Kamen Rider Kuuga Review
So you might way WTF Sean Akizuki why are you in the world reviewing Kamen Rider Kuuga in your drama blog? So first, I really felt Kamen Rider has transformed into a fantasy TV drama while staying true to Toku (compared to how Zaido is SO not good) so DO NOT make comments for me to write on the Showa riders like my favorite Kamen Rider Black or whatever has to come. Moving on, I'll talk about Naruhisa Arakawa's writing- I may not think this is his top masterpiece but this is STILL a masterpiece worth watching. So where do I begin? Okay, I'll probably try to my own version of Nostalgia Critic but I'm a critic on Tokusatsu and TV Drama and hoping this TV Drama blog will go on forward like my Super Sentai blog. Hmmm what will my fellow Toku critics like Fantasy Leader, Mr. Smith, Chris X and That Chick think of this move? =P If I get funny comments, I'll post them for all to see. =) Moving on, let's HENSHIN!!!!
The story is pretty much a mix of Toku and police drama. So here, we meet the guy named Yuusuke Godai and the rise of a supernatural civilization known as the Grongi. The Grongi as they are, are pretty much a civilization on Earth that threatens to kill humanity. What's known of the Grongi is that they actually play a sick game of killings with a similar pattern, fortunately no Grongi member was seen feasting on human beings or this show won't pass the ratings for children or teenagers. So where was I? Need help from these monsters? Yuusuke takes the legendary belt of Kuuga from the ancient civilization and HENSHIN he becomes Kuuga, the new Kamen Rider after so long! However he starts of as pretty weak, still not strong but then in episode two, he goes into his red form and thus starts his mission to SAVE THE WORLD from the Grongis. The idea of Kuuga is "emptying one's self" to which stays true to it because the hero, Yuusuke is working to protect the happiness of others and not seeking for himself. That of course, defines heroism to a HUGE extent because Tokusatsu heroes protect others, not for self-interest.
Compared to Kamen Riders of the Showa era, this one follows the pacing of any typical fantasy drama which I am pretty much a sucker of. So he does henshin in the first episode but he doesn't immediately learn to use his powers nor does the police department trust the Kuuga alter ego immediately. However he has a close partnership with Kaoru Ichijou (NOT related to Ichijiou in Jetman) who is in the police force, Sakurako Sawatari who decodes the mysteries of Kuuga like in a typical fantasy drama, his sister Minori Godai a school teacher (she does resemble the actress Dawn Zulueta from the Philippines to some extent!), Hikari Enokida who is a single mother struggling between work and her son, Tamasaburo Kasagi who works at the Pore Pore cafe, Nana Asahina who is probably his admirer, Tsuyoshi Sakurai who works with Kaoru and Jean Michel Sorrel who is a foreign archaeologist who could speak Japanese. Other characters that entered are from the police station are like Sadao Matsukura who at first distrusted Kuuga but later learned to see him. Other minor characters were Morimichi Sugita, Nozomi Sasayama (Eri Tanaka why so little screen time?) and Shoji Kanzaki his childhood mentor.
So what's the big deal with Yuusuke and his friends? So he like superheroes don't really live a special life UNTIL they face the fact they're being qualified as they are called. He's somebody who seems to be just your normal everyday guy, a janitor, a guy who just wants to protects the smiles of everyone. That was until the day he HENSHINED into Kuuga. Then he becomes the protector of everyone's smiles. Quite a leap. So I can say that his character development goes from your normal everyday guy to becoming the super hero that saves the world from the menace of the Grongi. Along the way, he does portray a very human character like he is pretty much reliant on Sakurako to uncode the codes. So there's a code behind the power of Kuuga, a mystery that develops into a new one, each one creating a plot that's more complex than the last. How important is Sakurako? Without her, Yuusuke will definitely not survive. Also, his friendship with Kaoru and some of the police force gives him an extra hand. Okay the police force DOES NOT kill monsters but they definitely do help in the investigations. Hikari of course, is pretty conflicted between her job as a mother and one to help Kuuga, which turned out better in the end of things. Without her, the police force would just be a group of rag dolls against the Grongi. Favorite feature? She eventually developed the nerve breaking bullet after a series of trial and errors, which somehow prevented more deaths than the show could already count which greatly helps Yuusuke in the process. Yuusuke has a strong bond with his allies especially with Kaoru Kino who while he thought of Kuuga as an enemy, but seeing the pureness of Yuusuke, the two become a tandem to fight the Grongi. Too bad that Kaoru Kino didn't become a Kamen Rider but he's good as what he is- your friendly neighborhood policeman and the fact he killed Baruba even without superpowers proves he's still badass without henshin powers.
In the course of time that Kuuga fights, he struggles with the enemy quite differently so he begins to learn new forms while learning to adapt to his new found powers. I had my enjoyment of seeing him use new weapons though I had some WTF when he had to get some objects to turn into weapons into battle. My reasons? Well compared to most Kamen Riders who didn't do, why did he have to? I mean, Black RX didn't need to grab a twig to create his revolcane or as Robo Rider he didn't get somebody else' gun to become the Vortech Shooter so why does it happen? Or other riders after him didn't do that... PHEW! But let's give him some credit that he does try to overcome this flaw, gets himself ready and still defeats the Grongi after all even if he does have that weakness present so let's thank him he still manages to save the day or two from another horrible attack. The forms were the Dragon Form which he became the warrior of water, the Pegasus Form where he became a wind rider (and in that development, he had to learn to control his senses), the Titan Form where he's got that HUGE sword (and I love this form very much!) which all get upgraded. Along the way, Kuuga also had Try Chaser which got stolen by Go-Bada-Bada of the Grongi and was later replaced by Beet Chaser and later learned of the existence of the beetle-like being called Gouram which could combine with his Beet Chaser. In each of his learning his superpowers, he's not so typical like "Hey I already know how to use this." Rather, he struggles and learns along the way to see how the power works which makes him again... SO HUMAN. So no exaggerations, such a way of writing is pretty good even if I didn't like the backside of having to use objects. But still, that weakness shows his strength of mind and spirit in battle.
So the mystery of the Grongi and THEIR hard to understand language was there. Fantasy Leader said it's better I don't watch the Grongi translated so I don't get spoiled. Heh... I wish what they were speaking since I want to know just how EVIIIIL they are. Moving on, I thought that the Grongi in their modus operandi was quite different. Rather than release a monster to execute some silly to really eerie plan (like how the Gorgom does their modus operandi in Kamen Rider Black), they play a game of death which adds a thrill to the show. The game of death is pretty scary like for example one Grongi kills children for fun, another on women, what's really their problem? Apparently they are a group of racists who treat humans as game objects believing them to be weak or something. Also Baruba lingered around around as a beautiful woman of the Grongi, who was somewhat the deputy of their elder, Daguva. While she appears to be a normal human being, she really bites them. What makes them also scarier is that they disguise themselves as humans, as normal animals THEN they really cause a lot of trouble to city folks. Their mission? To prepare the world for the coming of DAGUVA! DAAAGGUUUVAAA!!!! So finally we meet Daguva who's one ferociously cruel being. Then the final battle of Kuuga begins for the fate of humanity. To after which, Kuuga manages to win but not without sustaining much injuries in battle (and so does Daguva). All I can say is how in the world could you survive that fight when it's too heavy? So we finally have a last episode, that isn't a final battle but rather a wrap-up of who Yuusuke is which left me some boredom to me but giving credit overall, it does show who he is but it's just not my type of finale for a Tokusatsu or a fantasy drama.
If you're stuck with the Showa era, shame on you because the Heisei era has a different flavor to offer.
My ratings? 8/10. Although I think it had some of its flaws, however one has to admit that the doorway to newer styles of writing was opened by Kuuga. So some of you like it best, others don't but I respect you all.
Next stop, I might review Agito. I might also do on Kiva and Den-O. But don't expect it too soon, I will probably be watching Jackie Chan's Zodiac movie first! =P