Psychedelic Splatterpunk — ‘Kamen Rider The Classic Collection’ Reviewed

by Tito W. James


Shotaro Ishinomori is a legendary manga creator and Kamen Rider is one of his greatest creations. Even 50 years later Kamen Rider kicks butt.


Created by Shotaro Ishinomori (Cyborg 009), Kamen Rider is a one of Japan’s earliest superheroes, fighting injustice while riding a motorcycle. I’ve been diving deeper into the world of 1970s manga and have enjoyed the works of Osamu Tezuka, Go Nagai, Rumiko Takahashi, and Shigeru Mizuki. Therefore, I knew I had to check out the classic collection of Kamen Rider.

Don’t let the vintage visuals fool you– Kamen Rider is a lot darker than you might think. Reading the manga is like watching 60s Batman and then suddenly having the tone shift to a Tarantino film. At times, Kamen Rider delves into splatterpunk horror with disembodied brains in jars and bloodsucking bats. Then it morphs into surrealism with flying stingrays and a seductive gender-bending moth.


The kinetic fight scenes are expertly paced, well choreographed, and dwarf many contemporary superhero comics. Ishinomori has an excellent eye for camera placement and his character designs add a layer of charm to Kamen Rider’s psychedelic world. As a hero for post-WWII Japan, Kamen Rider fights political corruption, environmental pollution, and social injustice. These themes still ring true half a century later and pack an emotional punch. 

I love manga of the 1970s because they laid the groundwork for many generations that followed. Additionally, this manga aesthetic is more reminiscent of American “rubber hose” cartoons juxtaposed in striking contrast with serious adult subject matter. There was something in the air in 1970s Japan and manga from this period is heavily influenced by psychedelia and the sexual revolution. Comparatively, American comics from fifty years ago can be puritanical to the point of being unreadable.  From its stylized visuals to its provocative subject matter, Kamen Rider was decades ahead its time and feels right at home next to contemporary superhero comics — Kamen Rider is truly a classic!

Kamen Rider the Classic Collect is available now from Seven Seas Entertainment.

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