Published on: September 29, 2013
What happens when you combine Kamen Rider with GTO? Well, pretty good things, actually.
The popular manga series about a delinquent-fighting superhero teacher gets the drama treatment in this live-action adaptation. I’ll be honest, I never really heard of Kamen Teacher before the news broke earlier this year. So, my mind was kind of blown when I heard the concept for the series. But after seeing this first episode with all of its Kamen Rider references, I think I may end picking up this manga as well.
The basic premise of the story is that in a future time, teachers have lost all power to discipline their students. As a result, students have gone a bit out of control and do whatever the hell they want without the fear of detention, suspension or even arrest in some cases. To help clean up this mess, the Government implements a new plan called the Kamen Teacher Program who are allowed to deal with delinquent students with any means necessary. Araki Gota is one of those Teachers
This first episode starts off with a quick flashback to an incident that happened a little over a year ago. Kamen Teacher suffers a terrible loss as a result, one which he has to carry from then on. Cut to the present day and we see Gota transferred to a new school. His job is to straighten out Class 2C at the Hanazora Academy who are deemed to be the worst class on campus. Gota quickly learns why as he is confronted by members of the M4 crew, one of which, Bon, has been stirring up trouble recently. Being from a rich family, he offers up large sums of money to see friends fight one another. Gota must work hard both in and out of the mask to get through to Bon, who has his own issues to deal with.
Judging from this episode alone, it’s a pretty interesting blend of Kamen Rider and Great Teacher Onizuka. The character of Gota isn’t as brash as Onizuka to any degree. He’s a very optimistic teacher who wants to connect with every student in his class. In a lot of ways he’s like Gentaro from Kamen Rider Fourze, to the point where he can tell a person’s character by how they punch him in the face. Seriously, this could very well pass as an after-Fourze spin off with Gentaro as the lead and I’d totally buy it as the concept.
On top of that, Gota is just a very likable guy. He’s passionate about his work but very aloof and sometimes wrongfully confident when it comes to women, such as his colleague Ichimura Miki. And the actor, Fujigaya Taisuke, pulled off the role better than I thought. I’ve only ever seen him as a part of boy band group, Kis-MY-Ft2, so I wasn’t sure how his acting would be. But he sold the role to me as both Gota and Kamen Teacher.
Right from the start, you encounter many references that hark back to the Kamen Rider series, especially the original series. From the intro sequence to the way that Gota acquires his bike, hell, even the narrator is a nod to the franchise. The design of the mask for Kamen Teacher is pretty cool. It is kind of weird seeing it on top of a normal black suit, especially when you see how it is displayed in his so-called utility closet. It kind of reminds me of the design for the Masquerade Dopants in Kamen Rider W. It’s still pretty badass, though.
There isn’t too much fighting in the show since it is a drama, but the fighting that did take place in the episode was pretty solid. I had a few issues with some of the editing cuts during the scenes, since they unnecessarily cut away from connecting hits sometimes. I doubt it has anything to do with ratings sinceKamen Rider and Sentai do it all the time. Maybe it was a stylistic choice, but it was a little distracting since the suit actor clearly knew what he was doing and the choreography was impressive. I think just the camerawork held it back a tad.
I quite enjoyed the first episode. It wasn’t as amazing as I thought it would be, since if you take out the Kamen Teacher element from the show, it basically turns into a toned down version of GTO. But I definitely liked what I saw. I’d say that if you are a fan of either Kamen Rider or GTO, or both, give this show a shot. It has enough of both tokusatsu and drama elements to keep you interested.