Monday, September 19, 2011

Thoughts on Kamen Rider Fourze (Part 2)

Hello once again Toku Faithful. EZ Rider is back with more toku reviews you can shake a switch at. Man, rip on one episode from one toku show and pay for it the rest of your life. If you don’t know what I’m talking about I’ll just say my articles have landed me in hot water in certain circles. Am I upset? HELL NO!! I don’t care if the whole world hates my articles. At the end of the day at least SOMEONE is reading this crap I type. Before we go any further this is all SATIRICAL! If you think these jokes/insults are real they are not. So chill!

Well let’s get down to brass tacks. The last episode of Fourze…underperformed. I guess that’s a good way of putting it. The characters are a mess, the Kamen Rider suit is laughable and the high school setting just made me roll my eyes. I’m not saying this is the worst premise for a show, this is just me venting because I had a crappy high school experience and I’m willing to bet my morpher most of you reading this did as well. But enough about my issues, let’s dig into Kamen
Rider Fourze Episode 2 and hope this series has “space” to grow.

A frustrated short-order cook. This guy must have
come from outer space. –Moe Howard

When we last left our heroes, Kengo was being a dick and doing a horrible Ripley impression by grabbing Fourze in the Powerdizer. Gentarou actually fights back and has a grappling match with Kengo IN the Powerdizer. Again, Gentarou has guts for doing that and I applaud him. It could have been a good fight before Yuuki breaks it up. Seriously I wanted to see Fourze use that rocket and blow that CGI mess to smithereens. Oh well.

Kengo exposits that the monster from before was a Zodiart, a creature that is made when someone uses an Astroswitch that channels cosmic energy. Hmm, a device someone uses to become a monster. Why does that sound so familiar? Well long story short, that monster Fourze defeated wasn’t well…defeated. It was just a deleted form and it’s still alive. So Kengo pulls a Faiz and the Powerdizer goes into vehicle mode and takes off to…wherever. Gentarou tells Kengo he will help him find the switch user. I think we have a gang, Toku Faithful. But I can’t get the feeling we’re forgetting someone…

After hearing the opening song again I’m slowly growing to like it. I do find it does get your head moving so consider the comments in the last article retracted. Anyway one of the teachers scolds Gen-chan for not wearing a school uniform. Apparently he doesn’t realize protagonists have certain dress codes. And the rich/popular kids are back in their usual charming selves. Charlie Sheen-I mean Daimonji is playing a football match today so everyone is playing kiss-ass, even the teachers and Daimonji’s toadie, Miura. Gentarou questions the popular kids about the monster from before, but they just shrug him off and call him trash and move on. (and I know I said they called him a geek last time. It was a mistake). Meanwhile the iPad girl from before watches from afar.

"They don't like me. One of these days
I'll get a Glock and mow these assholes down!"

So Gentarou keeps asking around and constantly getting into fights. You meet the nicest people Gen-chan, and you want to be friends with all these assholes?? Speaking of assholes, Kengo returns and sets his burger bot (or Burgermeal if you want to be technical) to find the Zodiart, resulting in a cock war between him and Gentarou to see who can get the monster first.

Meanwhile we see the mystery monsters from before handing the Astroswitch back to the user in question. Back in class Gentarou is the one cutting class this time as he is too busy goofing off in that secret zero-gravity base again. WILL SOMEONE SUSPEND THESE KIDS ALREADY??? Anyway Yuuki finds him in there. It seems Gentarou can see….the earth…from a window….what the hell??? She tells him this secret base is actually IN SPACE!! A toku space series that actually goes into space??? What trickery is this??? So she starts stripping… this show just got ten times better. Actually they put on space suits and walk around on the moon. I have to admit this was awesome since space exploration is one of my guilty pleasures. Needless to say the kiddies back in Japan are gonna love this.

"Kilroy Was Here", I wonder what that means?

On the moon these two exposit some more and when they reach a giant crater, Yuuki reveals that Kengo’s father died there (see Episode 1) and they were trying to use Astroswitches for good and someone screwed them over. I swear to god I’ve heard a story JUST like this before. I just can’t put my finger on it. Anyway Kengo inherited all his father’s money and equipment (Fourze Driver and switches) so he decides to stop the Zodiarts. And no, I don’t feel sorry for Kengo. Don’t take your personal problems out on everyone you see you jerk off, go to a psychiatrist. That’s what they’re there for!!!

Meanwhile, Kengo is playing motocross when Gentarou chases after him on a bicycle, telling him he understands his plight and wants to help, after running him off the road and shirt grabbing, Gentarou pleads him to accept his offer to help and Kengo….actually agrees!! Wow, ACTUAL character development! Now we’re getting somewhere!!! Usually we have to wait 30 episodes before this happens. Suddenly Gentarou gets a call from the mystery iPad girl from before. She says she has some info on the Zodiart and schedules a meeting. Gentarou actually runs right at her and forcefully grabs and yells at her, thinking she’s the monster. Wow, nice detective work Shoutarou.

Hey, don't beat up Mila Kunis. What did she ever
do to you?

Yuuki calms the boy down and our mystery girl explains that she actually did some research and found out about that threat to destroy the school from before. She traced the message back to the culprit. That’s actually pretty damn brilliant. Even the mighty Kengo didn’t think of that. Already I like this girl, please tell me she becomes a regular. Cut back to the football team ready to play, that is until Miura starts threatening Daimonji and telling him he’s tired of being his lackey. What does THIS have to do with Kamen Rider??? Well actually it’s revealed Miura has the Zodiart switch. That’s actually a neat little plot twist and I did not suspect him. Bravo. Our heroes show up and try to convince him not use the switch. Remember kids, friends don’t let friends use Astroswitch. Daimonji ends up pushing Miura over the edge and the switch somehow levels up, which he then pushes to become the Orion Zodiart

Sadly, before he can kill that smug jock bastard, Gentarou just rushes in like a bad-ass and attacks the monster un-henshined. Again, any rider who can do that without transforming is pretty damn cool in my book. Kengo gives him the Fourze Driver and he henshins yet again. Is he going to say “Space is awesome” every time he transforms? Because I assure you it will become very annoying very fast. Gentarou and Kengo actually work together as he asks Kengo what to do since he knows the powers better, which actually makes sense! Fourze, you’re starting to redeem yourself.

Caution: Astroswitches are not a substitute for steroids.
Side effects may include psychosis and destruction.

Fourze takes the fight outside and “borrows” the new bike Kengo was using, it even comes with jet propulsion, which is AWESOME!! An actual rocket cycle. Fourze even uses the jet boost exhaust to burn the Zodiart. I gotta admit that was pretty clever. Kengo instructs him to turn off the switch but he can’t do it on Earth because the explosion would wipe out the stadium they are fighting near. So there is only one way to stop this Zodiart. To Space!! Kengo programs the Powerdizer to be a launch pad for Fourze and his jet cycle. The Powerdizer fires missiles which propel the monster into the sky (cause physics and tokusatsu don’t mix) and LAUNCHES FOURZE INTO SPACE! That is pretty damn cool.

Fourze uses his new bike to basically spear the Zodiart through the atmosphere and finish him off with a Limit Break (and no, I’m not making a Final Fantasy joke here) Rocket Drill Space Kick. I can forgive the drill kick since, well, SPACE!!! I hope we get a Rocket Rider Punch someday though. So he collects the switch but begins to fall to earth. I have no idea where his bike went, I guess it just disappeared. Luckily he uses the parachute switch (yea I know it’s silly, just go with it) and glides to safety.

To Infinity..............AND BEYOND!!!!!
(sorry, couldn't resist)

Back on terra firma the Zodiart switch disappears. Hmm, apparently it breaks after the monster is defeated, again, awfully familiar. Miura is back to normal and he seems to be okay. Then our girl with the iPad says something right out of the blue. “Kamen Rider!” She talks about urban legends on the net and uses said iPad (you know, product placement and what not) to show them past riders and it’s pretty much set in stone Fourze is…well…a Kamen Rider! And that means this is in continuity with past series!!! Suck it Decade!!!

So Kengo entrusts the Fourze Driver to Gentarou. Now it seems Kengo has lightened up and realized he needs friends to help him stop these menacing creatures, and that they will be his allies through thick and thin- oh, scratch that. Kengo shrugs off Gen-chans offer to be friends for the hundredth time. I really hate you Kengo. Gentarou also put up a banner in the base that reads Kamen Rider Club, a club that protects the school from monsters. Great, now all we need is a hippie van and a talking pet and we’re golden. And we end with Kengo chasing Gentarou around the base asking for the belt back. Admittedly that is kind of funny.

Want to watch four good Rider shows AND
scroll up Fuuto news? There's an app for that.

So that was episode 2 of Fourze and HOLY CRAP this was a huge improvement over episode 1. We establish what the switches do, get some much needed character development, introduced interesting new characters and of course, SPACE TRAVEL. I was worried we’d go the whole show without ever going into space. Thank god I was wrong. Hell there is even a battle in space. Fourze just got ten times better in my eyes. So no, I don’t hate this show anymore. I still roll my eyes at some of the tropes but let’s just say things are getting interesting. Well I hope some of you enjoyed my thoughts on the first two episodes of Fourze (even though I’m sure I’ll be getting a boatload of hate mail before the day is out). Check back soon for my review of the End of Kamen Rider OOO. Later.

Monday, September 12, 2011

First Thoughts on Kamen Rider Fourze (Part 1)

Hello Toku Faithful one and all, EZ Rider is here. I know it’s been awhile since I wrote one of these so forgive me if I’m a bit rusty. Well I finally got around to finishing Kamen Rider OOO (and yes, I will be writing an article or two on that later) but now it’s time to look to the stars with the new series. Kamen Rider Fourze. Every day since OOO drew to its close fans constantly asked me what I thought about this show. Well, a wise man once said be careful what you ask for because this…is really not going to be pleasant.


This is another fine mess you've
gotten me into. - Oliver Hardy.

We start out in space where a space station begins to explode. My god can we NOT begin a Kamen Rider series with something peaceful for a change? Anyway two astronauts start fighting over the MacGuffn- I mean a briefcase of vital importance and one of them escapes to safety. The astronaut holds some kind of device and mutters “Kengo” before the base is destroyed for good. Well that explains…nothing! But I’m sure it will later on so move on.

Cut to 17 years later and we see high school students heading to class. Our resident asshole for the series Kengo is strolling around when a girl hands him an envelope, which he promptly throws in the water. Wow, why don’t you just threaten to kill her while you’re at it, Heero Yuy!! Anyway some figure clad in black runs up and spouts some BS about friendship and jumps in the river to save the letter. Well I have to admire him standing up for a girl but bang my head on the desk for the way his hair looks. Seriously, it’s like he got in a fight with a bottle of hair gel! And the hair gel won!

"Apologize to the lady or my hair will kick your ass!"

Then we see the opening and my god is it fast paced. It looks like it was sped up in post production. I kid you not. The theme song is okay but I’m not big on the almost rap-like lyrics. After that seizure-inducing mess we cut to class where Kengo and the girl from before are sitting and in hops the toy promotions-I mean “mini-bots” of the series. Droids that look like food. Are you serious??? Who in their right mind would think that would be food??? If someone actually picks one up and tries to eat it and breaks all their teeth then this show is dumber than I had anticipated.

Anyway the smoking hot teacher introduces a new class member, Kisaragi Gentarou. And big surprise, it’s the guy from before. He promptly strolls in, spells his name on the chalkboard and says he wants to be friends with everybody. And back in my day that would result in swirlies, wet willies, wedgies and several other embarrassments for the rest of my stay in high school. So nice going asshole.

"I'm Gentarou. I like jumping off bridges, fist bumps,
and cosplaying as Honda from Yu-Gi-Oh"

Everyone in the room looks at him like his is a mental case (which he is), but Gentarou runs into a familiar face from elementary school, Yuuki. He also returns the letter to Kengo, who acts as his usual charming self. Gentarou tries to make friend with him but Kengo actually breaks character and accepts his offer. Oh wait nope, he remains a dickhead and storms out of class. Wow, haven’t seen a character like that before in Kamen Rider. No sir. And apparently cutting class does NOT come with any repercussions.

"Don't Call me Partner!"

In the teacher’s lounge someone is larping Death Note and e-mails a warning about high school being a den of devils and how they will destroy it. Meanwhile we cut to blurry vision to see giant figures clad in black robes. Wow, real subtle bad guys. Anyway at lunch, Gentarou goes looking for Kengo, I have no idea why but just go with it. He heads to the cafeteria and compliments everybody like he’s Joe Cool and Ferris Bueller rolled into one. When he takes a seat at an empty table Yuuki begs him to move since that table belongs to, get this, the cheerleaders.

Yea, apparently the tables are divided amongst your typical high school cliques. You got the delinquents, the nerds (which I HIGHLY resent being a clique), the hippies- I mean class clowns, the otaku (which I ALSO HIGHLY resent), and the muscle heads. Thank god no glee club! If I had to suffer through that I’d put a bullet in my laptop then my head. So all the others label Gentarou a geek and he’s trying to convince them he’s not. Too late, moron. And here come the cheerleaders right on time. Gee, I wonder if they are all stuck up prissy rich girls. Oh, what a shock!! They are!!!

And to make matters worse the jocks show up too, led by the whitest Asian I have ever seen!! Seriously, he looks like Charlie Sheen in Lucas! Gentarou tries to defend his honor and HOLY CRAP, he actually puts up a fight. I’ll give him credit for actually knowing how to fight early on, but it doesn’t last long as they all gang up on him. You know, the logical thing people do. All the while some otaku girl keeps watching while iPad. Yay!!! More Apple product placement please!! Lord knows I did not get enough in OOO. My god Toei is becoming more and more pretentious.

Undeserved attention, surrounded by chicks.
He IS Charlie Sheen!

So while Gentarou is being constantly bullied and no teachers around who seem to want to stop it(Guess that anti-bullying campaign hasn’t reached Japan yet), we get our first monster attack. About time if you ask me! The jocks do the first thing they do being Neanderthals and what not, run away. Gen-chan saves Yuuki before she is blown to bits and actually tries to fight off the monster with a lead pipe. Okay to be fair any protagonist who tries to stave off a monster un-henshined is at least trying so I’ll give him that one. Needless to say he gets his ass handed to him, again. Man, Ryoutarou in Den-O didn’t get beat up this much in a single episode.

Luckily Kengo shows up in a huge CGI clusterfrak known as the Powerdizer, which looks as ridiculous as the Transtek Armor in Operation Overdrive. Yuuki points out the monster has the Orion constellation on his body. So every monster has a constellation on it??? Okay they are taking this space motif entirely too far!!

Kengo barely drives off the monster but piloting that faux Power Loader apparently drains you, it’s kind of like wearing the 86 IXA belt for too long. Kengo admits that won’t stop the kaijin and the two decide to go into their secret fortress in the school which has it’s own anti-gravity room. I could complain and ask who the hell funded all this but I’ll let it go for now. Yuuki complains that Kengo cannot use the Fourze power since he’s too injured. He of course acts like a you-know-what and ignores her.

But oh no!! Gentarou found the secret room and is playing in zero gravity. Gentarou saw all their secret stuff to so naturally Kengo is pissed. The monster returns and Gentarou swipes the belt, saying he’ll stop it for them. Maybe you should have asked how it worked first, dumb shit!!! Yuuki shows him how to work the belt and it’s actually kind of funny to see a main hero NOT instantly know how to use the belt for a change. Gentarou “henshins” to become Fourze. I would have rather Yuuki transformed but, discrimination and all, what are you gonna do?

My god the outfit is LAUGHABLE! Fourze looks like a retarded Stromtrooper. The rocket head, the bulky armor. It just looks silly. I’m sorry but I’m actually missing the multiple forms from W and OOO. So these two tear the school apart until Fourze copies Mazinger Z’s rocket punch to take the fight outside, Fourze tries some new trick like a launcher on the leg that fires missiles….yea…..

Kengo tells him what to do via a radar on his arm. Fourze uses a chainsaw leg attack, dead god I can’t believe I said that out loud before typing this. Anyway Fourze finishes off the monster with a Rocket Drill Kick. So after the monster is dead we cut to another guy in a suit babbling nonsense. Well at least he’s not singing Happy Birthday and making cakes, thank god. Our heroes celebrate but Kengo comes out in the Powerdizer yet again and grabs Fourze. Yuuki and Gentarou begging him to stop to end episode one.

You know I'm starting to get the feeling that
Kengo doesn't like Gentarou. I can't imagine why.

So that was episode one of Kamen Rider Fourze………..WHAT THE HELL??????? This is ridiculous. This is the same crap we’ve seen over and over and over again!! Only now it’s in high school. Gentarou, despite being friendly and stoic, is a total moron, Kengo is a cookie cutter asshole, Yuuki is the token damsal in distress and the other characters are just clich├ęs you could find in any movie about high school!! Gentarou and Kengo almost remind me of Ban and Hoji only Hoji was tolerable at first. When I see Kengo I just want to beat his face in with a brick, that’s how much I hate him right now.

Fourze’s outfit is laughable even though his powers are kind of impressive- no! They just feel like a rehash of Birth’s weapons, except for the rocket which was kind of cool. This series has been built up so much and I was really excited for it but it just left me feeling empty. It’s like coming home from a great day out and finding out your place was robbed. That’s how this felt. Now to those of you wondering, NO, this was not as bad as Decade but it’s a far cry away from Faiz or Kabuto. Granted I am interested to see where they go from here but this was not a good start to the series. But I can be fair. I will wait until episode two before I pass judgment on this show.

Stay tuned for Part 2 of my thoughts on Kamen Rider Fourze. Next time we find out the big plot twist is Kengo has abandonment issues. See you then.