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The second attempt at adapting Kamen Rider for western audiences, after Saban's Masked Rider. Based on Kamen Rider Ryuki, chosen for its large number of Riders, including a woman.Kit Taylor's life has been rough; in the year since his dad vanished, he's been moved into foster care and gained an unwarranted reputation as a troubled youth. But recently it's gotten weird: his dad has begun to appear in strange visions, telling him things like "don't be afraid of the dragon". Moving back into his old apartment, he finds a deck of strange cards, and he then begins to see things in mirrors including, sure enough, a dragon that seems to be following him around. Throw into the mix a biker who wants his card deck and won't take "no" for an answer. But when the biker gets into trouble, Kit follows his dad's advice and makes a contract with the dragon, becoming Kamen Rider Dragon Knight.Afterwards, Kit's able to get the story out of the biker, named Len and a Kamen Rider in his own right: there's a world on the other side of our mirrors called Ventara. This world was invaded by an alien named General Xaviax, and they created the twelve Kamen Riders to defend themselves. However, one of the Riders betrayed them and Xaviax took over, stealing their Advent Decks (the source of their power). Now Xaviax has set his sights on Earth, searching for our universe's counterparts to the original Riders and manipulating them to do his bidding, while Len is trying to get the decks before they can be misused.The show suffered from low ratings throughout its run, and the last two episodes were not broadcast on U.S. television (though they were uploaded on The CW's website). Despite this, it still won an Emmy award for stunt coordination.Not to be confused with The Dragon Knight or Knight Rider.This series has a Character page.
Kamen Rider Dragon Knight contains examples of:
Acting for Two: Stephen Lunsford as Kit and Adam (The other Riders besides Len and Kase make appearances as both Earth and Ventaran versions, but never have both their characters in the same scene).
The fight between Kit and Adam brought new meaning to the phrase 'You are your own worst enemy.'
Positive Discrimination: Xaviax considers her as good as or better than Wing Knight. (But then again, any of the Ventaran Riders are career soldiers and they are going to outperform the civilians Xaviax had to work with.)
The Smurfette Principle: She's still the only girl out of twelve, and has the last and briefest appearance in the opening.
The names of the Advent Beasts. The only way to get any sort of acknowledgment onscreen is by showing their Advent Cards, and only a few have been shown clearly.
The names of all the Ventara Riders are listed in the end credits of Episode 39.
All Your Base Are Belong to Us: Tired of being subtle, Wrath and Strike go to the bookstore, hold Lacey and Trent hostage, and then tear the place to pieces in a knock down, drag out fight with Len and Kase.
Ascended Extra: Compare Siren, who is part of the show's central Power Trio, to her Japanese counterpart Femme, who only appeared in a single movie. The same could be said for pseudo-Rider Alternative, which Dragon Knight uses as Eubulon's combat form.
Inverted with Camo. His counterpart, Verde, was one of the Big Bads in a TV special (not to mention a 13th Rider made just for the special) and killed Kamen Rider Knight. In Dragon Knight, he barely even appears for one episode.
There's also Xaviax's Mooks, the Gelnewts. The original Gelnewt was a one-shot monster. Dragon Knight mass produces them into foot soldiers.
Bond Creatures: The Advent Beasts, though the bond is generally downplayed compared to Ryuki: the beasts themselves are treated as little more than just another piece of equipment in Dragon Knight, while Ryuki's rule is "Fight or the dragon will eat you". Camo's beast never even appeared on the show.
Broken Aesop: Chris's arc was clearly meant to teach the lesson that you can still be a hero despite your setbacks (in Chris's case, those setbacks were being discharged from the military due to his asthma). This is invalidated in the finale when Chris's asthma is cured and he's able to join the military just like he wanted. Uh...
The entire series can also be seen as one big Broken Aesop, as according to the head writer, one of the main points of the series was to teach kids about the consequences of their actions, but most of the characters don't face any. This is particularly true for Adam, the Ventaran Dragon Knight, who betrays the entire planet of Ventara to Xaviax, but receives no known punishment for it. The Advent Master Eubulon even goes as far as to say that he does not have time to punish him because he's needed in the final battle with Xaviax.
This depends on perspective, really, perhaps the moral was 'good deeds are rewarded', Chris fought for good so he got his asthma cured. As for Adam it was all Xaviax's fault, he was tricked, along with nearly all of Xaviax's soldiers. The second time he was even blackmailed into it. And Xaviax did pay by being the only character in the show to die.
Brother Chuck: Maya's Aunt Grace, owner of the bookstore, vanished after the early eps once the producers had convinced their bosses that more drama and less comedy wouldn't hurt the ratings. While she clearly still owns the bookstore, her name is never even mentioned again after she vanishes.
By the Eyes of the Blind: The monsters can only be seen by Kamen Riders and those who have been taken through a mirror portal. These people can also see into Ventara through Earth's mirrors and reflective surfaces.
Canon Foreigner: In a non-human version, Dragon Knight actually shows Wrath's Final Vent on-screen, while Ryuki didn't show Odin's; until DK, the only way to see it was to play the Playstation game.
Captain Ersatz: Wing Knight sometimes comes awfully close to being a Toku version of Batman. Especially when he explains he wasn't the leader, he was the Scary One who fought at night...
Gets a little eerie when you realize that Batman canonically has a British counterpart called Knight, who wears a very similar visor. (Almost certainly a coincidence; Knight was essentially a forgotten relic of The Golden Age of Comic Books, only brought back to prominence recently.)
The Cast Show Off: Matt Mullins occasionally gets scenes to show off his martial arts skills. Mark Dacascos joins in on a late one when Eubulon and Len spar.
Clip Show/Recap Episode: No less than three in a forty episode run. "The Many Faces of Xaviax", "Calm Before the Storm", and "A Dragon's Tale".
And the second clip show flashed back to the first clip show.
And the third clip show was the final episode. Because we really needed to see what we just saw happen over the previous 10 episodes during the final episode - leaving only 5 minutes for something resembling a finale. The characters from early in the series, including Kit's dad, one of Kit's primary motivators, pretty much just get a passing mention and nothing else. "Oh yeah, they got better and stuff. But who cares, I'm writing a BOOK!"
Conservation of Ninjutsu: Five Mooks or so are easily defeated by Len without transforming. Later fights (note the plural, this happens two or three times) require two transformed Riders to go all-out against one. This is the result of the Gelnewt Monster of the Week in Ryuki getting demoted to Mook status in Dragon Knight, creating a jarring difference between reused and original fights.
Fun Fact: Steve Wang posted on his blog at one point that Kamen Rider Siren's introduction was actually sent back to them by The CW and 4Kids, who demanded revisions, but not because the introduction was bad. Why was it sent back? Because Steve had actually made her introduction too sexy, and it had to be toned down to meet broadcast standards. It makes one wonder exactly how sexy the original take of Siren's intro was.
Fate Worse Than Death: Defeated Riders get "vented", that is, trapped between dimensions with no hope of escape. Ironically, it was intended to be a better alternative to death, where Eubulon could get them out.
Gratuitous Japanese: Despite being made for an American audience, the show kept the "Kamen" in Kamen Rider untranslated even though the English name "Masked Rider" is also used in Japan. Producer Steve Wang stated in an interview that he prefers the actual Japanese moniker over the translated form, but he also wanted to distance Dragon Knight from Saban's earlier attempt at making an Americanized Kamen Rider series, simply titled Masked Rider.
Idiot Ball: Kit very easily believes Drew when he tells him that Len is working for Xaviax, despite repeatedly seeing him fight Xaviax's monsters. (Even alongside Kit!)
During his fight with the Cho brothers, Len decides to leave their Advent Decks for them to retrieve instead of taking them with him, which ultimately leads to Chris's venting in "Semper Fi."
Siren sees Dragon Knight fighting (and losing to) Axe, so she decides to jump in and fights Axe. After forcing him to retreat, she attacks Dragon Knight, claiming he's working for Xaviax. So instead of just letting Axe vent him like he was so close to doing, she decides to jump in, fight Axe, and then fight Dragon Knight, who she's convinced is evil. HUH?
Eubulon says that there is no time to punish Adam for betraying them and the planet Ventara... TWICE! The first time is somewhat forgivable, as he was tricked by Xaviax, but the second time is completely of his own free will. So they decide to trust a known liar and traitor just because they need his help to defeat Xaviax, despite having no reason to trust him at all.
Kick the Dog: When Maya decides to go behind Michelle's back so she won't steal the credit for her investigation, Michelle frames her for libel and gets her fired - then offers to help get her job back if she can be let in on the story. After Maya politely tells Michelle where she can shove her blackmail, Michelle eavesdrops to steal the story anyway.
Pet the Dog: Michelle eventually realizes what a bitch she was being and apologizes.
My Significance Sense Is Tingling: Len, a couple times. The first time, "I sense that guy (Richie) is Incisor", can be written off as a cover for recognizing Ventara!Incisor's Earth double. "I sense that Torque has just been vented", however, is harder to handwave.
This is possibly explained as an advanced form of Spider Sense in that the Advent Void... or their decks... or something keeps letting the Riders know when people are in danger. And it never lets up. This in itself is kinda cool, as the idea's similar to the noises made by the Mirror World in Ryuki.
The fact that the Riders' ability to sense when they are needed never letting up is at least in part responsible for how Xaviax tricked Adam. As Len explains to Maya, Adam felt trapped by his own good nature. He points it out by asking her, "If you had an alarm clock that let you know whenever there was someone in danger, could you ignore it?" Like all the heroic Riders, Adam could not, and he was desperate to get his life back. Xaviax was more than willing to use that against him. Adam himself explains this in part when he tells the team how he wound up in his situation, though he didn't reveal to them a very key fact. Xaviax was essentially holding his girlfriend hostage while at the same time using her as emotional blackmail material to force him to sabotage the Riders' attempt to save Earth.
Names to Run Away From Really Fast: Genocider. Renamed Cerebeast in Dragon Knight according to the DS video game. Still not the kind of name you want to hear. The creature itself wasn't exactly going to inspire most people to think it was harmless either.
Never Say "Die": Defeated Kamen Riders don't die, they get "vented". Eventually justified as something you can return from.
The Nth Doctor: Since an Advent Deck is locked to the DNA of its user, to become Kamen Rider Wrath, Xaviax must possess the body of the Wrath suit's designated user or his double. The show never makes Wrath's true identity clear, but the official website tells us its Vic Frasier, a construction worker who was comatose after an accident (he was actually life-drained by Xaviax the same way Kit's father was). As such, Xaviax gets a different actor for a span of several episodes.
Oh, Crap: For a brief, brief instant as the collective riders are pulling their Link Vent cards out, Xaviax's Smug Snake exterior actually slips into a facial expression that says this.
There's also the moment when Torque first unleasheshisFinalVent. Even suited, the way Wing Knight takes one look at Magnugiga powering up and stops short before he legs it just says it all.
One-Winged Angel: The minions upgrade from the red versions (Gelnewts) to the white versions (Sheerghosts) against Wrath (and get beaten anyway.) From then on, all Mooks are Sheerghosts, though. Also, in an earlier episode, before Sheerghosts are properly introduced, there's a flashback to Ventara of Sheerghosts transforming into blue, dragonfly-like monsters (Raydragoons) when battling Siren, Wing Knight, and the original Strike (and getting beaten anyway.) The last couple of episodes have armies of all three types as the Riders storm the castle. They get beaten anyway.
The Only One: Len from Kamen Rider Dragon Knight not only starts out like this, he wants to keep it that way at first because he doesn't believe anyone from Earth can be trusted with the Kamen Rider Advent Decks, particularly Kit, who is the mirror twin of the Rider who betrayed the team. The fact that most of the Earth Riders actually tend to be bad guys (though a few are innocently duped or framed) doesn't help matters any. He gets better about it as the series goes on, and then it's revealed that he wasn't the last of the Ventaran Riders to escape being vented anyway.
Opt Out: When the Riders and The Men in Black start uniting to take out Xaviax for good, Lacey asks to be excused and goes home.
Written-In Absence: The real reason she goes home is because her actress had to take time off for personal reasons.
Recursive Import: The show is being dubbed into Japanese, with a vocal cast featuring several Kamen Rider veterans. For extra points, Len's dub actor is the actor who played Ren Akiyama/Kamen Rider Knight, Wing Knight's Japanese equivalent.
Small Name, Big Ego: Michelle, except that she seems to be liked by her editors by using the Gilderoy Lockhart method of accomplishment without the memory-wiping. Or maybe they're just in on the fact that she's an undercover agent.
Smug Snake: Torque. Let's throw Michelle in there, too, but she gets better.
Wham Episode: "Xaviax's Wrath". The Knights pull out Survive Mode to finish the fight for good. The result? Every last remaining Earth Rider gets vented - including Kit - leaving it once again down to just Xaviax and Wing Knight.
What Kind of Lame Power Is Heart, Anyway?: At least Chris thinks so, when Maya's trying to cheer him up about his asthma weakness by complimenting his "heart". Strike shares the sentiment: "You got heart, kid - but no lungs!"