Not-So-Farewell Kamen Rider Den-O the Movie
Kamen Rider Den-O is finally over! Wait, what? Chou Den-O? What the eff is that? Anyway, onto the review.
Farewell Kamen Rider Den-O the Movie: Final Countdown is the third movie of the Kamen Rider Den-O series, despite the Kamen Rider franchise having already moved on to the then-current series Kamen Rider Kiva. In the movie, the main character Ryoutarou gets kidnapped and possessed by an evil Imagin to become the evil Kamen Rider Yuki. In the mean time, Momotaros and company encounter Ryoutarou’s grandson, Koutarou, who so happens to be the Den-O of the future. With his Imagin partner Teddy forming the weapon and basis for the default form, Koutarou is Kamen Rider NEW Den-O.
The main bad guy is a guy named Shiro, who’s obsessed with keeping his girlfriend from crying. Expect to be waiting for a while for all of his master plan to come together and make sense. Some of it doesn’t get explained until the very end, after the final battle. Still, it’s your standard threatening all of existence that our heroes come in and stop at the last minute. The important part that actually makes the audience care is Shiro’s use of Ryoutarou. Kidnapping and abusing our hero, pitting him against his friends, that’s where things get interesting.
This movie is designed to be the last Kamen Rider Den-O story. However despite that premise and its title, this is not the end of Den-O. Just this year, we got treated to the Kamen Rider Decade crossover movie Chou Kamen Rider Den-O & Decade NEO Generations The Movie: The Onigashima Battleship. With that said, this could have worked well as the final Kamen Rider Den-O work. Everyone, even the annoying occasional help Sieg, is brought together to stop a plot threatening all of time (of course). We have large and showy battles, emotional moments, near-death experiences and more Owner being awesome (now in biker shorts). You know it’s an important event when part of the final fight takes place on horseback.
More important than flashy events is the feeling of closure, and this movie has that. The movie ends with the feeling that the torch has been passed from Den-O to NEW Den-O, as far as the focus of the plot is concerned. NEW Den-O would be interesting to see as the main character of the Kamen Rider Den-O franchise (franchise within a franchise?), just as Riders 1 and 2 passed the torch to V3. While I’m pretty sure NEW Den-O is just a supporting character for Chou Den-O, not the main, I don’t know for sure and hope that’s reversed.
Unfortunately, the film doesn’t close as well as the series did. The series with its plot resolved and Ryoutarous and the Taros having quite the emotional parting of ways felt pretty finished. Toei just kept tacking on movies, and with Chou Kamen Rider Den-O after Farewell Kamen Rider Den-O, it doesn’t seem like any ending will ever be concrete.
This movie fully embraces the idea that Ryoutarou is not the star of the series. The Taros are, especially Momotaros. While still important, Ryoutarou himself doesn’t do quite as much and isn’t as strong of a character as the others. Not too different from the TV series, actually.
Sadly of even less focus and definitely less importance is Kamen Rider Zeronos. Let me say this from the start: Zeronos gets screwed in screentime. Yuuto only shows up every now and then. He gets completely overshadowed in his two fights. Zeronos goes straight into his powered-up Zero Form and shoots Imagin with the Denebick Buster. Such a waste of Zeronos’ awesome Altair and Vega forms. Even his Imagin Deneb has more screen time than Yuuto/Zeronos. Considering his importance in the series, a bit more concentration on Zeronos in the supposed finale would have been nice.
Kamen Rider NEW Den-O, or Koutatou, is a fairly confident and capable character, seemingly the opposite of Ryoutarou’s physical weakness and bad luck. He’s playful in battle, snapping his fingers and counting down how long it’ll take to take down enemies.
The suit itself has a sharp design. It appears to be a remodeled Den-O Climax Form suit, using a similar chest piece. Even still, it’s unique enough that combined with the natural dark blue theme from Koutarou’s partner Imagin Teddy, it seems to be a reasonable evolution of the Den-O suit. Considering it is the Den-O suit of the future, that’s perfectly fitting. The shoulders may be a bit big, but that’s my only complaint.
A unique element of this suit is that Koutarou’s partner Imagin, Teddy, actually turns into NEW Den-O’s sword. New Den-O still seems to also have the traditional Den-O side weapon, the DenGasher, yet it goes unused in the movie. Teddy in sword from (ha, sword form) maintains some physical characteristics, such as dark blue coloring and his face at the hand guard. NEW Den-O can also store the sword on his back, as when driving the Den-Bird motorcycle.
Now getting to Kamen Rider Yuki. It has two forms: Skull and Hijack. Skull Form is based off of Imagin, while Hijack form is the main villain Shiro’s form. Both are obviously based off of the Kamen Rider Gaoh outfit from the first Den-O movie. Skull Form is black with gold accents with some skull decorations, and it uses a sword as its weapon. Hijack Form is essentially the same, removing the skulls and throwing on some red. Also, its weapons are a whip and tops. Yep, that’s right. Spinning tops.
Whereas New Den-O is a sensible future development of the Den-O suit, there is no reason given for why Yuki is just a slightly altered Gaoh. It’s lazy suit recycling and doesn’t try to hide it. However, both forms do have a neat railroad-track scarf wrapped around the neck (silver in Skull Form and red in Hijack Form).
As for the opening Imagin Anime short before the movie, I have a love/hate relationship. In it, the Taros discuss the ending of Den-O and how stories suffer after going past when they should end. The irony is not lost on me, and while I typically love irony, this leaves a somewhat bitter taste.
This not-so-final movie could have been a good ending to Kamen Rider Den-O. Even now that it’s not the end, it’s still a good movie. It’s a must watch for any fan. Anyone else, you may want to at least watch some of the series or the first movie.