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 "Inves". As the game becomes more and more popular, strange dimensional tears begin to open around the city to the mysterious Helheim Forest. When an Inves consumes a fruit from this forest, there is a chance of it evolving into a more powerful form but at the risk of losing all control and going on a hunger-induced rampage.Kouta 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 Inves, Kouta stumbles upon a strange transformation belt and Lock Seed, which he uses to transform into "Armored Rider Gaim" and defend his friends and the city.However, it is not as simple as that. There are many other Armored 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:
City of Adventure: Zawame City. According to Ryoma, it's where the cracks to Helheim naturally occur most often and therefore why Yggdrasill set up shop there.
Cool Bike: A Kamen Rider staple; they're called Lock Vehicles, are flower-themed, and have the ability to travel from Earth to Helheim and back. Gaim, Bravo, and Kurokage have Sakura Hurricanes and Baron, Ryugen, and Gridon have Rose Attackers. Kurokage Troopers use flying bikes called Dandeliners, and Chicken Walker attack mechs called Tuliphoppers.
Magitek: Like in Kamen Rider Double, the origin of the Riders' superhuman abilities comes from a mystical or otherwordly source (in this case, Helheim fruit/Lock Seeds), but they must utilize the human-made technology of transformation Drivers to filter it and avoid going insane from the power.
Monster of the Week: They're called Inves, and are from Another Dimension, let through by zippers in reality. Or hapless folks who happened to eat the fruits that made their way out of Helheim into their reality.
Actually averted, possibly for the first time in all of Kamen Rider. The appearance of new Inves is sporadic and infrequent, with little attention called to them, and the riders are generally more likely to fight small reoccurring Inves hordes, or other riders.
Multiform Balance: Unlike prior series, most Riders 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: All Riders' default Arms are taken as their balanced forms. note Gaim Orange Arms, Baron Banana Arms, Ryugen Grape Arms, and Zangetsu Melon Arms.
Mighty Glacier: Gaim Pineapple Arms and Baron Mango Arms. Watermelon Arms is an extreme case, having immense power but comparatively little mobility in its Powered Armor mode.
Not Using the Z Word: The masked warriors of Zawame City are never referred to as "Kamen Riders"; Those wielding the Sengoku Driver are called Armored Riders, and those with the Genesis Driver are called Shin Sedainote literally "New Generation" Riders.
Transformation Trinket: This time, each Rider including the main one uses the same kind of Driver, the Sengoku Driver. Regardless of this, all of them still turn into distinct Riders even before Lock Seeds are applied.
A second belt, the Genesis Driver, was introduced midseason, with its own set of "Energy" Lock Seeds. Zangetsu and three new Riders use it, plus Gaim uses a piece of it to enhance his Sengoku Driver.
Weapon of Choice: Each Lock Seed grants its own unique weapon, which are known as Arms Weapons.
Mix-and-Match Weapon: Gaim and Zangetsu's MusouSaber, which they always have regardless of which Arms they equip themselves with. The former can combine his Musou Saber with some of his other weapons for extra power.
Katanas Are Just Better: Orange Arms' Daidaimaru. note Becomes a naginata when combined with the Musou Saber. Gaim tends to dual wield his Musou Saber alongside the Daidaimaru. There's also a "Fresh" version of the Orange Lockseed seen in the Hyper Battle DVD that provides dual Daidaimaru.
Walking Armory: Kiwami Arms has the ability to summon any of the above weapons.
Kamen Rider Gaim gives us these tropes:
Advertised Extra: With the press that Gridon got in the beginning, being the unofficial fifth member of the show's cast and his identity kept a secret until his debut, most people were convinced that Gridon would be a major player. As it turns out, he only appeared in a third of the episodes and only became a main character during the last quarter of the show.
All There in the Manual: None of Yggdrasill's Riders have their titles used in-show; Zangetsu is called "the white Armored Rider" by those who don't know him, and the others are just addressed by their real names.
And Then What?: Kouta's recurring answer to what he should do with his power is to protect everyone. Minato counters this by asking him what happens once everyone's safe.
Antagonist Title: Downplayed. The arc titles (Beat Riders Saga, Yggdrasill Saga, Helheim Saga, Overlord Saga) are named after the antagonist for that arc, but they're All There in the Manual, and even then, Yggdrasil is the major antagonist for the Helheim Saga.
Anyone Can Die: Solidified in #14, where Ryoji is killed and it's revealed that Yuya was the Byakko Invess that was destroyed back in #1. Sid also bites it in #31
The Artifact: In-universe, the Beat Riders' street dancing started taking a backseat to the Inves Game even before the series started; in one episode Mai laments the fact that the Rider rankings are more based upon the team's record in the Inves Game than their actual dancing skills. After a good chunk of Armored Riders pop up in the scene, the Inves Games slowly take a backseat to the Rider battles. This progressed until #18, when the remaining Beat Riders ended their competition (and with it, use of the Inves Game to solve disputes) and those who just wanted to dance merged into a single troupe.
Artifact of Attraction: The Helheim fruits are these to humans. Everyone who sees one is entranced with how delicious it looks until they're pulled away or their attention is drawn elsewhere.
Assimilation Plot: It turns out Helheim Forest does this, absorbing other worlds into itself and converting all the native animal life into Inves.
Back from the Dead: One of the summer movie's plot hooks is that Yuya and Hase are back without explanation.
Bad Guys Do the Dirty Work: When Kouta begins to sweat over killing Hase and trying in vain to get him to become a human again, the New Generation Riders come in to finish off Hase and spare Kouta the turmoil and instead give him a person to hate.
The Beastmaster: Armored Riders have the ability to fully summon and control Inves.
Big Bad Ensemble: Over the course of the show, there are multiple major villain powers:
The Helheim forest and Inves, extremely aggressive alien species that threaten to overtake Earth.
Takatora is an Anti-Villain truly trying to save humanity from Helheim, but is using morally questionable methods such as victimizing children. He eventually drops out of villain status as his good qualities are revealed and his evil actions are explained as done out of desperation.
Ryoma is scheming behind Takatora's back by taking advantage of the Helheim situation to claim power for himself and his little group.
Overlord Roshuo is teased as one, but ultimately a subversion as once we get to know him he turns out to be quite noble. Instead, it's Redyue who leads an invasion of Earth; even when Roshuo gets involved it's only to add some muscle to Redyue's plan.
And coming from behind is Mitsuzane, whose power and evil has been steadily increasing throughout the show. He's not quite up to rivaling the other Big Bads yet, but if he continues...
The Priestess and DJ Sagara may also be rival Bads, as both have their own agendas that may or may not be villainous.
#9 was pretty light-hearted and harkened back to the earlier Neo-Heisei Rider shows.
#12 is this. While there's still some action and rather dark developments, compared to the previous episodes, there's plenty of room to breathe and just feels more like an aftermath episode than anything else.
Likewise, #15 isn't as action-packed or wham-filled as #13 and #14 with the exception of Takatora finding out that Mitsuzane is Ryugen.
The crossover special with Ressha Sentai Tokkyuger basically acts as this as well, airing right in the middle of a particularly dramatic arc.
#25 focuses on Hideyasu and Oren. By this point, you may realize the breather episodes occur roughly once every other episode. That's mainly because the pacing has it that almost all the other episodes after #09 are either action-packed or downright Wham Episodes.
#36 is another Wham Episode. #37 interrupts the plot again in order to have a Prequel to the Non-Serial Movie (though it's less of a breather, and more of the plot being put briefly on hold).
Bullying a Dragon: After the Inves plague breaks out all of Zawame city blames the Armored Riders and openly scorns and insults them. Kaito shows how antagonizing people with superpowers is stupid on so many levels.
The two crooks in #21 are either this or Mugging the Monster, depending if they knew the three kids they were trying to push around were superheroes or not.
Bystander Syndrome: With the exception of Kouta and Mitsuzane all of the other Armored Riders suffer from this caring more about their own goals, ambitions, and egos ignoring the threat Yggdrasill and Helheim pose. It takes a Batman Gambit to get them all off of their asses to do something.
By #12 this extends to Micchy of all people. Since using the Sengoku Drivers means providing data for Yggdrasill's experiments, Micchy chooses to merely watch on as innocent people get attacked by Inves.
Call Back: The scene where Kouta interacts with DJ Sagara almost plays beat for beat with Mitsuzane's chat with Sid. Both of them showcase their strongest point (Kouta's desire to save people and Mitsuzane's manipulation to get what he wants) and both Sagara and Sid applaud their points and "leave behind" a Transformation Trinket. It's almost like looking into a mirror...
In #8, when Takatora ponders who could have stolen the Watermelon Lock Seed 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 Sid seems rather enthralled with Takatora not believing him as opposed to the usual reaction.
Kaito is fully aware of Micchy's Face-Heel Turn, having witnessed him shoot Kouta in the back in #26; however, he doesn't bother to tell Kouta (though he has been hinting at it) because he's aware this trope will be in effect. In #29, he even tries to suggest to Kouta that there might be a traitor in their midst; when Kouta brushes it off, Kaito leans in towards Micchy (who's shooting him a Death Glare) and whispers "See? He wouldn't believe me even if I told him."
Later in the series Yoko Minato, who knows the same thing Kaito does, joins Kouta's group but Kaito advises her against trying to tell him for the same reasons. In #35, Minato outright tells Kouta "Mitsuzane Kureshima has been deceiving you all along", but of course Kouta doesn't buy it, which makes it even more painful at the end of the episode when Micchy completely abandons the charade and tries to kill Kouta.
Cast Herd: A majority of the cast is easily split into three groups.
Catchphrase: Kouta has taken to starting fights with "This is my stage now!"
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.
That first Invess that Kouta fights? It was Yuuya all along.
Cerebus Syndrome: With Gen Urobuchi at the helm we knew it was coming. The stakes get higher around episode ten-ish, but it's really cemented in #13-14, when we see three things: 1) Those attacked by Invess aren't out of the woods yet, literally: they develop an illness where plants of Helheim grow from their bodies and so far no one can do anything about it. This also turns the public against the Riders for their connection to the Invess. 2) The Elementary Invess are Earth animals who've eaten Helheim's fruits, and the very first Monster of the Week Invess was Yuuya mutated by eating one, and Kouta's first act as Gaim was to unknowingly kill his friend whom he's been searching for ever since. 3) Hase's attempt to regain his powers by eating a Helheim fruit ends in his becoming a mindless monster, and Lock Dealer Sid debuts as Armored Rider Sigurd and kills Hase. And in light of all that, yes, that does also mean the maintenance worker we saw about to eat a fruit probably became the MOTW from #9 that the Riders took out. In fact, it's impossible to know how many Invess have been innocent humans; if we didn't witness the transformation from an Elementary Invess, it's a possibility. Episode 20 takes this further by confirming that the Invess that aren't human are the former residents of the last world Helheim took over.
Chekhov's Gag: Remember that gag with Oren gushing over Takatora? It's the key to helping Kouta figure out that the Zangetsu that's been attacking him the previous few episodes is not the same one he befriended.
Chest Insignia: Gaim has his curved-sword crest on his helmet. Other than that, everyone who uses an S Lockseed has one: the regular Energy Arms have a circle to the side with the Riders' symbol, the Jimber Arms sport Gaim's symbol on one of the colored strips, and Kachidoki Arms has a gigantic full-chest logo. Kiwami Arms takes it to its natural conclusion, and places the outer emblem around the helmet crest, giving it a crown-like effect. Fitting, for a Shogun.
Chromatic Arrangement: The three main Beat Rider characters - Gaim, Baron, and Ryugen - are blue, red, and green. Zangetsu, the fourth main character but set apart from the other three by his power and alignment, complements them with his white armor.
Color-Coded for Your Convenience: Mitsuzane began wearing dark colors when he joined Yggdrasil, and has gone onto a completely black suit after allying with Redyue. Minato, on the other hand, has slowly been losing her dark look since Ryouma ditched her, first losing her dark jacket to show her white blouse, and finally switching to an all-white suit after her conversation with Takatora forgiving her for her betrayal and her affirming she'll fight by them. Where she got the suit is another matter altogether.
Comes Great Responsibility: Kouta learns this in #4; the only other Rider to even remotely learn this lesson is Takatora, who in #26 even names a formal term for it, noblesse oblige.
Defied in #8; Kouta tries to ask the other Armored Riders for help tracking down the Inves that's attacking people all over the city. Kaito outright refuses, saying that all the lower-ranked teams care about is dethroning Gaim, and correctly predicts that Invitto and Raid Wild will say the same thing.
Comically Missing the Point: When Oren takes to the airwaves to call out the Beat Riders, he uses the fact that he has employed Jonouchi as his apprentice as an example of how he plans to "discipline" the children. Mai completely misses the implied threat of violence, and instead becomes ecstatic over the prospect of getting to work at a pastry shop.
Conflicting Loyalty: The main setup of #17 is that Mitsuzane's first task upon joining Yggdrasil is to steal Kouta's belt. Torn between his friendship with Kouta and his allegiance with Yggdrasil, he sets up a hostage situation with himself being a mystery ransomer. However, his plan is foiled by Oren and he is forced to go through the conflict again, with him ultimately siding with Kouta. However, he still keeps his ties to Yggdrasil by convincing them in making him The Mole. He has this conflict for a while though, before Mai kills one of his loyalties by slapping him. Unfortunately, it kills his loyalty towards Kouta.
Continuity Nod: During the crossover with ToQger, Kouta forcibly stops Right from eating the fruit from Helheim. He doesn't want what happened to Hase and Yuya to happen to Right as well.
Cosmic Horror Story: The Helheim Forest essentially absorbs entire planets into its fold, and is aiming to absorb our planet within 10 years.
Crapsaccharine World: Zawame City in a nutshell. At first glance it looks like any other Neo-Hesei season with its bright colors, dance teams, quirky characters, and silly fruit gimmicks. But dig a little deeper and you'll find that Zawame City is a horrible place to live. Yggdrasill controls the city like a totalitarian police state, the people are at constant risk of being attacked by endless hordes of monsters, an uncontrollable plague is infecting the citizens, all of the antagonists are hyper-competent killers who avoid the typical Toku Villain Ball cliches. And then the Cosmic Horror Story comes into play, making everything, far, far worse.
Crowd Hockey: If knocking the Lock Seeds out of our heroes' hands wasn't cheap enough, the first two episodes 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.
By the end of episodes 12-14, Gaim has successfully become darker than Wizard, which was already the darkest Neo-Heisei series. Gaim definitely has the potential to get even darker.
By the end of episode 20, it got even darker: the series has become a cosmic horror story. Adding to the fact despite having so many Riders, we only have one fully good Rider, that being Gaim of course. Everyone else is a very mixed bag. With nearly all of Kouta's allies either being on the villains side (Micchy), somehow being worse (Kaito) or not too involved in the main plot (Zach). The villains are either an Anti-Villain (Takatora), a hate sink (Jonouchi and Sid), an amoral scientist (Ryoma) or Blood Knights (Yoko and Oren).
Deconstruction: Urobuchi seems to be going for this for Kamen Rider as a whole, not unlike how he deconstructed the Magical Girl genre with Puella Magi Madoka Magica. The series takes several tropes commonly found in the Kamen Rider franchise and plays them in much different ways.
A prominent example is in #14, when a villainous Kamen Rider unsympathetically kills a person who has transformed into a monster. He mockingly answers to the shocked and outraged protagonist:
"'Why?' Seems fairly obvious to me. I destroyed a monster that was attacking our citizens. I'd say that's pretty heroic."
Sid makes sure to give out Rider powers to people who are rather amoral. Instead of learning how to use their powers responsibly, they simply become Drunk with Power like how any real teenager would if given superpowers. In addition, the antagonists use the data gathered from their fights to make Rider powers superior to the heroes in every conceivable way.
The series also deconstructs Merchandise-Driven shows that treat their subject matter as Serious Business. The characters start off using their Lockseeds and Rider armors for completely petty, high school-level disputes that would not be uncommon in your average Shōnen anime, and the audience is expected to take this 100 percent seriously. Then, as more and more information is revealed about the horrifying nature of Helheim and people start dying, it becomes increasingly clear to the audience that the Beat Rider stuff is child's play in comparison to what is really going on. This is actually acknowledged within the series itself when Kouta and Kaito eventually end up quitting their respective Beat Rider teams in order to focus on the more serious matters at hand.
An early example of deconstruction from #4. Kouta loses a fight with Zangetsu, and nearly dies. While normal heroes in these types of shows would vow to defeat Zangetsu, Kouta becomes petrified to the point of not even touching his belt.
Kaito himself is arguably a deconstruction of the Second Rider trope. Many of the Second Riders from the franchise start off as The Rival to the hero (Riderman, Accel, Meteor), before undergoing a Heel-Face Turn. Kaito starts off as a vicious rival, then seems like he's going to realize what he's doing is wrong and fight alongside Kouta, only to quickly go right back to his old ways after he finds out whatever is in Helheim will help him on his quest for more power. He does aid the hero on several more occasions, but he remains a very morally ambiguous character.
Likewise, Mitsuzane is arguably a deconstruction of the Second Riders who are more friendly to their Main Rider (especiallyGattack, as the two characters both have a similar family connection with a mysterious corporation). Mitsuzane takes his friendship with Team Gaim seriously, to the point where he feels he has to keep secrets from them or even outright ''lie'' to maintain their happiness and bond. At the same time, he assists Yggdrasill and learns about a dozen awful truths that he keeps away from his friends, all while convinced that his actions are for the best. His overall personality, especially when he gets desperate, shows that just because the Second Rider is friendly doesn't mean he's out-and-out good. As the series progress, Mitsuzane is revealed to be very ruthless and manipulative, and he develops an intense hatred for Kouta. This reaches a breaking point in #26, when he completely turns on his friend. After that, Mitsuzane becomes obsessed with killing Kouta.
Takatora is arguably a deconstruction of the Big Bad. For the first part of the series, he's shown to be in charge of the massive organization that controls the city, has a secret agenda that he's determined to carry out, considers the other Armored Riders beneath him, delivers an utter Curb-Stomp Battle and the traditional tossed-into-the-drink scene to Gaim, and is built up to be a major threat as the most powerful character. However, as time goes on, it becomes clear that Takatora isn't as "in control" as he seemed, since all of his underlings have formed an alliance behind his back and are keeping critical information from him. The reason for all this is because they're the greedy, evil ones, and Takatora is actually as noble and idealistic as Kouta, but had to suppress it because the only apparent way to save humanity from Helheim would involve sacrificing billions. When he learns about the existence of the Overlords, Takatora is greatly relieved at the chance to save everybody, and gladly joins forces with Kouta, at which point Ryoma's alliance strikes and apparently kills him (he survives, thankfully).
The entire series can also be said to be a Deconstruction of the common Kamen Rider theme of The Hero fighting his battles alone, bearing the sins on his back. Almost all the other Riders encountered this in one way or the other (Even Fourze found himself fighting alone at one point), and Kouta is no exception with nearly everyone he can rely on being either dead or too amoral/jerkish to help and his biggest sin being that he killed Yuuya. The series goes out of its way to show just how it eats away at him, especially when he's expected to keep secrets, and shows just how alone he is in his war against Helheim.
This series also decisively deconstruct mons concept; see below.
Deadly Upgrade: Kiwami Arms, which seems to be doing exactly what Sagara promised it would - turning Kouta into an Overlord.
Digital Piracy Is Evil: After a fashion; in #16, the other Beat Riders learn how to "jailbreak" Lockseeds, which lets them summon fully materialized Inves in the real world, just like the Armored Riders can do. Team Redhot uses this to commit crimes, including sending their Inves to rob a jewelry storenote And Kaito comments that the other teams are doing much the same thing. This even gets the Aesop moment when Sonomura's jailbroken Mango Lockseed shorts out, causing the Inves it summoned to go berserk and beat the crap out of Redhot.
Distracted by the Sexy: Bravo is easily defeated by Zangetsu after he drops his weapons and begins swooning over his opponent.
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. The secret is all but out in #15 as Takatora is treated to the sight of his brother transforming into Ryugen.
Takatora is also unaware of his own associates planning to screw him over. It becomes poignant in #20, when Takatora tells Kouta that one human can destroy a hundred noble efforts, it cuts to Sid and Yoko, who talk about the fact that they don't really care for Takatora's efforts.
By the time Takatora started seeing Kouta in a positive light in #28, Micchy has already come to resent the latter, to the point of trying to kill him!
In #29, Kouta gives a speech on how he never would have gotten as far as he has if he didn't have trust in his friends. He doesn't know that he's saying this to Micchy, who has usurped his brother's role as Zangetsu Shin and is now trying to murder his former best friend out of hatred and jealousy.
Dressing as the Enemy: In #11, Kouta finds Yggdrasill's base camp within Helheim and puts on a spare hazmat suit so he can go into the tents to gather information.
Drunk with Power: Looking at the use/abuse of power and possible corruption from it seems to be a major theme of the series. Even Kouta gets a little buzzed on a power high in the early episodes. The end of #16 is a good example, as Kouta's depressed from seeing other Beat Riders turn into both figurative and literal monsters from pursuing power as well as Yggdrasill's own questionable use of its own power; and he discusses with Bando whether power corrupts.
Enemy Civil War: Yggdrasil's inner circle ALL have conflicting motivations and goals, leading to power struggles, but as of #28, Ryoma's faction turns on Takatora and seemingly kills him, followed by Sid betraying the others and going out on his own.
Enemy Mine: This happens on occasion; Kouta has no love for Yggdrasill, but he sometimes helps them in keeping an immediate threat in check.
Establishing Character Moment: The first two episodes each contain a moment where Kouta and Kaito help a child, showing that they're Not So Different. What does differ is their methods: the kinder-hearted Kouta 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.
Establishing Series Moment: The first five episodes of the show having Kouta discovering the belt and figuring out what to do with it, along with friends calling him out on toying around and one Kamen Rider nearly murdering him before he finally realizes what he should do with the belt shows the jagged pathway that Gen Urobuchi has laid down before us.
Everything's Better with Samurai: The major theme of the series, given its Jidai Geki roots, though the Riders' designs are taken from all kinds of warriors including samurai (Gaim and Zangetsu, plus Kurokage as a footsoldier), knights (Baron and Duke), Eastern warriors (Ryugen is Chinese and Marika is Arabian), Roman gladiators (Bravo), and Vikings (Sigurd, and Gridon as a footsoldier version).
Expy: Gaim's helmet had an asymmetrical crescent-shaped crest similar to that of Date Masamune.
Gaim's Kiwami Arms armor is visually inspired by the armor of Oda Nobunaga.
Fake Shemp: Played with in episodes 31 and 32. Due to Ryoma Sengoku's actor, Tsunenori Aoki, taking some time off of filming Gaim to act in a musical, Ryoma only appears transformed with Aoki merely providing his voice.
False Innocence Trick: In #17, Yoko poses as Kouta's kidnapped sister by using a gag and wig to obscure her own facial features.
Family-Unfriendly Violence: Kouta doesn't get out of his first encounter with a monster anywhere near as safely as other Riders. Before he transforms the Inves roughs him up something fierce, tossing him through a steel fence; you can see blood coming from his mouth afterward.
Fashionable Asymmetry: The Banana and Strawberry armors have uneven shoulders, and later we get the New Generation Riders, with only one shoulder-pad each.
Filler: The crossover with Ressha Sentai ToQger actually Lampshades this. The episode features an otherwise unrelated plot about the Riders battling the Badan Empire from Kamen Rider ZX, but Kaito makes sure to point out that this conflict is taking away time and focus from Kouta's war on the Yggdrasil Corporation.
Sixth Ranger: Zack, on account of getting his Driver long after everyone else.
Foreshadowing: In #11, Hase remarks that he's not going to be some mook. The very next episode shows that the Kurokage powerset has been given to Mooks.
In #3, Mitsuzane warns Sid that he will become more powerful than his brother once he joins Yggdrasil in the future, and suggests that they become friends while they can. Flash forward to #29: not only has Micchy taken over Takatora's role as the new Zangetsu Shin II, he's assisting Sid in acquiring the Forbidden Fruit due to their mutual hatred towards Kouta.
Food Pills: #15 reveals that one of the Sengoku Driver's functions is the ability to safely absorb energy from a Lockseed. In an After the End scenario, this would be very convenient.
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.
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.
Gaussian Girl: Bravo gets this effect in #11 when he sees Zangetsu of all people.
Getting Crap Past the Radar: Bravo fighting Baron, saying how he will "peel off the banana off (i.e., Baron´s armor) and start working on his body".
Genre Shift: In the beginning, the story was essentially a kid-friendly version of Sengoku-era orientated works that focused on the origins of several major players and had lots of light-hearted moments that didn't make it too removed from its predecessors. However, after the first arc, it shifts over to more of Gen Urobuchi's flavor of story and comes closer to the tone of the earlier Heisei series.
Gory Discretion Shot: When Roshuo kills Sid, the camera zooms upwards just before the cliff faces slam together and crush him to death.
Gratuitous English: The show is influenced by American hip-hop dancing, so it's to be expected.
Belt sounds for Baron, Gridon and Bravo's Arms are all in English; belt sounds for Gaim have English at the end ("Hanamichi On Stage!") Kurokage has them as well ("Ichigeki In the Shadows!")
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.
Gray and Grey Morality: Kouta and his allies fight against Yggdrasill because of their immoral experiments and neglect of Zawame's citizens, but Takatora claims that achieving Yggdrasill's goal is much more important to humanity. #20 reveals this to be true; their main goal is to stop the Forest from spreading across the Earth and destroying civilization.
Both played straight and subverted as time goes on: Takatora is a Well-Intentioned Extremist who genuinely wants to save humanity, but the other higher-ups in Yggdrasil want the invasion to happen and are revealed to be outright evil.
Averted with Deemushu and Redyue, who are opposed by the heroes due to being outright evil. The former is a Blood Knight who only cares about combat and destroying anyone weaker than him. The latter is a Psychopathic Woman Child who wants to conquer Earth.
The Guards Must Be Crazy: Yggdrasill is pretty much hyper-competent about everything except with their security detail. The guards forget to watch the cameras, the executives never turn off or log out of computers with sensitive information, and the Kurokage Troopers spectacularly fail during critical moments: Not only can they be tricked by simply making a sharp turn; they manage to let three targets escape while not landing a single hit with their cannons. And let's not get started on how a 16-year-old flying a Dandeliner for the first time does a better job than the mooks specifically trained for it...
Hidden Depths: Oren's flamboyant wackiness makes him seem like a Joke Character until he shows his fighting prowess. Turns out he's ex-military. On top of that, he is able to resist a Helheim fruit while Driverless (a considerable feat, considering how hypnotically appealing the fruit appears to people throughout the series).
Minato/Kamen Rider Marika is quite Bad Ass, but it's more impressive once Kouta starts utilizing the Energy Lockseeds (assuming that the Jimber Arms work for him like the Energy Arms work for the original users). The Peach Lockseed doesn't give the strength of Lemon or the speed of Cherry, and the super hearing it bequeaths could be used against the user. That means that Minato manages to be that tough by relying on her own skills to make up for less powerful armor, despite every sound around her being cranked Up to Eleven.
How Do I Shot Web?: Kouta, upon first transforming, has to figure out how to use his weapons. Averted later in #23 when Kouta goes into Kachidoki Arms and made the Yggdrasil building his bitch.
Likewise, after getting the Peach Energy Lockseed, Kouta tries it out with the specific intent of learning what does and soon discovers Jimba Peach Arms confers Super Senses.
Played straight again when Jounochi as Gridon gets to use Suika Arms - and can't even get it out of ball mode.
Magazine scans have shown images for two apple Lockseeds, one gold and one silver, that will play a role in the upcoming summer movie.
Humans Are Bastards: Takatora states that this is Yggdrasill's reason for covering up the threat of Helheim: when faced with impending doom, humanity would panic and turn on each other. Any weapons developed to fight the Inves would be taken and turned on human enemies as well - and as if to prove his point, the other three New Generation Riders are plotting to use their power for themselves.
Roshuo also believes this, but like Takatora, he doesn't really have any outright hatred for people and is willing to give the human race a chance to prove itself.
Imperial Stormtrooper Marksmanship Academy: In #23, Yggdrasil Tower has laser beam defenses that let them fly like they're going out of style. Kouta himself never gets hit, though his Dandeliner did get knocked out of commission for a bit. Possibly justified if they're designed for a large-scale assault by an Invase swarm rather than just one target.
Incredibly Obvious Bug: Micchy tied his handphone to an Inves in #9. In a bright green pouch. You really gotta wonder why it never caught on.
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. This one's been lampshaded in-universe, but ultimately gets subverted.
Something about the unripe Lock Seeds is making them hypnotically appetizing. It's certainly not the smell, since it's able to affect people over ten feet away, and appearance-wise it looks more like an uprooted beet.
Ironic Echo Cut: #14: Kouta screams "I can't kill a human!" when he's confronting with an Inves-transformed Ryoji Hase. Cut to the next scene where Micchy notes, "Yuya (who was the Byakko Inves from episode 1)...was killed by Kouta."
It's Raining Men: In #23, Gaim drops onto a Yggdrasill Tower helipad as he is transforming into Kachidoki Arms.
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.
Kid Hero: Deconstructed. As Sid points out, the reason why Yggdrasill is giving Sengoku Drivers to Beat Rider teams is because they are run by irresponsible, egocentric teenagers who never question why they are getting such power making them perfect pawns while a responsible adult will instantly realize something is wrong.
Irony: Becomes deeply ironic in #31. Sid, a person who considers himself a 'responsible adult' and always berates kids, saying that adults should rule over them, is the one who gets enticed by the forbidden fruit Redyue offers and gets killed, all while screaming about how he should get the Forbidden Fruit like a spoiled child. On the other hand, Mitsuzane, a part of the Beat Rider teams, is the one who instantly realises Redyue is setting up a trap.
Even worse, when things go south they're able to put the blame on the "idiot kids" while they themselves look like benevolent authority figures. Micchy even thinks they set that up on purpose, too.
Kill It with Fire: Whenever the Helheim Forest encroaches onto Zawame City Yggdrasill puts a stop to it with a copious amount of fire.
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.
Loads and Loads of Characters: The series has a total of eleven Rider characters (and a twelfth powerset for Zangetsu Shin),note Gaim, Baron, Ryugen, Zangetsu (Shin), Gridon, Kurokage, Bravo, Sigurd, Marika, Duke, and Knuckle plus a Mook Rider army and five other Lockseed-using Riders in the movies.note Bujin Gaim, Fifteen, Kurokage Shin, Kamuro, and Mars This officially puts us over the former record-holder even counting both Alternatives.
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.
The Masquerade: Yggdrasill is all over the place with this, from making people think that the Armored Riders are a new fad to covering up the Helheim Forest's existence and stopping it from encroaching onto the human world.
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"; as of Kamen Rider Taisen we've seen seven sets based on the Neo-Heisei Riders from Decade to Gaim himself, plus Ichigo.
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 Kamen Rider Mage wasn't until #40.
Mind Screw: The series' opening scene, showing Gaim and Baron lead armies against each other while Zangetsu, Ryugen, their army, and the mysterious girl look on. Is it a future event, or something that happened in the past with other people in the armor? Is it metaphorical or literal?
Mini-Mecha: Watermelon Arms comes in 3 different modes.
Be The Ball: Big Ball Mode note A giant watermelon 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 its 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 Inves 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.
#14 confirms one fans had long suspected: Yuya was Sid's original choice for Team Gaim's Sengoku Driver, but ended up eating a Lock Fruit and changing into an Inves. His abandoned Driver was the one Kouta and Mai found in #1.
Mon: The Beat Riders resolve conflicts by playing Inves Games, but every few episodes seems to add a new Deconstruction of the concept:
Even the little ones can break out of the Inves Game and 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 Inves Game than their actual dancing skills.
In response to Yuya's comment, Bando points out the upside by saying it gives the kids an alternative to actual violence... but eventually the teams figure out how to "jailbreak" their Lockseeds and fully summon Inves outside of the Inves Game. Some teams quickly start exploiting their new power and escalate from dance crews to street gangs; the rest have to jailbreak their own Lockseeds in order to defend themselves, and the populace doesn't see any distinction between them and the power-abusing teams.
Creatures from another dimension are carriers of some disease that humans have no defense for.
A strong case of this in #23, where we go from Kouta breaking out of his Heroic BSOD and finding his Heroic Resolve to a gag about the size of Kouta's tab with Drupers to Kouta Storming the Castle and singlehandedly trashing the Scalar system!
Mugging the Monster: In #21, two crooks don't take Kouta, Micchy, and Zack confronting them for using Inves to rob an armored car very seriously. Said crooks are promptly curbstomped by the three without transforming.
Mundane Utility: The second episode has Kouta using his new powers to try and help with his jobs.
Gaim's sequence before the opening practically screams Decade.
The scene after the opening of Kouta finding a lost child's mother is almost identical to Kuuga's counterpart of the same scene.
The restaurant resembles the one from OOO.
Kouta learning the powers of Gaim is just like Kuuga, Ryuki, Den-O, OOO, and Fourze.
Likewise, Gaim's Jimber Arms have similar qualities to Kuuga's three alternate forms: Jimber Lemon is slow and powerful like Titan Form, Jimber Cherry is quick and agile like Dragon Form, and Jimber Peach has enhanced senses like Pegasus Form.
Gaim's Musou Saber is practically the Blaygun from Kamen Rider Faiz, only not used as a reverse one by default. Either that or Kamen Rider Ixa's Ixa Calibur from Kamen Rider Kiva.
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, especially when Oren occasionally goes "Non, non, non", which was one of Enter's most often used French bits.
The way the New Generation Riders use their Sonic Arrows would make Kamen Rider Chalice proud, as they actually use them in close combat.
When Sigurd detransforms after killing a monster, he held his hat in a similar manner to how Shotaro holds his hat, further illustrating that what he did was no different to what Kamen Riders do.
The Reveal that some of the Inves are actually transformed humans may be nod to the Shocker Kaijin of the original Kamen Rider.
Zangetsu/Zangetsu Shin is never referred to in-series by his official Kamen Rider names, only "the white Armored Rider", just like "the White Wizard" from Kamen Rider Wizard.
In episode 23 we hear an Inves speak in a language the viewer can't understand, much like the Grongi, the Undead and the Fangires.
When Kamen Rider 1, Kamen Rider 2, and Kamen Rider V3 make a surprise cameo appearance, Mio from ToQger wonders aloud why V3 doesn't just call himself "Kamen Rider 3". This is in reference to the longstanding fandom confusion over what the hell the "V" in "Kamen Rider V3" actually stands for.
In order to use the Kiwami Arms, Kouta must first transform into Kachidoki Arms. This is just like Agito, who needs to transform into Burning Form first before into Shining Form. In addition, the transformation involves Kouta's armor ejecting parts off of itself, just like Kabuto's Cast Off.
After receiving the Kiwami Lockseed, Kouta falls against a cabinet which bears images of playing cards (in particular a Joker card). Given that the conversation proceeding this has DJ Sagara saying Kouta must become an Overlord, this is a fairly obvious nod to Blade, the climax of which had its hero becoming a Joker Undead.
The way the riders have to tap on their belt buckles numerous times in order to perform the finisher move reminds some of Kamen Rider Kabuto.
The riders pressing the same part multiple times also reminds some of Kamen Rider Double's FangJoker form.
One for Kamen Rider Ryuki: the first rider is a sword wielder, the second rider is a lance wielder, and the third rider is a green gunslinger.
Takatora breaking Hase's belt is what caused the latter's downfall and transformation into an Inves.
Non-Serial Movie: Gaim's portion of the Wizard/Gaim Movie Wars falls into this category, as Takatora seeing that Micchy is with the Beat Riders and him transforming into Ryugen is something that later events of the series reveal in a different context.
The mysterious girl has this expression in #23, when DJ Sagara tells her he knows who she really is.
Micchy in #29, when his plan to impersonate Zangetsu Shin and attack Kouta provokes Kouta into fighting back.
Micchy again in #33, when he sees that Kouta is loading his Kiwami Arms finisher and aiming for him.
Omniscient Council of Vagueness/Not-So-Omniscient Council of Bickering: Yggdrasill's inner circle is somewhere in between these two tropes. While they know a lot more than anyone else about what's going on; it's clear that they don't know everything, they're barely able to get along, and Takatora admits that they can barely control the Helheim situation.
Order vs. Chaos: #20 reveals that Yggdrasil is split between Takatora (Order) and Sid, Ryoma, and Yoko (Chaos) in their views on Helheim. The catch is that Takatora has no idea.
Pet the Dog: Takatora seems to truly care about Mitsuzane, and also tried to warn Hase not to eat the fruit.
Planetary Parasite: The Helheim Forest, which invades and overgrows worlds, transforming everything in them into Inves, before moving on to the next.
Plot Tumor: After the first few episodes, the Inves battles and clashes between the Armored Riders completely overshadow the street dancing element. This is Lampshaded in #18 after Kaito refuses to participate in the all-team event, causing Peco to break down in tears, sobbing that he joined Team Baron so he could dance; this leads to Kaito leaving Baron, since his presence was what was causing the trouble.
Poor Communication Kills: Averted! Yes, that required emphasis. Considering how infamous its use was in early Heisei Kamen Rider and how Gaim is a throw back to those shows, an aversion is actually surprising. The series also shows just why there's usually misunderstandings. The forest would have been taken care of a lot earlier had it not been for people having ulterior motives or secret alliances to uphold. To put simply, "Why don't they just talk to each other?" "Because almost everyone is a either a dick or dumb."
During their fight in #19, Takatora offers to show Kouta the "uncontrollable, meaningless evil" he spoke of in their first battle (in other words, his reason for fighting), and Kouta accepts. While Takatora intended for it to break Kouta, it still applies.
It gets averted again with Mai. In normal Heisei Rider shows, upon finding out that the Rider has to do with their friend's untimely death, characters often accuse or outright hate the Rider and provide conflict for a good chunk of the show. Not Mai. She perfectly understands Kouta's situation... It's Mitsuzane who plays it straight.
Once again averted in #27, when Takatora has his first encounter with an Overlord. Kouta explains what he is, and Takatora not only believes him, but it opens up a mutual trust and understanding between them, since they each realize that the other has the same goal and noble intentions... too bad Sid fights Takatora and Mitsuzane takes up his mantle, thus causing Kouta to distrust him all over again.
Averted yet again in #29, where, instead of operating under any mistaken assumptions or sense of conflict, Roshuo and Takatora have an open and direct talk about what both sides are, what both sides want, and how both sides had/will be trying to survive the forest. Sure, it makes it perfectly clear how screwed up everything is, was and will be, but at least everyone is on the same page!
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.
Power-Up Food: The Lock Seeds. Maybe not for the Riders since they don't eat the Seeds or the fruit-Arms they summon, but certainly for the Inves. We later see that the Helheim fruit has a similar effect on humans.
#37 is one for the Non-Serial MovieKamen Rider Gaim: The Great Soccer Match! The Golden Fruit Cup!
Product Placement/Reality Subtext: invoked The Kikaider crossover includes a scene where Kouta's sister gets tickets for a movie titled REBOOT and the episode ends with her looking at those tickets, with the poster showing what looks to be Pinocchio, giving the nod to Kikaider's influence. The crossover is an Early-Bird Cameo for the Kikaider REBOOT movie.
Psycho Rangers: After #14, the New Generation Riders are this for the (A-Ranked) Armored Riders.
Put on a Bus: Ryoma disappears from the early-30s episodes because his actor has another project. He voices a Fake Shemp in a Duke suit for #31 and 32 and makes a short appearance in #33, but hasn't been seen since after abandoning Yggdrasill.
Random Power Ranking: Each Lock Seed is ranked from D to S; the fruit-themed Riders use A Lock Seeds to transform, while the nut-themed Riders use lower-ranked ones (Gridon's Acorn is B, Knuckle's Walnut is C+, and Kurokage's Pinecone is C). Energy Lock Seeds are ranked S.
Real Life Writes the Plot: Kaito getting a Genesis Driver happened entirely due to his runaway popularity; it wasn't part of the original plan for the series. Part of the reason The Reveal ended up being so surprising is because, due to this change, Toei didn't have any early photos to send to fan magazines like Hobby Japan.
Reconstruction: Of Poor Communication Kills induced Conflict Balls. As you might notice above, this trope commonly seen in early Hesei-era Kamen Rider shows gets averted more times than it actually gets played straight. For an example, Takatora manages to tell Kouta his reason for fighting and Kouta accepts it and understands Yggdrasil, even if the reason's a little shocking... cue Sid dropping by to tell Kouta about Yggdrasil's Scalar Weapons system, effectively resetting the conflict with Yggdrasil with a pretty clear reason why the trope exists in universe: almost everyone has ulterior motives.
During the Spring Gattai Special, Mai brings up the Charmant restaurant to Mio and Kagura, setting up a possible appearance by Oren Pierre Alfonso... which never happened.
When Sagara is meeting up with the Overlords, him saying "don't let your guard down" among the Overlord's Cypher Language might have indicated that he was warning them of Kouta. However, translations show that he was actually quoting something he learned during his time in a human guise.
Red Right Hand: The Inves we know to be transformed humans all have a giant, clawed right hand and a more human left one. Also, when Hase was able to temporarily return to human form, one hand stayed partially mutated. We see this about when we realize that even when looking mostly like himself again, his mind is still that of a beast.
Reflective Eyes: When Takatora reveals the secret of Helheim to Micchy, we are shown a very brief glimpse as Micchy stares in horror.
Renegade Splinter Faction: Yggdrasill has one led by Professor Ryoma that has pretty much completely taken over the organization with Takatora as the only Rider that's not a member of Ryoma's nut club.
Repetitive Name: Armored Rider Gaim becomes this when the kanji for Gaim's name is translated into something along the lines of "Armored Warrior".
Rule of Cool: Prof. Ryoma Sengoku admits that the Sengoku Drivers give odd transformation calls (like "The Path of Blossoms on Stage!" and "Knight of Spear!") entirely because it's a guilty pleasure of his. Which probably explains why, out of the four Genesis Drivers, his is the only one that has such a call.
Running Gag: Non-comedic example. Whenever a character transforms for the first time, we get to see their helmets forming when the fruit is on their head. It's been varied a few times (Hase and Jonouchi both had theirs done at the same time, Takatora had two scenes where this happened) and subverted when Micchy and Kaito start using Genesis Drivers.
Say My Name: "HASE!!!", "KOUTA-SAN!", "TAKATORA!", etc.
"MITSUZANE!!!" -Episode 35
The Scapegoat: The secondary purpose of the Inves Game and Beat Riders is so Yggdrasill can have convenient fall guys while they work in the shadows.
After Micchy assumes the role of Zangetsu Shin II, he keeps silent when he fights Kouta in order to trick him into thinking that Takatora is the one trying to murder him.
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. Only Zangetsu consistently has one, and that has more to do with his not being forthcoming than keeping a secret. Until Mitsuzane takes the identity, and then he does have a vested interest in keeping his face hidden.
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 also kept his activities as Ryugen from his brother. And as noted, he's now the new Zangetsu Shin and keeping that a secret from Kouta and the other Armored Riders.
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 armor.
Selective Obliviousness: After the Inves Plague breaks out the people of Zawame city turn against the Beat Riders while worshiping Bravo as a hero, while conveniently forgetting that Bravo himself was responsible for one of the biggest Inves rampages. This is sadly justified thanks to mob mentality and the fact that Kaito sent out some Inves when he got called out by the mob.
Self-Made Orphan: Guess who Redyue's first "toys" were after becoming an Overlord. This might be the point where Micchy realizes just what level of lunatic he's thrown in with.
Shipper on Deck: Team Gaim seems to approve of Kouta and Mai being together, save for Mitsuzane. When he reveals his Face-Heel Turn in #35, he claims that he would have been okay with Kouta and Mai getting together, but he's become so evil and deluded that it's unclear if he's being honest.
Shoo Out the Clowns: Though not actually removed from the show in any permanent way, the Crazy Awesome Bravo and Butt Monkey Gridon sit out the episodes with very serious plotlines until they Took a Level in Badass and joined the fray. There's also been an absence of Iyo despite Drupers still playing a part in the Overlords arc.
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. This dies down as time goes on and the focus shifts away from the Inves battles, however.
Continuing with Star Wars, Kaito and Kouta's Yggdrasill infiltration plan was basically the Battle of Endor without the Ewoks.
The preview for Gaim 36 where Kouta runs to Zangetsu (Takatora) battling Zangetsu Shin (Mitsuzane) as Takatora prepares to finish off his brother bears a resemblance to Mace moving in to kill Palpatine while Anakin rushes to the scene from Revenge of the Sith.
Yggdrassil is also reminiscent of Hypnos, with the Cracks appearing throughout Zawame paralleling the Wild Ones materializing throughout Shinjuku.
The various online comments in support of the Beat Riders in episode 18 contain a few references to other shows, including referencing Aigaron and Candelira's catchphrases from Zyuden Sentai Kyoryuger and the voice of the Wizard Driver from Kamen Rider Wizard.
The show contains a bit of shout outs to Final Fantasy VII. The first being Takatora standing amongst the flames not unlike one of Sephiroth's most memorable scenes. The other being that the civilization in Helheim looks reminiscent of a prerendered background in the game.
Something Completely Different: the teamup and movie tie-in episodes. In the other, more episodic series, they might not seem so out of place and definitely wouldn't be unwelcome, but Gaim is a tightly plotted serial where every episode leads directly into the next, more like a book where you get another chapter every week. As such, it's pretty bizarre when an episode, instead of having any connection with where the previous episode left off, starts with the ToQgers' train dropping by a dancing session that gets crashed by the villains from Kamen Rider ZX, or with Another Dimension where dead past characters are back and everyone's... playing soccer? (The Kikaider teamup was at least foreshadowed by Jiro dropping into town.)
Spell My Name with an S: There doesn't seem to be an established romanization for the name of the monsters. It might be seen as Inves, Invase, Inbess, and so on. "Invase" may be most accurate, as Ryoma calls the Helheim flora an invasive species in #20. Though the official spelling for these monsters is Inves◊ derived from "InvasiveSpecies.
Mitsuzane's nickname could be spelled as "Micchy", "Micchi", "Mitchy" or "Mitch".
Gaim's Mid-Season Upgrade is based on a garment called a jinbaori, but the official romanization for it is "Jimber" rather than "Jinba".
The villain of the summer movie is officially Kamen Rider Mars - which fits him, being the name of a war god - but the alternate reading of "Malus" possibly fits him better as it both reflects his alignment (Latin for "evil") and his theme fruit (it's the name of a genus of apple tree).
Spoiler Title: Subverted in a Meta Twist fashion. #18's title is "Farewell, Beat Riders". You can be forgiven for thinking this refers to the Beat Riders disbanding, as a major plot point that developed in the Yggdrasil Saga was that they were getting lots of flak. However, the Beat Riders actually start turning things around; the title instead refers to Kaito leaving the Beat Riders, so it's in a way him saying "Farewell, Beat Riders". It could also be the show saying goodbye to the Beat Rider storyline as it moves its focus to the Inves conflict.
Story Arc: Whereas previous Kamen Riders focused on two-episode story arcs, Gaim is split into seasons, which Toei calls "Sagas". In order:
#1-11: The Beat Riders Saga, which represents a time of childhood and introduces all the Sengoku Driver-using Riders.
#12-19: The Yggdrasill Saga, a story of adulthood which introduces the Energy Lock Seeds.
#20-23: The Helheim Saga, a shorter arc that builds the story up towards its climax, with the stakes getting even higher than before.
#24-32: The Overlord Saga, in which the Riders must contend with the Overlord Inves, masters of the Forest.
#33-??: The Forbidden Fruit Saga: One of the Overlords orders an all-out invasion of Earth. The previously scattered and conflicting Riders must band together to prevent the extinction of humanity.
Superman Stays Out of Gotham: Kouta urges the ToQger kids not to get involved in the conflict with the Invess, as he claims its not their fight. Likewise, Ticket advises the kids not to aid the Kamen Riders, as Zawame doesn't actually contain any Shadows for them to fight. This doesn't stop them, however. Their involvement is kept to one teamup due to the premise of ToQger: the train travels all over, and they're off to their next stop after lending a hand in Zawame.
Super Mode: For the first and second story arcs, the Watermelon arms (a Mini-Mecha much more heavily armed than normal Rider gear) and the Jimber Lemon Arms qualify, respectively. The third arc then introduces Kachidoki Arms, which acts as a more traditional Super Mode. It can later be upgraded into Kiwami Arms, Gaim's true Super Mode, via a new Lock Seed.
Zangetsu Shin is this to normal Zangetsu, though it's technically created with a completely different transformation device and acts as a permanent upgrade. Baron later gains a Genesis Driver and receives a similar upgrade, while Mitsuzane becomes Zangetsu Shin II.
Supervillain Lair: Yggdrasill Tower. It lords over Zawame City, has a permanent portal to Helheim in it, is heavily armed with laser guns, has an Invisibility Cloak to stop the populace from realizing anything weird is going on, and possesses the Scalar System, a WMD that can destroy the entire city and kill everyone in it.
Interestingly enough, the tower becomes a lair for Redyue once she begins her invasion of Earth and overruns the building with plants from Helheim.
Then Let Me Be Evil: Team Red Hot's reaction to the citizens calling the Beat Riders crazy psychotic monster summoners is to... well... be crazy psychotic monster summoners.
These Are Things Man Was Not Meant to Know: Helheim is home to the ruins of an alien city, entirely consumed by the forest. It's so shocking that Micchy immediately accepts Takatora's offer to join Yggdrasill, and Kouta doesn't take it much better.
Touched by Vorlons: According to DJ Sagara Helheim has come to Earth before, granting great power to famous mythological figures in Norse and Greek mythology (and Christian mythology is heavily implied as well, but not stated).
To Be a Master: Deconstructed. With the exception of Team Gaim, every Beat Rider team is obsessed with being the best of the best, causing them to ignore very important problems.
Trailers Always Spoil / Late-Arrival Spoiler: Notice that most of the marketing (including the banner used as the page image here) either downplays or ignores Kamen Rider Kurokage. Not surprisingly, he is the first Armored Rider to be stripped of his powers and then killed.
Similarly, but much more subtly, one of the vehicles in a magazine scan has its user, Kurokage, shown with his belt as a black silhouette. This is because the original Kurokage driver is similar to but not identical to the mass-produced ones used by the actual users of the Tuliphoppers: the Kurokage Troopers that appear after the death of the original.
Transformation Is a Free Action: Averted, although when a Rider is attacked mid-transformation he can usually dodge, defend, or even weaponize the Arms to defend himself. Usually. Micchy sneak-attacks Kouta when the latter is in the middle of exchanging Arms, knocking him out cold.
Ungrateful Bastard: Once mob mentality set in for the citizens, they rarely acknowledge Beat Riders as their heroes, even after witnessing them attacking the Inves. In fact, they hail a guy who fought a Beat Rider as a hero despite the former being responsible for an Inves outbreak... Granted, the latter was about to sic some Inves at the mob...
The people playing with the Inves, as it's causing dimensional tears that are allowing bigger monsters to get through. Whether of not Yggdrasill Corporation counts for making the Inves arrive in the first place is unknown, although #2 shows Yggdrasill harvesting the Lock Seeds. It soon becomes a massive problem once it's discovered that the Inves were carriers of diseases.
This later turns out to be a subversion: it's revealed that the cracks to Helheim are opening up regardless of whether or not people summon Inves with the Lockseeds. Yggdrasil got the Beat Riders to start using the Lockseeds in order to set them up as scapegoats to avoid a mass panic.
Had it not been for Kouta and Mitsuzane coming up with the Christmas Game, Hase wouldn't have come into clashes with Takatora, wind up with a broken Driver and eventually a desire for power that turns him into an Inves.
Yuuya's role is small, but he essentially set into motion everything in the show. Him eating the Lockseed caused him to become an Inves and he dropped the Sengoku Driver that Kouta picked up, thus becoming Gaim and sparking the Armored Rider scene and the above Christmas Game. His death by his hands is also what sparks Mitsuzane's fear of Kouta, as well as his concerns of him finding out about it.
Unwitting Pawn: Every Armored Rider is this to Yggdrasill. They're even called 'guinea pigs' by the inner circle.
Takatora is one to the rest of Yggdrasil's inner circle.
Kouta's speech at the end of #11 gives off this vibe.
Kouta: Looking back on it, that was when the gears were starting to turn. But... we really didn't realize anything at all. We didn't know that our fates were already written in stone. We just wanted the power to reach our dreams, we thought that would help us grow up. That's what we all believed, at least. But... you can't wish yourself into growing up. You grow up when you can't be a child anymore... In the endless war that has yet to come... we would discover that for ourselves...
Villain Episode: #20 is essentially Kouta and Kaito hanging out with the villains and having them take the main focus and role of exposit what happened and why Yggdrasil exists, with Zack, Oren, and Micchy having small parts.
Villains Want Mercy: In #11 when the Yggdrasill camp is being overrun by Inves, one of the scientists begs Kouta for help despite laughing and talking about how the Beat Riders are just guinea pigs before. Kouta calls him out on being a Hypocrite, but still helps save the day.
Villain with Good Publicity: Yggdrasill encourages the popularity of the Inves Game by distributing Lock Seeds, hands out Drivers to kids as part of their shady experiments, and later frames them for the outbreak of the Inves Plague. Granted, #16 hints that Yggdrasill might not be so villainous after all, as their means might be justified to save humanity.
Most of them, actually; the creatures we and the characters know as Inves, were the native people of what is now the Helheim Forest. Non-sapient Earth animals have been shown turning into Elementary Inves, but even they were only a foot high or so...
War Arc: The Forbidden Fruit Saga becomes one when Zawame turns into one giant battlefield between the Riders and the Inves, with outside interference being interrupted by Roshuo.
The War Sequence: #1 opens up with Baron and Gaim's forces charging at each other while Zangetsu and Ryugen watch on.
Wham Episode: Before we start listing them off, there are a lot of shocking developments in this show, to the point where almost every other episode can be see as one. It owes a lot to the pacing, though in order to keep the list short, stick to the major wham episodes.
Urobuchi warned that #14 would put kids off orange juice. He wasn't kidding. In the last episode, Yuya had turned into an Inves, and unlike humans-turned-monsters from other Rider series, he isn't saved: the New Generation Riders debut and Hase is killed by Kamen Rider Sigurd, who is revealed to be Sid. Worse, we find out that the Inves from back in #1 was in fact Team Gaim's missing leader Yuya, meaning that Kouta had unknowingly killed one of his close friends.
#20. The truth is revealed: Helheim actually invaded a civilization long ago and absorbed it into their own forest, turning the humans into Inves, with Earth turning into another Helheim within ten years. In addition, Sid, Ryoma, and Yoko are planning to use Helheim for their own needs and ask Kaito to join them. Not only that, we learn that, despite the Beat Riders swearing off using Inves, the citizens of Zawame still rely on their mob mentality and Oren's word. Worse still, Kouta and Kaito both react to this with disturbingresults.
In #26-27, Micchy's annoyance and jealousy become so great that he attempts to assassinate Kouta.
#28 has Ryoma, Sid, and Yoko finally turning on Takatora, and they think they might have killed him. Sid betrays Ryoma and destroys his lab, entering the big crack as it disappears. And finally, Micchy takes Takatora's Driver and attacks Kouta as Zangetsu Shin, ruining Kouta's alliance with Takatora.
#29 is another. Takatora meets with Roshuo, the King of Helheim. He discovers that it wasn't Helheim that destroyed the other world, but the civilization after Roshuo used the Forbidden Fruit to turn it into a Social Darwinist utopia. It ends with one of the Overlords escaping into the human world.
#32 is the centerpiece of a series of whams, stretching both before and after the episode proper. Deemushu has invaded the human world, causing Zawame to go into lockdown. Sid picks a fight with Roshuo and gets killed. While Gaim gets Kiwami Arms, Redyue launches a full-scale invasion, turning Zawame into a war zone cut off from the outside world. Ryoma tops things off by exposing everything Yggdrasill knows to the world, absolutely shattering any semblance of The Masquerade.
#36 has Redyue mentioning the Forbidden Fruit's power that Kouta has to learn.
While Sigurd killing Hase was pretty shocking, it's what Sigurd says next that confirmed that this is a deconstruction of Kamen Rider.
Kouta: Why did you kill him? He...
Sigurd: "Why"? Seems fairly obvious to me. [de-transforms]
Sid: I destroyed a monster that was attacking our citizens. I'd say that's pretty heroic.
From Episode 32:
DJ Sagara: So really, there's only one solution. You have to become an Overlord yourself.
From Episode 33:
Ryoma: I've just announced the gory details of Project Ark to the whole world.
Played frighteningly straight in Episode 35:
Kouta: Micchy... it was you!? Then... what happened to the real Takatora!?
Micchy: He's dead! Another casualty of your disease!
Kouta: Micchy! Why are you doing this!?
Micchy: Your hope is slowly robbing me of everyone I care about!
Kouta: Stop this!
Micchy: And I can't sit back and watch anymore! Kouta... the only way to save Mai... is to sacrifice YOU!
Moving on to Episode 36, where Redyue gives an interesting note to Kouta. This has something to do with DJ Sagara's line in Episode 32.
Redyue: So, it's already begun for you.
Kouta: Running away?
Redyue: You don't know anything yet, do you? I'll enjoy seeing you learn the meaning of your power.
Wham Shot: #14: Yuya in the Helheim Forest, eating the Lockseed that would make him the Byakko Inves.
In #20, Kouta and the audience are shown the sight that horrified Micchy back in #16. It was the ruins of a city that had been conquered by the Inves, thus revealing that Helheim is an entire WORLD that the Inves had conquered. And Earth is next.
#23 has a small wham shot in the form of Sagara and the Helheim girl standing on the same roof witnessing Gaim's Kachidoki Arms debut, and then right after, the two engage in a conversation, establishing some sort of relationship between the two. Earlier in the episode, there's also Sagara creating a Lock Seed.
#36 has another. Kaito gets a cut from Redyue, and it's getting nastier from here.
What Measure Is a Non-Human?: Deconstructed by Sigurd, who was asked why he killed an Inves that used to be human, claiming that what he did was justice.
The Worf Effect: The Curb-Stomp Battle between Bravo and Baron, the first time Baron is forced to rely on summoning Inves, and still lost. Justified as Bravo is a trained soldier while Baron is, while Badass, a normal guy.
And then in #11, Zangetsu turns right around and makes Bravo look like a fool, justified because he understands the Sengoku Driver's functions completely while Bravo is learning as he goes. Also because Bravo was busy swooning over Zangetsu at the time.
Then played straight in #17 and #21. Thanks to Oren and Sid picking fights, Gaim uses Jimber Lemon Arms and beats both Bravo and Sigurd fair and square.
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.
Better yet, their headquarters even accommodates a sacred tree which serves as a permanent portal to Helheim Forest. It's explained in #20 that said tree used to stand at the Takatsukasa Shrine, and is believed to have come from Helheim. If you pay close attention, you could actually spot the tags on the Shrine Tree.