Posted in TV Stuff

Kamen Rider Ramblings: Agito

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Kamen Rider Agito was the second of the Heisei era of Kamen Rider, a tokusatu (sci-fi/special effects show) from Japan. There were many commonalities between it and the first Heisei series Kamen Rider Kuuga, including an affable lead, motorcycles, non-human opponents and specialised police divisions as well as horrific murders and explosive battles

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Agito is the story of Shoichi Tsuhgami, who is found on a beach and is amnesiac, he is taken in my college professor Yoshihiko Misugi, also living there are Misugi’s son Taiichi and his niece Mana Kazaya, who recently lost her father to an as yet unsolved murder Shouichi is friendly and eager to help and takes over the cooking, cleaning and gardening for the Misugi family Agito is also the story of Ryou Ashihara, a young swimming hopeful, trying to recover after a horrific motorcycle accident, Ryou is cynical and self involved and has little thought for anyone but himself. A third protagonist is Matoko Hikawa, a police officer who after saving lives on a boat during a severe storm is re-assigned to the G3 unit, a police division set up after the events of Kamen Rider Kuuga, to battle the unidentified life forms, should they ever reappear. This armour is very much modelled after Kuuga, with the compound eyes and concentration of armour on the chest and shoulders. These three characters share the hero’s role as a new threat of ‘Unknowns’ arises.

SPOILERS: (For a 14 year old show)

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Heroes
Shouichi spends over 40 of the 51 episodes with no idea who he is, so spends most of the time not really doing very much in the way of character development. He is affable and optimistic and similar to Yusuke Godai in Kuuga takes his transformation into the super human Agito very much in his stride. Ryou Ashihara is the obnoxious bad boy of the show, prickly and argumentative, but is nonetheless noble and caring. Both these young men battle the monsters for little to no motivation beyond helping the person being attacked. Matoko Hikawa is driven by duty and need to prove himself worthy for a job he feels he isn’t really suited for. Honest, committed and at times clumsy, he is a perfect foil for the flaky and artistic Shouichi and vice versa.

Secondary Characters

Shouichi’s supporting cast is the aforementioned family, the stern and sincere, yet sometimes goofy Professor Misugi, the bratty 10 year old Taiichi together with 17 year old Mana, who over time develops psychic powers. Hikawa works on the G3 team along with the hapless doof Omuro and the petulant genius Ozama, who really has a talent for upsetting anyone she ever talks to. These three find themselves often in conflict with Toro Hojou, an unpleasant and ambitious officer, all false smiles and sharp tongue. There’s also Hojou’s partner Konno a middle ages detective with an obsessive fondness for ramen noodles. There’s also several of the passengers of the Ataksuki.

Plot

The main story revolves around a ferry called the Ataksuki, which on a routine trip, gets caught up in a battle between two opposing forces, one light and one dark. The lighter brother, sensing his defeat is imminent sacrifices himself, dividing his power into millions of pieces, which hall to Earth and enter millions of people all over the world. His brother, who claims credit for creating people (yup, the villain here called Overlord is apparently God) is appalled by this and sees this power in mankind to be an abomination and sends his angels to kill anyone with this superhuman potential, because he can’t love these altered humans. These angels (or Lords) are animal based creatures who kill anyone with this potential as well as anyone related by blood. Some of these Agito seeds are active within people (Shouichi, Ashihara and a surgeon called Kino) which tells them of these attacks and guides them to defend the advancement of humanity. Like Kuuga this is very formulaic, we have plot moving forward, some character scenes and battles with the Unknowns. But this differs from Kuuga in three very specific ways.

1: The police and the primary lead don’t work together, almost at all.

2: There are 3 riders through most of the series and during six episodes, there are 4.

3: The pacing is punchier and flows much better.

Henshin

There are three Agito riders and a non-Agito rider.

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From left to right we have G3/G3-X is a robot battle suit utilising advanced weapons, support and build in AI to out think and out shoot the unknowns. Mostly worn by Hikawa, this suit kills a good number of the monsters.

Ryou Ashihara becomes  Kamen Rider Gills, a more organic and animal-like with spikes and tendrils used as defensive weapons, he also had a great “Henshin” sequence.

Then there’s Agito, with his weapons and alternate forms, including the brute force Burning mode and the final Shining form.

At the end there is Another Agito, a surgeon called Kino, suffering from his past, another survivor from the Ataksuki, heroic to a point, but often controlled by his darker impulses and motives.

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The unknowns (or Lords) have a very half man/half animal look to them and murder in a variety of disturbing ways.

The Good

Agito is better paced and more tightly plotted than it’s predecessor, more stuff happens organically and the many threads and associated characters are woven together better. Here we get to see several points of view, including the villain’s. With three riders, plus police, we get a great cast of characters leading to an ensemble show which really works. Shouicih is a fun character who’s openness and ebullient nature is nothing to do with his anmesia as when the gaps of his life are filled in, we learn he is exactly as he always has been. While similar to Yusuke Godai from Kuuga, he is a more sympathetic character. The battles are better choreographed and the unknowns are more of a serious and escalating threat with their own understandable motivations. A slightly smaller supporting cast gives each character their own moments and there are less dropped plot-lines than before.

The Bad

Some plot-lines are dropped and how the series starts doesn’t jibe with how it ends with little reason behind the change. Some mini arcs have characters doing the same thing several times and the tone in some scenes is in question as some moments are played for laughs, while we have murders and monsters a minute later. Also as a villain, Overlord doesn’t really do much for most of the series.

Overall

Kamen Rider Agito is a fun and interesting series and has the edge over Kuuga in many ways, including acting, effects, pacing and music. There’s a more layered story, told from mulitple viewpoints. There was less filler than before, which I did appreciate. I dipped my toe in with Kuuga, but dived in with Agito.

Next Time: Kamen Rider Ryuki: Damn I am in fact addicted.

 

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Author:

Liverpool based family man and unrepentant geek, trying to understand what's going on in my own head, which is not always being a good place to be. Remember always, we live in a world of wonders.

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