KAMEN RIDER FOURZE/GO-BUSTERS MOVIE
Double Feature Opens in Japan on August 4th
Author: Alicia Ashby
Source: Toei Co., Ltd.
Official Site: fourze-gobus.jp (Japan)
Additional Translations: Elliot Gay
SPOILER WARNING: This article contains plot details and images from an upcoming movie.
Japanese heroes, let’s go super wild!
Since 2001, Toei has marked the approach of fall by releasing a feature film that double bills a short subject starring that year’s Super Sentai team with an hour-long feature starring that year’s Kamen Rider. This year’s entry into this long line of Toei henshin hero double features pairs up this year’s astronaut-themed Kamen Rider, Fourze, with the superspy Sentai Go-Busters.
Note that the double bill is not a crossover, and that Fourze and the Go-Busters will not appear alongside each other. Generally the Sentai film in the fall double bills is designed as a stand-alone adventure that often feels like a big-budget TV episode, while the modern Rider films tend to be continuity-heavy affairs that explore the TV show’s setting or characters in new ways. While it is easy to sit down and watch the Sentai shorts as stand-alone films, the Rider films are often difficult to appreciate without some familiarity with the TV show. To some extent, the double bills as they are currently produced are intended to appeal to fans of Kamen Rider on TV first and foremost.
This summer, two sets of heroes head into a brand new dimension. The KAMEN RIDER FOURZE/GO-BUSTERS double feature will open at Japanese cinemas nationwide on Saturday, August 4, 2012.
TOKUMEI SENTAI GO-BUSTERS THE MOVIE
Japanese Title: 特命戦隊ゴーバスターズ THE MOVIE 東京エネタワーを守れ! (Tokumei Sentai Goobasutaazu Za Muubii Tokyo Enetawaa o Mamore!)
Literal Translation: Special Ops Squadron Go-Busters The Movie: Protect The Tokyo Enetower!
Producer: Naomi Takebe
Director: Takayuki Shibasaki
Writer: Yasuko Kobayashi
This adventure is based on GO-BUSTERS (特命戦隊ゴーバスターズ, Tokumei Sentai Goobasutaazu, 2012), the 36th entry in Toei’s long-running Super Sentai series. GO-BUSTERS was designed to lead the Super Sentai into a “new stage of history,” after Toei celebrated Super Sentai’s past in the nostalgic and guest star-driven 35th series KAIZOKU SENTAI GOKAIGER (海賊戦隊ゴーカイジャー, Kaizoku Sentai Gookaijaa, 2011). GO-BUSTERS features several breaks with Sentai traditions, from their unconventional costume designs to the show’s (relatively) realistic filming style.
GO-BUSTERS takes place in a world where a clean, renewable energy source called Enetron has replaced all other forms of energy. Enetron takes time to produce, though, and can be stolen or siphoned away by the Vagras, a group of strange robotic lifeforms that invade the material world from a parallel universe called Hyperspace.
To prevent the loss of Enetron and work against the Vagras’ evil intentions, Japan’s Department of Energy formed the Special Ops Squadron Go-Busters. The three highly-trained Go-Busters operatives possess unique superhuman abilities that let them fight the Vagras and their Metaroids on foot. With the aid of their partner Buddyroids, the Go-Busters pilot their Megazords to battle Vagras’s evil, Enetron-stealing Megazords.
In TOKUMEI SENTAI GO-BUSTERS THE MOVIE, the Go-Busters team is tasked with stopping a Vagras plan to use Tokyo Tower (now called Tokyo Enetower) to transmit vast amounts of precious Enetron into Hyperspace. Toei is heavily promoting the effects sequences involving the giant robots, which are also promoted as a major selling point of the GO-BUSTERS TV series. A production goal of GO-BUSTERS was to make Sentai’s giant robot battles feel more exciting by using more realistic and complex battle choreography.
As part of that promotion, the Go-Busters will meet a new Buddyroid in this film, a frog robot named Ene-tan (voiced by idol singer Nozomi Tsuji). She will form the Buster Machine FS-0O Frog, which combines with the Go-Busters’ heroic Megazord Go-Buster Oh to form Go-Buster Kero Oh. This form of Go-Buster Oh will be exclusive to TOKUMEI SENTAI GO-BUSTERS THE MOVIE… though it’s not unusual for a “movie robot” to put in a guest appearance in the TV show, usually around the time the film is about to hit Blu-Ray and DVD.
KAMEN RIDER FOURZE THE MOVIE
Japanese Title: 仮面ライダーフォーゼ THE MOVIE みんなで宇宙キターッ！ (Kamen Raidaa Fooze Za Muubii Min’nade Uchuu Kitaaa!)
Literal Translation: Kamen Rider Fourze the Movie: Everyone, It’s Space Time!
Producer: Hideaki Tsukada
Director: Koichi Sakamoto
Writer: Kazuki Nakashima
Conceived as the 40th anniversary entry in the Kamen Rider series and the 13th entry in the Heisei Kamen Rider series, KAMEN RIDER FOURZE (仮面ライダーフォーゼ) celebrates the power of youth and mankind’s long-held desire to explore space. High school student Gentaro Kisaragi uses the Fourze Driver and its Astro Switches to become Kamen Rider Fourze and battle the Zodiarts, a group that’s turning the students of Amanogawa High School into monsters by giving them sinister Switches. Gentaro’s friends in the school’s Kamen Rider Club support him in his battle, and in this film, Gentaro and his friends will embark together on a mission to space.
The “Everyone, It’s Space Time!” title of the movie is a play on Gentaro Kisaragi’s catchphrase, “Uchuu kitaaa!” (宇宙キターッ!!), said every time after Gentaro transforms into Fourze and meant to express the character’s great enthusiasm for his astronaut-inspired powers. Translating the phrase in English has proven to be a trial for Kamen Rider fandom, with some fan groups debating and disagreeing about how it should be transliterated.
While the Zodiarts and their commanders the Horoscope Zodiarts will appear in KAMEN RIDER FOURZE THE MOVIE, the true enemy in this film is a legion of sinister robotic machines called the Kyodyne and their orbital superweapon, the XVII (pronounced “ex vee two”). If those enemy names seem a bit familiar to you, it should come as no surprise. The enemies for the film are inspired by two other vintage tokusatsu TV heroes from Kamen Rider creator Shotaro Ishinomori: KYODYNE (宇宙鉄人キョーダイン, Uchuu Tetsujin Kyodain, aka SPACE IRONMEN KYODAIN) and IRON ROBOT 17 (大鉄人１７, Daitetsujin Wan-Sebun, aka GREAT IRONMAN 17).
KYODYNE aired in 1976 for a grand total of 48 episodes. The protagonists were brothers Jouji and Ryouji Hayami, who could transform into the air-based robot hero Skyzel and the land-based hero Groundzel (respectively). Using their powers to transform into a jet and a car (respectively), the brothers battled the sinister Robot Army Corps. The original KYODYNE series was famed for its unusual suit designs and surreal atmosphere, reinforced by memorably strange shooting and editing choices. KYODYNE is thought to be a major influence on the FOURZE TV series, perhaps moreso than prior Kamen Rider shows. Prior to the official reveal of the Fourze design, 2ch posters who saw Toei filming early episodes attempted to describe the new hero as “white Skyzel.”
IRON ROBOT 17 aired in 1977 for a total of 35 episodes, with an English dubbed compilation film released in America as BRAIN 17 in 1982. It is often regarded as Shotaro Ishinomori’s answer to the popularity of rival creator Mitsuteru Yokoyama’s live-action TV series, GIANT ROBO (dubbed in the West as JOHNNY SOKKO AND HIS FLYING ROBOT). IRON ROBOT 17 is the story of a young boy who uses his giant robot friend 17 (pronounced “one seven,” rather than “seventeen”) to fight the evil supercomputer Brain and its robot minions. While the show’s look and feel was unmistakably Ishinomori, its storyline was extremely derivative of GIANT ROBO. 17’s main distinguishing feature was the ability to transform into an aircraft carrier called “Flying Fortress Mode.” KAMEN RIDER FOURZE THE MOVIE’s design for the villainous superweapon XVII bears a great resemblance to 17’s Flying Fortress Mode design.
Nostalgia has been a running theme in Toei’s theatrical henshin hero films of the past few years. The Ishinomori creations Zubat, Kikaider, and Inazuman put in cameo appearances in the 2011 film OOO, DEN-O, ALL RIDERS: LET’S GO KAMEN RIDERS (オーズ・電王・オールライダー レッツゴー仮面ライダー, Oozu Den’o Ooru Raidaa: Rettsu Go Kamen Raidaa), while last January Toei revived its long-dormant Metal Hero franchise with the 2012 film KAIZOKU SENTAI GOKAIGER VS. SPACE SHERIFF GAVAN (海賊戦隊ゴーカイジャーVS宇宙刑事ギャバンTHE MOVIE, Kaizoku Sentai Gookaijaa Tai Uchuu Keiji Gyaban Za Muubii). This October, the film slot that once went to Super Sentai’s “Versus” crossover films is instead going to SPACE SHERIFF GAVAN THE MOVIE (宇宙刑事ギャバン THE MOVIE), in which the original Gavan trains a younger successor. Compared to characters like Kikaider and Gavan, KYODYNE and IRON ROBOT 17 are fairly obscure. To compensate for that, the properties have been entirely reimagined to fit into Kamen Rider Fourze’s universe.
“In KAMEN RIDER FOURZE THE MOVIE, the KYODYNE siblings are reimagined as a sister and a brother. They are the first of a wave of evil Space Ironmen, robots powered by the “cosmic energy” that also powers the Astro Switches, created by a new villainous organization called the Alicia Federation. The robots gain self-awareness as part of an accident and go rogue, rebelling against the Federation. Ayumi Kinoshita (SPECIAL INVESTIGATION SQUADRON DEKARANGER) plays the sister, who transforms into the aerial Skydyne. Kohki Okada plays the brother, Harumi Saeda, who becomes Groundyne. The Alicia Federation sends an agent, Inga Blink (played by CUTIE HONEY THE LIVE lead Mikie Hara), who is tasked with hunting down the siblings. Aiding her is a third Space Ironman called Black Knight, a reimagined version of a major villain from the original KYODYNE TV series. Fourze and Meteor are caught up in the middle of the conflict, which soon begins to threaten the Earth itself.”
In addition to new villains and characters, Kamen Rider’s fall film typically introduces a new power of some sort for the hero. In Fourze’s case, the new power is the ability to change into the new form Kamen Rider Fourze Meteor States. This form combines the power of Fourze with that of his ally, Meteor, and seems to be the result of Fourze inserting the Meteor Switch that activates Meteor’s powers into the Fourze Driver. As the “movie form,” Meteor States is expected to be heavily merchandised, likely alongside the new designs for Skydyne and Groundyne.
Another tradition of the annual fall Kamen Rider films, though a more recent one, is including a scene that gives theater-goers a sneak peek at the star of next year’s entry in the Rider franchise. So KAMEN RIDER FOURZE THE MOVIE gives Japanese Rider fans their first look at Kamen Rider Wizard, whose television show begins airing on September 4. Wizard is a Rider who fights using his main weapon, the Wizard Sword-Gun, and magic rings that let him cast spells and change forms. Wizard appears in the film during a scene where Fourze is being attacked by the villains of his own TV show, the Horoscope Zodiarts. Wizard helps Fourze hold off these enemies. In the film, as in his TV series, Wizard will be voiced by Shunya Shiraishi.