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First look: Kamen Rider zooms to U.S. audiences on new PlutoTV streaming channel

By Adam Pockross
Kamen Rider

Rider fight! Against all odds, and the most haunting of alien-cacti cackles, Kamen Rider is here to save the day versus the evil Cactogron in this exclusive clip celebrating the launch of Shout Factory’s all-new and completely free PlutoTV channel, TokuSHOUTsu.

Ardent Ultraman, Power Rangers, and Godzilla fans (aka our people) should see that’s a play on the word tokusatsu, the popular Japanese genre camply and amply filled with masked superheroes, gigantic monsters, and evil scientists. But if you haven't been to Japan, you’ve likely never seen Kamen Rider — the uber popular kid’s program and franchise fueller that features a motorcycling insect-inspired superhero hell bent on stopping the evil supervillains of Shocker.

Located at Channel 681, in the Tech + Geek section at PlutoTV, TokuSHOUTsu will launch with the very first episode of fan favorite Kamen Rider (translated from Japanese as Masked Rider Series), which originally aired in Japan on Apr. 3, 1971, but has been unavailable on any format in North America, until now.

Check out our sneak peek at the wacky action, featuring Kamen Rider teaming up with Kazuya Taki and Mr. Tachibana to take on the ever prickly Cactogron, who may have the most distinct sound effects of any alien ever inspired by a desert plant:

 Wow, what did we just witness? Squall Charlson, host of the TokuSHOUTsu channel’s new original weekly talk show, Let's Talk Toku, offers some expert intel:

“In Kamen Rider, there is an evil organization that goes by the name of Shocker. In the show, they kidnap and experiment on humans to create these super soldier monsters, this is essentially where our main hero Kamen Rider comes from as a result,” Charlson tells SYFY WIRE. “Cactogron is another monster of the week who can summon cactus swords, throw bombs, and he is also a renowned Shocker commander.”

Okay, so that explains (loosely) who Cactogron is, but what about his fearsome foes?

“Kazuya Taki is first introduced in episode 14, which is a very important episode due to many factors, the main one being that the actor playing the original Kamen Rider was severely hurt doing a stunt, and therefore had to leave the show,” says Charlson. “That meant a bunch of new characters were to be introduced. Kazuya is an FBI agent who is also traveling to Japan to head off Shocker's schemes. Mr. Tachibana, who served as mentor to the original Kamen Rider, is a great character, and one who originally portrayed a character on the first Ultraman series. Both these characters cross paths when Cactogron tricks Kazuya and tries to eliminate him, and Mr. Tachibana, who is on the Kamen Rider's bike, which is being auto-piloted for him, comes across the fight.”

Technically, this fight doesn’t include the original Kamen Rider, but Kamen Rider 2 aka Kamen Rider Nigo, who took up the mantle in the fight against Shocker until the return of the original Kamen Rider, at which point they brought double the Kamen Rider thunder.

Just knowing this much is enough to conclude that it’s high-time we finally got ourselves a dedicated tokusatsu channel, but Ari Shonfeld, TokuSHOUTsu channel manager at Shout! Factory TV, brings it home: “Everybody should let their imagination run wild and watch more TV shows and movies with tense storylines, fighting action, and massive monsters destroying cities!”

To get even more of a sense of what else is in store, check out the TokuSHOUTsu preview below:

As you can see, tokusatsu encompasses elements of both kaiju (“mysterious beast”) and kaijin (“mysterious person”), both of which will be omnipotent on TokuSHOUTsu, which features Kamen Rider, Ultraman Leo, and Super Sentai series like Chojin Sentai Jetman, Super Sentai Zyuranger, Gosei Sentai Dairanger, Ninja Sentai Kakuranger, Chouriki Sentai Ohranger, Gekisou Sentai Carranger, Denji Sentai Megaranger, Seijuu Sentai Gingaman, Kyuukyuu Sentai Gogofive, Mirai Sentai Timeranger, Hyakujuu Sentai Gaoranger, and Ninpuu Sentai Hurricaneger.

TokuSHOUTsu debuts on PlutoTV on Tuesday, Mar. 17, at 3 a.m. ET.