Series Review: Kamen Rider W
Well I'm done with Kamen Rider W and I'd say it's like a mix of detective TV drama x Kamen Rider with some of those "hard to replicate" charms. So the story revolves in Fuuto City where Shoutaro and Philip are part of an agency with Akiko as a funny sidekick who compared to Cassidy Cornhell in Dino Thunder, she's really a very useful character even if she does sometimes screw things up but overall she's useful. Fuuto is powered by wind power hence its name. At the same time, people buy this addictive "dope" called GaiaMemory which without a filter, it becomes a dangerous drug. Compared to W who uses a filter hence its unaddictive to the main hero Shoutaro, the Dopants are dopes to the GaiaMemory to the point of insanity. What I also find unusual is that for Shoutaro to become W, he needs Philip to do so... and the latter has a background story I'd say adds plot complexity. It does remind me of Ultraman Ace requiring two people before the hero can be formed with one being the dominant mind. They also have allies like Watcherman a guy with a weird Afro hairstyle, Santa-Chan (not Santa Claus but just a weirdo who dresses up like the fictional character) and the college girls Queen and Elizabeth who despite not being powerful individuals, help solve them in their cases.
So where do people get the Gaia Memories? It's from the Sonozaki family, the rulers of the museum who have gone evil to a certain extent thanks to the use of Gaia Memories. The patriarch is Ryube with his two daughters Saeko and Wakana. In every pair of episodes, certain humans purchase Gaia Memories for certain reasons then they go insane the more the use it while some of them are Super Sentai actors like Nao Nagasawa and Ayumi Kinoshita, both fanboy favorites. Also compared to the traditional Kamen Rider, whenever a Dopant is defeated by our merged hero Kamen Rider W (actually Shotaro is the dominant personality). Wakana starts off as an idol but later becomes antagonistic. I would consider the Gaia Memory trade to be dangerous as evidenced by Wakana hit by a stalker. For Ryube he's one guy who got swallowed up by the effects of the Gaia Memory and plans the Gaia Impact while he becomes Emperor of Terror, Saeko becomes the Taboo Dopant and Wakana the pampered daughter becomes Clay Dopant which willl be a vital key to the story. This family is pretty dysfunctional and somebody here has been the missing child of their family and even their family pet Mick the cat becomes the Smilodon Dopant.
While there are cases to solve, there's also the coming of Ryu who becomes Kamen Rider Accel who is obsessed with revenge one way or another. His family was killed by Ikasa/Weather Dopant and they were all dead by freezing. What I find interesting about Accel is that he moves from a vengeance crazed person to somebody who sees life beyond revenge. It is also here we are introduced to the mysterious character known as Shroud. For Ryu, he seeks his revenge one way or another. At first he seems unlikable but I grew to like his presence since he matures as the story goes. And for Ikasa, he's really one sick villain. I mean come on, he had double crossed the Sonozaki family for his own convenience. And along the way, Shroud who gave the Gaia Memory to Ryu, was also the one who gave it to Ikasa hoping to create a warrior full of hate to destroy Ryube. For the Accel/Ikasa battle, yes Accel does later finish off Ikasa but no longer out of revenge and hatred. And we do discover the effects of the Gaia Memory from overuse does kill its user- Ikasa dissolves into nothingness. And also, the plot where Shroud thinks that Philip should partner with Ryu instead of Shoutaro is interesting since she learns more about Shoutaro. I would say I do love the X-Treme Form.
Also, there's that feud between the sisters Saeko and Wakana and I have Ryube to blame for his extreme favoritism of Wakana over Saeko. Yes, the classic case of extreme favoritism. What is pretty sad is that Saeko killed her husband much earlier because of betrayal. And also Foundation X funds the Sonozaki family. We also learn that Wakana's Clay Doll Dopant form is necessary for her to become the Earth priestess and the shocking truth that Philip is actually Ryube's son, above which it is revealed he died when he fell into a pit with Gaia Memory as a child, which he was revived. And also, we learn that Shroud is actually the mother of Philip and the estranged wife of Ryube. Ryube went crazy thanks to the Gaia Memories while he seeks to preserve humanity from extinction with the Gaia Impact, leaving the task to Wakana to do so. So he does get defeated but it's not the end of the story. Ryube goes into insanity going into the mansion, waltzing in the air and dies.
Foundation X's Jun Kazu decides to use the Gaia Impact for himself and does the despicable that even Saeko can't swallow it. Also, the shocking revelation is that Philip would dissolve into nothingness once the final W transformation is done. Jun Kazu as the Utopia Dopant is one extremely powerful form as it lands Ryu even in his Accel form to the hospital hence he doesn't join the final battle against Foundation X. I don't know what his entire plan in turning everyone faceless was but it sure was creepy and wtf. Also his plan to use Wakana as a data was just too much one way or another is despicable. So Shoutarou merges with Philip's soul once more. They become X-Treme Form, finally destroying the Utopia Dopant and Philip finally disappears which launches Shoutaro into despair.
The series finale is a wrap-up of stuff but I would say better than the one in Kuuga. So the finale shows that the Dopant problem is far from over as teenagers are now using them while Santa-chan is now a pet shop owner while he still wears that Santa Claus cap. And I think the woman kidnapped her is Yui Koike, correct me if I am wrong. So it does make some wrap-ups in a funny way like how Wakana roams around the city with a few of her remaining powers until she realizes that Philip sacrificed his life to save him. Wakana then asks her mother Shroud for the Gaia Impact power, now for one noble purpose- Philip's revival. I do find the weaker Dopant battles amusing, Philip's return to be a surprise with a funny ending. So bittersweet as it was since Philip could not be reunited with his family, he and Shoutaro bow to protect their city as much as they can. So will the Dopant problem disappear? Well only time can tell.
My rating? 8.5/10.