3 RIDERS VS GENERAL DARK (Or, “Yes, People Knew About Kamen Rider In 1984″)

Talk about rare finds! A couple of years ago, I’d heard of this US Kamen Rider fan-film featuring Oriental Cinema‘s Damon Foster, fandom pillar August Ragone and (apparently) some suit-work by Steve Wang, but I’d believed it lost to the ages. Shows what I know, because it’s been posted on YouTube in two parts for your viewing pleasure! Say what you will about the quality but damn if this isn’t impressive for its time!

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戦え! ヒーロークロスライン! [FIGHT! HERO CROSS LINE!]

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Back in 2001, Tomokazu Seki starred in a three-part OVT (Original Video Tokusatsu…or would it be OTV? Whatever…) series called Gingaroid Cosmo X. Seki played the role of Hiroshi Jumonji, a young man whose identity the titular Gingaroid assumes after he dies saving his life from the Monster of the Week. After the series wrapped up, there were many that wished that Cosmo X could have been a proper series and even during my interview with him at Otakon two years ago, Seki said that he would want to do more projects of that caliber. However, it all seemed like it was never to be….until now.

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Last year marked the start of the “Hero Cross Line“. Think of it as the Japanese equivalent of “Stan Lee Presents”; Magazine Z (which is also home to Kamen Rider Spirits and the current arc of Sakura Taisen) teamed up with Yahoo.jp’s Comic site to unleash a lineup of “Heroes for the 21st Century”. The other big aspect is that now all the titles are linked into one universe with the dominant storyline apparently being in the pages of TheEnd, a hero manga by the author of Kamen Rider Spirits. While most of the lineup has appeared in the pages of Magazine Z, others are/have been webcomics and e-manga on Yahoo Comics. Among them is, you guessed it, the epic return of Cosmo X.

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The webcomic is written by Seki himself with art by Jun Sasameyuki, best known for his work on Louie The Rune Soldier. Sadly I can’t tell you much else as the manga looks only to be available to Japanese residents and also costs money. While I can only hope for a proper Tankobon release, in the meantime, the Hero Cross Line is starting to come to life…in audio form.

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Appearing alongside the likes of Wataru Takagi (Gundam X) and Yumiko Kobayashi (Excel Saga), Seki reprised his role as Hiroshi Jumonji/Cosmo X for a short radio drama crossover in Ginga Roid Cosmo X IN Hero Cross Line: Cross With The Hero Cross Line!. The drama was recently unveiled on an episode of Tomokazu Seki’s radio show, Radio Big Bang but the story will carry on into a Drama CD coming out on March 3rd. No word on whether or not the Radio Drama will appear on it as well but you’d think that it would though.

Okay, I’m sure I’m probably one of the only ten people in the states that gave a damn about Cosmo X but this is still a pretty neat event. I wish more of the Hero Cross Line manga were being translated though so I could fully appreciate it. (Especially Necroman, a cross between The Skull Man and Ash from Evil Dead!) In the meantime, I’m waiting with baited breath for the Drama CDs release and a hopeful tankobon collection of the Cosmo X webcomic.

Retrospective In Print

With the death of Newtype USA fastly approaching, I’ve been in something of a nostalgic mood. It really kicked into overdrive when I was in the middle of dismantling Christmas here at my place and I rescued a couple of old magazines along with my slightly warped Guyver models.

See, when I was a kid, there were two Japanese print magazines that I always kept up with until their respective demises. Oh and one from Canada. I think. Meh, I’ll look into some other time. Back to what I was saying, these two mags were always on my shopping list and with the death of Newtype, it got me thinking about them again as I read through them again. So, seeing as how I keep going on and on about them and because I’m sure you guys are just dying to know what the hell I’m even talking about, I figured a good ol’ fashioned retrospective is in order.

DISCLAIMER: No I am not an expert on the full history of each mag. I’m going off of what I can translate off of Wikipedia and personal memory. If I fudged up anything, email me at r5centralATgmail.com and call me on it.

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1.) B-Club – 1985~1998
The short version: Any and all things Bandai with a lower page count than Newtype but with all the informational content of several Wikipedia pages on a monthly basis

I had a quasi-subscription to this when I was a kid. By that I mean whenever a new one came in, I’d be the first to go for it at the local anime shop. Think of it as Newtype…but with Anime, Tokusatsu, Gunpla, Doujinshi reviews done in a Giant Robot staff review style, two page Illustration Page art spreads, Red (Freaking) Masoleum by Keita Amemiya (some of the best artwork I’ve ever seen in a mag), illustrated editorials and a freaking Karaoke column.

This could very well be the predecessor to Newtype THE LIVE with its Tokusatsu focus at the time, second only to Uchusen Quarterly (which I’ll get to in a sec). B-Club was where the epilogue manga to Chojin Sentai Jetman was first published back in 1996. Before that, B-Club ran a side story manga to Shaider revolving around his assistant, Annie, and her adventures around the world.

(Sadly, to my knowledge, that manga can’t be found anywhere in collected form. However, the Jetman Epilogue is available in a single volume. Click the previous link for a translation and synopsis)

The magazine ended in 1998 where it then turned into Dengeki B-Magazine which then made the transformation into Dengeki Hobby Magazine some time later and has remained so ever since. God I miss it. Especially because we got such gems like this fan drawing that shows what would have happened if Hiroshi Miyauchi had been a proper member of Ohranger.

(Scan forthcoming)

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2.) Space Magazine Uchusen Quarterly (aka Uchusen) - 198?~2005
The Short Version: Japanese equivalent of Starlog

This was the first Japanese print magazine I ever bought into back in 1994. Rather large format with features on Japanese and American Science Fiction, Tokusatsu, Special Effects, and Indie Productions. Yes that’s right, a whole section in the back dedicated to indie productions. Right down to that original Kamen Rider flick that only a select few remember seeing and Line The Barbarian…..

…Yeah, the rest of that episode is just like that opening.

How ironic that the anime shop that I bought this from ended around the same time that Uchuusen ended its run in 2005. I still treasure those few issues that I managed to get my hands on to this day and wish I could have gotten more. You can find back issues on eBay and around the net but they’ll most likely go for a pretty penny depending on the feature. (I wish I could scan some stuff in but I don’t have the room to keep the issues stacked permanently -_-).

Apparently though, some staff from Uchuusen made their way into Hobby Japan if the Japanese Wikipedia entry is right so the legacy sort of lives on. It’d be nice if they just did the Yearbooks at the end of the year again. Le sigh.

Highlights to speak of: Eight issue Gerry Anderson review, Indie production index in the back along with reviews, and that really creepy make up FX school add that had that guy who had his face made up like something was trying to climb out of his cheek.

Yeah. You’re not getting a scan of that one.

Be Forever, Vending Machine Red

As of late, I’ve been following the Japanese web series, Vending Machine Red.

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Basically take the staples of 1970’s tokusatsu, set a majority of it in Akihabara with a sexy android assistant/arch-nemesis, and turn your main heroes into two robotic Coca-Cola vending machines, and that sums up the chaos and awesomeness that is Vending Machine Red.

Sadly though, just in time for the holidays, the series has had its final episode, “Vending Machine Red, Throughout Eternity…”. Forgive me while I sob manly tears for our heroes….

However, fear not brave fans, I have recieved the following message from the maker/creator of the show via Youtube after my comments of manly tears:

hey ya
thanks for comment
wait for the 2nd season

…THE LEGEND SHALL NEVER DIE!!!