Also known as: Masked Rider V3
Original Run: February 17th, 1973 – February 9th, 1974 (Japan)
Created by: Shotaro Ishinomori
Directed by: various
Written by: various
Music by: Shunsuke Kikuchi
Cast: Hiroshi Miyauchi, Hizuru Ono, Akiji Kobayashi, Takehisa Yamaguchi
Ishimori Pro, Toei Company, 52 Episodes, 25 Minutes (per episode)
I wanted to start with the first Kamen Rider series. Unfortunately, I couldn’t find a copy of it on DVD or on any other format. So I had to start with the second series in the franchise, Kamen Rider V3.
I have seen Kamen Rider stuff before, most notably, the American series Masked Rider, which used footage from Kamen Rider Black RX the same way that Mighty Morphin Power Rangers used footage from Kyōryū Sentai Zyuranger. I always liked the style and concept of the series but I had never seen a Japanese version of the franchise in its entirety.
In Kamen Rider V3, we are introduced to Shiro Kazami, who witnesses a murder by the evil organization Destron, a group comprised of members of Shocker, the antagonists of the original Kamen Rider series. After several failed attempts at killing Kazami, Destron orders his family murdered, which Kazami witnesses. Kazami and his female friend Junko are saved by his high school teacher, who ends up being Kamen Rider 1. Then Kamen Rider 2 shows up. Wanting revenge on Destron, Kazami begs the two Kamen Riders to transform him into Kamen Rider V3.
This series is action-packed and that might be an understatement. Every episode is full of fights and major battles between V3 and the forces of Destron. As V3 beats each monster, who all stick around for a few episodes, he is greeted by a new menace. As the series progresses, even the leaders of Destron change, showing that their numbers are huge.
All the monsters in Kamen Rider V3 are really cool. They have a kaiju feel, even though they never grow to gigantic proportions. Each monster is some type of animal mixed with a specific weapon. You have Scissors Jaguar, Turtle Bazooka, Squid Fire, Machine Gun Snake, Chainsaw Lizard, Toad Boiler, Chain-Sickle Lady Bug, Guillotine Dinosaur, Syringe Spider, Heater Cicada and a ton of others.
The style of this show is pretty awesome. It has a great Japanese 1970s vibe and the music is pretty exceptional. The theme song to the series is one of the best tokusatsu theme songs ever produced. Although, the song from the original series is slightly better.
Ultimately, Kamen Rider V3 is a great show. It is an adrenaline rush through all 52 episodes and it never gets dull. There aren’t filler episodes like many American shows and every chapter serves a real purpose to the overall narrative.
In the end, this is one of my favorite tokusatsu shows of all-time. It also has me excited to see other Kamen Rider shows from the same era.
I’m actually waiting for the DVDs of Kamen Rider Black, Kamen Rider Black RX and Kamen Rider X to show up in my mailbox.