When I first decided to jump into the other tokusatsu franchise known as Kamen Rider after having officially getting hooked on Super Sentai, I planned on OOO, the 2010-2011 season to be the one that’d ease me in.
Instead, that introduction season ended up being Kamen Rider Fourze which still sucked me into this brand new world of Riders. I ended up holding off on OOO until Fourze was weeks from wrapping up and the newest season, Wizard was ready to go.
But I’ve finally finished Kamen Rider OOO and it was definitely not what I had ever expected.
I enjoyed Fourze. As my first Kamen Rider series, I had nothing to compare it to except for Sentai or Power Rangers and what little I had seen of the American Kamen Rider Dragon Knight.
But none of those comparisons mattered. I ended up enjoying and becoming a fan of Fourze because of its characters and story. It was fun, funny but also exciting and enjoyable.
Now I had read comments about Fourze being, maybe, a little too over the top and goofy. That it was playing up the camp factor and I could definitely see why.
However, those comments gave me the perception that Kamen Rider in general wasn’t that over the top and maybe had a slightly more serious tone than Fourze ever seemed to have.
I kept that perception when getting started on OOO and boy did that perception help throw me off when I actually got going with the series.
Much of the way through while watching Kamen Rider OOO, a common reaction I’d have was “This is sooo strange!”
Usually, I’d be referring to President Kougami and either his love of Birthday cakes or his intentional and emphasized overacting. Or Doctor Maki and his creepy doll and his always unusual reactions to it. Or maybe Eiji’s love of underwear, Hina’s unexplained super strength… Ankh’s hair!?
All strange, random things. But actually, I love random. And a lot of these strange, random, quirky things were fun and sometimes hilarious to watch.
But coupled with my perception of Kamen Rider going into OOO, this all threw me completely for a loop. Especially with all the (negative) comments about Fourze‘s lighter tone.
OOO was quirky; I can’t really think of another word to describe that part of the season. But what confused me even more was how OOO had some considerably darker threads running side-by-side with the screams of delight from the President or Doctor Maki hyperventilating when dolly gets knocked off his arm.
For example, Doctor Maki burned his sister alive for goodness sakes. Not to mention he wants to kill everyone on Earth. Plus, Eiji watched a young girl get blown to bits… during a civil war in Africa!
Not exactly high school angst about a guy wanting to befriend every breathing thing he meets eh?
In retrospect, I might not mind the tonal bushwhacks, but while watching the series, I was left confused and amazed at the same time. This is all good fun, but definitely not what I had expected. (There go me and my expectations again… *cough*PowerRangersSamurai*cough*.)
Where We Headed?
I think the show’s quirkiness affected my perception of what the series was all about.
We have Eiji who has this power thrust upon him and Ankh, a Greeed, a monster that’s using him to ultimately fully revive himself.
That’s all well and good, but there seemed to be too much going on with most stories eventually going nowhere. During the series, I never knew who the real enemy was. Sometimes, I didn’t know what Eiji’s purpose as OOO was.
We start out with the three Greeed, Uva, Mezool and Gamel running things while they lurked around but eventually ended up as props. We have our exuberant President who seems like he has a sinister plan the entire time, but really just enjoys cake. There’s Kazari who appears as kind of like a darkhorse villain candidate, but finishes no better than his fellow Greeed. Doctor Maki seemed like just an eccentric bit of comic relief, what with dolly on his arm. It turns out he was the final big bad, but for someone with such an incredibly dark backstory, he had no depth at all to really make you care about his plan for a “beautiful end.”
And then of course there’s Ankh. I feel like while OOO was indeed more about the growth of the relationships between Eiji, Hina and Ankh, for a huge chunk of the season, it didn’t seem that way and the events leading up to the finale didn’t really provide for that emotional kick that others have managed to do on Sentai or Power Rangers or even Fourze.
When Ankh talks about “being alive” and his desire (dingdingding!) to have the senses that only humans possess, I thought, Hey, that’s a pretty cool angle. Why did they only introduce that towards the end?
It just felt like the season chugged along with no clear focus.
I still enjoyed it. OOO has a very likeable cast. The charming Watanabe Shu as Eiji, Miura Ryosuke as the flamboyant Ankh and Takada Riho as the reliable and sweet Hina were more than capable leads who carried all 48 episodes well.
And like I said, I was actually amused by all the random quirkiness that would pop up, even if they confused the hell outta me.
Looking back, I’m glad Fourze was my first Kamen Rider season because it was definitely more accessible for a newbie like me. It was lighter and simpler. OOO would’ve been incredibly overwhelming for me if I had started with it.
Watching Wizard now, which actually feels like it is on a similar trajectory to OOO, I might get a clearer picture of just what Kamen Rider is all about. But OOO overall was a trippy, fun ride; an unexpectedly quirky experience with an interesting and different vision from anything I’ve watched from a toku/hero series.