Hideaki Anno is living the dream of every teenager with a video camera and some action figures. With “Shin Godzilla,” “Shin Ultraman” and now “Shin Kamen Rider,” the director has been handed the reins to Japan’s most beloved special effects franchises and allowed to run wild.
In “Shin Godzilla,” Japan’s highest-grossing live-action film of 2016, Anno (best known for anime like “Neon Genesis Evangelion”) hit it out of the park. The film was at once a satire of Japanese politics, a reflection on the March 11 disasters and a compelling piece of horror that made the titular monster scarier than any time since its 1954 debut.
Last year’s “Shin Ultraman,” which retained Anno as the mastermind but passed directorial duties to his frequent collaborator, Shinji Higuchi, was fun but less weighty than "Godzilla" (a film he also worked on). It also suffered from a funky visual aesthetic, with much of the film made up of grainy iPhone footage.