Good Ol’ Review: “Kamen Rider: Beyond Generations” a Surprising Triumph

Kamen Rider Beyond Generations Review

Several spoilers.

Considering my dislike for Saber and my increasing disappointment with Revice, I went into Kamen Rider: Beyond Generations (仮面ライダー ビヨンド・ジェネレーションズ) with apprehension. I had no idea what to expect and my expectations were definitely low. But perhaps that’s partly why I’ve come out of the film actually liking and enjoying it. Really enjoying it, actually. And much to my surprise, even succumbing to a huge MaGMCM at the end of it.

Kamen Rider: Beyond Generations manages a sort of mini-miracle as it sets aside the shortcomings of Saber and Revice and utilizes only their strengths. This while also mixing in some well-placed nostalgia, drawing upon Kamen Rider history and stealthily weaving in an emotional and strong story that is able to stand on its own.

The film follows Momose Ryunosuke (Nakao Akiyoshi) who travels back in time to 2021 with the help of a familiar face in order to stop the emergence of the Diablo (a demon related to Gifu) who would enslave humanity and descend the world into a living hell. The Deadman3 play a major role in releasing Diablo from his sealed imprisonment in the present day. And because of the plan for Diablo to fully revive, Touma and the rest of the current Sword of Logos team-up with the Igarashi Siblings and Fenix to help Ryunosuke reunite with his son Hideo (Furuta Arata) who are the key to defeating Diablo for good.

Beyond Generations is very much a traditional team-up/crossover story with a touch of anniversary tribute as well. It is the kind of story that is fitting for a feature film treatment and not merely some glorified TV episode that Toei sometimes likes to pass off as a “movie.”

The strongest part of the film is the story between Ryunosuke and Hideo. Nakao Akiyoshi and Furuta Arata are definitely the highlights of the film. They do an incredible job to endear their characters to you almost immediately. They may have a very familiar story, but it is no less effective and affecting. A fractured relationship between father and son, with a big twist, is ripe for some good story. That is very much the case here.

Kamen Rider Beyond Generations Review

And it is a scene involving them at the end of the movie (*clue: it takes place on a shinkansen) that just opened the floodgates of tears for me. It is a beautiful and emotional scene that encapsulates the major themes of the film. And Da-iCE’s excellent OST “Promise” playing in the background also helps a great deal in setting the stage for the wonderfully satisfying conclusion.

But what are the major themes of the film? One of them is basically what makes any Kamen Rider or Super Sentai season creatively successful. That is, the idea of bonds. Whether it’s family bonds or friendship connections or a tight-knit team of heroes or even the unique relationship between hero and antagonist; when a season properly establishes those bonds, you can bet on a solid story and enjoyable time.

In some ways, it’s the lack of that very theme that sours me on Saber as well as Revice. A good connection between the characters can foster a good connection with you the viewer. You care about the characters, thus are invested in the story and the series.

Ryunosuke and Hideo very much establish that connection with us the viewer. And again, I (playfully) blame them for making me cry at the end of the film. They are very much the heart of the story. And the strength of their characters alone could have probably carried any possible hindrance that Saber and Revice’s involvement could’ve brought about.

Kamen Rider Beyond Generations Review

There’s also a special treat in seeing Fujioka Maito playing a young Hongo Takeshi (aka Kamen Rider 1), the character originated by his father Fujioka Hiroshi. who has returned several times over the years in the iconic role.

But like I mentioned earlier, Beyond Generations tempers most of the shortcomings from the two seasons involved in the film. The scenes involving the Saber team are kept at a minimum. And while the obvious green screen used for the (likely since dismantled set of) Northern Base is a bit off putting, the film never lingers on hanging story from the season. That is, except for the continued tease of Rintaro and Mei’s relationship. (Actually one of the few bright spots of the season anyway.)

Kamen Rider Beyond Generations Review

The same can be said for Revice. The film is supposed to slot in around Episode 14, continuity-wise. And for me, Episode 15 is when I feel like the season began slipping. So it’s definitely a good thing for me to experience a Revice back when the Deadman3 were not hollow, mismanaged shells of characters, Hiromi was still Demons and Ikki still blew on his Stamp before he henshins. Those were the good ol’ days of Revice.

Beyond Generations uses both seasons’ characters and relationships to set the foundation for what is ultimately a strong, standalone story. One that draws upon Kamen Rider history and provides a unique and engaging retelling of a part of that history, but balances that with a proper and welcome inclusion of the two modern seasons and their characters.

The film’s well-written story also finds a good balance in tone. Funny when it needs to be. Dramatic when it needs to be. That story is then supported by big action sequences that are exciting and explosive without going overboard in a way that some films tend to do. Especially with the increased use of CGI extravaganzas in recent years.

Kamen Rider Beyond Generations Review

There’s a lot of room for me to say “What if?” What if the main series for both Saber and Revice had even an ounce of what makes this movie so good. But I was quite shocked by how much I enjoyed Kamen Rider: Beyond Generations. I went into it with a bit of apprehension and quite frankly, ready to hate it. But for about an hour and 40 minutes, I almost felt like this film redeemed all the problems I’ve had with the two seasons. Throughout the film, I had fun and I was excited. And in the end, I cried and I enjoyed it. Thoroughly engaging and emotionally affecting, Kamen Rider: Beyond Generations is a surprising triumph.

Check out Da-iCE’s “Promise”. Probably one of my favorite theme songs from a Kamen Rider or Sentai movie:

Also, is there a creditless version of the ending credits? It looks so amazing as we see the history of Kamen Rider:

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