Series Review: Kamen Rider Ryuki

Compared to most of the Heisei riders, this is where it pretty much departs from Rider tradition of monster of the week, instead we have the ever-growing conflict of the Kamen Riders that must fight in order to get that one wish.  So we have Ren who's pretty much a jerk and Shinji who's an idiot who gets dragged into the Rider Wars.  So how do yo become a Rider here?  You get a Contract Card, make a contract with a Mirror Beast and you become a Rider.  However the consequences of breaking the card means death.  Ren's already Knight in the beginning with a bat-like beast Darkwing, Shinji becomes Ryuki thanks to Dragregger the dragon.  There is also a limit to the time being a Rider, so pretty much I guess that's the rule of thumb of henshin probably to avoid straining the user.  So this might be Yasuko Kobayashi's love it or hate it work with the help of Toshiki Inoue (who had just finished with his greatest work Agito and later wrote the screwed up Faiz and the comedic Kiva), but for me I do think this is one series that I really like from all her Rider works!

I'd like to talk about Shinji- while Ren is a jerk, Shinji is an idiot who has noble intentions to protect people from the Mirror Monsters at the same time stop the Rider War.  But as if this guy hasn't been doing his homework since he doesn't realize the existence of evil Kamen Riders.  Come on, hasn't this guy heard of Shadow Moon?  For Ren who may be a jerk but there are times I choose to side with him but not with the fact he got dragged into the battle in his desire to save his fiance.  For Yui, there's something much about her and her brother Shiro Kanzaki (who's now a ghost) in this whole era of conflict.  So he thinks all riders should get along but is in a disappointment when he meets Masashi/Scissors who gets killed when his Contract Card is broken by Ren/Knight, he gets eaten up by his own Contract Beast Volcancer who is later killed.

We do also get other characters like Shuichi who becomes Zolda.  While a corrupt laywer in some way, he does become an ally of sorts but not really.  He does have cancer and all, making him want to live.  I do find Zolda's Magnugiga a really cool Contract Monster.  For Shuichi, his crush on Reiko is pretty creepy and funny at the same time.  And while he does get irritating at times, however he does develop.  Miyuki or Raia who uses the stingray Evil Diver the fortune teller eventually arrives seeking to stop the Rider War while Jun/Gai with Metalgelas.  For Jun/Gai I felt like he's the typical annoying spoiled brat I don't want to run into.  But he's not as sinister as one person who comes later namely Ouja.  Jun had the cool sub-plot where he hacked into ORE Journal but his virus was halted by Tezuka.  Pretty serves him right but not with what happens to him later.

The coming of Ouja is where things get really too dark.  We are introduced to another Takeshi but not Takeshi Hongo, he's an anti-thesis and thanks to the actions of Shiro from the Mirror World, he accepts the offer to become Ouja with the Venosnaker.  For one this guy's one despicable SOB and my favorite evil rider due to how he contributes to plot and conflict.  For one, he's got the coolest rider kick ever and two, he ends up killing both Raia and Gai stealing their Contract Monsters.  He's one cunning yet insane person who frequently breaks out of jail it's best if he's deleted.  So I just thought he makes Shadow Moon look like as sissy and he's probably based on Bilgenia from Kamen Rider Black.  Moving on, this guy is so evil he really makes every other villain that comes a baby.  And the fact he killed his own family by his own hands and even manipulates a little girl is just too much.

I just had my problems with the later Riders that appeared.  One there was Itsuro/Alternative a charismatic scientist, Satoru/Tiger who wants to be a hero but has a twisted sense of justice and Mitsuru/Imperer.  These guys were pretty much forgettable but I still felt sorry for Itsuro and Mitsuru even if Mitsuru annoys me.  Now moving on, Mitsuru was pretty much a rich man's son who was trained to be at the outside world so he becomes a competent heir... but the worse has to be he had to die so quickly.  And of course, Satoru is that crazy he kills Itsuro in order to become a "hero", he's twisted.  And later, we do realize that Yui is linked to the Mirror World, that is the Rider War was meant by the main antagonist Shiro to keep his sister alive while Ouja exists as the most cruel character ever.  So Ouja kills a weakened Mitsuru who Satoru thought was killed by own hands.  Later, Satoru learns what it is to be a hero but too late, he dies in a truck accident saving a family.  How sad can that get?  And the worse part is the arrival of Megumi at ORE journal which she is just a useless character.  On the other hand, so glad that Eri, Ren's fiance wakes up though she may not be at the best condition.

So things go from bad to worse when Yui eventually learns everything that she'd rather die and her stupid brother Shiro won't respect her wishes.  And for Shuichi, he decides to settle things with Takeshi once and for all rather than succumb to his cancer.  For Ouja, he really is too sick with his evil ambitions and finally, he gets shot to death by the authorities while out of suit.  In the later part, it does pain me to see Shinji die, so leaving Ren as the final Rider to fight Kamen Rider Odin who is but a puppet body to Shiro.  So the finale comes in a rather screwed up way.  After Ren doesn't make the final wish or maybe he did, everything is rebooted in such a way.  So all the participants in the Rider War are revived as seen in the finale but they all now suffer from amnesia, making everything just out of the window.  Then again, sometimes rebooting everything like that is necessary to save the world.  But it does get "wtf" thinking that all the character deelopment got thrown out of the window, Ouja's still alive and kicking plus he might do something evil again.  So Shinji and Ren don't know each other again?  Pretty much a reboot which makes everything confusing.

Fortunately Toshiki Inoue the co-writer wrote the "alternate ending" in the form of a movie which introduces the characters of Miho/Femme who actually is the first female Kamen Rider but sadly dies.  I do find the parts where Miho and Shinji apparently getting lovey dovey to be entertaining though she is a con artist but she later admits feelings for him.  So Miho has a grudge against Takeshi who she eventually kills in the middle of the huge movie which I think is one very powerful death.  There's the twist that somehow Yui met Shinji as a child creating Dark Shinji from the Mirror World, the evil version of Ryuki known as Ryuga who kills Miho.  Pretty much, for Takeshi's death it was pretty much well-deserved at the great Ouja he is, was killed by a woman for him murdering even women without mercy, a karmic death.  Ryuga as Shinj's evil clone is one sick person but not as sick as Ouja.  So again, Yui dies in here in a different way than disappearing.  And Ryuki battles Ryuga after they were supposedly merged, they separated and after a battle, a horde of evil Mirror Monsters shaped like bats appear called Sheer Ghosts.  So Shinji and Renn promise to each other they won't die, they become their Survive Modes, call their beasts and do a battle which I assume they win.  Not a very good finale Inoue but at least you fixed where Kobayashi screwed up.

My rating?  7/10.  It's got some screwed up moments but I enjoy all the drama in it.  First finale is pretty much WTF but it got the world saved.  Second finale by Inoue, well looks like it's the ending I choose.  So what ending is your best?


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