Being the sole admin for Maho Shojo Gakuen Facebook Page, I’m always on the look out for magical girl-related news. Considering that it’s the twenty-fifth anniversary of Sailor Moon and Card Captor Sakura getting a few anime next year, it’s been a pretty interesting year so far. And while you’d probably get into at the very least a heated discussion with someone if ever consider magical girl series and the Super Sentai/Kamen Rider series to be the same (after the Power Rangers movie last week, my son insisted that I was wrong about such an assumption), they really aren’t that much different. So when the news broke that the newest Kamen Rider series, Kamen Rider Ex-Aid, featured the first female protagonist with her own belt and transformation device, I was intrigued. And it was because of her Kyari Pamyu Pamyu-inspired look either.
While I wouldn’t say that I am a massive Kamen Rider fan – I’ve seen bits and piece of Kamen Rider Kiva and Gaim, I watched Decade, including the movie and want to be buried in Kivala’s armour when I die), even I know this is a big deal. As iconic as the Kamen Rider franchise is, it hasn’t been very good to women. On one hand, it’s a series primarily marketed to young boys (I mean, Namco Bandai Entertainment has a hand in it after all). Given that entertainment is heavily gendered in Japan, I suppose it makes sense that the protagonists featured in each series would mainly be male. And though I can’t specifically confirm, some series have made it a point to insist that a woman can never wield the power to become a Kamen Rider.
This is not to say that there haven’t been female Kamen Riders. In fact, this video features a lot of them (except for any that have been featured on a series airing after 2014).
But from what I understand, any females featured fall under one of two categories – villains who end up getting defeated in the end or proper riders with blink-and-you’ll-miss-it henshin sequence. If they do fight, however, it’s clear that their male counterparts get all the glory.
So that begs the question – if there people making magical girl series for male audiences (Maho Shojo Madoka Magica, Magical Girl Raising Project, Kill la Kill, and Symphogear to name a few), why isn’t any making a Tokusatsu series for female audiences?
And before you even think about mentioning it, we DO NOT talk about Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon on this page!
If I had to venture a guess, it’s that people who are in the position to make these series think that female audiences would balk at a heroine completely covered in armor. Don’t get me wrong – I love magical girl series fashion. It runs the gamut between sweet “kawaii” and “Damn, she’s a sexy chick!” But I can’t think of one heroine that is covered up in armor. She may have weapons, yes, but she’s still dressed up and her face can still be seen. As much as I love these outfits, I’d like to think that young female audiences aren’t so superficial that they would shun an armored heroine.
The magical girl series boom of the 1990s and 2000s proved that shoujo stories could be more than just idealized first love romances with a dash of steamy love scenes (Sho-Comi and Sho-Comi Cheese, I’m looking at you). Unlike the States, which doesn’t really allow for series like Power Rangers to get too dark (but the new movie does and I LOVED that), historically Japanese Tokusatsu series have allowed for story lines that get emotional and dark (but don’t worry, the campy hilarity reminds in tact). I’m sure with the right team working behind it, female audiences would welcome an armored heroine – in this case, a female kamen rider running the whole show. Plus, I’m sure western audiences would get a kick out it, especially if the series was done well.
I guess in the meantime, we’ll just have to see how the story line with Poppy turns out. Here is to hoping she’s the most amazing female Kamen Rider yet!
Source: Nihon Hero