The 2013-2014 Kamen Rider series; the fifteenth entry in the franchise's Heisei era and the twenty-fourth series overall. The head writer is Gen Urobuchi of Fate/Zero and Puella Magi Madoka Magica fame.In Zawame City, the suffocating presence of the Yggdrasill Corporation has led to the city's youth forming competing street-dance crews as a way to bring energy and excitement back into their lives.Another popular activity is a Mons game that uses fruit- and nut-themed padlocks called Lock Seeds to summon tiny creatures called "Invase". As the game becomes more and more popular, strange dimensional tears begin to open around the city to the mysterious Helheim Forest. When an Invase consumes a fruit from this forest, it grows to human proportions but at the risk of losing all control and going on a rampage.Kota Kazuraba is an earnest young man who quits his dance crew - Team Gaim - so that he can find a job and support his sister. When he is caught up in the attack of a berserk Invase, Kota stumbles upon a strange transformation belt and Lock Seed, which he uses to transform into Kamen Rider Gaim and defend the city.However, it is not as simple as that. There are many other Kamen Riders in the city with their own motivations and sense of justice, and soon a modern version of the Warring States Era erupts between the masked warriors.
Recurring Kamen Rider tropes include:
Cool Bike: A Kamen Rider staple; they're called Lock Vehicles and are flower-themed. Various Riders have their own unique bikes: Gaim's is the Sakura Hurricane, Baron's is the Rose Attacker and Gridon has the Dandeliner. Kurokage also has a Chicken Walker-like mech for his vehicle, the Tuliphopper.
Multiform Balance: Unlike prior series, every Rider will have multiple Lock Seeds to choose from. The forms gained from the Lock Seeds are called "Arms".
Master of None: Implied; all Riders have a basic suit that the Arms then form chest and shoulder armor for. It's not clear if Riders can fight Arms-less in the show, or if it's just in the toys to accommodate mixing and matching Arms.
Jack of All Stats: Gaim Orange Arms. The other Riders' default forms note Baron Banana Arms, Ryugen Grape Arms, Zangetsu Melon Arms, Gridon Acorn Arms, Kurokage Pinecone Arms, Bravo Durian Arms may be their relatively balanced ones as well.
Mighty Glacier: Gaim Pineapple Arms. Watermelon Arms even more so, having immense power but comparatively little mobility in its Powered Armor mode. As well as Baron's Mango Arms.
Transformation Trinket: This time, each Rider, including the main one, uses the same kind of Driver, the Sengoku Driver. Equipping different kinds of Arms using the various Lock Seeds is effectively what allows them to transform into a distinct Rider.
A second belt, the Genesis Driver, will be introduced midseason, with its own set of "Energy" Lock Seeds. Three new Riders will use it plus Zangetsu, and Gaim will use a piece of it to enhance his Sengoku Driver.
The Beastmaster: Armored Riders have the ability to fully summon and control Invase.
Cassandra Truth: In #8, when Takatora ponders who could have stolen the Watermelon Lockseed from him, Sid remarks "Maybe it was your brother?" and gets a dirty glare in response. Because it's this trope, of course Sid's correct, but he doesn't 100% know it until he confronts Mitsuzane later; he's just making an educated guess because, unlike Takatora, he's fully aware that Micchy is Armored Rider Ryugen. Though it seems rather enthralled with Takatora not believing him as opposed to the usual reaction.
Cavalry Betrayal: At the end of #5, Ryoji and Hideyasu transform into Kurokage and Gridon, making it look like Team Gaim is going to have to fight three enemy Riders at once. However, the two of them backstab Kaito in the Cold Opening for the very next episode.
Coming-of-Age Story: Seems to be going this way, with regards to Kota's lines about becoming an adult in the first episode.
Crowd Hockey: If knocking the Lock Seeds out of our heroes' hands wasn't cheap enough, the first two eps throw this in for good measure.
Darker and Edgier: Despite the fruit theme, Gaim returns to the darker, more arc-focused narratives that characterized early Heisei-era series. This has been backed up by series writer Gen Urobuchi, who claims that the main story influences were Faiz and Ryuki, both of which are known for being some of the darkest stories in Kamen Rider to date.
Dramatic Irony: Takatora is unaware that his brother is in the Rider Games. The thing is, he was offered to see who was a Rider, but refused, furthering the irony. It gets exaggerated as the DJ is also in on Yggdrasill's plot, but doesn't seem to bother telling Takatora anything.
Sid, the shady Lock Seed dealer, dresses and behaves suspiciously similar to a real world drug dealer.
Establishing Character Moment: The first two episodes each contain a moment where Kota and Kaito help a child, showing that they're Not So Different. What does differ is their methods: the kinder-hearted Kota helps a little boy find his mother and cheers him up by convincing him it's a game, while Kaito shows a Teach a Man to Fish philosophy by telling a boy stuck in a tree to jump down himself, then catches him and congratulates him, saying he has the strength to take care of himself from now on.
Everything's Better with Samurai: The major theme of the series, given its Jidai Geki roots, but there are variations: Ryugen's armor has a distinctively Chinese theme, Baron is themed after a European knight, Gridon is a Viking without the horns, Kurokage is more of a footsoldier than an actual samurai, and Bravo screams Roman gladiator.
Expy: Gaim's helmet had an asymmetrical crescent-shaped crest similar to that of Date Masamune.
Family-Unfriendly Violence: Kota doesn't get out of his first encounter with a monster anywhere near as safely as other Riders. Before he transforms the Invase roughs him up something fierce, tossing him through a steel fence; you can see blood coming from his mouth afterward.
Freeze-Frame Bonus: During the first scene of #1, you can briefly see Kamen Rider Gridon with Baron's faction.
#2 gives us an unknown individual handling a Lock Seed in the opening. This is significant because it appears to be the Pinecone LS and said individual is wearing a Sengoku Driver.
The opening gives us a great one. During the small bit that mentions Bandai, Gaim can be seen getting on the Sakura Hurricane. The camera pans down to his reflection, which is not his default Orange Arms. It appears to be his Energy Seed form.
Another one in the opening that combines with Couch Gag - Before the chorus hits on the theme song and after Baron in the Rose Attacker zips by, there's 3 random Sengoku Drivers activating. Those 3?Whichever 3 Armored Riders are in the main battle of the episode.
Gratuitous English: The show is influenced by American hip-hop dancing, so it's to be expected.
Gratuitous French: Kamen Rider Bravo peppers his dialogue with French phrases. Justified since it's stated he spent a decade in France and holds dual citizenship.
Informed Attribute: Thanks to the Inves game taking priority over dance battles, Team Gaim and Baron are the only Beat Rider crews that actually do any dancing, ever. This one's been lampshaded in-universe.
Jidai Geki: If the references to the Sengoku era are any indication.
Jobber: Any Beat Riders team without a Rider name, apparently. We've seen Team Raid Wild's leader lose to both Baron (no cheating involved this time) and Gaim (with an Armored Rider, but still) in a row. There's even Lampshade Hanging in #3 when Team Invitto's leader plans on swooping in to take Team Raid Wild's win once the dust settles. After Team Invitto lost to Ryugen in his debut fight, the two leaders lampshade this with Invitto's leader stating that they need to be as strong as Kaito... Cue Sid looking to them with a grin and giving them Sengoku Drivers.
Lensman Arms Race: Ignoring a possible "Arms" pun, the Beat Rider teams are constantly jockeying for position, and the introduction of Armored Rider powers is quickly escalating things.
Local Hangout: A fruit bar named Drupers, where locals and members of the Beat Riders groups go to enjoy drinks and fruit parfaits, but also seems to be Sid's favorite place to run his Lock Seed business.
Meaningful Name: The series' Transformation Trinket is the Sengoku Driver; normally "Sengoku" means Warring States (see above), but the belt's name is written with the kanji for "extreme" in place of "state".
Merchandise-Driven: As with all the recent Kamen Rider shows, Gaim features special Transformation Trinkets based off of his predecessors. However, unlike the others, they actually have a special function: equipping the Armored Rider with "Rider Arms"; the preview for the Wizard x Gaim Movie Wars shows Gaim with Wizard Arms and the WizarSwordGun, Baron with OOO Arms and the Medajalibur, Zangetsu with Fourze Arms and Rocket Module, and Ryugen with Double Arms and the Trigger Magnum.
In the first four episodes alone, four unique Kamen Riders have already been introduced. To put that into perspective, Kamen Rider Beast didn't show up until #17 of Kamen Rider Wizard, while Mayu didn't become Kamen Rider Mage until #40.
Mini Mecha: Gaim's Watermelon Arms comes in 3 different modes.
Be The Ball: Big Ball Mode note A giant watermelon with Gaim inside that rolls around and crushes enemies.
Flight: Gyro Mode note Can also fire seed-like bullets from the fingertips.
Powered Armor: Armored Mode note The Arms' warrior form with it's personal weapon.
Minor Insult Meltdown: In #2, the members of Team Baron hear a spectator remarking that she thought Team Gaim were better dancers. This pisses them off so much that they march right over to Team Gaim's headquarters and challenge them to an Invase Game, with the stakes being that Gaim will have to give up their Access Card (and effectively disband) if Baron wins.
Missed the Call: Oren becomes Kamen Rider Bravo after confiscating a Sengoku Driver that was owned by a trio of rowdy teens from team Red Hot, who were making a ruckus in his bakery. The poor kid who had the belt had shelled out a hefty fee to get it, and had it stolen before he ever got the chance to transform.
Mons: The plot pitch suggests a Deconstruction: kids can summon little monsters to play with, but that opens up opportunities for bigger, nastier things to get through. The first episode furthers the deconstruction by showing that even the little ones can become a threat to everyone around them if the one who summoned them lets go of their Lock Seed.
In the first episode, Team Gaim's manager Yuya laments the fact that nowadays people seem to care more about a dance team's win record in the Invase Game than their actual dancing skills; the owner of the Good Guy Bar points out the upside by saying it gives the kids an alternative to actual violence. With the spread of Sengoku Drivers, however...
To add, he's a man whose flamboyant behavior does not take away from his ability to kick ass, and he also has the habit of peppering his speech with French words and phrases. It's no surprise that Enter immediately comes to mind.
Portal Network: Lock Seeds are the key to opening portals in and out of Helheim, in midair if need be. The Lock Vehicles are a peculiar case, needing to get up to speed for both vehicle and Rider to get through.
Random Power Ranking: Each Lock Seed is ranked from D to A; most Riders use A Lock Seeds to transform but Kurokage and Gridon use lower-ranked ones (Kurokage's Pinecone is Class C and Gridon's Acorn is Class B).
Repetitive Name: Armored Rider Gaim becomes this when the kanji for Gaim's name is translated into something along the lines of "Armored Warrior".
Secret Identity: Largely averted, seeing as some Riders are part of the dance crews, and the DJ shows footage of their activities as part of the constant battle for team standings. As of #3, the only Armored Rider still shrouded in mystery is Zangetsu, who's never even transformed outside Helheim.
Mitsuzane/Micchy has a more mundane one, posing as a snobby private school student during school hours and unwinding as his "real self" as a part of Team Gaim during his downtime. On top of that, he's also Ryugen (see Dramatic Irony above).
Oren is not even trying — since becoming Bravo, he's happily replaced his pictures on his cake box cards with ones that have him donning his Bravo armour.
Shipper on Deck: Team Gaim seems to approve of Kota and Mai being together save for Mitsuzane.
Show Within a Show: That DJ with his Beat Riders show, following the developments in the Beat Riders community.
Viewers Are Goldfish: Which results in his show broadcasting action replays ie.the same battle footage we just saw.
Unwitting Instigator of Doom: The people playing with the Invase, as it's causing dimensional tears that are allowing bigger monsters to get through. Whether of not Yggdrasill Corporation counts for making the Invase arrive in the first place is unknown, although #2 shows Yggdrasill harvesting the lock Seeds.
The World Tree: Evoked in the company Yggdrasill, which ties into the whole "fruit" themenote If you don't get it, what is one of the things that fruit grows on?. Their headquarters is even a tree-shaped tower.