In any of the offices that I have worked on, I have, without fail, used the facilities to watch movies (of course, I also watch it at home, but lunch break was definitely one of the best moments to watch and chill). And two titles people familiar with me know I always watch were Kamen Rider and Super Sentai series. For this article, I will focus on Kamen Rider and I will discuss about Super Sentai on another one later on as they both have different things that we can learn from.
In the era where TV shows for kids are dwindling on the face of Netflix and other Paid entertainment services, the presence of superhero with very little of “adult” content is likened to an oasis for dessert travellers. It is in the face of such an era that child-friendly entertainment is needed, especially in order to teach children the values of heroism, selflessness and the merits of helping others.
Shows such as Kamen Rider and the others is becoming an alternative for kids (and adults) for “weighted and measured” entertainment with good amount of values to introduce and ingrained to children while having enough entertainment and action-packed content to make it both memorable and interesting for them to stay in front of the TV until the end of the show (and have the parents interested enough to stay and watch with them as a family bonding moments).
Kamen Rider started as a franchise back in 1971 with the appearance of Kamen Rider (nowadays known as Kamen Rider Ichigo) as a TV series that was aired for two consecutive years. Until now, Kamen Rider as a franchise has passed the test of time with more than 36 main characters (15 in Showa era, 20 in Heisei and currently airing the first one in the new Reiwa era, Kamen Rider Zero-One), numerous secondary and extra Riders (some series has as many as 13 riders such as in Kamen Rider Ryuki) and hundreds upon thousands of villains (including villain riders such as Kamen Rider Odin, Evolt, Chronos etc).
Despite the obvious staged violence (fighting), Kamen Rider only serves mild adult content, putting them into the PG category, although some countries put them into the Teen category. However, the show itself very rarely shows contents that are inappropriate for children except for the fighting itself. This is especially true in series that aired in the last few years, which put them in different categories with Marvel/DC series where rather obvious scenes of sensual interactions and women draped in latex suits (and clearly visible cleavages) are shown freely. The latest DC animated movie (Dark Apocalypse) even showed rather gore images and after sex scenes between Constantine and Zatanna. Now that’s the kind of scene you don’t want your 8-12 years old kids to see!
Despite the apparent fighting scenes, Kamen Rider series are filled with positive values and virtues worth teaching to your kids. I would not recommend you to watch the old series, as the storyline is often a bit “dark”, but the recent ones are very light and kids-friendly. Let’s look at several series as examples.
The current running series is Kamen Rider Zero-One. It tells the story of a young CEO, Hiden Aruto who suddenly has to inherit the seat from his late grandfather who died due to the sentient robots (Humagear) uprising. Despite several portrayal of betrayal and scheming, the main notion of the series is to chase one’s own dream and peaceful coexistence among differences. The motto of this series is “Take off towards a dream” and the whole idea taken forth by Aruto was that the Humagears and humans can live in a peaceful coexistence. Thus, these values are very strongly reflected in this series.
Another example to be taken under consideration is the last series in the Heisei era, Kamen Rider Zi-O. Zi-O series portrayed a high schooler, Tokiwa Sougo who dreamt of being a great benevolent king. However, based on the information from a time traveller, Geiz and Tsukuyomi, he apparently ended up becoming an evil Demon King. The series was a perfect display of fate-changing effort as well as friendship and bonding of the main character with the other heroes. The main character did not take his power and fate for granted, but he chose to change the version of the future into one that he wished for. He even relinquished his fate and power to choose more of his bonds and friendship with Geiz and Tsukuyomi. This is a perfect series to tell your kids: “look kids, even if the future is set, you can always fight to change it!”
A perfect portrayal of selflessness and heroism was shown in the Kamen Rider Build series. Taking the stories of Kiryuu Sento, a genius scientist in fighting the “alien invasion” from Evolt, this series ended in a bittersweet note where the two main riders had to sacrifice their everything to take down the enemy. The story also brought about the notion of peace as the story actually showed the war between three countries that ultimately was stopped by the heroes.
Of course, those examples are only a small portions of great values and virtues you can share to your kids from the franchise. There are still many great teachings you can get from them, and the most important thing is that Tokusatsu has little-to-none “fan service” you often see from anime, which makes them perfect for children.
Despite the PG rating of the series, I would recommend you to not show them the movie versions of Kamen Riders. Different from the series that is intended to be shown on TV, the movies are intended to be brought into the cinema. The ideas and stories of the movies are often more mature and I would even rate some of them as Teen-rated movie. The Kamen Rider Chaser V-Cinema actually had some sensual parts that might be taken negatively by young viewers. Another example of excessive violence was shown in the fighting scene from Kamen Rider Accel movie where the Rider fought in human form against a gang of Yakuza. So, if you want to show your kids the safe part, I would recommend you to stick to the series instead.
Regardless of all the positive and negatives, Kamen Rider is an example of quality show for your kids. Having options for their entertainment would always be a great move by the parents, and especially for those living in Asia, instead of counting on western super heroes who hold different values, it would be best to use the shows available from common Asian countries instead. At least, that is what I believe in.