REVIEW: Kamen Rider Zi-O the Movie: Over Quartzer

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Starring

So Okuno (Watashi Ga Motete Dosunda)
Gaku Oshida (Make a Bow and Kiss)
Shieri Ohata (Daytime Shooting Star)
Keisuke Watanabe (Semiotoko)
Katsuhisa Namase (Mixed Doubles)
ISSA (Kamen Rider: The First)
Syuusuke Saito (Zyuden Sentai Kyoryuger)
Tomoya Maeno (Prison 13)
Jiei Wakabayashi (Lock-On Love)
Noritake Kinashi (Kamen Norider)
Fumiya Takahashi (Kamen Rider Zero-One)
Yu Inaba (Kamen Rider Drive)
Chris Peppler (Super Hero Taisen GP: Kamen Rider 3)

Kamen-Rider-Zi-O-Over-Quartzer-QuartzersKamen Rider Summer movies have always marched to their own beat. Though there’s been a more consolidated effort to bring them into series canon since Kamen Rider Double, throughout the Heisei era they’ve ranged from side stories, true endings and even alternate universes. When the 20th anniversary and finale of the era has to top all of that, it better have some pretty big plans in store. Following on from Be the One’s strange new idea of being named after the show’s opening theme, Kamen Rider Zi-O the Movie: Over Quartzer is another cinematic opportunity for Kamen Rider Zi-O to round out the Heisei era in style. But whereas Heisei Generations FOREVER was most definitely a 20 Kamen Rider Kicks celebration of the main 20 Heisei series, this particular film is a little more interesting in its approach…Kamen-Rider-Zi-O-Over-Quartzer-BarickxsAfter experiencing a strange dream where a mysterious new Rider ushers in the Reiwa era, Tokiwa Sougo receives a call for help from Krim Steinbelt. Teaming up with Go Shijima, Zi-O and his friends travel back to 1575 in order to protect Steinbelt’s ancestor from an unknown assailant. Their travels take them back to the Battle of Nagashino, and the group learn that the ruthless Nobunaga isn’t quite like the history books suggest. Presented with the Drive Ridewatch upon his return, Sougo now has all the powers of the 20 Heisei Riders. But as the Ridewatches suddenly disappear, a traitor reveals himself amongst them. The Quartzers have arrived to rebuild the Heisei era – their leader none other than…Tokiwa SOUGO?Kamen-Rider-Zi-O-Over-Quartzer-WozMuch like the way the story develops in the series itself, nothing ever really comes easily in Kamen Rider Zi-O and Over Quartzer is certainly no different. Producer Shinichiro Shirakura has publicly remarked that the film is canon and takes place before the series end, while director Ryuta Tasaki places the film in an alternate timeline. While the existence of alternate timelines in Zi-O doesn’t mean these two things cancel each other out, it does make placing it something of a headache since there are some big moments and reveals that don’t really get mentioned in the show. However that same show didn’t start getting good until it broke free of all its self-imposed rules, and much like other Rider Summer movies ultimately it doesn’t really matter where it takes place. Usually these things are their own beast, and given Over Quartzer’s surreal construction it is very much that.Kamen-Rider-Zi-O-Over-Quartzer-Kamen-Rider-GOver Quartzer is a film of two very different halves. The first half of the film acts as the Kamen Rider Drive portion of Zi-O as a whole, since its focus was absent from both the show and Heisei Generations FOREVER. But other than featuring appearances from both Gou and Krim, in reality it actually has very little to do with Drive itself. Instead it takes Zi-O back in time to get more mileage out of another staple piece of Heisei Rider – Toei’s Edo period set. The comical romp through Nobunaga and the Battle of Nagashino is a lot of fun, but in the grand scheme of things doesn’t seem to serve any more purpose than that. Seeds are sown about how history is written and Geiz’s serious demeanour is always fun in a comical setting, but it certainly isn’t the Drive tribute many were hoping for even if it is great to see Mach again.UntitledThe second half of the film is where things get a lot more interesting, but also where the little semblance of internal consistency Zi-O had is effectively thrown out of the window. We get some much needed backstory on Woz, however it’s completely unlike anything fans could have possibly expected and just raises further mysteries about the character and ultimately his relation to Ohma Zi-O. Likewise Tokiwa SOUGO and the Quartzers are interesting villains, but feel quite far removed from what we learn in the series and how the real Sougo is set up to become a king. And despite the reveals concerning Woz, the issue of his allegiances still remains very shaky and ultimately not that bigger part of the film itself. All the emphasis is placed on these strange reveals, and as a result the story becomes so fractured that it’s difficult to process it all in the grander scheme of things. Even stranger is that Gou continues to be included in the story, partnered up with Gyuzo – Nobunaga’s bodyguard from the past who takes a strong liking to Geiz. Perhaps it was that the writers just felt Gou would be wasted only appearing in half a film, and along with everything else going on in Over Quartzer it’s to just sit back and accept it’s bizarre story beats as they come.Kamen-Rider-Zi-O-Over-Quartzer-Barickxs-Zonjis-ZamonasBut look past all of the story inconsistencies and plot holes and it turns out, whether intentionally or otherwise, that Over Quartzer is actually kind of brilliant. Over its 20 years the Heisei era has become an entangled mess of alternate worlds and shallow continuity between series, turning it into a far more complicated web than the Showa era ever was. Not only is Over Quartzer fully aware of this, but uses it to create an utterly ridiculous plot that has far more value in a meta sense than it does in-story. But the Quartzers plan to effectively “reboot” the Heisei era and erase all the complicated legacy of the Heisei Riders is only half of its genius – the rest of it comes when you take a closer look at the villains themselves. Amongst the Quartzers are three new Riders – SOUGO himself is Kamen Rider Barickxs, and he is flanked by Kamen Rider Zonjis and Kamen Rider Zamonas. Each of these three Riders’ names and designs are loosely based upon existing ones – Barickxs is a cross of Black and Black RX, Zonjis a mix of Shin, ZO and J and finally Zamonas Alpha, Omega and Neo from Kamen Rider Amazons. What do all of these Riders have in common? They’re all technically part of the Heisei era but usually discounted from the 20 main ones. Black, RX, Shin, ZO and J have all been instead grouped with the Showa Riders (due to both the closer involvement of Shotaro Ishinomori and to better emphasise the “new beginning” Kuuga started), while Amazons is a spin-off series that completely stands on its own. This means that the plot of Over Quartzer sees the excluded Heisei Riders fighting back against the main ones in an attempt to be recognised. Zi-O may have a loose grasp on continuity at times, but that concept is pure genius.Kamen-Rider-Zi-O-Over-Quartzer-ZI-O-OhmaOver Quartzer’s love for the more specific and less recognised parts of Heisei era doesn’t stop there either. While in terms of actor cameos this film may be a very loose Drive tribute, but the suit cameos are something really special. Naturally it includes appearances from all 19 previous Heisei Riders, but the true cheer out loud moments are the appearance of faces you’d never expect to see here. Hot on the tails of the Kamen Rider Zangetsu stage play we get to see Zangetsu Kachidoki Arms in all its glory, with the character magically bursting from a flyer for the play itself no less. And while fans continue to lament at the sad lack of a proper Kuuga cameo, the appearance of the 2015 manga version version is both beautifully realised on screen and acts as a reminder that not all Rider’s origins are as much on paper as they are the silver screen. Even the Goriders get in on the action, fondly remembered as one of the more successful creations of the Super Hero Taisen film series. But perhaps the biggest surprises of them all are the even deeper cuts, the ones that almost certainly placed here for the older fan to enjoy. Honestly who ever thought we’d see Kamen Rider G again, and in a “proper” piece of Kamen Rider fiction no less? Finally, the appearance of Takeshi Kinashi/Kamen Norider is something that will probably be lost on most fans outside of Japan but just shows the impression Kamen Rider has had throughout the Heisei era. Anyone can pick their favourites from the standard 20, but celebrating those finer aspects of the era is just as important and in this respect Over Quartzer shines in ways Heisei Generations FOREVER didn’t.rewrewrwerwerewrThe birth of the Reiwa era is also marked in proper fashion too, and not just through the appearance of Kamen Rider Brain, the era’s real first Rider. Zero-One’s cameo at the beginning of the film is so strangely timed yet works so well with Woz’s character, and the behind the scenes knowledge that during filming he was replaced with Kikaider 01 to avoid spoilers just makes me love the scene even more. Zero-One is of course back again at the end of the film for the more conventional kind of new Rider cameo, and much like Zi-O’s own in Be in the One is does a great job of getting the powers and personality of the character across in a few short minutes. Finally if there’s one thing you can always rely a Kamen Rider Summer movie to be its eye-candy. Between the well-staged crowd sequences, escalating action sequences and barrage of suit actors Over Quartzer’s second never lets up on the spectacle. The ever increasing gaudiness of Zi-O’s forms scales back for the far more refined Kamen Rider Zi-O Ohma Form (NOT to be confused with Ohma Zi-O himself), which along with the three Quartzer Riders makes up a winning streak of movie-exclusive suits. The final attack as dumb and it is beautiful, harnessing not only the Riders’ final forms but also their series logos and the larger 20 Kamen Rider Kicks anniversary logo into another piece of meta brilliance. Through all its flaws this film never stops having fun, and the audience will be having fun right alongside it.unnamedKamen Rider Zi-O the Movie: Over Quartzer is a mess, but it is absolutely the best kind of mess. Much like watching Godzilla do a silly dance in Invasion of the Astro Monster or fly around using his atomic breath in Godzilla vs. Hedorah, there comes a point where you have to abandon looking for logic in tokusatsu and just accept it for the ridiculous fun it often is. Every explanation Over Quartzer has just raises further questions, but it’s completely sincere in its celebration of the Heisei era. It’s both a continuity nightmare and a meta masterpiece, and never ever stops being fun. If a big screen summer movie of kid’s superhero show celebrating its 20th anniversary is doing that, then it’s hard to see it as a bad thing.

REVIEW: KAMEN RIDER DRIVE SAGA: KAMEN RIDER MACH/KAMEN RIDER HEART

 

Starring

Tomoya Warabino (First Kiss)
Fumika Baba (Code Blue)
Shōta Matsushima (Godhand Teru)
Chris Peppler (Tokyo Eye)
Taira Imata (Super Hero Taisen GP: Kamen Rider 3)
Rei Yoshii (Kishiryu Sentai Ryusoulger)
Kenta Hamano (Segodon)
Ryoma Takeuchi (Detective Pikachu)
Yu Inaba (Clone Baby)

rick-and-morty-fans-have-to-check-out-the-solar-opposites-trailerWhen a Kamen Rider series draws to a conclusion, rarely is it truly the end. Not only does that Rider make a return alongside the current one in next year’s Movie Wars release, but in recent years the additional Riders have shared the spotlight in their own V-cinema releases. This trend initially kicked off with Kamen Rider W’s Accel and Eternal movies but has recently been revived with Kamen Riders Gaim, Drive and Ghost. In terms of Drive movies Kamen Rider Drive Saga: Kamen Rider Chaser, may have been a side story taking place during the course of the film but the second – Kamen Rider Drive Saga: Kamen Rider Mach/Kamen Rider Heart acts as a true epilogue to the show, bringing back Gou Shijima/Kamen Rider Mach and the Roidmude Heart for one last outing.It’s been three years since the defeat of the Roidmudes, and Gou Shijima has travelled the world to learn the skills needed to resurrect Chase. Finally returning home, it isn’t long before he, Rinna and Kyu put these skills to the test and attempt to revive their fallen comrade. However something goes wrong and it isn’t Chase that returns – it’s Heart, complete with Brain and Medic’s consciousness also merged into his body. In Kamen Rider Heart, the three Roidmudes team up with First Division inspector Genpachiro Otta as a Roidmude amalgamation targets the humans previously copied by Roidmudes. While the two unlikely partners don’t get along, the weaker Heart learns where true strength lies as he sets out to extinguish this bug from the Roidmudes programming. Meanwhile in Kamen Rider Mach, Gou has developed a close friendship with Reiko Nishihori – supporting her during her prison stay and then meeting her upon release. However when Roidmude 005 returns and begins to haunt and frame Reiko with his own string of murders, it’s up to Gou to prove her innocence and free her from her father’s curse once and for all.  If there was any Kamen Rider Drive character deserving of their own V-cinema movie, it was definitely Heart. As one of the most fascinating and layered villains that Kamen Rider has produced in years, it’s great to see him take the lead and develop from his defeat at the end of the series. Heart’s strict code of honour continues on into this story, which instantly covers any questions of why he’s allying himself with humanity here. His weakened state also makes him considerably more vulnerable, putting the character in a position he’s never really been in before since his only real ‘defeat’ was his death. As a character that plays far more on intelligence and emotion than he does on brute strength, this is the perfect setup for a Heart movie and the writers play on it wonderfully. With Brain and Medic almost acting like his conscience, Heart gets one last hurrah where he truly gets to play the hero – acting both as redemption and progression of his former status of a villain with a (somewhat) noble cause. Plot-wise Kamen Rider Heart is fairly by the numbers – the Roidmude amalgamation 5886 makes for a good one-off villain. What his inclusion does bring however is some nice cameos and call-backs to Drive’s episodic cast members. Shinnosuke himself is also used sparingly, only really appearing to offer a few words of advice to the Roidmude who’d happily call him a friend. It’s just about the right amount, as it doesn’t take away from the fact this is Heart’s (and later Mach’s) story but means there isn’t something integral missing from the proceedings either.  Since it is of course impossible to make a Kamen Rider movie without the debut of some new Rider or form, Kamen Rider Heart of course sees the Roidmude himself become the hero – appearing in retooled Type Tridoron suit complete with a new Heart-esque head and other elements that reference the character’s evolved form. Upon initially seeing images of the suit I wasn’t exactly won over by it, but both learning of how it comes about and seeing it in action definitely leaves a far more positive impression. Kamen Rider Mach definitely draws from its more serious side, tackling murder, depression and attempted suicide while littered with corpses and a pretty graphic hanging scene to boot.. All in all it’s a pretty serious affair that suits Mach’s character perfectly, given that he easily the most emotionally and tonally varied Rider in the show. Despite the entire film’s set up focusing on Gou’s attempts at resurrecting Chase, his portion of the story sidesteps into completely different territory as it takes place on a smaller and more personal scale. The Nishihori storyline is one of the more significant cases in Kamen Rider Drive (running through Episode 0 as well as the series itself), and having the characters return again hammers it home that Drive isn’t the kind of series where cases and characters are simply forgotten about. With Gou having mostly gotten over his daddy issues and Roidmude xenophobia, it’s time for him to do the same for considerably more damaged Reiko. Even though prior to this movie the pair have only spent a minimal amount of time onscreen together, the development of their relationship feels surprisingly natural thanks to the close parallels between them. If anything the film is actually about letting things go and then being able to move forward creating a new family, something Kiriko explains to Gou in a particularly poignant scene.

This core theme also means that the reuse of Roidmude 005 doesn’t feel lazy either. Even through the voice alone Toru Nomaguchi’s portrayal of Koya Nishihori is chilling, and coupled with his sadistic murder pattern 005 makes for a rather compelling villain that’s far more human than he is monster (in a purely outward sense anyway). The claustrophobic warehouse fight scenes also contrast nicely with Heart’s brighter forest fights, highlighting the differences in tone between the two segments even if it was done unintentionally.  Kamen Rider Drive Saga: Kamen Rider Mach/Kamen Rider Heart is an excellent send-off for two of Drive’s best developed characters. While their wider implications as an epilogue are relatively small, both parts play wonderful service to individual episodes of Drive and (especially in Mach’s case) build them up into something far more substantial. If the Returns movie is now going to be an annual thing with the franchise, then this movie seem like a big step in the right direction.

REVIEW: Kamen Rider x Kamen Rider Ghost & Drive: Super Movie Wars Genesis

 

Starring

Shun Nishime (Kamen Rider Ghost)
Hikaru Ohsawa (Tokyo Slaves)
Ryosuke Yamamoto (The Travelling Chronicles)
Takayuki Yanagi (Amanogawa)
Naoto Takenaka (Hideoyoshi)
Takuya Mizoguchi (Kamen Rider Decade)
Reo Kanshuji (Blue Demon ver.2.0)
Kazuhiko Nishimura (Choujuu Sentai Liveman)
Aoi Yuki (Kamen Rider 555)
Yoshiyuki Morishita (The Grudge)
Hayato Isomura (Hiyokko)
Ryoma Takeuchi (Detective Pikachu)
Rio Uchida (Chimamire Sukeban Chainsaw)
Taiko Katono (Gaki Rock)
Yu Inaba (Clone Baby)
Tsurutaro Kataoka (Sharaku)
Chris Peppler (Tokyo Eye)
Rei Yoshii (Kishiryu Sentai Ryusoulger)
Kenta Hamano (Segodon)
Taira Imata (Super Hero Taisen GP: Kamen Rider 3)
Tomoya Warabino (First Kiss)
Shōta Matsushima (Godhand Teru)
Fumika Baba (Code Blue)

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Just as the latest Kamen Rider is beginning to find his footing, his predecessor returns for one last goodbye as part of a Movie Wars crossover which has been a franchise staple for the past seven years. This time it’s the turn of Kamen Rider Ghost, reuniting once more with Kamen Rider Drive in the time-travelling Kamen Rider x Kamen Rider Ghost & Drive: Super Movie Wars Genesis. Other than boasting a “super” along with the typically lengthy title, Movie Wars Genesis throws one big format change into the works – making it a particularly notable entry in this popular series of crossovers.

When first division police officer Shinnosuke Tomari is asked to investigate mysterious going ons that cannot be explained by science, he encounters Takeru Tenkuji and Mysterious Paranormal Insitute during a fight against a Ganma thief. Following a brief misunderstanding between Kamen Riders Drive, Mach, Ghost and Specter, the two groups settle and begin to learn more about each other. All of a sudden a space/time portal appears, sucking in both Takeru and Shinnosuke and transporting them back to 2005. Here the two find themselves in the care of Takeru’s father Ryu – mere days before his untimely death.

However what they also discover is a Ganma plot to awaken a Leonardo da Vinci Eyecon, and a young Akari is right at the centre of it. Meanwhile in 2015 Specter and Mach have their own problems, as the space/time rift causes the resurrection of Roidmudes Heart, Brain and Medic – led by  none other than the Da Vinci Ganma himself. What unfolds is a battle across two time periods, as Ghost and Drive battle in the past to defeat the Ganma and fix the present.

Regular viewers of the Movie Wars series will notice that the biggest change when it comes to Movie Wars Genesis is that the Rider 1 segment/Rider 2 segment/Crossover format has finally been done away with in favor of a feature-length story that features the casts of both series’. While it still may have two stories running parallel, the film happily jumps between the past and present where appropriate to keep the story flowing. This new approach highly benefits the crossover aspect of the film, tying the two Riders together early on whereas previous movies kept them strictly apart until the last half an hour or so.


This revamped format definitely works just as well in execution as it does in theory, with the casts of both Drive and Ghost almost immediately showing excellent camaraderie that develops beautifully. The cast of Kamen Rider Ghost have constantly proven themselves to be a welcoming bunch and welcome the cast of Drive with open arms. This doesn’t just apply to the five Riders either  the extended casts also work wonderfully together. Villains are also handled well too, with the idea of a Da Vinci Eyecon/Ganma tying nicely into Ghost’s overall themes. The presentation of the three Renaissance Ganma is good enough to portray them as a threat more notable than the usual Ganma, but without having to rely on the gimmick of a poorly placed movie Rider to up the ante.


Movie Wars Genesis is a film that raises several questions and inconsistencies, but definitely has its heart in the right place. The altered format not only improves the crossover element of the film considerably, it offers a less predictable and more unique viewing experience that will hopefully carry forward into future Movie Wars instalments. As a farewell to Kamen Rider Drive it could have perhaps done better, but it manages to perfectly capture the excitement of Kamen Rider Ghost’s early episodes and provide a satisfying crossover that brings out the best in both casts.

REVIEW: Kamen Rider Drive Saga: Kamen Rider Chaser

CAST
Taikô Katôno (Gaki Rock)
Ryoma Takeuchi (Yell For the Blue Sky)
Rio Uchida (Bloody Chainsaw Girl)
Yu Inaba (Clover)
Taira Imata (Doctor X)
Rei Yoshii (Love My Life)
Chris Peppler (Crazy Taxi)
Shôta Matsushima (Stepfather Steps)
Tomoya Warabino (Masshiro)
Fumika Baba (Kuroi Bodo)
Masakazu Morita (Dragon Ball Super)
Minehiro Kinomoto (Gakudori)
Mami Yamasaki (GoGo Sentai Boukenger)
 
Roidmude 051, whom Chase defeated before both as Kamen Rider Proto-Drive and Mashin Chaser, returns as a robber and left a girl named Hinako injured. Chase decides look after her brother Hiroshi after she got hospitalized, as they remind him of Kiriko and Go. Because Chase does not show any emotions, Hiroshi, who is mildly sociopathic, does not trust him. Chase wishes that he can become a real human and feel the full extent of human emotions when suddenly, the Angel Roidmude appears. She has golden wings – a sign that she already achieved Ultimate Evolution. She grants Chase the emotions he wanted.
The Special Investigation Unit is surprised with a completely different Chase who can now express emotions like a human. However, as he learned more, he became concerned about Angel’s actions and her wish to create a peaceful world–a world that differs from what Heart and Brain want to create, and thus puts the Roidmudes at odds with each other.
Meanwhile, while Shinnosuke Tomari is working on the case of 051, he goes to a nearby town where he meets a man named Ryu Terui.
An excellent V-Cinema that showcases one of Kamen Rider Drive’s greatest characters,  not to be missed!!!.

REVIEW: KAMEN RIDER DRIVE: SURPRISE FUTURE

 

Starring

Ryoma Takeuchi (Detective Pikachu)
Rio Uchida (Chimamire Sukeban Chainsaw)
Taiko Katono (Gaki Rock)
Yu Inaba (Clone Baby)
Tsurutaro Kataoka (Sharaku)
Rei Yoshii (Kishiryu Sentai Ryusoulger)
Kenta Hamano (Segodon)
Taira Imata (Super Hero Taisen GP: Kamen Rider 3)
Chris Peppler (Tokyo Eye)
Tomoya Warabino (First Kiss)
Shōta Matsushima (Godhand Teru)
Fumika Baba (Code Blue)
Mackenyu Maeda (Pacific Rim: Uprising)
Shingo Yanagisawa (Ultraman Orb)
Miwako Kakei (Key of Life)
Shun Nishime (Kamen Rider Ghost)

imagesThe Kamen Rider summer films have always been quite an interesting series. While most of the pre-Kamen Rider Decade films looked at their respective series in alternate universe scenarios, the arrival of Kamen Rider W brought along a closer connection between series and movie. More recently last two films, Kamen Rider Wizard in Magic Land and Kamen Rider Gaim: Great Soccer Battle! Golden Fruits Cup! have gelled the two together by taking the series’ Rider and then throwing them into an alternate universe for most of the action. Kamen Rider Drive however decided to take a different route for its movie, drawing inspiration from a different beloved sci-fi trope – time travel! So strap yourselves in, because its time for Shinnosuke Tomari and co to find themselves with a Surprise Future.

When Mr Belt has a sudden malfunction during battle, Shinnosuke is greeted by a man claiming to Eiji Tomari – his son from the year 2035. Eiji goes to explain that in the future Mr Belt’s AI will turn evil, with Krim Steinbelt subjugating humanity under a Roidmude rule. However before Shinnosuke can properly process this he’s attacked by another stranger from the future – Kamen Rider Dark Drive. Suddenly Shinnosuke finds himself not only on the run from Dark Drive but also the police as well, believing the “hero of the people” Kamen Rider to have suddenly gone rogue. Unable to transform and facing the possibility that he won’t even have Mr Belt to turn to, its up to Shinnosuke to help save the future from the Roidmudes.

One thing that’s always nice to see is a summer movie that has a strong connectivity with its respective series. But when it comes to Surprise Future, being up to date with Kamen Rider Drive is almost a necessity. Essential explanations such as where Mr Belt’s inexplicable evil streak may come across as simple foreshadowing in the show, but are in fact the entire basis for the film and something Surprise Future chooses to omit altogether. It’s tie-in media at both its very best and worst – offering fans something more than a simple side story but at the same making it hard to understand things on its own.

Kamen Rider Drive is a series with a pretty big cast. We certainly aren’t talking Gaim or Ryuki standards here but with three Riders, a group of villains and a fairly extensive supporting cast it isn’t a show short of faces. One might assume that as a result Surprise Future might feel rather overcrowded but in fact it is quite the opposite – the film focuses on a very small section of the cast in great detail, leaving the rest as mostly extras. If you’re a Mach or Chase fan this might leave you a little disappointed (although both get their fair share of good fight sequences), but focusing primarily on the bond between Shinnosuke and Mr Belt was a marvellous decision. In its latter half Kamen Rider Drive wasn’t a series that knew how to handle action and suspense, it was one that was really able to tug at the heartstrings when it wanted to. Surprise Future takes that same emotion and multiples it considerably, so if you haven’t already wept over the bond between a man and his toy belt once then this might be the thing that breaks you. Even Shinnosuke’s reactions towards his future son Eiji, a character whose introduction is rather undeveloped, are full of emotion. Kamen Rider Drive is the people’s Rider, and this isn’t just reflected in the way people feel towards him but also how he is towards others.

While the characterisation and drama is where Surprise Future really hits top gear, that isn’t to say it doesn’t have its share of great action sequences too. From high speed car chases to flashy hand to hand combat, this film offers a variety of different high-octane shots that perfectly suit Drive’s vehicle motif. Perhaps there is a little over-reliance on Toei’s hit-or-miss brand of CGI, but in general its use thankfully adds to the action rather than detracts from it. It’s nice to see Surprise Future remember that the Ride Crosser is a thing too – a interesting little concept that felt woefully underused in the series itself.

Surprise Future also features an impressive amount of new Drive gear, boasting not only three new suits but also two new cars as well (the Proto-Tridoron is rather predictably a black and purple Tridoron but it still counts). First you have Dark Drive Type Next and the NEXTridoron, sporting very Tron-esque black and blue colour schemes that suitably give off a futuristic vibe. The same can be said for Kamen Rider Drive Type Special, adding in some of Drive’s own design elements to create something similar but with much less of an evil Rider vibe. But before we come to that there’s also Drive Chou Dead Heat – a beefy hybrid of Type Speed and Mashin Chaser. Odd naming aside (there’s nothing Chou/Super about it – they even say it’s a pretty weak form in the grand scheme of things) the suit is a great departure from the usually sleek Drive suits and puts a next twist on the old favourite of Mashin Chaser.

On a pure enjoyment factor there’s little to fault this film on, but for time travel nuts all the minor details glossed over add up to something far bigger that leave you pondering it over long after the credits have rolled. Finally, as is often the case with these films Surprise Future also marks the first appearance of next Kamen Rider – in this case Kamen Rider Ghost. Ghost makes a very strong debut in this film, not quite stealing the spotlight by taking out one of the big name villains but at the same time leaving an excellent impression in the few minutes he appears for.If you aren’t one to get too caught up in nonsensical time travel paradoxes, then Kamen Rider Drive the Movie: Surprise Future is everything you could want out of a Kamen Rider summer movie. It was nicely woven into the events of the series, has features brilliant action, wonderful new suit designs and most importantly pulls at the emotions in all the right ways.

REVIEW: KAMEN RIDER 4

Kamen Rider 4 is a net series which was released as an accompanying special to the film Super Hero Taisen GP: Kamen Rider 3. It introduced a new rider, Kamen Rider 4, who is the fourth Kamen Rider cyborg created by Shocker after Kamen Riders 1, 2, and 3.

Starring

Ryoma Takeuchi (Detective Pikachu)
Rio Uchida (Chimamire Sukeban Chainsaw)
Yu Inaba (Clone Baby)
Chris Peppler (Tokyo Eye)
Yuichi Nakamura (Kamen Rider Hibiki)
Kento Handa (Kamen Rider 555)
Mitsuru Karahashi (Ultraman X)
Mitsuru Matsuoka (Kamen Rider W Returns)

Consist of three episodes; the first two was released on March 28, 2015, while the third was released on April 4, 2015. However, the first episode also was released as a DVD to the first million viewers of the premiere of Super Hero Taisen GP: Kamen Rider 3.


Shocker’s plan to alter the past to rule the future was foiled, returning the past to its rightful place, at the cost of Go’s life. Or has it? Strange events are happening around the Kamen Riders of yesterday and today as Shocker returns to try again to take over the world. But can Drive save Go’s life, who seems fated to die?

Kamen Rider 4 is born. The Kamen Riders realized that Shocker’s History Modifying Machine is not quite as destroyed as previously thought, but Shocker’s newest Rider cyborg that flies under Shocker’s flag confronts them, bringing with him legions of war planes. With other Kamen Riders under the hellish army’s flag, the Riders will be in for the fight of their lives.

Kamen Rider 4 is a great addition to the Kamen Rider Franchise and it finally asks the question of what happens to Go as anyone who seen Kamen Rider Drive knows hes still around by that series end. It’s worth watching but make sure you have seen Kamen Rider 3 film first.

REVIEW: KAMEN RIDER DRIVE

Kyoryuger vs. Go-Busters Dino Mecha

Starring

Ryoma Takeuchi (Detective Pikachu)
Rio Uchida (Chimamire Sukeban Chainsaw)
Taiko Katono (Gaki Rock)
Yu Inaba (Clone Baby)
Tsurutaro Kataoka (Sharaku)
Rei Yoshii (Kishiryu Sentai Ryusoulger)
Kenta Hamano (Segodon)
Taira Imata (Super Hero Taisen GP: Kamen Rider 3)
Yukihiro Takiguchi (Mahō Sentai Magiranger)
Kisuke Iida (SP)
Chris Peppler (Tokyo Eye)
Tomoya Warabino (First Kiss)
Shōta Matsushima (Godhand Teru)
Fumika Baba (Code Blue)
Masami Horiuchi (Long Dream)
Masakazu Morita (Tiger & Bunny)

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Recurring / Notable Guest Stars

Maari (Kamen Rider Gaim Gaiden: Kamen Rider Knuckle)
Masashi Shirai (Kamen Rider Kuuga)
Hitomi Isaka (Kamen Rider Girls)
Mitsuki Endo (Kamen Rider Girls)
Tomonori Mizuno (Please Please Please)
Kohei Yamamoto (Kamen Rider W Returns: Kamen Rider Accel)
Kenta Uchino (Kamen Rider Zero-One)
Isamu Ago (Kamen Rider W)
Toru Nomaguchi (SP)
Ulf Ōtsuki (Kamen Rider Super-1)
Haruka Suenaga (GoGo Sentai Boukenger)
Takaya Aoyagi (Ultraman Orb)
Yui Kato (Honey Spice)
Tareyanagi (Kamen Rider Den-O)
Shugo Nagashima (Kamen Rider Fourze)
Kazuyuki Tsumura (Kamen Rider Kiva)
Shun Nishime (Kamen Rider Ghost)
Hassei Takano (Kamen Rider: The First)

maxresdefaultSix months ago, various parts of Japan faced a brutal massacre under what was since then dubbed the “Global Freeze”. It birthed a phenomenon called “Slowdown” which would cause people to fall under a sort of neural lag in which the brain retains its average function and cognition, while the body becomes subject to extreme slow motion movement. The “Slowdown” crippled the populace as they met their deaths at the hands of cybernetic monstrosities known as Roidmudes, who began walking and blasting through commercial and residential areas without prejudice.
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In another ruined part of the city, a young Metropolitan PD cop had his hands full trying to apprehend thugs taking advantage of the chaos. However, as he readied his pistol to defend his partner from an incoming attack, a Slowdown wave overcame him. His pistol discharged just a second too soon as the bullet intended to stop an armed thug set off a flammable structure behind the young cop’s partner, his body flying off the upper railing of the construction site he stood upon. To make matters worse, a large pile of debris and steel beams came down upon the cop’s partner. The young cop could do nothing, powerless against the Slowdown as he watched his partner get crushed before his eyes.

The Roidmudes’ rampage would not last very long. From a distance, an expanding rail of RC car tracks began stretching throughout the affected area as three little cars the size of matchbox cars raced along the tracks and began destroying the Roidmudes with their own special powers of flames, spikes and illusory tricks. From the shadows, an armored humanoid appeared, brushing the rain away as he called for his automotive supports to return to him. Who is he? What were those little cars? What kind of state is Japan in now after facing such a catastrophe?

Kamen Rider Drive is the newest entry in the long-running Tokusatsu franchise produced by Toei Company. This entry goes in a more grounded area than most of the recent Heisei-era entries. Instead of having walking allegories of godhood or total caricatures for protagonists, we’re presented with a policeman by the name of Shinnosuke Tomari (played by Ryoma Takeuchi). With a slightly frumpy detective uniform and a red tie adorning his collar, he comes off as a real average Joe, a refreshing break from Deus Ex Machinas like Decade and Kabuto or monsters in human skin like Faiz and Kiva. Instead, we have a more classic type of hero that I’m sure long-time fans will appreciate.

Flash forward to the present. Slowdown awareness is a day-to-day issue for the status quo. Posters are everywhere reminding people to report any related incidents to the authorities. Our protagonist, Shinnosuke has been transferred to the Special Crimes Unit of the MPD following the Global Freeze. Since then, he’s become a listless, lazy man who often misses meetings or important information due to constantly playing hooky with his job and slacking off. The only other person able to deal with his laziness is his SCU co-worker Kiriko Shijima (played by Rio Uchida), who keeps constant tabs on Shinnosuke’s every move (complete with a notebook/checklist of all he does) in the hopes of getting him back on track as a policeman.

Aside from Kiriko and the rest of the SCU peanut gallery, we meet “Mr. Belt” (portrayed by radio personality Chris Peppler), a mysterious sentient attachment mostly present on the dashboard of Shinnosuke’s car, the Tridoron. A voice of encouragement to the traumatized cop, he aims to aid Shinnosuke in not only being free from his anguish of the past, but to also lend his power to Shinnosuke to become Kamen Rider Drive in his battle against the Roidmudes. We still don’t know how Mr. Belt or Tridoron came to be in Shinnosuke’s possession, but it can be assumed that whoever saved Japan six months ago chose him to continue the fight against the lag-switching baddies.

Drive’s general gimmick of miniature cars plays out interestingly. In his debut battle, Drive employs a “Tire Swap” in which he switches between several abilities based on the Shift Car used in his Shift Brace. Aside from his default Type: Speed car, he also uses Max Flare, Funky Spike and Midnight Shadow, each granting Drive access to projectile and melee supplements. His finisher Rider Kick is one of the most unique in a long time, one that has to be seen to truly enjoy.

I find Drive’s general design truly different. It exudes the traditional Rider feel in all the right places (bug-like eyes, bulky belt), but various aspects like the piping by the sides of his mouthpiece and the giant tire sash around his body are what really help its design stand out   As the series went on Drive, became one of the best entries in the Kamen Rider franchises, as we got to know the villains they weren’t evil they had feelings and emotions and turned out to be more human than some of the actual humans on the show. When Medic is introduced she brought a great dynamic to the show and some grace to the show. Kamen Rider will be missed I just hope Kamen Rider Ghost (the next season) will just as heartfelt as this one.
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