Saturday, December 21, 2013

My current Kamen Rider rankings

I figured it was time for me to hammer out a list like this sooner or later so I'm going to rank all the riders I've seen so far. At the time of this post I have seen Ryuki, Faiz, W, Decade, Fourze, Wizard, 1/4 of Amazon, half of Den-O, half of Kiva, one episode of Hibiki and have seen 9 or 10 eps into Gaim. For the purposes of this list, I am not counting Gaim for now because I'm not really sure where I stand on it this early. I won't be counting Amazon either since I've only seen 1/4 of it. Hibiki will also not be on this list since I haven't seen past episode one. Kiva and Den-O will get a separate section from the completed series. I will most likely do an updated list once I finished more rider series.

5. Kamen Rider Faiz/Kamen Rider Decade:
I'll start with Faiz first. Well how do I put this one? This show earned this spot for the simple reason that I didn't particularly care for any of the characters outside of Kiba. The way it handled the characters is the big problem I had with the show. I found it really difficult to support any of the three riders. Shuji/Delta was a crybaby the entire time even to the point where he almost died because he refused to fight. Kusaka/Kaixa just infuriated me throughout the entire show if you saw my "most aggravating rider character list" then you already know why I hate the guy so I'm not going to repeat myself. Inoue seems to like Kusaka alot to let him do what he does with little to no repercussions, it also leads to a plot-hole involving him later in the series. Takumi/Faiz isn't necessarily a bad character, he just wasn't a lead character that I could get behind. Of the three, he is the one most I'm neutral on. Kiba was my favorite character in the show due to his drive to hold on to his humanity while others carelessly tossed away their attachments to their human-selves. He even went so far as to urge fledgling Orphenocs not to turn their backs on what they once were. The heroes in general seem to have some major communication problems and don't really seem to trust each other enough to tell them that something is wrong other than when Orphenocs are attacking. To make matters worse, they took Kiba the one character I actually liked and made him do a complete 180 near the end just to increase the already depressing and dreary mood in Faiz. He was a ray of hope in the dreary world of Faiz but Inoue just had to do that to him. Coupled with that and the personalities of its riders, Faiz's ending is also less than satisfactory. It has an alternate ending in its movie "Paradise Lost" though that ending is about on par with the series ending for me.

This show is on par with Faiz for me because of one simple reason: The Story. The overall story of Decade is supposedly about stopping the worlds from colliding but it just gets lost in all the jumping from world to world. It is ultimately forgotten about until the last few episode when Shocker completely comes out of nowhere. It had potential and interesting but they just didn't know how to handle it. To top it all of the story doesn't get finished in the series, it gets dragged into Decade's movie. Like Faiz, I don't really care for many of the characters. Tsukasa is just someone I absolutely cannot get behind as a hero thanks in large part to his arrogant attitude. The only episodes I found particularly memorable were Ryuki's world, Amazon's world, and Black's/Rx's episodes. I think it would've benefited more from being a 50 episode long series so they could have time to explain things more clearly. Its really a shame the series has so many issues because I do like Decade's suit a lot. It also has one of my favorite theme songs in the franchise.

4. Kamen Rider Wizard:
It was a little more enjoyable than Faiz and Decade for me. For the most part, I found it boring and with a gaping plot-hole involving the Carbuncle Phantom near the end. Its plot progression is slow for me and it is badly paced with most of it being filler. Its Dragon Style arc is my least favorite arc in the show because it did nothing at all for its story and felt more like it was just toy-spamming. I don't hate this show and at most I'm indifferent to it. I don't really care for its concept of magic and I think Magiranger handled it better with their concept of magic being tied to courage. It worked much better because their magic grew stronger as they grew as people and it helped developed their characters while with Haruto, his magical strength is dependent on how many rings he has. I found Kousuke and his life or death situation to be more interesting than Haruto. Its really a shame that the show bored me like it did because I actually like Wizard's and Beast's suit designs. The Wizard/Gaim special actually poses an interesting question in regards to Wiseman: The magic stone in the special held an alternate universe and in the show the magic stones came from Wiseman, so does that mean Wiseman could create alternate universes?

3. Kamen Rider W:
I did enjoy W quite a bit. I really liked the concept of his form changes and how he can mix and match them using the memories. My personal favorite form in W is Luna Trigger. The story was awesome and I really liked the concept of the un-refined memories acting like drugs and getting their users more addicted to the power as shown in the story of the Bird Dopant. I like the chemistry that Shoutaro and Phillip have and how they play off each other. I've even caught myself doing Phillip's search pose when I get stressed out and need to cool my head. I know a lot of the fandom would find Akiko annoying but I actually like her character. Accel was awesome and I really liked his tale of revenge with the Weather Dopant. The Weather Dopant is one of the creepiest villains I've ever seen. He is at Long's level of unsettling for me and his performance made my skin crawl. The Dopants themselves had some really nice variety in terms of designs and abilities. Before watching this series I didn't think it was possible to create an interesting/convincing monster with powers based around money.

2. Kamen Rider Fourze:
I know some people will be a bit shocked to see that I ranked Fourze above W but the truth is that Fourze just hits the sweet spot for me. Yeah its goofy and cheesy but it works pretty well for what they were going for, at least to me. While I normally hate the power of friendship concept and the shounen goofball archetype (I've seen it used in far too many anime and it very rarely works out for me), they did relatively well with Gentaro in my opinion. Gentaro is actually one of my favorite riders, he has that personally that makes it so you just can't help but take an interest in the guy. Unlike others in his archetype that usually come off as perfect (the most recent example being Daigo from Kyoryuger), he does have legitimate flaws in his character that help make him an actual character. He is loyal to a fault and values his relationships with people above all else. Cosmic States sums up his personality rather well in my opinion. While people like to complain that Gentaro didn't get enough focus, I don't mind that because in all honesty he doesn't need it. His development took place before the series even began and as such he is used more as a jumping board for the other characters to get their development. I like the Kamen Rider Club members and how they grew from meeting Gentaro. I like both Fourze's and Meteor's suits and I enjoyed Meteor's character arc a lot. I think the high school setting in Fourze worked rather well with when combined with the space motif for Fourze. Like with Wizard, the overall plot-progression is slow but the main difference with Fourze is that the characters had more than enough energy to them so I didn't notice it. Overall Fourze is a very simple series with a very simple but heart-warming message: If you stick by your friends, you can overcome anything.

1. Kamen Rider Ryuki:
Come on, you guys saw this one coming. This one is hands-down my favorite Kamen Rider series and it is usually the first series I recommend to people. It is one of the most unique rider series I've seen. What I like most about it is that its not only the monsters that the riders have to worry about, its a rider fighting for his/her life against other riders, all in an attempt to gain their hearts' desire. Each rider has their own arguably justifiable reason for being in this fight, with the exception of Gai who is just a jerk because he is bored and Ouja who just wants to wreck stuff though Ouja's reason is way more forgivable because he adds a great sense that he is a threat to everyone involved. Zolda's reason for fighting is the most heartbreaking for me as unlike the others, he is quite literally fighting for his life. Like a lot of the early Heisei riders, it does an excellent job creating an unsettling atmosphere. The way it handles transitions between episodes really helps add to the mystery of why they have to fight each other. Each episode has a cliff-hanger style flow to them that left me wanting to watch more and more. I remember saying one day that I was only going to watch 3 episodes for that day and those 3 episodes turned into 6 or 7. Though I'm not going to pretend this show is perfect, it does have a few problems like the ending and Odin but its definitely worth the ride for any Kamen Rider fan. Not all of the riders in the picture appear in the series: Ryuga and Femme only appear in the movie "Episode Final" which is an alternate ending for the series. Verde only appears in the "13 Riders Special". When I heard Gaim was going to have a similar rider war concept I thought "Sweet! I'm sold already!" but sadly I don't feel they're executing it rather well. I still don't get why people are making Ryuki/Gaim comparisons this soon. All they have in common at the moment is that they have riders fighting each other and that is about it.

Series I've haven't finished yet: It should be noted that since I haven't finished either of these series yet, these are only my thoughts as they stand at the moment. My overall thoughts will likely change once I actually get around to finishing these two series.

Kamen Rider Kiva:
This one will be more detailed than the others and will include slight spoilers since we're doing this one on the podcast. I'm somewhat indifferent to this series at the moment. I don't exactly like it but I don't exactly hate it. I've seen up to episode 37 and I honestly don't get why the fandom loves Otoya's comedic antics so much (though he has somwhat grown on me since his introduction). I find him to be kind of annoying, but not so annoying that I might end up hating him. I actually prefer Wataru over Otoya because he is that timid hero type and its really been nice to see him open up to people more. I don't like Nago because he reminds me too much of Kusaka from Faiz, especially when he provoked that frog/toad Fangire into attacking people just so he could have an excuse to kill it. He also has a "holier than thou" attitude that does nothing but aggravate me, though he has gotten a little better in that regard. I absolutely love the use of the stained glass look on the Fangire designs. There are two love triangles in the show, one that happens simply because Otoya doesn't tell Yuri whats going on. The other only happens because the characters suffer from Faiz syndrome where the pivotal character doesn't want to tell the other two a single thing. Yeah I get it, she has that shy timid personality but even with that I think Inoue could've come up with something to get her message across instead of her hiding it from the other two for the sake of drama. The reasoning for why King and Queen do their respective roles in the Checkmate Four doesn't really make much sense to me. Namely why loving humans is illegal or why they want to stop humans from advancing when they can just steal the advancements and apply them to Fangires. Having two stories being told in different times is actually a good idea but all the cutting between the two stories kind of breaks the flow of any fight scenes that are happening at the time and at certain times it doesn't really feel like it needs to happen.

Kamen Rider Den-O:
Like Kiva, I've seen about halfway into this series. The series is about on par with Kiva, though the comedy can be grating at some points. My favorite of the Imagin is Kintaros. The only suit design I don't like in this show is Gun Form and even then I can't quite put my finger on exactly why I don't like it, something about it just seems off. I was kind of hoping that Zeronos would be a more serious rider to help balance out the comedy angle of the show but unfortunately that isn't the case from what I've seen so far. What initially attracted me to this series is its music. I like how a lot of the music used in the show is multiple versions of Climax Jump and Double Action. Double Action Wing form is my favorite piece of music next to the theme song. I'll have to pick it up again at some point.

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