The Great Half-Ass Maneuver of 2009 (Or, All Riders VS Dai-Shocker: A Quick Review)

In the pages of OUSA, in what ended up being my last column, I ended up praising Kamen Rider Decade: All Riders VS Dai-Shocker based on everything I’d seen up until that point. Since Toei has gotten into the habit of basically revealing everything about the film in multiple media before its even come out, one could basically watch a month’s worth of trailers/opening theme clip shows and venture a guess from there. I did genuinely like what I saw, and from what I was hearing from my friends in Japan, it was a decent flick. So much was this joy that I took it with me when finally seeing the film for myself.

God, I’m so sorry for having faith in this.

I know there are probably some of you out there who are rolling their eyes at this entry already. It seems like one is not allowed to hate Decade because “OMG IT’S AN ACTION SERIES! STORY DOESN’T MATTER!” This would be true if the main character was named John Matrix and Power Station was doing the main theme. Unfortunately, this is not Commando: The TV Series; This is another Heisei Rider Series–the Anniversary Festival as a matter of fact. You’ve got a lot of expectations to fufill and when you only have 30 episodes, you cannot screw around. Unfortunately, that’s exactly what happened with the show and such was the attitude in the lazily-written, haphazardly executed All Riders VS Dai-Shocker. Here for you now are the three major points of contention for me, to give you an idea why this hand of mine is burning with nerd rage.

Mind the Loose Ends

Maybe it’s because I’m watching this after seeing the series in its entirety (and knowing what I know about Movie Taisen 2010) that the brief story elements in this movie make me feel like I just finished watching The Matrix Revolutions all over again; knowing the true ending just ruins everything that comes before it. That aside, there are some genuinely bad moments. My favorite one: Shadowmoon, Kamen Rider BLACK’s rival, is one of the major players in this film. This was spoiled in every form of media months in advance of Dai-Shocker’s release. That said, the film continually beats you over the head trying to tease who he really is.

“My name is Nobuhiko Tsukikage. (lit. “Moonshadow”) You can also clearly see the moon whenever I speak to someone outdoors. Did I mention that I have one of the Golgom priests in my employ?”

You might as well have had somebody behind you with a mallet hitting you over the head saying “HE’S SHADOWMOON!” over and over. Now I know that the fault is really in the marketing department but regardless, if you know your stuff, all of it just makes you want to sink your face into your hands in shame. This is made worse when knowing that BLACK nor BLACK RX have any significant moment in this plot.

The other point of contention revolves around Natsumi’s grandfather turning out to be Doctor Shinigami. He’s promptly blown up…and just sort of goes back to normal as if nothing ever happened. What is essentially a game-changing moment that was built up in the TV series is just sort of thrown aside like a end-of-the-episode sitcom reset. Even worse is that this happens AGAIN in Movie Taisen 2010 and is given the worst possible cop-out explanation that STILL doesn’t make sense.

The piece du resistance is the appearance (and subsequent disappearance) of Kamen Rider Double: Initial rumors were that DiEnd summons him at a moment of need. If only. Double just shows up, proceeds to beat down Shadowmoon and just drives away. No reasoning, no explanation, he’s just there and he stops the movie’s momentum dead in its tracks. I’d actually think it was cool if Toei hadn’t felt the need to spoil that moment the world over, but instead it killed the climax.

One does feel cheated in light of all this, but then again, maybe it’s because I have the knowledge of things to come that I can’t enjoy it. Hell, I’d go so far as to say that a series viewing before you watch Dai-Shocker actually ruins this movie. If you didn’t like how the show turned out, and you wondered what the fawk was up with Movie Taisen, you’re not going to like this. On the other hand, maybe if you’re watching Decade for the first time and going in proper order, you may dig this more. Just remember that everything that’s being set up in this movie, all these mysteries and cool things to look forward to? Won’t happen. All thanks to Shoji Yonemura, the polar opposite of Toshiki Inoue who doesn’t feel the need to finish anything. Did I mention he also wrote for Kabuto?

Showa EraOld and Crusted < New Hotness

While my gateway drug to Kamen Rider was ZO, I grew up watching old videotapes of the original Showa Era Riders. When you do a film promising to have every single one of these guys taking down evil on screen once again, naturally I’m going to want to watch. And I got that….for maybe three minutes out of the hour runtime. The rest of it saw the likes of Amazon and Super-1 being destroyed by Decade and the Heisei Riders via constant “God-Modding” as the kids would call it.

Sure, this is probably nitpicking, but the way these fights were done just remind any Heisei Rider Series detractors why they hate what Kamen Rider has become. The heroes of today show that nobody has to try any more, you can now just spam the Win Button and the fight is over in 5 seconds flat. It has all the annoyance of watching an idol of yours getting beaten by a brat via a cheap trick. I mean for Ishnomori’s sake, IXA pulls a gun on Skyrider mid-Rider Kick! It’s as if the movie’s trying to say that “Oh yeah, the Showa Era WAS cool…but look what THESE GUYS can do!” This becomes evident when Kamen Rider J (who technically is a Heisei Rider) shows up for all of ten seconds, just so Decade can fight King Dark giant-sized…for all of three seconds. But don’t worry! You get one trademark move before they get defeated tomake things right! (Spoiler: It doesn’t.)

Once again, I find myself saying Hiroshi Miyauchi’s famous quote,”A hero doesn’t need weapons“.

Rising Ultimate Omega Justice Hyper Burning King Climax XXVII Kuuga

Yuusuke Onodera, you are a waste of flesh.

It’s not your fault though. You’re so badly written that for some reason, you, the head honcho of the Heisei Rider franchise, have become an annoying sidekick. It’s like you don’t even have a chance at being your own person, your only real unique personality traits are your need to try and sacrifice yourself every time Tsukasa is about to be Rider Kicked, and how you always manage to turn into Ultimate Kuuga and go evil at the drop of a hat. And it gets worse in All Riders VS DaiShocker because you get the most unwanted and most hideous upgrade of an upgrade I’ve seen since Flash Titan: Rising Ultimate Kuuga. Yes, it’s nice that there are hints of the Big Bad from Kuuga’s original finale in the design, but then it never shows up again and proves to be completely useless, being utterly devastated by Shadowmoon just moments after beating the crap out of Tsukasa. Marketing ploy or not, I feel so incredibly sorry for you–If there is a cruel thing to come out of this reality bending, it’s that you came into existence.

Was there anything good about All Riders VS Dai-Shocker? If you’re new to things, you may enjoy it. There are some interesting action moments but it’s not enough to save this film from drowning in the sea of mediocrity in my eyes. At this point, I’m only looking forward to Movie Taisen 2010 now, only to see the Kamen Rider Double segment as that series writer has a sense of a plan. While I can sit here and list all the flaws of this show until the Crisis Empire comes home, this movie fulfilled its purpose and was a success commercially, rendering any critical opinions moot in Toei’s eyes–and that’s the very reason why I hate Kamen Rider Decade; Not because it was a half-assed, badly executed anniversary celebration, but because it was a half-assed, badly executed anniversary celebration and got away with it.

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3 thoughts on “The Great Half-Ass Maneuver of 2009 (Or, All Riders VS Dai-Shocker: A Quick Review)

  1. I actually kind of liked the absurdness of Double’s entrance and exit, just for absurdness’ sake. I just hate how he simply owns Shadowmoon when Decade and Ultimate Rising Kuuga did crap against him.

    All the past Riders just got shafted in this. Even when showing winning (I love Blade, but I was so cheering for Stronger), there’s just so little.

    But the biggest transgression was bringing back actual original characters and did almost nothing with them. What was the point of all the publicity blitz with Hiroshi Fujioka, Takeshi Sasaki, Tetsuo Kurata and Toshiki Kashu (who looks really old with dark, short hair)? They built them up in interviews and promo material. Having the actual Kamen Rider BLACK and Shadowmoon, and not having some sort of confrontation? Often, I got the feeling they just pulled names out of a hat and inserted them into a Mad Libs plot.

    And god, Rising Ultimate is ugly. Really, what’s the point? The Decade writers don’t even seem to like Kuuga, teasing him as the secondary Rider and then giving us DiEnd

    Ugliest design: Rising Ultimate Kuuga or DiEnd?

  2. Would have been slightly less awful if they just cut the first completely non-sense half hour and leave us with the final battle, though it still would be quite disappointing…

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