What is an Anniversary Year? [Ultraman & Kamen Rider Edition]

This is quite the busy year for anniversaries! Kamen Rider turns fifty! Ultraman turns fifty-five! Super Sentai...continues! I wanted to make these posts to kinda catalog how anniversaries were handled in the past and to also kinda tackle Super Sentai's lazy history in a separate post.

I guess the first place we can start is the most consistent of the lot...

Ultra Series

By all accounts the Ultra series have followed a pretty linear history. Outside of a 25th Anniversary Charity CD Single in 1991, there was never a huge Anniversary push until 1996 when we given *all* of the Ultraman.

The floodgates seemed to open following Noboru Tsuburaya's untimely death (this family is cursed... I kinda love the baffling world of Tsuburaya pre-1996...more on that in a future post I'm guessing). Think of everything that happened with Ultraman... Ultraman Tiga was the first full-blown live-action Ultraman series since Ultraman 80 left the air in 1981, the Tunnels-helmed Ultraman Zearth made it's debut after being shunned from Toei in their attempts to bring legitimacy to their Rider parody, and we even got that Super Fighter Legend OVA that year. To top it off, we got the ultimate stamp of approval...an official theme song from Hironobu Kageyama called It Was 30 Years Ago.

The anniversaries since have been pretty standard. There have been some minor deviations like Ultraseven getting it's own anniversary (sure!), but they've mostly stuck to xxx6 and xxx1. Now that Tsuburaya has *finally* rid itself of the menace known as Chaiyo, we're being hit with the good stuff outside of Japan. Did I mention that the Chaiyo deal went down in 1976...? Yeah, that's how Ultraman spent his tenth anniversary. It's insane how it's taken this long to finally get things back on track.

This being the the year of the fifty-fifth anniversary we will be getting Shin Ultraman. I can't say I'm all too interested in it, but there is no denying that it's a massive celebration!

Yeah, the trailer for Shin Ultraman didn't really rub me the right way. That, ummm, POV shot from the remote control is utterly ridiculous... I know the plot will be different, but I feel like I've already seen this movie in Shin Godzilla.


As for the Ultraman design... I agree with it. It's definitely more in line with what Ultraman was designed to be...a lanky alien. I was always a little confused why Ultraman made the switch from Ultra Act to SHFiguarts. The thing that Ultra Act got right is the scaling. If Ultraman were scaled down to "human size" he would be like seven feet tall. Of course...he's an alien... The lack of a timer is also a smidge cleaner, but otherwise it's the look that we're all used to. No overbearing armor or overly alien features. It's basically Ultraman.

The new figure kinda looks goofy, though.

Kamen Rider Series

Much like Ultraman, there are large swaths of time where the franchise was devoid of new content, but anniversaries were kinda followed throughout.

The franchise had it's first relaunch in 1979 with Kamen Rider. It featured Skyrider as the hero followed by Kamen Rider Super 1 as the ninth Kamen Rider in late 1980.

The tenth Kamen Rider, Kamen Rider ZX made his radio (and theme song) debut in August of 1982. The TV movie didn't have it's debut until January of 1984, which kinda puts it nearer to the fifteen anniversary, but that doesn't seem to be an issue. It was the Tenth Rider Special, not the ten-year anniversary. You've probably noticed that Rider was more about team-ups than anniversaries. Unless you're talking Kamen Rider Black...

Kamen Rider Shin was the new Rider in the official twentieth anniversary project Shin Kamen Rider Prologue. Granted, the new V-Cinema was released direct to stores in 1992, it hit the mark better than ZX did before it. With the revival of Kamen Rider in 2000 we were finally given a timely anniversary with Kamen Rider Agito: Project G4. It was nice of Hiroshi Fujioka to drop in this time around.

No expense spared on this title screen from Shin Kamen Rider

From there...it's kinda been a free-for-all. Toei just seems to throw a Kamen Rider party whenever they damn please. We have Kamen Rider Decade, the tenth of the Heisei-revival era Riders in 2009, but we can't forget the random Kamen Rider: The First franchise re-imagine of 2005.

Once you get to the 2010s, the Rider crossovers are so numerous and redundant that if you can keep track of them...please seek help. If there is a difference between Kamen Rider Decisive Heisei Battle! Burning Hearts +α and Kamen Rider Heisei Battle MAX Heisei VS Neo Heisei, you're just wonderful.

As we're just entering the definitive fiftieth anniversary of the franchise, I'm sure we'll be seeing loads more.

Check out my post on Super Sentai. That's where things *really* get wacky...



What is an Anniversary Year? [Super Sentai Edition]
Song Collection: Kamen Rider Black RX
Song Collection: Sekai Ninja Sen Jiraiya


  1. Those Rider movie titles had me rolling. Too true. (Throw in some V-Cinema spin-offs well after the fact for extra confusion.)

    I remember reading that Shin was intended for release in '91, but Bandai made them hold onto it because '91 was Ultraman's anniversary and they didn't want to do two anniversaries, they wanted to focus on moving Ultraman stuff. And that's just hilarious to me, considering what it's like today, where they have no problem regularly celebrating all three big franchises' anniversaries.

    1. Really? I guess that would've made a bit more sense. Daiyogen~Fukkatsu no Kyoshin was also in 1992. Toei is a little weird about annual movies like that. Even in the 2000s... Zebraman, Kamen Rider The First, Sukeban Deka and then Kamen Rider The Next. Hmmm.