Oh, Decade. You started with so much potential, so much promise of something that fans would adore. What did you become in the end? An incoherent, lazily executed shell of what you could have been.
That's right, everyone, it is finally time for me to tackle the movie that forever cemented Kamen Rider Decade's legacy as a disappointment and as a complete storytelling failure. Kamen Rider Decade: The Last Story single-handedly makes the entire endeavor a waste of time and potential, even though many of the last episodes of the TV series sent it right on its course to doom. Of course, The Last Story and Movie War 2010 will come later. First, I must look back on the first theatrical installment of a superior series that helped bring Kamen Rider back on its course..
Although it aired second in the theatrical version, Toei swapped the order of the two segments for the Director's Cut. Thus we begin (heh) this review with:
Kamen Rider W: Begins Night
|Mmm, can't you just feel the noir dripping out of your screen?|
Most of this segment's story takes place in modern-day Fuuto, the main selling point of the film is witnessing the origin of Kamen Rider W; fleshing out the first time our half-boiled detective Shotaro and the mysterious brainiac Phillip met. Begins Night also introduces the new hero Kamen Rider Skull, the form that Sokichi Narumi; Shotaro's mentor and our female protagonist Akiko's father, takes to fight against the Gaia Memory-powered super-beings: the Dopants. Sokichi is played by veteran singer Koji Kikkawa, who tokusatsu fans might know as the singer of Kamen Rider Kabuto The Movie: GOD SPEED LOVE's memorable ending theme: "One World".
|Shoulda been called Kamen Rider Charming My Pants Off instead.|
Kikkawa gets to show off his acting chops here, and he's very cool and collected in this role which is fitting since he's playing a very suave and heroic detective. He has considerable range although he doesn't get to show more until Kamen Rider x Kamen Rider: OOO & W Movie War Core, when he's basically the star of W's segment: Kamen Rider Skull: Message for W. However in his appearance here, you truly get a sense he knows what he's doing and that makes him easy to root for even though you're constantly aware of his doomed fate (it's not a spoiler, you see him die at the beginning of the very first episode of the TV series).
Of course the reason a dead Kamen Rider appears ties into the main plot of this segment. It's Christmastime in the fictional city of Fuuto, and everyone's in the mood to celebrate. Shotaro's many street contacts are wreaking havoc in his detective agency while Shotaro is daydreaming about his mentor. However, things heat up quick when a new client, Asami; an idol who used to be part of an act with her now deceased sister, arrives with one request: to find her dead sister who has seemingly somehow come back to life. Shotaro and Akiko quickly start investigating. As they track down their leads, their client suddenly decides to cancel the case. At that moment, the two spot the undead sibling and chase her down before coming across the culprit: the Death Dopant. Before being beaten by Kamen Rider W, the Dopant uses his ability to summon Narumi Sokichi in the flesh.
|Philip finally embraces his creeper side.|
|Yup, I'd say that's pretty Death-like.|
|Can that detective guy not mug for, like, 5 minutes?|
|Sweet! A pointless crossover scene!|
|We have reached the pinnacle of the Kamen Rider franchise. A Rider wearing a fedora. Everything else from here on out is meaningless.|
The acting is more of a mixed bag. Aside from the aforementioned Kikkawa, only a few new characters are introduced in this film. The first, Asami, is played by Asuka Shibuya. She's fine, although her character isn't given much to do except look worried and/or haunted. As a character, Asami is not one of the more memorable clients the Narumi Detective Agency has had, she's not very well developed and she doesn't show up that much. The other major new character is the reverend Roberto Shijima, played by Toru Tezuka. Sharp-eyed toku enthusiasts may recognize him as the eccentric and flamboyant video game designer Shinya Kurata from Gamera 3: Revenge of Iris. Tezuka is just as eccentric here, although his role is a bit smaller. His character's motivations don't make too much sense, but he fits the role he's given fine.
|I see no reason not to trust him. He is a priest, after all.|
|Why don't these three head into battle together more often? Doing that would surely get shit done.|
Interestingly, the role of Asami's dead sister, Erika, is played by the higher-profile actress of the two sibling characters. Miyuu Sawai, best known for playing Usagi Tsukino in Toei's live-action TV version of Sailor Moon, plays the part which is odd since the character exists only to act like a specter. You would think someone who starred in a popular version of one of Toei's most famous franchises would get a little better treatment.
|In the name of the moon, I'm going to haunt you!|
That just about covers it for Begins Night. Now let's get into the real reason you all are here. The movie that made people forever cautious of any collaboration between producer Shinichiro Shirakura and writer Shoji Yonemura. The story that constantly reminds us it has no story and tries to pass that off as a good thing. The 39-minute waste of celluloid that forever left tokusatsu fans a bad taste in their mouths. Before I resort to any more hyperboles, let's take a look at the legendarily awful...
Kamen Rider Decade: The Last Story
|Another translation for this is Kamen Rider Decade: The Final Chapter but there's nothing "final" about this "chapter".|
We begin the film with Kamen Rider Decade doing battle with Kamen Rider Super-1, Kamen Rider Kabuto and Skyrider and we already have a few big issues. First off, the inclusion of Showa Riders in the film. In the final episode of Decade, we see the beginning of the Rider War that had been foreshadowed in episode 1 between Kamen Rider Decade and the rest of the Heisei Riders. The Showa Riders had absolutely nothing to do with the conflict and were nowhere to be seen in either version of the final episode (more on that later), and yet here they suddenly are. This can probably be chalked up to producer Shinichiro Shirakura trying to repeat the success of Kamen Rider Decade The Movie: All Riders Vs. Great Shocker by including Showa Riders again, even though the original plan for the series was purely a celebration of the Heisei series. Ultimately and unfortunately, it worked. Movie War 2010 made over 1.5 billion yen (about $16 million) in the box office. Although this box office success meant that the Movie War would become a yearly tradition that would finally pay off with Movie War MEGA MAX, this also justified Shirakura's decision and the following years have seen several crossovers; many of which are either incompetent (Super Hero War, Chou Den-O Episode Yellow) or are simply unnecessary (Kamen Rider War, Super Hero War Z).
|Damn, no wonder there's a rift between Showa and Heisei. Kabuto doesn't even give a damn Skyrider just blew up.|
|Your hero, ladies and gentlemen!|
Anyways, we cut to the Hikari Studio where Natsumi is having a strange dream before Kaito arrives and, I shit you not, here comes our very next problem with the film. In the Director's Cut, certain shots were inserted into this scene that absolutely infuriated fans who watched the final episode. Allow me to explain: after the end of the final episode, a teaser trailer for this movie was aired that promised a fight between Tsukasa and what seemed to be an evil clone, questions being answered, and a fight between Kuuga and DiEnd. None of that is in this movie. It turns out all of that footage was shot for the TV broadcast and was meant to be a teaser for the original planned ending called Kamen Rider Decade Vs. All Riders. However, the script ended up being heavily rewritten (probably to work in the Showa Riders and Super Shocker), leaving fans who saw this film in theaters furious. To try and remedy this outcry, when the Director's Cut came out, many of the clips from the teaser were inserted in as a dream sequence but this only added insult to injury.
|This would have been pretty damned cool. But lulz we need Shocker again!|
Oh, but it doesn't end there. The discrepancies continue! We soon learn that Yuusuke is pursuing Tsukasa to try and stop him from killing the Riders, but this absolutely contradicts the original ending of the series. Before the Rider War breaks out, Kiva-la bites Yuusuke and turns him evil which leads to him fighting Tsukasa. But that is never, EVER addressed in the film. Also, DiEnd shooting Decade in the final scene is never addressed either. To try and remedy this massive fuck-up, a "Special Edition" of the final two episodes aired when Kamen Rider Decade was in re-runs during the early part of 2010. This "Special Edition" removes both scenes and replaces it with stock footage of the Rider War from episode 1. This does ease some of the continuity problems, but it only makes it clear that the staff had absolutely no idea what they were doing and had to retcon the original ending in order for this film to make even an iota of sense (it still doesn't).
So, we're not even five minutes in and I think this review/rant is already almost as long as the Begins Night review, so let's press onward. Kamen Rider Kuuga and some Riotroopers start fighting Decade when Kamen Rider J shows up. Of course, Decade easily beats J (in his jumbo form, no less) and runs into a teenage girl who's been following him. This girl is Yuriko Misaki aka Shockwave Cyborg Tackle, who transforms and holds her own against some lackey Riotroopers. She keeps trying to impress Tsukasa, but he seems unfazed. Meanwhile, a beaten Yuusuke is nursed back to health by Natsumi and Kaito when they bump into Tsukasa and Yuriko. Of course, Tsukasa refuses to explain his behavior and leaves because Yonemura probably hadn't figured out where to take the story yet.
|I'd call this fanservice, but I don't think any fans felt serviced by this.|
|Quick, let me randomly take a picture of you because it will be an important plot device later!|
|It's not often that a movie agrees with my negative opinion of it.|
Natsumi is trying to figure out what she can do when Kiva-la appears, giving her the chance to be the one that can stop Tsukasa's reign of terror. Later, in a stupid scene that's stupid, we follow Natsumi's grandfather, Eijiro, as he stops at an oden shop where he's waiting on his friend....Ryu Sonozaki. Yes, the father of the Sonozaki family from Kamen Rider W. This scene was foreshadowed in Begins Night, but it is never explained how the two know each other. Anyways, Eijiro is confronted by Narutaki, who forces Eijiro to once again become Dr. Shinigami. Oh, sorry. Super Dr. Shinigami. You know, because that plot point from All Riders made so much sense. Oh, and it turns out that Eijiro never actually had control of himself as Dr. Shinigami but was actually under the influence of...his cape. I sincerely wish I was making this up.
|TIL people aren't evil. Capes are evil.|
|NO ONE CARES.|
Also, Narutaki is evil now and has joined Super Shocker because of course Shocker has to be in this. Now, Narutaki has taken on the persona of the first big leader from the original Kamen Rider: Colonel Zol. Why? Who the hell knows? This completely contradicts (note how I've been using that word a lot) Narutaki's character that has been established so far. Yes, he hates Decade but he hates Shocker too. It's implied that Narutaki is a guardian of the worlds and wants to stop any threat against it. That includes any incarnation of Shocker, as I pointed out in my review of All Riders Vs. Great Shocker. But now he joins them, as Tsukasa points out later on, simply because he wants to destroy Decade that badly. That's miserably bad writing and again shows that Yonemura had absolutely no idea what the hell he was doing.
Super Shocker is planning to wait out Decade murdering all of the Riders before awakening the "Ultimate Lifeform" and thus conquering the world. Meanwhile, Yuriko is hanging out with Decade (he suddenly seems fine with her now) as she asks him about the cards he's collecting. You see, the Riders become cards when they're defeated. That's funny, I thought they became Core Medals. Or Astro Switches. Or Lock Seeds. Or Magic Rings. Or whatever the hell Bandai wants to shill out Rider-themed designs for next. Anyways, Yuriko sulks about being forgotten which is oooooh so meta because Tackle is considered by fans to be the forgotten Kamen Rider. Seriously, the fourth-wall breaking to address fan issues is one of Yonemura's worst habits. The only times it works are the Net Movies he writes. Any other time just seems awkward and ridiculous for the characters to be talking about.
Kaito shows up and drops the bombshell that Yuriko is actually dead. Y'know, because Tackle also died in Kamen Rider Stronger. Meta! Yuriko doesn't take this well, but it turns out Tsukasa knew all along that she was murdered by one of Super Shocker's generals: Bee Woman. Tsukasa's trying to find her a place where she can belong. Of course, this dramatic scene is broken up by another fight. This time, Ryuki and Blade team up against Decade before they too are beaten. Interestingly and almost insultingly, Takayuki Tsubaki reprises his role as Kamen Rider Blade in this scene. Tsubaki had already returned to play Kenzaki in the final two episodes of the Decade TV series so it makes sense to bring him back, right? Well, it's a voice-only role. And he gets one line of dialogue that isn't just grunts. "Decade!" That's literally it. What a monumental waste.
|Oh, I get it! It's because they're all card-based Riders! Man, this movie gets exactly what I want to see!|
I also forgot to mention that Decade has a new form when he fights the Riders. It's called Violent Emotion or Fury Form and I literally didn't even notice it was a new design when I first saw the movie. Basically, his eyes are curved to look more sinister and the jewel on his forehead is now purple. That's it. What exactly is the point? Like so much else in this movie, it's never explained. Well, Yuusuke arrives but it's too late. He fights Decade as his Ultimate Form and the fight is, naturally, one-sided. Decade comes close to defeating Kuuga, but Kuuga takes himself out while trying to finish off Decade. With all of the other Riders now beaten (uhhh...except DiEnd), Decade stands alone. However, Natsumi confronts Tsukasa as she transforms into Kamen Rider Kiva-la to put a stop to Decade once and for all.
|Kuuga even has the evil black eyes after Kiva-la bit him in the original TV ending. Toei: providing entertainment with questionable quality control since 1950.|
|So, now that Natsumi's a Rider, does that mean she's going to die? You know, because all female Riders die? I mean, I wouldn't exactly care if she did in this case.|
And Decade lets her win. Why? Because reasons. Kaito arrives to grieve over Tsukasa's corpse as Natsumi instantly regrets killing him (I dunno, he did just kill one of your best friends too, Natsumi). Wataru/Kamen Rider Kiva then shows up from Tsukasa's belly (it's hard to explain, but a dimensional gate comes out of Tsukasa's stomach for some reason) and explains that by killing all of the Riders, Decade successfully drove the worlds apart and allowed the Riders to be etched in everyone's memories. Or something. I don't know, Wataru's explanation here really makes no sense. Anyways, the Riders all revive in their respective worlds but Tsukasa doesn't because there's no proof of his memory. It turns out the photos Tsukasa was taking throughout the series actually became something like proof of each Rider's story and his camera was a device that would store these stories for eternity. And their stories can now continue after they were destroyed because of Tsukasa's own destruction. Or something? Anyways, Decade's story is now over because he never had a story to begin with (no shit) and no proof of this story exists. This is all so very goddamn confusing...
|Stop. Agreeing. With me. You damned movie.|
Kaito and Natsumi remember a photo Natsumi took earlier of Tsukasa using his camera, and as they try to find it they are suddenly attacked by Super Shocker. Yuusuke and the other Alternate Reality Riders arrive to back up Natsumi, even though they should be in their own worlds and have no way to head to and fro. Then again, all of the Riders did the same thing multiple times in All Riders Vs. Great Shocker so...fuck it, I don't even want to try anymore. Tackle faces off against Bee Woman again and although she's able to wound Bee Woman, Tackle dies again finally feeling like she belonged with someone.
.......Wait. How did she come back to life in the first place? What was even the point of her character aside from Yonemura's annoying meta commentary? She didn't even get the gratification of finishing off Bee Woman. I'm sorry Tackle, but you were completely pointless.
|Oh snap! It's that plot device from earlier!|
|In Kamen Rider, when you die you simply vanish. Or explode.|
Natsumi recovers the camera and tries to develop the photo but it was exposed. Somehow, Natsumi and all of the Alternate Reality Riders will the photo into becoming developed and Tsukasa is revived. By the way, the camera and its abilities and where it came from are never explained. Never even brought up in passing. They're just magic, I guess. Well, at least Tsukasa's revival scene is pretty damned cool looking even if it makes no sense. So...there's that? Oh, and Tsukasa's not evil anymore. So was killing all of the Riders and then dying to revive them all along his plan all along? Why not revive Tackle too? Why not tell anyone, especially if the Riders will be revived anyways?
This is a stupid plan.
|Kaito, Natsumi and Yuusuke all try to make sense of the movie's script.|
The wounded Bee Woman revives the Ultimate Lifeform, which turns out to be Doras from Kamen Rider ZO, but Doras eats her. Doras pilots the Super Crisis Fortress from Kamen Rider Black RX into battle as the Riders arrive to face off against Super Shocker. Tsukasa proclaims to Narutaki that his story begins here (haha, bullshit) and the battle begins. We finally see Kiva-la in action here since Decade literally let her kill him and she seems to be...all right. I was never a fan of Natsumi's character, so her getting to become a Kamen Rider bothers me. Plus, Kamen Rider Kiva-la just doesn't seem special enough to be a movie-exclusive Kamen Rider. Her design isn't bad and fits well with the rest of Kamen Rider Kiva's aesthetic but her screentime is so minimal that it seems rather pointless.
|Nao Oikawa finally reads through one of my Go-Onger reviews.|
|YES IT DOES. Damn it, Yonemura. Just because you think stories are icky doesn't mean you shouldn't need them!|
|This was kinda your fault, Narutaki. Also, it's a meme!!!!!!!!!|
After Doras' arrival into the poorly edited fight, Narutaki flees; never revealing his true identity. And to this day, we still don't know his deal and we likely never will. After we see all of the Riders transform into their final forms, they defeat Doras's physical form. The battle isn't over, as the Crisis Fortress powered by the Ultimate Lifeform drops a Mammoth Mecha which promptly attacks the Riders and leaves us on our cliffhanger.
It's a good thing that the segments were swapped for the Director's Cut because The Last Story smoothly transitions into Movie War 2010, whereas I imagine Begins Night's transition was clunkier. So I'll give that to the Director's Cut, it didn't flick off the viewing audience twice.
I think it goes without saying that Kamen Rider Decade: The Last Story is one of the single worst things in the entire Kamen Rider franchise. It fails to answer any lingering questions and only raises more, the fights are uneven and predictable because we know Decade is unstoppable, the Showa Riders are completely unnecessary, and the plot is full of gaping holes that would put the biggest sinkholes in California to shame. It's just incompetent, there is no better way to put it. Most of the actors here do the best they can with the impossible to decipher screenplay. Bee Woman is probably the weak link. She's played by Nao Oikawa (yes, the very same woman from Go-Onger) and she just overacts here. Her character is a whole lot of nothing, but she oversells her "evilness" too much. On the other hand, Yuriko is played by then newcomer Alice Hirose. She was only 14 when she took this part (she turned 15 the day before this was released) but she's actually quite good. She has some nice range and never once gets annoying which could have easily happened if the wrong actress took this part. She handles action scenes pretty well, which is a shame since she hasn't done any tokusatsu since. Her career is still young, but she's already moved on to bigger things in the Japanese film industry.
So now here we are. The big climax and it begins with easily the coolest scene of the entire film. As it begins, we are treated to a split-screen view of the two lead Riders. Kamen Rider W is chasing the Dummy Dopant, the true form of the Death Dopant, while Kamen Rider Decade is being chased by the Crisis Fortress and the Mammoth Mecha. The two finally converge and the split-screen disappears as our Riders ride side-by-side before the title literally explodes onto the screen!
Movie War 2010
|And an annual tradition is born.|
|Here we see the Kamen Rider in its natural territory, traveling in pairs while being chased by explosions and riding on its trusty motorcycle.|
However, the other Riders appear! Again. Through a dimensional gate. Even though they had already gathered. Unless the Riders just decided to use the dimensional gate to move a couple hundred of yards, it makes no sense why they'd use the same dramatic entrance twice. Well, Decade activates all of their Form Ride abilities he's gathered throughout the series which leads us to our big battle: an absolute CG clusterfuck! Things are literally flying everywhere firing random lasers and attacks at things, as so much bad CG is on screen it's enough to make The Asylum blush.
|A moment so nifty they did it twice. Just minutes apart.|
|What is even going on.|
Kamen Rider W then inexplicably takes over the Mammoth Mecha by simply using the Heat Gaia Memory, using it to destroy the Crisis Fortress after a mecha fight that would look more at home with Sentai if it wasn't bad CG. However, the impact of the battle forces a Gaia Memory out of Dr. Shinigami's neck and turns him back into Eijiro, just in time for Kiva-la to rescue him. So wait, this whole time it was actually a Gaia Memory that made him turn evil? Even though there was never any implication that that is why he was evil in All Riders? Or why the cape took over his body? No, instead it's a cheap way to try and tie the two stories together even though it makes no sense in context with the established story...whatever established story there is.
After the destruction of the Crisis Fortress, the Ultimate Lifeform steals the Dummy Dopant's mind and body; turning him into a super-powerful monster. Kamen Rider W and Kamen Rider Decade take him on alone (what happened to the other Riders?) and what it seems like they're outmatched, Decade accesses W's Final Form Ride. Decade splits W into two beings, W CycloneCyclone and W JokerJoker (the only differences between these designs and Kamen Riders Cyclone and Joker is the gold line down the middle and their belts). The triple Rider Kick defeats the Ultimate Lifeform rather anticlimactically, and the battle is won.
|And at that moment, the Ultimate Lifeform knew its fate was sealed and took it.|
Later, Tsukasa returns to the Hikari Studio and he takes a photo with everyone. A new backdrop reveals an endless road ahead: their next destination. Annnd the backdrop/transporting Hikari Studio is never explained. Nor why Natsumi has the dreams. But that's it for Decade's story. Despite the ending being intentionally left open for more adventures, it still absolutely lacks any sort of closure because so much is still unresolved and never will be resolved. Tsukasa has shown up three times since this film, and each time has added absolutely nothing to the story. He first returned, along with Kaito and Narutaki, in Kamen Rider x Super Sentai: Super Hero War but that film is nothing more than a glorified remake of The Last Story with Sentai thrown in. It also sucks. He next appeared in the two-part finale of Kamen Rider Wizard, which served to kick off celebrations of the Heisei series's 15th anniversary and to advertise Kamen Rider Gaim. That crossover is far more coherent than any written by Yonemura (it was helmed by Sho Aikawa, the head writer of the first 13 episodes of Kamen Rider Decade) and you can tell that Aikawa would like to come back and work on the character some more. Finally, Tsukasa recently showed up in a major role for Heisei Riders Vs. Showa Riders: Kamen Rider War feat. Super Sentai. I haven't watched it yet, but apparently it does the characters of Tsukasa and Narutaki far greater justice than Super Hero War did. However, these aforementioned questions still linger on, meaning Yonemura still hasn't found the answers he's wanted even 5 years later.
Meanwhile, W's story wraps up as he receives a thank-you from Asami for solving the case. He feels proud of himself and believes Narumi would have been proud of him. However, it's time to celebrate as everyone gets together for the Christmas party. Philip is enjoying the sensation of snow outside when Shotaro calls him in to join. The two share a brief moment (d'awww) as Shotaro vows to protect Fuuto for Narumi. However, in another part of Fuuto, a man dressed in red has just arrived. And the mysterious man makes a bold proclamation: that Kamen Rider W is no longer the only Kamen Rider in Fuuto.
|Now THAT'S what I call fanservice.|
I was never the biggest fan of Kamen Rider W. It's an alright show, but I feel it gets bogged down in too much unnecessary slapstick and many of the cases are predictably written. Several characters go through weird shifts in motivation, and the finale is honestly pretty poor. However, the two leads are incredible and the fights are among the best of the Heisei Rider series. But if there's one thing I can praise about Kamen Rider W: none of the movies suck. Begins Night is great, Kamen Rider W Forever is a ton of fun, Message for W is awesome, even the Kamen Rider W Returns V-Cinemas are grade-A. So, Kamen Rider W gets high marks for lifting two very bad Movie Wars with strong segments, and stealing the show in Movie War MEGA MAX. I'd argue that without W, the Movie Wars wouldn't even be worth watching or getting excited over.
And that about sums it up. Begins Night saves the entirety of Movie War 2010 from being a waste of time. The reason I chose not to break down Begins Night point by point is that I legitimately recommend it and wouldn't want you getting too spoiled. Unfortunately, The Last Story ruins Kamen Rider Decade in one fell swoop and the Movie War itself is a huge mess. Director Ryuta Tasaki handled all three segments of this Movie War, and it's obvious he has issues handling big fight scenes. The editing is poor, many of the Riders are given nothing to do except show up and use a few moves, and there's too much going on at some parts. Tasaki is easily a better action and dramatic director than Osamu Kaneda, but Tasaki hits his stride in scenes with a minimal amount of characters. Here, there's just too much going on and he gets lost.
If possible, I would watch Begins Night and then skip to the very end but you miss Shotaro getting his closure. So, I recommend only Begins Night as a strong stand-alone watch and then you can just skip The Last Story completely. You won't understand much of what's going on during Movie War 2010, but you might actually be less confused than if you had actually watched The Last Story. On another note, GACKT's theme song during the end credits, "Stay the Ride Alive", is beautiful and marks a very poignant ending to Kamen Rider Decade even if the movie didn't earn it.
Now excuse me while I hunt down Shoji Yonemura's address.
Kamen Rider W: Begins Night: 4 out of 5
Kamen Rider Decade: The Last Story: 1 out of 5
Kamen Rider x Kamen Rider: W & Decade Movie War 2010: 2.5 out of 5
FINAL RATING: 2.5 out of 5
Subtitled version courtesy of W-Time.