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For the longest time, I really disliked Kamen Rider OOO. In fact, I disliked the show so much that I dropped it before Date even showed up. This was the only time I had ever dropped a Kamen Rider series and I seriously didn’t think I would ever go back and finish the show. After episode 40 aired, I started watching a few episodes and let me tell you – it was difficult. I remember being so incredibly bored with the show and my attempts at continuing it weren’t getting me anywhere. In fact, my attempts at continuing it were making it harder for me to want to watch more of the show. If there was a Kamen Rider show I would never finish watching, it was going to be OOO. At least this is what I thought.

Then Date comes in and I find it easier to watch the show. Don’t get me wrong, Date didn’t make the show for me and he actually isn’t my favorite character. I think watching the show became less of a challenge at this point because his actor, Hiroaki Iwanaga, had great chemistry with the rest of the cast. I was a fun of Iwanaga ever since his role on Tomica Hero Rescue Force. Knowing that the guy was going to be a Kamen Rider? Yeah, that hooked me in. I found it easier to watch, but the show still wasn’t anything too amazing. A few weeks went by and we finally hit those episodes that have Lost appearing. His first scene, descending from the heavens as he’s accompanied by an amazing instrumental piece that forebodes danger. If I ever had to make a list of my favorite scenes in Kamen Rider, this would be up there.

The show trucked along and I found myself marathoning at that point. It was incredible, OOO was really breaking the status quo. Ankh left the heroes and guess what? He never rejoins their side again. I mean, yeah, he’s there for Eiji in the end and was trying to help him out all along, but he still had his own desires. It felt like Ankh was motivated by nothing else other than those desires. He wasn’t a good guy, just a guy whose actions led to good things on occasion. Seeing these episodes in quick succession blew my mind. This was a Kamen Rider show that was going out of its way to be different, from something as simple as not having a traditional ultimate form power up to the shake up in casts. Heck, even getting rid of Date felt like a bold move. Iwanaga was supposedly only signed on for a handful of episodes, but his character became so popular that he was kept on. I think this might have hurt Gotou’s development as a character, but when he transformed, it actually felt powerful and meaningful because the series was more than half over at this point.

When all was said and done, the show improved in my eyes, but it didn’t strike me as a definitive work in the Kamen Rider canon. An air of awkwardness always exuded from the cast when I watched it, even after Date had joined and that initial chemistry simmered. There was a raw, untempered quality all around OOO, which now strikes me as weird since I think I’ve discovered the meaning behind the show. You see, for the longest time I’ve tried to understand why people hold it in such high regard. This was a show that bored me, a guy who loved Kamen Rider, who marathoned the original series in a month, twice, and who loved Hibiki, a show claimed to be the most sleep-inducing one of them all. So, why was it that I couldn’t sit through OOO? I think it’s because the show was challenging me and I didn’t want to accept that challenge. It was challenging me to find its hidden meaning and you know what? I may have found it. Kamen Rider OOO is far from perfect, the end of the Greeeds was very systematic and cliche, as was Uva’s demise, but there’s a gem in the show.

What show are we watching? Kamen Rider, Masked Rider. Sure, it’s a guy in a superhero suit, but there’s an underlying meaning here. The masks they wear aren’t just the helmets that they put on or the suits they fight in. Many of the greats hide something. You’ll often see that their human forms are the true masks. These are characters who have been changed by events and the world around them and have discovered, for whatever reason, that they need to hide it. They have friends, but they’re also isolated in their mask. That’s one of the great elements to this franchise. These guys usually aren’t just heroes, they’re real characters with some depth to them. Thinking about this, it struck me.

Eiji is the epitome of a Kamen Rider, a hero wearing a mask.

For the longest time, it looked like Eiji was this happy guy who just wanted to help people, and people thought he was sort of a lesser version of Godai because of that. And then, as the series goes on, we find out what happened to him in the war zone and how his parents used his efforts to further their political careers. So that makes him become almost jaded in a sense, but not in the traditional sense. He now believes that because of what happened, he HAS to help everyone even if he knows he can only help people within arms reach. So that mask Eiji wears is the mask of being a hero when he’s really just a normal guy.

But then I realized I haven’t seen the show in like a year and don’t know if any of this is true and I’m now I’m all like, dammit, I have to rewatch the show now.