Katarou! 555, Blade, Hibiki
Source: 語ろう! 555・剣・響鬼 【永遠の平成仮面ライダーシリーズ】 (2015)
Katarou! 555, Blade, Hibiki
Book of interviews with various people regarding 555, Blade and Hibiki. Second book in the series; Stuff from the first book is here.
Interviewer is Tanida Shuntarou (谷田俊太郎).
Urobuchi Gen (pg 127-166)
-They reveal that during the interview in the previous book (Katarou! Kuuga, Agito, Ryuuki) Urobuchi had already been hired to work on Gaim, but wasn't allowed to talk about it. It was pretty much just after he'd been contacted by Toei.
-The interviewer reveals that Urobuchi had told him about this off-record that the belt was "fancy" this time, but when he heard rumours that it was fruit-themed he didn't believe even with this prior knowledge.
-The fruit theme came as a surprise to Urobuchi too, because when he met with producer Takebe Naomi she said she wanted him to bring Kamen Rider back to the early Heisei style. She told him that recent riders were getting repetitive and insular, and wanted him to break that trend, and when he agreed she showed him the orange.
-The word "Lockseed" hadn't been thought up by that time, but the fruit and lock theme was already there; They had photographs of a prototype for him at the first meeting, and an actual prototype at the second.
-To Urobuchi, "early Heisei" means Agito. Ryuuki and 555 were also turning points. To him the peak is Kuuga. But he feels that it's hard to categorize all of early Heisei together, since they all explored different paths. It was only from W and on that the shows in the series started heading in the same direction. He thinks that early Heisei was an attempt to break off from Showa, and once they'd explored all the possibilities and calmed they settled on what we have now.
-He watched everything from Kuuga to 555, but from Blade and on he did so on video, sometimes skipping episodes, so he's less familiar with those series.
-The interviewer talks about the surprise of a fruit-themed belt, and compares it to 555's phone. Urobuchi says he's completely fine with 555's phone. Urobuchi says that to him, the belt (and being a rider) has to be something scary, which is something that goes back to the original riders being Shocker mutants, and maybe he's just old but he thinks mobile phones are totally scary; There are plenty of horror stories revolving around them, after all. He notes how pervasive smartphones are and wonders why they haven't made a smartphone belt yet, wondering if it's because they already did 555. He mentions how cool 555 as a rider is both in terms of the design and the movements.
-The interviewer asks Urobuchi what he thinks of Hibiki's taiko. Urobuchi thinks it fits the rider's design and youkai theme perfectly. If he were just told "the belt is a taiko" he'd have been surprised, but if he were told "it's a youkai with a taiko" that makes sense to him.
-The interviewer mentions how playing cards were also used as the theme for JAKQ Dengekitai and Urobuchi comments on how easy it is to link cards to horror through gambling. It's easy to think up stuff with most themes, but he had real trouble thinking of how to turn oranges into something evil. He could only come up with food-related disaster, or natural disaster. That's how he reached "malice without a reason" = Hellheim. When turning plants into something scary, he figured that the only thing to do would be to focus on their ability to propagate and take over the environment . Another source for the idea was the power of organisations. He wanted to use something that would be scary for children, and figured 3/11 was the most scary thing at the time, and so went with natural disasters and the environment itself as an enemy.
-The interviewer mentions how Gaim had a lot of "fears". The fruit of Hellheim, the fear from killing someone, the fear of being fooled by adults, the fear of your own body changing, and notes how this is similar to early Heisei riders. Urobuchi says he's surprised he managed to get away with all this; At the very first meeting everyone told him to tone down the violence. He was wondering what the hell a non-violent tokusatsu hero would be, would this hero make his enemies repent with a catharsis beam?
-The interviewer recalls that during the previous interview, when Urobuchi told him (off-record) that he'd be writing the next Rider, he said he'd like to see something like 555 again, but Urobuchi said he'd been told that it's no longer possible to make something like 555. He asks Urobuchi what he thinks "something like 555" means. Urobuchi says they meant stuff like people being killed by monsters and turning to dust. The interviewer asks what about things like the first monster Kouta killed turning out to be his friend Yuuya, and Hase's death, and Urobuchi said they were necessary; He was, after all, hired to make something like early Heisei riders. What impressed him the most in 555 was how they seriously turned the protagonist into one of the monsters, and the Grongi in Kuuga were truly scary. He thinks that this is what defines Kamen Rider: For children, it's the next step after Super Sentai, that teaches them that courage comes from overcoming fear. He thinks that that hurdle of fear has to be one that gives a challenge and makes you feel like it was worth it to overcome it. If not, children will succumb when confronted with real horror.
-The interviewer asks is he's saying that "safe" stuff is actually not good for children, and Urobuchi says this is precisely it. It's not like monsters are going to jump out of the TV and actually harm people, so horror on TV ought to be exaggerated. It helps children to form mental images to train for real situations where they might actually get hurt. It beats bringing them to the middle east to show them what life is like there, to show them that there are places on Earth where people get shot and die on a daily basis. But that's something they'll have to handle when they grow up as an extension of their world, and teaching them that all that takes place in another world that has nothing to do with them so they have nothing to worry about isn't proper education. They ought to be taught that fearsome things really do happen in this world, and they should be prepared.
-Urobuchi says Hase turned out to be a great character so it's a pity he had to die. It was something decided upon in the planning stages so they couldn't back out of it.
-The interviewer asks if there were people against the plot point where it turns out that Kouta had killed Yuuya. Urobuchi says it was fine because there was this mysterious rule that it's fine if they're monsters, and that he'd been told, over and over, that the monsters are pretty much the same thing as zombies.
-The interviewer notes how riders typically do not use the word "kill" ("korosu"), substituting it with "defeat" ("taosu"), but Kouta did say that he wouldn't be a killer. Urobuchi says that the wording there was a conscious choice that he was ready to fight for, and that he was surprised that it got approved. When that sort of expression is clamped down on it's done thoroughly, but the criteria are a mystery, and he sometimes thinks it's entirely up to whether or not the people in charge are in a good mood. But one thing that they were absolutely thorough about was having anti-establishment children: He wanted the Beat Riders to be children rebelling against an establishment of adults, but was told there was no way he could do that. That's why he ended up having to turn them into these weird "dancers loved by the people and city". He wanted it to be about turf wars, but had to turn it into hobbyists who got approval from city hall to dance on official stages. He was fine with this since he didn't consider these to be main themes.
-He thought it'd be difficult so this was all expected. The people at Toei are afraid of complaints, and constantly told him about Fourze, where they received massive amounts of complaints from parents about the main character's pompadour hairstyle. This got them really paranoid and they now do their best to remove in advance anything that could result in any complaints.
(In case you're unaware: In Japan, the pompadour hairstyle is heavily associated with the "yankee" gangsters of the Showa period, and juvenile delinquents in general)
(Pages 127-136 covered, to be updated later)