Kamen Rider Fourze: Series Review!
KAMEN RIDER FOURZE: SERIES REVIEW!
So here it is folks, the finale we’ve all been waiting for. Kamen Rider Fourze has finally come to a close, at the end of an undeniably epic story arc. Like all viewers going in, I was a bit skeptical of Fourze’s design (the suit and the actor). Not only did I fall in love with the endearing suit design, but the lead character Kisaragi Gentaro grew on me. This is a full review, but let me state right off the bat, that though I had a few things about the show I didn’t quite like, this overall has become my favorite Kamen Rider series of all time. I’d say Wizard has some pretty big shoes to fill.
(Kisaragi Gentaro, protagonist of Kamen Rider Fourze)
Kamen Rider Fourze is the 13th series in the second era in Kamen Rider, and the twenty-second series overall. It began airing on September 4, 2011 and ran until August 26, 2012. The series revolves around Amanogawa High School in Japan. As of late, several creatures start attacking students and strange things are afoot. Kisaragi Gentaro joins the school and makes it his mission to befriend everyone, even the bullies. Kisaragi even tries to befriend the school flake and ever-sick, Utahoshi Kengo. He follows Kengo and discovers his base on the moon which they enter via a portal disguised as a locker. Things happen and Kisaragi ends up in possession of a device Kengo’s father developed in order to contact the interstellar beings known as “The Presenters”. The suit however is used to fight off the monsters attacking the school. Over the first 15 episodes or so, Gentaro befriends stereotypical High School students, I.E. : the jock, the geek, the party boy, the cheerleader, the weird goth kid, and eventually the mysterious new kid. Together they form the Kamen Rider Club and make it their mission to defend the school from the enemies known as Zodiarts and get to the bottom of who is developing the switches that turn students into maniac monsters.
The plot is pretty solid and keeps at a steady pace until the few final episodes where it really picks up at an incredible pace. Like every series, the first 16 or so episodes are devoid of major plot arcs being revealed, but instead show the characters developing and then introduces the traditional secondary rider. The characters are all very diverse and pretty fun to watch save for a few. JK (pronounced as Jake) was one that at sometimes was hard to watch. That was until his character was developed around his story arc. Another that was hard to watch was Joujima Yuuki. Yes, she’s undeniably cute and zany, but at times it comes off as too much. Her performances sometimes seem forced and unnatural. Nevertheless, she represented something important to the characters and provided good motivation, and her arc was delightfully dark and twisted. Kisaragi is something to behold. Like most rider fans, going in I was disappointed by the suit design, along with Kisaragi’s outward appearance. But, I soon found these things to be pointless. The character Gentaro makes it a point to show that it’s what’s on the inside that counts. And I grew to adore his performance and his character. He’s a cross between Tendou and Kagami from Kamen Rider Kabuto. He’s got a bad-assness to him as well as an energetic side. Another great character to compare him to would be Kamina from Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann. Which makes sense since the writer for Fourze is also the writer for Gurren Lagann. Gentaro’s convictions are rock solid and he never once stops fighting for what he believes in. This even goes to the point where he befriends the main villain of the series. But that’s his philosophy. There are no enemies; just people who aren’t your friends yet. And it’s inspiring to watch.
(The Kamen Rider Club)
Suit designs here are pretty good. Everyone was a bit confused by Fourze’s first big reveal, but after a while he grew onto people. Though I enjoyed his suit from the get-go. The over-the-top rocket head, reflects who Gentaro is. He is an unstoppable rocket of youth, as he so often demonstrates. Meteor however wasn’t met with such skepticism. His design is incredible, and simple. It emulates a meteor flying through the cosmos, all in suit design. This is backed up by his character, Ryuusei Sakuta. Sakuta joins the team acting as an innocent transfer student when in reality he is on a mission to find the Aries Zodiart. For a good 10 or 11 episodes, he is not known to the group to be Kamen Rider Meteor. It’s not until he betrays the group to save his friend that he is revealed to be Meteor. After this story arc, he becomes a fully-fledged member of the Kamen Rider Club. Meteor practices Jeet Kun Do the fighting style made famous by Bruce Lee. It’s a neat take on Riders who usually just bust out random fight moves except where the character himself practices a known martial art.
Overall, Fourze kind of astounded me. I was immensely skeptical of a rider who was still in high school. How could he compare to the adult riders of more darker series? But I was gladly proven wrong. Gentaro and Ryuusei can match with the best of them. It proves that dark storylines don’t have to be used over and over again to illicit an emotional response from the viewer. Yes, the suit design is a bit over-the-top and cheesy, and yes, a couple of characters can be grating, but Fourze isn’t something to be judged only based on its individual parts. When everything comes together you get something wonderful. The setting provides conflict for the team, who grow from the conflict. The enemies are crafted thoughtfully, paying attention to the constellations they’re based on, and the antagonists don’t mess around (I’m talking to you Leo Zodiart!). Fourze is not only a great addition to the list of Heisei Era riders, but a great rider among them all. If you skipped out on Fourze and absolutely won’t give it a chance, well, you’re truly missing out. Fourze will hold a special place in my heart.