A Japanese Schoolgirl Finally Rides with Kamen RiderS

Ever since Kamen Rider first fired up his motorcycle over forty years ago and kicked evil Shocker ass, one thing has been missing: a pleated-skirt and sailor-suit-wearing rider. That will change.

Kamen Rider is a tokusatsu series that debuted in the early 1970s. It's since spun off movies, toys, and video games.

This December, Kamen Rider will get its first schoolgirl rider, played by popstar Erina Mano, in upcoming flick Kamen Rider × Kamen Rider Fourze & OOO: Movie War Megamax. The 20-year-old Mano first got her start in Morning Musume's talent agency.

Schoolgirl characters are not new to Kamen Rider (heck, the latest Kamen Rider, Kamen Rider Fourze, is set in a high school). This isn't even the first female Kamen Rider as the series has had lady riders for years.

A Japanese Schoolgirl Finally Rides with Kamen RiderS
(東映)

Mano, however, will play a mysterious student named Nadeshiko Misaki, who transforms into Kamen Rider Nadeshiko. This is Kamen Rider's first schoolgirl rider.

The moniker "Nadeshiko", which traditionally refers to the ideal Japanese woman, actually comes from Japan's female soccer team Nadeshiko Japan, which recently won the World Cup.

Kamen Rider Nadeshiko's outfit is inspired by the female soccer team's uniform, not to mention traditional schoolgirl sailor uniforms.

The character even has a special move that's in a reference to Homare Sawa's backwards heel kick World Cup goal.

"She's tough," Kamen Rider producer Hideaki Tsukada told Sponichi. "In that outward cuteness, there's also an intense degree of strength. Her appeal lies in the gap between those two points."

Creators have long been using the gap between cute and violent in schoolgirl portrayals, whether that be Japanese exploitation films like Terrifying Girls' High School or anime Blood: The Last Vampire—or even video games like Street Fighter. And in December 2011, it will be used in Kamen Rider × Kamen Rider Fourze & OOO: Movie War Megamax.

The integration of a tough schoolgirl and women's soccer is far more welcomed (and interesting) than that uninspired Kamen Rider idol group launched late last year. Megamax, they weren't.

Culture Smash is a daily dose of things topical, interesting and sometimes even awesome—game related and beyond.
(Top photo: 仮面ライダー×仮面ライダー フォーゼ&オーズ MOVIE大戦MEGAMAX | 東映)

You can contact Brian Ashcraft, the author of this post, at bashcraft@kotaku.com. You can also find him on Twitter, Facebook, and lurking around our #tips page.