The fans at Hensin Justice Unlimited got a chance to submit questions for Nathan Long (Head Writer from Kamen Rider Dragon Knight). To sum up the interview, a lot of things plot-wise weren’t able to come into fruition due to “time and budget”. I definitely have an opinion on Long’s responses (and a lot of these questions), but I think I’ll leave that to the podcast. For now, here’s the interview in its entirety:
Before I get started answering questions, there are two things I’d like to say.
The first is, thank you. I want to thank everyone who watched the show, and who posted their comments on the HJU forums. Whether you liked the show or didn’t like the show, or thought it was ‘meh,’ the fact that you watched and cared enough to comment meant a lot to me. Without feedback and criticism, a writer does not learn or grow. We need to hear what works and what doesn’t work. We need to know if we got the story across in a way people understood, and if people liked and cared for our characters. All of you, regardless of your opinions, were very helpful in this, and I will take these lessons to heart.
The second thing is that you will find that the answer to quite a lot of your questions will boil down to the same two things – budget and time. Kamen Rider Dragon Knight was not a show with a lot of money. I don’t know exactly what the ‘per episode’ was, but I would guess it was close to half what it was for a typical Power Rangers episode. Because of the low budget, we didn’t have a lot of time. We shot each episode in three days, again, roughly half the allotment for a Power Rangers episode. Considering those limitations, I think the directors, cast and crew did an incredible job, but it did mean that there were some things we wanted to do that were just not feasable, and that some things that we did do that could have been done better if we had only had the time and money to do them over.
Okay, on to the questions!
1 – Why did Eubulon choose Chance, Price and Hunt out of the other Ventaran Kamen Riders?
NL – Because those were the costumes that we had the most Japanese fighting footage of.
2 – If Eubulon was going to bring Kase back, why did he choose Maya to be Siren II?
NL – They needed help right away, and there was no guarantee how quickly Eubulon would find Kase in the Advent Void. He chose Maya because she was available and knew what was going on. Also, we thought it would be cool to give Maya something to do other than bang on windows and say, “Look out, Kit!”
3 – What was the purpose of making the Onyx deck and for bringing back Kit?
NL – The backstory for the Onyx deck, which we never really found time to tell in the show, was that it was a prototype upgrade Eubulon was working on before Xaviax knocked him out of Ventara and into Earth. As for bringing back Kit, we brought him back because he was the star of the show.
4 – I have a little bit of problems with the Survive Mode story that was chosen. It could have been that there were two survive cards in existance because making them required a lot of energy and Eubulon could only make two so all of his life force wasn’t permanently drained.
NL – Er, you haven’t really asked a question, but…
There were enough survive mode cards for every Kamen Rider. Kase only had time to grab two when Xaviax came to wreck the Kamen Rider base and she escaped with Len. This is a little cheesy, I know, but we did not have the budget to make new survive modes for the costumes that didn’t already have them.
5 – Adam’s story is a little complex, would you mind explaining it to me?
NL – Well, I’ll try. I hope you’ve got a minute.
63 years ago, Xaviax attacked Ventara and was defeated, but not before knocking Eubulon into Earth. Thinking Eubulon was dead, the Kamen Riders, who could no longer unlink themselves from their beasts without him, or pass the decks on to new Kamen Riders once they got old, decided that the best way to protect Ventara was to put themselves into suspended animation until a new threat to Ventara arose and they were needed again. They would each take turns staying awake while the others slept. Each would remain awake for a year before waking up the next and going back to their pod. This means that each of them was awake once every twelve years for the last 63 years.
Adam was 17 when Eubulon was defeated, and was awakened four times, making him 21 or 22 the last time he was woken up, which was a little more than a year ago as far as the continuity of the show is concerned. By that time, Xaviax had returned, but had not yet revealed himself. He was biding his time, waiting until a rider was awake that he could bend to his purposes.
In Adam’s last duty year, Ventara was a happy, normal world with no threats to deal with. Waiting out his time, Adam met and fell in love with Sara. It was therefore heartbreaking to him that he had to go back into suspended animation for 12 years. He knew she would be twelve years older than him when he came out again, and he couldn’t ask her to wait for him.
This was the weakness Xaviax had waited for. He appeared to Adam as Paragon, a collegue of Eubulon’s, and told him he could unlink and relink the decks, which would allow Adam to give up being a Kamen Rider and be with Sara. Adam, following his heart rather than his head, let Paragon into the base so that the other Kamen Riders could also be unlinked if they so chose. There, Paragon revealed himself to be Xaviax, and blasted all the sleeping riders into the Advent Void, except Len and Kase, who woke up just in time to escape.
Before Kase or Len could recover, Xaviax set up his receivers, planted his transmitters, and transported all the Ventarans to Karsh. He thought Kase was dead, but knew that Len was still out there somewhere, and so held Adam in reserve. Adam didn’t want anything to do with Xaviax, but when Xaviax offered him life with Sara in a fake Ventara, he took it, and has been on ice ever since.
6 – So why did you make Adam the titular character in the second half? Why not bring him back as Onyx instead? You build up and develop Kit, only to push him to the side near the end? When he could have easily returned as Dragon Knight Adam could have returned as Onyx, and you’d still be able to tell the same stories albeit with different fight scenes.
NL – Well, for a couple of reasons. Primarily, we still had a few Japanese action scenes where Dragon Knight fought Wing Knight, and we couldn’t see any good reason, so late in the story, for Kit and Len to be mad at each other. They had pretty much patched up all their differences by Ep 30. Also, the name of the series is Kamen Rider Dragon Knight and we wanted the story to be about Dragon Knight, whether that was Kit or Adam. We felt it was interesting to explore having both the protagonist and the antagonist play the title role.
On top of that, we thought the Onyx suit was seriously cool, and wanted to give it to the hero – a sort of “Good Guys Wear Black” moment.
7 – Why didn’t Xaviax want to hurt Kit at first?
NL – For the same reason he held onto Adam. Xaviax knew Len had a strong attachment to Adam, and was sure he would come to feel the same for Kit. He hoped the other Earth riders would take Len out, but just in case, he wanted to keep Kit in reserve, knowing that it would destroy Len if Kit betrayed him like Adam had.
Xaviax thought he had the perfect carrot to make Kit do what he wanted. He thought Kit would do anything to bring his dad back to life, but Kit was not as weak as Adam, and did not fall when Xaviax thought he would. When he realized this, Xaviax decided there was no point in protecting Kit any longer, and took the gloves off.
1 – How many powers do the Karsh actually possess and is it the same for both Eubelon and Xaviax? (Ex. Eubelon able to infiltrate someone’s mind like Xaviax did with Kit)
NL – Both Xaviax and Eubulon have similar mental powers. Xaviax, however is a general, not a scientist, and can only use the technology he has been given. He can’t invent new stuff. Eubulon was a scientist, a weapon designer and inventor who decided he didn’t want to make weapons anymore. He has the ability to make new tech.
2 – What was up with the Onyx deck? Kit just dreamed of it and it happened to exist later on. If this is a result of his own deck, do the others have alternate deck personas as well?
NL – As I mentioned earlier, Eubulon was working on the Onyx deck before he disappeared, so it’s been around for a long time. He just never got a chance to show it to anybody before Xaviax blasted him out of the world.
We tried to explain this concept in the show, but it may have been lost in translation. The concept was that Kit had a premonition about the Onyx deck in the form of nightmares. As mentioned in the “back in black” episode, all the riders have the same kind of nightmares. It’s a mental link between the advent beast and its eventual host.
3 – Why switch to Link Vent if using Final Vent would do the same job?
NL – The idea was that it would take all the power of all the riders’ individual final vents striking at exactly the same time to destroy Xaviax, and Eubulon knew that would be almost impossible to orchestrate. What the link vent did was take all the energy of the final vents and combine it into one massive sychronized pulse.
Also, it looked wicked!
4 – Were any of the other Ventaran Riders planned to have screen-time, they were only there during the finale without dialogue?
NL – Unfortunately, due to budget constraints, we couldn’t give any of the other Ventaran riders much screen time. The only riders we had sufficient Japanese fighting footage of were Torque, Strike and Axe, so those were the ones we brought back.
5 – Did the opening previews need to be so long? Other shows made their point in 30 seconds, the Dk ones went over a minute showing fights that didn’t need to be in a recap.
NL – Sorry to say, but as the writer, I had nothing to do with the editing, so I can’t answer this one.
1 – Plot wise, were there any changes to the script as filming began or did it mostly remain the same as it was written?
NL – There were a number of times when this happened, all usually down to budget or time or some real world problem we had to work around. For instance, toward the end of the show the actress who played Lacey had to take some time off for personal reasons, so we had to go back and write her out of a lot of the later episodes.
Early on, we had several different ideas for what story we were going to tell in episodes 31 – 40, including one where Kit and Len go across the ravaged wasteland of Ventara to reunite the scattered Kamen Riders and rebuilt the Kamen Rider headquarters, but these ideas were thrown out because of budget limitations. There was no way we could build or shoot all that.
2 – I am interested in adapting one of the many kamen rider shows after Ryuki (the series in which Dragon Knight was based on). What would be your advice if a person wanted to pitch another kamen rider show?
NL – I don’t really know how to answer that question, because that’s not how Steve and Mike and I got the job. We got the job because our producer had aquired the rights to the property, and had worked with Steve in the past and trusted him. He asked Steve if he wanted to do it, and Steve asked me. We didn’t have to pitch.
In my experience, when it comes to established properties like Kamen Rider, it is not writers or directors who get the ball rolling, but producers or studios who have the money and the contacts to fund the production. The creative team is generally brought in later.
1 – Why didn’t you give Adam the Onyx deck instead of Kit?
NL – See the answer to KRLover’s sixth question above.
1 – What were the names of the other Ventaran Kamen Riders if they were given names?
NL – Steve tells me they were all named in the credits of Ep 39, but I don’t remember what they were. I don’t think they were refered to by their given names in the script, just their Kamen Rider names.
2 – Did Chris really want to join the Marines, or did he only want to please his dad? Perhaps it was a tradition so important to Ramirez’ that Chris could no longer tell the difference between what he wanted and what his dad wanted?
NL – I think Chris really wanted to join the Marines, but I like your take on it.
1 – Was the clip show finale neccersary? I think a third part for “For Ventar and The Earth” would have given the series enough leverage to have a feature-length conclusion 4Kids could have hyped better. Clip shows are usually reserved as an introduction for a new viewer, and a waste of time for existing ones. Surely you could have taken the small percentage of footage that was relevant to the conclusion and applied it to the proper final two episodes, because if a new viewer saw that episode FIRST, why would he/she need to see the remainder of the series at all?
NL – Ah, the clip shows. Nobody liked the clip shows, and to be honest, neither did we. We would have much rather shot more straight ahead story and action shows, but again, it comes down to time and budget. So why did we do it? It was like this.
The producers asked us to do 40 shows, but did not give us quite enough money to do 40 shows, so we had a very difficult decision. Do we spread the budget evenly and do 40 underfunded shows, or do we find a way to do 3 cheap shows and use the saved money to have 37 better funded shows. As you know, we picked option two.
Regarding the finale. We really wanted to shoot an all original epilogue for episode 40, but Steve told me he only had enough budget to shoot 1 day on the episode so we came up with the idea that Maya would wrap up the main storyline by telling us about the book she wrote. Trust me, we were very frustrated that we couldn’t do a proper final episode, but Steve felt it was important to spend more money on episodes 38 and 39. We’ve always considered episode 39 to be the big finale and 40 to be the epilogue anyway.
1 – It was stated that story elements had to be changed by order of the top. What were these and what other parts of the story were originally planned, but then later changed?
NL – There actually wasn’t all that much of this. We did most of the changes ourselves when the realities of budget and time were staring us in the face. As I mentioned before, taking the story completely to Ventara in the last 10 episodes was canned because it would have been too expensive. There were a lot of things like that.
There were also things that were softened because it was a kids show. I personally wanted Adam to make greater sacrificesto save the others in Ep 39. After what he did, it was the logical way to wrap up his story, but the producers said ‘no unhappy endings’ and so he got off easier than I wanted him to.
You will remember too that there was a lot more comedy at the beginning of the series than at the end. This was another ‘kid’s show’ decision, but as the show went on, and the bosses saw how strong the drama was playing, they let us ease off on the comedy and focus more on the plot.
1 – What story elements from Ryuki did you try to keep? What elements did you specifically try to get rid of?
NL – We kept the rider war, though we changed the reasons behind it. We tried to keep the tone of Dragon Knight and Wing Knight’s relationship too, though again, we changed the reasons behind it. We deliberately got rid of the ‘reset button’ ending, and the ‘heroes working at a tea shop’ idea. There were a lot of more minor things as well.
2 – When writing a new action scene with a monster, did you have a specific monster in mind, or it did it not matter? I only ask because I saw WildBoarder, like, 4 times.
NL – As much as we could, we used Japanese footage. When we didn’t have japanese footage, we used what suits we had and tried to mix it up as much as possible, but it didn’t matter too much which monster was used. In our version, Xaviax could make as many versions of the same monster as he wanted.
3 – I am an aspiring writer myself with an idea for a Kamen Rider-like show. Would you say it’s harder to get a greenlight for an all-original tokusatsu show in America, as opposed to adapting a Japanese show?
NL – Yes, I would say it’s harder, only because of budget concerns. Having to make all new suits and shoot all new fights would probably have at least tripled our budget, and I doubt our producers would have found funding for that.
1 – What was your favorite part about working on Kamen Rider Dragon knight?
NL – Seeing my ideas and words turned into cool scenes and episodes. That rocked.
1 – Why 40 episodes? A common criticism is the story of Dragon Knight could have been told in fewer episodes. Add to that the three clip shows, why not just lower the episode count?
NL – See my answer to Skyknight’s question. We were contracted for 40 episodes, so we made 40. I personally would have rather made a tighter 36 episode show, but you do what you’re paid to do.
2 – What audience did you have in mind for Dragon Knight? If given the chance to adapt another series, what age group would you aim for?
NL – We were told 7 to 10, but we kept nudging it higher. If we could have done it ourselves, for ourselves, we would have shot for a teenaged audience and avoided the ‘kid’s show’ compromises we had to make.
3 – There were a number of characters we saw for only a brief period of time. If given the opportunity, what characters would you have liked to explore more and why?
NL – Grant/Camo had a whole different story when we first wrote him. He was an eco-terrorist who used his Rider powers to smash up polluting factories. Xaviax set him against Kit and Len by saying they were working for the corporations. Sadly, there was no budget for smashing up factories, so he became a cheating martial artist.
The Cho brothers had a whole backstory where they were stealing to help their mom, who was about to lose the convenience store she ran because she couldn’t pay the rent. Unfortunately, there was no money to shoot scenes in a convenience store and no money for actors to play greedy landlords, so they just stole motorcycles.
Everybody had more story than we could afford to tell.
1 – When watching the series, is there a moment where you saw a scene that you wrote and thought, “Wow, that turned out even better than I even imagined!”? And is there a moment where you thought the opposite?
NL – My favorite scene is the scene where Xaviax wakes up Kit’s dad for real and lays out his bargain to Kit. It was shot and acted better than I could have hoped for.
The scene I wish we could have fixed was Wrath’s venting. Wing Knight was supposed to have used his Final Vent on Wrath just after Wrath used his on Dragon Knight. This didn’t get shot, probably due to time constraints (it was almost all American footage and the episode was mostly action and fx which takes a lot longer to shoot than drama) and so the scene doesn’t quite make sense as it stands. I would love to patch that up.
2 – Were there any last-minute rewrites done due to not having the budget or the actors available to accomplish certain things? There was one major plot point in particular that I felt needed more show and less tell, and that was the whole chain of events involving Adam’s betrayal and Len escaping the fate of his Ventaran comrades.
NL – Yes, we would have loved to shoot that. Unfortunately, it would have involved building a set of the Ventaran Riders’ fortress, and all the suspended animation pods, plus lots of pyro, etc. It would have been epic. Unfortunately – well, you know the drill by now – time and budget, time and budget.
3 – Were we ever meant to see more of the real Kamen Rider Wrath, or was he always meant to be a puppet for Xaviax? Mark Wystrach’s interview on 4Kids.tv, and the “construction worker” bio that’s been floating around makes it sound like there were plans that were dropped.
NL – Yes, we had originally written Wrath as a construction worker who fell into a coma after a job site accident (orchestrated by Xaviax, of course) and there were scenes where Xaviax entered the hospital, possessed his body and walked out, smashing up people like the terminator. Once again, time and budget did not allow it.
4 – Aunt Grace’s presence always felt a little awkward at the beginning, and then she completely vanished from the show. Was the character always intended to be part of the series, or was she a later addition? (And just out of curiosity, how did Grace afford to upgrade her store to such a large scale AND stave off Borders’ lawyers? )
NL – Aunt Grace came out of the early “More comedy!” notes that we got, and she got written out not so much because the character didn’t work, but because we didn’t want to keep writing, “Hey, Aunt Grace, can you watch the store!” scenes. The original gag was that Aunt Grace would never know what was really going on, and just sail on, blissfully oblivious, but as the plot got bigger, there was less room for those kind of gags, and finally she just went. In hindsight, we should have made Maya the owner of the store. That would have been a lot cleaner.
As for the bigger bookstore, well, I could tell you that it was all the location manager could find, but if you want a storyline reason, then the new Grace’s Books was funded by the No-Men as a thank you to Maya for her role in saving the world, and for keeping quiet about it.
5 – At what point was it decided that the final episode would be a clip show?
NL – As soon as we looked at the budget and saw that we didn’t have the money to shoot 40 full episodes, so right from the beginning. See my earlier answer about clip shows for more details.
6 – Why didn’t we get one last conversation between Kit and Frank in the final episode? Their relationship was the heart of the series and I feel that one more talk with them would’ve made the wrap-up just a little more satisfying.
NL – I would have loved to have done this, but as mentioned before, there was no money to make the last episode anything more than a clip show. If we could have shot an actual full episode, there would have been a lot more wrap up scenes, and not just with Kit and Frank, but with all the Earth riders as well.
7 – Is there any chance that the show bible and/or unedited scripts could be made available for us to read?
NL – I doubt it. They are not my property. Everything I wrote is owned by the producers, and I doubt they’ll do that.
8 – Is there anymore television work in your future?
NL – We’ll see. I have nothing lined up right now, and I’m crazy busy with the novels I write for the Warhammer gang. I’m in the middle of one, and I start on another one as soon as I finish this one. No Christmas break for me.
The 2nd Evil
1 – When did the civil war on Karsh take place in comparison to when the people of Ventara were taken to the series’ beginning?
NL – Excellent question.
As we imagined it, the war on Karsh had been going on for hundreds of years, a perpertual apocolypse. It finally ended 70 or so years ago, with Xaviax ending up the king of a barren, nearly lifeless planet. Using the mirror technology, he sent Eubulon to find other worlds to strip so that they could rebuild Karsh. Eubulon found Ventara and decided it would be a perfect target, but as he met its people, he had a change of heart and decided he didn’t want to ruin their world to save his.
When he told this to Xaviax, Xaviax cast him out and went to war with Ventara. Eubulon sided with the Ventarans and created the Kamen Rider program to help them fight him.
Eubulon and the Kamen Riders defeated Xaviax 63 years ago, and though Eubulon was lost, and the Riders in suspended animation, Ventara was at peace from then until just about a year before the beginning of the series, when Adam woke up and Xaviax tricked him into letting him into the Rider Fortress.
With the riders defeated in their sleep, there was no second war. Xaviax won without firing a shot. He teleported the people of Ventara to Karsh before they knew what was happening.
In the year that followed, Len was in hiding, trying to find some way of getting the Decks away from Xaviax and defeating him. At the same time Xaviax turned his eyes on Earth and found that it was perfect for his plans. The Earth rider counterparts could use his stolen Advent Decks, and the people could be his slaves. When he started going after the Earth riders, Len saw his chance to get the decks back, and keep Xaviax from ruining another world.
2 – WayAboveTopSecret.com was bought for a while and never used. Were there any plans for some kind of alternate-reality thing for that?
NL – Yes. We had the idea that for a few months before the series aired, wayabovetopsecret would blog about monster sightings and show blurry pictures of Kamen Riders. I’m pretty sure we made this suggestion to 4Kids when they picked up the show, but they didn’t do anything with it.
1 – How come we saw no 14 rider transformation or attack (outside of the final vent on Xaviax)?
NL – I know you’re tired of hearing this by now, but… budget and time. I think as far as actor’s salaries went, episode 39 was the most expensive of the series, because every single rider showed up in it. As it was, we could only pay them to work a single day, so we had to keep it simple.
Same goes for having the riders attack Xaviax in costume. We didn’t have that many stunt guys. There were never more than five or six at any one time. We hired extra guys for the link vent scene, but choreographing a fight with 13 guys plus Xaviax and Eubulon would have taken days to get right. We couldn’t afford to pay them for more than a day.
1 – Regarding Kamen Rider Wrath- I Thought Xaviax turned him into a vegetable like Kit’s father? If that’s the case, how come he was okay during the finale?
NL – Xaviax turned Wrath’s Earth double into a vegatable. Ventara Wrath was in the Advent Void.
2 – Was the one that Xaviax had Wrath’s Earth double, or did Eubolon somehow restore him before bringing him into battle?
NL – See the answer to your first question.
1 – What was with Xaviax’s armored form? Did he make it himself or was that his true form?
NL – That was his battle armor. He had an alien form as well.
1 – Is there any way you could explain the whole Rider Nightmares concept? I always thought that Kit simply having a nightmare about becoming Onyx couldn’t have been enough to justify the creation of Dragblacker and the Onyx deck, unless there’s something deeper you were trying to convey that couldn’t be pulled budget-wise.
NL – As I think I explained earlier, the Onyx deck has been existance for a long time. The nightmares were caused by the existance of the deck, not the other way around.
The beasts are wild and the riders have to tame them using the contract card. If you remember, the Red Dragon attacked Kit before he linked with it. The Onyx deck, being an upgrade of the Dragon Deck and intended for Adam, is somewhat attuned to Kit, and the nightmares he was having were a combination of his inner turmoil about the bargain Xaviax has offered him, and the echo of the Black Dragon trying break out of the void and hunt him down.
1 – One thing I think Dragon Knight did well was spreading out the backstory and giving bits and pieces of it over time. What made you decide to do that rather than just giving it all to us as soon as soon as Kit asked Len for it, or even as soon as they met as was done in the original pilot?
NL – The pilot was never meant to be a real episode. It was an introduction to the world used to attract investors, it therefore had to tell the story all at once, not over time.
I like bringing out the story in bits and pieces. It adds intrigue and mystery, and makes the audience want to know more. This is the reason I said the show was like “Lost.” I didn’t mean it in terms of production values, etc. but in the way that plot was revealed over the course of the episodes, and how the story peeled like an onion, with everything Kit thinks he knows changing the more he learns.
2 – In your last interview, you said that the show was about teaching kids that there are consequences for your actions. However, this wasn’t fully shown in certain cases, particularly Adam, who never seemed to get any real punishment for selling out his planet. Was there something there that never really came to fruition? For example, what happened to Adam in between telling Sarah all about what he did in “For Ventara and Earth, Part 2″ and the two of them together in “A Dragon’s Tale”?
NL – We wanted to teach kids the concept of redemption. Though Adam betrayed Ventara, he was not a bad person inside. Eubulon saw that his actions were tearing him up, and being wise and forgiving, gave him a another chance. In the end it paid off, for Adam eventually rebelled against Xaviax and helped the others defeat him.
The world is never black and white. We wanted to show kids a ‘shades of gray’ scenario and help them understand that it doesn’t pay to be judgmental. As Eubulon told Len and Kit, there are always two sides to every story.
At the same time, I would loved to have shown Adam making greater sacrifices to redeem himself for his actions, and if we’d had the budget and time, we would have shown all of his reunion with Sara, and what he did to make things right on Ventara and Karsh.
Between episode 39 and 40, Eubulon took the Ventaran riders to Karsh and freed the Ventarans like he mentioned in ep 39. It took quite a long time and there were many battles with new Karsh enemies before they succeeded. In fact, we wanted to make this the story of season 2, but near the end we decided we’d better wrap up the story cleanly due to uncertainties about the future of the series.
3 – Was the decision to make the final episode a clip show planned from the beginning, or were there other plans that were scrapped for budget reasons?
NL – Well, yes, it was for budget reasons, but it was planned from the beginning. See my earier clip-show answer.
4 – And if it were a budgetary concern, was the decison to mindwipe the Earth riders and put them back to where they were before the war a part of that? I ask because it seemed to disappoint some people that the other riders were mentioned off in a few lines, especially Chris, who seemed to had become a big part of the characters’ lives for the episodes he was in, even going as far as Kit avenging his venting, but it’s heavily implied that Chris doesn’t even remember Kit and Len exist.
It also seemed like the coda of “For Ventara and Earth, Part 2″ were setting up the finale to show the riders getting the transporters and taking them to Karsh.
NL – This is another, “I would have loved to.” I would have loved to have shown what happened to all the other riders once they had been put back in their old lives, but as you correctly surmised, it was a budget problem. Having spent the money bringing back all the actors for Episode 39, we didn’t have the money to bring them back again and shoot new scenes of them returning to their old life in Episode 40. It was felt that telling all their stories in voice-over with no images to back it up wouldn’t have worked, so we dropped it. I wish it could have been different.
As to the “bringing the people of Karsh back to Earth,” well, yeah. We had grand ideas way back at the beginning of showing the Ventarans appearing in their thousands back on the streets of their home world and hugging each other joyfully, but… not in the budget.
5 – In your last interview, you also made it clear that this show would be an action drama rather than an action comedy. Naturally, Ryuki doesn’t really lend itself to a wacky sitcom, but in a time where live-action children’s shows are almost ENTIRELY wacky sitcoms, do you feel the more serious nature of the show was one of the reasons the show never got off the ground in the ratings?
NL – There’s no reason an action drama shouldn’t have flown. I think that, if the show had been promoted as what it was, there would have been a bigger audience. I think there was an opportunity missed there. One among many.
6 – If you were given the opportunity to do another Kamen Rider (or any tokusatsu) adaptation, would you skew it more comedic to better fit in with the current kidvids on the air today?
NL – That really depends on the source material. I personally am more comfortable with drama, but if the fights and costumes are more on the comic side, then you’d have to go with comedy. The reason KRDK was dramatic, was we couldn’t figure out a way to make a Green Guy shooting and Red Guy point blank in the stomach funny.
7 – Naturally, I don’t expect you to have a full series bible for any of these, but what were some of the other backstory ideas that you and the Wangs came up with before going with the one we saw on the show?
NL – Hmmm. I don’t know the answer to this one. I was brought into the project after the pilot, and by that time Steve and Mike had already settled on the backstory as you know it. I did a lot of adding to it, but no alternative ideas were being discussed by the time I came on.
8 – I’ve noticed a few people feeling that the Ventaran riders Chance, Price, and Hunt, were not as well-defined as their Earth counterparts. How much more was there to their characters, and how much just didn’t show up on screen?
NL – You’re right, those three weren’t as well defined as their earth counterparts, but that was because the primary focus of the story in those episodes was Adam, Kit and Len. Given another season, they would have had a lot of room to expand.
1 – Were there any standards and practices issues?
NL – I know there were a lot, but I wasn’t very involved in this, as these came up after the shows were shot and passed on to 4Kids. I can remember we were told we couldn’t say, “I’m going to tear you to pieces.” Apparently that’s too violent. I can’t remember what we changed it to, but it was fixed in ADR.
I remember a bigger one too. In Episode 19 when Chris got vented, 4kids thought it played too much like a death scene, and wanted Steve and Mike to recut it. They didn’t want to do that, and so offered to add some off-screen dialogue of Len telling Kit, “We’ll try to bring him back.” 4kids accepted. I know the Wangs were not too happy about this, but it was the lesser of two evils.
Keith Justice – Aaannnd, I remember hearing about a shot of Kase’s rear that also didn’t make the final cut during her introduction. Apparently the censors thought her arrival in the scene was juuuuust a bit too sexy. In the final cut it was unnoticeably scaled back.
Okay, that’s it. Thanks to Keith for compiling these questions and sending them on. I hope I answered them to your satisfaction. Thanks also to Keith for maintaining HJU and talking up Kamen Rider Dragon Knight throughout the year. He did a great job and has been a great friend of the show since before the beginning.
Keep the faith!