Series Review: Kamen Rider Fourze
Well I never thought I'd write another review. This time it's SPACE TIME! Now it's time to talk about Kamen Rider Fourze- doing a teenager based Kamen Rider right where Saban's Mashed Rider got it wrong. Sure there are people who didn't like this series, yes I agree it has its flaws but moving on. Now the story starts with a great mystery at Amanogawa High School. Gentarou our hero has a "bad boy" image while there's Kengo that geeky guy who seems to have a heart problem and bubbly Yuki. Gentarou wants to be friends with everyone and the formation of the secret organization of teenagers called the Kamen Rider Club. Ha ha, eat your heart out Dex of Mashed Rider! Now where was I? So he's the unexpected hero who one day becomes Fourze to defend the school from the Zodiarts.
The Zodiarts are students who were mysteriously given switches but by who? There's the mystery part there compared to W's already known mystery of the Museum (which Shotaro doesn't know at first!). It may not be as good as Agito or Kuuga in those areas but it's still a good show for me, despite what some critics say that it's a bad show compared to Den-O (which I find kinda painful to watch compared to Timeranger). I would say the joint efforts of writers Kazuki Nakashima, Riku Sanjo (from W) and Keiichi Hasegawa has created this rather good show though I wouldn't call it awesome either. The cast of the Kamen Rider Club shows themselves as flawed teenagers who mature along the way as the show progresses.
So what's the Kamen Rider Club? It's a club established by Gentarou who's one happy go lucky guy who becomes Kamen Rider Fourze instead of Kengo. So pretty much, he gains friends along the way like the beauty queen Miu (but she's not my type), school hunk Shun (who's got some father issues and manly tears), JK a weirdo and later Tomoko a Gothic mystic of sorts. I pretty much enjoyed the development of these who can be easily mistook as "teenagers with attitude" and we don't have any of those useless comic relief characters like from Saban's Mashed Rider similar to Patsy and Herby, instead you have a supportive team. Along the way, they solve some of the basic to complex mysteries while having some comedic and teary eyed moments. It's a high school drama that meets Kamen Rider with how things go on in here. I also liked Tomoko's plot where she nearly joined a group of witches, Shun's plot concerning his father plus his crush on Miu that never goes anywhere for some reason and of course Kengo. For Kengo he is pretty stuck up and we wonder if he ever has a heart problem. They gather at the moon, really the moon? Yes, it's the Rabbit Hutch. Some cool club huh?
The Zodiarts plot is pretty similar to the Dopants in W... but this time it involves corrupting the mind of teenagers with these switches. Each plot involves a different agenda for the teenager, to which it was actually distributed by the chairman Gamou via the school principal Hayami/Libra Zodiart. They are seeking for "The Twelve" to which for some reason, Gamou wants them. Also the teacher Miss Sonoda (who disappears so shortly, did the actress have payroll issues or was it contractual?) was Scorpio Zodiart. There is also the mysterious Virgo Zodiart who is actually a man Emoto! Hee hee, plot twist. I find the Zodiarts to be kinda creepy sometimes with how the students choose to shed off their humanity literally by casting aside their body. The effect of the Zodiart switch warps the mind of the user apparently explaining Gamou's insanity and there is a connection between him and Kengo's adoptive father who had died at the beginning of the series.
Now for the Kamen Rider Club's progress. So we are introduced to Ryusei who is Kamen Rider Meteor. This was obviously inspired by Accel where he is controlled by the mysterious Tachibana who I thought at first was a robot. So why was he not allowed to leak out his identity? Ryusei's trials in the series reveal all the humanity he has especially when he chooses his friends over his power when he temporarily can't become Meteor. So later his identity was allowed to be known by the Kamen Rider Club. He also had faced the sub-plot of his comatose friend where he later ended up having a Faustian pact with Libra, which was pretty much the biggest mistake yet his friends still forgave him. Kind of a huge lesson there is in life huh? And for Gentarou, he does always suffer from the the flaw of trying to be friends with everyone. Eventually that loony tunes teacher Ohsugi joins in as the adviser of the club. He is kind of stupid in some way but does become useful later. Hee hee.
Just as expected the twelve Zodiac signs were arranged to further the plot- Scorpio (Miss Sonoda), Libra (Hayami), Virgo (Emoto), Leo (Kou the loyal bodyguard of Gamou), Cancer (Natsuji), Aries (Tastsumori), Capricorn (Tojiro), Aquarius (Ellen), Taurus (Yuta), Gemini (Dark Yuki) and Pisces (Ran). The plots were somewhat my favorite were of Virgo who reveals himself to be a double-agent, Cancer who was a pretty cruel fellow, Aries who duped Ryusei, Capricorn who was an old friend of JK and nearly made the latter betray his friends, Aquarius who I was sad lost her memory after that rather forced final battle, Taurus the obsessive control freak and the Dark Yuki which was born out of the Gemini switch. And the plot twist had to be that Virgo Zodiart was a double-agent, an old friend of Kengo's supposed father and Gamou who all traveled into space. So those people that Emoto as Virgo supposedly banished were just sent to the M-Bus though we only saw Tomoko and Ryusei return from there. I thought that the death scene of Emoto was pretty tragic and also we learn that Gamou is the Sagittarius Zodiart though the cast is never aware of the true nature of the school. Foundation X does again show up but they were never presented as a recurring antagonist though which was a flaw. For Emoto's plot, he killed Kengo's supposed father Dr. Utahoshi.
So the plot moves forward and I am so impressed at how Gamou really hides his secret. Most villains have a hard time hiding their secrets. For the main villain Gamou I do think he's somewhat a repeat of Dr. Man and Dr. Hinelar... having had a rival scientist (but he did kill Dr. Utahoshi via a command to Emoto who was corrupted by the Zodiart switches). Gamou wants to force evolve mankind to the next level while Dr. Utahoshi created the Fourze system. Pretty much rivalry there. For the principal Hayami, I am impressed by his die hard loyalty to the point he took the shot meant for the Chairman. Gamou's Sagitarriius form is badass, I really love that power and design. Yuta's loyalty is also pretty much blind. So we later discover Kengo is not human but born out of the Core Switch which adds some teary eyed drama. I would agree that this is typical J-Drama here but sort of inconsistent for me to the show's rather light nature. It did result to some tears in the finale, very much strong tears of men and women. Manly tears, girly tears all for the sake of Kengo who they believe they'll never see again. Kengo had a similar plot to Philip from W, both who are destined to disappear forever only to return!
The finale for me is really that good. So what happens is that Meteor finally defeats Leo, but Leo who has gone too corrupted doesn't revert back to being human. The one-on-one battle with Sagitarrius has to be the best and well, after some intense moments they are sent back to school. So Gamou who's gone haywire thanks to the Zodiart energy declares the school's final moments. What happens is that there's that "final musical" where Gentarou suits out for awhile, fights Sagitarrius out of suit and using only his default form defeats Sagittarius who devolves back into Gamou. He wants to lead Gamou to the light but like Dr. Man from Bioman, the latter is dying but repents of his actions. Gamou realizes how wrong he was and is later vaporized, but not without restoring Kengo who he previously killed. The end is where Kengo returns home and it's a really touching ending. Now what future awaits these teenagers? Let's find out!
My rating? 8/10. Not the best Rider around but a must watch!