Our ranking of every Heisei-era Kamen Rider continues – and ends – this week. Go back and read part 1 for the 20-11 bit of the countdown.
As before, tell us in the comments if you like/love/hate our choices. All sub-header rider names are clickable, to search for that hero’s official merch on DEJAPAN.
We are so, so glad the Wizard henshins don’t involve magical cards. Nope, they use magical Wizard Rings. Henshin rings on the left hand, magic power rings on the right. Riders are nicknamed ‘magicians’ in this series, too – they’re only missing the top hats, capes, and magic wands. Abra Kamen Ri-dabra.
For the enemy Phantoms, Kamen Rider Wizard brought out the big names from world-famous literature. Like the Jabberwock, and the Bandersnatch – both destroyed before making any real impact on the show, sadly. Watch the series to see Bahamut, Medusa, Beelzebub, Hydra, Gremlin, and Ogre.
Wait, this is the one with the cards? Oh. That’s a misleading name, then. We expected a show called Blade to have… y’know… more blades. Out of a full 52-card pack, our hero Blade is the Ace of Spades. No way that’s a coincidence. The intro song for this series should’ve been Motorhead.
The deck reps 52 ‘species’ battling for control over Earth. Well, that’s an easy way to shove as many different monsters into the show as possible. Aren’t you glad humans own the world? And that Ryuki didn’t do this theme with 52 Kamen Riders?
That time Kamen Rider opened Pandora’s Box, and all hell broke loose (but only in Japan, for the sake of the story). Calling Build’s enemies ‘the Smash’ is a nice touch, keeping up the whole ‘create and destroy’ theme.
It isn’t the first Heisei series to show a rider with animal-themed transformations. It’s the first to use bunnies. Gorilla as a henshin, we get – same for lion, dragon, phoenix, wolf. They’re all powerful, strong and angry. But a rabbit mode for higher jumps, now that’s new. You could almost say, ‘BEST MATCH.’
Fruit-based transformation sequences and powerful seeds. Alright then, Gaim’s life lesson for impressionable kids is ‘eat healthy’. Gotcha. The fruity theme gives our hero some of the funniest, most kick-ass outifts Kamen Rider’s ever had. That pineapple samurai form proves it.
And (somehow…) local dance crews in the hero’s home town fit into the story as well. That’s a neat idea. What if the epic monster fights in each episode were dance battles? We’d buy an official Kamen Rider rhythm game – hell, even Persona’s got 2 of those at this point.
The dude who wanted to be a Kamen Rider so badly, he made his own school club. With researchers, and a ‘spiritual co-ordinator’. We’ve watched ‘bad boy transfer student turns hero’ J-dramas before, but making that kid a rider’s some real redemption arc overkill.
Lighter-hearted bits in Fourze keep it fun to watch. It’s kinda corny, in places, but the upbeat tone’s like eyeball bleach compared to heavier seasons. Plus it’s all about space! Cosmic youth, astrology, horoscopes, Stardust Ninja Dustards (not kidding) and the moon.
2 riders for the price of 1! And the first time we’ve heard of someone called ‘the mysterious Philip’. Every Double henshin, except for FangJoker, has Philip (right) as ‘mind’ and Shotaro (left) as ‘body’. Kinda implying that all other Kamen Riders lack 1 of those things.
The other duo that made W worth watching was Queen and Elizabeth – AKB48‘s twin Tomomis (Kasai and Itano, both now long since graduated). They conveniently helped find only the A, K and B T2 memories in the A-Z movie, and released a catchy, kawaii tie-in single.
The newest (and final) Heisei rider, and the one who brings them all together. Zi-O’s use of Ridewatches to link back to former Kamen Riders feels new and shiny, at least. At this point, we’ve already done transformation rings, animal-infused medals, bottles, and so many belts.
Kamen Rider Zi-O – still running when we wrote this – will carry on into the new era after Heisei. It’s already paid tribute to Build, Ex-Aid, Fourze, 555, Wizard, OOO, Ghost, Gaim, and Decade in the episodes so far. Only 10 more riders to go! ARMOR TIME!!
Sometimes, tokusatsu shows bring the comedy by accident. Den-O brings it on purpose, and makes it work insanely well. No other Heisei series can boast over 10 movies… or a collab with Crayon Shin-chan. Or a theme song sung by AAA (‘Climax Jump’).
And we can’t talk Den-O without the Den Liner. A time-travel bullet train, like some Japanese remake of Doctor Who. We’re not mocking that, it’s great. After the Evangelion shinkansen, and the Hello Kitty shinkansen, we think a real-life Kamen Rider shinkansen would rock.
Our shared love of retro gaming secured Ex-Aid a spot in the top 3 way before we started writing this list. He transforms with game cartridges, and fights a dude called Dr. Pac-Man? There’s (nearly) no contest. Plus… he’s bright pink and neon green. You’ve gotta admire that.
The human virus/game virus plot should make total sense to anyone who’s played Theme Hospital. That game’s ‘Bloaty Head’ disease = clearly what bun-headed Burgermon Bugster’s got going on. And as for Alien DNA = almost every other character.
The 1st full Heisei era series set the standard, and didn’t hold back on introducing new stuff to a new generation of fans. If you thought learning Japanese was hard, good luck remembering the similar-sounding names of all 200 Gurongi.
It’s not a Kamen Rider series unless you learn something important on the way. The moral of Kuuga, kids, is ‘don’t put on a random dusty belt you find in a cave’. This whole story could’ve easily been avoided. But Kuuga’s still seen as the strongest Kamen Rider of Heisei, for that awesome Ultimate form. Thumbs Up!
Who’s next to wear the henshin belt?
Follow future Kamen Riders via their never-ending tie-in goods. Order, bid on Yahoo! Auctions, and request items via the DEJAPAN website.