Back to Den-O after a long long hiatus.
For context, in case anyone should stumble upon this, I have not watched all of Den-O, so awhile back I decided to tackle it and blog about it. You can find my posts on previous episodes of Kamen Rider Den-O here.
No, I never finished it before, I stalled right around the same eps as the first time I started to watch Den-O… I did watch the first 3 or so Yuuto episodes, but I never actually blogged about them, so I’m starting again from 17. Yes, I skipped 15-16. No, I won’t ever blog about those two episodes, they were the original catalyst for losing my drive with Den-O twice already.
And just to clarify, yes, I know who Yuuto is, and I know who Hana is, but other than a couple of very general things, I’m pretty much unspoiled, and these posts are pretty much safe for episodes beyond the ones each one is about.
Anyway, on to 17 and 18. The plot thickens. And 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.
And so we get to Ryutaros. I’m not really sure how I feel about him. Sometimes he can be fun(ny), and certainly liking puppies and kittens is cute, and his color is purple, but the fact that he’s a willful brat means that ultimately I tend to find him very tiring and frustrating, sometimes outright annoying. :D;
So again, kind of filler episodes which mostly serve to reinforce what we learned about whichever Imagin was just introduced; in this case Kintaros.
I wasn’t really all that interested in the story itself this episode, because the plights of a pre-teen girl idol/model really just don’t interest me very much (it’s a matter of demographics, really). Things pick up in episode 12 when it becomes less about the modeling and more about an estranged father/daughter relationship. The second episode also revisits the problem of creating paradoxes by changing the past, which I find very interesting.
One of my favorite things about the Kamen Rider franchise, beyond the great characters and often campy fun, is the way it tackles in a very tangible way issues that, when you think about it, are very philosophical and/or existential in nature.
It’s really cool that what is first and foremost a Sunday morning kids’ show, whose purpose is largely to sell toys, is so good at tackling questions such as what is the true measure of being human; or to what extent our circumstances or fate determine who we are and what we do. I was going to say it’s a little amazing, but it’s really not, when you consider that at heart, this is exactly what the very first Kamen Rider was about, decades ago (full disclosure: I haven’t really seen any Showa yet, although Black in particular is definitely on my list of stuff to watch). Kamen Rider can be about the suits and the fights and about heroes of justice kicking ass; but if you let it, it will also make you think. It tends to sneak up on you, too, and that’s what happened with these two episodes.
As is probably obvious, my response to Den-O eps 7 and 8 can best be summed up thus: LOL, Smart Lady! Or Shimada Nanako, whichever you prefer!
Also! Urataros comments on the unfortunate length of Momotaros’ pole. And then Momotaros takes offense… when he figures out what Ura means, at any rate. 8D/
(For a kid’s show, they sure get away with Urataros implying an awful of lot really horribly badwrong stuff).
Now, if one is identifying common tropes that Kobayashi likes to revisit, wouldn’t it be fair to say that Urataros is probably the closest Den-O has to one Kitaoka Shuichi? :D
Probably, and this would explain why I like Urataros so much. I mean they’re both full of it, they’re both smooth with the ladies (well, Kitaoka supposedly is, we don’t see it work in Ryuki because it’s always directed at Reiko), and they’re so much smoke and mirrors around their motivations that it’s very hard to tell just what there is underneath it all… except for the fact that one suspects they’re really not bad, underneath it all, just selfish, opportunistic and self-serving. But quite charming, really!
Especifically with Urataros, there’s the mystery of why exactly he’s doing what he’s doing, why he’s possessing Ryotaro knowing the limitations of possessing a singularity point (which at this point… haven’t exactly been explained).