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Kamen Rider, Takeshi Hongo, is a modified human. He was altered by Shocker, an evil secret society with aspirations for world domination. Kamen Rider fights against Shocker for the sake of human freedom!
Kamen Rider was originally Takeshi Hongo, college student and motorcyclist. One day, the forces of the evil organization, Shocker, nabbed him and subjected him to experiments to turn him into an elite agent of evil. However, Hongo was saved from being inducted into Shocker's ranks by the sacrifice of an unwilling Shocker scientist, Prof. Midorikawa. Now, as Kamen Rider, Hongo defends the world from Shocker's aspirations; later, he is joined by intrepid FBI agent Kazuya Taki. After that, Hayato Ichimonji, a photographer saved from reconditioning by Hongo, joins the fight as Kamen Rider 2.
The original Kamen Rider provides examples of:
- Adult Fear: Episode 27 basically starts out as a plot to kidnap children, complete with creepy guy with a van.
- Badass: Hello? Hiroshi Fujioka as Hongo Takeshi anyone? This is where every Rider badassery starts
- Takeshi Sasaki (Hayato Ichimonji) and Jiro Chiba(Taki Kazuya) also count
- Badass Biker: Both Kamen Riders.
- Big Bad: The Great Leader of Shocker and Gel-Shocker.
- By the Power of Grayskull: The series' signature phrase "Henshin!" did not appear until Kamen Rider 2 was written in. Hongo's wind-powered transformation initially involved simply exposing the belt turbine while riding, or while flipping through the air, with nary a word said. Ichimonji, however, had a belt that's still wind-powered, but with a sort of cover over the turbine. The henshin command caused it to open.
- Cool Old Guy: Tachibana Tobei. He even sometimes gets to smack around Shocker mooks, though the Riders and Taki are much better fighters.
- Curb Stomp Battle: Rider 1 shows no mercy to Catfishgiller...
- Darker and Edgier: Very much, especially compared to Super Sentai made by the same creator. However, after episode 13 the grittiness was toned down slightly to avoid a possible cancellation. It worked.
- Death By Origin Story: Professor Midorikawa.
- The Dragon: Four dragons to be exact: Colonel Zol, Doctor Shinigami, Ambassador Hell and General Black.
- Do-It-Yourself Theme Tune: Until Episode 13, the theme was performed by Hiroshi Fujioka. Masato Shimon took over in episode 14, when Kamen Rider 2 showed up.
- Early Installment Weirdness: Compared to the rest of the series, regarding the transformations. As mentioned above, Ichimonji was the first Rider to have a traditional henshin sequence. And in the very first instance, he zips open his vest (to expose his belt) in the middle of posing. Later, the henshin movements become an unbroken sequence of poses.
- Eccentric Mentor: Tobei Tachibana, who shows up for pretty much the entire Showa era.
- Evil Twin: Shocker Riders, a whole team of them!
- Expy: Kamen Rider was actually developed as a more family friendly version of Skull Man.
- This reference was brought full circle when Kamen Rider Skull was created for Kamen Rider Double.
- Fake Shemp: To write around Fujioka's accident, Toei used stock footage of him out of costume and a stuntman in costume and voice actor Rokuro Naya.
- Fully-Absorbed Finale: Although the series wasn't cancelled, the final episode hints strongly that Shocker's leader survived, and that plot thread only would be finally resolved in Kamen Rider Stronger's finale, which brought back Hongo and Hayato and also featured Tachibana Tobei. Until the next series, anyway.
- Hey, It's That Guy!: Hiroshi Fujioka would later portray Segata Sanshiro. No wonder he turns out really Badass.
Kamen Rider: Sega Saturn, shiro!
- Genius Bruiser: If the fact that he's a brilliant college biochemistry student doesn't convince you, his Improbably High IQ will.
- Hoist by His Own Petard: Saboteguron, the first Kaijin faced by Kamen Rider 2, is taken out by one of his own Cactus bombs.
- I'm a Monster: Both Takeshi and Hayato have these moments in some episodes and in the original manga by Shotaro Ishinomori, they feel bad about their cyborg condition.
- Idiosyncratic Episode Naming: With only minimal exceptions, all the episodes name the villain Kamen Rider would face.
- Improbably High IQ: Takeshi Hongo is chosen by Shocker for, among other things, possessing an IQ over 600.
- Mid-Season Upgrade: When Rider 1 returns to take over the show, he gets new powers and a new bike, along with some new duds to go with them. Rider 2 also gets a power-up a bit later.
- Non-Indicative Name: When Rider 1 returns to take over the show, he gets a new costume with two stripes, one more than Rider 2's suit.
- One-Winged Angel: Shocker's generals each had a monster form they'd unveil for their final battle against Kamen Rider.
- Phlebotinum Rebel: Again, both Kamen Riders.
- Real Life Writes the Plot: Ichimonji Hayato, and more importantly Kamen Rider 2, were created when Hiroshi Fujioka, who played Hongo, shattered his leg in a motorcycle stunt gone wrong.
- When Fujioka broke his leg and needed to be replaced, the writers came up with four possible solutions to continue the series: get a new actor to play Takeshi and act as if nothing has changed, give Takeshi a cosmetic surgery to explain the different actor, Retool the series completely by changing the main character and setting, or simply continue the same story with a new main character. Ultimately they went with the fourth choice and they were eventually able to get Fujioka and the original Rider back on the show after he recovered.
- Also, in the episodes leading up to Ichimonji's arrival, there were a few episodes where they used stock footage and a voiceover (who sounded nothing like Fujioka) for Hongo, and as they began to run out, the supporting cast really got to shine as there were more and more episodes where Hongo's only involvement was fighting the monster while suited up and then riding off without a word. Ruriko, Tachibana, and eventually Taki would do all the investigating and figuring out what was going on, and Tachibana really grows into the guy we're going to know the rest of the series and across series yet to come. The series took on quite a different, more mysterious feel.
- Red Oni, Blue Oni: Ichimonji Hayato/Rider #2 and Hongo Takeshi/Rider #1 respectively. Ichimonji Hayato is a lot more flirty and madcap than the serious and straight-laced Hongo. However, it's slightly subverted in that the former took things in a more personal level, whereas the latter wouldn't give up a chance to openly laugh at the villains.
- Appropriately enough, Rider #2's suit is universally recognized as having red gloves and boots, and in Rider #1's original appearances he was blue.
- Reluctant Mad Scientist: Professor Midorikawa only served Shocker to insure the safety of his daughter, Ruriko.
- As did a lot of other scientists over the course of the show.
- Rival Turned Evil: The Kaijin Sasori-Otoko was once a fellow student of Hongo's named Hayase, who let himself become a monster to get at Takeshi.
- Shoo Out the New Guy: Ruriko joins Kamen Rider 1 on his worldwide Shocker-busting tour in Episode 13 with little prelude and having apparently been as much in the dark as everyone else during the "Where's Hongo?" arc. Her departure consists of Ichimonji pretty much saying "oh, and Ruriko went with him." And when Hongo returns, Ruriko does not.
- Sidekick: Kazuya Taki.
- Suspiciously Similar Substitute: Averted. When it turned out that Fujioka needed to be replaced, the character Hayato was created to be the new main protagonist and titular Kamen Rider. However, rather than a Hongo clone, Hayato had his own distinct visual, a clearly different personality and the show itself changed quite a bit with his introduction. As a result, he stood out from his predecessor and the series' ratings actually rose during his tenure as the main character.
- Theme Song Power Up:The opening song Let's Go Rider Kick plays everytime Kamen Rider beats the monsters onf the week. Well,it's a tokusatsu series!
- Those Wacky Nazis: Shocker's use of Nazi theming is far from subtle at times.
- Hell, their Christmas episode involved Ichimonji Hayato dropping a mountain on a bunch of old Nazis who'd gathered up for a party. That, and to become wolf monsters.
- Villain Song: Three of them: "The Demonic Shocker", "Monster Song", and "Oh! Shocker".
- Will They or Won't They? / Unresolved Sexual Tension: The relationship between Ruriko and Hongo was never made clear and when the characters where both Put on a Bus, only one of them came back, throwing the whole thing through a window.
- You Killed My Father: Ruriko initially believes that Hongo, rather than the off-screen Spider Man, - not that one - killed her father. She does learn otherwise, however.