In America we have a franchise called Power Rangers. What a lot of people may not know was that Power Rangers got most of its material from the Japanese franchise Super Sentai. What some people may not know was that there were attempts to adapt another Japanese superhero franchise. Titled Kamen Rider, this franchise accompanied Super Sentai in Japan, and had a similar premise. Just with some minor changes. Rather than a group of people using superpowers to defeat their enemies, it was usually one or two people using superpowers similar to their enemies to defeat them. Recently, one idea that has been show consistently shown in different incarnations of the series was the introduction of a transformation the main hero received that surpassed all previous transformations prior to this one. Of course, depending on how much the story emphasized the similarity in powers between the hero and villains, there may be new complications to the hero with this new form. First and foremost, one source of conflict presented by some Ultimate Forms was the idea that the hero would eventually become something just as bad as the villains of the story, if not arguably worse. Some Ultimate Forms were introduced to give the hero control issues because said form was basically something no character, hero or villain, could easily control because it introduced something completely new and foreign to the show's plot in terms of gimmicks. Of course, there were some Ultimate Forms that were actually beneficial for the hero. These forms' gimmicks were the utilization of all previous abilities in essentially one package. Which was most likely appealing to the viewer.
Kuuga Ultimate Form
As the first incarnation of the more modern Kamen Rider entries, Kamen Rider Kuuga also introduced the first Ultimate Form, which was also called Ultimate Form in-show. For context, this particular form was foreshadowed in prior episodes. And not in a good way. In Kamen Rider Kuuga, the hero who got this form fought monsters called Gurongi. The thing about these Gurongi was that they explicitly state that they were trying to exterminate all humans because humans were descended from beings who tried to stop the Gurongi from appearing on Earth, according to the show's canon. But since Kamen Rider Kuuga the Hero uses a supernatural weapon that was similar to whatever spawned the Gurongi in the first place, Kamen Rider Kuuga had moments where the viewer got to see the hero of this show look like he was just as dangerous as the monsters he fought. In episodes 34 and 35 of the Kamen Rider Kuuga series, the hero had to fight against the Porcupine Gurongi. The main plot of these two episodes was that the Porcupine Gurongi was basically a serial killer. This monster used its quills to murder random people for no justifiable reason. Needless to say, Kamen Rider Kuuga eventually catches the Porcupine Gurongi and destroys it. Unfortunately, by episode 35, the viewer was under the impression that the hero of this show was just as dangerous as the monsters he fought. And Kamen Rider Kuuga Ultimate Form was a highly destructive form that the hero needed to learn to control when he first got it.
Kamen Rider Kuuga introduced the Ultimate Forms of the Kamen Rider franchise as great sources of power, but with the idea that the hero could have become just as dangerous as the monsters he fought because of said power. Kamen Rider 000, a later entry to the Kamen Rider franchise, runs with that concept, but introduces the plot element of the hero actually becoming a literal monster because of his Ultimate Form. For context, the main monsters in Kamen Rider 000 were referred to as the Greeed. For the hero of this story, his powers came from these special medals that signified certain animal motifs each Greeed signified. This meant that Kame Rider 000 could potentially turn into more heroic versions of his enemies, which was a thematic aspect for the Kamen Rider franchise. PuToTyra differentiated itself from all of the other combos both aesthetically and thematically. For one thing, the Greed in these series were powered by the desires of people; PuToTyra, despite being powered by the same types of medals of normal Greed, was powered by the lack of desire within people. Additionally, the hero's acquisition of this form was unique to how he got his other forms and the consequences. Normally the hero carried around the medals that granted him the ability to change whatever form he took, but the medals that made PutoTyra were somehow absorbed inside of his body and would come out primarily when PuToTyra was going to be used. Unfortunately, this eventually brought on the consequence of slowly transforming the hero into a Greed as well. Which was an uncomfortable chain-of-events for the viewer.
Fourze Cosmic States
Not all entries in the Kamen Rider franchise used the Ultimate Form as a negative reminder about how the hero could become just as bad as the villains or worse. In some cases, the Ultimate Form was used in a more positive manner by showing the hero gaining the new ability of using every single power he ha ever gained throughout the series in one package deal. Sometimes with the added bonus of combining two separate powers into one new power. Such was the case with Kamen Rider Fourze when it introduced the Fourze Cosmic States. Now, while the form itself was not dangerous to the user, getting this form kind of sucked. Mostly because the hero was in a near-death state. Fortunately, as a kids' show, the hero eventually gets revived and instantly learns how to access his most powerful form. Uniquely, Fourze Cosmic States was also unique in the Kamen Rider franchise in that it had the ability to use all of its powers in one overpowered body, indicated by the numbers on its chest. Fourze Cosmic States was also equipped with its own sword, which meant that hand-to-hand combat was not the only form of combat this form knew. Basically, the hero could freely choose two separate powers and make different weapons gain new properties. His sword could have the ability to give him flight and electrical slashes, use a missile launcher that shot missiles that froze opponents, and immediately switch powers to have flaming slashes. Having a finishing attack where it sent its opponent into space was also awesome.
Kamen Rider as a franchise was different from Super Sentai as a franchise because it portrayed the hero gaining power as a morally questionable issue sometimes. Some powers were bad, some powers were dangerous, and some powers were achieved through dangerous circumstances. But the resulting form does look awesome.
Rachel L Alba from Every Day Cooking and Baking on September 08, 2015:
Hi Jake, This is not my thing, but I know some little boys who love toys like this. It's totally different then the toys from the 50's. lol They are interesting to look at though.
Larry Rankin from Oklahoma on September 08, 2015:
Very interesting overview of the genre.