An overall impression of the first 3 eps of Kiva, I’ll do ep by ep reviews from here on out. Hopefully. But for now, what’s my impression of the 2008 Kamen Rider series?
The impression is good.
Every year, every series, there’s a new theme to the Kamen Rider franchise. Just as Sentai (Power Rangers) had an Animal Kung Fu theme going with Geki Ranger, and an Engine/Vehicle theme in this year’s Go On-ger, Kamen Rider’s 2007 offering was trains and time travel in Kamen Rider Den-O.
This year, Kamen Rider Kiva brings us a classic monsters theme. Classic as in Dracula, the Wolfman and Frankenstein (although the promo pics have him more as a Mummy/Frankenstein).
There isn’t much info readily available at this point, as we the history of the Kiva-verse is slowly being revealed to us viewers, but the premise is this. In our world, there are monsters known as the Fangire, who drains (and kills) victims of their life force energy in order to survive. To combat them, there is a hidden organization of Monster Hunters. The story of Kamen Rider Kiva is actually split between two time periods.
One focuses on the present, 2008, where our hero, Kurenai Wataru is the rogue element known as Kiva. A half human/half Fangire hybrid, who fights the Fangire. He is known to the organization, but distrusted as he is of course, a wild card.
The other focuses on 1986, which tells of Wataru’s father, Otoya and a Monster Hunter chick named Yuri, and how things ended up as they are now.
Despite having a parallel storyline, which of course, can be used to juxtapose current events if necessary, the show handles it well. So far they don’t jump between past and present to such a degree that it gets annoying, nor does splitting the story hurt the story. In fact, it sorta helps. Our main character, Wataru, is a social recluse. His interaction with the world at this point is to do some random errand before sensing the presence of a Fangire, then transforming into Kiva in order to fight off the Fangire .
The 1986 story is where the flavor comes in. Here we’re teased with the slow unraveling of the past, the origin of the Fangire of the week, as well as a secondary cast of characters who compliment the main cast. It’s a good balancing act. And a big part of that is due to the characters.
Without going into deep detailing of each character, I’ll just say that like last year’s Den-O, the characters are all vibrant with their individual quirks. The tone of Kiva is more serious than Den-O, but it isn’t as dark as say, Kamen Rider Kuuga or Kamen Rider 555. As a result, we’re getting both light hearted chars, as well as the serious type. Thus far, the characters in Kiva have been pretty good. They’re instantly likable without being silly, and adequately varied.
But anyway, this is a Tokusatsu show, which is foreign sounding term that sounds more credible than “children’s fighting program”. So yeah, let’s get into the action and wrap this puppy up. As with Kamen Rider 555, the show’s format is to have some story, with the titular Kamen Rider showing up in the last minutes to wrap the ep up with a fight. Unlike 555, the fights last more than 1 minute, and fights in the earlier part of the show, usually in 1986, help break up the monotony of having too much story.
Anyway, I dare say, Kamen Rider Kiva may have among the best fights of the Kamen Rider franchise in recent times. The fights are stylistic without being too over the top, short without being too brief, and there’s just more of a sense of impact to them. I wanna describe things in detail with refs to past series but I don’t wanna totally jump off topic. Suffice it to say, the fights in Kiva are satisfying, and feel like real fights, without being dull like actual real fights.
Anyway, end entry. To get eps of Kamen Rider Kiva, http://www.tvnihon.com has an awesome selection of bit torrents. They’re probably one of the best fansubbers around for this kinda stuff.
Edit: Oh yeah, the Moth Fangire in ep 3 did a Rider Kick, that’s awesome. That is all.