Sunday, July 24, 2011

Kamen Rider Agito Review

It's been a while since I've posted anything.  This is mostly because my monitor decided to eat itself, and seeing as I am a poor college student, it took me a few weeks to save up for a new one.

Anywho, aside from work, I have spent my summer indulging in gratuitous amounts of anime, toku, and video games.  I blew through Kamen Rider Agito in a fairly short span of time.  Before I begin, I must admit that it is hard for me to talk about Agito without comparing it to Kuuga, since Kuuga is still a bit fresh in my mind and came right before Agito.  Here are my thoughts.

Agito had me engaged right from the opening.  Energetic, pulsing, and with Shinichi Ishihara's intensity, you'll find yourself READY TO GO, too.  Early on, the show hints at connections to Kuuga, with the police mentioning No. 4 and the Unidentified Lifeforms in response to a new series of unnatural deaths cause by strange creatures.

One of the Unknown.  U JELLY?

Our hero, Tsugami Shouichi (at least that's what he thinks his name is), is an amnesiac who finds himself compelled to fight creatures (dubbed Unknown by the police) that attempt to kill certain targets and their families.  These victims (and Shouichi as well) are actually tied to a ferryboat incident, the true nature of which is revealed as the story progresses.

Our goofy hero

Shouichi is a likeable and comical character.  He is strangely good at most things he tries to do, and is a bit of a housewife.  He lives with Professor Misugi, who took him in after he was found, Misugi's niece, Mana, and his son, Taichi.  Mana and the death of her father prove to be essential pieces of the plot as it unravels.  It's always great to watch this makeshift family unit interact, from the serious times to the lighthearted.  Unlike Godai from Kuuga, Shouichi isn't always levelheaded.  He is fairly gullible, and is prone to the occasional emo moment.  To be fair, he has good reasons.  Shouichi can also be a bit obnoxious at times, but he's an overall cool guy.

Sorry gents, Mana's a bit young for you.

Agito is the first Kamen Rider show that I have seen to feature multiple main riders.  Besides Agito, we also have Ryou Ashihara, who becomes Kamen Rider Gills, a fearsome and vicious fighter that seems like a throwback to Kamen Rider Amazon.  Ryou is one of my favorite characters.  He goes through so much hardship that it's hard not to sympathize with him.  Throughout the entire series, I always found myself rooting for him.  His serious nature serves as a nice contrast to Shouichi's silliness.

This guy's life sucks donkey butt.
But don't make him angry.  Please.  Don't.

Our other main Rider is Makoto Hikawa, a police officer who dons the mechanical G3 armor.  He is extremely brave and determined, but also clumsy.  Sporting guns and rockets, he provides good mid-range assaults against the Unknown.  The G3 system isn't without its flaws, however, and sees several upgrades throughout the series.  Hikawa constantly runs into red tape and drama due to police politics, which provides a good source of drama on his end of the story.  One of the best parts of Agito is seeing these three main characters interact, fight, and eventually cooperate. 

New motivational pic

The drama in Agito is top-notch compared to the toku shows I have seen already.  In my opinion, Agito has the edge on Kuuga in this department.  The characters in Kuuga had their problems, but you didn't see it affect them and bleed into their interactions as deeply as you do in Agito.  Every character is caught up in an apparent struggle with something.  Agito manages to be interesting and gripping throughout.

Have some tasty and fiery Operator Ozawa.
Officer Hojo: One smug prick.

As for action, Agito provides a steady supply.  Some early fights had some jarring CG effects, but they either improved or I got used to it.  I can never tell with toku shows.  Agito has a number of forms, thought not quite as many as Kuuga.  Agito evolves and gets powered up throughout the course of the show, eventually resulting in powered-up fiery red shiny form that kicks a lot of ass.  Gills and G3 also get their power-ups.

One of Agito's several forms.

There are numerous other characters that are interesting, though I feel I should just cover basics for the review.  I will also say that the nature of Agito and how it relates to mankind is intriguing and refreshing for a Rider show.  I try to keep my reviews spoiler-free, so I won't delve into it too much at this point.  I will say that Kamen Rider Agito was one hell of a ride, and has cemented itself as one of my favorite toku shows.  I think I enjoyed it even better than Kuuga, and that's saying a lot.  You can probably already tell that if I were to rate this out of five, it would be a definite 5/5.  So far, I have been pleased and amazed at the Heisei Rider shows.  I wonder what's in store for me next.

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