Series Review: Kamen Rider Kiva
Well it's time for another Heisei Kamen Rider review. So I hope I get better with my critic styles. Before I jump into Agito, I'd really like to talk about Kamen Rider Kiva. While Faiz for me was terrible (but I'll rewatch it before I write a real review because I dropped it), Toshiki Inoue managed to recover in this series though it's not really that good as his work in Agito, which I will tackle later. Compared to his previous works like Chojin Sentai Jetman, Kamen Rider Agito and Kamen Rider Faiz (which I saw, in Faiz's case I dropped it!) and I am yet to see Changerion, Kiva is pretty light, may have been pretty messy but for me, messy in a good way.
Where do I start? It starts with the story of this dude known as Wataru Taiga who we don't know for some reason could become Kamen Rider Kiva. So how did he become Kiva to start with? Just watch. So there's 1986 events and 2006 events, 22 years apart. In 1986 we have the late Otoya Kurenai's events and in 2008, the events of his son Wataru. The story revolves around the rise of the Fangires to threaten humanity. What are Fangires? They are a race of stained glass monsters that instead of sucking your blood, they suck your energy and if you're sucked out, you break into glass. Not typical horror material well so what? This show is pretty light-natured compared to Agito and Kuuga. While some find the two sides messy, I think it's an interesting concept like in some sci-fi dramas I've watched like Pawnshop No. 8- strayed now back to Kiva. Wataru has this "allergy to the world" while he's under the "care" of Shizuka Nomura who can go from funny to annoying (to some characters in the story) at the same time he's making violins for people using really weird methods to get the colors he wants. He does quickly overcome his "allergy to the world"- now only if that concept was extended!
In 2006, the Fangire problems have resumed. Of course this leaves me started so how in the world did humanity fight off the Fangires in that time of 1982? My guess was that Kamen Riders from Ichigo down to Super-1 fought them... I'm just wild mass guessing here okay? The Fangire problems actually leads to Wataru to come out of his shell, go Kivat and become Kamen Rider Kiva. I would say that Kiva really has that nice design I like, the dark gothic theme in a light show. Along the way, he meets different people and he is at first believed to be an enemy when Megumi first sees him. This leads to the mystery- what was there with Kiva that made Megumi think that he's still a threat to humanity? Now moving on. In 1986, Yuri Aso who happens to be Megumi's mother (now I really wished that Nana Yanagisawa played both characters, also Yuri Aso's actress Yu Takahashi does look like Taiwanese actress Vivian Hsu and sidenote, she's half-Filipino) is fighting Fangires while trying to evade the advances of Otoya who can be VERY ANNOYING to everyone around him. Yuri is dead by 2008 but the cause of her death is never known while Otoya's cause of death is later revealed. Also, we have no idea who Megumi's father is, she definitely is NOT the daughter of Jiro/Jarulu who happens to be one of the Arm Monsters in 2006 and one of the no side characters. In both 1986 and 2008, Mamoru Shima exists who is part of Wonderful Blue Sky Organization. Megumi continues her mother's work. I'll confess I really wanted Wataru to be a couple with Megumi but that never happened. Also it felt like Danny Phantom in a way.
With the Kiva as a threat to humanity plot or supposedly a threat to humanity, it's not immediately answered to keep things going. There's Nago who is the current day Kamen Rider Ixa (2008) while in 1986, it was still in its dangerous prototype stage and was handled by Otoya while Yuri wanted to use it. In 2006, Megumi wants to become Ixa to finish her mother's fight with Rook. Nago of course is obsessed with finishing off Kamen Rider Kiva and he will do ANYTHING to get rid of Kiva until he realizes that he's dead wrong about it. I thought of Nago as some kind of Gai Yuki to the series except he doesn't die in the end, he's a jerk yes but he has a nicer side too. He and Megumi hardly get along, they are frenemies. Megumi however does get along with Wataru, even if she does criticize him at times. Apparently, Inoue managed to do lighter and softer to some degrees, right though there's some mess that needs to be taken care of.
Along the way, there are pretty bizarre characters that link together like the Spider Fangire who was once hitting on Yuri in 1986, develops a forbidden and at the same time disgusting attraction to Megumi. Talk about shifting from mother to daughter! In-between I just find Kengo's appearance later to be pretty useless but hey a Kamen Rider has other friends. Also, I felt he had little or no importance. I really wish he never lost his ability to use his guitar either because turning him into another Ixa just for me was that stupid. The Fangires are pretty complicated especially when they do have these laws of being against falling in love with humans or two, we do see the forbidden attraction happening which works itself out. Also Toshiki Inoue basically parodied Radiguet's amnesia with Rook- Rook was a vicious killer in 1986 who played a certain game in killing (parody of Grongi's game) and when he regained his memory in 2008, he goes vicious again. So what happens here, it seems Inoue is parodying his previous works. And the Fangires aside from being vicious beasts, they do also have their human sides as some Fangires are sadly put out of their misery in 1986 by Maya for falling for humans, and ironically Maya will break the code soon. And in 2008, the future Queen, Mio will come in between Taiga and Wataru.
I do find the way Kiva does his job pretty interesting. So he does use Castle Doran to devour Fangire souls before they can keep causing trouble by re-spawning. Castle Doran appears to be a giant dragon that is used for warfare. In it are three monsters disguised as humans namely Jiro (the werewolf Garulu), Ramon (Bassha the merman) and Riki (Dogga the Frankenstein). They like the Fangires have human forms and human names while having a real name for their real forms. I do like how Kiva uses these monsters to his own advantage while there's an interesting story behind them again linked to Otoya and the Fangire King. Kamen Rider Kiva uses the Fuestles to summon each one of them to go from Garulu Form with a highly Gothic style sword, the Bassha Form which uses that really awesome Bassha Magnum and the Dogga Form with that really heavy hammer. Later, the three would combine with Kiva all at once to form the DoGaBaKi mode. With Tatsulot, he becomes Emperor Mode which however can still use the monsters. Also, he gains control of the Zanvat Sword which is one freaking awesome sword for me, which was also connected to the past before Wataru was born. The interesting story was with the Fangire King of 1986. The Fangire King was the original Dark Kiva.
Now more of Wataru's background- I was pretty not surprised to find out that he was actually half-Fangire otherwise how could he be mistaken to be a threat to humanity or survive the Kivat bite? So we learn a few things- Taiga the childhood playmate of Wataru is his half-brother (same mother, different fathers). Wataru was born out of the adultery of Maya the Queen in 1986 and Otoya, this comes in between Otoya's pursuit of Yuri. Yuri was falling for Garulu in 1986 while she later knew of his wolf identity but chose not to believe it at first, believing Otoya was making things up. It's only logical she can't believe it because things like those are awfully hard to believe and too bad to be real. So we learn that Taiga is the son of the Fangire King in 1982 (he has no human name apparently!) and Maya, the Queen in 1986. It becomes a complex affair that Maya enters into the life of Otoya after he was having a live-in relationship with Yuri, something that Nago detested while he traveled back in 1982 to change the fate of the Wonderful Blue Sky Organization. And in Wataru's life, there comes Mio who he isn't aware is the yet to be Fangire Queen. For me, Mio's just one mean bitch- Wataru deserves better! So maybe it's good Shizuka comes in between because Mio's presence is just plain antagonistic. There's also the Bishop who is pretty much a schemer and a cunning enemy who eventually meets his demise at Ixa's hands. On the other hand, Taiga could become the evil rider, Kamen Rider Saga who would do the "Night has Come" for Fangires caught guilty of loving humans. How racist can the Fangires be yet Taiga would later try to recruit Wataru to their cause even if the latter was half-human?
For me, Wataru vs. Taiga has a better story than the Kamen Rider Black/Black Sun vs. Shadow Moon relationship from my favorite Kamen Rider Black series in the fight to be king though the execution is sadly NOT THAT GOOD and LACKS EMOTION. It's that they are half-brothers- same father, different mothers and rivalry between the past returns to the present. So Taiga is looking forward to marrying Mio while Wataru likes Mio. Complex but hey Wataru should stay away from Mio. When Wataru discovers that Mio is the Queen-to-be and that Taiga is a Fangire and that he is half-Fangire, things get more complicated than they should be for him. I just couldn't believe that Mio would ask Wataru to KILL his half-brother Taiga to become King so they can marry? How crazy can she get? Well it was pretty satisfying to see her shatter yet poor Wataru wallows himself up in sorrow. At the same time, Taiga is determined to defend his position as the next King of Fangires. Also, we discover that Maya handed over the Kiva powers to Wataru at the same time, Maya had lost all her powers after she divorced the King of Fangires in 1986, she was stripped off all her powers by her ex-husband. Also, I wish Taiga got the powers of Dark Kiva EARLIER because it would have created a more interesting atmosphere of doom. But oh well. So Wataru is an abomination to both humans and Fangires yet Taiga wants him to join them.
What happens later is that Bishop eventually loses his faith in Taiga and seeks to revive the Fangire King of 1986, EVEN giving up his life in the process to which he was killed by Kamen Rider Ixa. And also, Megumi manages to finish her work against the Rook with data left by her late mother, who again how did she die? At least we know how Otoya died- by using the Dark Kiva powers which is for me, death by stupidity! While the rivalry was about to wrap up, the Fangire King returns in his form as the Bat Fangire (normally, bats are the symbol of Fangires!) which makes both Kiva and the new Dark Kiva cooperate. So Taiga has no choice but to destroy his father, also Taiga's not really that bad after all despite his previous scenes as a racist bigot who views humans as just sources of nourishment. Maya was in fact pleased to see her sons work together. Moving on, Taiga later tries to reorganize the Fangires to search for alternative energy sources which actually, screwed things up again.
Now for a very SCREWED up finale. Now why in the world is Megumi marrying Nago of all persons? Just because she helped Nago when he later developed eyesight problems (reference to Hikawa/G3 anyone from Agito?) does not make it good lovey dovey. It's obviously for me THE MOST SCREWED UP UNION IN TOKUSATSU HISTORY!!! While Inoue's writing of Ryu and Kaori's wedding in Jetman made sense, this one just DOES NOT. So it's a happy day, supposedly. However while Wataru is about to play the violin for everyone and I was SO LOOKING FORWARD TO IT, his son from the future who looks like Otoya (played by the same actor) came- namely Masao Kurenai comes in. He's a weirdo who suddenly asks his father's help because of the Neo Fangires have come to invade the present. So what did in blazes Taiga do to cause him to get dismissed? We don't know. Then we see Taiga come to the wedding, Masao calls him uncle, Wataru and Nago go, Megumi wants to join in while in her wedding dress- the three monsters go monster and they do a RIDER KICK to end the series. Screwed up as it is, I enjoyed the silliness of the finale.
My rating? 8.5/10. Despite its problems, even if it's not as great as Agito (reviewing coming soon), I WOULD SAY I WAS PRETTY MUCH ENTERTAINED BY ITS TWISTS AND TURNS.