Den-O ep 1: Ryotaro and Shinji, Momo and…?

So, starting with the Den-O (re)watch.

Personally, I didn’t realize before the link between Den-O and Ryuki, but now I do, and Ryuki being my favorite it’s inevitable that I’m going to be drawing conclusions, the first of which involves Ryotaro himself and the ways in which he is like Shinji, and the ways in which he’s not. Obviously, they’re both “Fail!Riders”, but their attitudes are very different. Ryotaro is resigned to be bullied, both by other people and by the universe itself, really, while Shinji kind of… just creates his own shenanigans, but meets everything with what can only be called feistiness. But really, even in this first episode, the real similarity between them is their drive to do the right thing. Shinji gets involved in things that are not his business out of his sense of justice, and Ryotaro, even when kicked to the curve, is always all about doing the right thing… to the point protecting those that have wronged him. And there’s kind of an innocence, I think, in that, in their overpowering goodness.

But anyway, thoughts while watching ep 1:

  • Upon my first rewatch of a Rider series, I always find that I don’t remember the very first image or scene from the first episode (well, except for Decade, because come on, Rider War was epic). Den-O is no exception. Although I did remember that Ryotaro’s first scene involved him stranded on his bike up on a tree…
  • The OP mostly makes me realize that I’ve missed Kamen Rider these past few months. Also, dancing Momotaros!
  • Ryotaro’s reaction to the Denliner kills me. He’s dumbfounded to the point where you’d almost think he’s taking it all in stride. XD
  • I love Momo’s first scene, how he’s starting his whole “Tell me your wish” speech only to be run over by an oblivious Ryotaro on his bike. :D
  • Another comparison to Ryuki: the Milk Dipper somehow reminds me of Atori. I mean, obviously there’s other Riders with cafes or restaurants being an important sort of “home base”: Kuuga, Blade (sort of) and Kabuto, but these two somehow share a vibe. And amusingly enough, Ozu will also feature a cafe.
  • Momo’s smack talk cracks me up. XD
  • And Den-O has the funniest first henshin. Ever.

Finally, one last observation about Kobayashi tropes… it struck me while watching Momo fight the Imagin as Den-O that his whole speech about how he doesn’t care about the Imagins’ goals, how he was bored but was simply fighting whoever because it was fun, that at least as a starting point his motivations were really similar to Asakura’s and Juuzo’s, who were also driven just by their desire to fight.

Of course, the difference is that Momo actually has a heart that isn’t a shriveled little black thing, and whether or not he was being completely truthful about his motives then (which he wasn’t, because he was also driven by self-preservation, at least), his association with Ryotaro is going to change him and redeem him… if he even had to be redeemed in the first place, while Asakura and Juuzo were always past the point of no return.

Funny how the Imagin is more human than either of them, isn’t it?

Anyway, comments are welcome. :D

17 thoughts on “Den-O ep 1: Ryotaro and Shinji, Momo and…?

  1. (Argh it ate my reply D:)

    I love the first episode of Den-o! Early Ryotaro is pretty much a slightly more easily terrified version of Airi in the sense of that airy unaffected-ness. It’s almost creepy how apathetic he is D:

    That said, Ryotaro is my favorite Rider because of his sense of justice. He’s not strong in a fight, he’s not smart. He’s unlucky (obscenely so, in fact), and he gets in trouble quickly. That said, he’s not willing to step aside for anything. If he can do something, he’s going to. “I don’t really understand, but I know there’s no other choice.” Ryotaro is not willing to let history move on before him as long as he has the ability to do something. Even if that involves fainting, screaming, and being possessed :D;;

    There is little to say about Momo for me besides ‘OMG MOMOOOOOO ILUUUU’ >_> obviously you’ve pointed out how he’s like Asakura, like Juuzou, and how he isn’t because he, unlike them, cares. Even if that caring is mostly in the form of rage. :D;;

    (Did you catch Kirihiko in this? :D?)

    1. I’ll reply to the rest later, but… Shirihiko-san? WHERE?

      ETA: OMG,he’s one of the bullies! He looks so different and…not pretty or showing his ass. :O

    2. Unaffected, yes, but he’s still way way more aware than Airi is. Was she ALWAYS so… off, even before the amnesia? Or is that a spoiler?

      And I guess that’s also why you like Shinji so much. :D

      As for Momo, back when they went to Den-O world in Decade, Dimmie described Momo as a “hooligan who likes pudding” (great description), and really if you think about it, “hooligan who likes pudding” is like the kinda sorta nice guy version of “psychotic berserker”. XD

      1. Shirihiko-samaaaa~ :3

        Ryotaro is definitely far more aware than Airi, but there is a similar quality there. Ummm spoiler. :D;;

        Why yes! Kobayashi-san is like my favorite writer ever. Ever.

        That’s really very true, yes :D Momo is really a great character for me (thankfully, since there’s so much sheer Den-o media with him in it, I guess) both because of how gloriously simple is (because really, a “hooligan who likes pudding” is the best description of his character since ever) and because of the relationship with Ryotaro. I like Ryotaro’s sense of justice and his battle against Momotaros’ violence, I like their arguments, I like the way Momo should completely be cowing Ryotaro and in some ways he does, but in all the important ones Ryotaro is the boss of his own body, at least as far as we’ve seen. I adore that Momotaros is completely out of line as an Imagin (especially compared to Ryotaro’s next hair-color-switching-friend) and just… doesn’t give two shits about it.

        1. Isn’t Urataros out of line in his own way, since he’s basically hiding out so he can just mack on chicks all he wants? Actually I remember now that his whole thing about DON’T KICK ME OUT OF THE DENLINER, I’LL DIE or whatever it was was a con (or was it? I forget), but he doesn’t seem particularly interested in furthering the Imagins’ mission (whatever that is, beyond change the stream of time, don’t know yet beyond that).

          Momo is awesome because he’s hilarious and dumb, but at the same time underneath it all he’s a nice guy in spite of himself. But especially because he’s hilarious and dumb. :D/

          1. Certainly; there’s also the fact that Urataros is quite a bit smarter than most of the other Imagin we meet :D;; When he first appears it’s really… disconcerting, to me, the way he’s watching the Denliner in time. I’m relatively sure his sob story was a con, yes. The thing about Urataros is that while he’s not working to further the mission, unlike Momotaros he’s working with a larger, seemingly more sinister goal (his goal is sleeping with chicks, of course, but that’s more than Momo’s career plan) and that alone is enough to make him seem both more and less like a typical Imagin–he’s working for what’s not a humanitarian goal (:D;;) but he’s… smart enough to come up with a plan orz Personally Urataros is awesome ;A; I love all of the Imagin, though, so I’m biased~

            There will never be a character as awesome as Momo, in my mind. He’s perfect.

          2. I need to figure out why there’s a thread limit on comments. D:

            Anyway, Ura is awesome. And Ura possessing Daiki (tangent!) is even more awesome. I know probably spoiler, but do we ever found out WHY he was doing that? Does it all come down to booty calls?

          3. Yeah, these thread limits are a little confusing :D;; U!Daiki :3
            There doesn’t appear to be a specific reason beyond Urataros has his own goal of, well, banging chicks, but that seems weird enough when you compare him with the rest of the Imagin we’ve met. :/ A lot of Urataros is mysterious, though.

  2. Ahh, the first ep. I always enjoy rewatching it with people who’ve never seen it, since everyone can find something they like about it. Ryotaro-in-a-tree always gets them too, haha.

    I like to find little snippets of things that the writers/director decided to show in terms of establishing how the imagin and how this rider worked, but then dropped, retconned, worked in, or reworked entirely. Like the bit where Ryotaro gets punched out and wakes up covered in sand–I’m sure that’s how they wanted to originally show the possession, or forshadow how he was destined to be Den-O, but then Momo up and possesses him afterwords. It kinda makes me think, y’know? Were they thinking about the first ep when they revealed stuff in the later episodes? Was that when (I actually don’t know how far you got, so I don’t know how much I can spoiler) possesses him? Or perhaps I’m thinking too much.

    I never thought of the parallels between Shinji and Ryotarou before! They do get dealt the short end of the stick when it comes to luck, but they take it in stride in different ways. I’m pretty sure if they met, they’d get along. : D

    1. Was that when (I actually don’t know how far you got, so I don’t know how much I can spoiler) possesses him?

      I did get to that part! It seems that’s what it should be, except that happens I kind of understood that he’d possessed Ryotaro since long before Momo did, not earlier that same day. But who knows.

      I started thinking about the parallels between Shinji and Ryotaro since way before I knew the series had the same writer, mostly after seeing fanboys bash Ryotaro for being a Fail!Rider and claiming he RUINED RIDERS FOREVER!!!, at which point I thought “Wait, Shinji was a Fail!Rider before Ryotaro, Ryotaro just took it up one level”.

      I do think Shinji doesn’t so much have bad luck per se so much as he just sticks his nose where it doesn’t belong and so ~shit happens~

      (BTW, if you link your LJ/Twitter, it links your userpic)

  3. I must say that that first time I watched the series, I thought that it wasn’t necessarily going to be great, based on the CG train starting the show. I was not (and am still not) a fan.

    Though I do love how Ryotarou just so fail. I loved his character within the first minute of the show. And he’s adorable about his fail. It just endears me forever to him. The bike, the wallet, the can. It just… It makes you feel so sad for him and yet… even when he is beaten down and abused, he’s still just so damn adorable.

    I think that another big thing that really made this series for me was how appropriate the music was. You get just so much of the mood from the music that’s being played. Even without anybody saying anything, for me the right mood and feel are conveyed. It just worked really well for me. And it really helped set up this first episode so that it worked, for me.

    Of course, the whole reason I watched this show the first time was because I fell in love with the theme song since I could never go into an animate without hearing it being played. XD So, maybe not a good judge of things. XD

    1. I don’t really judge a toku series on the quality of the CG, if I did I probably wouldn’t have ever given toku a chance at all, to be honest. To me, it’s about the story and the characters.

      The OP is cool, and the OP sequence is, IMO, one of the best of the Heisei series. Alive A Life will ALWAYS be my favorite OP song and sequence, although the Agito song kicks series as well.

      (ETA: Also, what I said to Tofu, if you link LJ/Twitter, your userpic shows up \:D/)

  4. you forgot to list kiva in the cafe-as-a-base series. ;)

    watching ryotaro just be so…. wimpy…. kinda turned me off when den-o first started. i started to rewatch it again last year, and actually got a third of the way through (before other hobbies got in the way)… now that i’m back in the watching kick, i might join you on these several-episodes-a-week journey. :)

    1. Well, I wouldn’t know, because I’ve never watched Kiva. I think I skimmed through the first ep Nago was in just to see KatoKei. :Dv

      You should watch with us! The goal is 8 eps a week, so it’ll go fast, but it’s also not THE WHOLE SERIES IN A WEEK. You can always just wait till we’re up to where you left off, since the first part is kind of slow.

  5. For me, Den-O was the very first Kamen Rider series I’ve ever watched–and it was the Den-Linver MV version of the OP that got me interested in the series in the first place. Seeing guys in plastic suits dance and sing was…new! And catchy! And while the normal OP is a great earworm to listen to, the Den-Liner version just seems so…triumphant to me. Like the climax really doesn’t end. (though I might be getting ahead of myself here…)

    And to be honest? I was hooked from the get-go, because I wanted to know the connection between that awesome train chasing those Imajin and that fail!boy stuck up a tree. As for Ryoutarou himself, I love him. So. Much. Even if I do laugh at his bad luck kicking into gear. I can actually connect with him, especially since he admits that it really is scary, facing off against these monsters. It’s a first for me, since most of the other heroes I knew before seeing Den-O hardly ever admitted that, and to me…I liked it. I liked that bit of honesty. Because I get it, and it’s proof of how much courage he shows as the series goes on, because nothing’s more courageous than facing what you’re frightened of…even when you really don’t want to.

    As for Momo, I…never thought of comparing him to Juuzou! Though I did like the idea that there were some Imajin who didn’t wanna destroy time. Of course, his reasons were mostly selfish, but it was still interesting to see those exceptions of that race. (personally, I’d love to see more exceptions, but… *shrugs*) Anyway, the idea that both Momo and Juuzou love to fight just to fight isn’t inheritantly evil; that much is certain. I do like how Momo’s view on it changes a bit, while Juuzou’s doesn’t. (then again, Juuzou’s been at it for a VERY long time…)

    Another thing that piped my interest was the whole “Singularity Point” thing. You knew it was important when even stupid Momo knew about it and what it meant to possess one (not good, in his mind, at first). Though, considering that Urataros could sense it before even possessing Ryoutarou, I wonder how sharp-nosed Momo could’ve missed that before possessing Ryoutarou…

    Finally, there is one point of concern about the ep that wasn’t exactly carried over to the rest of the series: The sand that Ryoutarou and Bat Imajin’s contract holder had on them before either of them got possessed–was that just leftover sand from the Time Portal that the Imajin opened? Or was there supposed to be some kind of symbolism behind it? Like they’re meant to be possessed or something like that? Then again, I may be reading too deeply into it…

    1. Hey, thanks for commenting, I love discussion. :D

      Dancing Imagin (if that is what you mean, I havent’ finished the series) are AWESOME. First time I saw the OP I almost died at Momo. :D

      And yeah, Ryotaro is very human. He’s not a super awesome, destined for greatness “man wo walks the path of heaven” or anything of the sort, and that’s what makes him so relatable. Because we all have fears, and most most of us probably hope that when push comes to shove we’d be able to overcome them. (By the way, if you haven’t, seriously, watch Ryuki sometime). In general the characters I like best aren’t the designated heroes, but the normal guys who just make do as best they can with wat they have (Agito’s Hikawa “TADA NO NINGEN” Makoto is my favorite example of this).

      As for Momo and Juuzo (and Asakura!), I tend to really like to analyse tropes and archtypes, so my mind will go there if giving the chance. I don’t mean that Momo is like Juuzo as far as personality or moral spectrum, obviously, what I mean is that it to me their origins are in the same trope, but they were developed in different directions.

      I love the singularity point concept, even if where I left off it hadn’t fully come into play (I got distracted by Shinkenger shortly after Yuuto’s arrival), because I tend to like well done time travel stories.

      And Tofu brought up the same continuity problem in the comments above, but we didn’t really reach any conclusion.

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