This is Spoiler Free
I grew up watching Power Rangers as a kid, Wild Force specifically. Every day before school I’d check out the latest episode and then talk about it with my friends. I never really watched any more Power Rangers after that, but that season will always stick in my mind. Recently though, I discovered that there was a whole genre of these superpowered costumed action hero shows, called tokusatsu shows in Japan. I was immediately intrigued by this, and decided to check out Kamen Rider Agito completely on a whim. I’m really glad I did, and I’m going to try to make a case for why you should check it out as well!
Kamen Rider Agito was released in 2001 and was the 2nd show in the Heisei Series, and that’s basically all the background I’ve got for you, as I’ve said earlier I am a newbie to this franchise.
The story focuses on three main characters: Shouichi Tsugami, an amnesiac and the titular Agito; Makoto Hikawa, a policeman who also operates the G3 unit, a man-made Kamen Rider suit; and Ryou Ashihara, a swimmer who mysteriously gets bestowed with the power of Kamen Rider Gills. The way these three characters learn about their purpose and what it means to be a hero is a very important aspect of why this show works.
Shouichi is a goofball and is rather aloof, and cares more about focusing on his garden than actually fighting. He only does it due to a compulsion. Makoto is a bit naive and gullible and has this need to prove himself more because he’s not an actual Rider, but just a human in a suit. Ryou is hyper serious all the time; he has no idea why he’s a Rider and is desperate to find out, and also find out about his fathers disappearance. The way all three of these characters disparate personalities interact is a highlight of this show.
The real scene-stealers are the side characters, though. There are so many good ones, from the smarmy Martin Shkreli-esque Houjou to the alcoholic G3 creator Ozawa. They really help push the story forward and keep the mood relatively light. The most important side character, who one may argue is a main character, is Mana. Mana is a girl whose family Shouichi lives with while his memory comes back. I’m trying to remain mostly spoiler free but my biggest complaint with this series is that they set up a lot of things with regards to her, but never truly deliver on any of them. It’s a shame, as that kind of delivery could really propel this series into the next level.
The places in which this show stumbles the most are two specific areas: the fight choreography and the antagonists. The fights all feel really slow and clumsy, except for when the G3 is involved and just shoots the fuck out of things with its guns. They reuse a lot of setpieces in fighting too, so you can usually expect the same beats to be hit in most fights. This is pretty lame but sort of excusable, considering it must be hard to move around in those suits. However, the fights weren’t that important in the grand scheme of things because the antagonists were for the most part, very flat. Their motivation is confusing as hell, and they have little to no charisma. The big bad of the series is super confusing, and I still to this day do not truly understand what he is. There is one really good antagonist in the series, that I will not spoil due to how epic his reveal is. Houjou is a pretty awesome baddie too, but in a different way. He is more of the slimeball who you want to punch in the face as opposed to an actual evil character.
Overall, this is probably a great series to get into Tokusatsu shows with, and I am definitely glad I started with it.