Hiroshi Fujioka Discusses Kamen Rider and Hopes for the Reiwa Era
“There’s a Shocker in everyone. It’s a hero who notices it for themselves, fights it, and overcomes it.”
Kamen Rider was created by the late Shotaro Ishinomori. It debuted as a tv show from April 3, 1971, to February 10, 1973, and aired 93 episodes. About a half a century has passed since its birth, and the series’ popularity continues to increase. Among the Riders is Hiroshi Fujioka (藤岡弘) who played the first Kamen Rider and Takeshi Hongo is not only well-known in Japan but also overseas.
As part of “The Birth of Shotaro Ishinomori” 80th-anniversary product “RAH Kamen Rider 1 and Cyclone Machine Ultimate Version set” from Medicom Toy, the first Kamen Rider actor was interviewed.
A hero of justice who fights, even if it means sacrificing his own life. The RAH Kamen Rider 1 and Cyclone Machine Ultimate Version set will be released from Medicom Toys. First, please tell us what you think.
Fujioka: Well, my body is growing stiff. Memories during that time are coming back to life. I feel like I can go back to that starting point and hear people say “Go with your heart.” Even those of you who think back to those days will feel awakened again.
At 25-years-old, Fujioka-san was selected to star in Kamen Rider. It became a popular program with the highest audience rating of 30.1%
Fujioka: It was a great encounter. For me, I took on this program with the feeling that it would be an important work for children working for the future of Japan.
This figure also comes modeled after the earliest image of your character, Takeshi Hongo. Kamen Rider’s masks, suits, gloves, etc are accurately reproduced, including Fujioka-san wearing the Kamen Rider costume and being his own suit actor.
Fujioka: At that time, there wasn’t any CG and I thought it only natural that I do my own stunts. It’s a one-shot production and life-threatening. Everyone there was risking their lives at my every step.
I remember filming and how serious the staff appeared. In Showa, it was the norm. In post-war Japan, the country was worried about what would happen in the future. “Who will do it?” But during this time, we didn’t have much of a budget. The camera and lighting equipment was heavy.
Still, you did what you had to capture powerful scenes with human power. And sometimes that meant there were failures and we had to do it in the dark.
You mean the accident where Fujioka-san’s motorcycle fell during the shoot, and you suffered a serious injury: a broken femur?
Fujioka: What kind of feelings where there while wandering between life and death? That’s because I had the feeling that this hero would end up letting you down if I didn’t come back. Even though I was told it was absolutely impossible to return, a courageous doctor did some tests using the latest medical technology at that time cultivated during the Vietnam War.
I worked on rehabilitation at the risk of my life. I trained my legs with a barbell to gain back the use of my muscles, and every day I had a beer or two. I think it was not only my power but also love, that I was able to overcome that hardship.
“I had the feeling that this hero would end up letting you down if I didn’t come back.”
Three years ago in March 2016, Fujioka-san starred in Kamen Rider 1. It was the first time you starred as a Kamen Rider movie in 44 years. What’s the main reason you decided to perform the role?
Fujioka: I was concerned at first, but I was moved by the Producer’s sincere, persuasive, speech. I thought we should take a step forward for our old teachers, the staff who worked on this series together with me, and the people who supported us.
In Kamen Rider 1, you participated from the planning stages. You were trying to convey the importance of life to children.
Fujioka: I came up with the idea because I really wanted to tell it. What do we live for? Shouldn’t we be thankful for justing being born into this world? However, it’s forgotten, we complain, and there’s so much self-interest and desire. I wanted to re-recognize the essence of life. Life is the only give we’ve received from Heaven.
There may be nothing to be thankful for, but you should realize that all lives are equally miraculous. Any humans who destroy lives are not permitted. Justice that protects life and doesn’t allow anything to be destroyed is absolutely necessary. From the time of the broadcast, we knew the importance of justice.
Kamen Rider has been a beloved series for a long time, but Fujioka-san has always been supported as the origin: No. 1.
Fujioka: It’s important because it’s the starting point. Justice must be brought up in the hearts of children. No matter what trials there may be, justice must prevail. A hero of justice who fights to protect life, even at his own expense. I think this is my message that I want to light up in the hearts of children, and since the starting point, Kamen Rider has continued to do so.
A hero of justice who fights to protect life, even at his own expense.
The era name has changed from Heiwa to Reiwa, and the first Kamen Rider series of Reiwa has begun. How do you feel about entering a new era?
Fujioka: Reira is said to be the “Age of Essense.” A scholar published a theory that humans were created by swelling from a single loving cell to hundreds, then millions, of cells. I was really surprised by this. There’s no problem that can’t be solved by the love of a human who truly cares for the other.
It’s quickly pulled in a bad direction if mistakes are made and can easily be used for the purpose of self-interest. Recently, there’s been a trend of “Justice is good, but evil is good.” That doesn’t resonate with me.
Everyone applauds that Hongo fights for a “perfect sense of justice” because the world seems to be going that way, but there’s a Lieutenant that sees things more neutral.
“Justice will definitely win.” That’s the key point that Kamen Rider has shared, along with love, courage, hope, and dreams. I consistently communicate and practice those concepts. Bad things are bad. Justice doesn’t allow people to get into trouble, get hurt, or bring them into misfortune. I think this is what the world wants.
When you were filming Kamen Rider, you visited different facilities and children’s hospitals to encourage children with illnesses and disabilities. I heard that this experience led you to volunteer overseas.
Fujioka: I have traveled to more than 100 countries and have been in contact with people from all over the world. Areas of conflict, refugee camps, orphanages I’ve delivered the message of “This is the heart of the Japanese people.” And during the cultural exchanges, we got serious by showing them the Japanese sword. I wanted to convey the image of a hero who gives his life to the peace and happiness of the world, with the spirit of self-sacrifice with Bushido of Japan.
Did you ever speak with Ishinomori about such a story?
Fujioka: Of course. But, you don’t just start off teaching kanji to young children, right? You gradually lead up to kanji by first learning Hiragana and Katakana. Similarly, we gradually open our hearts from places where it’s easy for children to understand. In that sense, I think that manga is the best.
How many people were hurt by the tragic incident that happened in Kyoto recently? I think this is similar to Kamen Rider. Don’t forget how it affects the world. What we show from Japan must be held accountable to the world.
“Justice will definitely win.”
Please convey your final thoughts for our article.
Fujioka: Japan has been in a happy situation so far, but from now on, the era of seriously thinking of the future has begun.
“Reiwa,” I think, is worthy for the beginning of a new era. The evil mind of humans. That’s the real scary Shocker. As Ishinomori has said, “Shocker is a human being.” Life is truly a battle with the ego. There is a Shocker in everyone. Once you realize it for yourself, you can fight and win. That is a hero. If you don’t keep sending that message to children, they may be someday pulled in a bad direction. We as adults as possible.
I would like to display this figure of Kamen Rider in an important place for me to remember. I hope it’s a figure that will resonate with the hearts of many people.
RAH Kamen Rider 1 and Cyclone Machine Ultimate Version set gallery:
Approximately 300mm/30cm tall
Release date: September 30, 2019
Cyclone Machine uses LED to light up
*Batteries sold separately. Needs LR41 x 3
From HobbyLink Japan:
“Celebrate Shotaro Ishinomori’s 80th birthday with this new Real Action Heroes (RAH) figure from Medicom — the original Kamen Rider complete with his Cyclone motorbike! He stands 30cm tall and is built on a RAH301 Kai action body with modified parts; he can be displayed masked or unmasked thanks to interchangeable heads! The “Crusher” part of the mask is semi-fixed, so you can adjust its position as you like. His costume is made with “Eternal Leather,” and his gloves are separated from the forearm parts to maximize posability and to enable using different hands as well. Riding gloves are also included! The headlight of the Cyclone lights up thanks to LEDs, too. A stand with a metal posing arm is also provided.”
Photographs by Ohtaki Kaku, Written by Shinno Kunihiko, and Editing by Tsuchida Takashi
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