Kamen Rider Zero-One Episode 1 Review: I am the President and a Kamen Rider
Jump Up And Rise!
Kamen Rider Zero-One finally hit the airwaves, kicking off the Reiwa Era of the Kamen Rider franchise. Of course, before we sing praises and claim that this is a gift from the otaku-gods and all that, we need to first go over whether or not this was a strong opening. As you can imagine, this isn't just an opening for the newest hero, but for an entire era itself, as being the first, Zero-One will be the Reiwa Mascot for the franchise years down the line, until the next Era is declared at least. Its like how Iron Man was the face of the MCU and then Spiderman was to succeed him (or at least thats how FFH played it off until...things happened) But I digress. Let's check out Zero-One's first episode: I am a President and a Kamen Rider.
01. Story So FarClick thumbnail to view full-size
Right at the opening, we are introduced into this futuristic world by the late Korenosuke Hiden, former CEO of Hiden Intelligence, one of the leading companies in AI development. He explains that thanks to the BS-ZA Satellite, HumaGears take on a servant-like role, designed to make humanity as comfortable as possible in various aspects.
After getting fired from a comedy show at a local amusement park, his grandson Aruto is picked up by Izu, the president's personal HumaGear secretary, and is escorted to the Hiden Intelligence building for a meeting. We see here that the board members were completely unaware of Aruto's existence, and Izu explains that he's here for legality reasons pertaining to the will Korenosuke left. Skimming the contents of the Will, Aruto is left shocked by the contents, leading the VP, Jun Fukuzoe to read out loud the contents. The Will explains that a crisis will befall the company, in that the HumaGears are going to revolt and that preparations have been made for a counter-measure: the Zero-One Driver and Progrise Key, which is to be handled strictly by the new CEO: Aruto, to the initial shock of everyone in the room. Aruto declines, however, explaining that he's not interested in the corporate world and would much rather pursue his dream of comedy.
He leaves the building, but not before reminiscing about his time as a child and his attempts at making a HumaGear laugh genuinely. Wanting to practice on his father next, an explosion of blue flames knocks him on the ground, and kills the HumaGear keeping watch over him. The HumaGear in its final words encourages Aruto to chase his dream. (EDIT: After several days of watching other reviews and reading comments (and the KR Wiki) I've come to understand that the HumaGear is Aruto's father. The OG subs weren't clear on that bit before. Now, this begs the question as to if this really is his father, a HumaGear made to resemble his father, or a step-parent of sorts for events currently unknown.)
While all of this is going on, two young men, Horobi and Jin make note that now that Korenosuke is dead, they can now freely progress with the Magia project, with the intention to do just as the note read: have the AIs revolt and to destroy humanity. Jin takes the opportunity to seek out the AI that upstages Aruto, Abdominal Collapser Taro, a kind-hearted giant whose main protocol is to make people laugh. Forcing the device called a ZetsumeRiser onto him, it corrupts him and rewrites his protocol.
Aruto returns to the amusement park, and witnesses Taro acting out of character and attacking fellow HumaGears, before using the ZetsumeRise Key and transforming into the Berotha Magia. He then proceeds to hack several other HumaGear, turning them also into mindless soldiers. As his former manager watches in dismay as his amusement park is demolished, the Magia taunts him and this triggers Aruto, enraging him into donning the Zero-One Driver He transforms into Kamen Rider Zero-One for the first time, and makes quick work of the Magia, finishing it off with his Rider Kick: Rising Impact.
In another part of the city, A.I.M.S. responds to another HumaGear revolt and Yua Yaiba and Isamu Fuwa lead their team against them. The team manages to quell the HumaGears, with Isamu noting that history's repeating itself.
With the conflict over, Izu informs Aruto that by donning the belt, he confirmed his role as the new CEO and as he tries to talk her out of it, he overhears the manager speaking highly about the mysterious yellow hero that saved him to a group of kids, making them smile.
02. CharactersClick thumbnail to view full-size
As far as first impressions go, this cast feels very cookie cutter and I can appreciate that. It's simple but solid. You have a goofball main hero on one side, an angsty soldier on another end, and psychopath antagonists thrown in. Mix that together and you have the basis for a story that's probably going to be lighthearted, but just as equally dark when the situation calls for it. So far what the first episode has done was establish the three factions and introduced their personalities so we know right from the beginning what we're dealing with. It doesn't waste time, nor does it do anything other than what it's meant to do.
Another thing of note is the character dynamics. Kamen Rider Zero-One plays on the "01" binary code, motif, especially being a cyberpunk sci-fi epic. In computers, everything is communicated by 0's and 1's. And when you look at the characters, you can see how each of the pairs is either one or the other. Aruto is the comic to Izu's straight man. Yua is the shrewd brains whereas Isamu is the impulsive brawns. Horobi is the calm caluclated one, to Jin's child-like psychopath persona. Even the VP and his personal HumaGear Shesta are opposites, with his similar eccentric inferiority complex, and her stone-cold unwavering loyalty to her superior. We see this on an even grander scale between the Humans and HumaGear as well, with the ideal scenario being the both of them coexisting in a utopian society.
03. ThemesClick thumbnail to view full-size
As I highlighted earlier, this series plays up the lighthearted comedy through Aruto failed antics, but doesn't shy away from dark, out-of-nowhere moments like when Jin creepily subdues a rogue HumaGear and mercilessly murders it while laughing the entire time.
But more importantly, we see throughout Episode 1, the series is playing up the theme of chasing your dreams in a world where computers are taking over. Technology taking over is supposed to be for the benefit of humanity, but as we see in Aruto's case, technology is the very thing hindering him. "This era is more suited for HumaGear" is like saying in the real world: "This era is more suited for technological advancements." In line with MetsubouJinrai.NET, Cyberterrorism is a rising threat in our world today and will continue to be as the world advances. Although not to the extent as portrayed here, the fact that a terrorist group is serving as the main antagonist shows that the writers aren't afraid at all to tell a story that's reflective of today's world.
04. Final Thoughts, What We Learned, and Questions Going ForwardClick thumbnail to view full-size
What We Learned
Questions Going Forward
HumaGears are controlled by a Broadcast Satellite called the BS-ZA
At the MetsubouJinrai.NET's Base of Operations, Daybreak Town, the camera pans twice to wreckage in the middle of the city. Resembling a satellite similar to BS-ZA, could this be the method of corrupting the HumaGear?
Korenosuke intended on Aruto to succeed him in addition to forseeing the HumaGear uprising
Korenosuke was highly specific in his will, almost the point of it being a prophecy. Would there be a chance that there is someone with Hiden Intelligence with connections to MetsubouJinrai.NET? Or did Korenosuke discover something that lead to his eventual death? Does this secret relate to the explosion Aruto experienced as a child? Or Isamu's comment about "History repeating itself?"
MetsubouJinrai.NET waited to strike after Korenosuke passed away, meaning that he was a potential threat to them in some form
Korenosuke's death triggers MetsubouJinrai.NET to strike, the Zero-One Driver to be created,and Aruto to become the CEO all at the same time.What is going on in the background for one man's death to set off such a domino effect?
Despite having authority over him Isamu deliberately ignores Yua as long as it allows him to kill any rampaging HumaGear
What is Isamu's fixation over HumaGear to the point where he deliberately ignores his superior officer? Is the fact that Yua a woman dictating how much respect she's receiving, especially from Isamu?
Aruto fully takes on the responsibility of CEO after realizing other ways of making people smile.
Now that Aruto is taking the mantle, how will things proceed going forward? As we can see, he will have to deal with both A.I.M.S. and MetsubouJinrai.NET. How with the latter two respond to the new CEO of the leading AI company in the world?
Overall Episode 1 of Zero-One gets a 4.5/5 rating. It was a really strong start, the characters follow simple archetypes but sometimes playing it safe is a great route to take, especially now of all times, and while it lays the groundwork for an exciting year, it opens up a lot of questions, most of which I hope to see get answered in a timely fashion.
Kamen Rider Zero-One Episode 1 is currently available on TVAsahi's youtube channel, with fansubs in English being done by Ridertime Subs, Over-Time Subs and TVNihon throughout the week of its airing (Between Sunday-Thursday depending on the group). Meanwhile, Kamen Rider Zero-One airs every Sunday at 9AM JST/ Saturday 8PM EST, so look out for those as well.
I hope you all enjoyed my first Episode Review and I hope to do more of these as the weeks go by. So until then!
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
© 2019 Nolan Johnson