My Top Ten Favorite Heisei Era Kamen Rider Series

After several shows from Kamen Rider Kuuga up to Kamen Rider Drive, I'm about to write my top ten favorite shows. Here they are from lowest to highest. This list may also surprise how much my opinion has changed in some way. It's time to move on from my personal top ten pics.

10.) Kamen Rider Faiz

It may be surprising to why this made it to this list. But I still give it a low number. Sometimes, I feel like I'm better off watching Power Rangers Time Force than Kamen Rider Faiz. This was known to be Toshiki Inoue's darkest work. So darker and edgier it was that this work really works itself to becoming more depressing than interesting. Sure Timeranger was a darker and edgier series but it didn't feel as bad as this one. The plot of the human vs. Orphnoch war was an interesting attempt to do X-Men's plot into Kamen Rider. It's better in the darker and edgier but sometimes, lighter and softer can be done better. That's why I'd watch Time Force over this show! The major problem was that either Toshiki Inoue was burning out or that Shinichiro Shirakura's production style sucked eggs here. I guess when Inoue appeared in the finale of Faiz, he was proud to announce that he was able to survive executive meddling. Yasuko Kobayashi could have done the same with Go-Busters.

9.) Kamen Rider OOO

Who says you need darker and edgier to be better? Kamen Rider OOO is a fun comedy show. After Yasuko Kobayashi showed her writing skills of writing lighter and softer during Shinkenger, I feel like she was able to pull it off yet again during Kamen Rider OOO. Maybe the show had a lot of what critics may call as "unnecessary humor". But as a non-professional critic in my own way, I'm probably one of those who actually liked Kamen Rider BLACK RX even when the show didn't gather so much popularity. Maybe it explains why I still like this show.

8.) Kamen Rider Fourze

Call it wacky, crazy or anything but comedy can make a good Kamen Rider. As mentioned earlier, I'm a fan of BLACK RX even if the actor Tetsuo Kurata complained about the "unnecessary humor". I felt like the writers Kazuki Nakashima, Keiichi Hasawaga with the help of Riku Sanjo managed to get the series to go better. I enjoyed Fourze for every bit of the fun it had with making fun of technological innovations with the Rider Suit. I wanted to call it Jimmy Neutron turns Sheen into a Kamen Rider or the badass sequel Jimmy Neutron deserved. While it does parody science and technology but it also shows the consequences of just accepting innovation blindly. The students learn it the hard way when they become Zodiacs and Fourze must defeat them to restore them back to their human forms.

7.) Kamen Rider Kiva

Kamen Rider Ghost is fun and more fun than than Kamen Rider Hibiki. But it'll never as fun as this one IMO. While watching this show, I felt like it's nice to take a ride away from the horror scene for horror/comedy. The world of vampires who censor out blood, rainbows, teddy bears and well I still can't resist shouting it out that "Wataru Kurenai is the Japanese Danny Phantom!!!!!" from the bottom to top of my lungs. Though recently, that title should really go to Takeru Tenkuji as Kamen Rider Ghost is really a ghost. This was the season where Toshiki Inoue tried every bit to make fun of everything with past successes especially his own. Okay, it could have been better but I still like this show compared to Inoue's involvement with Faiz.

6.) Kamen Rider W

After ONORE DIKEDO and until this day I kept calling Kamen Rider Decade as Saban's Masked Rider repackaged. Kamen Rider Decade was a huge breath of fresh air. It had the unusual concept of two heroes in one. Okay not so unusual if you saw Ultraman Ace or any other related show. Fusions between two characters to become one character were done in Dragon Ball Z's Buu Saga. In this case, Shotaro merges with Philip's soul (and the body is left guarded) to become Kamen Rider W. This was the start of Riku Sanjo's entry and it made me first feel positive about him trying out Super Sentai before Kyoryuger turned out not to be my cup of tea. W had a lot of police plots, comic reliefs and a whole lot of Super Sentai cast members guesting as the Dopant of the Week. My only beef about the show is that why in the world did Nao Nagasawa take such a ridiculous role as Lily? She could have done better as my imagined Ninja Dopant complete with badass moves!

5.) Kamen Rider Drive

After Kyoryuger, I felt like playing "DUNDUNDUN IT'S GONNA BE BAD" when I heard that Riku Sanjo was returning to Kamen Rider. Okay, some critics don't like it but I'm among a a few non-formal or casual critics to like it. Maybe I'm just a sucker for police drama explaining why I suddenly said Winspector is better than GoGoFive and Lightspeed Rescue. Maybe that's why I liked Janperson as a kid but strangely I didn't like Jiban. Drive has some comedy elements mixed with serious elements in the human vs. Roidmude War. While the character are mostly less serious but some characters aren't. Niwa and Banno are among a few to prove the terrifying potential of humans to destroy each other. I don't care what other critics say but my critique of this show is that I highly recommend it! It helped me overcome the disaster that was Ninninger. Unfortunately, Ghost wasn't going to be as good as this one.

4.) Kamen Rider Blade

I would agree that the acting isn't that good in this one. I say it's not that bad either. Kamen Rider Blade has the cool concept of Battle Royale with the Undead. The Undead have been unleashed into the world and it's a game that everyone must be sealed off to stop the cycle. There's plenty of psychological thrillers in this show. After I tried checking Kamen Rider Hibiki (which came after it), I felt this show was a good relief. I enjoyed a lot of the action scenes, the plots behind the Undead and just about one Undead who's different than the others. There's difficult choices to make as the show goes by.

3.) Kamen Rider Gaim

Who says you need darker and edgier to be better? Kamen Rider Ryuki had a lot of cool motif, interesting plots and a darker plot but the whole show fell apart no thanks to those idiotic executives who meddled in too much. Fortunately, that didn't happen much with Kamen Rider Gaim. Plus, it was Gen Urobuchi's turn to give it a shot. It does look ridiculous at first with the fruit motif but the show got the battle royale done better. The silliness here and there didn't really ruin the plot overall. Some plots here do involve similar decisions in Ryuki and I wish the show had its own version of Kamen Rider Ouja. But overall, the whole battle was about the evolution of humanity. The last winner gets that Golden Fruit. It was an interesting ride to see some stuff reimagined as the show progressed.

2.) Kamen Rider Kuuga

The first Kamen Rider of the Heisei era. It broke the mold of what Showa Riders were giving this show its own identity. Gone were the days when Kamen Rider villains were acting like Super Sentai villains with their stupid plans for world conquest. The master innovator Shigenori Takatera together with the help of Naruhisa Arakawa brought a long-dead franchise to life. The show also had Toshiki Inoue helping out which may explain why he didn't get to write more episodes for Timeranger. The show started a new formula and it succeeded. The show's complex mysteries that were slowly solved by the show's protagonists, Yuusuke Godai's dilemma of the possibility he could fall away from humanity while fighting to save the humans from the Grongi were all fun to watch. Still hard to imagine how Arakawa would later focus on less serious Super Sentai seasons with Abaranger, Dekaranger and Gokaiger!

1.) Kamen Rider Agito

Perhaps the Kamen Rider show that gets my attention the most is Agito. I agree with Shogo B'Stard's statement that it's a sprawling ambitious tapestry. The show was going to be an atypical Kamen Rider and this was said to be Toshiki Inoue's magnum opus. These days, I'm getting tired of the "Because it's Inoue it must suck." just like the "Because it's Judd Lynn/Yasuko Kobayashi then it's gonna rock." mentality never mind everyone hits the road to burnout sooner or later. Agito has a very hard to imitate storytelling, levels of conflict and very complicated mysteries that don't get answered immediately. Some of he characters get stuck in a series of conflicts. Then you have the Lords and their motives for the killings is a mystery. They aren't your typical antagonists. The whole show seems to borrow concepts from Dairanger's balance of forces and Timeranger's complicated battle against fate as the show progresses.


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