We are landing on the World of Faiz, and there're very few people who care about Faiz as much as our next guest host. Say hello to SH RANGER!


KAMEN RIDER DIE: Sh Ranger! Thanks for joining me on this Decade project! We'll eventually be talking about Faiz (and I am so thrilled to get to talk more about Faiz), but I wanted to start things off by finding out a little more about you. How did you get started with tokusatsu? How'd you first discover the genre?

SH RANGER: Oh yeah, I'm always excited to talk more about Faiz! But for my introduction to Tokusatsu, that was Power Rangers Dino Thunder way back in 2004, then Engine Sentai Go-Onger in 2008 and finally got to Kamen Rider with Decade in 2009.

KAMEN RIDER DIE: Okay, let's start with Dino Thunder. What was it about Power Rangers that caught your attention? Do you remember?

SH RANGER: Surprisingly I remember it pretty fondly. I think it was all the bright colors and the dinosaurs that got me interested. It was something that I hadn't really seen before with the usual Marvel heroes like Spidey and X-Men. It was a lot more spectacular, even with the lower budget. I also thought the high school and superhero life balance was a cool story element.
Oh and Tommy Oliver, he's cool as well.

KAMEN RIDER DIE: Did you keep going with Power Rangers after that?

SH RANGER: For sure! I also went backwards, watching the seasons that came before on reruns. It'll always be one of my favorite franchises and I appreciate that Hasbro are taking it in a new direction with Dino Fury.

KAMEN RIDER DIE: I feel weirdly the opposite? It's a shame to see Hasbro being so derivative of Kamen Rider shows like Revice, with all of that dinosaur stuff. Either way, is all of that Power Rangers interest what led you to Sentai?

SH RANGER: Haha, well Dino Fury is adapted from Ryusoulger which came before, so it's more like Revice being the derivative one. I also have a theory that Toei are trying to compete with the upcoming Horizon Forbidden West. But yeah, I remember finding Go-Onger on a whim by searching for what would be the next PR after Jungle Fury.

KAMEN RIDER DIE: Was Go-Onger next? I am totally clueless when it comes to Sentai, other than ones about weird train kids.

SH RANGER: It's funny that the only Sentai you know about is the one I dislike the most. But yeah, Go-Onger was adapted as Power Rangers RPM in 2009, the year after Jungle Fury.

KAMEN RIDER DIE: How did you enjoy Go-Onger, coming from so much Power Rangers? Was it a step down, a step up, or more of a lateral move?

SH RANGER:At the time, probably a step-up. Unlike Decade, Go-Onger has maintained a lot of nostalgic value for me as my first Sentai and it's a really fun show on its own. It was awesome, getting to learn Japanese and the culture and all the talking cars.
Not that I don't like Decade or anything, it's just that Go-Onger is more special to me.

KAMEN RIDER DIE: Was it at all difficult for you to adjust to a Japanese toku franchise?

SH RANGER: Yeah, a little. I didn't know any Japanese in grade school so all I had to understand was from the subtitles. But you know how you eventually start learning stuff as you keep watching. It was a unique experience.

KAMEN RIDER DIE: Did it compete at all with your Power Rangers fandom? I know a few people who sort of abandoned Power Rangers once they moved into Sentai and whatnot. It sounds like you're still a Ranger fan, so I'm guessing they maybe strike different chords for you?

SH RANGER: There are a few "Sentai purists" out there and some of them actually give pretty good reasons so I respect them for that. But I still like both more or less equally. I like to watch a Sentai and then see how it gets adapted. Sometimes it's similar and sometimes it's totally different but it's always good fun and I think it's important to keep teaching good morals to the viewers.
Dino Fury and Zenkaiger are both doing great on that front.

KAMEN RIDER DIE: Yeah, I do recall ToQger teaching kids the lesson that it's wrong to kidnap people, even if a Kamen Rider is the one asking you to do the kidnapping. An important lesson for children from any country.
Speaking of Kamen Riders! How'd you get into Decade as your first Kamen Rider series? Was it just what happened to be running at the time?

SH RANGER: And the ToQGers were the ones doing the kidnapping! Decade is a more interesting case though. He made a cameo in Samurai Sentai Shinkenger and I thought something like "hey, that pink guy seems cool, I should check out his show".

KAMEN RIDER DIE: Pink Riders are inherently cool, absolutely. Was it tough, jumping into an anniversary series for a franchise you'd never watched? Or did it make you excited and curious about who these other characters were?

SH RANGER: Bit of both. It was educational and a good way to learn about the 9 Heisei Riders who preceded him. But at the same time, there were all these different Riders and I didn't know which show they were from. I have a lot more to say about this in particular but I think it'll be more relevant when we're talking about the Faiz arc.

KAMEN RIDER DIE: I'm always amazed at the folks who start Kamen Rider with an anniversary season. After Decade, did you find yourself heading back to earlier shows, or just continuing on with Double for the time being?

SH RANGER: Yeah, I personally wouldn't recommend Decade to others as a first season, from my experience. It's a little messy with all the anniversary stuff. I did move on immediately to Double but I watched it alongside Kabuto as my second Phase 1 show.


SH RANGER: I have a bias for speed types.

KAMEN RIDER DIE: As good a reason as any, when you've got nine Heisei series to choose from. Are you still keeping up with all those different toku franchises? Sentai and Rangers and Riders?

SH RANGER: Yep! Sentai, PR, Rider and Metal Heroes as well.

KAMEN RIDER DIE: Dang! Full plate!

SH RANGER: And there was the Satria franchise I mentioned before as well.

KAMEN RIDER DIE: I imagine someone who watches that much toku would need a fan community to share the experience with. How did you make your way to TokuNation?

SH RANGER: I came to TN from another forum that was sadly declining in activity after a few years of moving servers. And I found that TN was a good, non-toxic place to move to.

KAMEN RIDER DIE: They're good people, is what I always say. Where do you spend most of your time on the boards? I know you were a regular presence in DreamSword's Memory of Heroez thread. Anyplace else on TokuNation you hit with regularity?

SH RANGER: Yeah, as someone who really enjoyed playing Memory of Heroez, it was fun to share that experience with DreamSword, Androzani and the others. I usually comment on the weekly episode threads for the currently airing Sentai and KR and the rumor threads.

KAMEN RIDER DIE: Merch stuff at all? Are you a merch collector?

SH RANGER: Not really. If Memory of Heroez counts as merch, then that's pretty much all I got. Although I know a friend IRL who collects and I envy him a little for that.

KAMEN RIDER DIE: Oh, man, if you're someone who follows three major annualized franchises? It is probably the smart move to not collect merch. Just one of those would be enough to put a hurting on your wallet. Three? You'd be selling plasma daily. Stay safe! Don't collect!
On the topic of self-destructive behaviors, let's talk about Faiz! Tell me a little bit about what Faiz means to you as a series.

SH RANGER: For me, Faiz is definitely a story about friendship and love and what obstacles can get in the way of those things. The two characters that I relate to the most are Takumi and Yuka. They want to have those things in their lives but there are those obstacles, like Takumi's lack of self-confidence and Yuka's messed up past. I have experienced similar problems, although theirs are definitely more dramatized.
Lack of confidence, I mean.
Not lack of self-confidence, which just negates itself.
No actually, that was right the first time I think.

KAMEN RIDER DIE: It's a show with maybe my favorite cast of dysfunctional and self-sabotaging weirdos, somehow beating out Blade, the Kamen Rider show explicitly about failure. I love how blatantly unheroic the show starts as, and then sort of takes that Look Out For Yourself sensibility and turns it into a societal good? It's a show that places a ton of importance on learning to be comfortable in your own skin, and I really like that.

SH RANGER: It's amazing how it can have both the Primary and Secondary Riders as ass*hole characters, but I think it works here, since Kusaka plays an important role in making Takumi a better person, even though Kusaka is a terrible person to learn from. But it's an interesting dynamic those two have as a duo who never get along and barely tolerate each other. Takumi learns from Kusaka that he can't be indecisive or people will get hurt. There are a lot of deep philosophies in this show which only someone like Inoue can deliver.

KAMEN RIDER DIE: For real. He makes shows that I just can't stop thinking about. Or talking about. Hopefully, we're about to watch some Decade episodes that celebrate Faiz in the way it deserves. SH RANGER! Let's find out if this show can justifaiz its focus on Kamen Rider 555 in these episodes of Decade!


The World of Faiz welcomes not only Decade, but also Kaitou, otherwise known as the world-hopping treasure hunter Kamen Rider Diend! The two Riders are at an impasse, as Tsukasa's mission to uncover the identity of Kamen Rider Faiz runs up against Kaitou's goal to steal Faiz's belt! With our two heroes/”heroes” unable to work together, who's going to keep the ruthless teens of Lucky Clover from ruling Smart Brain High School?

Faiz's identity is revealed as Takumi, and then his other identity - that he's an Orphnoch - is also revealed! Shunned by a world that previously ignored him (it's not a-- it's not a huge swing in this story), Takumi needs to get a patented Tsukasaffirmation in order to find the inner strength to overcome his own self-loathing and work together with Decade (and a slightly mystified Diend) to defeat Lucky Clover. It's another successful mission for Team Decade! Except for Onodera and Natsumi and Kivala and Photo Studio Hayao Miyazaki, who contributed nothing to this story!


KAMEN RIDER DIE: Look at him! Look at our shiny new Rider!
This story saw the formal debut of Diend, and we get a name for our mysterious dine-and-dasher from the last story, Kaitou. I've got a bunch of thoughts on Kaitou's debut, and what it means that it happens in a Faiz story, but tell me what you thought of this guy's initial story. Did you like it? Are you into that suit?

SH RANGER: Well his initial story seems pretty straightforward, he likes treasure and doesn't seem particularly interested in anything that doesn't have tangible value. It's an interesting contrast to Tsukasa, who acts more introverted but does have moments where he cares openly about his friends and the Rider of the fortnight. The suit takes a while for me to get used to, like the eyes are pretty hard to notice with them being the same blue color as the rest of his suit. But I don't mind it. I think Kaito is a wild card who can cause problems for both sides.

KAMEN RIDER DIE: This was a story that I had a hard time finding a lot of Faiz themes and storytelling in ( a lot of surface elements and callbacks, but not much of the meatier stuff), but a Rider debuting as a nice guy who all of the supporting cast love, despite him having nefarious goals and an untrustworthy code? That sounds like Kusaka to me! The way that Kaitou shows up, cooks everyone breakfast, and then apologizes for Tsukasa? And then Tsukasa spends an entire episode getting into a pissing contest with Kaitou? FAIZ! VERY VERY FAIZ!

SH RANGER: Oh yeah, this guy definitely gives me the feeling of Kusaka, with his outwardly friendly appearance but actually he's kind of an a**hole, even more than Tsukasa. Another contrast between the two could be how they view sentimentality. Tsukasa is very sentimental, since he wants to capture all the worlds he passes through, but Kaito is just thinking like, how much value can he obtain from the treasures of the world. Kaito has a very morally ambiguous agenda, much like Kusaka does, and it's very suspicious with him casually hanging with Narutaki, who seems pretty on edge about his sudden appearance. And then you have Tsukasa playing the role of Takumi here with his brief game of tennis, but actually succeeding compared to Takumi's epic fail in Episode 13 of that show.

KAMEN RIDER DIE: And then you have Kaitou trying to join Lucky Clover, which is, like, a Day One Kaixa scheme. If you're going to have a contentious relationship between your main two Riders (sorry, Onodera), you should probably couch it in a Faiz story.
Getting back to the suit... I don't know if Diend's ever done it for me? The width to both the helmet and the chestplate is very distracting to me. It feels aesthetically linked to Decade's suit, so I don't hate it or anything, but it reads as Cumbersome in a way that I don't love for Riders. You said it took you awhile to get used to Diend's suit, but do you actually like it?

SH RANGER: Yeah Kusaka literally tried to do that but got betrayed due to being a human. Regarding Yuusuke though, even if he's not the true Secondary Rider, you could still consider him the Kiba of Decade, with how important he is to Tsukasa's development. But back to Diend, honestly, no, I don't like it. I mean, I don't not like it or hate it or anything like that. I just feel very indifferent to it. It probably doesn't help that with me starting with Decade and just having two arcs where the final boss of Ryuki was a Blade villain, I kind of just assumed Diend was a Smart Brain Rider, like how you thought Drive was a Ghost Rider. Maybe it would've been less confusing if Kaito appeared earlier. The suit though, yeah, not really a favorite at all but I can think of many worse suits.
However, one good thing I can say about Diend's debut is that it's accompanied by an awesome new insert song. Did you notice it?

KAMEN RIDER DIE: I did! It wasn't Decade's fight song (which is iconic to me now), but it was pretty good. What was it that you liked about it?

SH RANGER: I think Inoue has a pretty good singing voice and I just really like the fast and exciting beat it has in the chorus.

KAMEN RIDER DIE: It's a good track, for sure. And the idea that Diend's song has vocals and Decade's doesn't actually feeds into maybe my favorite aspect of this story:

KAMEN RIDER DIE: A lot of the surface parts of this story I found sort of dull. But there's a read on Diend and Decade that had me paying a lot closer attention. Admittedly, this is one of those I Am Reading Too Much Into It things, so I am definitely not saying this is all intentional by the creators. But... like, this show is about Fandom to me. It's about how we as fans internalize parts of these shows, and what it means to leave them and return to them. Tsukasa is us, basically. He's a guy experiencing Kamen Rider stories. He isn't the point of those stories, he isn't the star. He's a passing-through Rider.
But Kaitou isn't that. He dives into stories and takes what he wants. There's a thing in Faiz's story that's valuable, but Faiz and its story isn't inherently valuable to Kaitou. He's willing to break the story to get what he needs out of it.
To me, it makes Tsukasa the representation of the Passive Fan (someone who experiences the show and moves on), while Diend is the representation of the Transformative Fan (a fanfic writer, a fanzine writer, someone who latches onto a few things from the narrative and makes something new from them).
Putting those two types of fans into opposition, and then exploring the ways they overlapped... I don't know, I really enjoyed that part of the story.

SH RANGER: But if Tsukasa is us, then does that mean we're passive fans as well? I think your description of Kaito would probably fit me better, as someone who takes the morals and wisdom from watching the show and then turns that into fanfic or uses those morals IRL where they might be applicable. Of course, that only works for this specific analogy, since Kaito is more like a collector of merchandise, someone who thinks Kamen Rider looks cool (which is true) but doesn't really care too much about the scenario happening around it. Kaito is all about aesthetics, whereas Tsukasa is more about the life of the world, hence why he's so irritated when Kaito completely misses the point about there being a greater treasure than the Faiz Gear, which is the humanity that Faiz represents, regardless of whether or not Faiz is a human. But I can certainly see how you could make some apt analogies between these two Riders. I think they're definitely referencing something, but I can't quite get a read on Kaito, the way I can with Tsukasa.

KAMEN RIDER DIE: I like the idea of exploring Kaitou as a merch collector (dude geeked out hard for those CSM belts at the end), but I think in terms of the narrative, Kaitou reads more to me as the type of fan who drills into one element of a show (a ship, a theme, a suit), and then sort of claims ownership of it, elevates it beyond its significance to the larger story. Which, I don't think that's a bad thing! I don't think the show's take, if you buy this read, is that it's a bad thing. It's more about exploring how these two types of fans seem incompatible, before finding common ground. That's the part of this story that was maybe the only thing I felt super dialed into.

SH RANGER: Yeah okay, I can see where you're going with that idea. I guess it's possible to envision yourself as both Riders for different reasons, but from the outside looking in, people will label you as one or the other right? Tsukasa's always on the outside looking in and then that plays into the whole misunderstanding (Faiz!) where the Rider of the fortnight is tricked by Narutaki into thinking Tsukasa is a devil. I guess that could mean not to judge by appearances and get to know a person first. Since Tsukasa doesn't really do good first impressions, while Kaito does and turns out to be not so great when he shows up to steal treasure.

KAMEN RIDER DIE: There is definitely an attempt to loop in the Faiz themes of the story with Diend's introduction, despite it not really paying off. Which, okay, maybe we should grudgingly talk about this two-parter's actual story! And the tribute aspects that I did not love!

KAMEN RIDER DIE: This one really didn't work for me as either a Decade adventure, or as a Faiz tribute. How about you?

SH RANGER: I actually really enjoyed this arc as an introduction to Faiz and it may have contributed to me falling in love with that show years later. The first fight in the cold open has the seldom seen Illuminated Faiz! Is it something about the high school setting that didn't work for you here, cause I do have some thoughts on that.

KAMEN RIDER DIE: It's a bunch of things. A lot of it is the necessary pruning of so much of what I love about Faiz to fit it all into a Decade two-parter... and then substantially more pruning to make room for all of the Diend stuff. As it is, we got The Main Character Is Hiding That He's A Monster, and the shape of Lucky Clover, and that's it. This Takumi isn't a jerk, there's no Kiba, there's no Mari, there's no other Smart Brain Riders... all of the things that make Faiz a memorable show for me got stripped out.
And what they kept... there's still some elements of Takumi's story from Faiz The Series, with this Takumi feeling like he has to hide who he is or he'll be ostracized, but the the series blew that up to a much larger story about finding social groups, and about arguing for your right to participate in society, and how self-actualization can only happen if you're willing to throw off outside judgments. Here, it's just a guy who has a crush on a girl? And the girl being okay with him as a monster makes it all good?
Like, this story 100% locked in on Takumi Is An Orphnoch to the exclusion of so many other things, and that bummed me out.

SH RANGER: I think all of the AU Worlds are abridged stories of the shows in some way, but yeah, I can see how the lack of a Kaixa and all those others characters, in favor of Kaito making his official debut here, might make things seem a little compressed, especially after all the characters who showed up in the last two arcs. But even if Ogami isn't an a**hole like Takumi, I think this is still a likable character who we should sympathize with. It's also a little weird that Smart Brain High School excludes Orphenochs and allows humans, which is totally the opposite of what happens in the show, but then that's pretty normal for these AU Worlds. Personally, I think this arc does a pretty good job at taking Yuka's high school problems and merging them with Takumi as Faiz. Kind of like the hypothetical scenario where Yuka's introductory arc wasn't just an arc but rather the whole show, so I thought that was pretty interesting to think about after watching Faiz.

KAMEN RIDER DIE: And I'd've been into that aspect, if the show really committed to it. A story about high school cliques, but it's all about humans and Orphnochs and Riders? Hell yes. Instead, it feels way too small to be a high school story. That's kind of my whole thing with this setting: they don't really do a lot with the social elements of high school, which Faiz is maybe more suited to than any other Phase 1 show. There's real gold to be found in that setup, but here we just get some random-ass bullies (that lanky Bishop-looking dude is not and will never be Houjou) and a tiny romance. I would have loved for this to be the high school drama that you're describing.

SH RANGER: For sure, that's probably why I love Fourze so much, since it takes that idea here and goes all the way with it! I think the idea here was novel enough to work for me though.

KAMEN RIDER DIE: Sure, and while we're briefly on the topic of our new Lucky Clover:

SH RANGER: Miura Ryosuke!

KAMEN RIDER DIE: Holy shit, Ankh was in this!

SH RANGER: He sure was!

KAMEN RIDER DIE: Took me longer than I'd've liked to figure it out (it's the Ankh hair, him not having it makes it too weird), but I got there in the end. I like little things like this, where a guest-star in one series eventually becomes a huge deal in a future series.

SH RANGER: Of course, like for people who watch OOO first, that's a super big deal. And was also a big deal for me rewatching Decade a few years ago and realizing that it was him all along.

KAMEN RIDER DIE: Yeah, and he does a pretty good job with a very weird role! He's not really playing off of anyone from Faiz The Series (Murakami? Maybe?), but he finds some entertaining notes to his Smug Prick persona, enough to make a casting director in a couple years have a ready-made answer to Who Can We Cast As The Smug Prick In This Series?

SH RANGER: Well he seems to be standing in for Mr. J, since the Crocodile Orphenoch doesn't appear in this world. Which makes sense considering how having to defeat the same characters thrice in two episodes would take too much time. He does have the same affability that Murakami has though and Smart Brain are the first villains to actually care about their publicity and how others see them.

KAMEN RIDER DIE: No tiny dog, no Mr. J. I don't make the rules!

SH RANGER: It's a shame. But hey, Ankh's a decent substitute.

KAMEN RIDER DIE: True. So I got all of my criticisms and weird theories out. Was there anything else you wanted to cover from these episodes? We definitely didn't talk about Onodera and Natsumi, who.... I think still exist?

SH RANGER: Natsumi and Yuusuke definitely didn't have much to do this episode, since they weren't enrolled in Smart Brain High School. Even though Yuusuke didn't get a chance to henshin last arc, he still got some important moments. But here, yeah, they ain't doing a lot.
I guess I could mention that Faiz and Decade both have cameras as part of their arsenal.

KAMEN RIDER DIE: Even the normal Tsukasa Translator bit was unnecessary, since Tsukasa straight-up told Yuri what the story's theme was! Onodera had to watch Tsukasa do Onodera's one job!

SH RANGER: Pretty much. They had to forfeit their focus to Kaito instead.

KAMEN RIDER DIE: Well, maybe Onodera will have more to do when the team lands in the World of Agito! Not only is Onodera's sister there (it's probably just a quick bus ride from the World of Kuuga), but Onodera might have found his true calling! We'll find out soon as we continue our Journey through Decade!