Okay, seriously why is it that my favorite characters always seem to die or suffer horrible fates? I mean, well, okay, not always, not every one of them, but very very often.
Kitaoka Shuichi/Kamen Rider Zolda – My favorite Rider character overall. It’s kind of amusing, since in many ways he’s kind of the anti-Kamen Rider. He’s opportunistic, selfish, conceited, not exactly the bravest man ever, and he sucks at close combat (this is why he has those sexy BFGs). So why do I like him? Initially, because that type of douche is a character type I love, and because his antics are mean but really really amusing; later… well, he just gets more and more interesting as the layers are peeled back. And while it doesn’t make him a better human being in the slightest, when you find out why he’s fighting, it does add a certain depth. In the end, I just love morally gray characters, and he’s pretty much the epitome of that; he’s certainly not a hero and neither is he particularly villainous, he’s just an extremely flawed man.
Yaguruma Sou/Kamen Rider KickHopper (formerly Kamen Rider TheBee) – Yaguruma was my first crazy Kamen Rider love, so to speak. That is to say, I was enjoying Kabuto, but it was when Yaguruma dragged his spur across the ground before strutting over to kick Worm ass before an incredulous Kageyama, while declaring himself a loser and renouncing Perfect Harmony, that I really found something to flail over in Kamen Rider. In a way, it’s probably his fault that tokusatsu ate my brain in the first place. All because I do love a good anti-hero, and Yaguruma is an awesome one.
Aikawa Hajime/Kamen Rider Chalice – In many ways, Hajime’s is my favorite character arc in Kamen Rider. It’s just so amazingly complex and touching, the non-human that starts to be human despite himself, who at the same time doesn’t know how to be human. What gets me most is the conflict between the Joker’s nature and his brand new, fledgeling desire to feel, to embrace that new humanity in himself; and ultimately, once he’s made his choice, the struggle to be what he chose; to overcome nature and fate, to prove that he doesn’t have to be what they dictate, that he can choose his own path. It’s so heartbreaking and noble at the same time.
Kagami Arata/Kamen Rider Gatack (also formerly TheBee) – I’m sure I’m not alone in that I actually didn’t particularly like Kagami when the series started. But as Kabuto went on and more was revealed about him, I couldn’t help but respect him and feel for him, because of that need, that drive in him, to be a hero no matter what. Yes, he was destined to be “the God of Battle”, but unlike Tendou, he built himself up from nothing, and in the end, he was twice the man and hero that anyone else in that series was.
Hikawa Makoto/Kamen Rider G3 – If the above is true of Kagami, then it goes double for Hikawa. In a story about a select group of people who are developing special abilities, surrounded by a battle between the Unknown and two Riders who are more than human because a mystical being/deity gave them something of himself, Hikawa is only human (the moment when he screams “Tada no ningen da!” is my single favorite moment in all of Agito). There is nothing inherently special about him, even as a regular human man. But what he is is brave, and even though he knows perfectly well that he’s in over his head, that at any time the suit Ozawa made might malfunction and that he could easily die, he pushes on and keeps fighting, because he may be only human, but he made a choice to protect people, and it is what he will do, the best way he knows how.
And so it begins. Watched episode 1 raw, so obviously I will have missed things. :D
The first episode kind of already confirms the impression I got from the press releases and character descriptions: that many elements of Os are very obvious nods in the direction of past Riders. To be fair, Kamen Rider is a franchise that relies on a specific, limited set of tropes; but what I’m talking about isn’t that exactly. A trope is an archtype basically, something honed down to its basic elements; what I’m talking about is the specific ways in which those archtypes are explored. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, particularly if one liked what is referenced, and it’s all revisited in a way that revamps the ideas.