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Monday, September 1, 2014

Kamen Rider Double Episode 1 Review: Count Up Your Sins!

For those who don't know what I love the most in the Kamen Rider franchise, I guess I need to make it more obvious then. Double is not only my favorite rider and Toku series, but just one of my favorite things in general. Since we are reaching the 5th year anniversary soon I want to celebrate that by going through a whole episode review series of Kamen Rider Double. So get your best fedora and Double Driver on as we start counting up some sins!
Right off the bat the series starts out interesting. The show opens in the night at a weird and evil looking building as two guys are trying to save someone it seems. Things go sour fast as the oldest man is shot down by some thugs as we see one of the boys cry out "Boss!" A female monster then appears and even a helicopter appears trying to stop the two boys from escaping. Finally, it leads to the two using the powers in the briefcase and becoming a mysterious figure that can blow winds so strong it causes a helicopter to lose control. This is absolutely one of the best scenes in Kamen Rider Double, it starts out big and there is so much we want to know from this as well. Who are the characters being presented, why are they fighting, and what exactly are the powers being used? All of these questions really hinder on in the first couple of episodes and I think it’s thanks to how it was presented really wants the audience to find out. I mean someone already got killed and this is only the beginning of the series folks.
Continuing on the series then does show us what is going on progressively. With this rich looking family we already get to know that they are behind everything that is happening as of now and we see the female monster who appeared in the beginning scene. These are the things to get someone's attention as showing big details and yet not forcing information down someone's throat really gets them to think before the reveals come into play. It's even interesting how we learn that the monsters of the series are just humans using similar powers to the heroes. The Gaia Memories are a great gimmick toy since it really becomes a part of the show itself, something that the gimmick toys need to learn now these days. I will say a show like Gaim is closer to how Double did it, but still Double exceeds greatly with the Gaia Memories since again it has fixed itself in the show's society.
Another thing great about the first episode is that the series is showing how things have been set in place for a good amount of time. Many scenes play out like these things have happened before as Shotaro is just doing his usual business and interacting with his allies is very interesting. In the first episode we got the two police officers as one hates Shotaro's guts and the other knows that he will be useful in the case. Shotaro also deals with certain cases as well and Jii knows when things are a bit out of the usual reality. Continuing on with the idea the rich family also talk like things are just continuing on as usual since their business is doing rather well. Again this is how you do a first episode, don't shove exposition down the audiences' throat and make scenes feel natural that way things can be learned from thinking and being active with a show is a great thing.
Now onto the characters themselves as the first episode does great on showing who they are. Shotaro is seen as a boy trying to be a detective and at many points in the first episode we do see how effective he is. Shotaro knows somethings and does take his job seriously. There are just some moments when that slips at times as he loses his attitude or just his calm composure really easily. This is already establishing one of the biggest running jokes in the series, how Shotaro tries to act hard boiled all the time. It's funny in the first scene as Shotaro is explaining what hard boiled is and then he just gets ignored in the end. This then continues with him trying to solve the case as he talks to himself in a stern attitude while Akiko just sees this as goofing off. The series does know when to give Shotaro credit though as even if he does have someone helping him on the case he does have to find the specific clues by himself. Even Shotaro's actor knows how to present this well as he has a great performance. The actor tones down his voice when Shotaro is trying to act hard boiled and when things get silly that breaks as his voice gets a higher pitch and his whole body starts moving a whole lot more. Let’s just say that Shotaro will continue with more comedy gold later in the series.
Akiko in the first couple of episodes is clearly showing how the audience would be thinking of the situation. Words like Dopants and Gaia Memory are being passed around as she knows nothing about it. She's intrigued and wants to know about them. So far she is being told the basics of the series as she learns about the Gaia Memories and how they transform humans into Dopants. Then going back to the idea of comedy she ends up breaking Shotaro's act the most. These two playoff each other well together as Akiko is cruel and yet can be so happy about it. She has the power to shut down Shotaro's business and she is holding that very close. Akiko still does get confused about somethings like when she meets Phillip and sees him going on a hunt for information on takoyaki. This is just another great way of opening more things up for the series just in a more comedic way as it casually delivers knowledge like that at times.
Phillip is so far a character we barely know about. All we know that he was boy who was saved from the first scene and that now he works for Shotaro. We also learn about his ability to dive into this library that holds all of the Earth's information. When we see Phillip for the first time he has a blank book, who reads a blank book? Again Akiko's reaction to it would be similar to someone watching the series for the first time as she is confused by the boy who constantly looks up information on a blank book. Then just how Phillip acts is bizarre enough as he stays inside the whole time and just keeps looking up more information. We will get into more with Phillip later, but his beginning clearly shows he is an interesting character.
My favorite part about the series is the mood it can deliver thanks to the settings and music. Again that beginning scene has the perfect lighting and music to deliver a suspenseful beginning. Things continue on in the agency has it's a bit foggy and dusty in the area with barely any light in it. Even all the props around the area are interesting; in some ways it felt like jumping into a completely different area separated from everything else. One thing is for sure though that many of the settings and music choices build on the film noir style as this was usually done with detective shows. I can still say to this day even without my personal bias for loving the theme, the soundtrack is absolutely one of the best in the franchise. I will easily get into more depth with those tunes later on in this episode review posts.
The first action scene with Double really shows what kind of style it will be and that is short and sweet. This easily reminds me of a quick shoot out between officers and the criminals at times as the main focus is easily the case and the characters. I still love the first transformation as the winds blow all around making the fans and propellers in the city go faster as Double's scarf is flowing along with that wind. The first fight then shows how Double's gimmick works as he can switch powers around and that the two are connected when they transform. One is the body as the other connects with his soul; it's a really cool concept as the two in one rider idea is unique for the franchise. Sure there have been fusion styles done before in the media, but Double has a fresh take on it thanks to the Gaia Memories. The stunt work is really good as Double's fighting style is keeping the same stance while delivering kicks the whole time. We already see how things can change up though thanks to the Luna Memory being shown. Now the kicks still remain, but with Luna's powers of stretching like Luffy or Mr. Fantastic has Double moving around more and not keeping his stance compared to Cyclone Joker being used. The series really does well with indicating which power does what through the stunt work as I will easily be talking more about that later on into the series. Double's finisher is then a really strange and yet awesome one. The Cyclone Joker finisher, Joker Extreme has the two split up for a quick moment as they deliver two kicks to the foe. Double puts many things into their quick action scenes which is why they leave a sweet taste in the end as it's like a sample you constantly want to try again.
Double's first episode is really amazing and I can tell you guys that this won't be the last time I will be saying amazing about this show. This is my favorite rider series for a reason as I love each episode for many reasons. The first episode shows off the many concepts the show will have and giving us information slowly and yet keeping our attention as well. The characters got nice introductions as well as we already get a sense of who they are even if two of them just had one scene. This episode gets an A+ as it's a brilliant start to one of the best rider series.
Next Time: More new characters, both good and bad.


  1. It's nice to see you review older series.
    BTW, the upcoming Kamen Rider Drive will be written by same writer (Riku Sanjo... who also wrote Kyoryuger) and produced by Takahito Omori (Kyoryuger)
    What a good timing to start a review.
    I'm REALLY mixed regarding the production team, where Kyoryuger (or KyoryuJERK) is my least favorite sentai series ever made; however, I heard W was really popular (he also wrote few episodes of Fourze (18 episodes)... which I'm not a huge fan of) so maybe it might turn fine.
    I can understand the logic behind this production team, since Kyoryuger was very popular in Japan, where toy sales was very high.
    I'm worried and optimistic at the same time.
    We'll see.

    1. Well the last time the rider series has gotten really big was Double and most of the crew from Double is returning for Drive even secondary writers. High chance they want them to make the next Double.