Friday, December 21, 2012
Wishful Casting: Kamen Rider Skull Edition
Kamen Rider Double was the first Rider show I enjoyed since Ryuki. Although I felt it was very candy-coated -- not all very Ridery -- it was fun, enjoyable, and not as offensive as a lot of the Rider shows right before it were. I think it could have easily been a little darker, taken itself more seriously AND been more Ridery, but Double had the misfortune of being in a post-Den-O world. God, imagine how cool this show could be if it treated its noir elements and hard-boiled setting seriously!
Right at the top of the show, they make a mystery out of who Shotaro's superior, Soukichi Narumi could be. We just see a Fake Shemp from behind, but of course it got you wondering who'd they possibly cast. (I was sure it would be someone like Hiroshi Miyauchi. Yeah, maybe he's a little too old to have a daughter as young as Akiko, but this is television, dammit!)
Narumi is such a cool role -- the mentor of Shotaro; the private detective who IS hard-boiled, who knows his stuff, who was cleaning up the streets of Fuuto before Shotaro was born, the one who Shotaro tries his damnedest to be, but can only imitate. I like Soukichi/Skull so much, that I think it would have been cool if they gave him a short-run, 12-episode series featuring just his adventures. I think there's a lot of cool possibilities for stories for him -- a true hard-boiled Kamen Rider that could be all noirish and awesome. Soukichi's the rare older hero in a toku, so they could have cast just about anybody, and they end up casting...Koji Kikkawa. That goofy guy who made an ass out of himself in music videos as the less-cool half of Complex in the late '80s? Well, that was disappointing to find out. But Kikkawa did end up surprising me, I was shocked at how well he played the role, and how believable he was as the cool, stoic, hard-boiled dude.
But, still. I always like seeing former toku people return. Once they cast Kikkawa, it hit me -- if they were going for someone who would make sense, age-wise, to father Akiko, someone from the '80s who inspired all of Shotaro's '80s-ish outfits, and ended up casting an '80s singer...wouldn't it have been cool if it was Daisuke Shima!?! Shima's gotten a kind of world-weary and sorrowful look to him as he's gotten older, and I think he could have made a pretty cool hard-boiled character. Add to that some coincidences like Shima releasing a few singles like in the '80s with titles like "Hardboiled Romance," that were meant to evoke noir-ish elements, and that, in the next to last episode of Double, Shotaro has a line that mentions "otoko no kunsho" -- which also happened to be the title of Shima's first hit song from '82. I seem to recall a couple of other coincidences, which at the time made me wonder if they WERE considering casting Shima (and the whole weight issue reared its head), but they've slipped my mind. Anyway, I think Shima would have been a cool Narumi. It would have been interesting to hear him sing "Nobody's Perfect," but the paradox is since Kikkawa composed that song, it wouldn't have been the same song...