Friday, January 16, 2009

Kamen Rider Dragon Knight is....good?

Heads-up, the total 4 people that check this blog!

For those unawares, Kamen Rider is a vintage Japanese property owned by Toei, which, way-back-when in the ages of "The 90's" was given the "Power Ranger Treatment," though, much to fans' dismay and heartache, didn't receive the same amount of credibility, exposure or even respect in its US adaptation. Needless to say, it went the Ultraman route of "perfectly good Japanese programs with crappy reception in the US." That said, one of the more recent Rider series, Kamen Rider Ryuki has received a new adaptation by Adness Entertainment into Kamen Rider Dragon Knight (which, interestingly, is more or less a direct translation of the Japanese title).

Kamen Rider (literally "Masked Rider") has always interested me, though not on the same level as sentai (Power Rangers) or Ultraman. Still, it's a fascinating series; originally it was a series about a lone hero, altered by an evil organization into a fighting machine, rebels against his would-be-masters and, each week, fights another one of their crazed mutant or cyborg henchmen. Sort of a one-man Power Ranger team, if you will. However, things have gotten a little more...varied, I suppose you could say, with the more recent series. Kamen Rider Ryuki started a fairly new trend of there being a great many riders in each new series, not all of them on the good side of karma, and adding new levels of artistic stylization, writing and cinematography. While not always successful, it's nice to see a Japanese series that prides itself on innovation (the upcoming series is Kamen Rider Decade, which will focus on riders from the last 10 years teaming up with this new Rider).

Anywho, what of Kamen Rider Dragon Knight?

Actually, it's pretty good.

Initial fears that it would be another attempt to capture the Power Rangers phenomenon all over again are squelched when the series opens with some rather brooding subject matter (kidnappings, a not-so-truthful government, foster care, etc.) while dovetailing into some cool martial-arts action and monsters and all sorts of goodness!
The acting ranges from surprisingly fun to decent to so-so, but never gut-wrenching, like in some Power Rangers episodes, and the writing is about the same. It's clear that this isn't a show for the Power Ranger crowd, i.e. toddlers, but more focused on a pre-teen/early teenager audience, which is a nice surprise.

So, check out the site and clips here

I hope I find some time soon, because I'd love to draw up some Kamen Rider fanart :D