Kamen Rider Den-O
The exceedingly unlucky Ryotaro Nogami, finds himself possessed by a creature from the future called an Imagin, and mixed up with a mysterious woman and time travelling train. All this leads to him becoming the superhero Kamen Rider Den-O and battling other Imagins sent from the future to destroy the past.
After reading the claim of its star Takeru Satoh that Den-O‘s success was due to its comedic timing, I decided that Den-O was going to be the next Kamen Rider I should check out. He was not wrong, and I made the right choice.
So effective is the show in its use of comedy, I am now 20 episodes into the show and we are still have yet to meet the archvillain of the show or get a real explanation of why the Imagins are attacking the past. And I don’t care.
Instead of using drama to bring you back episode after episode, the show is funny. A big part of its success in doing this lies in with the two lead actors.
Takeru Satoh’s character Ryotaro Nogami eventually gets possessed by four main Imagin, with each one altering his personality and appearance when they possess him. This means Satoh plays five different characters (in fact more than five given that he’ll occasionally get possessed by other Imagin), and it’s a credit to him how well he differentiates between them all.
The other lead actor is Seiji Takaiwa, who normally is the suit actor for the main Kamen Rider. However in Den-O, as well as playing Den-O, he also plays the main Imagin who possesses Ryotaro, Momotaros. With all the main Imagin living on the time travelling train, DenLiner, this means he has significant screen time each and every episode. As fantastic as his performances are as the various Kamen Riders he’s played, Momotaros really makes you appreciate just how good he is. The physical acting he does with a costume with a fixed mask, is on another level. Combined with voice actor Toshihiko Seki as Momotaros’ voice, it’s the most outstanding performance in all the Kamen Riders I’ve seen so far.
The rest of the cast is no slouch either, the other Imagin are funny, the secondary Rider has a tendancy to have childish tantrums, you’ve got a couple of goofy suitors for Ryotaro’s blissfully unaware sister as recurring comic relief in the real world, and the staff of the DenLiner are oddball too. Finally, you have Hana, the mysterious woman acting as the straight woman admidst all these silly characters.
This is definitely my favourite of the Kamen Rider shows I’ve seen so far, and I’m hoping it keeps up that standard even with the unplanned cast (and plot) change that it apparently has later on in the series.
At first I thought that watching three Kamen Rider shows at the same time would be enough for me. Curiousity got the better of me and I made the mistake of looking at the staff on the show. When I did this I discovered that Yasuko Kobayashi was the head writer. I had never heard of her at this point, but looking at her credits I noticed that she is currently head writer on the JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure TV show. Now that I knew she was writing the two television shows that I most enjoy watching at the moment, I got greedy and decided to check out another Kamen Rider show that she’d been responsible for…