These are what we call the 'YMMV items.' Things that some people find in this work. We call them 'your mileage might vary' because not everyone sees these things in the same way. This starts discussions in the trope lists, a thing we don't want. Please use the discussion page if you'd like to discuss any of these items.
Mitsuzane's attempts to protect his friends bring to mind several interpretations:
In telling Kouta to abandon his Driver, is he really looking out for him and finding a way to boycott Yggdrasil or is he just manipulating him into doing so to save his own skin? Is what he said to Kouta about no longer keeping secrets or worrying Mai something he's telling Kouta or himself? This can be applied earlier on, when he warns Kouta against going public with the story about Yggdrasil. Is he seriously concerned for the safety of his friends or is he trying to make sure Takatora doesn't find out about his double life?
To further illustrate this, a later episode has Mitsuzane sneaking in Yggdrasil and getting data from them, then claims to his brother that he plans to use it against Yggdrasil, though his brother believes he's just doing it to challenge him.
Later events of Mitsuzane's fall to the dark side make audiences wonder if he was Evil All Along or was warped into being evil through a combination of desiring power, knowing the Awful Truth of the Helheim Forest, and wanting a piece of Takatora's Control Freak habit. His actions and reactions throughout the series can suggest either route.
Considering Mitsuzane's descent began with knowing the Awful Truth followed by being put in a situation where he must choose between what he thinks is right and those he cares for, there's room to interpret Mitsuzane as being Driven to Madness by a combination of said Awful Truth and the stress he's put through.
Sigurd telling Kouta about how hunting down monsters is part of being a Rider split the fanbase (see below). One question remains: was he actually serious and considered the job akin to Shoot the Dog? Or was he just trying to break Kouta's spirits by telling him that hunting down humans who have turned into monsters is all a Rider is good for? Or perhaps he's just trolling For the Evulz? Considering Sigurd is Sid, chances are that the "actually serious" explanation isn't that likely.
Also, how much does Kaito really buy into his own Social Darwinist philosophy? He talks a good talk, but his actions tend to be suspiciously altruistic whenever things get serious. It doesn't help that he's similar to Kyoko Sakura, another Urobuchi-written character with a selfish philosophy that she doesn't actually seem to follow.
Is Kaito becoming a villainous Overlord simply because of his drive for more power with the Overlords gone or was it a move of despair and rage from Ryoma killing Mai and causing Kouta's death via Mitsuzane? Consider that he didn't do this until after he learns that Kouta too is dead, angering him so much he takes the chance to becoming an Overlord. The answer is that his intentions were indeed altruistic, that the world he wanted to make was one where the weak were never suppressed, above all else. Kouta himself notes that they both want the same thing, but the problem was Kaito went about it the way of the cynic that he was, amassing power and forcibly remaking the world to achieve such ends.
Sagara in the penultimate episode brings up an interpretation. When Kouta decides what to do with Helheim Forest, Sagara expresses concern for him and Mai. Concern over the fact that they're screwing him over or the fact that they're rejecting Earth to go to somewhere barren? Him being fine with it after Kouta states that he won't be lonely, encouraging Kouta and Mai to go through with it, and beginning a new trial for a distant alien planet brings evidence for both ends.
Another by the Rider Girls, Toki no Hana (Flower of Time), the song heard during the Gaim/Bravo fight in #17.
Kachidoki Arm's theme: EI EI OH! EI EI OH! EI EI OH! RISE UP YOUR FLAAAAAAAAAAAAG!
Kiwami Arms and Baron Lemon Energy theme, Ranbu Escalation. A duet sang by Gaku Sano and Yutaka Kobayashi.
When Gaim uses Kiwami Arms for the first time, a VERY cool song plays along. It truly sounds like a war deity has entered the battle.
Big Lipped Alligator Moment: Narutaki's cameo in the ToQger vs. Gaim special; he appears, introduces himself as "the ally of all Kamen Riders", gives Kouta a rainbow pass so he can board the Rainbow Line, and then disappears into a dimension wall, which leaves both Kouta and Right speechless. Adding to the weirdness, he has a monkey hand puppet like Ticket.
Bizarro Episode: Episode #30, the Kikaider REBOOT crossover. #29 ended on a Cliffhanger that is only resolved in #31. The crossover itself takes place two weeks before #29, interrupting the ongoing plot. Also, Ryoma transplants his brain into Hakaider's android body, fights as him against Gaim and Kikaider, and returns his brain to his original body by the end of the episode. Unsurprisingly, Gen Urobuchi had nothing to do with this one.
And then it happens again with episode #37! This one is a prelude to Gaim's Non-Serial Movie...and it comes right after the Wham Episode that is #36. While they handle it a bit better this time, it's still an episode where the Special Guest soccer players launch a flaming soccer ball at a monster.
Broken Base: Ironic considering the fact that this is partially based off the Warring States.
Like usual, fans are divided on whether the Rider's suit look good or not and this years collectible trinkets being fruits. As well as the classic lack of female rider complaint (not helped by the fact we get five male riders from the start, though a female rider is confirmed to debut in February) Gen Urobuchi being introduced as the main writer didn't help, either, as some fear that he'll go back to his infamous Urobutcher phase, especially with Word of God stating things like Urobuchi having a Madoka-style, franchise status quo-shattering trap down the road, Gaim going back to the early Heisei era routes or that by the new year, kids might lose the desire to drink orange juice or even worse grow up to hate fruits altogether.
In Episode 14, the Urobuchi trap sprung and revealed Gaim to be a deconstruction of Kamen Rider as a whole, with one of the Riders discussing how killing monsters is justice being the subject that people are split upon as they try to define what is justice and seeing if he was in the right for killing a monster who used to be Hase.
The "Wärring" issue came up again when the show introduced the Drivers' inventor Ryoma Sengoku, who named the Sengoku Drivers after himself; and Æsir called him "Ryoma Wärring" in order to keep the connection.
Is Mai becoming a MacGuffin Girl, a natural conclusion to what all the main Riders are fighting for (namely the MacGuffin in question), or an allegory for objectification as some of the riders consider her a prize to be won?
#47 was it a suitable happy ending to the season, or did it ruin the Bittersweet Ending and invalidate everything the heroes fought for through a cheap Duesx Ex Machina and should it be considered canon?
Complete Monster: In a series that takes the franchise back to its Darker and Edgier roots, Redyue stands out for her willingness to use any means necessary to play mind games with, and to commit genocide against, humanity out of boredom. As a vile, selfish, and manipulative bitch, Redyue corrupts Mitsuzane Kureshima into becoming her puppet and uses him to obtain human subjects for a machine that would revive the dead. She aggravates the humans into launch missiles, thereby forcing her superior Roshuo to redirect the missiles to America and to declare war against humanity. She is also not above Mind Rape, as seen when she tries to mentally break Kouta Kazuraba by portraying him in a hallucination as an Inves being attacked by his former mentor Yuya. Moreover, Redyue has a sickening obsession over backstabbing and killing those close to her as seen when she ruthlessly kills Roshuo after the latter defeats Kouta and Kaito Kumon.
The early arcs also saw comparisons to Yu-Gi-Oh! due to kids treating their competition as Serious Business: Kouta was Yugi (The Hero), Mai was Téa (The Heart), Mitsuzane was Joey (the friend who was also involved in the fighting), Kaito was Kaiba (the power-obsessed rival with a Badass Longcoat), Takatora was Pegasus (the businessman manipulating everything), Jounouchi and Hase were Weevil Underwood and Rex Raptor (Those Two Bad Guys; Brains and Brawn respectively), and Oren was Bandit Keith (the jerk foreigner). This wore off as the dance competition got phased out, but not before Micchy's counterpart got switched to Bakura (the "friend" with a nasty dark side).
A bunch of strangely likeable backstabbers and schemers fighting and backstabbing over power while ignoring a eldritch horror in the background...Holy Shit! Kamen Rider Gaim really is a PG-rated Game of Thrones!
Crazy Awesome: Oren takes about five very weird concepts, and somehow combines them into being an awesome badass.
Designated Hero: Kaito, full stop. He does a variety of questionable to downright morally black things such as sicking Inves on defenseless people, wanting Helheim to invade killing billions of people, and this is before he knows about the forbidden fruit, to wanting to [ Utopia Justifiesthe Means commit genocide under the guise of binging a better world ] and for most of the series he's treated as, at worst, an anti-hero.
Hell, the melody that plays before he transforms could count too.
And in different ethnic flavors as well - Jidai Geki-ish for Gaim, Zangetsu, and Kurokage, Knight Herald-ish for Baron and Gridon, Chinese-style for Ryugen, Arabic for Marika, and American Guitar for Bravo.
The melody played whenever the Energy Riders transform, you just can't get them out of your ears.
Oren Pierre Alfonso/Kamen Rider Bravo, mostly for being the source of most, if not all, of the show's humor after his debut. His Heel-Face Turn makes him more popular.
He might be a Jerkass, but Kaito Kumon's strength and honor has been so well-received by the fandom that he received an unplanned upgrade in the form of a Genesis Driver, when he originally wasn't supposed to receive one.
Yoko Minato is also leading to this for being an actually competent female Rider. Many cried when she became the recent victim of the infamous Female Rider Curse. The same curse Mayu Imamori averted.
Many people scrambled to guess just what Gen Urobuchi meant when he said that Zangetsu would be the Ohja of Gaim, with many ideas being that he would be a ruthless killer like Ohja to comparing their overall strength to even the idea that Gen wasnt' referring to Takatora-as-Zangetsu but rather Mitsuzane-as-Zangetsu.
The prologue with the three armies have people grasping at straws trying to figure out just what it means. Is it a battle set in the past with the Riders being the Overlords? Is it set in the past as a previous time loop? Is it foretelling how the show will end? Or was it just a battle that got lost as the plot developed?
This has been answered: during Mai's little time-jaunt she sees it as a potential alternate reality. It's definitely supposed to be a metaphor too, though.
Oh, Micchy, no one is going to take you seriously as a villain as long as you wear those utterly atrocious sweaters. Thank God he switched too suits.
Ryoma's off work cloths are completely stupid. He dresses like a pre-schooler with his vests and borderline short-shorts. All the man is missing is an over-sized lollipop.
Hannibal Has a Point: While Sid is a villain and more notably a Hate Sink, it might be hard to actually condemn his reasons for killing Hase, since Hase was acting more like a monster than a human and it didn't seem like he'd come to his senses any time soon, if at all.
In Sengoku Movie Battle, Ryugen uses Double Arms and borrows his catchphrase "Now, count up your crimes!" This has become darkly ironic considering the list of his own crimes that he's racked up since then.
The entire show is this. No really. Literally, the entire show is this. Going back to earlier "lighter" episodes with the knowledge of the shock value and emotional drainage that comes halfway through the show can be a really unsettling experience.
The entirety of episode #40's plot is one for Hase's fate. Given that Kota is going through the exact same events as Hase, it might mean Hase was in the same kind of situation. Painfully aware of what's going on and what his body was doing, but completely and utterly unable to do anything about it.
The original Kamen Rider is usually called Kamen Rider Ichigo, so that people can differentiate him from Kamen Rider Nigo. Here, a powerup called "Strawberry Arms" exist. Strawberry in Japanese is 'ichigo'note though with a short 'o' instead of a long one.
Maybe we'll have another one if Gaim in Strawberry Arms vs Zangetsu, making Bleach fans love this possibility.
Then it got more hilarious considering that Gaim got the Kamen Rider Ichigou's lockseed in the Showa vs. Heisei movie.
The last Second Rider to not have a debut in a movie was also named Kaito.
For that matter, Morning Rescue, an orange juice, was associated with Madoka due to the ad airing alongside the series. Now, Urobuchi IS doing an orange-themed Rider...
At the same time that this show was airing, the season premiere of a well-known show had the plot of its own forest invading the normal world. Soon after that, Helheim starts its own invasion.
Hase may have gotten the connections to Tomoe Mami, but there's one thing his killer took from him. All the jokes made related to a Cruel and Unusual Death.
In #11, Sid has a brief monologue about how kids just want power and how no adult would ever dive into that danger. Twenty episodes later and he's diving into said danger... and paying the ultimate price.
With all the talk of Puella Magi Madoka Magica elements sneaking into Gaim, it should come as no surprise that Madoka's eventual fate actually becomes a plot point. But not for Kota as expected. It's Mai. Though still played straight when Kouta wins the Golden Fruit and ascends to godhood, albeit as a Physical God, complete with his taking a third option in defiance of the Kyubey expy's expectations. The other difference, though, is that Sagara, after getting over his disbelief and disappointment, shows his support and accepts his defeat.
Many fans begin to think of different ways of how Takatora can survive his fight with Micchy, not helped with the fact that his actor didn't receive flowers. note When an actor finishes his role in a show, usually through having their character killed off, they receive flowers. This has been used to confirm many deaths in the past, including Phoenix The cries of this hushed down when all his appearances after that fight came in the form of insanity-induced hallucinations from Mitsuzane, though there are some who haven't gotten their hopes up. And he's revealed to be alive in #46.
People point out that Zack was only knocked out in the fight against Kaito and not died like Yoko. Most of them point to the tried and true flowers method, in which the latter received some while the former did not.
Ho Yay: A brief moment in #9 when Zack and Peco get awfully close to Kouta and Micchi during the talk with Team Baron.
Quite a few fans have wondered where exactly Ryoma◊ was looking in #12...
You can be forgiven if you forget Mitsuzane has a crush on Mai given how Micchy spends almost all of his time as Kouta's Psycho Sidekick, being willing to do anything to make sure he's happy.
More Ryoma and Takatora fodder in episode #27.
Kouta and Takatora also seem to have something going on between them.
Kaito completely ignoring the concept of personal space in #44◊.
HSQ: With all the Warring States mentions, it's quite fitting that #44 would become the Honnouji of Gaim.Kaito goes postal on all his former allies except Yoko, and Zack betrays them to join him. It's hinted to be equal parts loyalty and survival.
Magnificent Bastard: Royma reaches this in #33 by making Yggdrasil's higher ups the fall guys and more or less rearranging the entire world's geopolitical stage by himself. The smirk on his face as he tells his supposed bosses about it as they're receiving the call telling them about it just screams this trope.
Redyue manages to pull this off as well at times, despite being a Complete Monster, but DJ Sagara aka Helheim itself trumps everything and everyone.
Memetic Mutation: Many people call Kouta's leather black jacket the "Sex Jacket".
Kaito crosses it by sicking Inves on defenseless civilians and by wanting the helheim invasion to happen that would cause billions of people to die.
Sid personally crosses by killing Hase, especially since he was the one who led him to his downfall by giving him the Sengoku Driver, though even Takatora knew that, hence why he let Sid do the job.
Ryoma crosses by allowing Sid to kill Kouta in #21, knowing full well that Sid despises everything about Kouta, if only to enhance his research. If he didn't cross it then, then he certainly has near the end game by manipulating Micchy to kill Kouta and while he's doing that, proceed to kill Mai by extracting the golden fruit from her.
If the two haven't crossed the line in some viewer's eyes with those moments, then the revelation in #22 will. Yggdrasill's master plan involves making as many Sengoku Drivers as they possibly can so people can survive without having to eat Helheim fruit - but they'll only be able to make a belt for one out of every seven people on Earth. The catch is that this isn't merely trying but failing to save everyone, they plan to actively kill six-sevenths of the world population to bring the numbers down to what they can save. Ryoma and Sid hit the event horizon by not only being perfectly okay with this, but by also considering it as a small step towards their overall plans; Takatora holds himself back from crossing it since he seems to know how horrible it is, even if he considers it a Necessary Evil.
What's worse is Ryoma knew about the Overlord Inves for what seemed to be years, and didn't reveal it purely because he wanted the Forbidden Fruit and to spite Takatora for rejecting his ideals. The guy knew of another option for a long time and kept it to himself because he wanted power.
Mitsuzane crossed his in the late-20s episodes when he first set up an ambush to literally shoot Kouta in the back when he was vulnerable, then stood by and consented to the murder of his own brother and stole his Driver to impersonate Zangetsu Shin and shoot down any hopes Kouta had of finding an ally. The question about him used to be "Is he still trying to protect Kouta and Mai and just misguided, or is he too caught up in his secrets to see straight anymore?"; now it's "Did he ever genuinely care, or was he Evil All Along?"
His attempted (and possibly successful) murder of Takatora in #36 might be considered another one, if you didn't think he was already capable of it by then. It's at the very least a Sanity Event Horizon, as committing that action seems to have broken his little mind completely.
He may have crossed it earlier for some people in #17, where he almost got Kouta's sister mixed up in the war in an attempt to get Kouta's belt, going so far as to have someone personally assault her, who probably would have went through with it had it not been for Oren's interference.
Roushuo devastating America with the Macross Missile Massacre, followed by unleashing Inves all over the world to slaughter innocent people. After that, it's hard to feel any 'anti-villain' traits for that damn monster, even after how he proclaims that he'll give humanity a chance. YMMV, though, as he was just redirecting the missles that America (and other countries) fired on him, and he genuinely feels he's doing humanity a favor by giving us a Mercy Kill.
Whenever a crack to Helheim opens up (be it natural or due to a rider's henshin sequence), it looks like a zipper opening up in the sky.
The Genesis Driver. It's cool enough at first glance, but then comes the Belt's henshin announcement: "[Fruit] Energy! SODA!"
Scary as Yuuya transforming to kill Kouta is, his Pre Ass Kicking One Liner sounds more like what a Saturday morning cartoon superhero would say as his Catchprase.
Never Live It Down: Jokes were made at the expense of Kouta not finding out about Mitsuzane being Zangetsu Shin, to the point where someone suggests that even if he manages to pull the Melon Energy Lockseed out and expose Micchy, he would just assume that someone forced him to wear the Driver to attack him despite him being able to put two and two together once Micchy begins to show his true colors to him. To be fair, after he finds out, he still believes that Micchy is a good guy.
Rewatch Bonus: All over the place, thanks to reveals late in the game. It doesn't stop at just major plot twists that were heavily foreshadowed in brief snippets early on, either. Give a moderate detail, from someone's Berserk Button or what their overall stance on the Golden Fruit is, and chances are, it's been shown previously with a degree of subtlety.
Rule of Cool: Kamen Rider has had some absurd combinations in previous shows, but Gaim has to take the cake: this is a show about Teenage Breakdancing Samurai Mon-Training Biker Fruit Superheroes.
Nightmare Retardant: Sid getting his sorry ass crushed by two large mountain cliffs was very brutal, no question. After the initial shock and when the dust settled down, viewers can now make jokes at his expense.
Thanks in part to Values Dissonance, there are some who took a disliking towards Akira after her speech in #3.
Some fans see Jounoichi as this after abandoning Ryuji once his belt was destroyed. Needless to say, they felt satisfied with Oren's harassment towards him, so much so that the karmic payback followed by the Heel Realization in #26 helped him get Rescued from the Scrappy Heap.
Serious Business: After the Ornac controversy (see above), one Anon (later dubbed NDAnon) announced his decision to sub the series himself with a more direct translation. The whole thing was completely drama-freenote NDAnon expressed admiration for Æsir in general and their translator Magenta in specific, but said he wanted to do things his own way; Magenta in turn said it was a good idea and praised NDAnon's Japanese skills, but that didn't stop others from declaring a "Subgoku War" between all the fansubbers.
Ship Tease: In the very last episode, with Takatora and Akira.
Surprisingly Improved Sequel: Fan reaction to Gaim is very high compared to last year's Kamen Rider Wizard, which is considered to be the weakest Neo-Heisei show. Not even halfway through its broadcast it is being lauded as one of the best Neo-Heisei, if not the definitive series in the entire franchise.
They Wasted a Perfectly Good Character: For many, Yoko Minato falls under this. She was presented as a competent female Rider with her own agenda (which, in Ryoma's eyes, made her as unpredictable as Kouta of all people). By the end of the final arc, Yoko is still acting as a bodyguard, and her entire motivation is revealed to simply find a worthy “king” to serve. It does not help that she died in a rather anticlimactic way, by being bomb-blasted off a building instead of meeting her end in an actual Rider fight.
Yoko Minato's entire motivation is to find a man to be subservient to...
Her younger counterpart, Mai, doesn't fall too far from the tree, though she tried to do something... the problem is that she already tried to do something and it failed so hard she got locked out of existence until two men finish their fight to the death for her (well, the fruit she carries)...
Kouta's sister Akira has a little speech in #3 about the value of "real" work in contrast to mere "play" like Beat Riding which struck many western viewers as patently false and hypocritical, as it seems to devalue work in entertainment, falsely implying that only drudgery and self-sacrifice helps others. Though considering what sparked the speech, she might be trying to warn Kouta away from what is pretty much high-school thug life.
While it does look odd to a Western Audience, Kiwami Arms (specifically the helmet) is based off of Oba Nobunaga's armor. While he's been portrayed as both good and evil in culture, Nobunaga is considered a powerful warlord and one of Japan's greatest rulers, so with that in mind, basing Gaim, a Samurai's, ultimate form off his armor makes sense when Nobunaga's cultural significance (something western audiences may be less aware of).
That being said, many images of Nobunaga's armor have his helmet as round. Even in the ones that did have a pointed tip weren't that high up. So the uncomfortable resemblance (see Unfortunate Character Design) still stand.
The helmet also in some ways resembles a design commonly attributed to another Sengoku-era warlord of note: Uesugi Kenshin.
What an Idiot: Takatora Kureshima. You work with a trio of Obviously Evil individuals and are actually shocked when they betray you. Potentially mitigating (or amplifying) this sentiment is that he has seemingly worked with these people for years prior to the show's start.
His brother isn't much better. Sure, Micchy, leave an unconscious Mai who has the Forbidden Fruit inside her alone with Ryoma. I'm sure the amoral Mad Scientist won't cut her open to get the Fruit or anything... oh. By this point, Micchy has been driven to insanity by desperation, so he has a slight excuse for this massive lapse in judgement.
To put it simply, at around the halfway point, the show is Kamen Rider meets Puella Magi Madoka Magica meets Shin Megami Tensei meets Saving Private Ryan meets The Killing meets The Wire meets PG Game of Thrones. It's just as dark and emotionally draining as it sounds. You will feel like you have nothing to live for by the end.
The Woobie: Ryoji Hase. By #12, he's lost everything. He has no Sengoku Driver, Jounochi states that he was being used, his teammates disown him...damn. And to make matters worse, he is transformed into an Inves. And was then put down like a rabid dog by Sigurd. This guy could not catch a break...
Iron Woobie: By 26, Kouta. He find out that the end of the world is coming, that the only company with the power to do so is going to go for the Well-Intentioned Extremist route, that he accidentaly killed HIS MENTOR in Team Gaim. His best friend/comrade in arms have been slowly going behind his back and outright shot him, he's alone in his fight against an alien forest, and when he try to communicate with someone that can possibly stop Helhelm he got beat up for his efforts.And hestill not break. Yet.
He nearly did in #40. Finding out that he's slowly becoming Overlord-like AND got a healthy dose of Mind Rape from Redyue wasn't good for his psyche
Takatora doesn't fare any better than Kouta does. Its revealed that he's the only one in Yggdrasil who actually cares about humanity, and is only going for the Well-Intentioned Extremist route which involves wiping out an enormous portion of the population because he thinks that he had ran out of options. When Kouta presents a new path that doesn't involve a mass genocide, he grabs it the second he realizes that he can save the world. However, he is quickly betrayed by Sid, Yoko, and Ryoma, the last of which he thought of as a close friend, and told his brother who stood by watching him to help Kouta in any way he can, not knowing that Mitsuzane had already fallen. When he comes back to Zawame City, not only is his worst fear is true, but he discovers that his brother had been trying to kill Kouta. He takes upon himself to defeat Mitsuzane in #36, but fails to deliver the finishing blow because he remembered the brother he loved and hoped was still inside Mitsuzane, who took advantage of his hesitation to smash his armor and send him underneath the waters of Zawame City.