Wednesday, April 21, 2010
Kamen Rider Double review
Even though I love American super heroes like Batman, the Question, Hellboy, and many others, I happen to like Japanese super heroes a little more. Now, there are a few of the shows that have come out here in America, but most of the time it’s just the Power Rangers being adapted to American audiences, but sometimes, others have made it over here like Gridman and of course, Ultraman. However, Power Rangers has constantly always been the one to come here to America. Another Japanese super hero series, Kamen Rider has only come over twice in the form of Masked Rider and Kamen Rider Dragon Knight. I have watched both of these shows, and I just don’t like what they have done with them. That is why I mostly watch the Japanese versions of the show on youtube and such. The most recent one I have been watching is called Kamen Rider Double. It’s an interesting series, and it somewhat goes back to some of its old roots and some small references to the old series or another series that was made by the same person who made this series.
Before I start with the story of Kamen Rider Double, let me explain a little history. The very first Kamen Rider series was released on April 3rd, 1971 and it ran for 98 episodes ending on February 10th, 1973. It became so popular that more and more Kamen Rider series were made with the current one being Kamen Rider Double. In total, there are 11 different Kamen Rider series. The person behind the original Kamen Riders is Shotaro Ishinomori, who is famous for making series like Kikaider, Robot Detective K, the first Japanese Power Ranger series, and one of my favorite comics, Skullman. He sadly died at the age of 60 due to heart failure on January 8th 1998. I feel bad, since I wish I could have met this wonderful man to tell him how much I enjoy his super hero shows. Anyway, let’s get started with the latest of the series, Kamen Rider Double.
The main story of Kamen Rider Double revolves around two detectives named Shotaro
Hidari, portrayed by Renn Kiriyama who is the self proclaimed, “ Hard-Boiled Detective”. His partner is named Philip, who is portrayed by Masaki Suda, who is pretty much the smartest man on earth, in my opinion. They also have the help of Akiko Narumi, portrayed by Hikaru Yamamoto, who owns the building that Shotaro and Philip work in and is the chief of the agency. During the series, they take different and unusual cases that are happening around their city. The crimes themselves are caused by beings called Dopants. Of course, when things get a little dangerous, Shotaro and Philip transform into the powerful hero of the show, Kamen Rider Double. Of course, they get help from multiple people like the Futo Police Department and the second Kamen rider of the show, Kamen Rider Accel, who is actually Ryu Terui, portrayed by Minehero Kinomoto.
Let’s first talk about the two heroes of the show themselves. First off is Kamen Rider Double. Now, the way Shotaro and Philip transform is the use of a belt that they use things called “ Gaia Memories” that look like flash drives into the belt and they combine into the powerful Kamen Rider. The unique thing is that Shotaro is the one who transforms into the hero himself as Philip’s spirit is also put into Shotaro, which gives the theme of the two different-colored sides, which in a way is a reference to Kikaider since he also had two different-colored sides. They have 6 different memories that give them different forms and different attacks. Basically, Shotaro controls the left side and Philip controls the right side. I know this is a little confusing, but you really need to see the show to see what I am talking about. Later in the series however, Philip gains a unique memory called “Fang” which looks like a small raptor, where he takes control of the hero himself and Shotaro takes a break. Like I said, you need to see the series itself to see what I mean. The next Kamen Rider is a little simpler, but is pretty strong, Kamen Rider Accel. Ryu can transform into Kamen Rider Accel by using a belt that looks like motorcycle hand bars with a speedometer in the middle and only needs one memory to transform. He can also turn into a motorcycle form, and use a pretty heavy sword that looks like it was combined with an engine. Of course, with both Kamen Riders, they can use attachments that take forms like a beetle, bat, frog, spider, and so forth. The main form of transportation for Double is a motorcycle that can have different attachments for stuff like flying or going faster and such. Accel also has something like Double, but since Accel can turn into a motorcycle, he has a tank-like attachment that he can be equipped to.
Now, let’s talk about the villains, the Dopants. Dopants are not natural monsters. They are humans who use Gaia Memories without using some form of belt, so they don’t get infected with bad side effects. Normally, people buy the memories and get a tattoo that looks like a USB drive port on their body. The side effects are of course turning into a monster and using that memories special abilities, but if you don’t use a belt of some sort, the person over time will go insane and go berserk, and will not be able to control their actions. Now, in the past, Kamen Rider monsters have usually been based on an animal with some kind of twist to them, but the monsters in this show are rather unique, and go off the beaten path of normal Kamen Rider monsters. For example, here are the names of some of the monsters you will see in the series, Violence, Sweets, Magma, Puppeteer, Ice Age, Liar, T-Rex, and Money to name a few of them. It’s always interesting to see what kind of monster you will see in each episode and what kind of twist there is. The people using the memories are usually using it for some reason of their own, like the Sweets Dopant was kidnapping pastry chefs to please the Sweet’s user’s sweet tooth, or how the Liar Dopant was using his powers to get an untalented musician through a music competition, but is only doing it if he gets paid. It’s very interesting since each character has his own agenda. I think one of the more heart torn humans was a author who was using the Puppeteer memory to get back at critics who didn’t like his book that was based on his dead daughter. He just didn’t want people bad-mouthing him when he put all of his love into that book. The main villains besides the Dopants are the people of the Sonozaki Family. They act like the mafia family of the show, who are secretly producing the gaia memories, and making people buy them for their own uses. This includes Ryubee Sonozaki, the father of the family who wields the Terror memory and is played by Minori Terada. The two other members are two sisters, one of which is Wakana Sonozaki, who wields the Claydoll memory and has her own radio show and is played by Nastuki Kasa. The other sister is Saeko Sonozaki, the older sister who uses the Taboo memory and is played by Ami Namai. They are all unique and it’s like the old Kamen Rider series, having a group of people behind all the monsters, and who can turn into monster themselves.
While I like the show overall, there are a few things that bug me about it and have somewhat bugged me in the past series. Why do you take two episodes to learn about one enemy? It’s annoying since they won’t appear again in the series. I mean, I know they had the guy who used the Nasca memory for a while, but that was only because he was married to one of the girls in the Sonozaki family and got killed because he wasn’t doing his job right. Why didn’t they decide to do animal-based monsters like last time? I mean, it made it like the monster list from Kamen Rider Super-1, where half of the monsters are based on some real life object, like soap or an umbrella. Oh, and to add on to the last sentence, I’m not joking, there are actually two monsters based on an umbrella and one based on soap in Kamen Rider Super-1. I can see why they would want to change it up a bit, but some of the ideas are a little silly at best. Another thing I’ve noticed is that the Dopants that are based on animals can transform into large forms of those said animals except for one, the Bird memory. Why can’t the person who used the Bird memory transform into some giant bird? It’s kind of redundant, since the others could transform into some monstrous version of that said animal.
Overall, I really enjoy this series, and I wish the Kamen Rider series could just come over in America with just English subtitles. If you’re interested to learn more about Kamen Rider, you can email me, and I’ll give you a basic jist of it.
This show gets a 9.4 out of 10