Tuesday, July 17, 2012

On Kamen Rider Ryuki

So, I finished another Kamen Rider series. That's nothing new because I watch that stuff more than I watch TV. But, this one was a little different. I'm going to talk about why here in like seven seconds. Kamen Rider Ryuki was made in 2002 and was written by Yasuko Kobayashi, who is probably one of the better tokusatsu writers. Well, I shouldn't really say that because I've only seen this and Shinkenger. But still. I'm going to go ahead and say Ryuki is the smartest Rider show I've seen. It's not my favorite, but this one is really in-depth and clever. It's in that early Heisei era where things are serious and the toy commercials make you feel bad for buying them. I don't really know where to start, because there's about forty things this series ultimately covers. It's hard to cram it all into one overarching theme so I'll start from the end. Kamen Rider Imperer shows up at about episode 43 or 44 or something. Real late basically. There are thirteen Riders and they all fight and kill each other. This guy shows up after about twenty episodes and only one Rider death. He's woefully unprepared and he begs to join other Riders as a team. No one accepts him and he eventually gets killed. There is a scene that lasts at least five minutes of him slowly dying and begging to be allowed to live. Of course, no one can help him and he just dies. Of course, everyone knew this would happen. It was pretty much spelled out from the moment this guy shows up. But, we were waiting for it. "Come on, guys, hurry up. We have like six Riders left and like four episodes to do it." This is what the spergs at whatever toku forum you went to were asking for and then it happens. We get this awful, uncomfortable and sad scene where a man is just begging to live. He's not evil. He's not a good guy, either, but he's still not a typical Rider villain so him dying isn't something we're supposed to cheer for. Yet, we were. They turn it over on us and blam. There we are wishing for a death for no reason other than for it to happen. The whole series has things like this spread out within it. Constantly questioning of what it is to be a hero and what it means to fight. You see this primarily in the main character. Shinji Kido is constantly begging for people to stop the Rider Battle that he sees around him. But, he can't find any way to do that. Talking doesn't work, fighting doesn't work. He views every life as valuable, and that puts him at odds with the Battle. The fighting is, for the most part, pointless. Just dudes bashing each other occasionally killing someone. If you watch the series and you complain that the fights are bad, then you are missing the point so hard. SO HARD. Ryuki is pretty much all about how fighting for your life sucks ass. Asakura is the prime example. All he wants to do is fight. Fight and murder and maybe eat a lizard. He dies because all he wants to do is fight and when he finds out his last fight with Zolda is pointless, he flips out. Fighting was everything to him. When he had a chance to think about the consequences of his fight (looking over Goro's body), he can't stand it. That's what happens when all you do is fight. The chance that your fight might be over can be maddening. Which is why Asakura runs out and dies uselessly. Bascially, the whole series destroys what we once knew about Rider and even about toku shows in general. It put that sad, hopeless spin on it that the more mature fans joke about. "Hey wouldn't it suck to be a toku monster? Living for an episode and then getting kicked into oblivion?" Yeah, dude, it would suck ass. Of course, you can only really do a Ryuki once. It's like Watchmen, really. You can't copy that, and you can't copy this series. Of course, this makes Kabuto the Dark Knight Returns of Rider shows.