Remembering the Kotaro Minami Saga of Kamen Rider!

Back then, I was probably eight or nine when Kamen Rider Black showed on TV which was a classic... but ruined by the loopy broadcast of IBC-13, a network that basically ruined Tokusatsu broadcasts not only with bad dubs but loopy broadcasts.  So later, I was glad to have watched this series FULLY SUBBED and it was a total reeducation for me!  What I also didn't realize was that Kamen Rider Black had followed the element from the very first Kamen Rider, a hero forcibly given superpowers by an evil organization, only for him to use it against them.

The story starts when the foster brothers Nobuhiko and Kotaro are born on a solar eclipse which would make them candidates to become the next Century King.  Gorgom plans to turn the two brothers into the fighting candidates, Black Sun and Shadow Moon.  The winner will soon become the next Century King... to which he is granted the power to rule the world as he pleases, a plot later reused in Kamen Rider Ryuki (in the form of a single wish), Kiva (the Fangire King position) and the recently finished Gaim (the Golden Fruit).  Kotaro escapes the surgery but leaves Nobuhiko (who was destined to be Shadow Moon) behind which will lead to more tragedy in the future... so far I can't comment too much on Showa provided this show and its less popular sequel Black RX were the only ones I fully saw.  For some time, all the Gorgom Priests did was some rather cruel but very convoluted schemes to get Black's King Stone as every Tokusatsu villain usually cooks up stupid plans to achieve their goals.

Now for the real cooler part... it was Sword Saint Bilgenia.  Since all the Gorgom priests did was make one stupid plan after the other to take over the world, the Century King orders them to release Bilgenia from his coffin.  Long ago, Bilgenia was a rebellious warrior of Gorgom who was born under a solar eclipse but... he wasn't favored for the Century King title so he rebelled.  He was sealed but they had no choice but to let this troll show up.  As a troll, he really KNOWS how to make Kotaro suffer and he is FOCUSED on the job at hand.  It made me wonder why when Shadow Moon woke up, Jun Yoshida left the show.  Why did he leave the show?  I felt like Bilgenia could have stayed longer as a menace to both groups.  Fortunately his concept wasn't abandoned and made it into Ryuki under the form of Takeshi Hagino/Ouja.

So the long awaited conflict showed up.  Shadow Moon awakens thanks to the efforts of the three Gorgom priests who had ENOUGH of Bilgenia's trolling.  So yeah, I would do the same if I were in their place.  The result was that the three priests began to mutate into newer forms, Shadow Moon awakens ready to start the conflict meant to take place.  Shadow Moon kills Bilgenia (well Jun Yoshida had his reasons for leaving the set).  While it does add conflict to the show, Shadow Moon felt quite bland in this way... why can't he become a bigger troll than Bilgenia?  But there was the suspense because... Kotaro refuses to fight Shadow Moon.  The fight really was intense in this way... Kotaro must fight Shadow Moon, who no longer has memories of being Nobuhiko, only focused on achieving the Century King goal.  Whoever wins the fight will inherit the power of Century King.. well Kotaro will later face the decision of rule the world or die in Black RX!

The show itself has a bittersweet wrap-up.  Both Kyoko and Hitomi left because remember, Black died but was revived by Whale Kaijin who was late rkilled.  I kind of thought the battle ending the lives of the three Gorgom priests was something.  I loved how Beshium died in an act of self-sacrifice and that both Barom and Darom wanted to avenge each other.  And I thought that the whole fact was... Black must fight Shadow Moon to let go of his past.  But it all reaches to a tragic conclusion... and later Shadow Moon will not only get an Alternate Reality version of himself but be seldom, revived and killed many times as a butt monkey for non-canon movies!

In the end, Kotaro must choose between absolute power and the fate of the world.  The Century King who is a giant heart, tells him the time has come to choose.  I do love the drama between Black and Shadow Moon, considering the latter remembers himself (in part) as Nobuhiko.  Later in Black RX, Shadow Moon mysteriously returned but was so under-utilized there.  Black gets the Satan Saber and kills Century King with it.  He goes home, realizing all his friends are gone.  It's a bittersweet ending but it was really, still, a good wrap up.

Then later came the not-so-popular Black RX.  Then again as a kid, why did I care too much about good writing?  Maybe that explains why I end up writing lousy stories as a result of it... I can write but ends up doing a bad job without a heart.  Now moving on... this was the saga of Kotaro Minami continued.  I always referred to Black RX still as "Masked Rider Black" because of Kotaro Minami and well, sadly I tend to like Black RX because it's much better than Saban's Mashed Rider.  Also during this time, Kotaro has become a more happy person moving on from his life.  He even has a girlfriend Reiko.  Just then, something happened one day...

Black RX is the saga where Kotaro Minami now faces the Crisis Empire, a group of intergalactic idiotic invaders who are planning to expand their empire to Earth.  They say their side is now getting sucked into a black hole to justify their invasion.  I thought Crisis Empire had cool-looking villains and they had an interesting concept of having different units.  However they were hardly scary compared to Gorgom villains.  Even Tetsuo Kurata was said he didn't like Black RX's excessive humor, which probably inspired lighter and softer Kamen Riders later on.  And I thought Black RX though not as great as Black, was still entertaining in spite of problems.

Black RX introduced the idea of a Kamen Rider with more than one fighting form.  Black RX could turn into Robo Rider (first learned during his sadness) and Bio Rider.  For one, Bio Rider is one extremely CHEESY form... turning into liquid-like state but it was cool.  I really love the idea of three forms and love the arc that introduced his three forms.  Sideline, Crisis may not be a scary as Gorgom but Maribaron kidnapping little girls made me have a nightmare of being kidnapped by Crisis!  At that arc, he gains help from Joe the Haze which also, he is the first civilian to get involved with the battle.  Reiko does too, in later episodes together with an archer named Kyoko.

I did find the return of Shadow Moon a wasted concept.  So I did think, only if Grand Lord Crisis made Shadow Moon part of Crisis by some special power.  I mean, come on, give more conflict to Shadow Moon now he's back.  Sad to say, Shadow Moon was wasted during his short return.  It was cool to see Black RX and Shadow Moon fight but sigh... he was wasted.  I mean, the fact Shadow Moon is Nobuhiko could have made more conflict.  Shadow Moon did die remembering his former self as his canon death.  Sad to say, Shadow Moon keeps returning as a butt monkey in majority of non-canon Heisei crossovers, and also so does General Jak.

I thought things started to get interesting with a dickhead known as Colonel Tasmader, the majestic agent of Grand Lord Crisis.  Unlike the others, he didn't care about his fellow Crisis members.  He was a real mean guy like Bilgenia, he was arrogant and conceited.  Well he does have a deep dark secret to why he didn't die so easily.  Black RX almost killed him, General Jak almost killed him... but he survived two attempts on his life.

Black RX was the first show to introduce me to all the senior riders.  I didn't even know Riderman and V3 belonged to one show (until I played the Kamen Rider V3 game on the PS1).  I didn't even know ZX NEVER had a series.  Wow, I was so left behind so I just appreciated the other riders.  While others may have complained that the senior Riders were added as bad fanservice.  I did like them returning but I wish they all fought with Black RX during the final battle with Grand Lord Crisis.  The finale had the Crisis villains falling down like flies in a nice way.  My favorite battle was where Black RX fights General Jak (who was turned into Jak Murdurer) in a rather intense fight.  And yes, Crisis may be moronic but I can't discount the fact they are still dangerous.

One thing that shocked me though was this - it's HIGHLY possible that Colonel Tasmader had no real personality, he was just an alter ego of Grand Lord Crisis.  After learning of Sharivan's existence, one may think of this... Colonel Tasmader's role in Black RX was the same way Umibozu/Psychorror was in Sharivan... the big bad's extension body.  Then again, during the episode Gedorian dies, Tasmader is seen bowing down to Grand Lord Crisis... then again it's not really explained.  So it's just possible that Tasmader is a very loyal subordinate who agreed to become Grand Lord Crisis' extension, and as a result the two became one and the same person for the finale.  Still, I wish Tasmader mutated, the Grand Lord Crisis harass all the Riders and the only way to defeat them both was to destroy them together.  Sigh... what a waste but still I enjoy Black RX but never enters into my list of awesome!