Kamen Rider OOO 17-18: a dude named Date

Still playing catchup. These obviously deal with a whole more than just Date, but I’m really interested in him, so that’s what this post will be about mostly.

Episodes 17 and 18 are basically a bit of an introduction to Date Akira, the man behind Kamen Rider Birth. Of note: he’s not quite as non-chalant a dude as his first moments on the show would lead us to believe. He’s just a very pragmatic, practical man, who gets shit done with minimal fuss. He’s technically a mercenary, because he’s just there to earn one hundred million yen in exchange for collecting a whole lot of Cell Medals. Obviously, it would seem that there is a reason why he needs said money, I very much doubt that he just wants money for the sake of having money. In this, he actually reminds me a bit of my favorite Kamen Rider ever, Kitaoka Shuichi, whose desire to win the Rider Battle in Ryuki so he can live forever is presented originally as something fundamentally self-serving… and it is, of course, but there’s a lot more to it than that, and there is a very good reason behind it which, while not actually making him a better man, makes him quite sympathetic. And I’ll just stop now, because Super Lawyer is not the point of the post. I just brought it up because even though Kitaoka and Date could not be more different in a lot of way, the shared quality of having a hidden motivation for behavior which can be categorized as amoral is something I find intriguing about both.

Before his current gig as Birth, he was “abroad” but is just in Japan to earn money. In episode 20, he tells Chiyoko that he wasn’t abroad travelling, he was working all over the world. And in episode 17, there is a close up shot of his pants where you can see a badge which appears to be from a “detention center” in the US. So he was either a detainee, or maybe a guard? There’s a certain military air about him, so it could be either, I think. And I have no idea if this has been revisited or not, so there you go. ← Post-subbed 24, apparently way off!

I’ll admit that I wasn’t too into 17-18’s story about the girl that was in love with her kendo instructor, which is probably why I fell so behind in the series in the first place. The three things I took away from it are that Eiji is clueless about romance, and also the revelation Date made about his own motivations, when he told the girl that if she wanted to ruin her instructor’s wedding she should do it with her own hands. He went on to describe himself as a “slave to desire” (referencing his desire to get a hundred million yen), but that his two rules were to never get other people involved in his own agenda, and to never do something to “make yourself cry”. So what I get from that is basically to be honest about yourself and your own desires, to own who you are, and to take responsibility for your own destiny. Like I said, he’s a pragmatist above all else, who lives by and answers to his own moral code and no one else’s.

The third thing I took from these two episodes was that he declined agreeing to cooperate with Eiji because he thinks Eiji strikes him as someone who’d make himself cry.

(And yes, the image is actually from episode 20, because this post was going to be about all those episodes, then I changed my mind).

My top 5 Kamen Riders

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.

Den-O 5-6: Enter Urataros

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). Read more “Den-O 5-6: Enter Urataros”