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Kamen Rider: a monstrous hero

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Staite, S 2021 , 'Kamen Rider: a monstrous hero' , M/C Journal, vol. 24, no. 5 , doi: 10.5204/mcj.2834.

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Abstract

2021 is the fiftieth anniversary year for Japanese live-action superhero franchise Kamen Rider. For half a century, heroes bearing the name Kamen Rider have battled rubber suited monsters and defended the smiles of children. Unlike many superheroes, however, the Kamen Riders are grotesque heroes, usually drawing their powers from the same source as the villains they battle. Grotesque human-machine-animal hybrids, they differ from their opponents only in the kindness of their hearts and the strength of their spirits. Although the Kamen Rider franchise includes a variety of texts including manga, novels, movies, and stage musicals, the central text is the Sunday morning children’s television program. This article focusses exclusively on the television series. Each season of the television program is comprised of around fifty twenty-five-minute episodes, and each season features an entirely new cast, title, and premise.Kamen Rider was originally created at a time of economic downturn and social unrest, and the unease of the zeitgeist is reflected in the figure of the no longer human hero. A little over thirty years later Japan was again facing a variety of crises and intense debate over what, if any, role it should play in the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. The 2002 television season, Kamen Rider Ryūki, tackles difficult questions about what justice, heroism, and monstrosity mean, through the medium of a children’s martial arts and live action special effects hero television program. This article explores the blurred boundaries between monster and hero in Kamen Rider, in the context of social attitudes toward children.

Item Type: Article
Authors/Creators:Staite, S
Keywords: Kamen Rider, media violence, Japan, childhood
Journal or Publication Title: M/C Journal
Publisher: Queensland University of Technology
ISSN: 1441-2616
DOI / ID Number: 10.5204/mcj.2834
Copyright Information:

Copyright © M/C. This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License, (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0/).

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