So I've been trying to get into Kamen Rider recently, but failed since the plots are getting super mind-boggling for me! Has crazy, convoluted storytelling always been a part of Kamen Rider or is it only prevalent in recent series? What Rider series would you recommend if I'm looking for a fairly straightforward plot without Gainax levels of topsy-turvy?
Oooo good question! Yeah, things are getting more complicated plot-wise in recent years. However, if you take a look back on the Showa Era, you will find some engaging but easier to get into stories. The best example I can think of that balances the monster of the week formula with a deeper story without so many twists and turns would be 1987′s Kamen Rider Black.
Black, for my money, is the transitional show between the earlier series and what would come over a decade later. It has more of a focus on drama and character interaction without ever forgetting that we are here to see karate bugmen kicking monsters until they explode.
The basic premise is simple. An evil organization called Golgom has kidnapped two best friends/surrogate brothers on the night of their 19th Birthday. Golgom intends to transform the pair into potential leaders of their evil cult but first, they will fight to the death to decide which is the stronger and fit to lead.
One of the two, Kotaro Minami, manages to escape before he can be turned to evil and uses the powers intended for Golgom to oppose them as Kamen Rider Black! Golgom creates various monsters based on fusions of man and animal to carry out their evil agenda and try to kill Kotaro for betraying them. All the while, Shadow Moon, the other young man now turned totally evil, waits in the wings for his chance battle and destroy the man who used to be his best friend.
It is drama, it is action, it has a plot that will hook you without requiring a flow chart to keep up with. It’s a really good starting place to get into the franchise and one of the shining examples of 1980s Tokusatsu to boot!
Thanks for the question!