Kamen Rider Zero-One Opening Analysis
Visual Storytelling in a nutshell
One thing I love about any form of entertainment since I first learned the term is visual storytelling. For those who don't know, it's a film technique that companies, brands, and creators use to entice their audience to invest in their product. When it comes to shows, the camera will zoom in and focus on various angles to imply elements that, if you're not paying close attention, will go over your head. TV Shows and video games, unlike books, have to use the camera work to push an idea along, rather than rely strictly on vivid and poetic language to hint at a foreshadowed point or convey the intensity of a situation. And trust me, there's sooo much one can fit in in such a short amount of time. Case in point, Mother's Basement is a popular youtube channel that's done quite a few "What's in an OP" videos, where he breaks down and analyzes a minutes worth of a content and pulls out twenty minutes of discussion, thanks to the hidden clues the creators want us to pick up on. So next time we wanna skip an OP because we wanna get straight into the show, or we keep it playing just because we like the music, we should keep in mind these openings are doing more than to get us excited. They're dropping hints. And that's what we're gonna do today.
Philosophies of the Five RidersClick thumbnail to view full-size
Starting off with the opening seconds of the OP. Here we have our five Kamen Riders flash on the screen, with the Zero One beat playing up in the background. Noticeably, the binary motif comes into play, with the Zeroes representing the Rider forms and the Ones being their human personas, all the while binary code runs across the screen. (I don't know how to translate binary code so I can't tell if they're hidden messages or the like).
As for the characters themselves, Aruto is the first to appear, staring straight ahead towards the viewers, determined in his path of proving HumaGears to be the hope for the future.
It switches to Isamu, to Aruto's left (our right) not facing forward, but looking straight, showing his determination towards his own views that HumaGears are a threat.
Yua appears, however, she's facing Aruto on his right (our left), showing that her views are different than both of theirs. She's also looking downward, possibly implying a hidden agenda.
Jin is next, on the same side as Yua, and is also looking down, but facing the same direction as Isamu. Also the binary around Jin is distorted, possibly implying the wild card personality he's sporting. Him looking down relates to that, with hidden motives on his end as well.
Horobi then appears on Isamu's side, facing the same direction as Yua, but is looking straight ahead, determined in his ideals to make HumaGears the dominant species.
It's clear from this depiction that all five of them have different goals in mind.
Aruto is optimistic, Isamu is pessimistic, Yua is realistic, Jin is sadistic and Horobi is an Idealistic.
To each their ownClick thumbnail to view full-size
After the title card, we warp into Aruto's office, where he drops a stack of binders related to everything he has to know about HumaGears. Izu seemingly picks it up, but in actuality stacks even more books on the desk, then picks the binders up from the floor, which slide onto his head much to his dismay. Its a cute scene as Izu is doing exactly what she's supposed to do, even if its to Aruto's detriment. It also highlights the growing bond between them.
In contrasts, In A.I.M.S. Isamu walks through the halls, the Shotriser firmly gripped in his hand, whereas the scene cuts to Yua who has hers sitting off to the side, while she looks down at an SD card she pulled from the computer she was on. This scene is interesting as it shows clearly where each of their priorities lie. 1) they're not together, unlike Aruto and Izu. Isamu's Shotriser is attached to him, as it enables him to unleash his desire to destroy HumaGears. And this desire is clearly strong enough for him to be ready to pull it at any moment. Yua on the other hand has more control over it and is more focused on collecting Data first and foremost. which is why she seems more focused on gathering that than arming herself with the weapon.
The comedy trio of Jun, Sanzo and Shester stand in the lobby with Jun's face plastered on the wall, before getting knocked down by Aruto's picture behind it and coming down on the two frantic men and the statue HumaGear.
Finally Jin loads a handgun and fires, following up by looking behind him with Horobi who turns to arm the viewer with a Zetsumeriser. This scene highlights how Jin is at the forefront of the action, while Horobi works behind the scenes.
Bleeding HeartsClick thumbnail to view full-size
I love this scene and how it plays off the previous scene. Horobi holding the Zetsumeriser towards the viewers. The camera zooms and backs out, now revealing A.I.M.S. holding their rifles towards us. Aruto then runs forward to reach out to us...
But then we see a long-haired Izu, with corrupted red eyes holding her hand out towards him. But it seems like something is in her hand, covered in blue HumaGear blood, as it drips into a puddle next to her feet. To which inside the puddle reveals the reflection of the Ark as referenced in the latest episode.
This scene does a lot in the mere 3 seconds its there. The term bleeding heart, is when someone feels so strongly about something, its like their heart cries blood when anything of this particular topic takes any turns. Aruto feels very passionate about HumaGears and what they mean for Humanity. He feels very passionate when it comes to making people smile. And in this particular scenario, A.I.M.S. have their guns pointed at Izu. Aruto is racing for dear life to save her. And she reaches out, with a bleeding HumaGear core in her hand (in terms of symbolism, a heart) which drips down into a small puddle near her feet which reveals that the Ark is what turned her.
Siderant, at the end of Episode 3 we see yet another replacement HumaGear in Nigiro, the first of which was Mamoru in Episode 2. This leads me to believe that our Izu is a replacement from the long-haired one. Add in the "short-hair-new-me" symbolism and it fits in place. Izu's dismissal of Nigiro's heart comment indicates that just maybe "Proto-Izu" was one of the first HumaGear to express self-awareness and develop a heart, which leads her to become berserk and HumaGears to be more robot than human. And Izu's own programming dismisses it as it may trigger something.
Teamwork Makes The Dream WorkClick thumbnail to view full-size
Following that, a legion of HumaGears suddenly go nuts and infect one another, as the sky turns red and surround Aruto. And being the only one that can stop him, he transforms and gets to work. Interesting how he transforms along with them, as when he's out of suit, the HumaGears are red-eyed, but once he's transformed, they're masked.
Meanwhile Isamu is also surrounded, and is shooting at them, while Yua uses him to bounce off him and get arieal shots in. This may both symbolize their teamwork and/or the fact that she's using him like a tool for her own needs. She kicks the bike button on the giant Risephone, kicking the bike to life for Aruto to land on. Once they land they land together, again showing two meanings. On one hand, they're working together, and covering their blindspots. On the other hand, each of them have different motives. Like in the opening seconds, Aruto is in the center, facing with optimism. Isamu is facing his right, with pessimism and Yua (who is downward again) is facing his left with realism.
Quick contrast showing the three heroes in the light, with Horobi and Jin in the darkness. Horobi taking point, to show he's the dominant one.
Passing the TorchClick thumbnail to view full-size
At first glance, the passing of generations from Renosuke, to Soreo and then Aruto. What's interesting about their stances is how Renosuke has his body turned away from the viewer, symbolizing hidden secrets not yet known, whereas Soreo is facing forward just like Aruto. The former two look down at a young Aruto, who now is grown and armed with the Zero-One Driver. He now looks up and, once again, stands forward, determined to uphold his family's legacy and his optimism.
Just One Smile Is EnoughClick thumbnail to view full-size
Drivers are scattered about, Izu sheds a tear to show she's obviously more than a regular HumaGear, Aruto treks through the aftermath of that massive battle and collapses in the rain. His optimism failed him, HumaGear parts laid scattered among the wreckage. He's all alone. He can't go on.
But then suddenly Izu holds a hand out to him. Our Izu. Wearing a bright red smile with the sun shining behind her. Aruto looks up and smiles himself, seeing his efforts not in vain. He achieved his quota of making someone smile.
He takes her hand, stands up, and the pair defiantly look forward towards a future of Optimism.
Closing Shots With Power DynamicsClick thumbnail to view full-size
The Main Cast finally gathers together and poses. Horobi and Yua stand with their bodies facing the sides, indicating like Renosuke a while back that they're hiding something, while Jin and Aruto are facing forward, and Isamu somewhat forward. I can only guess its sort of like he's not hiding anything, but he's also in opposition towards Aruto.
Then they transform and then a quick headshot of each of them, like I pointed out in the very beginning. Aruto in the middle of all of them, Horobi and Jin to Aruto's right and Yua and Isamu to his left. Horobi and Yua are on top, indicating superiority over the other two. Also the four parallel each other, with Horobi and Yua being the brains behind their respective sides, both desiring data and both having knowledge of what's to come via the "Ark", while the lesser two, Jin and Isamu are loose cannons and seek destruction towards each other (Isamu's lust for HumaGear destruction is no different than Jin's for humanity). And Aruto is the bridge between them all, which is why he's in the middle.
So those are my thoughts on the opening for Kamen Rider Zero-One. I will follow up with revisions or a new analysis entirely as we go further in depth with the series, especially if major changes come about, but all in all, for my first OP analysis, I think I covered everything I think needed to be. Anywho, let me know what you guys think about the opening and tell me things you caught while going through as well. As Always thanks for checking this out and until next time!
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