For our first episode, let's get to know this thread's DECADE enthusiast, ZATYME!


KAMEN RIDER DIE: Hey there! You and I are going to watch some Decade soon, but before that, I was hoping to hear a little bit about your toku fandom. What got you started on tokusatsu? How'd you discover it as a genre?

ZATYME: Like any kid who grew up in the 90's it was Power Rangers

KAMEN RIDER DIE: Yeah, that is a pretty common starting point! Which series started it off for you? Do you remember?

ZATYME: Reruns of the first 2 seasons and Turbo would of been the currently airing season at the time
As while I had toys from Zeo I have no memories of watching any episodes of the show until later on in my teens

KAMEN RIDER DIE: What do you think it was about those Power Rangers shows that kept you watching? The costumes? The characters? The action? The humor?

ZATYME: Action I would say as if we're being honest the characters were pretty cliche and flat and the writing okay for a kids show of the era

KAMEN RIDER DIE: As someone who never got into Power Rangers but somehow got into tokusatsu, I'm always a little curious about how it worked for everyone else, the American versions of this genre. Are you still watching Power Rangers? Is it still part of your toku diet?

ZATYME: Not really through the shows as they never really grew past the original Saban run but stuff like the tabletop games, the occasional video game and the comics I still ingest
Alongside some of the higher end collectibles like the Soul of Chogokins for Mighty Morphin and the Super Minipla candy toys

KAMEN RIDER DIE: The toys and comics - mostly nostalgia? Or do you find them compelling on their own? I know there are a lot of PR fans who don't go anywhere near the last, like, decade of shows that are crazy into the comics.

ZATYME: I find them compelling on their own mostly either from the comics having some good talent (the original writer had an acclaimed and well liked run of Nightwing under their belt) and the toys and board games either have fun engineering or solid mechanics to help push them beyond the nostalgia
Granted for stuff like the toys and model kits I do try to limit then to either shows I have Nostalgia to or I just really like the designs of mainly for money reasons

KAMEN RIDER DIE: I will use this opportunity to shout-out original MMPR comic writer Kyle Higgins' fun new American sentai series Radiant Black, yes!
So we've got a fun start to a toku fandom, what with the readily-accessible Power Rangers franchise. What led you to the Japanese stuff? Was it Sentai, Rider, Ultra, or something else? How'd you make that leap to the international content?

ZATYME: It was sentai for sure around 2009 as funnily enough considering it's connection to Decade, Shinkenger was the currently airing series

KAMEN RIDER DIE: So how'd that transition work? Were you aware of the Japanese connection to Power Rangers? Did you go looking for Sentai, or just happen upon it accidentally?

ZATYME: But it was in a different era of YouTube where DMCA's and the like were rarer so someone was uploading the TVnihon subs to the site
I was vaguely aware about it and then eventually I was willing to give it a shot and found that I still liked the genre
Especially due to ebay listings for power rangers toys also tending to have a different shows title in it

KAMEN RIDER DIE: Shinkenger was your first Japanese toku show, then?

ZATYME: It was the first I watched to completion and that I actually remember anything about it at least

KAMEN RIDER DIE: How did it affect your interest in toku? Did it make you go looking for other Sentai shows?

ZATYME: Yeah definitely especially at the time where they were readily on YouTube with no real catch unlike nowadays

KAMEN RIDER DIE: Sure, I can see Readily Available as being a pretty good way to keep a fan watching. What was it that made you start watching Kamen Rider? Did you start at the same time as Sentai, or did you get to it later?

ZATYME: The playlist for shinkenger had the Decade crossover in it and at the time I had no idea what a karate bugman was
But no when the YouTube channel inevitably was killed by Toei I fell off toku for a few years until OOO was airing

KAMEN RIDER DIE: OOO is a show worth risking the torrent mines for.

ZATYME: And at the time 2 transformers toy reviewers were doing kamen rider related content that got me interested in the franchise eventually
Internet Personality VAngelus did his Rider SHfiguarts week where he did at the time (almost) all of the rider releases in the line and TJ Omega did a top 10 strangest rider moments (up to W)
And from there I downloaded a ton of Rider series and watched them in no particular order (all TVnihon subs as that was pretty much the only group at the time that did more than a show or 2)

KAMEN RIDER DIE: Ha ha, oh man, Vangelus! I was a Transformers guy way before I was a Kamen Rider guy, and I used to listen to the WTF@TFW podcast with those guys. I remember them talking about Gaim and Ghost toys they got, and feeling like I was mishearing them. Did... did they just say they bought "orange arms"? Like, they bought fruit for their figures? What in the hell is this stupid nonsense? (Cut to years later, where I just unpacked an AmiAmi box containing a Bujin Gaim Figuart.)
You seem to be a pretty internet-savvy toku fan. What led you to TokuNation? How'd that become a place for your fandom to flourish?

ZATYME: No idea it just happened
Odds are it's due to being a sister site of TFW

KAMEN RIDER DIE: Do you think someone signed you up for an account as a prank? I bet that's true of 90% of the board and everyone's just too embarrassed to admit it.

ZATYME: No I remember actually making my account but considering I rarely post on message boards it was probably to secure the user name

KAMEN RIDER DIE: Well, you're making the most of it. How has your time on TokuNation been? Any particular threads you find yourself paying closer attention to?

ZATYME: Mainly the watch treads you've been doing as it's fun watching someone have a blind experience for a tv show and updates on lines I'm interested in

KAMEN RIDER DIE: I like to think of what I'm doing as the Watching Kamen Rider equivalent of videos of dogs getting excited by everyday things. It's hilarious, their enthusiasm, even as it's also sort of pathetic. Also, they're too simple to understand their situation.
But enough about me! We're here to watch Decade, and talk Decade, and I haven't seen Decade. I would normally ask you to talk about why you chose this series to discuss, but I'd imagine any reason you'd give would be a huge spoiler. So I'll keep it simple: did you like the Decade series?

ZATYME: In concept or execution?

KAMEN RIDER DIE: I will take both answers!

ZATYME: In concept the series is amazing for an anniversary series and I think it gets way more flack for not getting much if any original actors back for it
In execution it's the epitome of a mixed bag for every tribute you like there are probably going to be 2 you absolutely hate
But as someone who doesn't really vibe with early heisei beyond my love for Blade for the most part I found it the toku equivalent of the Micheal Bay Transformers movies
A big dumb spectacle to turn your brain off with

KAMEN RIDER DIE: I am not immune to some big dumb spectacle in my Kamen Rider celebrations! I tend to focus more on character arcs and small dramatic moments than, uh, the costumes/action/effects/reasons why everyone else watches these shows, but it'd be weird for an anniversary show to not go big and dumb, I guess. Like, play the hits! That's what a Greatest Hits thing is for!
Would you say Decade and Blade are your favorites for Phase 1?

ZATYME: I would say so
I mean when I watched it with a friend I got a deeper appreciation for Faiz and I like aspects Den-O and Kabuto enough
But I never watched Hibiki and I absolutely hated Keega when I watched it. And I'm fairly vocal in my dislike of what Kiva added to the toku formula for Rider and how terrible I find the final quarter of the show

KAMEN RIDER DIE: So it sounds like Blade is one you love, and Decade is a runner-up more by process of elimination than any inherent greatness.

ZATYME: Pretty much and the worst part is I don't know if I just memed Blade into it being my favorite or not but there is so much to love about that show once Leangle is introduced
As I have been known to make fun of things and say stuff like that it's my favorite show and then after time realize that it's no longer a joke and I actually to like it

KAMEN RIDER DIE: Ha ha, yeah, it's very easy to ironically love something so much that you begin to unironically love it, and there's no better way to accidentally describe Mutsuki.

ZATYME: But I also did really like it when I recently went through Blade so there's that

KAMEN RIDER DIE: Well, there's no denying Blade's good/so-bad-it's-good grey area of quality, but I'm excited to see what Decade ends up looking like. Your description of it is very intriguing! Let's get our barcode scanners ready for the first episode of KAMEN RIDER DECADE!



A blistering introduction to the World of Decade. It's an apocalypse from the jump, as Tsukasa's life of bad/prophetic/allegorical photography gives way to an army of Heisei monsters that are as eager to devour each other as they are to obliterate Japan. Tsukasa and Natsumi struggle through multiple barren landscapes and/or Kamen Rider landmarks (it starts in a quarry!!!), using the power of the Heisei Riders to keep from being killed. But can the power of Kamen Rider Decade save reality, or will Tsukasa end up destroying it? And are those two options maybe the same thing?

KAMEN RIDER DIE: And here we are at the start of the first episode of Kamen Rider Decade, with a nameless woman watching the murder/suicide of every single character from the last nine series of Kamen Rider. Helluva way to kick things off! For me, I loved how immediately this show felt like the culmination of an era of Heisei. It feels like The End Of Kamen Rider, which is what I always felt like Decade was going to be. What about you? How did you feel about this introduction?

ZATYME: I like that the show didn't bother waiting and just got to the "end of the world as we know it TM" in the first episode

KAMEN RIDER DIE: Like, that girl gets exploded in THE FIRST FEW SECONDS.

ZATYME: it also set up that not only are we getting a crossover with the previous 9 season but also the movie and special suits are also going to be getting love (for the ones that exist)

KAMEN RIDER DIE: Yeah, I could not even begin to annotate that Rider War sequence. Some obvious choices (Kuuga, Blade, Hibiki, Kiva), and then, like, Caucasus? I feel like there was a note on the planning whiteboard for this series that said EVERY SUIT MEANS EVERY SUIT, and that was this series only metric for success. Just, every suit.

ZATYME: they make a point of showing Psyga from the Faiz movie getting blasted right before castle doran gets killed off
like I think only the suits that no longer exist like Gaoh and the base Gills suits for example don't get a use

KAMEN RIDER DIE: Let's assume that Gills had already been defeated and Gaoh canonically had been gutted to create a completely different Rider suit.
Tonally... this was a weird one, maybe? It feels like the season finale for a show I never watched. It doesn't so much build a world for its story to operate in, as it does the opposite of that? It's all destruction, and a main character who's like I Guess I Should Be A Kamen Rider Now. There's heroism, and some specific character stuff we'll get to in a minute, but do you have any regrets that we don't really have much in the World of Decade?

ZATYME: one thing I liked was that even if it's at times superficial there's bits of all of the previous Main Rider personalities in Tsukasa's
I feel like having this utterly bombastic start allowed us to set up the stakes of how bad the Rider worlds merging is while also setting up the crossover aspect to ensure that we had a rotating guest cast
but yeah going from the previous casts getting killed to a basically slice of life show to the beginning of Armageddon to Marvel's Exiles in the span of about 20 minutes was a bit on the verge of whiplash

KAMEN RIDER DIE: For sure, but... I don't know. Part of me wonders if the celebratory nature of this season meant the producers played it to the fans (no need to set up what a Kamen Rider show is, for example), but part of me also wonders if the universality of Tsukasa's ennui is enough to get us onboard when we're dealing with the end of multiple Earths.
How are we feeling about the little time we spend with Tsukasa at rest? I liked how questing he is even before he goes on his quest. He's a dude who wants to understand how he fits into a world that seems to have no use for him. I think that's a fun idea to play around with. Does Tsukasa work for you in Episode 1?

ZATYME: man I forgot how I don't want to say bad but different Masahiro Inoue's performance was in the start with the most noticeable bit being his henshin being more rigid compared to the more carefree means he latter adapts

KAMEN RIDER DIE: Rigid! Good choice of word!

ZATYME: but yeah Tsukasa has so many different sides to him in the first episode, we see that he's not really malicious with his poor photography but also doesn't care about basically duping people into helping him try to improve, he kind of has a Ryotaro or Wataru chew toy thing going on with Natsumandarin while also being fairly protective and heroic hot having any ulterior motive beyond wanting to save Natsumikan
but we also see a bit of Tendou's ego slip through in his body language primarily and considering his main gimmick as a rider is becoming all of his predecessors it feels like it fits that he also takes after them in terms of his character traits
also the fact that despite not knowing what's going on with the Decade thing he instinctively knows not only how to use the Decadriver but what rider power is best for what type of monster while also realizing that he shouldn't be expending these powers as fast as he is and that something isn't right with that implying on a subconscious level he's intimately familiar with them

KAMEN RIDER DIE: The weirdest thing to me is how - and I love that take on Tsukasa as a composite Rider - it all adds up to Tsukasa being, like, Kamen Rider Everyman? I'm used to his later appearances (Movie Wars, Wizard) where Decade is this all-knowing mystery man. Here, he's just... basic? He's self-involved, but not a dick. He's heroic, but more in a I Don't Want The World To End Because I Live There sort of way. He's relatable, which is completely not the word I thought I'd use to describe Tsukasa. He's an okay dude? Am I getting that right, at this point in his story?

ZATYME: but at the same time you can see glimpses of that personality beneath the surface like it's a defense mechanism to help him deal with all the bizarre stuff happening to him
as he kind of gets to that level in his first scene before Natsuwatermelon gets to vulcan nerve pinch him
but yeah at this point Tsukasa feels pretty plain which might also be part of why I feel the performance feels off like Masahiro Inoue doesn't have a complete feel of not only the character but the tone of the show and how to give him some flair

KAMEN RIDER DIE: But that's the thing - I wouldn't call it plain? It's more like he's trying not to get in the way, trying not to overshadow the premise. He's, like, being a good host? I don't know. I'm sure he'll get weirder as the show goes on -slash- his hair gets longer, as is the arc of every lead Rider for a series.
But on the topic of Natsumi!

KAMEN RIDER DIE: There's pretty much no other named character in this first episode (unless you count all of the Rider suits?), so let's talk about her!
I liked Natsumi's weird mix of frustration and dread when it came to Tsukasa. Did you click with their dynamic?

ZATYME: she's probably the most like Hana regarding the previous female leads
but yeah her deal is basically being Tsukasa's handler and her annoyance towards him being tied to him not only being a weirdo from her perspective but also having to constantly clean up his messes despite how he should know better than to pull this shit
but at the same time you can see some good chemistry between them and that they are friends at the end of the day and thusly care about each others safety
as both are concerned and at times seem to prioritize the others safety before Tsukasa has his climatic first henshin at least

KAMEN RIDER DIE: The show does a neat thing in this episode, where they suggest that Tsukasa's photos aren't good or bad, they're him expressing himself, and I found that idea really poignant. But then I spent a second thinking about having to be the one apologizing to literally everyone in Tokyo for some dope who creates horrifying tableaus that unnerve their recipients, and I was able to see where Natsumi's rage was coming from. Like, she's got a shit job! But she's also having to care for what's currently a blank slate who might herald a/the apocalypse.
Despite all that... yeah, good chemistry. She's frustrated by Tsukasa, but it's only because she wants him to get his shit together. And Tsukasa, he just wants to be understood? He's trying to explain himself to someone who can't understand him, and that makes for some fun tension.

ZATYME: I think the other thing is Tsukasa feels like the kind of person who's terrible at explaining things as he just automatically assumes people have the same knowledge that he does and just decides to reinforce their conclusions when he gets proven wrong case in point his discussion about wanting to photograph his world and brushing the conversation off when Natsugrapefruit expresses confusion at what the hell he's talking about

KAMEN RIDER DIE: Yeah, his perspective is unique, but he feels like it's universal. He definitely is not great at connecting with people. Luckily, he's not going to have to make a whole bunch of friends or whatever over the course of this series. OH NO WAIT.

KAMEN RIDER DIE: I really loved the second half of this episode!
It's all chaos and chases and form changes and monsters

ZATYME: Maybe the real apocalypse were the friends we made along the way

KAMEN RIDER DIE: I hope that's the theme at the end of the series, that reality was doomed because of Tsukasa's genial nature.
But in the meantime, what a doom! What a fun-ass doom! Visually, this thing is a feast.

ZATYME: but yeah the complete chaos of the 2nd half I feel the end of the world deserves compared to say the end of the world in Blade's finale that was limited by what was left of the budget
as the good thing about the show being only 31 episodes is that they still had a full series budget and only 4 toys to really sell you and their decision for costuming allowed them to routinely do big bombastic action scenes
as worst case scenario it's a Micheal bay Transformers movie it's an utter popcorn fest of an action scene that decides to have no chill

KAMEN RIDER DIE: But, as someone who watched every Michael Bay Transformers movie, this thing is so much more clever, visually-speaking. I mean, I'm a mark for Decade doing a form change into Kabuto and Clocking Up to wipe out some Worms, but I really loved Natsumi's race through different worlds. The thrill of her falling into different landscapes, rushed by different monsters (the one where the Imagin tries to make a deal with her!), and you can just feel the weight of nine years worth of apocalypses being brought to bear on one young woman... like, the stakes! They feel catastrophic and personal simultaneously, and that's down to how breathless and harrowing Natsumi's chase scene is.

ZATYME: there were a lot of nice and smooth cuts where she runs into the different style of monster and showing the viewer what their shtick was as a reminder (the Fangire from last season are the first to be seen and are Vampires and the Imagin as asshole genies for the most part and pretty much crowd her to try to form a contract for example) while the others just indiscriminately kill people and then their fellow monsters

KAMEN RIDER DIE: And it makes those monsters suitably monstrous. It's easy to forget, when a series finale is usually those monsters getting chumped out by the dozen, but these are killers! They are supposed to be scary! It's a sequence that took those old suits, those Tutorial Level monsters, and made them seem unstoppable. Great moment for some forgotten suits.
And! Speaking of suits!

Thoughts on Decade's design? I love me a pink/magenta color scheme, so I'm in the bag for this guy. What do you think of it?

ZATYME: in all of his pink (Tsukasa: IT'S MAGENTA) glory
I like the base decade suit the armor is a unique color and the white inner paneling for the limbs on the black bodysuit gives a deceptively harmless look while the white outlined X to represent him being the 10th Heisei rider gives him some Asymmetry where the amount of asymmetrical riders can really be counted on one hand
and the color placement also helps ensures that no color overtakes the others
I like how the core of the Decadriver resembles a camera and has 9 previous heisei rider logs are around the lens in clockwise order
while the angled eyes of the Decade helmet feel like depending on the camera angle can look heroic or villainous similar playing into the ambiguity of whether or not Decade is actually a hero
while the touch of nine cards to represent his predecessors slam into his face to give a grilled look to the helmet for some reason

KAMEN RIDER DIE: I always thought that the lines on the mask were a We Need To Work A Barcode Into The Suit concession. Plus, they just look cool?

ZATYME: yeah I honestly forgot about the barcode theme Decade had

KAMEN RIDER DIE: That's one of my favorite Heisei things, where some random piece of technology becomes a supernatural tool in the battle against ultimate evil. Cell phones, USB drives, video game cartridges... I unironically love that shit.

ZATYME: It's also apparently a reference to the Italian striped bug?

KAMEN RIDER DIE: Some random bug? I should've known!

ZATYME: I mean they are Karate bugmen

KAMEN RIDER DIE: Maybe the only thing that doesn't work for me on Decade's suit is the shoulders, but I always always always have a problem with a suit's shoulders. Decade's are a little too boxy, a little too floppy. Not nearly as slick as streamlined as everything else on his suit.
But I dig it. I like his Driver, I like the collectibles, I like how he's got a little binder he keeps them in like a proper nerd, I like the way the Decadriver opens and closes for different moves... I really like the Decadriver's kineticism. It's tactile in a way that's my preference for Kamen Rider.
And the suit is silky smooth. I like how the colors move horizontally, like the lines on the mask. The symmetry of the colors works against the asymmetry of the X on the torso, and that's very eye-catching. The right amount of friction.
I guess, on the topic of friction and whatnot, we can maybe talk about this episode's Very Special Guest Star, and the mission he gives Tsukasa.
I was not expecting to see Wataru today! Even if he's, like, Cosmic Wataru or whatever, but still!

ZATYME: I like how Wataru suddenly has magic powers and can do this shit now due to it being narratively convenient and the implication that the Actual 9 Heisei Riders from the shows we just watched can just use their powers to prevent the destruction of a world for a season despite some of them should no longer have their powers any more looking at you Ryuki
also going back a little bit I like the touch that in the montage of the monsters Ryuki's representative was Ryuki himself in the mirrorworld as the riders from that show were the real monsters compared to the wild animals that mirror monsters were

KAMEN RIDER DIE: I don't... I mean, I don't want to get too far out on a limb here, but I like the implication that Tsukasa is interacting with The Story Of Wataru, and stories are the most powerful thing in this series. Decade's a show that has a reverence for the shows that preceded it, and there's a metaness to a Legend Rider being a god to the new Rider.

ZATYME: and yeah the magic powers give a fun visual component to the exposition dump about the core plot of the show it just feels weird that Wataru was given this role when they could of made a new character as they already were committed to the AR rider thing but his actor was still under contract just in case and decided to use him

KAMEN RIDER DIE: Well, it really sells the Anniversary Celebration aspect of this series in a way that The Brand-New Kuuga completely doesn't, so I think they were smart to plug in whoever they could for the exposition and mission statement.
Which... boy, am I a sucker for a series that wants to equate emotional disconnection with boxed-off narratives, and community-minded heroism with destroying nostalgia. A lot going on under the hood in this one, and that's got me real excited.
I love the idea that we're teased with Decade being the destruction of Heisei Phase 1, and then the end of the episode telling us it's a good thing.

ZATYME: Yeah new Yusuke feels off as they make a big deal of him being here like the preliminary script had it as Godai returning

KAMEN RIDER DIE: There's almost no way they thought they were ever going to get Godai back.

ZATYME: But also the AR worlds allowed them to do the story they wanted even if they failed to get the cast members they would want to return

KAMEN RIDER DIE: Yeah, I'll for sure have a better take on it after I, uh, see one of the AR stories, but I feel like they'll be more about the tone/feel of a show, rather than trotting out Very Special Guest Stars.
For this one, it was nice to see Wataru, and it's such a cool concept that he's giving Tsukasa to explore.
As for exploring this episode, anything else you wanted to touch on?

ZATYME: just the fact that Tsukasa being an outsider is fitted into a role in every world he enters so does that mean the photography deal was his role in Natsubanana's world?

It makes sense. It keeps him as an observer, which is where his story should be at the beginning.

ZATYME: also the photo studio being able to travel between dimensions via magic backdrops

I like how Natsumi is berating Tsukasa for not bothering to ask how he's supposed to travel between Earths, and then Photography Studio Hayao Miyazaki just pulls down a magic painting and they're off to the races.
Like, after the insanity of the previous twenty minutes? Sure, absolutely, why not.

ZATYME: Also Tsukasa's insistence that it's Wataru's fault for not telling him as how can he be at fault?

KAMEN RIDER DIE: I thought that part was cute, because Tsukasa is having a lot thrown at him very fast, and Natsumi is expecting a level of quality that seems like she should not expect from Tsukasa.
Natsumi is being slightly-to-very unreasonable.

ZATYME: And I feel like a lot of Tsukasa's assholishness he's known for and remembered for is more of a defensive mechanism

KAMEN RIDER DIE: I think he's doing as good a job as anyone could (he is instantly good at fighting, even!), and maybe everyone should cut him some slack. He said he'd save the world already! God! Get off his back!
And does he ever have a world to save: The World Of Kuuga! Next time on TOKUNATION WATCHES KAMEN RIDER DECADE, we'll be seeing if this show can improve on one of the most legendary actors in the history of the franchise with a brand-new(-ish) Kuuga as we continue our journey through the Decade! See you then!