This article covers the concept of Kamen Riders. If you are looking for the group of Kamen Riders, see Kamen Riders.
— The transformation call of most Kamen Riders
A Kamen Rider (仮面ライダー Kamen Raidā ?, Masked Rider) is a type of (usually) armored warrior.
While the term "Kamen Rider" didn't exist until 1971, the concept has existed since ancient times, the earliest example being the Linto warrior known as Riku, who fought the evil Grongi tribe. Riku used the Arcle, a belt with an Amadam stone embedded on the front, to transform into the hero known as Kuuga.
The first person to be called a Kamen Rider, however, was Takeshi Hongo, who, in 1971, was kidnapped by the evil organization Shocker to become a cyborg warrior. Hongo, with the help of a former Shocker scientist, managed to escape, but was pursued by Shocker kaijin. After the professor is killed by a kaijin and the scientist's daughter is knocked out and used as bait, Hongo set out and transformed into an armored hero, killing the kaijin and proclaiming himself Kamen Rider.
Becoming a Rider
Becoming a Rider, while not as difficult as it was in 1971, is a difficult process. Many earlier Riders were cyborgs, who were modified by evil organizations such as Shocker that managed to escape before they could be brainwashed. This process, along with many other ways of becoming one, is considered very costly, not just due to the risks of becoming one, but due to potentially losing one's humanity. It should be made very clear that in most cases, one should not deliberately become a Kamen Rider.
However, if this warning does not phase you, there are multiple ways one could become a Rider:
- Becoming a cyborg
- Certain power armor
- Becoming an Agito, a mortal with the potential to surpass deities, through being involved in certain strange events
- Obtaining an Advent Deck and (preferably) making a contract with a Mirror Monster
- Using a driver made by Smart Brain (usually requires Orphnoch DNA, if not outright being an Orphnoch)
- Using a buckle made by BOARD, along with a Rouse Card (not recommended due to the potential for one to become an Undead)
- Intense training to become an Oni Rider
- Using a Zecter; although safer than many of the other ways, this method can be tricky due to Zecters choosing their wielder, and not the other way around
- Being a singularity point, a rare type of person who can exist independently of time itself, as well as the obvious use of a driver and Rider Pass (may require an Imajin partner)
- Through use of a Kivat (will almost always kill the user after repeated use if they are not at least part fangire or physically prepared)
- Through the use of Rider Cards and an appropriate driver
- Use of a Gaia Memory and a driver (some drivers, however, turn the user into a dophant, a type of kaijin instead, although they will have control over themselves and be able to revert to human form under most circumstances if used with a driver)
- Through use of Core Medals, the source of power of Greeeds (kaijin that are living manifestations of human greed), and a driver
- Through use of Astroswitches, mysterious switches with cosmic power infused into them, and a driver
- Housing a phantom, a type of kaijin, within oneself and having a specific driver
- Using a Sengoku Driver and lockseeds (warning: multiple lockseeds have the potential to turn a user into a powerful kaijin)
- Shift Cars, along with the appropriate transformation gear
Keep in mind, however, that many of these methods carry their own risks with them, some of which include being targeted by certain kaijin, loss of humanity to some extent, and even death. It is heavily advised not to seek out becoming a Rider, at least for regular civilians.
Assuming one is a Rider, transforming into one's Rider state is actually easier than acquiring it. While all Rider types have their own twist on this, the most basic transformation is to put on one's driver and proclaim "Henshin!" This, however, is not set in stone. Minor variations exist, such as the driver appearing on the wearer through magic or strange biological phenomenon. More advanced henshins include:
- Holding an Advent Deck out in front of a mirror, causing the driver to appear on the user, followed by sliding the deck into the belt while proclaiming "Henshin!" (Advent Riders)
- Attaching a lockseed to one's Sengoku Driver and using the small knife on the belt to "cut" it open, the proclamation of "Henshin" being completely optional (Armored Riders)
- Taking out a small musical device (for instance, a tuner), using it, proclaiming the name of the Rider, and then (usually) bringing it to one's head, as the user's element engulfs and transforms them (Oni Riders)
A Rider fights usually either hand-to-hand, or with a weapon of some sort, usually a sword or some sort of projectile weapon. Transformed, a Rider's physical abilities are greatly boosted, allowing the user to combat kaijin on equal ground.
While finishing moves are not set in stone, most Riders have access to a hissatsu attack, dubbed by many as the "Rider Kick". The attack almost always has the user perform a super-charged flying kick on the opponent, usually resulting in the receiver dying in a fiery explosion shortly after being struck. Many variations of the move exist, incorporating different kinds of kicks.
More recent Riders have "forms", which not only change the user's appearance, but their stats and sometimes their weapons as well. The form a Rider usually assumes is known as the "base form". Some forms, such as Agito's Trinity, or Kiva's DoGaBaKi, combine multiple forms to form an upgraded form carrying the best stats of the components.
Many of the more recent breed of Rider also have the ability to access a "super form" of sorts. These forms are their strongest state, and are not to be taken lightly. Many of these super forms carry a notable requirement to use them, carry severe risks from using these forms (including loss of humanity or death), or in some cases, both.
A staple of the Kamen Rider is their motorcycle, referred to by Riders as their "Rider Machines". The Rider Machine is not only somewhat important to being a Rider, but it is the source of why they're called "Riders". While losing importance in modern times, the Rider Machine is very important to older Riders. Many of these motorcycles have features that make them beyond mere motorcycles, such as being able to fly or transform. Many Riders have also weaponized the Rider Machine, in the form of a ramming finisher known as a "Rider Break".
As stated many times throughout this article, being a Kamen Rider carries many burdens upon oneself. Such burdens include:
- Injury or death
- Losing humanity/becoming a kaijin
- Being targeted by certain kaijin or evil organizations such as Shocker
- Loved ones being targeted by kaijin or evil organizations
- Getting into extremely dangerous events, such as the Rider War
A large part of the reason the Kamen Riders exist is due to their philosophy that no one should have to go through what they've been through. A common element of being a Rider is making sacrifices so no one else has to suffer, and it is just as true today as it was in 1971. As such, this cannot be stressed enough: Unless you are fully prepared to take these risks and put your life and possibly your humanity on the line, do not intentionally become a Kamen Rider.