Welcome to Tokusatsu Gesundheit, where today we are once more looking at a currently airing Tokusatsu series! This time, we’re checking out the first six episodes of Kamen Rider Build, airing as part of the recently-moved Super Hero Time block in Japan.
Ten years ago, a manned expedition to the planet Mars (undertaken by Japan, because this is Tokusatsu) brought a mysterious artifact nicknamed “Pandora’s Box” to Earth. Like its mythological counterpart, Pandora’s Box proved ruinous for mankind – in this case, erecting an impermeable barrier called the Skywall that divided Japan into three nations and unleashing powerful monsters called Smash upon them. Today, amnesiac physicist/inventor Sento Kiryu (AKA Kamen Rider Build) and fugitive ex-fighter Ryuga Banjou must team up to unravel how the Skywall Tragedy, Pandora’s Box, and the Smash link to their own troubles in order to regain their memories (Sento) and clear their name (Banjou).
This series is the 19th of the revived Kamen Rider franchise, the 28th overall, and the last to air totally in the Hesei era (Emperor Akihito will be abdicating the throne in 2019, meaning the next series will straddle Japanese historical eras). It’s also the first series to air at 9 AM following SHT’s shift from 7:30-8:30 AM to 9-10AM.
- One of the major themes of this series, much like 2011’s Kamen Rider Fourze, is science! Like most all superhero fiction, it verges on “magic but with technobabble” at times but it’s still nice to see a superhero employing the scientific method and referencing the occasional actual concept.
- The heroes’ method of getting leads is pretty novel: their mentor’s daughter, who is locked up at HQ for her own safety, has a huge following as (the fictional equivalent of) a YouTube star. When they want information on monster attacks or a person connected to the conspiracy they’re unraveling, she just asks her fans to keep an eye out.
- Banjou (whose name is pronounced “banjo” and is therefore amusing to my unenlightened Anglophone self) is so transparently going to be this year’s Secondary Rider that I’m shocked they have announced it yet. As of episode six, he has one of that Rider’s announced transformation trinkets (a bottle of dragon essence) and that Rider’s announced robot companion.
- The plot moves rather fast, with the basic facts behind Sento’s amnesia, Banjou’s frame-up, and the origin of the Smash coming to light by episode six.
So far, I’m really digging the show. We’ll check back in around the halfway point to see if that’s still true.
Come Back Next Week for a Brand New Installment of Strange Times & Places!