( 2. Kamen Rider W )
Natsumi Hikari is haunted by a dream in which an army of Kamen Riders is engaged against an unknown enemy who wipes them all out. At the end of the dream she identifies the unknown enemy as Decade. She awakes from the dream, and has to deal with the trouble that the amnesiac Tsukasa Kadoya has gotten himself in yet again due to his uniquely terrible photographs. Then, the world all around them falls apart as monsters from past Kamen Rider shows arrive and wreak havoc. When all seems lost, a vision guides Natsumi to the lost DecaDriver which she delivers to Tsukasa, allowing him to transform into Kamen Rider Decade and fight off the enemies besieging them; however, no one man could fight off that many enemies, and so Wataru Kurenai, Kamen Rider Kiva, appears to them and explains that the stories of the Kamen Rider Worlds have become connected and thus the worlds are becoming one, and if not stopped all will be lost. Charging Decade with traveling to 9 worlds and killing the Riders of those worlds, Wataru returns them to the Hikari Photo Studio, and so begins the journey through the decade.
To start off, I freaking love meta stories, stories that are about stories are my favorite, narratives picking themselves apart to go into the nuts and bolts of the tropes that define those narratives, commentating on past stories, finding the thematic connections and logic between them…what I’m saying is that a Kamen Rider having to travel through Alternate Universe versions of past Rider shows and having to learn from them is something that was practically made for me.
( Opening the wrapping on this hand-crafted gift. )
Incorporeal beings called Imagins arrive from the future; by possessing a person and going through their imaginations they acquire a physical form. By forming a contract with that person and fulfilling their wish, they can use that person’s most important memory to travel back in time and change history to better suit their own monstrous purpose. One day, the singularly unlucky Nogami Ryoutaro is targeted by one of the Imagins, who he dubs Momotaros, but it turns out that he is a Singularity Point, allowing him to resist possession. At the same time he is also contacted by Hana, a woman who rides the time-travelling bullet train the DenLiner in a quest of vengeance against the Imagins for destroying the future that she came from. Long story short, Ryoutaro must now work with Momotaros and a host of other Imagins in order to protect the flow of time as Kamen Rider Den-O.
( Some spoilers, nothing big. )
Deep in the Amazon jungle, a young man lives in isolation from humanity, having been stranded there as an infant. One day Gorgos, the ten-faced demon and leader of the monstrous organization Gedon, appears in the Amazon in search of an ancient Incan treasure that had been spirited away long ago. The treasure, known as the Gigi Armlet, is forced onto Amazon by a shamen, and his dying words compel the young man to go to Japan in search of the truth of his origins. Gedon pursues him and kills the man who was to teach the young man what he had to know, and thus does he transform into the brutal Kamen Rider Amazon to defend a home he hardly knows.
( Journey into the concrete jungle, won't you? )
1999, a meteorite strikes Shibuya, reducing it to ruin. That, however, was only the beginning, for with the meteorite came the Worm, a hostile insect-like species of aliens with the ability to perfectly mimic humans, copying even their innermost secrets and memories. For seven years the Worm infiltrate human society, killing and replacing its members without fear, for they can also evolve into stronger forms and gain access to the Clock-up ability, allowing them to achieve speeds greater than the human eye can follow.
Enter ZECT, a secret organization dedicated to fighting the Worm threat. Through the Masked Rider Project they develop the Zecters, independently intelligent robot insects capable of joining with a human to grant them extraordinary power. However, rather than choosing Kagami Arata, a new member of ZECT eager to be able to fight the Worm, the Kabuto Zecter goes to a man named Tendou Souji, a walking god-complex who is pretty much perfect at doing whatever he feels like doing. And he’s not the only one outside of ZECT to get a Zecter, something ZECT is not happy about.
( Spoilers and strong opinions behind the cut. )
10,000 years ago, a group of immortal monsters known as the Undead faced off in an intense Battle Royale, each one representing a different species of life on Earth, to determine which species would become the dominant life on Earth. The Human Undead won, sealing all other Undead within playing cards, and thus was our civilization allowed to thrive. Now in the modern day the Undead have been released from their seals. The secret organization BOARD recruits Kenzaki Kazuma to fight as Kamen Rider Blade, fusing with the Category Ace of Spades Undead to use its power against the immortal monsters. However, it is not long before Sakuya Tachibana, who fuses with the Category Ace of Diamonds to become Kamen Rider Garren, betrays the organization. In the wake of that destruction only Kenzaki and Shiori Hirose emerge to continue the fight to defend humanity in the new Battle Royale.
( Detailed but non-spoilery thoughts on the show within. )
( There is a lot to be covered in this series. )
Amanogawa High School is a school that heavily emphasizes individuality and freedom of self-expression, and its latest transfer student Gentaro Kisaragi embraces this approach wholeheartedly as he declares that he will become friends with everyone at the school, a task made a touch easier by the fact that one of them is his childhood friend Joujima Yuuki, who herself dreams of becoming an astronaut. Unfortunately Yuuki's other friend, Utahoshi Kengo who spends more time in the nurse's office than in class, thinks Gentaro is the stupidest moron to ever walk the Earth and rejects Gentaro's friendship out of hand. However, when the latest of the Zodiarts, monsters patterned after constellations, attacks the school, Kengo is forced to give Gentaro the Fourze Drive system so that he may transform into Kamen Rider Fourze and stand against this threat.
It is quickly discovered that the Zodiarts are students at Amanogawa High who have been given special switches to draw upon the same Cosmic Energy that the Fourze Drive uses for its Switches, and the most powerful of the Zodiarts are patterned after the 12 Horoscope signs, all lead by a mysterious man with red glowing eyes. To face this shadowy threat, Gentaro and his friends form the Kamen Rider Club and where possible befriend the Zodiarts to release them from the corrupted power of their switches.
Kamen Rider Fourze is a very lighthearted and optimistic series, much moreso than any other entry in the Kamen Rider Franchise, which is perfectly fine by me since experimenting and trying out new approaches is vital for any long running franchise such as this. Of course, it is also the case that not all experiments and risks pay off.
( So, does Fourze reach the astronomic heights of space? )
Kamen Rider Hibiki is an interesting entry in the Kamen Rider franchise; in its original form it wasn't even a Kamen Rider series at all, but an unrelated story idea that Shotaro Ishinomori, the creator of Kamen Rider, had put together before his unfortunate passing. As such, many of the norms and conventions present in other Kamen Rider series, the use of a belt as a Transformation Trinket, shouting "transform", the Rider Kick, all these things and more are absent from the series. In fact, the heroes are not even referred to as Kamen Riders, but as Oni, and unlike the solitary heroes of the past who were frequently forced against their will, becoming an Oni is an entirely voluntary process with a mentor-student relationship and a vast support of other Oni and normal humans who provide material and spiritual support in their secret war against the Makamou, monsters that can only be defeated through pure sound. One day, high school freshman Asumu stumbles upon one of these Oni, the titular Hibiki, and so he changes as their fates become tangled together.
However, all was not well in paradise; the show was not performing to expectations and so with episode 30 a massive re-tool was put into effect.
( How bad was it? )
Kamen Rider OOO (pronounced O's) is the story of Eiji Hino, a wanderer who owns nothing more than the clothes on his back and believes that all you need is a good pair of underwear to make it through your days. That all changes when strange monsters born of desire known as the Greed awaken. Their resurrection incomplete, they prey on humans, using them to create Yummies, monstrous embodiments of the victims desire, to generate the Cell Medals they need to survive while searching for the Core Medals that can restore them to their full power. One of them, Ankh, mysteriously only revived as his right arm and thus decides to grant Eiji the power of the OOO belt so that he can overpower and dominate his fellow Greed. All the while, the mysterious Kougami Foundation seeks to manipulate the course of this battle for its own purpose, for good or for evil.
( This review is going to be a bit different. )
Kamen Rider Kiva is an odd show. For one, there are two story lines, one taking place in 1986 and the other in 2008, the year in which the show was being broadcast, and it will switch from one time period to the other at any given moment. The other is that nothing is "explained", no one ever stops to deliver expository dialogue to establish how the setting works or who the people in it are, you simply have to take events as they come. On the whole, it's a unique entry in the Kamen Rider franchise.
( Around these parts, we approve of experimental, risk-taking shows. )
On the whole, Kamen Rider Kiva is a great show, but you should definitely watch other Kamen Rider series like Kuuga, Agito, or W before this one.
Kamen Rider Faiz is a very dark series. It is the story of two forced into a world neither is equipped to deal with; Yuji Kiba's life is going very well until he gets into a car accident, falls into a coma, dies, and then comes back only to find that everything, including the girl he loves, has been stolen from him by selfish relatives and supposed friends. It is at that time that he transforms into an Orphenoc, a monster described as being "an evolved human", and then kills the friend who'd stolen his girl from him. Meanwhile, a young woman named Mari is being pursued by another Orphenoc who is after the Faiz Gear that her father had sent to her, and in desperation she forces lone wanderer Takumi Inui, who was after her for having taken his bag by mistake, to wear the belt and become Kamen Rider Faiz. In their human identities, Takumi and Yuji become friends, but as Rider and Orphenoc they are bitter enemies. And behind it all is the mysterious Smart Brain corporation which seeks to control the Orphenocs for their own sinister designs.
( Thoughts inside. )
Shotaro Hidari is a self-proclaimed "hard-boiled" detective who more often then not comes off "half-boiled". Phillip is a strange young man with all the world's knowledge in his head, save anything to do with his own past. Akiko Narumi is their self-proclaimed chief and daughter of Soukichi Narumi, Shotaro's mentor and Phillip's rescuer. Together, they form the Narumi Detective Agency, dedicated to investigating cases involving the strange, drug-like devices known as Gaia Memories, and when someone uses a Gaia Memory to become a super-human monster known as a Dopant, Shotaro and Phillip combine to become the defender of Fuuto City's tears, Kamen Rider Double!
( Intrigued? )
Conceived as a follow up to the previous year's Kamen Rider Kuuga, Agito has the police developing the G3 Powered Armor Suit, which is piloted by insecure, unconfident police officer Makoto Hikawa, in order to fight off enemies like the Grongi should they appear again. Unfortunately, the new enemies, The Unknown, are far more powerful than the Grongi, committing impossible murders in broad daylight and targeting very specific families. However, Hikawa is not the only Kamen Rider to face this foe; There is also Shouichi Tsugami, an amnesiac gardner and all-around house husband, who suddenly finds himself compelled to face the Unknowns wherever they appear and transforming into Kamen Rider Agito, and then there's former swimmer Ryou Ashihara, who's own painful transformations into Kamen Rider Gills serves to drive away all those near him. This, more than anything else, is the story of these three men and how they were all connected by one single incident...
( Thoughts behind the cut. )
Kamen Rider Ryuki, unlike Kuuga, does not have one Kamen Rider; it has 13, each of which have their own goals and motivations, all of whom are pitted against one another in a battle to the death to determine who will earn the ultimate prize and have their deepest wish fulfilled. In addition, all of the Kamen Rider fights take place in the Mirror World where strange monsters that prey on humanity reside, and each Rider forms a contract with one of these monsters to increase their power, but in turn must keep the monsters regularly fed, whether with other monsters or people, or be eaten in turn. Oh, and cards are used to activate powers and summon items. Basically, Ryuki is Kamen Rider meets The Highlander meets Digimon Tamers.
Kamen Rider Ryuki is comprised of a 50 episode series, a feature length movie which is an alternate continuity to the ending of the series, and a direct to DVD special with two different endings which is an alternate take on the entire series. All of which is canon, due to time travel shenanigans.
( Thoughts within. )
A blazing revival!
A proud energy!
A reason to be strong!
A new hero. A new legend.
Well, after watching Samurai Sentai Shinkenger, the crossover it did with Kamen Rider Decade got me interested in watching Kamen Rider. So I went onto TVtropes, glanced over the various Kamen Rider series, and decided that Kamen Rider Kuuga, being more or less a reboot of the franchise after a ten year hiatus in the 90s, would be a good place to start. Plus, the overall premise and tone seemed promising, so I was optimistic going into it.
( My thoughts. )