Content Warning: fanservice
What’s it about? Mysterious monsters called Dopants cause havoc in Wind City using Gaia Memories. Fortunately, two detectives named Hidari Shotaro and Philip use those same Gaia Memories to fight against these monsters by transforming into Kamen Rider W.
That’s right folks. FUUTO PI is a direct sequel to the live action series Kamen Rider W (2009), which means those of us that have never seen any Kamen Rider shows are finally going to see what the fuss is about. I’m curious to know what mysterious forces pushed for this story to be animated rather than the live action treatment it usually receives, but hey! sometimes you just gotta expand your horizons. I’ll be the first to admit that I don’t know anything about Kamen Rider except that it’s campy, dramatic and there are fun transformation sequences.
I could never get into shows like Kamen Rider and Power Rangers because I was already dealing with the theatrics of telenovelas growing up so I didn’t need more live action cheese in my life, but nowadays I need more lighthearted content. Unfortunately, I’m sad to report to Kamen Rider fans that this premiere didn’t click for me. If I ignore this series’ connection to Kamen Rider, it feels like a standard C+ detective series of two wacky investigators trying to solve mysterious events in Wind City. Hidari is the typical detective that means well, but is really clumsy at his job and Philip is just the tired genius waiting for his partner to screw up before deciding to help him out. There isn’t anything special about this formula, which is a damn shame because Kamen Rider fans really hyped this up for me.
Since I’ve never seen any Kamen Rider shows before, I was really hoping this anime would be a standalone series that can grab newcomers while also paying homage to the live action shows for the sake of the fans; but so far the staff is really hoping you watched Kamen Rider W in order to understand what’s going on. There’s definitely easter eggs all over this episode, but for newbies like me it doesn’t mean anything and it doesn’t really motivate me to watch beyond episode one. Here’s the thing though: this premiere is incomplete and ends on what is supposed to be the climax, so it’s a bit hard to say the build up to the eventual transformation sequence is worth the wait.
It doesn’t help that the depiction of the women characters wasn’t great either. It’s one thing for antagonist Tokime to be boring, but it’s frustrating that the camera constantly wants us to gaze at her sensual body rather than focusing on who she is as a person. There are so many scenes of her walking seductively towards the camera without any emphasis on her face except when she asks “can you satisfy me?”. The only reason her latest victim wants to see her again is because he fell in love with her at first sight – he also wants his money back so basically he wants to have his cake and eat it too.
As much as I griped about the premise of Vermeil in Gold, at least Vermeil was mischievous and had a personality to back up her nonchalant attitude! I wish Tokime could evoke an emotion beyond just being tired (relatable), but my hope for characterization died the moment the camera decided to linger on her naked body while taking a bath at a public water fountain. There’s never any explanation as to what her motivations are beyond “evil seductress” and it seems the narrative isn’t all that interested in answering that question. Hidari has a boss named Akiko who runs the detective agency who’s just fine, but she doesn’t have enough presence to balance out Tokime’s negative depiction. Akiko’s probably been fleshed out in Kamen Rider W, but whatever made her interesting isn’t coming through in this new adaptation at all.
I hate to end this premiere on a sour note so I want to give the floor to Kamen Rider fans. What is it about Kamen Rider that you enjoy so much? Does this anime live up to your expectations? Please comment down below and let me know what was missing from this premiere and what could’ve made it better.
This is a really dry season folks! It’s probably the best time to start catching up on your infinitely long backlogs. I know I will.