Sunday, September 30, 2018

KAMEN RIDER X REUNION! Forty-Four Years Later, Two Toei Heroes Ride Again!

Suit actor Kazuo Niibori (left) and actor Ryo Hayami strike the famed Kamen Rider pose. Photo by Brett Homenick.

Today, I attended a special Showa Hero event in Nakano, Tokyo, in which two veterans of the Kamen Rider series reunited and hosted a Q&A session, as well as signed autographs.

Suit actor Kazuo Niibori.

Kazuo Niibori is a veteran Kamen Rider and Super Sentai suit actor. He started with both franchises from the very beginning, suit-acting as Kamen Rider 1 and Kamen Rider 2 in the original Kamen Rider (1971-73), as well as Akaranger in Himitsu Sentai Goranger (1975-77). In fact, Niibori-san would go on to don the red suit in the Super Sentai series all the way up through Chojin Sentai Jetman (1991-92).

Likewise, he played multiple Kamen Riders early in the series' history, which includes stints as Kamen Rider 1 in Kamen Rider V3 (1973-74), Kamen Rider X in Kamen Rider X (1974), Kamen Rider Amazon in Kamen Rider Amazon (1974-75), Kamen Rider Stronger in Kamen Rider Stronger (1975), Sky Rider in Sky Rider (1979-80), and Kamen Rider Black RX in Kamen Rider Black RX (1988-89). Along the way, he played the titular hero in Daitetsujin 17 (1977) and even guested on episode 10 of the Toho superhero series Megaloman (1979). (He appears as an out-of-the-suit baddie in that one.) He also played one of Ulrov's henchmen in the feature film Espy (1974).

Actor Ryo Hayami. Photo by Brett Homenick. 

Also in attendance was actor Ryo Hayami. Hayami-san joined Daiei Studios in 1969. Under the stage name Sanshiro Honoo, he portrayed Keisuke Sawada (one of the main characters) in Gamera vs. Jiger (1970). He is much better known these days, however, for starring as Keisuke Jin in Kamen Rider X, which of course was the theme of the day.

The event started off with a fun (but brief) stage show in which Niibori-san did battle with with an event staff member. It was a lot of fun to see one of Toei's most celebrated suit actors do what he does best. Both guests were quite friendly and enjoyed themselves immensely. Despite not being very familiar with Kamen Rider, I enjoyed this foray into the world of Kamen Rider X.

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