Sunday, May 22, 2011

Kamen Rider 40th anniversary festival in Inuyama

Monkey Park in Inuyama, Gifu, played host to a 40th anniversary salute to Toei's blockbuster superhero franchise, Kamen Rider, on May 22.

Although it's virtually ignored in the U.S., Kamen Rider's 40th anniversary is being widely observed in Japan. For instance, at McDonald's restaurants across Japan, kids can get Kamen Rider toys with their Happy Meals (or Happy Sets, as they're called here). Not only that, but celebratory events are beginning to take place in various parts of the country. One such event took place in Inuyama, Gifu, Japan (hopefully I didn't need to mention that last part!).

A different sort of ride for the one and only Kamen Rider.

I first became aware of the Kamen Rider tribute at Inuyama's Monkey Park last month. Ever since then, I've planned to attend. Despite being a little wary of making the trip (considering how out of the way Monkey Park is from my home), I kept my plans to take part in the event. And am I glad I did!

The entrance to a virtual Kamen Rider hall of fame. Henshin!

I was surprised at how elaborate the event was. I figured we'd get a stage show and perhaps a few other goodies, but I wasn't expecting a Kamen Rider hall of fame that would put Mt. Olympus to shame!

Riders on the storm: These brave superheroes greet tokusatsu fans seeking shelter from the rainy weather outside!

You just don't see anything like this in the United States! As soon as you enter the building, these incredibly lifelike Kamen Rider statues are the first thing visitors see. Truly a sight for sore eyes!

All the motivation you'll ever need to learn to read kanji!

I shoulda studied Japanese a bit more before I came! The walls were covered with such informational posters, but sadly, I couldn't make heads or tails of them!

I got by with a little help from my friends!

Now here's a classic photo! Remember what I said about how there's nothing like this in the States? Well, multiply that by 100! Photo opportunities like this are what made this 40th-anniversary festival so memorable.

Super-deformed in more ways than one! As you can see, not all displays were so lifelike!

Now that I've described the basic setup of the event, I'll let the photos do the talking (well, for the most part!).

Move over, Superman! This is a job for some real heroes!

Now that's a keepsake! Shirts like these, commemorating the 40th anniversary, were on sale in a nearby gift shop. Naturally, I snatched one up!

Your newest henshin hero? Well, maybe not. Nice shirt, though.

Yours truly with Kamen Rider! SHOCKER, watch out!

There was even more fun to be had outside, where a meet and greet with Kamen Riders through the ages was scheduled to take place. However...

It's a madhouse! The "lineup" (more like dog pile!) to pose for a picture with the Riders was nothing short of chaotic. It was more of a zoo than Monkey Park itself!

The only criticism I can muster is that the meet and greet with the various Kamen Riders was disorganized, leaving people pushing and shoving each other to pose for picture with the guys in the costumes whose attention is being pulled in every possible direction. Surprisingly, there were no staff members organizing the lineup and controlling the flow of fans. It was a total free-for-all. Still, with a little patience (and preferably a crash helmet!), it was possible for everyone to get through the line. 

Say goodbye, folks. It's time for these Riders to ride off into the sunset.

All in all, Monkey Park's 40th anniversary celebration of Kamen Rider was a blast. Sure, traveling back and forth was a pain, but I had a lot more fun than I expected, and all the hassle was well worth it. For more information on Monkey Park, follow this link (all in Japanese).

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