement to work in tokusatsu shows are few, including age restrictions depending on the main role and to belong to an entertainment office.

In Kamen Rider W, there were three actors, Ren Kiriyama (Shotaro Hidari), Minehiro Kinomoto (Ryu Terui), and Masaki Suda (Philip), that performed well and made the series popular. The movie version of the tv show brought in about 1.5 billion Yen and a manga sequel, Futo Detective is currenly being serialized in Big Comic Spirits. It was the first series that Suda starred in.

The Director, Hidenori Ishida, had to guide them in the roles, not just as Kamen Rider actors but as actors, in general.

When production initially began, Kinomoto said, “I’m a boy, so of course I really liked Kamen Riders. I’m looking forward to say “Henshin!” Ishida would react, “Well nice… everyone would do that.” It was unpleasant.

“Henshin” (or transformation) is a simple word, but has a variety of ways to say it. In Kinomoto’s case, Ishida would suggest saying it lower, adding more emphasis on syllables. Now most viewers can remember Terui’s unique style of saying “Hen-SHIN!” Because the target audience is children, it’s important to make simple but exaggerated displays.

Kamen Rider Accel also had the unique ability to transform into a motorcycle. In the morning of the recording, Ishida asked Kinomoto if he practiced. Kinomoto was confused at first and asked how it was possible to rehearse transforming into a motorcycle. Thankfully, it was a joke, but Ishida did want Kinomoto to take the scene seriously.

There are other famous directors in the Kamen Rider series. Ryuta Tasaki has directed several works, including the currently airing series Kamen Rider ZI-O. He has a reputation for being polite to the actors.

Tasaki can be quite demanding. In Kamen Rider W, Kinomoto remembers having to repeat one scene a dozen times. This was due to incorrect intonation, tension in voice, and viewpoints, even if only one line was said. The director knows the audience sees everything, which is why attention in the actor’s eyes is important as well.
 


 

The Heisei Kamen Rider series is known for training rookies who have recently made their debut. The staff has to confidently maintain a high standard of work. In the most recent series, Kamen Rider Zi-O, a young actor named So Okuno takes the lead as Sougo Tokiwa. Like many of the actors during this time, he won the Junon Super Boy contest and had no prior acting experience.

Kinomoto still looks back at his performance during his days on the Kamen Rider W set. He was young and didn’t have much experience as an actor yet. But, Kamen Rider was way for inexperienced actors to learn, and the director pushed amateurs into becoming actors. Even if he didn’t do well in a scene, he was sometimes grateful for another chance to do it over.

After one year on the Kamen Rider set, there’s an atmosphere of “I’m about to graduate.” The Director called up each actor for some final words. Ishida told Kinomoto that he had many good acting qualities, but had to keep working on them. Kinomoto would go on to perform in other works in the future, but would never forget what he learned on the set of Kamen Rider. “It felt really good to be a Rider.”

Kamen Rider ZI-O is making history as the very last Heisei period Rider. The series will move on to have a new era name. But, the Riders in the future will play an active part of the entertainment world, as long as they display the same passion and drive as previous actors.

If you pay attention, Super Hero Time on Sunday morning is sure to be an interesting time. I want to show my respects to the series, because it’s near the end. Heisei Kamen Rider has brought forth many new talents, even if the show itself is meant simply as entertainment.

 


 

Official Website: Kodansha Modern Business

 

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