SHIN MASKED RIDER (シン・仮面ライダー) (2023)
SYNOPSIS: Takeshi Hongo awakens to discover he has been transformed into a grasshopper-hybrid cyborg. Becoming the Masked Rider, he must fight the mysterious evil organisation SHOCKER to protect all of mankind.
Following Shin Godzilla, Evangelion: 3.0+1.0 and Shin Ultraman, Shin Masked Rider marks Hideaki Anno’s final movie under the Shin Japan Heroes Universe banner. Strictly speaking, it’s made for fans and fans only.
Takeshi Hongo (Sosuke Ikematsu) is a motor-riding young man who has the ability to transform into a powerful grasshopper hybrid. Teaming up with Ruriko Midorikawa (Minami Hamabe), Hongo’s mission is to destroy SHOCKER, an evil organisation specialising in churning out augments hybrids to overtake the human world.
Even if you are a novice to the entire kamen/masked rider property, it doesn’t take long for viewers to fully immerse themselves in the ludicrous world Hideaki has created. The narrative is simple enough. With the help of two government agents played by Takumi Saitoh who also plays the leading man in Shin Ultraman and veteran idol drama King Yutaka Takenouchi, Hongo basically has to take down anything from a Bat augment to a half-mantis, half-chameleon augment to their charismatic leader, a butterfly augment, Ichiro (Mirai Moriyama) in the finale.
Hongo is portrayed as a reluctant hero of sort. He hates himself into turning into a ruthless warrior when he puts on his mask. His thirst for violence is uncontrollable and despite for the greater good, Hongo struggles to face his guilt and his tormented past. Ruriko for the uninitiated is a machine created by her scientist father who happens to be the creator of augments as well. Acting as a motivational figure for Hongo, Ruriko also acts as the voice of conscience begging for her best friend, Hiromi and her brother, Ichiro to give up on their evil plans.
Needless to say, fans of the series will be here for the action pieces which to be honest functions like a 70’s exploitation flick. Lots of bloody head-crushes, clumsy action choreography and obvious cheap visual effects included for good measure. We knew it’s all intended and deliberate by Hideaki Anno since he meant it to be a tribute to the original series. Still, you need to muster a good load of humour to withstand all the silliness littered throughout.
For those who grow up watching explosive Michael Bay’s Transformers theatrics, Shin Masked Rider honestly is not the movie for you. Definitely, it’s a good nostalgic treat for Kamen Rider fans however. There’s even a hint of a sequel if you are ready for more. For the rest of us, a single old-school dosage is more than enough.
Review by Linus Tee