Thursday, September 18, 2008

Leif - Kamen Rider - Japan, May 1981 - Age 6

Here's one of those coin-operated rides, this one in Japan. Maybe Leif's first "motorcycle ride." Our sons enjoyed the Japanese children's shows immensely, even though they didn't understand that Japanese. One of their favorites was "Kamen Rider Super One," and it featured masked characters in cool, bright colored suits on matching souped up motorcycles. They had special powers, and fantastic belts that had things that lit up and whirred. They went through a series of ritual motions to invoke their special powers.

Our boys had toy versions of the fancy belts, and some masks. There might have been other parts of the toys sets, too, but those are the ones I remember. They loved pretending to be these heroes. They had all the hand motions down, and here Leif is standing on the cycle in the perfect Kamen Rider pose.

I'm sure watching that show had some influence on his interest in riding cycles in his adult years, but he probably would have gravitated to that anyway, because it was fast, thrilling, and dangerous.

Kamen Rider was only one of the Japanese shows they watched with fervor. Peter Anthony and his friend Darren could give me a complete and accurate list, but I remember Ultraman 80, Gundam, and Space Battleship Yamato (or Space Cruiser Yamato) known in English as Star Blazers. They were watching the Japanese genre now known as anime long before they became popular in the USA, and their enthusiasm for it never ended, right into adulthood.

1 comment:

  1. Yes. Peter & Darren could give you a complete list. One even built a web site around the subject. :) Without doubt, the 80's were filled with Kamen Rider, Ultraman, Super Sentai (which would become Power Rangers here years later), and innumerable animated hero robot shows. Japanese boys' culture was absolutely saturated in transforming robots and heroes in rubber suits. You could buy everything from bubblegum to underwear, umbrellas to Velcro shoes, pencil cases to ice cream snacks, with your favorite character's mug stamped on it.

    And when you got too old for that, Japan had the next salvo ready for you: the highly mechanical "real robots" from shows such as Votoms and Gundam, that graduated you from buying toys to building kits.

    In fact, the real oddity was finding something that was not branded with some hero's livery. It actually makes the associated picture of Leif a bit odd, seeing a plain white motorcycle with a headlight rather than the insect mask of a cybernetic grasshopper man.

    But look at the detail in that bike. It could've easily been a real dirt bike (and perhaps it was at some point).

    It's worth mentioning that we weren't limited to what was on Japanese broadcast TV. We also had the joy of FEN (the Far East Network), which bought some good anime into our homes every Saturday morning dubbed over in English.

    It's absolutely impossible that these years avoided having a profound effect on our development, interests, and attitudes toward science, the future, and the possibilities of creative thought. I wish he were still around to discuss this stuff.