Kuuga is an important show in Kamen Rider's history; Rider had been of television screens for over a decade since the last episode of Black RX It's thanks to Kuuga that the franchise was revived and has made it possible for Rider to continue airing for another 18 years. While we wanted to talk about the show itself Getting Kuuga from the page to the screen was such a big and interesting journey and what happened there still directly influences the series to this day helping us to comprehend what Heisei Rider is Let's start by talking about the staff responsible.
There had been plans to bring back Rider since 1996. One of the main driving forces of that revival was Toei producer Shigenori Takatera. Who had first worked on Kamen Rider Black as an assistant producer. Sub producer from episode 15 of Kakuranger and continuing on through Carranger Megaranger and Gingaman as chief producer akeyuki Suzuki was also involved, having been a producer at Toei since 1975 up until Magiranger. He helped support Takatera with Kuuga from episode 13, but also worked in production as well. Writer Naruhisa Arakawa was brought on by Takatera as both of them had worked together on the aforementioned Sentai shows. Takatera would work with the editor of tokusatsu magazine Uchuusen Shinji Oishi to outline the main story. Despite still being a student at the time, Takuya Abe was appointed as the designer who constructed the Grongi language symbols as well as the base design for the Grongi themselves.This ultimately conflicted with his school studies and he decided to step away from the project and the remainder was done by designers at PLEX, the company r esponsible for the creation of Heisei Rider suits.
Kamen Rider at the time was remembered as the hero show that you may have watched as a kid But was quickly being forgotten as a thing of the past. It would be brought back to the limelight an unlikely way in 1997 Sega debuted a character Segata Sanshiro' to promote the Sega Saturn console Sanshiro was portrayed by Kamen Rider Ichigou’s Hiroshi Fujioka. The character was extremely well received in Japan and in large chunks was thanks to this character that console was a medic success within the home market.
As a byproduct, Rider was a much talked about topic every time Fujioka’s name was brought up in the media. Also, Rider figures and toys were prizes in a lot of UFO catcher machines in game centers throughout Japan. 1998 also saw the release of the PlayStation 1 game based on the original series produced by Nameko Most notably it brought back all the original actors who reprised their voices. Not only that, in 1999, Calbee started re-producing their Kamen Rider Chips potato snack line, which was hugely profitable in the early 70s with kids desperate to get their hands on all the limited edition trading cards inside.
If they were lucky enough to get all the rare ones, The original cards now go for sky-high prices that you wouldn't imagine. Producers Suzuki & Takatera admitted that due to many of these reasons that caused the sudden resurgence o f interest and is what gave birth to revival of Rider. Toei aimed at being broadcast on the TBS channel at 6 p.m. Saturday primetime slot. BS ultimately would chose to broadcast Ultraman instead and so Kuuga would replace the tokusatsu comedy series Moero!! Robocon, taking its Sunday 8:00 a.m. morning slot and TV Asahi continuing for nearly 18 years (Until very recently) TV Asahi were initially reluctant to take Rider back on, fearing the brand looked old fashioned and there was no new stories to be told.
There was a mindset of moving away from the “kaizou ningen/cyborg” hero that populated the Showa period, real world medical operations had advanced so far in that time that surgery and medical transplants had become commonplace and were no longer limited to the realms of science fiction. Toei were worried that another cyborg Rider would force the main character into the shadow of the previous generation. This wouldn’t be the only Showa staple that would be cast off, there would be no evil organization bent on world dominance or low level minions that the Rider would easily handle for added flair in fight scenes.
Kuuga would go through many proposals, the first two being Kamen Rider XV abd Kamen Rider Kawakami, where multiple Riders would appear. Kawakami had a wildly different concept; conceived as a private detective and cop buddy show that shared beats from nighttime shows like “Night Head” with a hard mystery adult story. Upon deciding it would be a single Rider show, the form change element was finalized. A different plan with the title Kamen Rider Gaia was proposed, but this was shot down for fears that it would contest with Ultraman Gaia that that started airing in 1998. One of Takatera’s plans was Kamen Rider Guardian, a much more clear hero-esque story, which conformed more to what the head companies were expecting of, however it was almost entirely discarded, but the one remnant that would remain to the final show was the character Yuusuke. Ishinomori Productions outlined Kamen Rider Otis, with a much more horror movie tragedy premise, but was instructed to reconsider this move in direction.
However, this would push Takatera to review what Kuuga should be down a much more dramatic road. Takatera was euthnastically trying to create a new Kamen Rider and had countless pitches that widely varied; his initial plans of a fantasy unconventional character like Indiana Jones would have required a high budget, another was a half human/half alien character This was pointed out as trying a little bit too far away from the image of Kamen Rider and he decided to find a solution of adding a new element instead. He looked toward the original series for inspiration of what is a Kamen Rider and saw the always standing beside the odd-looking hero Taki or Tachibana, a man and man together.
Drawing from this, the buddy relationship of Yuusuke and Ichijo was born and being a kaizou ningen was factor not needed. There were many new trials and experiments to ensure that Kuuga did not fall into trap of being like a previous tokusatsu hero show. They really wanted to push the sense of realism as past shows were often removed from reality, so consistency was integral, the Grongi having their own language and culture, Kuuga working with the police and not calling out attacks were new elements that were born. It was important to stress that Kuuga was not a hero drama, but a general drama where they would depict society having to accept that a hero and monsters appeared in their world and how it affected all the characters and society. The show was not billed as “the second generation hero” of Rider, but rather “the new generation.” Takatera stated that he took literacy influence from documentary styled television programs like E.R. which had been absurdly popular in Japan Kuuga would have a somewhat tagline as "A documentary portraying the period in which cases of a monster appearances took place.” Takatera pushed for realism in the show, when switching to new locations in the episode, captions would appear listing the time and place.
Production was very intent on showing a police connection within the show, taking inspiration from Patlobor, Heisei Gamera and various Ultra series. Although rather than a government organization who possessed special skills, the cast included characters who worked with the police, a doctor, a researcher, etc and who had no supernatural abilities, but faced the strange phenomenon with courage and a sense of responsibility. Pursuing a realistic narrative within the side of the police and to prepare to write for Kuuga, writer Naruhisa Arakawa contacted Saitama police department with the inquiry “If monsters were to appear, what department would deal with them?” They replied with “The homicide department manages crimes committed by humans, so they wouldn’t.
Most likely, the Wild Animal section of the Security Bureau would have jurisdiction.” Ichijo was attached to the Nagano Defense Department and the events of the first episode were covered up as a bear attack. The Grongi and humans in Kuuga have a standard morality system, punishing those who do bad deeds and rewarding ones who do not. The Grongi themselves do not conform to a hierarchy organization akin to Shocker. It had only been a number of years since the deadly Tokyo subway sarin attack in 1995 by the Japanese doomsday cult Aum Shinrikyo, and production was determined not to remind viewers of this event. The Grongi suits were expensive, for budgetary reasons, the action scenes were reduced.
This is why many of the Grongi scenes are primarily in human form. That said, many of the monster suits had two types, one used for close ups and the other for action, that could be roughed up. Because the show was going to be broadcast in high definition The suit quality and the makeup needed to be a higher quality than what came before. The suits were made of a rubber material that was a tight fit on the suit actors to avoid creases. However, this meant that the suit actors would have to get fittings for every new suit. Loin cloth was used for the joints for move ability, although was prone to creases and so designs themselves had to take this into account. This method would also be taken over to the following show, Kamen Rider Agito. In order to accentuate the contrast of the muscles in both interior and exterior shots, they applied overlapping layers of paint onto coloured latex. When it came to casting the lead, there was a rather rigid mindset at the auditions with extravagant performances akin to Kamen Rider Black’s “ゴルゴムの仕業だ!”, lead into a difficult road of finding Yuusuke.
In came Joe Odagiri, who had previously auditioned for the role of Kyuukyuu Sentai GoGoV forcibly by his agency, but ultimately failed to land the role when he refused to do a henshin pose because he was embarrassed. Odagiri was uninterested in tokusatsu and even more so appearing than in one. It was this sense of image and value that earned the staff’s interest and offer of the role. Odagiri had planned to refuse it, but producer Takatera spoke to him frankly “It’s not that Kamen Rider, I want to do something different and I want you to lend me a hand,” which persuaded him. That said, originally, Shingo Katsurayama had been cast as Godai, but upon reading the script he grew fondness for Ichijo and requested that he was put in that role instead. The day finally came, and the first episode of Kuuga was broadcast on January 30, 2000. As of recording, it’s been 18 years since that time, there’s been a whole 18 new shows with the title Kamen Rider, Despite whether or not they refer to that label or not, Full of incredibly diverse heroes of a variety of ages and backstories, Although not quite as virtuous as others.
Motifs that are worlds apart from one year to the next technology and to that, that is firmly rooted in Japanese folklore. Rider kicks that range from plausible to outright ludicrous. Motorcycles that they write in to save those in need, and those who drive down their own path. Monsters of simple colors with animal designs, to bright wacky shaped ones like burgers Stories that excite you and have you on the edge of your seat every week, where some will just leave you broken. They'll teach you life lessons about friendships and trusting in others, and how doing bad deeds for what you think is right, will crush you under the weight of their burden. They'll be there for you in dark times and protect your hope, and lift your spirits and inspire you to an unlimited potential future. Kuuga started off the new age of Kamen Rider, and it was thanks to all the staff and cast for their efforts that has continued for nearly two decades.
Those that carry on its legacy will surely build onto that format, and go further than we can possibly imagine. Thank you for watching everybody, I hope you really enjoyed that. That has been our video about Kamen Rider Kuuga. We've got plenty of other videos about different shows, as well as interviews, event coverage all subtitled in English. If you can, please comment and subscribe. Thank you so much!.