The first Kamen Rider series premiered in 1971, and since then there have been dozens of series with different characters, but the best leave lasting impressions on the audience. The Japanese term “Tokusatsu” refers to films or TV series that make use of a lot of special effects, and they tend to deal with monsters and various sci-fi elements. A prime example of this is the earlier Godzilla films and the Japanese Super Sentai shows that Power Rangers is based on. Besides Super Sentai, there is also the long-running Kamen Rider series.
Going strong for over 50 years and 30 seasons, the cultural influence of Kamen Rider is undeniable. Two minor planets have been named in honor of the series, one of them being “12796 Kamenrider.” The cream of the crop from Kamen Rider‘s franchise range from the early days of the franchise to modern retellings of those original stories and everything in between.
10 Kamen Rider Amazons
Based on the 1974 series Kamen Rider Amazon, Kamen Rider Amazons was a 2016 web series that aired on Amazon Prime Video. It was a retelling of the 1974 series with a more mature plot. Set in an alternate universe separate from the main Kamen Rider series, the show was considerably darker and much more violent. The more mature take is what was enjoyed by long-time franchise fans, giving a new look at tropes they already knew so well, and what makes it one of the best Kamen Rider series. The story focused on the duo Haruka Mizusawa and Jin Takayama who fight monsters known as “Amazons” after they are given the power to turn into Amazon Omega and Alpha respectively by the Nozama Pharmacy company.
9 Kamen Rider Agito
An indirect sequel to Kamen Rider Kuuga, Kamen Rider Agito is the 30th anniversary of the Kamen Rider franchise. The premise revolved around the amnesiac Shouichi Tsugami who has no recollection of his past life or how he gained the superpower to transform into Kamen Rider Agito. He does so whenever he comes in proximity to monsters who are referred to as the “Unknown,” who deem themselves as the defenders of humanity. Together with Kamen Rider G3 and Gills, he fights these murderous monsters while trying to uncover the mystery of his past. The concepts in Kamen Rider Agito are not that far removed from Power Rangers RPM (one of the top-rated Power Rangers series) with amnesiac heroes and villains and a team who has to save the world from monsters, which is why even those not completely familiar with the Kamen Rider franchise became interested in the series.
8 Kamen Rider Black RX
As the similarity in the title suggests Kamen Rider Black RX was the direct sequel to Kamen Rider Black and continued the story of Kotaro Minami. A chain of events transforms him into Kamen Rider Black RX and grants him newer powers, which he uses to fight the Crisis Empire and curb their attempts at taking over Earth. Even fans who haven’t seen all the best Kamen Rider series might be familiar with this one. The series was adapted for airing in North America by heavily changing the story and characters and publishing it under the new name of Masked Rider. It was meant to be a spin-off of the Power Rangers series.
7 Kamen Rider Kuuga
The tenth installment in the franchise, Kamen Rider Kuuga was the first series to entirely take place in the Heisei time period of Japan (which lasted from 1989 to 2019), and also the second Kamen Rider series to air in America, through the TokuSHOUTsu streaming service by the company Shout! Factory. It being accessible across the world is part of what has made the show so popular. The show featured only a single Kamen Rider (Yusuke Godai) who comes into contact with an ancient artifact by the name of Arcle which provides him with the power to fight against monsters known as Grongi. It’s rare for the franchise to feature a single Kamen Rider in a season, making for an interesting approach to the story.
6 Kamen Rider Zero-One
The 30th show in the long-running series, Kamen Rider Zero-One is the first one to take place in the “Reiwa” time period of Japan (or rather, in the present day). The plot follows Aruto Hiden, an aspiring comedian who finds himself as the CEO of Hiden Intelligence, the leading company in artificial intelligence research. Hiden Intelligence has developed human-like androids called HumaGears. Seeing the destruction caused by a terrorist group, he decided to take on the title of Kamen Rider Zero-One as a protector of humanity. The unique characters, like a comedian-turned-CEO, are part of the draw for this particular one of the best Kamen Rider shows.
5 Kamen Rider Black
The oldest entry among the best Kamen Rider series, Kamen Rider Black (also translated as Masked Rider Black sometimes) is one of the most famous Kamen Rider series. The 1987 show tells the story of stepbrothers Kotaro Minami and Nobuhiko Akizuki who are kidnapped by the criminal cult Gorgom as one of them is destined to be the next Gorgom Creation King. Kotaro manages to escape and dons the mantle of Kamen Rider Black to fight the Gorgom and rescue his brother, only to realize that it was too late as he had already changed sides.
4 Kamen Rider Gaim
In the fictional city of Zawame in Kamen Rider Gaim, The Yggdrasill Corporation is a major international company that set up its headquarters in the suburban town and has modernized it in a manner where the whole city is dependent on them for all kinds of services, referred to as “Jōkamachi” in Japanese. Kouta Kazuraba, an ex-member of a dance crew finds the Senguko Driver which allows him to turn into Armored Rider Gaim. Using his newly found powers he must fight the monsters that are appearing from a different dimension called “Inves,” and also other armored-Kamen Riders. Pitting Riders against one another is one of the big draws of the series.
3 Kamen Rider Faiz
Also known as Kamen Rider 555, the 2003 series is the 13th installment in the Kamen Rider franchise. The main antagonist group this time around is The Smart Brain corporation, the most powerful company in the fictional world of Kamen Rider 555; they are trying for total world domination by killing off the entire human popular and replacing them with “Orphnochs,” who are apparently the next stage in humanity’s evolution. The most powerful company in the world being the villains is commentary fans could get behind. Takumi Inui, the Wolf Orphnoch, and his comrades utilize the Rider Gears technology to turn into Kamen Riders and save humanity.
2 Kamen Rider W
The 2009 series Kamen Rider W takes place in the harmonious and ecologically developed city of Futo where the Sonozaki Family is trying to sabotage the peace of the people by selling substances called “Gaia Memories” to criminals who use it to turn into superpowered beings called “Dopants.” They use their powers to terrorize the city and some even turn into monsters. The show features the “two-in-one Kamen Rider” duo, a detective Shotaro Hidari and a mysterious library-boy Phillip who use the power of the Double Driver belts to protect Futo. As one of the best Kamen Rider series, the show even got a sequel anime series so that fans could have even more stories with their favorite characters.
1 Kamen Rider Build
The 28th series in the franchise, Kamen Rider Build was the first TV series in the franchise to take place in an alternate universe, similar to the 2016 web series Kamen Rider Amazons. The plot revolves around an object called the “Pandora Box” that was brought to Earth following a successful Mars expedition, which caused a national cataclysm in Japan and split the country into three regions with a barrier called Skywall. Genius physicist Sento Kiryu and his acquaintances fight the monsters called “smash” which were indirectly created by the catastrophe as Kamen Riders. Though Kamen Rider continues to create new series, Kamen Rider Build is the best Kamen Rider show so far.