It's been a long, long time, but it's finally time for a new Kamen Rider TV episode review. Only this time I'm only doing the first episode of this series as part of the "Kamen Rider Firsts" series where I look at the first episode of each (if not, most) of the Kamen Rider shows. This time I take a trip back to 2003. I turned 13, got stuck (and still am) on Crash Bandicoot: Wrath of Cortex's load screens, and watched MTV for the first time only to be wowed that TRL was a thing. 2003 is also when Kamen Rider 555 made its debut. Now then, let's see what we are instore for. (Click on "Read More" to read the full article.)
Summary (All Spoilers)
It's a dark, spooky night where we see a security guard patrolling the Smart Brain building. Who is and what is Smart Brain? Well, let's go inside and see as that is where the next scene takes us. We've got a bunch of scientist in hazmat suits, studying what looks like a weird alien brain. An evil monster breaks in, beats up all the scientist and steals the creepy looking alien brain. The evil monster cracks open the brain to reveal that it is actually a Kamen Rider transformation belt.
It's now day time to where we are introduced to our main character, Kiba Yuujisama AKA Yuuji. (It's what his friends and family call him.) Yuuji is looking over photos with his girlfriend, Chie while they are also making plans for a date to celebrate their one year anniversary. We then cut to Yuuji driving with his parents while he explains to them how romantic he wants his date to be. EEEEEEEEEEEEERRRRRRRRR BRRRRRRRROOOOOOOMMMMMM CCCCCRRRRAAAAAAASSSSSSHHHHHH *and other gory sounds*!!!!!!!!! A truck smashes into them.
It is now two years later. Yuuji is at a hospital, in a deep, deep coma. A coma soo deep that it lasts two years. (I'm just glad that my coma only lasted two hours.*)* What happened to Yuuji's parents? THEY DIED! The crash instantly killed them, which is a fate far less worse than what Yuuji is going through right now.
All of a sudden, Yuuji's heart gives out on him and he passes away without waking up. Later on, a nurse checks on his body and suddenly Yuuji is baaaaaaaaaaaack from the dead. (Yes, that was a reference. A reference to Death's song: Back From the Dead.) Only, this isn't the same Yuuji that we all know and love. Something is different about him. Something that I can't put my finger on. Hmm. Maybe it's the fact that his eyes are glowing white as he rises from his deathbed. Hmm. Maybe.
It's the next day and we are introduced to a mysterious girl on a bike. For some reason, she is being chased and welcomed by a friendly bike gang that only wants to be friends. They annoy the mysterious girl, but they go to a restaurant for lunch anyway. This is where a mysterious handsome guy sneaks in and is watching the mysterious girl skull down her fish soup. The mysterious girl takes off and the mysterious handsome guy tries to follow, but can't due to how his meal has just turned up.
Back to Yuuji. Yuuji returns home and finds out that he has no home to return to. (Dark.) I quite liked this bit, as it was a scene heavily inspired by Robocop. The one scene where Robocop returns home to find that he has no home to return to. So, Yuuji goes to visit his uncle and cousin, where Yuuji is given a very bogus story about how his family lost their home because his dad's company went bankrupt. Yuuji is now out on the streets moping. Yuuji's uncle was the one that sold off his Dad's company and possessions and isn't too happy that Yuuji is still alive.
Cutting back to the mysterious girl. She and the friendly bike gang are hanging out at a park and start taking photos. The mysterious girl isn't liking this by the way. One of the guys takes a wizz and is then attacked by an evil monster. The wizz guy AKA Daisuke tries to run as fast as he can, but the monster catches up to him and rips out his heart. Yup, we've got murder on this show. The mysterious girl ends up finding the corpse (a corpse that's still breathing mind you) and goes to get the rest of the guys. When they return, the still breathing dead body is gone.
Yuuji goes to meet Chia, so they can go on their one year anniversary date. Yup, Yuuji is unaware about how long he was in a coma for. (He is also unaware that he was DEAD!) Chie tries to let him down slowly about what happened to him, without trying to put him in shock. Yuuji's cousin comes in, grabs Chia and bluntly tells Yuuji that she isn't his girlfriend anymore. This sends Yuuji in extreme shock. (We've all been there.)
The mysterious girl is at a campfire with the friendly bike gang. Remember the breathing corpse that got his heart ripped out after taking a wizz AKA Daisuke? He's baaaAAAAaack and in zombie form. Daisuke comes in and disintegrates into ash. Another one of the friendly bike gang members does the same thing. Mysterious handsome guy turns up and confronts the mysterious girl about a mysterious bag that she mysteriously has. The third friendly bike gang member turns up, where he reveals himself as the evil monster that's been going around ripping peoples hearts out.
At this point of the episode is where we see two stories quickly interchange between one and another. So, to avoid confusion I'll talk about Yuuji's story first, followed by mysterious girl's. You dig? Good.
Yuuji, in a very sad and shocked state confronts his cousin, demands answer and goes berserk. Instead of turning into a zombie, Yuuji turns into a horse headed black knight and attacks. His cousin tries to get away, but Yuuji Horseman turns into a centaur. Yuuji catches up and murders his cousin by stabbing him through the heart with his sword.
The mysterious girl is getting chased and is eventually cornered by the evil monster. The evil monster is also after the bag and he's getting hungry! Well, not really. He is just going to kill her and take the bag by force. So I guess he is hungry in a sense. HUNGRY FOR MURDER! Mysterious handsome guy shows up and notices that the mysterious bag wasn't really his.
The mysterious girl opens up the bag to reveal a Kamen Rider transformation belt and... IT'S HENSHIN TIME, BABY!... Or is it? Yup, the transformation failed, so she puts it on the mysterious handsome guy and now it's henshin time, baby. (I guess the belt is a sexist.) Mysterious handsome guy morphs into Kamen Rider and defeats the monster in a short, but sweet battle. Leaving us with an ending that leaves more questions than answers.
Review (Mostly Spoiler Free)
What... The... F**K!? WHAT THE F**K!? WHAT THE F**K!? WHAT THE F********K!? Talk about an unconventional way to open up a season of Kamen Rider. If you want twists, turns, and surprises, this episode has all of that. You think that the story is going in one direction, then you get the biggest swerve that you'll ever see in a tokusatsu.
Other than that, how was the story? It's pretty well done. This episode is instantly interesting. From the sci-fi opening, to the likeable characters with interesting motifs. Sure, the writing is pretty basic, but it gets its hooks into you from the get go and you've just got to see how it all unfolds. There's also a lot of mystery in this episodes. A good chunk of the characters don't have their names or motifs revealed. It makes you wonder where the story is going. There are some scenes that seem useless at first, but it soon becomes apparent that there's a lot going on.
You do not get many answers in this episode, but that's a great thing in this case. It's executed well to where you want to continue the series to see what happens next. It has to be one of the most exciting Kamen Rider openers of all time. It's not perfect though, there were some spots that could've been executed a bit better and some scenes were just plain silly. Granted, the silly scenes would've been more scary in 2003, however the outdated CG effects are just pain laughable.
This is also a really dark episode. This series doesn't just acknowledge death, because there is quite a bit of death in this episode. This episode also acknowledge that murder is a thing. Yeah, the bad guys in this murder civilians. It makes the bad guys much more menacing. The murder scenes aren't gory because you don't see any blood or penetration. When someone dies, it cuts to an X-ray of the persons chest similar to something you'd see out of the Street Fighter movies, but only not as cool. (The Sonny Chiba ones, not the Van Dam one.) Although, I just had to laugh at how you could see one of the corpses breathing during one scene.
As I've said before, the special effects have aged poorly as they use CG. What does look good are the costumes and martial arts. The costumes look bada** and so does the action. Sadly, you don't get a lot of the signature costumes, but you do get enough. The acting is pretty decent. Each actor did a great job at giving their roles some personalities and they were all great, including the minor characters. Excluding the breathing corpse part.
Overall, this is a must watch for Kamen Rider fans as it is one of the best openers to a Kamen Rider series. I haven't been this excited since I watched Kamen Rider Black for the first time. If you haven't seen Kamen Rider before, this is a good one to start with. I'm looking forward to watching the rest of this series and I do pray that it doesn't become a disappointing mess as it goes along. Kamen Rider 555 Episode 1 gets a 9 out of 10.
*No joke. I really was in a coma and let me tell you what. It wasn't a pleasant experience what so ever. You know when you get that dreaded blue screen of death? You also know how sometimes you keep on getting that over and over until your PC finally decides to work? Well, boy do I have some news for you. That's exactly how a coma feels. A lot of people are lucky enough to not have any memories of being in a coma. HELL! A lot of people are lucky enough to not have been in a coma. I on the other hand do remember and it was F*****g painful. So, do yourself a favor and avoid falling into a coma. That S**t hurts.