Now it might seem silly to even debate this point. The title of the show is “Masked Rider” after all. However, this has been something that’s bugged me slightly ever since Samurai Flamenco brought it up in the first episode: Is Kamen Rider’s mask actually a mask or is it a helmet?
The definition of mask in this context refers to something that covers all or part of one’s face and while a Kamen Rider’s “mask” certainly does that it doesn’t stop there. The whole of their head is covered by a protective layer which would also make it a helmet.
Now we can argue this point back and forth but what does it mean either way? Well, if a Kamen Rider’s mask is actually a helmet then they’ve been lying to us all and can they really be considered true heroes of justice if that’s the case?
On the other hand if it really is just a mask then they’re riding motorbikes without a helmet and as Samurai Flamenco points out. This is hardly fitting behavior for a hero and doesn’t set a very good example.
Then of course we have Riders like Shin and Hibiki who don’t wear either, though in Shin’s case he doesn’t really ride a bike and neither of them are that well liked either so maybe they’ve already received their punishment for their heinous crime. We may have gotten those Shin Kamen Rider sequels if only he’d have obeyed traffic safety laws…
There’s also the issue of how Kamen Riders even see out of their masks. Both versions of Birth seemed to have an Iron Man style set up in theirs but Heads-Up Display (HUD) was hardly a thing in the Showa period and those big compound eyes don’t make for the clearest of viewing mediums – unless you want to see several dozen of the one thing you want to look at.
So what do we take away from this conundrum? Is it that sometimes even heroes have to blur the lines of morality at times to preserve peace? Or is it that “Masked Rider” Sounds cooler than “Helmeted Rider” and it’s best not to read too deeply into a kid’s show?
It’s probably that last one.