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Saturday, 9 August 2014

Editorial: Top 6 Neo-Heisei Kamen Riders (for aesthetic reasons).

It makes me sad that there's no Melon-flavoured Monster Energy, so I can sip it and then holler 'MELON ENERGY' at confused passersby.

Top 6 Neo-Heisei Kamen Riders.
On A Purely Aesthetic Basis.

No, I'm not procrastinating from reviewing Noah. You're procrastinating from reviewing Noah. Stop – you should stop doing that, man.

(It looks so bad. I already watched Divergent this week, have I not shed enough blood for this blog?)

Besides, this week is short on editorials, and I haven't done anything toku related in a long time, despite saying that I'd review Kamen Rider Gaim vs Wizard (yeah, that's, er, that's – never going to happen. Ever. Just – not an event that will be taking place.)

So, here's my top five Neo-Heisei Kamen Riders, based on aesthetics alone. Why only six? Because I have a limited pool to work from. Why only five years worth when there's been so many more series than that? Because I'm incurably biased.


6. Kamen Rider Wiseman.

It still feels very weird to treat that as his kamen rider name – although I'm sure if it's not someone will fling themselves at me to tell me it's not so. He has a rather unusual design, our White Wizard over here: He doesn't really look like a Rider, given that distinct lack of fake-leather, remarkably little armour, and a helmet that looks more like a hood than a motorcycle helmet.

He, like most of the Wizard riders, is very striking, though, with the white and gold creating a distinct sense of holiness, and his clawed red belt – something which fans picked up on pretty quickly and took as further evidence of his obvious villainy.

(That, and that his belt voice was startling impolite, something that remains one of the best reasons to assume that someone is evil. Doubly so since said fans were correct.)

His Rider-like, imposing appearance and majestic look was one of many reasons why fans ended up pouring over the details of his scenes looking for clues to his true nature, and why he ended up being one of the main points of discussion during Wizard's run, and that's worth a spot on this list. A low spot.

5. Kamen Rider Zangetsu-Shin.

If you claim not to love the Slaughtermelon Riders, you're probably lying, and you should stop lying.

That said, a lot of people prefer Original Flavour Zangetsu, and it's not hard to see why: Zangetsu-Shin is oddly bulky in places, especially that gigantic hooked pauldron, and when not in use, the Sonic Arrow looks suspiciously like a plastic toy. Because that's what it is.

I personally really like the pauldron, though – not only does it tie into his archer status in a very obvious way, it's also fashionably asymmetrical, and fashionable asymmetry is what Zangetsu-Shin is all about, with striking orange on one side and his familiar muskmelon pattern on theother, along with his emblem.

He was my favourite of the Genesis Riders from the moment I saw him, and remains my favourite Rider design in Gaim – and seeing him in action only really made that stronger.

4. Kamen Rider Double (FangJoker).

Look how sleek he is.

To be honest, I don't like most of the Double forms. They're a little too smooth and simple for me, and while I can appreciate exactly why they're like that (they have to fit together while still looking good), it's never exactly been to my taste.

His mid-series upgrade, FangJoker, however, is just spiky enough. Not only does it have a pleasantly striking black and white colour scheme that's only broken up by the red of his belt and eyes, and a little bit of purple on one side, but he also has added jagged edges to his eyes, shoulders, and legs that break up that smoothness and give him a little bit of bite that the other Double suits lack.

As a bonus, it still looks very sleek and elegant, and it keeps the interesting half-and-half dynamic, both of which were some of the big draws of the Double suits. Not to mention that what with it being fluffy-intellectual Philip in charge of this form, instead of dorky everyman Shotaro, we also get some completely different body language.

3. Kamen Rider Nadeshiko.

I didn't much like Fourze's design, and I'd argue that Nadeshiko looks a lot more like how Fourze should have looked. She has a very clever design, actually, incorporating elements of school uniforms, the colours of the Japanese woman's football team, and spaaaace. It's that last which is really effective and subtly done: Nadeshiko shows that you don't need astronaut-y quilting and a rocket head to look space-ful, because shiny silver, bright colours, and a relatively simple, rounded helmet will all do that for you.

In a series where the designs were often hit – hi, Meteor – or miss – hi, Meteor Storm – Nadeshiko was definitely a hit. Her design isn't very complicated at all: It's startlingly simple, actually, especially compared to some of the designs on this list, but that doesn't mean it's not memorable.

Frankly, putting her next to Fourze only made it much more apparent how odd and how bulky Fourze looked.

2. Kamen Rider Poseidon.

Somebody might stab me for putting this guy on this list. Somebody might set me on fire for putting him so high.

I know, I know, he was a terrible villain. He pretty much just showed up, hammed around a bit, got distracted by a gay married couple on jetskis (but who wouldn't be?), and then got taken down by his good counterpart – I think Aqua's also a great suit design, but he didn't make this list – and Eiji.

But you have to admit, Poseidon looks good, especially as a kind of alternate ShaUTa form using a different set of sea animals. The red legs and spear make a very striking contrast to the blue upper body, and you can see just by looking at him that he's an ocean-based rider in that kind of distinctive OOO style

He looks like the great villain he decidedly wasn't, being intimidating, majestic, and distinctive. Frankly, someone else should have gotten this suit. Maybe Date.

1. Kamen Rider OOO (TaJaDor).

Oh my god, you have two OOO riders at the top of this list, wtf dude.”

Okay, but, the thing is, Italics, the OOO Riders are really well designed. The Combos especially, and TaJaDor is the best-looking Combo of all. While the other Combos are very good-looking Kamen Riders, TaJaDor takes it to a whole new level, combining elements of all three animals involved (hawk, peacock and condor) into a single phoenix-based suit.

It's so much like a final form that I think it ended up overshadowing OOO's actual final form in the minds of the fans, and you can see why. I've talked a few times now about how relatively simple colour schemes, like Wiseman's white and gold and FangJoker's black and white, are a boon for a suit – well, TaJaDor has the simplest colour scheme of all. Apart from a few tiny bits of gold on its design, it's entirely black and red. Even its eyes are red-on-red, which was an unusual design choice for a Rider.

I don't think this is a design that anyone's going to be forgetting any time soon. I mean, look at it. It's really beautiful.

So, there's the catwalk-y list-thing stuff. Honourable mentions to some of the runners up: Kamen Rider Gaim (Kiwami Form), Kamen Rider Wizard (Water Dragon), Kamen Rider Birth and Kamen Rider Accel (Booster Form). 

At some point I'll probably do a top six Neo-Heisei villain designs too - or maybe more, since the fact that both the Greeed and the Horoscopes exist mean that I'm really spoiled for choice there. 

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