Yup, it did fill the huge gaping hole that is the void Power Rangers has left in my life. But more importantly, Kamen Rider Fourze helped welcome me into the world of Riders. Having been more of a Power Rangers-snob most of my life, looking down on Sentai and its partner franchise Kamen Rider, I’ve thankfully been shown the light. Both Super Sentai and Kamen Rider are just as good and in many ways better than the Power Rangers I’ve loved so much until recently.
Your “first” always holds a special place in your heart. Wild Force will always be one of my favorite seasons for bringing me back to Power Rangers. Shinkenger will always be one of my favorites, if not ultimate favorite, for getting me hooked on Sentai. And now Fourze will likely be my favorite Kamen Rider season for bringing me into the fold and showing that the franchise isn’t just Sentai’s non-Spandexed, insect-looking Tokusatsu sibling.
I compared Fourze to Goseiger in my First Impression Review. And it’s even more relevant after Fourze has come to an end. While Fourze had a much more polished start than Goseiger did, both series were light and fluffy on the surface. Both, though Fourze a little more, used a lot of comedy and slapstick. Both were lighthearted and a little aloof, but in a good way.
But beneath that fluffy outer layer was a surprising depth. With Goseiger it was sincere emotion and heart, especially at the end, with a genuinely dangerous situation and impending doom. With Fourze, it was an equally sincere feeling of emotion, heart and friendship. As a stark contrast to Gentaro’s handshakes of friendship was the complete opposite, the sinister evil that arises from a lack thereof.
There was definitely a sense of great danger all while the Kamen Rider Club navigated the always crazy, angsty and fun world of high school.
Fourze‘s first half consisted of almost procedural-like cases of the week (or every two weeks in its case). That structure, especially in the first couple of weeks as the Kamen Rider Club was assembled, helped lay a more than solid foundation to the rest of the season. The second half got into the real meat of the story as the threat of their enemy began to escalate with every battle.
But even with such dangerous threats, the series still managed to maintain its bright overall vibe. Something that many other series fail to do most of the time.
A Club You’d Love to Join
And that was in large part to the great, fresh-faced young cast.
In spite of the dangerous threats, the Kamen Rider Club was still one you’d want to join yourself. Sota Fukushi as Gentaro, Ryuki Takahashi, Fumika Shimizu, Rikako Sakata, Shion Tsuchiya, Justin Tomimori, Shiho, Ryo Yoshizawa and the hilarious Takushi Tanaka as their hilarious Ohsugi Sensei shared an excellent chemistry that helped ground the series and make it that much more believable and relatable.
Each character was distinct, each a take on typical high school stereotypes, and their introductions definitely helped you slowly warm up to them. But together, they assembled a loveable motley crew of personalities.
They grew from not even wanting to associate with each other at the beginning of the series to them willing to risk their lives for each other by the end. It was a great journey to be on with them and the final episode successfully used that connection to full effect.
I never deny when I’m moved by a MaGMCM and the final episode of Fourze was no exception. I cried… twice. First the scene of Yuki reading Kengo’s letter to the KRC and his individual message to each one of them. Then, the graduation scene (keeping with the high school theme of course) with a great performance by Shingo Tsurumi in humanizing Gamou despite all the evil he had spread and acts he committed, including murder no less.
Friendship was the central theme. Gentaro’s at first foolish wish to befriend every single breathing human he came across (or really, everything in his path?) ended up being the most heartfelt and touching superhero premise maybe ever. (Too much?)
But Fourze had that effect. The finale highlighted the incredible bond the KRC had and the bond friendship can forge.
I’m Really Hooked
I have no doubt that I’ll be watching a lot more Kamen Rider in the future.
Headwriter Kazuki Nakashima wrote a fun and engaging story while Power Rangers vet Koichi Sakamoto’s slick direction made it even more exciting and action-packed. And at a time when space exploration is taking a back seat, especially in America, it was a nice reminder of the wonders and mysteries that lie out in the galaxy.
Not even having much knowledge about the franchise itself, I still felt a lot of nostalgia watching the monthly Kamen Rider Club meetings that come on the DVDs paying tribute to the original seasons and their Riders. It made me come full circle in my realization that just as I grew up with Power Rangers and am now a 25 year old fan of the franchise, so exist otakus and fans in Japan and around the world of Super Sentai and Kamen Rider.
Series that are, on the surface, just meant as long toy commercials for the kiddies. But really are great opportunities for anyone to want to be a kid again. With great appeal to kids of all ages, it’s these kinds of shows that keep everyone young at heart.
I’m happy that Kamen Rider Fourze has helped add another group of superheroes to my list. And like Fourze proclaims, “Switch on youth!”