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The 2003-2004 series of Kamen Rider and the fourth Heisei Era series.In the future, the Smart Brain megacorporation has achieved almost global dominance of the electronics and vehicle industry. However, their true goal is to Take Over the World by forcing mankind to the next stage in their evolution: the Orphenoch.A young man named Yuji Kiba is involved in a terrible car accident, falling into a coma for two years and eventually dying. However, moments later he comes Back from the Dead, reviving as the Horse Orphenoch. Awakening to a world where his parents are dead, his career has been given to another man, his possessions have been stolen and sold by greedy relatives and his fiance has married his former best friend, he goes mad with grief and goes on a killing spree. He is stopped by the mysterious Smart Lady, the mascot character of Smart Brain, who gives him a new home and purpose; one that he soon comes to rebel against...Mari Sonada is an orphan who receives a Smart Brain briefcase and motorbike from her stepfather in Tokyo. On her travels she encounters the Stoicdrifter Takumi Inui, and a mixup with their bags causes him to pursue her. Soon afterwards, Mari is attacked by an Orphenoch who is after the contents of the briefcase: the Faiz Gear. Putting on the Faiz Driver, Mari attempts to transform but is rejected by the belt. In desperation she puts it on Takumi, and he successfully transforms into Kamen Rider Faiz...What unfolds is a saga between two men on different sides of the same war: friends as Takumi and Yuji but fierce rivals as Faiz and the Horse Orphenoch. Things become more complex with the arrival of Masato Kusaka, a fellow orphan and wielder of the Kaixa Gear, who holds a deep infatuation with Mari and is not shy about disposing of any romantic rivals. The trio of belts is completed with the arrival of the Delta Gear, which can be used by anyone. Opposing them is Smart Brain's strongest four Orphenoch, Lucky Clover, whose objective is to seize all three Gears and awaken the mysterious Orphenoch King.
Always Chaotic Evil - Notably subverted: Orphenochs aren't evil by default. Smart Brain is the true evil of the series and the Orphenochs have little choice in the matter, as Orphenochs who refuse to do as Smart Brain orders are marked for death or tricked into serving them.
BFS - The Orga Stlanzer, when its Exceed Charge activates. The Faiz Blaster also qualifies whenever it's not a BFG.
Bittersweet Ending: They defeated the Arch Orphenochnote Not killed, just defeated but at the cost of Kiba's life and the end implies that Takumi is dying, but he still has Mari and Keitaro by his side so he isn't alone.
One can also claim that the Auto Vajin is Takumi's. He seemed to have jumped numerous times directly into enemy fire to protect his master. Notable examples being shot be hundreds of missiles from the Side Bashaar and the Jet Sliger. Maybe enough to make a drinking game.
Clothes Make the Superman: The Rider Gears can be equipped by anyone capable of using them and each of the three main ones (Faiz, Kaixa and Delta) are worn by other characters besides their primary wielders at different points of the series (in fact, the Delta Gear has several users before it ends up at the hands of Mihara, while Kusaka gets to wear all three). This is the first Rider series to work that way - the Riders of Ryuki had to make a contract, and every Rider before them except for G3 had their powers somehow integrated into them (most of the Showa series had cyborgification, Kuuga had the driver bond itself to him, and in Agito, Rider forms are the mature state of a natural mutation.)
Cloudcuckoolander - Naoya Kaido, the Snake Orphenoch and eccentric to the point of insanity.
Deadly Upgrade - The Kaixa Gear kills most of its wearers after one use. The Delta Gear's power is addictive. Becoming an Orphenoch - already effectively this because if it doesn't result in you going nuts and having to be put down by a Rider, it will result in Smart Brain deciding that this makes you a traitor to Orphenochs and placing you on their hit list - proves to be this on its own. No one can take the conversion; all Orphenochs will suffer from a drastically reduced lifespan.
Decoy Protagonist: The first episode centers almost entirely on Yuji Kiba, giving viewers the impression that he's the one who will receive the Faiz Gear from Mari, while some other viewers (thanks in part to the trailer) believed that it'd be Mari who'd be the Rider, going to the point where she was about to henshin. Then the belt gives her an error and Takumi comes in... Ironically, he was the inverse, believed to be the guy who killed one of Mari's traveling people until the monster for that episode comes out and reveals that he did it.
The Dragon - Kitazaki, (appropriately) the Dragon Orphenoch.
Eleventh Hour Superpower - Well before appearing in the series proper, Faiz's Blaster Form was shown in Paradise Lost, first presented as a previously unseen piece of equipment. It was shown again during the final battles, with Takumi eventually using it to turn around a losing battle against Kamen Rider Orga and build up hype for it when it appeared in the series proper.
Heroic Neutral - At first, Takumi has no real concerns with fighting Orphenochs and is just trying to live his life. Still, in a crisis he'll actually deal with it rather than run away.
Hollywood Evolution: The Orphenochs are the "next evolution of humanity and animals," and the reason Orphenoch victims turn to dust is that Orphenochs actually attack by their method of trying to sire Orphenochs but the human body can rarely withstand such "rapid evolution." In the end we find out that all Orphenochs are dying; no one can withstand the "rapid evolution." It takes seconds with most, as seen with the weekly nameless victims who wander in confusion and then fall apart, but no Orphenoch will live anything like a normal human lifespan.
Homage - The Orphenoch forms of the Lucky Clover members were based on the monster forms of the Hakaider Corps. of the live-action Kikaider 01, mostly by sharing their animal motifs note That's a centipede, an alligator/crocodile (both "wani" in Japanese), a dragon, and a lobster/shrimp (both "ebi" in Japanese), just for reference. The clear dome on the Rose Orphenoch's head was also inspired by Hakaider, whose helmet had a Brain in a Jar.
I Coulda Been a Contender - Naoya Kaido, who had a promising future as a guitarist before his hand was crushed in an "accident".
I Just Want to Be Normal - Shuji Mihara, who eventually accepts the call and becomes the Delta Gear's primary user. Also Itsuro Takuma decides to live out the rest of his "life" as a human in the finale.
Instrument of Murder - The Hyper Battle DVD had the Faiz Sounder, a boombox that transformed into a powerful sonic cannon. This was the winning contest entry Toei had for a new weapon for Faiz, which like all other weapons in the show, was based off a real world object.
Jumped at the Call - Keitaro wanted to, but unfortunately the call didn't want him. Mari also tried to henshin into Faiz more than once, but never succeeded.
Just Eat Gilligan - After Lucky Clover spend weeks trying and failing to steal the Rider Gears through force, Kaido and his protege Yoshio succeed in their first attempt by impersonating police officers and tricking the protagonists into giving up the Gears.
Karma Houdini - Saeko Yageyama, who killed Yuka, and in doing so was resposible for the death of Kiba, as that set off his Heel-Face Turn. Yet she's alive and well at the end of the series, if you call being insane, trapped in Rubber Suit form and possibly immortal "alive and well".
To say nothing of Kaido, who wears the Faiz gear on Smart Brain's behalf early on, is the only Riotrooper to survive, and gives the Faiz and Kaixa Gears to Lucky Clover. He's the only one of the three Renegades to survive, even though being the only one who did not become an Orphnoch naturally (as opposed to being "sired"), and therefore supposedly weaker.
Love Dodecahedron - Played with and lampshaded in the first episode of the pizza house story arc (which leads to the debut of Faiz Accel and the unofficial "Flu Orphenoch").
The entire main cast and few side ones have some form of affections for the other casts.
Which are Kusaka and Sawada were in love with Mari since childhood. While Kusaka is obsessed with her, Sawada tries to kill her, so he can kill off his humanity. Kaido is also in love with Mari, but Mari at first was interested in Kiba. Kiba, himself was still reeling from killing his girlfriend Chie, and didn't really notice. Yuka was email friends with Keitaro and had feelings for him, but also had a massive crush on Kaido. While Keitaro was interested in Yuka, he later got his wish and they hooked up. For a time.... While the main character Takumi generally kept out of the mess, but he and Mari had Belligerent Sexual Tension.
Man Behind the Man - In the Non-Serial Movie, Smart Brain is shown as truly being run by three guys seen as blurry faces on hologram screens. All of them are played by longtime TokuBig Bad voice actors who've been menacing Riders and Rangers since The Seventies. (One of them is Gorō Naya, which is really interesting, given the recent Word of God about every Naya-voiced "[Organization Name]'s Great Leader," no matter how different-looking from the last or or clearly dead by the end, being the same guy.)
Within the ranks of Kamen Rider merchandise, complete sets of Rider Gear are some of the most expensive items. And those are just the original toys—there are also more professional types for adult fans which regularly net over a thousand dollars if you can actually find them.
Moral Dissonance - Of the "Batman and Joker Immunity" variety. Riders with no problem with killing keep sparing Sawada over and over despite his favorite hobby being killing sprees to the point of the other villains actually telling him to cut back. They know what happens every time they let him go. Yeah, he was your friend waaay back when... but so were some of his victims.
Also, there's the fact that the belts were derived from the villains, the Orphenoch themselves, and that our heroes use their own Orphenoch powers to use said devices to kill their own kind, albeit the prime creator defected, so maybe not.
The Faiz Edge being a sword with a motorbike handle as a handle evokes Kamen Rider Kuuga; Kuuga's Titan form typically used his bike handlebar to transform into his sword.
There's a lot of old-school KR in this series. The Riotroopers are basically the new Shocker Riders (there are even six of them! Gold armor to go with the Shocker Riders' gold gloves and boots, no less.), and a lot of the technology is classic Rider attacks we willingly suspended disbelief for given a reason to work that way, Batman Begins style. And while it's a bit of a stretch, the Orphenochs are reminiscent of some of the unwillingly-enhanced former human monsters from the old days: All of them were normal people to begin with, a fact the plot gives due attention to, except when it doesn't. Most didn't want the change, and once it happened, some became monsters, some remained themselves and were forced to do things they don't want to by the organization, and a precious few defied the organization and lived to tell. The main Rider is the prime example of the latter. And not everyone survives the conversion process (though Shocker didn't seem to have to kill hundreds to get one monster out of it.)
When Kusaka sees Hanagata again for the first time and demands to know what's going on, he tells him to fight, and keep fighting and winning (and we hear that repeated a few times) and it sounds very much like Shiro Kanzaki. To really hammer it in, when Hanagata steps out in Goat Orphenoch form, we hear the mirror world noise.
Poor Communication Kills - At one point, Takumi and Yuji are on the verge of either clearing up a major misunderstanding or becoming even worse enemies. It all hinges on their two easily-distracted friends delivering messages (of the "Tell him I said..." kind) to the other person accurately. Guess what happens.
The series is full of this trope. The fact that Takumi and Yuji only meet both transformed or both untransformed for quite a while, and them having an increasingly awkward relationship thanks to horrible coincidences both help this along, but this problem - among others - would be so much simpler if not for the protagonists having abysmal communication skills.
This trope is an inadvertant result of Japanese culture more than anything. They are pretty big on not just telling people about your personal problems, because it makes you seem like you're being imposing (or worse, trying to push your problems onto other people). Due to this, big misunderstandings are common.
There's a world of difference between that and just walking off rather than saying "I'm not a traitor to humanity, I helped that Orphenoch because she saved my life" the fifth or so time your friends ask you why you attacked another Rider. Numerous such examples exist, to the point where the series would be half as long without them.
Power Trio - Faiz, Kaixa and Delta, with the roles switching depending on who is wearing each Gear.
Phlebotinum Breakdown - Because the human body cannot withstand such rapid evolution, continued transformation into an Orphenoch will eventually lead to the Orphenoch's destruction. Destruction furthers if you use a Rider Gear, with Kaixa users having the higher risk. Also, Masato undergoes this when the Orphenoch DNA powering his Kaixa Gear starts to run low.
Kamen Rider Delta goes through something like this after leaving Kitazaki's hands. It's more a case of less powerful users, really.
Punny Name - The titular rider, sort of. One of the ways you can read his name is 555, as seen in the show's logo. 555 is also what has to be typed into the phone used to become Faiz. The pun comes from the fact that 555 is the Japanese equivalent of 911, and thus the titular rider both has to dial for emergency aid to transform, and IS essentially emergency aid for dealing with Orphenochs.
Pretty much all the Riders qualify, as the numbers associated with each are tied to their name (e.g., Kaixa and 913 note Pronounced "ku-i-sa" in Japanese goroawase, which is close enough to "Ka-i-za", Delta and 333 note The Greek letter delta is shaped like a triangle, which has three sides, Psyga and 315 note Similarly to Kaixa, it would be pronounces "sa-i-go" in ''goroawase", which is close enough to "Ps-i-ga, and Orga and 000 note With Japanese pronunciation, "Orga" sounds like "Oga", which could also be interpreted as "0ga").
Shoe Phone - The items making up the Gears are disguised as mundane items: cellphones, cameras and binoculars to name a few.
Shout-Out - Kaido's classic Kamen Rider henshin pose, complete with sound effect, just before saving Teruo from some bullies. It's especially brilliant because while Takeshi Hongo is a littlebefore young viewers' time, it was also Shinji's pose in Kamen Rider Ryuki.
Slasher Smile - Masato Kusaka plays this trope straight, but most notably in Episode 30 after he uses the Faiz gear to sabotage Kiba's and Takumi's friendship.And when Kusaka smiles,◊ it's down right scary.
Spell My Name with an "S" - There are three ways to spell the show's name (which is also the main Rider's name), all of which are official. The show's logo gives both "555" and "Φ's" next to the katakana. TV Asahi's website and the official merchandise spell it as "Faiz".
The show is "555" in Japanese, "Φ's" when translated into English, and the Rider is "Faiz", all of which are Faizu in Japan.
Kamen Rider Decade, which gave us official English spellings of pretty much every Rider ever, identifies him as "Faiz".
Spot the Imposter - In a subversion, Yuji often fails to notice when the Faiz Gear has switched hands and assumes that it's always the same person under the mask.
Super Prototype - The Delta Gear, being the first Gear created, is the most powerful but also has the least number of gadgets.
The Riotroopers are the production models of the Rider Gears and much weaker. Also, Psyga and Orga in The Movie are the newest model, and while both are much stronger than Faiz's basic form, Faiz Blaster is stronger than them both despite being a much older model.
Surprisingly Good English - Leo/Kamen Rider Psyga from The Movie, played by America-born Hongkong-based actor Peter Ho, speaks perfect English. According to legend his Japanese was so bad that the director told him to stick to English.
Sympathetic P.O.V.- A unique thing about this series is how much time is spent on the monster's motivation, almost all of them get a day in the limelight and expand on their motivations. Your Millage May Vary on how sympathetic they actually are.
Theme Naming - The Riders in this season derive their names from Greek letters: Faiz = Phi, Kaixa = Chi, Orga = Omega, Psyga = Psi, and Delta is pretty obvious. Word of God says the Riotroopers represent Omicron, while the stage shows introduce Alpha, Beta, and Gamma, and a scan of an "in-universe" Smart Brain catalog from Paradise Lost depicts the Neo-Alpha, police and rescue-use Seeda (Theta) and the civilian sporting-use Pyron (Pi).
Tron Lines - On all of the Rider armors. All There in the Manual states they're the channels through which "photon blood" passes through, hence the look of the transformation: once the lines are filled in and the circuit is complete, the suit appears.
The Virus - Orphenochs are created in one of two ways: either a human dies and naturally becomes one, or they are murdered by an existing Orphenoch, in which case there is a chance that they revive as an Orphenoch.
A very small chance. Hundreds of victims turn to dust for every one that turns into an Orphenoch. Most Monster of the Week Orphenochs do their murdering by the siring method, with no fear of their victims turning into a stronger monster and kicking their butts. Kaido was the only time we've seen it work with our own eyes, and none of the others in the main cast were sired.
The reason most victims die, is that Orphenochs try converting victims by aiming for the heart, which usually results in disintegrating it. Everyone else got turn through means that didn't involve this.
It's actually pretty obvious when you consider episode four - after Mari and Keitaro both fail and the Orphenoch uses it saying "Not just anyone can transform". That alone is sufficient reason to be suspicious. Especially given Faiz's dark tone and the Continuity Nod, it's not unreasonable to assume "Our hero is the monster" like in Showa series of old.
Even in its introductory arc, it was stated that some could use it safely. Mihara's just one of the lucky ones, and he doesn't see himself as so lucky and really wishes he could refuse the call.
Even before that, its first onscreen user Saya Kimura was shown to have been immune to the addictive effects, though like due to her supply of Orphnoch DNA. In fact, she plays with this trope to test Takumi when she reveals herself to be the Delta we'd been seeing up to this point to him, to see if he's worthy enough to pass on the Delta Gear to, asking him if he feels good about using the power of Faiz.
Yandere - Masato Kusaka, who is practically a male version of this.
Zombie Apocalypse: The Movie shows the scenario of what if the Orphenochs took over 99.9% of the world. (The answer is, it sucks to be a human in that world, but the Orphenoch majority lives pretty much like we do.)