Hideaki Anno has stealthily become the No. 1 re-interpreter of Japanese pop culture. After creating Neon Genesis Evangelion in the mid ’90s, he spent most of the ensuing 25 years issuing redos of it in some way or another. In 2016, Anno tackled maybe Japan’s largest export by writing and co-directing Shin Godzilla, a reimagining of the original 1954 film set firmly in the bureaucratic world of modern Japan. To follow that, he wrote 2021’s upcoming Shin Ultraman, a similar retelling of that superhero tale. And now, as of this weekend, Anno will set his sights on Shin Kamen Rider.
As part of Kamen Rider‘s 50th anniversary celebration on April 3, parent company Toei announced Anno will helm his retelling of the origin story, set for release in 2021. Created by famed manga writer-artist Shotaro Ishinomori (who also created other Japanese hero staple Super Sentai) Kamen Rider tells the story of a brilliant young college student and motorcycle enthusiast; demonic organization Shocker kidnaps him and forcibly turns him into a cyborg to do their bidding. He escapes before the mind-controlling portion and henceforth becomes a masked vigilante cyborg with inexplicably insectoid features.
In a press conference on Saturday, Anno said “I got a lot out of the TV show 50 years ago, and 50 years later, I started this project with the feeling that I’d like to return the favor in a small way.”
He also added that, because of COVID-19, the project, has had to push back two years. He hopes fans will think it’s worth the wait. The finished film, he promises, will be enjoyable to people regardless of if they’re familiar with Kamen Rider. (ht: Kotaku)
This puts Anno in one of the rarest positions of any creative in film. Three different, completely unrelated, rival media companies—Toho, Tsubaraya Productions, and now Toei—will have given their biggest cultural properties to him to basically reimagine however he sees fit. Shin Godzilla made the giant lizard even more monstrous than before; while Shin Ultraman looks pretty true to the initial intent, the brief teaser we’ve seen shows a similar real-world slant on the material.
The teaser image for Shin Kamen Rider looks to play up the property’s more horror-tinged aspects. (The first series is pretty scary at times.) It gives the character a much darker visual edge. I really dig it. If Shin Ultraman is as good as it looks, then I have nothing but confidence for Anno’s Japanese pop culture hattrick.