Tuesday, 2 February 2016

5 Kamen Riders I Have Loved and Lost

 You may have noticed my last update was in 2011. I didn't forget to update or abandon this blog - that's just the normal update schedule for this blog, one post every half-decade.

 Anyway, let's move on to the real thing I want to talk about today:

 Kamen Rider doesn't mind killing characters.

 Actually, let me rephrase: Kamen Rider seems to get some sadistic glee out of killing characters.

 For a show that, as much as I'd like to pretend otherwise when I'm explaining to people why I own so much of its merchandise to my friends and family, is primarily marketed to Japanese preteens, Kamen Rider goes through its own characters like it has some kind of death quota. Once a given series hits its last ten episodes the Kamen Rider fandom starts holding its breath during every fight, painfully aware that this could be the episode where a beloved character abruptly bites it.

 Through the years of watching this show I've fallen for many different Riders and most of them are dead now because a Toei executive woke up in a bad mood. Today I want to talk about those Riders.

 As always, beware of spoilers for any and all Kamen Riders!

 Kamen Rider Chaser (Chase)

 Kamen Rider Drive

 Let's begin with the most recent. Chaser, formerly Machine Chase, formerly formerly Proto-Drive, formerly formerly formerly some spare wires and scraps of leather Krim had lying around, was popular not just with me but with fandom overall. He went from kind of a weird mouth-breather who apparently spent all day and night trying to just kill this one guy and still repeatedly managing to fail at it to a lovable protagonist who took romantic rejection better than any human character has in the history of the franchise. He couldn't aim and one time he had a tank at his disposal and still couldn't manage to kill anyone but we didn't hold that against him.

 Toei liked him too, or so I thought. They spent a lot of time filming loving close-ups of his ass. Sometimes it seemed like they were worried we'd forget he had one if they didn't pan to it at least once per episode.

 Then he got blown up and even though he had been blown up in the show before and just... got better (???), this time was apparently the explosion that broke the camel's back, because they immediately showed us his charred, scattered remains. It didn't ruin my breakfast, but that morning's toasted sandwich was a pretty sombre affair, I can tell you that much.

 Also the fact that Chase was in the middle of exploding didn't stop them from getting another ass shot in.

 Kamen Rider Kurokage (Hase Ryoji)

 Kamen Rider Gaim

 I didn't know Hase well enough. We were just getting to know each other when he was brutally ripped away from me by some asshole in leggings. I didn't realise how much I liked Hase until he was gone. 

 He was a minor character really, more comic relief than anything else. But he was cute. He had this frenemy/rivals/possible boyfriends vibe going on with Jounouchi and one time he picked him up bridal style and spun him around in the middle of a battle and I just about lost my mind it was so cute. I was rooting for those crazy kids. I was rooting for them to get a dog and a mortgage together. And then Hase suddenly went full Ensign Redshirt, ate some strange fruit (never eat the strange fruit, kids) and became half-man, half-spare props the special effects crew had lying around that day.

 And then the aforementioned asshole shot him, citing Hase's supposed dangerous nature to humanity as an excuse. Hey Sid, how about you take off the fedora and put on some proper pants before you start talking about dangers to humanity? Goddamn.

Kamen Rider Ryuki (Kido Shinji)

Kamen Rider Ryuki

 If I'm being fair, I was amply prepared for this one. We were told in Ryuki's very first episode that more or less everyone was gonna bite it, so it's not like I wasn't warned. The thing is, I didn't believe it. 

 You have to understand: Ryuki was one of the first Rider series I ever watched. It was a more innocent time, a time where I assumed a television show primarily designed to sell toys to preteens probably wouldn't unceremoniously murder its main protagonist in a drive-by backstabbing by some random mook. I know better now. I know Kamen Rider hates children  and will do anything to make them cry now. 

 But damn, what a way to find that out. By the time this scene happened, most of Ryuki's Riders had been killed off - but Shinji was the main character! At the very least I thought if he was going to die, it would be in the finale, in some big epic battle with the main villain - not just checked off on a to-do list in the penultimate episode by a minion on its way out of a car park.

 He did get resurrected in the finale but it was too late by then, I'd already lost my innocence.

Kamen Rider Ghost (Tenkuuji Takeru)

Kamen Rider Ghost

 Apparently someone on the Ghost writing staff watched Ryuki and thought "That's nothing, I can make children cry way more efficiently than that."

 Ghost's main character, Takeru, was promptly murdered in the very first episode.

 Now, let's be fair: as is probably obvious by its title, the premise of Kamen Rider Ghost revolves around its hero being a ghost. You can't be a ghost and still be alive, no matter what Kamen Rider Spectre's hilarious "doki-doki ghost-o" henshin jingle claims. Clearly Takeru had to die.

 But did he have to die twice?

 Twelve episodes after dying the first time around, Takeru... double-died (???) when a combination of him prioritising the lives of others above his own and just being really bad at organising his schedule caused another character to come back to life instead of him. Long story short, he got blown up. Like Chase, he got better. I don't think Toei really gets explosions.

Kamen Rider Blade (Kenzaki Kazuma)

Kamen Rider Blade

Technically Kenzaki didn't die at the end of Blade, and will in fact never die. But a part of my soul dies every time I remember what happened to him, and I think that counts.

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