Almost too many to count. Don't worry, they'll start dwindling down.note Starting in the upper-left corner, moving left to right then down: Imperer, Gai, Zolda, Ryuki, Tiger, Ryuga, Odin, Ryuki Survive, Scissors, Alternative, Raia, Knight, Ouja, Femme, Verde, Knight Survive.
"Those who do not fight won't survive!!"
The 2002-2003 entry in the Kamen Rider franchise, and third in the Heisei Era.Shinji Kido is a young, highly excitable Intrepid Reporter for the online news website ORE Journal. Whilst investigating a series of seemingly random disappearances, he stumbles across a mysterious card deck at the home of one of the victims. After picking it up, he finds that he is able to see hostile monsters living inside of reflective surfaces, and is soon sucked through into the Mirror World: a parallel universe that serves as the home for the monsters and battleground for the Kamen Riders.He soon meets up with two people involved with this strange otherworld: Yui Kanzaki, a young girl looking for her missing brother, and her partner Ren Akiyama, a longcoat-wearing, Harley-ridingstoicBadass who has a card deck of his own and can use it to transform into Kamen Rider Knight. Despite the warnings of Ren and Yui, Shinji decides to make a contract with one of the Mirror Monsters to gain its power and fight as Kamen Rider Ryuki to protect the innocent. However, he has unwittingly entered into something far greater...the Rider War.Thirteen Advent Card decks have been created for thirteen Kamen Riders, and There Can Be Only One. The mastermind behind the Rider War is Shirou Kanzaki, Yui's missing brother, and he offers to grant a single wish to the last Rider standing. Shinji is determined to stop the in-fighting between the Riders and concentrate on eliminating the threat of the Mirror Monsters, but Ren is equally determined to have his wish granted, and he isn't the only one. Ideals and friendships clash on and off the battlefield as the pressure of the war grows and the Riders are eliminated one by one.The series consists of the following installments:
Alternate Continuity - The TV series, the 13 Riders special and The Movie all exist in their own continuities. This is a result of Shirou Kanzaki's overuse of the Reset Button. The TV series is actually his final attempt to do it again.
Animal Motifs: The contracted Mirror Monsters, and by extension, the Riders they contract with.
Awesome, but Impractical: Zolda and Tiger's Final Vents. For the former, it's Game Breaker status is mitigated by a long build-up time that leaves him wide open to attack, and the fact that despite being able to wipe out large numbers in one go, he never manages to kill anyone with it. The one character who takes it head on is badly injured, but survives... and is killed by another rider moments later. For the latter, it's demonstrated that the gap between when Destwilder attacks and Tiger finishes the enemy off is a wide enough period of time for an aware rider to escape and survive (as both Asakura and Kitaoka managed to do).
Some of the Visors used by the Riders. While some are dual purpose weapons and card scanners or are easily accessed, Ouja and Odin have large staffs that look cool but they don't use at all in combat and must we pulled out of Hammerspace just to be used. By contrast, Ryuki just slides a card into a gauntlet on his arm and done.
Some, however, are Awesome And Practical: when your card reader is also a weapon, you don't have to fumble with cards while being attacked in order to do battle.
Ouja's use of multiple Monsters gives him both impressive power and a more varied arsenal than most other Riders... but it means he has three monsters to feed whereas everyone else only has to take care of one—-on top of which, two of those monsters kinda hate him because he stole them after having killed their original Riders.
Blessed with Suck - Becoming a Kamen Rider means you gain cool powers, but you're also bound to fighting the other Riders and monsters, and if you stop fighting, your contract monster eventually eats you.
Clothes Make the Superman: The wielders of the Rider Decks were chosen by Kanzaki Shiro, but they can be actually be used by anyone, as noted in the following examples:
Shinji and Miyuki were not the original owners of their Rider Decks (which is actually an important plot point in Shinji's case). Shinji found the Ryuki deck after its original owner disappeared (presumably killed), whereas Miyuki inherited the Raia deck from his friend Yuichi after Yuichi was eaten by his contract beast. We see the original Ryuki in the 13 Riders TV special.
After Kitaoka dies from a terminal illness in the finale, his servant Goro inherits the Zolda deck and challenges Asakura instead.
The 13 Riders special ends with Ren dying and Shinji becoming the new Knight.
Cool Sword - Ryuki, Knight, Ohja, Odin, Femme, Ryuga and Alternative each have one of these.
Darker and Edgier - Even within the Kamen Rider franchise as a whole, Ryuki is one of the darker entries, holding the highest body count of major characters in the whole franchise.
And though fairly passe now, it was the first series that featured officially recognized 'evil' Kamen Riders (as opposed to Rider-like villains, such as the Shocker Riders and Shadow Moon, that didn't carry the "Kamen Rider" title).
Deadly Game - Jun Shibaura/Kamen Rider Gai, who creates a video game based on the Rider War that soon spills over into real life.
The series also deconstructs competitive fighting games and fighting game tournaments. Competitive Balance can get shot down real quick through dirty tactics and said game is fixed, with the host of the tournament having full control of the resident Game Breaker.
It also deconstructs the Mons. Let's say you form a contract with one of them. Great! Now you can use their body parts as weapons to fight people who also use their monster's body parts to fight. You also have to fight other monsters to give your monster something to eat, unless you come to the conclusion that you can simply feed people to your monster (as Scissors and Ohja prove). If you don't fight the monsters? Then your monster gets hungry and decides to eat you. It also happens if you don't even want to fight or you're forced not to. Or even if your Advent Card (the one you use to sic your monster on other people) or Deck (the thing you use to transform) get broken. And it's not like there's a good chance your monster will even be loyal to you anyways. Especially if you have two other monsters working for you that you snagged off their dead masters, or you just happened to luck out and contract a monster that comes in herds. Wow.
There's also a deconstruction of the Let's You and Him Fight and Conflict Ball tropes. Whereas in other Kamen Rider shows, they fight each other for different reasons or misunderstandings, here they have no choice but to fight each other. The entire point of the show is to stop the fighting. This might be an Unbuilt Trope though, since the two tropes didn't have a massive occurrence until right after this show.
Phlebotinum Rebel, one of the central tropes of the Kamen Rider franchise, is also deconstructed, as attempting to use the Advent Decks against Shirou and his aims is doomed from the outset due to the fact that he reserved the most powerful Advent Deck for his own use by perfectly brainwashed drones. Not to mention that he can just time travel if things get too hairy.
Thirteen Riders took this trope to hell. Not everyone supports Shinji's attempts to stop the fighting and it resulted in all the remaining riders (about 9 of them) teaming up to kill him and Ren. And in the alternate ending, where he did stop the fighting, Shiro simply resets time and has the fight happen all over again.
Deflector Shields - The Seal Advent Card, which protects the wielder from the attacks of a Mirror Monster in the real world.
Diving Save - Satoru Toujou meets his end in this way to save a father and son.
Doppelgänger Spin - Knight's Trick Vent. Jumps between this and Doppelgänger Attack; sometimes the clones physically existed and would attack, but other times they were just distractions that would vanish when hit.
Dynamic Entry: Femme's first appearance in the movie is her crashing through the ceiling and cutting up some Mirror Monsters before landing on her feet.
Eureka Moment: Megumi unknowingly gives Reiko one that leads her to realizing the connection between the disappearances and mirrors, and ultimately to the truth about the Rider War. Comically enough, while doing so, Megumi actually missed the opportunity to learn the truth much sooner.
Heroic BSOD - Both Shinji and Ren go through these at various points in the story. Asakura has a Villainous BSOD of sorts at the end.
I Call It Vera - Shimada names her iMac 'Amaryllis' and her laptop 'White Milky'.
Megumi tries to rename the laptop "Gosaku". Shimada does not approve.
Neither did the laptop.
I Coulda Been a Contender - The original holder of the Raia Advent Deck was Yuichi Saito, a pianist who had suffered a career-ending injury; his wish would have been to repair the damage to his hands, but he refused the call.
I Surrender, Suckers: Asakura does this frequently. Whenever he is caught by police, he always finds a way to get his deck back and/or get Venosnaker to help him out. Highlight to his escape from a heavily escorted police wagon.
Identity Impersonator - Two fake decks were made for Kamen Rider Tiger so no-one would know who was behind the mask. In a later example, Gorou takes Kitaoka's place as Zolda when the latter finally succumbs to his cancer.
Ironic Echo: In the very first episode, Yui walks right up to Shinji and asks: "Are you a Kamen Rider?" (He wasn't one yet, but he had found the deck) Flashforward 48 episodes later, and after Yui has faded away, Reiko, who has seen Shinji transform and enter a mirror, and learned who the Riders are, as well as nearly everything important about the rider war, asking him the exact same question.
Kick the Dog - Kitaoka faking his own death (well, Zolda's death) at the hands of Technical Pacifist Shinji (which sends him straight into a Heroic BSOD) was the moment that really established him as a total dick.
Even Asakura feels the need to hammer this one home, about halfway into the series; he asks Reiko to help him meet with and reconcile with his brother Akira, his only surviving family after a fire claimed the lives of their parents - then announces that he was the one who started the fire in the first place, and proceeds to finish the job by feeding his brother to Venosnaker.
Kagawa's personal policy, which he tries to teach Shinji - to be a hero, kick one dog if it means saving ten. Shinji believes otherwise.
Non-human example: Darkwing put Eri into a coma before the start of the series, and after she regained consciousness, it went after her again.
Laser-Guided Amnesia - Ren Akiyama undergoes a spot of this, which serves as helpful exposition into his backstory.
Meaningful Name: The Survive cards are handed out to riders so they can survive most of the fights.
Morality Pet - Goro acts as the foil to Shuichi's Jerk Ass behavior, never attempting to hide it once. Yui is this to Ren.
Note to Self: After Odin's Time Vent has caused him to relive the entire Rider War up to that point, including the deaths, Shinji uses this tropes. Hundred of Postit notes in both his room and his office (to the frustration of Yui and Ookubo) all with the same words: Punch where there's Golden Feathers. It lets him score the first hit on Odin at that point...... And has no effect.
The punch may not have caused damage, but it proved to Shinji that he could fight against Odin and the time loops, even if the only real change he could make was landing a punch where he couldn't before.
Oddball in the Series: It's hard to imagine now, but when Ryuki was first released, many a Showa-era purist declared the franchise ruined. In fact, the reason The Movie is an alternate ending without going into a full-on Elseworld (like the other KR movies of the decade) or an extra-long episode (like most Toku films) is because they didn't know they were going to get a full season at that point.
It's not just purists whining They Changed It, Now It Sucks if you look at it in context. How different Ryuki was when it was new is something that goes over the heads of many because of how many things that began in Ryuki stuck. Non-insectoid Riders? Unheard of then. Transformation Trinket that wasn't part of you? Ditto. (Well, Agito's G3, made by human science and not mad superscience, was a special case, being more of an Iron Man suit. Everybody carrying around morphing gadgets in their pockets like it's Super Sentai or something? That was out of the blue.) Highlander-like plot? That's the part that's alien to this day. Grey and Black Morality was also new to the series. Even the Theme Song being less 'root for the hero' and more 'J-pop song that sorta touches on the series' themes' was new. Today this series is a little idiosyncratic because the more varied suit designs, the idea of a Transformation Trinket that's stored in your pocket and not your guts, and Riders who were neither capital-G Good nor capital-B Bad stuck. But when Ryuki was new, it was very much Kamen RiderIn Name Only, with nothing but the main duo having the Rider 1 and 2 poses to suggest that it was supposed to be a KR series.
Ontological Inertia - Shinji discovers this the hard way, and later Shiro Kanzaki comes to realise it too.
Out of Character - Played for comedy in the Ryuki VS Agito special. Ryuki, Knight, Zolda and Ouja team up against an evil Agito. The latter 3 act like stereotypical heroes of justice, despite the fact they act very selfish in the real series. Lampshaded by Shinji when even Ouja, an axe crazy murderer, proclaims he is a fighter of justice. In the end, the whole sequence is revealed to have been a dream, much to Shinji's dismay.
Pet the Dog - Even Asakura of all people gets a chance, when he saves a small girl from 3 bug-like Mirror Monsters. Admittedly it was just so he could destroy them himself, but still. It's worth noting that the initial rumors only mentioned 'three monsters', making Asakura a prime suspect of sorts (because he had contracted Jun's and Tezuka's monsters as well after killing them), but Shinji and Ren gave him the benefit of the doubt.
An offscreen version takes place earlier in the series, when Kitaoka helps out another little girl by paying for her mother's surgery. There's some kind of pattern here...
Sort of a pattern. See Diving Save above for an example with a little boy.
Ripple-Effect-Proof Memory: Because he was never chosen by Shirou Kanzaki, Shinji is the only one who can resist the memory-erasing effects of Odin's Time Vent.
Running Gag: In the second episode, Shinji racks up a 50,000 yen debt to Ren after Yui smashes a store window to save his life, and Ren volunteers to pay for it. This debt is constantly increasing throughout the series: Ren's itemised bill includes charges such as "Keeping Me Awake Fee" and "General Annoyance Fee".
Set Right What Once Went Wrong: Shirou Kanzaki attempts to do this multiple times to get the ending that he wants. While he is successful in altering inconsequential details, he never manages to save Yui or prevent Shinji from becoming a Rider.
Shout-Out: Ren's first memory on recovering from his Laser-Guided Amnesia (see above) is an image on a woman in a white dress on a beach, just like Shoichi (they were actually Ren's girlfriend and Shoichi's sister respectively).
Shiro Kanzaki went by the name Shiro Takami when he studied overseas - both names allude to Shiro Kazami, better known as Kamen Rider V3.
The transporting of Asakura in ep 36, to Silence of the Lambs - only they didn't put a muzzle on him till ep 40. And just to hammer it home, he stages another jailbreak by swapping places with his victim, strapping the victim into his Hannibal chair while he himself gets carted out on a stretcher.
And the effect of Freeze Vent on CGI monsters like Genocider looked an awful lot like Duke Org Loki's freezing-and-capturing of the Power Animals in Hyakujuu Sentai Gaoranger.
One way to distinguish between the two Alternative Riders is the silver stripes on Alternative Zero, a reference to the primary difference between the first two Kamen Riders (Hayato Ichimonji's suit had the silver stripes).
Shinji and Ren have Rider #1 and Rider #2's poses, respectively.
Summon Magic - The Advent Advent Card summons that Rider's Contract monster.
Superpower Lottery - You've got Zolda with the Game Breaker Final Vent, you've got Ouja who gets three monsters, you've got Imperer who has a herd of monsters, you've got Odin who was designed to win the Rider War and then you've got Ryuki, who needs to use up one card to summon a serviceable hand weapon. Lampshaded when Raia chooses to use Copy Vent to 'borrow' one of Ryuki's weapons rather than use his own.
Swiss-Army Weapon - Ryuki Survive's Drag Visor-Zwei and Knight Survive's Dark Visor-Zwei.
Upgrade Artifact - Played straight and subverted. When Shinji becomes Ryuki he suddenly gains the knowledge of how to hold a sword properly, how all his new abilities work and how to perform one hell of a flying side kick. However, as far as his general combat technique goes he's useless when he first becomes a Rider and only marginally improves when he upgrades to Ryuki. He slowly gets better as the series progresses; by the end his fighting skills are up there with the best of them.
Played even straighter with the other Riders. Kitaoka is a terminally ill, golf-playing lawyer. Shibaura is a computer nerd. Kagawa is a mild-mannered middle-aged academic. Only Ren (bar room brawler), Sudou (hardened cop) and Asakura (psycho outlaw) have plausible fighting skills.
Then again, those Riders are never shown to have good hand-to-hand skills. Kitaoka sticks to ranged combat and is woeful at hand-to-hand. Shibaura and Kagawa's deficiencies are made up by the sheer power of their armour.
Villainous Rescue: Ryuga makes his appearance by entering the fight between Miho and Asakura, then saving Miho from getting killed by Asakura and proceeds to curbstomp Asakura.
The Worf Effect - Played straight with most of the Riders' debuts, such as when Zolda breaks out his Final Vent for the first time against both Ryuki and Knight. Subverted when the maggot monsters' first battle after evolving into a more powerful form is with Ohja - and he tears through a whole mob of them to start with.