Blackjack Rants: Series Review: Kamen Rider Den-O


Kamen
Rider
Den-O
[2007-2008]


“I…
have
arrived!”

Ah,
Den-O,
Den-O,
Den-O.
How
do
I
even
begin
to
talk
about
this
series?
It’s
the
Kamen
Rider
series
that
feels
the
most…
the
most
like
a
gag
anime,
and
I
am
saying
that
with
all
the
love
and
respect
for
all
the
gag
anime
in
the
world.
I
watched
Den-O
pretty
early
on,
and
it’s
probably
the…
sixth
or
seventh
show
that
I
completed.
And…
and
it
sure
is
something!

Den-O
is
easily
the
biggest
success
that
the
Kamen
Rider
franchise
has
had
in
any
singular
series,
considering
by
the
titanic
amount
of
spin-off
movies
and
OVA’s
that
the
colourful
cast
of
Den-O
has
had
(to
wit,
it’s
got eight
movies
that
stars
or
co-stars
Den-O,
a
handful
of
OVA’s,
and
a
whole
ton
of
cameos
in
other
crossover
movies).
Even
when
the
older
riders
show
up
in
an

Ex-Aid

or

OOO
or Gaim
or

Zi-O

special
or
something,
it’s
always
the
Den-O
cast
that
gets
more
dialogue
compared
to
the
other
riders.
Part
of
it
is,
admittedly,
due
to
how
easy
it
is
to
get
the
Den-O
cast
going
since
you
technically
just
need
the
suit
actors
and
voice
actors.
It
really
cannot
be
stated
just
how
much
you
can’t
watch
any
huge
crossover
specials
without
bumping
into
the
pointy-headed
loud-mouthed
oni
that
is
Momotaros
and
the
rest
of
the
Den-O
cast.
And

Den-O
is
a
show
that
is
a
lot
more
light-hearted,
but
also
one
with
its
own
unique
vibe.
It’s
one
that
some
(like

Fourze
)
argue
doesn’t
“fit”
the
Kamen
Rider
aesthetic,
but
the
Kamen
Rider
franchise
is
a
children’s
show
and
a
toy
advertisement
first
and
foremost…
and
I
certainly
had
a
huge
time
and
a
blast
watching
Den-O.

The
first
dozen
episodes
are
a
bit
more
introductory
as
we’re
introduced
to
the
cast.
Nogami
Ryotaro
is
a
very
kind-hearted
but
extremely
unlikely
man,
with
his
very
first
appearance
involving
him
getting
his
bike
stuck
on
top
of
a
tree.
Oh
yeah,
this
is

that

kind
of
gag

anime
show.
However,
a
mysterious
humanoid
oni
monster
seemingly
made
out
of
sand
possesses
him
after
talking
about
granting
him
a
wish,
and
the
appearance
of
a
mysterious
girl
Hana
ends
up
dragging
Ryotaro
in
a
world
with
time-traveling
dream-sand
monsters
called
Imagin,
and
an
enigmatic
train
with
equally
enigmatic
staff.
Ryotaro
finds
himself
to
be
a
‘Singularity
Point’,
a
person
whose
memories
exist
independently
of
time
and
is
unaffected
to
changes
in
the
timeline.
Momotaros,
meanwhile,
is
a
rogue
Imagin,
wish-granting
monsters
that
can
time-travel.
By
possessing
Ryotaro,
Momotaros
is
able
to
transform
into
Den-O
(lit.
train
king/electric
king),
a
Kamen
Rider
that
beats
up
enemies
with
loud,
energetic
boasts
and
catchphrases
and
a
hovering
sword
blade.
One
of
the
Den-O’s,
anyway.

Because,
as
you
can
quickly
realize
by
the
‘possession’
dynamic,
Momotaros
isn’t
the
only
Imagin
that
gets
recruited
to
the
party.
Quickly,
one
after
the
other,
three
more
Imagin
get
roped
into
sharing
Ryotaro’s
body
as
a
Singularity
Point
and
making
contracts
with
him.
Three
other
Imagin
get
roped
into
the
main
cast

the
silver-tongued
womanizer
Urataros;
the
traditional
scrappy
samurai-esque
Kintaros;
and
the
sociopathic
trigger-happy
loon
Ryutaros.
With
his
mentor
Hana
(later
recasted
and
transformed
into
a
younger
form,
Kohana,
due
to
real-life
problems),
the
enigmatic
fried-rice
eating
Owner,
and
the
chipper
coffee-making
Naomi
(played
by
the
main
girl
from

Agito
!),
that’s
the
primary
crew
of
the
Denliner,
the
train
of
time.
There’s
also
the
civilian
cast
in
2007,
which
initially
seems
like
they’re
just
there
for
typical
civilian
hostage
situations
or
gags,
but
turns
out
that
Ryotaro’s
amnesiac
sister
Airi
has
something
to
do
with
the
events
that
caused
all
of
the
Singularity
Points
and
time
traveling
shenanigans
to
happen.
Around
one-third
of
the
way
through
the
series,
the
prickly
time-traveler
Sakurai
Yuuto
and
his
delightful
companion
Deneb
shows
up,
and
basically
fills
up
the
missing
part
of
the
main
cast.
Yuuto,
in
addition
to
being
a
delightful
character
whose
development
and
defrosting
is
one
of
the
better
parts
of
the
series,
also
helps
to
bring
in
the
show’s
mysteries
and
plot
to
a
bit
of
a
head.
(Oh
yeah,
Ryotaro
has
a
fifth
Imagin,
the
prince-bird
Sieg,
but
he
really
only
shows
up
for
like,
four
or
five
episodes.)

And
when
you
talk
about
how
much
the
Heisei
Kamen
Riders
love
their
catchphrases…
Den-O
loves
it
to
a
fault.
“I
have
arrived!”
“This
is
the
climax!” “This
is
my
secret
killer
technique!”
“Mind
if
I
reel
you
in?”
“My
strength
has
made
you
cry!”
“Mind
if
I
beat
you?
Can’t
hear
your
answer!”
“Let
me
warn
you
for
a
start,
I
am
really
strong!”
It
gets
annoying
initially,
then
it
gets
charming,
then
the
show
gets
some

amazing

moments
where
some
of
these
goofy-ass
catchphrases
become
great
moments
of
writing.

And
that’s
the
whole
show,
really.
There

is

a
plot
and
a
mystery
behind
Yuuto,
Airi,
the
strange
double-hatted
man,
and
there’s
supposed
to
be
a
main
villain
called
Kai
or
some
shit,
but
let’s
just
say
that
no
one
really
talks
about
the
mystery
when
they
talk
about

Den-O
.
It’s
more
of
an
excuse
plot
to
put
the
primary
six
or
seven
characters
through
some
emotional
stories.
The
main
selling
point
of
the
series,
more
than
any
other
show?
Its
characters.
The
sheer
strength
of
the
characters
and
their
interactions
with
each
other.
And
sure,
bringing
very
talented
suit
actors
and
voice
actors
to
voice
half
the
cast
does
mean
that
a
lot
of
the
performances
for
the
five
primary
Imagin
as
utterly
genuine,
particularly
in
the
second
half
of
the
series
where
they’ve

nailed

the
chemistry
of
the
four
bickering
Denliner
Imagin
and
the
happy
Deneb.
They

feel

like
a
family,
they
feel
like
a
bunch
of
friends,
and
the
show’s
themes
of
memories
sticking
with
you
fits
well
with
the
show
itself
favouring
the
antics
and
character
interactions
of
its
cast.

And
not
to
knock
the
performances
of
any
of
the
actors

Nakamura
Yuichi’s
portrayal
as
Sakurai
Yuuto
was

amazing
,
and
both
Shiratori
Yuriko
and
Matsumoto
Tamaki’s
different
Hanas
make
you
truly
believe
that
they’re
the
same
person.
But
the
lynchpin
of
a
show
like
this
has
to
be
its
leading
man,
Takeru
Sato,
who
not
only
regularly
plays
the
nebbish,
skittish
Ryotaro
Nogami,
but
also
him
as
he
is
possessed
by
the
four
Imagin.
Sure,
it
mostly
just
involves
hair
gel,
hair
dye
and
contact
lenses,
but
all
four
primary
‘possessions’
of
Ryotaro
are
utterly
distinct,
and
it

sells

the
fact
that
the
oni
man
or
the
turtle
man
is
taking
possession
of
the
body.
And
it
might
seem
gimmicky
to
you,
and
it
kind
of
is…
but
it’s
also
done
exceedingly
well
that
I
was
actually
surprise
to
see
how
utterly
seamless
it
is.

The
format
of

Den-O

itself
as
a
show
also
lends
itself
to
its
success,
I
feel.
I
watched
these
shows
out
of
order
from
their
broadcast
date,
but
someone
pointed
it
out
to
me
online,
and
I
ended
up
realizing
that
Den-O
was
the
first
show
to
properly
popularize
the
“two-parter”
system.
Monsters
being
stretched
for
two
episodes
is
already
done
in

Hibiki

and

Kabuto
,
but
this
is
probably
the
one
that
ensures
that
each
two-parter
has
it’s
own
story
separate
from
the
‘bigger
picture’. Each
major
story
is
told
with
a
single
monster
type
across
two
episodes,
each
of
them
being
a
self-contained
story.
It
allows
solid
character
arcs
for
all
of
our
characters,
making
it
have
a
more
episodic-anime
feel.
To
wit,

nearly

every
single
Heisei
show
after
Den-O
other
than
the
explosively
popular

Gaim

copied
the
format.
The
two-parter
format
acts
as
a
detriment
to
some
of
Den-O’s
successors
(its
most
immediate
one,

Kiva
,
suffered
terribly
for
trying
to
shoehorn

Den-O
‘s
formula
in
a
show
where
it
doesn’t
really
work) but
it
works
amazingly
for
Den-O
in
making
sure
that
the
focus
of
the
show,
and
the
audience,
is
its
characters.

And
while
the
episodes
might
be
standalone
and
doofy,
just
like

Fourze
,
the
characters
themselves
grow
closer
to
each
other.
Momotaros,
Urataros
and
Yuuto
all
defrost
and
drop
a
lot
of
their
jackass
facade
over
the
series;
Ryutaros
matures;
and
most
importantly
Ryotaro
Nogami
himself
grows
from
a
little
spineless
chew-toy
of
the
universe
into
someone
that
is
ready
to
stand
up
as
something

more

than
just
a
vessel
for
the
four
badasses
in
the
train,
leading
to
a
great
focus
on
the
super
form
they
call
the
‘Liner
Form’.
I
absolutely
love
it
when
a
‘power-up’
doesn’t
just
turn
into
a
toy
advert
on
how
this
is
so
much
more
powerful
than
the
previous
form,
but
actually
represents
a
huge
turn
in
the
character’s
own
personal
growth.

And…
yes,
there’s
a
plot.
There’s
a
plot
that
I
honestly
don’t
feel
guilty
for
saying
that
it’s
kind
of
shit.
The
Yuuto/Airi/Mystery
Man
mystery
is
dragged
out
for
so
long
and
at
one
point
it
just
becomes
obvious.
So
is
Hana’s
identity,
and
the
reveal
is
at
least
handled
decently
well.
Kai
as
an
antagonist
doesn’t
feel
threatening
at
all,
and
the
master
plan
doesn’t
make
a
whole
lot
of
sense.
You
just
shrug
and
accept
all
the
monologues
about
Junction
Points
and
Singularity
Points
and
the
train
tracks
of
time
and
deleted
futures
and
whatnot,
because
what
you
really
here
for
is
to
see
if
Ryotaro,
Hana,
Yuuto
and
the
Imagin
get
out
of
it
okay.
And…
and
it’s
a
very
kiddy
show,
and
of
course
they
do,
but
the
earnest
acting,
the
great
scripting
and
the
great
music
all
do
an
amazing
job
at
making
this
a
great
time.
Speaking
of
which…
the
music!
I
seldom
mention
the
music
in
Kamen
Rider
beyond
‘hey
it’s
good’
or
‘hey
this
one
is
a
banger’,
but

Den-O

has
an
amazing
way
of
having
different
genres
of
music
correspond
to
the
four
main
Imagin,
all
of
which
fit
very
well
with
their
personalities.
It’s

simple

as
hell,
but
at
the
same
time
it’s
also
done
so
well
and
builds
up
the
mood
for
these
main
characters
well.
And,
of
course,
the
fact
that
you
actually
start
caring
for
these
characters
ends
up
being
central
to
the
show’s
theme
of
“memories
is
time”
and
all
that
jazz.
It’s
very
cheesy,
but,
again,
the
show’s
earnestness
makes
it
work.
The
action
scenes
are
pretty
fun.
It’s
over-the-top
with
loud
catchphrases
and
Momotaros
yelling
hissatsu
and
KURAIMAKKUSU
every
other
moment,
but
it’s
lovable,
and
the
Den-O
suit
and
its
transforming
armour
parts
that
facilitates
the
four
basic
forms
is
actually
very
fun
to
look
at
while
being
pretty
simple.
Unfortunately,
and
especially
early
on,
the
show
does
try
to
have
a
bizarre
CGI
battle
to
have
the
Denliner’s
bizarre
carriages
pull
out
weird
weapons
against
a
giant
monster.
This
sort
of
gets
dropped
but
not
really,
and
I’ve
never
been
a
fan
of
it
because
of
how
awkward
it
looks.
Although…
it’s
par
the
course,
and
the
utter
ridiculousness
of
how
they
play
“the
cockpit
of
the
train
has
a
motorbike
attached
to
it
as
a
steering
wheel”
bit
just
so
that
they
can
call
this
a
Kamen

Rider

show
is
delightful.

And…
that’s
Den-O.
It’s
a
fun
show.
It’s
a
silly
show.
The
time
travel
is
more
of
an
excuse
plot
to
pit
the
good
guys
against
the
bad
guys,
and
the
anime
logic
sometimes
do
get
silly
(like
what
bad
luck
does
to
Ryotaro;
Airi’s
devil-witch
cooking;
Deneb’s
candies;
Ryutaros’s
ability
to
summon
break-dancers
out
of
thin
air)
but
the
show
is
so,
so
lovable
on
its
entirety
that
it
really
isn’t
hard
to
see
why
it’s
so
popular,
and
why
the
marketing
team
and
future
writers
for
subsequent
Rider
series
try
to
capitalize
on
any
excuse
to
show
the
fun
adventures
of
the
Den-O
cast.

A
great
show,
despite
the
fact
that
all
of
the
spinoffs
are
a
bit
more
questionable.
It’s
not
a
show
that’s
going
to
explain
everything
about
its
plot
(and
its
attempts
to
suck)
but
it’s
one
with
a
pretty
suit,
a
lot
of
great
developments
for
the
characters,
and
such
a
great

mood
.
I
recommend
Den-O
and
Fourze
to
anyone
who’s
just
feeling

down
,
or
need
some
sort
of
a
palate
cleanser
after
the
more
depressing
or
the
more
terribly-edited
Rider
shows.
No
wonder
the
franchise
itself
jumps
on
every
opportunity
to
give
the
Denliner
cast
a
bit
of
a
role
any
time
they
can.
They
just
bring
joy
and
energy
to
the
screen!
It’s
easy
to
pinpoint
what
makes
Den-O
great

the
journey
and
the
time-tripping
ride
itself.

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