Sunday, 27 March 2016

Five More Kamen Rider Characters Everyone Hates

 It's been five years since I posted the Ten Most Hated Kamen Rider Characters list, and since then, we've seen a lot of new characters come and ago. Some of them have been assholes. Let's have another list!

 My rules for this list are that I can only discuss characters that have been in series from the year 2010 onwards. If you're reading through this list thinking I left someone out, and they're from a show that aired prior to 2010, chances are they're on the first list. Particularly if their name starts with K and they're a massive racist.

Honourary mention

Kanon (Kamen Rider Ghost)

 As of the time of writing, Kamen Rider Ghost just aired its 25rd episode, and Kanon, the little sister of second rider Makoto, has not even been in all 25 of those episodes. Given that we're not even at Ghost's halfway mark it would be unfair for me to place her on the list proper.

 But it would be downright unjust to leave her off it all together.

 Unlike some of the other entries on this list, Kanon's completely harmless. She hasn't plotted anyone's death, she hasn't brainstormed genocide with a homicidal alien, she hasn't relentlessly abused members of her own family for decades. She's done nothing wrong. Unfortunately, she's done nothing right either. This is because she's done nothing at all. Kanon exists purely to be worried over and to worry about other people. Kanon has been kidnapped more times than she has exhibited clear personality traits. You could remove Kanon from most of the episodes she's in all together and the only thing you'd lose is the words "onii-chan" written in the script several dozen times.

 Ghost isn't over yet. There's still time, Kanon! Save yourself from this list! Grow a personality! Get the scriptwriters to allow you to exit from a scene with a stage direction other than "is dragged off by the monster of the week"! I believe in you.

 5. Gou (Kamen Rider Drive)

 All right, I gotta be honest. By the end of Drive, Gou had toppled Blade's Kenzaki from his position as My Favourite Kamen Rider of All Time. When I titled this list "Kamen Riders Characters Everyone Hates" I meant everyone but me. I probably love Gou more than I love some members of my own family, and I definitely love Gou more than some members of his own family.

 Gou wasn't greeted by the fandom with much enthusiasm, as the mildly annoying little brother of lead heroine Kiriko, and opinions of him only got worse when a) we discovered he was what I can only describe as violently racist against robots and b) much more angsty and angry than his happy-go-lucky first appearance had led us to believe. The final nail in the coffin came when Gou appeared to backstab the protagonists and defect to the side of the villains following an argument with his sister about whether she could or could not get it on with a robot.

 When it was revealed that the entire defection had been staged by Gou, the fandom's perception of him as a traitor wore off, but the dislike remained.

4. Sid (Kamen Rider Gaim)

 In the grand scheme of things, Sid turned out to be one of Gaim's more minor villains. He was responsible for kicking the entire plot off, but after that he was removed from the proceedings mid-series when he took a cliff to the face. And nothing of value was lost.

 Despite being little more than an also-ran in the fight to be Gaim's final villain, Sid is easily one of the most hated characters in recent years, and unlike the laundry list of things entry number five Gou did wrong, I can point to just one single reason for Sid's unpopularity: he killed Hase Ryoji.

 I've already talked about the death of Hase in another list, but let's recap: Sid-the-not-at-all-subtle-analogy-for-a-drug-dealer gives the teenaged Hase a device that will allow him to become a Kamen Rider, Hase uses the device, Hase plunges into insanity shortly after as a direct result of using the device, Sid shoots Hase to death in front of another traumatised teenager, Sid quips about how teenagers are irresponsible. In the space of about five minutes, Sid went from "seems sort of cool" to "someone I would push an old lady over to get the first shot at punching".

 And he wears a douchey hat.

3. Shunpei (Kamen Rider Wizard)

 I had this one written down as Not Ikari Gai until someone reminded me he has an actual name.

 Kamen Rider, as much as we try to deny it when we bring a date home and they want to know what the funny looking bugman poster is doing sitting in a frame above the fireplace, is a show made and marketed for children. As such, it will usually have a character whose primary role is to make children laugh. Children are stupid and what they find funny is stupid too. Enter Shunpei.

 Compared to everyone else on this list, Shunpei is by far the one you would be most relieved to bump into in a dark alley. However, I usually don't watch Kamen Rider in a dark alley so this wasn't much good to me. Shunpei was Wizard's kid appeal character: the goofy, clumsy comic relief who tries his best but generally doesn't succeed. To an adult fandom who don't have a lot of patience for seeing someone continually mess up for reasons like "my shoelaces were untied, oops!" or "there was a sale on polka dot leggings so I was late, oops!", Shunpei was a nightmare.

 Shunpei's personal arc eventually saw him become a useful (though, let's not carried away - not that useful) ally to Wizard, but it was too little, too late. His reputation as the annoying comic relief reminding us all that this kid's TV show is for kids was sealed.

 2. Banno (Kamen Rider Drive)

 Banno was a late addition to the cast of Drive, and for half of the screen-time he did have, he was a talking iPad. It's a testament to how truly obnoxious he is that he makes this list at all.

 What makes Banno so hated? He has a long list of crimes, from criminal negligence to homicide to - of course - trying to take over the world, but these are fairly standard crimes for a Kamen Rider villain. Almost every major Rider villain is guilty of at least one of the things Banno is guilty of, and yet it's Banno that makes this list.

 I think what truly makes people hate Banno is an offense far more familiar than mass murder or attempting the apocalypse: it's his abuse of his son, Gou.

 Gou himself was not a beloved character (refer to number #5 on this very list!), but regardless of one's opinion of him, the pain of having a member of your own family treat you as expendable and unimportant, physically and emotionally abuse you, and finally tell you they never loved you is one that everyone can sympathise with. It's even one that far too many members in Drive's audience would be able to personally identify with. It's a crime that feels far more real to the audience than your standard Rider villain crimes, and so by the end of Drive even Gou's most aggressive detractors were rooting for him to put an end to his scumbag dad.

1. Micchy (Kamen Rider Gaim)

 Finally, we come to number #1, and it's a character who ascended to levels of hatedom so high that at its peak, people were comparing him to the last list's number #1.

 There are three camps of opinion on Mitsuzane: there are those who love him and say everything he did was either justified or understandable, those who hate him and say everything he did was borderline sociopathic, and finally those who love him because everything he did was borderline sociopathic. The third camp is pretty much just me and my dog, so let's talk about the first two camps.

What garnered Micchy is his defense squad was that he didn't start out as a villain, nor was there one defining moment where he lost all sympathy. Instead he began as a meek hanger-on to the protagonists, and began subtly showing more and more signs of a manipulative and sly personality with time. Once he got to the point where he was ranting to his alien buddy/co-conspirator/girlfriend (???) about how genocide was not as bad as people make out he already had fans who were invested in the idea of him as a fundamentally good person, and would defend him no matter what he said or did. Unfortunately one of these fans was the protagonist of Gaim himself, Kouta.

 The only thing the Rider fandom hates more than a traitor is a traitor who escapes his comeuppance, and thanks to Kouta's name being next to the dictionary definition for "gullible", Micchy just kept escaping his (and, depending on how you see the finale, never got it at all). Micchy's list of crimes (a large but not complete list: accessory to the murder of his own brother on one occasion, attempted murder of his own brother on a totally different occasion, blackmail, complaining about the friendzone on Reddit, threats, wearing Christmas sweaters in July, conspiracy to commit genocide, attempted murder of his so-called best friend on about ten different occasions, theft, possible weird stuff involving plant tentacles) just kept growing, and the punishment for them never came. Fandom settled for aggressively posting about him online. That will have to do.

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