Well, Kamen Rider Fourze has ended, with 48 episodes total. Here’s my overall impression of the series.
I’m a fan of the Kamen Rider series. They tend to be less corny than Super Sentai, and seem to cater to an older audience in addition to kids. Kamen Rider Fourze is the series after the imo lackluster Kamen Rider OOO. What makes Kamen Rider Fourze unique is the use of the high school setting, something that is new in the franchise. Kisaragi Gentarou, is a high school student, being “forced” to transform into Kamen Rider Fourze by his childhood friend, Joujima Yuki to fight the Zodiarts. The belt uses switches created by his smart yet frail classmate, Utahoshi Kengo. Being in high school, it presents a more interesting mechanics to the story and characters, at least in the beginning, as he had to keep his identity secret, and only known to few friends. Think of Megarangers. Soon after, they gather more and more friends, and form a Kamen Rider Club. There are a lot of subtle nods to the previous Rider series, especially the showa era riders (watch the quiz specials).
In any case, my first impression was not great as the design of Fourze itself looked a bit silly. They used a space theme, with a rocket-like head and astronaut-inspired suit. The rocket-like head just looks silly, and the space-white color looks plasticky. Despite that, I ‘m a sucker for the high-school setting of things (dorama, anime, etc) as they usually bring cute girls, like Yuki. 😉 The story is fairly standard, dealing with youth-related issues like bullying, self-identity, friendship, love, mostly warm-feel stuff. Of course, there’s the unbelievable worm-hole gate to the moon-base (Rabbit Hatch), and a bunch of high school students roaming around on the moon, but hey, whatever.
Unlike previous Riders, Gentarou is portrayed as a slacker, a yankee, with his own uniform and hairstyle reflecting that he’s a “rebel.” Of course, he’s still the protagonist, thus he’s trying to befriend everybody in the school. Regarding his hair, he actually looks more bad-ass with normal hair as shown in the final episode.
Of course, the magic make-up special effect on his hair styled magically after the final battle. 😀
Fast forward, other than the students, it is revealed the teachers, principal, and the chairman of the school itself are the villains. Also enter Bruce-Lee-inspired Rider, Kamen Rider Meteor. Fast forward even more, Kengo is revealed to be not human, but a sample created by an unknown alien race called the “Presenter” to gather information about humanity. Pretty deep stuff, but this was only explored in the last few episodes. This is typical of the franchise, where it can be a complete meh and boring in the middle, and only ramped up when it almost ends (eg. Kiva). In episode 47, Kengo is shown to be killed by Sagittarius. Episode 48 started by the group saddened by the death of Kengo, and the destruction of Rabbit Hatch. Unlike other previous series, the group decided to “befriend” the main villain, Sagittarius, the chairman of the school. In the end, Sagittarius told the students to continue his dream of meeting the “Presenter,” and died due to his own transformation. Of course, being a children show, Kengo is back, alive and well. Happy end.
Well, what do I think of the show? It’s an okay one. It’s weaker than I was hoping it to be though, although it’s definitely better than OOO. Gentarou is at least an interesting character, and it feels like his character is appropriate to be Fourze, unlike Eiji as OOO. Like I mentioned above, I like the high-school theme, plenty of cute high school girls. I think Fourze’s design to be a bit silly, and his powered up forms are no better, especially the silly Elek State with the crumpled costume. Fire State seems to be the best looking for Fourze. The story started okay, but it gets a bit annoying until the main focus to be the Horoscopes instead of the random Zodiart monster. A big annoyance is Miu’s “Ooops.” It’s annoying, and is always out of place. When you see your base and school being destroyed, you don’t say “Ooops.” It’s stupid. The “Uchuu Kitaa!” pose is silly, especially when it’s in the heat of battle, but it’s super cute when Yuki mirrored it everytime Gentarou did it. 😉 Ryusei (Meteor) is a good rival/side-kick Rider, although his powered up form and finishing move, a spinning top, are silly. I rather they kept his darker base form instead.
Overall, Fourze is an okay show. It’s better than OOO, but I still think W to be a better show. I feel that in an effort to just sell toys, overall quality of the franchise is getting weaker. I mean compare these recent shows to Kuuga or Agito. Also, the belt is getting more and more cumbersome. To henshin into Fourze, Gentarou has to carry the Fourze driver with him, and at least four switches which he has to put in one by one on the belt, flip the four switches on the belt, and engage the driver. Add on the 3-2-1 countdown, it becomes ridiculous when battling a monster. Compare that to Kuuga where he has his belt built-in into his body without the need of any attachments to henshin.
Next will be Kamen Rider Wizard, with huge-ass rings and a belt with a hand imprint. It’s just getting more and more ridiculous, but I hope the story can hook me in. Oh, he did a cameo in episode 48 of Fourze.
I feel that I’m getting less and less interested in the franchise. In fact, despite GoBusters suffering at the popularity polls, I actually kinda like their decision to make Super Sentai to be less corny (GoBusters don’t really do the classic roll calls with exploding backgrounds, which is the staple of Super Sentai). Oh well, we’ll see how Ikemen Rider Wizard does. Good thing there’s Accel World. Can’t stop watching it. I’m going to be sad when Accel World ends in a month (only 4 episodes left).