Also known as: Masked Rider Black
Original Run: October 4th, 1987 – October 9th, 1988 (Japan)
Created by: Shotaro Ishinomori
Directed by: various
Written by: various
Music by: Eiji Kawamura
Cast: Tetsuo Kurata, Akemi Inoue, Ayumi Taguchi
Ishimori Pro, Toei Company, 51 Episodes, 25 Minutes (per episode)
Kamen Rider Black was the second Kamen Rider series that I have seen in its entirety. The other was Kamen Rider V3, which I adored.
Black compared to V3, is much more serious in tone. It is still a Japanese tokusatsu television show, so it comes with a big helping of cheese and weirdness but Black was balls to the wall bad ass and a lot of fun.
In this series, two teen stepbrothers are kidnapped by the evil cult Gorgom. They are then surgically turned into cyborgs referred to as Century Kings. Prophecy states that they will have to battle each other to the death with the winner taking over the role of the Gorgom god and leader, Creation King. Kotaro is rescued by his foster father before he is brainwashed: the final step in the cyborg process. The show then sees Kotaro, as Kamen Rider Black, go on to use his new powers to battle Gorgom and eventually, his brother Nobuhiko, who is another Rider called Shadow Moon.
Despite being full of tokusatsu tropes, the seriousness of Kamen Rider Black was a really good change to the franchise. It was dark and sincere. The relationships felt real and for a tokusatsu show, it was well acted.
The villains were incredibly cool in this series. The three Gorgom priests were great bad guys and had a legitimately frightening vibe, unlike villains of the Super Sentai franchise. The monsters were still guys in kaiju-like rubber suits but they were less elaborate and colorful and more like actual evil beasts. Sword Master Bilgenia was a mystical samurai-like character that was a great foil to Kamen Rider Black throughout the middle part of the series. Bilgenia had one of the coolest outfits ever. However, it was Shadow Moon, the evil Rider and stepbrother of Black, that was the coolest character of them all.
Kamen Rider Black had a lush and exciting world. It had great action, better acting than most tokusatsu shows and some spectacular stunts. Another big highlight was the music; the soundtrack for this series was stellar.
Now I am excited to get into Kamen Rider Black RX, which is a direct sequel to this series.