Team TokuNet Writer Malunis reviews the episodes of Kamen Rider Zi-O that aired in January 2019.
Time once again to talk some clock, but things are a bit different this month since the show has decidedly stepped away from its usual RideWatch format in favor of some new Riders. Let’s see how that turned out.
My reviews are just the key points I wanted to talk about, but if there was something else you wanted my thoughts on, feel free to ask in the comments.
Ep17: Happy New Year 2019
Confusingly, the show opens with Sogo in the year of 2022. He goes outside to confirm that he’s in the future, and is met with ninja grunts. They’re defeated by a new hero named Rentaro Kagura, who transforms into Kamen Rider Shinobi! After the battle, however, Sogo wakes up and realizes it was all just a dream. But perhaps not as much of a dream as he thinks, as Swartz has a new Another Rider known as Another Shinobi, who is actually the Rentaro Kagura of 2019.
The heroes try to track down and defeat the monster, but are met with a new foe: An alternate version of Woz (Hereby known as White Woz) from a future where Oma Zi-O never took over – because he was defeated by Geiz, who White Woz refers to as Geiz Revive. White Woz possesses powers that the original (Hereby known as Black Woz) doesn’t have, such as a book with the ability to manipulate events in his favor. He also uses the BeyonDriver to transform into Kamen Rider Woz, demonstrating his powers against Another Shinobi and questioning what they’ll do if they won’t accept a future where Zi-O ceases to exist.
So, THAT tops the last show’s status quo shaker! We’ve got a new timeline with a new Woz, who is also a Rider named Woz, meaning I now have to juggle 3 versions of that name… annnd with it, new Riders from different points in the future! Bravo, show, you’re really throwing some curveballs here. And I say this after knowing about these designs from toy catalogs and not knowing their story context.
I’d like to actually focus on the future Rider concept, because the show has greatly defied my expectations for this in the very first scene of the episode. When I saw that we’re getting MirideWatches (it’s not spoilers since that’s in the next episode in this review~), I figured the most we would get is… the MirdieWatch design. Like, just a piece of artwork of the helmet and a Rider name. But Shinobi has a full suit, he has an actor, he has a unique transformation sequence, and he has attack names. I have always wanted to see a cool ninja Rider as a lead, so this was a lot of fun to see. I’ll talk more about the character when we get to the next episode.
I also like the Shinobi suit. It’s quite apparent that the future Riders are a minor thing, because each of the future Riders are using recycled suit parts from past series. In this case, Shinobi is a Ghost suit and an Ex-Aid helmet – I suspect it’s one of the Dark Necrom suits from the summer movie, because why would they bring those back? And as can be seen from the Rider in the next arc, the helmet used for Shinobi is a Ride-Player. I say all this like I’m criticizing it, but I think they do a really solid job making Shinobi look like an original design. The paint work on the chest does a good job of hiding the suit origin, and they hide the helmet well enough with simple accoutrements. Small obscure thing I noticed, the sword he uses is pulled from Kamen Rider Fuma from the Ex-Aid summer movie – another ninja, funnily enough.
Oh, small aside… impressive depiction of 2022, really reminds me of Back to the Future‘s take on 2015. Apparently technology just really got advanced thanks to Oma Zi-O’s demise. It’s kinda fun seeing the Dustards from Kamen Rider Fourze repurposed as grunts for Shinobi to fight – that ninja motif felt incredibly out of place for a space-themed show, so it isn’t even jarring in the slightest for them to be used here with no change to their design.
As for White Woz/Kamen Rider Woz, I love the design… of both. The goofy future clothes are great, and the suit design is just fantastic. I was originally concerned he’d look too much like Necrom from Kamen Rider Ghost, but he sure has his own identity once you see the suit in action. And the idea of him praising Geiz for defeating Oma Zi-O in the near future is a twist I legitimately wasn’t expecting the show to pull.
Ep18: The Amazing, the Epoch, the Future! 2022
Following the shocking reveal of Kamen Rider Woz, everyone tries figuring out what they can do to stop Another Shinobi. As it turns out, he’s a Rider who came into existence in the timeline where Oma Zi-O was defeated, and the TimeMazines apparently don’t have the ability to diverge into alternate timeline territory. This makes Another Shinobi virtually invincible.
All seems lost, but when Sogo confronts Kentaro after he loses his Another Shinobi powers, he convinces him to trust that his future self will find a new kind of strength without the Time Jackers. Swartz tries to deal with Zi-O by recharging Kentaro’s Another Shinobi powers over and over again, but eventually, Kentaro refuses in favor of choosing his own future – Swartz, as expected, doesn’t allow his candidates to choose. With this pause in battle, White Woz causes a Shinobi MirideWatch to come into existence, then uses it to transform into FutureRing Shinobi and defeat Another Shinobi.
White Woz bookends by confronting Geiz with the MirideWatch, informing him that someone with three impossible watches would be the one to defeat Oma Zi-O. Finally, a teaser for the next future Rider… which is questionable since it definitely doesn’t fit the tone of the design.
So that… was quite the arc. I have to say, this was a very cool way to bring us back to the Another Rider stuff but also offer something different. Swartz is experimenting with some Riders from other timelines, which even seems to be confusing to his comrades. I like how it seems as though Heure is willing to blab out of spite for how often Swartz treats him like a child.
And I have to say, as brief as our introduction was to Kentaro, he seems like a nice character. He’s a hotblooded guy who believes in doing the right thing, very fitting of the genre, and it’s cool to know we’re essentially seeing what he’s like before he became a Rider – it’s like a flashback you’d get in a first episode of a show. He’s also played by a Sentai actor, Star Ninger from Ninninger, which is a cute reference. I loved how energetic the actor was in that show and I get to see a more serious character here – he plays it well.
And then we have the MirideWatches used by Kamen Rider Woz – it’s a classic transformation item variant that became more prominent after Wizard, and I like how there’s a pretty good reason for it to be different: This is a watch owned by a character from another timeline. It just so happens that these are based on future Riders, I suppose. And the form changes for Woz, while simplistic, are fun and reminiscent of the Rider they’re based on.
Just after what I considered the best arc of the show so far, it gives another good one! Can it keep up that momentum?
Ep19: The Quiz Shock 2040
Zi-O and Geiz discover an Another Rider, and soon meet the one he’s based on: Kamen Rider Quiz. This Rider, real name Mondo Doan, comes from the year 2040 in White Woz’s timeline. He’s come to 2019 to see just what kind of man his father was, since he saw his mother die in the hospital without his father there – turns out, his father is Another Quiz, and the two are somehow able to exist simultaneously. In order for both versions of Woz to keep their respective timelines on track, it seems like Quiz himself must be defeated, which leaves Geiz with the daunting task to fight Quiz…
So this is an interesting way to start an arc. I initially wanted to have a kneejerk reaction to Quiz and Another Quiz existing at the same time, but someone else makes the observation for me! Plus we’re getting more Riders from White Woz’s timeline, which is all super interesting.
The main focus is, well, Quiz himself. Shinobi’s suit was basically a Ghost suit with an Ex-Aid helmet, and this is the reversal, an Ex-Aid suit with a Ghost helmet. As said, the suit is definitely a Ride-Player, and while I like the Quiz suit, it does lose some small amount of points for looking more like an Ex-Aid character than an original one. I enjoy the quiz theme and how it factors into his fighting style.
Mondo is a bit more grim than expected, kind of thought he’d be a quirky gameshow host with the suit design – but it’s somehow on brand for a silly Rider design to end up having a darker tone, considering shows like Ex-Aid or Gaim. We once again get a Sentai actor in the form of Red Buster from Go-Busters, and based on what little I saw of that show, he seems to be good at playing a serious character. By this point, I was not quite hooked on him as a character, compared to Shinobi, but I respect what they came up with.
It’s also interesting to see the Woz 3D chess games continue further as both versions of him are basically making the same move but for their own reasons. Frankly, I wasn’t even expecting this alternate Woz thing to happen (even though alternate timelines seemed inevitable), so I’m impressed at what mileage they’re getting out of the idea.
Not much to say beyond that – it’s a cool start to another future Rider arc.
Ep20: Final Answer? 2040
In order to keep Quiz from getting wrecked, Zi-O commands Black Woz to give them a retreat. Sogo isn’t convinced that Mondo’s really here to make peace with his father since he clearly has a wristwatch that his father once owned. Meanwhile, Geiz gets fishy as he asks Tsukuyomi what she thinks Zi-O would’ve done about Quiz, then meets with White Woz, attacks Zi-O and Quiz as they’re walking around town, then focuses on Zi-O instead of Quiz. White Woz makes it so that Quiz wanders into the same abandoned building as Another Quiz, and when Geiz shows up afterwards, he helps Quiz take on the monster since he has no reason to fight.
Despite White Woz’s disapproval, the two defeat the monster and wrap things up with Mondo and his father, only for Hora to keep Another Quiz going. This is when White Woz forms the MirideWatch from Mondo’s body, then uses it to transform into FutureRing Quiz and defeat the monster once and for all. He gives the MirideWatches to Geiz, who suddenly has a vision of what he’ll become with their power: Geiz Revive… Though the day is saved, an ominous feeling lingers as Black Woz approaches Sogo’s uncle, handing him a new Zi-O RideWatch so that he may “fix” it…!
So that was the Quiz arc. As I was watching the first half, I had some hopes for things they might address, such as why Quiz and the Another Rider could co-exist. My best guess is that they tried using some multiverse logic, like… Quiz is technically from an alternate future, therefore the Another Quiz doesn’t affect him? But also talking to his father and giving him a change of heart actually causes his broken wristwatch to work, implying that his future has changed? And also MirideWatches don’t appear to affect the person they’re based on since Mondo acts exactly the same? Time travel sucks.
That said, I’m kinda warmed up to Mondo as of this episode. I feel like there’s just a little less to latch onto, in terms of character – he definitely gives me this vibe that he’d be the star of a more drama-heavy story like Kamen Rider 555, despite his appearance. Even so, they had a heartwarming moment for him in the end.
Until White Woz messed it up, anyway~ Like, what was with that “Your family still grow to care less about you, true or false?” – it almost read like he was trying to keep Mondo’s bleak family situation intact, yet it didn’t seem like it happened since Mondo’s wristwatch started ticking. In any case, FutureRing Quiz is a fun looking form and allows us to keep those cool quiz powers in the show for a bit.
Speaking of forms, this episode also randomly gives us a movie form in the show, as Zi-O makes use of WArmor from Heisei Generations Forever! It’s not uncommon for a movie form to make it into the show under different context, like Build getting PhoenixRobo Form for a bit before having it taken away then re-obtained in the show… but this was interesting because it just reads like Zi-O got this form in the movie and it never left his collection.
It’s a cool design, though it feels like it could really use some leg armor to balance it all out. That said… I wasn’t expecting the clearly USB-shaped shoulders to be tiny CGI men that run around, do the Double transformation poses, then turn into shoulder armor. I kinda wish there were some 5″ options for some of these armors since that seems like a fun toy idea.
Aaand what else…? Well, this episode finally gives us a quick glance at Geiz Revive, and it looks like Zi-O has a power-up on the way, so I can see how those ideas are gonna butt heads! Looking forward to that!
I feel like I say this often, but: This show is a real rollercoaster of quality. Sometimes it has way too many problems for me to point out, sometimes it’s really entertaining and interesting. I think this leans towards the latter – it’s doing cool stuff with the time travel aspect by giving us future Riders that are from another timeline, who are all just fun one-off ideas. And since White Woz also mentions there’s three, I look forward to how the third one turns out.
The Zi-O review clock keeps on ticking, and thankfully at a faster pace than usual since this review format is working for me!