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Series / Kamen Rider Kuuga

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"From the darkest of ages, something has awoken. It is evil? Or it is justice?"

Kamen Rider Kuuga is the tenth television series in Toei Company's Kamen Rider franchise, the first installment in the franchise's televised run in the Heisei Era after an eleven-year hiatus, and the first to be made at the Turn of the Millennium. It ran on TV Asahi from 2000 to 2001.

When a group of archaeologists uncover the tomb of a legendary warrior, they accidentally unleash a race of monsters called the Grongi. These creatures immediately embark on a number of killing sprees across Japan, using increasingly ritualistic and specific methods of murder which leave the police dumbfounded as to their motives.

Enter Yusuke Godai, your typical everyday Nice Guy save for the fact that he's mastered 1999 skills. While in town visiting one of his friends at her archaeology lab, he is caught in the middle of a Grongi attack and sees the Arcle: a mysterious stone artifact recovered from the warrior's tomb. Overwhelmed by his desire to protect everyone, Yusuke instinctively dons the Arcle and has it absorbed into his body. Thereafter, by summoning the Arcle from within himself, Yusuke can use its power to transform into the legendary warrior known only as "Kuuga".

While the power of Kuuga is incredibly weak to begin with, Yusuke learns to use his instincts and desires to unlock additional forms, each with their own strengths and weaknesses. Yet as the battles against the Grongi intensify, can Yusuke handle the strain of fighting upon his mind and body? Could he lose himself to the Kuuga power and become a mindless killing machine?

Kuuga is notable for being the first Kamen Rider TV series since the end of Kamen Rider BLACK RX in 1989 (following a few stand-alone movies released during the 90s), and a successful modern reboot of a classic Toei franchise.

Partnered with the Super Sentai show Mirai Sentai Timeranger after initially airing alongside the final episodes of Kyūkyū Sentai GoGoV in what would later be known as the Super Hero Time block.

In addition to the main series, Televi-kun magazine also released a Bonus Episode called Kamen Rider Kuuga vs. the Strong Monster Go·Jiino·Da. In 2014, series writer Toshiki Inoue teamed up with manga artist Hitotsu Yokoshima to create a manga adaptation of Kuuga, featuring a Setting Update to The New '10s and an art style inspired by the Super Imaginative Chogokin line of action figures.

In 2020, Shout! Factory licensed Kuuga for broadcast on their TokuSHOUTsu channel on Pluto TV and for livestreaming via their website, making it the first Heisei Kamen Rider to be legally available for streaming audiences in the USA. Then, in July of 2022, they announced that Kuuga would be released on blu-ray on September 20 of that year, making it the second Kamen Rider series to be released on home video in the U.S. after ''Kamen Rider Zero-One".

Followed by its indirect sequel Kamen Rider Agito.

Voted #4 series in the Heisei era and #4 product overall in NHK’s All Kamen Rider Popularity Vote.

Recurring Kamen Rider tropes include:

  • Badass Biker: Who else? The titular hero himself. Even better, he's very proficient at Bike Fu.
  • Big Bad: N·Daguva·Zeba, the strongest of the Grongi, as well as their leader.
  • Cool Bike: The TryChaser 2000 and the BeatChaser 2000. They're not just for looks, either—they're built with both speed and maneuverability in mind. Kuuga uses both for some impressive Bike Fu, and they can combine with the Gouram to gain bike armor, which allows them to ram enemies with explosive force. There's also Go·Badaa·Ba's bike, Bagibuson.
  • Defeat Equals Explosion: A justified and more elaborated example: Kuuga's Finishing Moves create an impact point in the target Grongi's body, from which cracks spread across the body. Once this reaches and destroys their buckle, the Grongi explodes. This becomes somewhat problematic as Kuuga's power increases and the blast radius along with it. This becomes a plot point again when Daguva kills Goma, which does not result in an explosion...which leads to the development of the Nerve Breaking Bullets since the police now have an intact Grongi corpse to study instead of just burnt chunks.
    • Averted with the second coming of Me·Ginoga·De. After Ginoga was destroyed by Kuuga's Growing Kick, Ginoga's arm survived the explosion and regenerated into a Mutant body. As this incarnation of Ginoga lacks an Amadam belt, it does not explode when finished off by Kuuga's Mighty Kick, instead melting into a puddle of ooze. Grongis that were killed by Nerve-Breaking Bullet near the end (La·Baruba·De and La·Dorudo·Gu) also don't explode either.
  • Finishing Move:
    • Growing Form: "Growing Kick", a kick with a third of Mighty Kick's power.
    • Mighty Form: "Mighty Kick", a powerful kick. Kuuga spins in midair to grant additional power.
      • Rising Mighty Form: "Rising Mighty Kick", a more powerful version powered up by the Mighty Anklet. Can level city blocks.
      • Amazing Mighty Form: "Amazing Mighty Kick", an even more powerful version powered up by two Mighty Anklets. Creates pillars of flame upon explosion!
    • Dragon Form: "Splash Dragon", a strike with the Dragon Rod's tip.
      • Rising Dragon Form: "Rising Splash Dragon", a strike with the Rising Dragon Rod's bladed tip.
    • Pegasus Form: "Blast Pegasus", an arrow fired from the Pegasus Bowgun.
      • Rising Pegasus Form: "Rising Blast Pegasus", three arrows fired from the Rising Pegasus Bowgun.
    • Titan Form: "Calamity Titan", Kuuga stabs with the Titan Sword.
      • Rising Titan Form: "Rising Calamity Titan", a more powerful version of the Calamity Titan, can be performed with two swords for the Double Rising Calamity Titan attack.
    • Ultimate Form: "Ultimate Kick", a Rider Kick said to be so insanely strong, it could cause an Earth-Shattering Kaboom if used at full power! Obviously, this attack is only mentioned, never shown.
    • TryGouram Attack: Kuuga on the TryGouram rams a Grongi.
      • Rising BeatGouram Attack: "Body Attack", a more powerful version ramming attack, used by BeatGouram powered up with Rising energy.
  • Mid-Season Upgrade: Hinted at over some episodes, but as a result of his resurrection after his supposed death at the hands of a Grongi, Kuuga gains access to powered-up versions of his four basic forms, complete with gold-trimmed armor and upgraded weaponry. He also later gains a further upgraded version of Mighty Form called Amazing Mighty Form.
    • Subverted later with the last of the Go class Grongi getting multiple forms like Kuuga and Xu·Goma·Gu.
    • Not to mention Yusuke/Kuuga acquiring the BeatChaser 2000 after the TryChaser is wrecked in a battle with Go·Badaa·Ba.
  • Multiform Balance: After Black RX introduced the Swiss-Army Hero concept to the franchise, Kuuga was the first series to really embrace it. Kuuga starts as a Joke Character in Growing Form before adopting the Jack of All Stats Mighty Form as his default; then he gets the Fragile Speedster Dragon Form, Glass Cannon Pegasus Form, and Mighty Glacier Titan Form. All forms (except for Growing) then get a more powerful "Rising" variant, and Mighty gets a second, even more powerful Lightning Bruiser version called Amazing Mighty Form. His final form in the series is the Ultimate Form Super Mode, and Kamen Rider Decade's version of Kuuga gets an upgrade to that as well as Rising Ultimate Form.
  • Multi-Part Episode: The show generally used two-parters. What's highly glossed over is that, in 2000, this was not the standard pattern amongst Toku shows. This would later become the standard format to Kamen Rider episodes, only changed up by Kamen Rider Gaim.
  • Narrator: Fumihiko Tachiki narrates the series.
  • Villains Act, Heroes React: While the police pursue the mystery of Kuuga and the Grongi, both they and Yusuke are generally forced to wait until a Grongi shows up and inevitably starts killing people before Kuuga stops them.
  • Weapon Specialization: Each form of Kuuga provides a unique weapon (except Mighty Form, which provides none in favor of its Bare-Fisted Monk fighting style).

Henshin! (Trope Arcle sounds):

  • Actor Allusion: An unusual example. In #18, the radio in Sakurako's office talks about a popular TV show, whose lead character Joe Onigiri is played by actor Shogo Karasuyama; this is a reference to Kuuga's own lead actors, Joe Odagiri (Yusuke) and Shingo Katsurayama (Ichijo).
  • All There in the Manual: None of Kuuga's forms are given official names in the show aside from referring to them by color, nor are any of his finishers named. We get to hear them in Kamen Rider Decade, though, because the Decadriver announces the rider and form as he uses other Riders' powers. "Kamen Ride: Kuuga! Form Ride: Kuuga Pegasus!"
    • Kuuga and Agito are legendary for this; half of the backstory, especially about the Linto Tribe, is scattered over all sorts of supplementary material.
  • Aliens Speaking English: Averted with the ancient demon tribe speaking their own language.
  • Arc Number: 2000. Not only is it the year in which the series was shown, but it features prominently, among other things, on Kuuga's bikes and Godai's abilities (as his transformation into Kuuga is his 2000th skill).
  • Badass Normal: Detective Kaoru Ichijo. He even wears a Badass Longcoat.
  • Bait-and-Switch: #42 builds up suspense around a man who seemingly has a grudge against a specific rich man, who owns the concert hall where Mika Natsume is going to participate in a music recital. The episode ends with him approaching Mika...and the next episode opens with him giving her back her shell bracelet, which she dropped earlier. Zig-zagged in that the man was dangerous (he was a disgruntled former employee), but he didn't have any specific intent or reason to harm Mika.
  • Battle Amongst the Flames: Episode 2, Mighty Form Kuuga's debut against Goma, takes place in a burning church. Later, in Episode 4, police officers fire upon Kuuga and ULF #5 in an abandoned building, causing a fire that the ongoing battle continues in for a short time.
  • Beware the Nice Ones: Don't mess with kids if there's even a chance Yusuke will find out. This is your only warning.
  • Big Damn Heroes: Godai pulls this off a lot. The police get their fair share, too.
  • Black Speech: The Grongi language is a cipher of Japanese.note  While the dialogue was left as-is in the original broadcast, some of the dialogue is subtitled on the home video releases, Toei Channel reruns, and the official English translation. Fans have since decoded the cipher; the Grongi know much more than is revealed in Japanese.
  • Book Ends: Yusuke Godai, before and after his burdens as Kuuga, remains a Friend to All Children.
  • Breather Episode: Episode 20 follows on the heels of the emotionally intense sequence of Godai dying and coming back to life. Most of the episode consists of Godai and Ichijou and the rest of the cast bonding and chatting and enjoying the relief of Godai being alive, and the villain of the episode poses little threat and is easily defeated.
  • Buried Alive: The original Kuuga. He buried himself alive—and in fact was still alive when the researchers open his coffin in the present day—just in case the Grongi came back. He only died when Unidentified Lifeform #0 tore off his belt, apparently.
  • Butt-Monkey: The Bat Grongi, Xu-Goma-Gu. He ironically manages to outlive both the Xu and the Me classes and acquires an upgrade, only to be defeated upon the introduction of the strongest of the Go class.
  • Chekhov's Gun: Or rather, Grip. The TryChaser 2000 has a detachable accelerator grip, kept separate from the bike itself (likely to keep it from being stolen from the police). Kuuga can detach the grip and transform it into the Titan Sword, Titan Form's weapon. The BeatChaser 2000 maintains this design element from its predecessor.
  • Combat Breakdown: The Final Battle starts with Kuuga and Daguva in their transformed states and lighting each other on fire, then engaging in hand to hand. Then they both lose transformation, continue pounding each other, until finally it's two exhausted, bleeding, and beaten to near death guys clumsily slugging it out until they knock each down with a final Cross Counter. As the epilogue reveals, Godai got back up, Daguva didn't.
  • Combining Mecha: Sort-of-invoked. The robotic beetle-like Gouram merges with Kuuga's bikes to form TryGouram or BeatGouram.
  • Compilation Movie: A "director's cut" of the first two episodes.
  • Curb-Stomp Battle: Kuuga gave one fueled by Unstoppable Rage against Go·Jalaji·Da in #35. This is one of the few times you see a Grongi bleed in this series; and goes to show that when Nice Guy Godai gets pissed, you better look out.
    • Reversed when N·Daguva·Zeba nearly kills Kuuga prior to their Final Battle.
  • Cut and Paste Environments: In the PS1 video game, Xu·Gmun·Ba and Me·Galme·Re have movesets similar to those of Spider Man and Grimreaper Chameleon from the first series' PS1 game. Kuuga himself has three forms (Growing, Mighty and Ultimate) that all use exactly the same moveset.
  • Darker and Edgier: Especially when compared to some of the older series before or since, it's at least on par with Kamen Rider BLACK or Kamen Rider X. The only brighter part itself is the Rider starts out as a normal human instead of being modified like the predecessors.
  • Deadly Game: The Grongi's murders are so specific and organized because they're quite literally playing a "Game", competing for the right to challenge their leader for leadership of the tribe.
  • Depleted Phlebotinum Shells: The Nerve-Severing Bullets made from research on the remains of Xu-Goma-Gu.
  • Destructive Saviour: The Rising forms impart enough power that avoiding this is a key plot point of the second half of the series. We never get to see it onscreen for obvious reasons, but if Ultimate Kuuga, let alone Rising Ultimate Kuuga, were to put all his strength into one attack it could supposedly destroy the entire planet.
  • Deconstructor Fleet: It's not a full deconstruction but it has a lot of subversive elements, like the monsters from the past not being able to speak Japanese, to the fact that cops are heavily involved. The cops themselves show what would happen if normal people dealing with monsters would be like—a lot of dead bodies, though down the line, they're not as useless as they were in the beginning. Most Tokusatsu and Shonen shows gloss over elements like these, and in addition common shonen tropes like Calling Your Attacks are avoided by Kuuga. The motivation of the monsters isn't even spelled out to us until a bit down the line. Hell, Kuuga growing in power is treated as a scary thing and causes problems later in the series. The overall theme of the show is that if violence is a necessary tool to fighting violence, how and when will it be enough to stop? There are many other examples if you look at the series, while the show can be viewed as a standard toku, if you compare it to later series and even earlier series, it can be rather jarring.
    • In short, the director was apparently going for a "Kamen Rider X-Files" feel.
    • Reconstruction: However, the show still showcases inspiring heroism Kuuga embodies, the importance of teamwork and the people around you, becoming stronger is good so long as you can control your power and use it for good, to always keep your hope in the darkest times and at the end, humanity will always win out against an inhuman evil.
    • Unbuilt Trope: These tropes wouldn't be a major staple of the Kamen Rider franchise until after this show, with the next show treating its Riders growing in power to be a good thing.
  • Dug Too Deep: The series is set off when an archaeological dig unearths the original Kuuga's tomb and accidentally releases Unidentified Lifeform #0 from his prison, who promptly slaughters them all and heads off to unearth the rest.
  • Early-Installment Weirdness: While every series always has that one something that gets changed after the first few episodes, this show has an odd one: the physical contact sound effects between Kuuga and the Grongi in the first couple of episodes seem to have been lifted from a Metal Heroes library, and so sound more like robots duking it out.
    • For the Heisei Rider series: Kuuga is the last series to only have a primary Rider, making it the only Heisei era series that doesn't have another Rider on the show with the protagonist.
  • Electricity Can Do Anything: Yusuke theorizes that he developed the Rising forms, something the original Kuuga didn't have, because he was shocked by chest paddles when he briefly died while fighting the Mushroom Grongi. This is seemingly confirmed late in the series, where Go·Gadol·Ba (the Beetle Grongi) deliberately electrocutes himself using the city's power grid and gains access to a "Shocker Form" akin to Amazing Mighty Form.
  • Establishing Series Moment: To compliment the above, the first fight Kuuga has is while he's still weak and confused, with Growing Form Kuuga nearly getting himself killed and barely saving Ichijo. This shows that not only is the hero not your average toku hero, who would just pick up his Transformation Trinket and beat up his first monster with ease, but that normal humans are only slightly less capable of kicking as much mutant-bad-guy ass as the hero. Also, unlike other shows that feature the police being useless or otherwise ineffective, the police will play a major and effective role in the show.
  • Evil Counterpart: Go·Gadol·Ba seems to have a counterpart of each of Kuuga's standard forms. For that matter, arguably N·Daguva·Zeba serves this purpose for Kuuga himself (both seem to be based on stag beetles).
    • Some of the more powerful Grongi possess the ability to change forms just like Kuuga, and their forms are parallels to his own: Jack of All Stats (Mighty/Grapple), Fragile Speedster (Dragon/Quick), long-range sniper (Pegasus/Shooting), Mighty Glacier (Titan/Herculean), and Super Mode (Amazing Mighty/Shocker).
  • Eye Scream: Xu·Mebio·Da gets shot in the eye in the beginning of #4: Sprint. She survives, though she has to remove the bullet herself. She then decides to take revenge for this and takes out several humans' eyes. This would've gotten her penalized in the Gegeru, but Kuuga killed her before it started.
  • Fashion-Victim Villain: In-Universe. Many of the Grongi dress like they ran through a pile of discarded clothing and actual trash, like plastic "ascots" and armbands fashioned from metal signs. Justified to a degree in that they're an ancient society and aren't going to be all that in touch with modern human customs. However, the further Kuuga gets along in fighting each group, it's revealed that the more powerful ones have acclimated far better to human fashion than their weaker counterparts, with this trope fully discarded by the time he confronts the Go group.
  • Final Battle: Deconstructed, as instead of a typical shonen final battle involving a myriad of explosions and absurdly powerful attacks, Kuuga defeats N·Daguva·Zeba in a brutal fistfight that continues well after they both destroy each other's Transformation Trinkets and revert to human form. The battle ends with Yusuke, not Kuuga, pummeling Daguva to death in the snow.
  • Fish out of Temporal Water: The Grongi catch up to modern-day human society pretty fast, but start out a little... odd. For example, Xu·Bazuu·Ba witnesses some people buying things, and when he picks up a coin, he offers the coin to people, apparently expecting that it would buy him something.
    • His dialogue while fighting Kuuga the first time indicates that it hasn't been a particularly long time, subjectively.
  • For Happiness: Practically Godai's official job, especially after becoming Kuuga.
  • Forthe Evulz: As written the rulebook of the Grongi's Gegeru, they kill humans for fun and compete for the right to challenge the N Group Grongi.
  • Four Is Death: Subverted. Kuuga is officially designated "Unidentified Life Form No.4" by the police, but he couldn't be more a of heroic boyscout even if he tried.
    • Played straight by Go·Jalaji·Da's killing method; it takes four days for his victims to die after being attacked, which leads to some victims to commit suicide, which forfeits part of his game.
  • Fourth Wall Psych: Part of Godai's introduction — He appears to be speaking directly to the viewer with a lesson about smiling even when things are hard... only for the camera angle to change after the first part of the monologue to show the lost child he's comforting.
  • Friend on the Force: An interesting variant with Ichijo, but otherwise applies - note the number of times Kuuga needs to borrow a gun, for starters.
  • Genre Blindness:
    • As powerful as they are, the Grongi are NOT very smart. Despite Kuuga having a near-100% win rate against them, not a single Grongi ever hesitates to fight Kuuga when they run into him. Instead, they just run in and get themselves killed. Every. Single. Time. Possibly justified, since they're an entire race of Blood Knights and they see defeating Kuuga as an act that proves they are the best of the tribe.
    • Sometimes justified with Grongi like Xu·Zain·Da (#22, the Rhino Grongi) who was arrogant and reckless even by Grongi standards to begin with, but not for all of them.
    • Xu·Goma·Gu (#3, the Bat Grongi) actively ignores his status as the resident Butt-Monkey, often demanding La·Baruba·De (B1, a.k.a. "the Rose-Tattooed Woman") for a chance at the Gegeru, only to be turned down just as firmly. Goma later falls into Too Dumb to Live territory when he powers himself up with a piece of Daguva's armor and decides to challenge Daguva himself with it. It didn't end well.
    • Another explanation is that they're attempting to exploit It Only Works Once. The Grongi had to be revived specifically as a result of having fought a Kuuga in the past, who at least a couple note was a better warrior than the present-day iteration, so they may just think they've got an edge this time around...
  • Good Thing You Can Heal: A Healing Factor is quickly established to be one of the powers granted to Yusuke by the Amadam...and it's a good thing too, considering almost every battle involves him sustaining some kind of major injury. Special mention goes to his getting speared through the shoulder by a harpoon (with a fair bit of stage blood involved) and getting beaten senseless by a hammer-wielding Grongi strong enough to leave dents and perforations in Titan Form's otherwise-impervious breastplate.
  • Gory Discretion Shot: Happens with some of the more violent Grongi killing sprees; after all, it's still a kid's show.
  • Homage: Go·Badaa·Ba is a reference the Showa-era Riders, most likely the first one. In human form, he rides around on a motorcycle while wearing a red scarf. Rather than simply transforming into Grongi form with little to no psoing, he performs the classic Rider 1 henshin pose as he does so (and that Grongi belt that all the Grongis have is emphasized a bit, as if it were his Transformation Trinket) while still wearing the scarf. Oh, and he's also a grasshopper Grongi, and wears Shotaro Ishinomori's infamous afro-like haircut.
    • Shinzo is shown in the 19th episode.
  • Hero Stole My Bike: #4. Yusuke sees a policeman on an older-model motorbike purusing the Monster of the Week, which ends in the officer crashing. Yusuke makes sure the officer's OK before taking the bike to pursue the Grongi himself! Sadly, Yusuke doesn't fare much better since this bike wasn't built for chasing suspects up staircases, and Ichijo cuffs him.
  • Hot-Blooded: Yusuke Godai. He's a nice guy, but hurt innocent people and you'll see his temper flair up.
  • Hour of Power: Kuuga can only maintain Pegasus Form and its Super Sense powers for a short time (50 seconds) before he forcibly reverts to Growing Form. Furthermore, he cannot transform again for two hours due to sensory overload and exhaustion.
    • Although it's not explicitly mentioned until after it no longer becomes an issue for Yusuke, he could at first only assume the Rising forms for 30 seconds. Rising Pegasus adds the two timers together, letting him stay in the form for a total of 80 seconds.
  • How Do I Shot Web?: Each episode arc is devoted to introducing Kuuga's new forms. It involves him getting used to the strengths and weaknesses of each, as well as learning which weapon it uses. Especially true for Dragon and Pegasus Form, which initially left him fumbling with his new powers until he had the appropriate weapon for the job.
  • Humans Are Bastards: The ultimate plan of the Grongi is to cause humanity to embrace brutality and violence as the Grongi do. Unfortunately for them...
  • Idiosyncratic Episode Naming: Each episode's name consists of exactly two kanji. Coincidentally, it works on the English translation of the episode's name too, since all episode consists of one or two English words when translated.
  • Immune to Bullets: Played Straight at first. The police try to fight the Grongi with their regular pistols. It doesn't work out well.
    • Then this is subverted. Japanese police carry .38 revolvers; special permission and training is required for anything stronger, so this isn't very surprising. With some serious upgrades and changes to the rules, by the end of the series regular humans with guns are able to kill high-level Grongi with some effort. The problem isn't whether the bullets will pierce - rifle rounds will, even early on - but actual stopping power. The Grongi are tough enough that simply shooting them proves to just annoy them, so the police have to upgrade up to 'Nerve-Severing Bullets', and even those only work while they're inside the body.
    • They're also not invulnerable to eye shots, as seen with Xu·Mebio·Da, who was shot with a handgun.
    • Kuuga as well. He fights Xu·Mebio·Da while the police are unloading at both of them, and he later calmly describes the experience as feeling 'prickly' and awful.
    • There is one exception to this. Apparently the police got lucky and somehow caused Unidentified Lifeform #12 (Xu·Nezuma·Da, who appeared during the first timeskip) to blow up with normal bullets... However, what caused the explosion is not the bullet, but the explosive energy inserted into Nezuma by Baruba when the time is up of Nezuma's Gegeru.
  • Improbable Aiming Skills: Pegasus Form Kuuga.
  • Improvised Weapon: Subverted. Kuuga's three auxiliary forms can turn random objects in their hands into their weapones.
    • Mind, the random object must bear some resemblance to the weapon it transforms into. Not a problem for Dragon (rod—any handy stick) and Titan (sword—the Trychaser's detachable handlebar will work, something used later in Kamen Rider 555), but Pegasus needs an actual gun—usually Ichijo's, which necessitates Yusuke's cooperation with the police instead of simply acting out on his own.
    • As the series progresses it's shown that several Grongi can do this as well, turning the charms hanging off their bodies into weapons like harpoons, swords, and maces.
  • In a Single Bound: Dragon Form grants Kuuga tremendous jumping ability, enough to match Xu·Vazuu·Ba's own to pursue him from rooftop to rooftop.
  • Kiss of Death: The Mushroom Grongi Me·Ginoga·De uses this as his murder method; he manages to deliver this to Kuuga who falls gravely ill. He gets better, but could only assume Growing Form until he fully recovered.
  • Killed Offscreen: Befalls the vast majority of the 200 Grongi, with Kuuga offing a bunch off-screen as indicated by the skipping Unidentified Lifeform numbers.
    • The Grongi between #6 and #14 are killed between #6 and #7.
    • The Grongi between #14 and #21 are killed between #8 and #9.
    • The Grongi between #26 and #31 are killed between #20 and #21.
    • The Grongi between #31 and #36 are killed between #22 and #23.
    • Lastly, Daguva slaughters a good 150 Grongi off-screen before he confronts Kuuga. The corpse of one of his victims is found by the police.
  • Kill It with Fire: Godai plays it straight in #20 by grabbing a lab lighter and burning the regenerating tissue samples from Me·Ginoga·De with it.
  • Lethal Joke Character: Yusuke at one point succeeds at defeating a Grongi (see Kiss of Death) using Growing Form. Granted, he needed to use the considerably feeble Growing Kick three times, but it still ended in Kuuga's favour.
    • It must be noted also that Growing Form isn't just "not powerful enough" (like many other Joke Character forms). It has all the weaknesses of the other forms, and none of the advantages: Titan Form's slowness, Dragon Form's inferiority at hand-to-hand combat, Pegasus Form's physical feebleness, and Mighty Form's lack of any weapon. Fortunately, each of these weakness on their own are scaled back compared to their respective Forms. The result is effectively Kuuga at his weakest, but is at least able to defend himself against a Grongi. To actually either kill a Grongi or protect a civilian, Kuuga needs his four basic Forms beyond Growing.
  • Light Is Not Good: Daguva is seen in white for both his human and Grongi forms. Which is actually appropriate, considering he's somewhat akin to Satan or the Antichrist.
    • Dark Is Not Evil: Kuuga's Amazing Mighty and Ultimate Forms are black with gold trimmings, and in the final episodes Yusuke wears a lot of black. He's still as heroic as he ever was, though.
  • Likes Older Women: Jean Michel Sorrel and his thing for single-mother lab tech Hikari Enokida.
  • Made of Iron: Titan Form.
  • Magikarp Power: Growing Form, though it is just barely powerful enough to finish off a Grongi on its own, given enough willpower on Kuuga's part.
  • Malaproper: "Pops" Tamasaburo Kazari (the owner of Pole Pole) has this as his Running Gag, repeately mishearing just about any important term that comes up. In particular, he never seems to realize that Yusuke's repeated references to "Kuuga" are about either himself or the mysterious "Number 4" whom Kazari admires.
  • Martial Pacifist: Several times throughout the series, Yusuke says that he hates the sensation of punching another person; however, he's the only person who's capable of defeating the Grongi and preventing them from slaughtering even more people, so he still fights.
  • Masquerade: Subverted. The police try to cover up the first few incidents to prevent mass panic, but once they realize the scale of the problem, they don't hesitate to reveal everything in the interest of public safety. From then on it becomes The Unmasqued World, with frequent news reports warning people about the latest Grongi attacks and newspaper articles detailing Kuuga's various battles.
  • Meaningful Name: Kuuga's name comes from the Japanese reading for "Clear-self", but it also contains Ku(空), the Japanese symbol for "Sky" or "Void" and the fifth element in Japanese Elements, or Godai.
  • Mirroring Factions: Literally. The Grongi transform using near-identical means as Kuuga, and are essentially a tribe of human ancestors who didn't win the evolutionary race - modern humans are descendants of the Rinto tribe. Kuuga and the transformed Grongi are functionally identical at a biological level.
  • Mook Horror Show: Go·Jalaji·Da towards the end of Kuuga's Roaring Rampage of Revenge is cornered at a lake while Kuuga approaches him with an Unflinching Walk, not even paying heed to any of the Grongi's attacks as they just bounce off his armor. Jalaji, at this point, actually looks terrified, and rightfully so, as when he reaches him Kuuga brutally finishes him off.
  • Motorcycle Jousting: Kuuga had a bike that's specifically designed for maneuverability, and could joust just about anywhere—roads, beaches and even inside buildings.
  • My Horse Is a Motorbike: The Gouram was originally horse armor, for the original ancient Kuuga's steed. When Kuuga returned in the modern day, it adapted itself to work with a motorcycle instead.
  • Mythology Gag
    • Not only is there a spider monster in the first episode (a recurring element in Kamen Rider in general), but all Grongi have their own uniform belt buckles, much like the classic Shocker mooks and monsters do.
    • Also a bat monster in the second episode, which is also a recurring monster with Kamen Rider in general, though not as much as the Spider.
    • On top of that, just as the original series, whose first two monsters were a spider and a bat, was followed by Kamen Rider V3 whose first two monsters were a turtle and a jaguar, Kuuga's successor Agito's first two monster sets are big cats and turtles.
    • At one point Yusuke starts wearing a T-shirt with the Kuuga symbol on it, much like Jou Shigeru and his Stronger shirts.
    • Ultimate Kuuga and Daguva's face-off somewhat echoes that of Black Sun and Shadow Moon.
    • Kuuga's red form being called #4 can be seen as a continuation of the original three riders being #1, #2 and V3.
    • Sakurako and Jean are based out of Jounan University, the same college where Takeshi Hongo studied; #40 takes it further by having Yusuke, Sakurako, and Enokida mention a "Professor Hongo", who had Big Ol' Eyebrows and a deep voice (Yusuke's impression sounding a lot like Hiroshi Fujioka), implying that they're talking about the original Rider.
  • New Powers as the Plot Demands: This is actually the explanation given as to how Yusuke unlocks some of his forms. (e.g, he doesn't unlock the agile Dragon Form until he fights a opponent who he can't reach and thinks, "I need to jump high too!")
    • Subverted, actually. The powers were always there, but the Arcle didn't come with an instruction manual, at least not one in a language a modern human can read. This is backed up by Grongi dialogue indicating that they've seen or are aware of those forms. Xu·Bazuu·Ba, for example, talks like he's personally fought Dragon Form in the past.
  • Noodle Incident: The cafe owner's mountaineering exploits in the Himalayas.
  • No-Holds-Barred Beatdown:
    • Kuuga dishes one out to Go·Jalaji·Da in a Roaring Rampage of Revenge, which is one of the very few times a Grongi actually bleeds within the first few minutes of the fight and tries to run away.
    • The Final Battle consists of Kuuga and Daguva delievering one of these to each other. By the end both are beaten and bloody and Daguva is ultimately beaten to death.
  • Offscreen Moment of Awesome: Unusually for a Toku series, we don't see all of Kuuga's fights; several Grongi are killed between episodes in battles the show doesn't cover, hence why the ID numbers keep jumping around.
  • One-Man Army: Kuuga still stands unique amongst the other Heisei series as being the only one to feature a single Rider against the villains. There are no other secondary, rival, or evil Riders here. ...Depending on how you interpret Yusuke's predecessor Riku, the original Kuuga; and no different in regards to the Grongi themselves.
  • Police Are Useless: Zig-Zagged. The police are doubtlessly a Red Shirt Army whenever they confront a Grongi face-to-face, but are extremely competent in every other aspect of their job. They're really at their most effective when serving as Kuuga's Mission Control, using their resources and deductive powers to track the Grongi's movements and warning/evacuating the citizens whenever necessary in order to minimize casualties. That said, this gets mostly subverted when they invent bullets that do work on Grongi.
  • Product Placement: Yusuke eats from McDonald's in #24.
  • Recap Episode: #17 and #31. There was also a TV special called "First Dream of the New Year" (often referred to by fans as "#46.5") which also served as this.
  • Red Eyes, Take Warning: Inverted. Black-eyed Ultimate Kuuga is powered by rage, and is thus prone to becoming evil. Godai's good nature negates it and replaces the black eyes with Mighty Form's red eyes.
  • Redshirt Army: Almost every episode had policemen getting killed while feebly trying to combat the Grongi.
  • Reluctant Warrior: Godai himself actually hates fighting, but has to do so to protect everyone from the Grongi.
  • Revival: For Kamen Rider, of course. It's even the title of the first episode! In-universe, the revival just means that the battle with the Grongi has resumed and Kuuga is here to combat them once again as before.
  • Robot Buddy: The Gouram arguably counts as a Lost Technology variant; it not only serves as barding for Kuuga's bikes but also a flying support mech.
  • Rousseau Was Right: Pretty much the theme of the whole series. Also the reason why Godai keeps fighting for everyone and why the Grongi didn't succeed on having humanity embrace brutality and violence like they do.
  • Rummage Sale Reject: The Xu class, and the Me class to a lesser extent, dress in outlandish clothing. The Go class manages to blend in human society better.
  • Running Gag: No one outside the Unidentified Lifeform case ever knows what Godai means by "Kuuga"note . This always results with people confusing the Kamen Rider with famous actors, players and even a country (Cuba).
    • Ichijou's coworkers assuming he has a girlfriend, and often ignoring his protests that he doesn't.
  • Sealed Evil in a Can: The Grongi were imprisoned for eons until an archaeological dig accidentally set them free.
  • Sealed Good in a Can: We eventually learn that Riku, the original Kuuga from way back when, sealed himself into the sarcophagus to be this. This was in fact an And I Must Scream situation... that Riku took upon himself anyway, just in case the Grongi ever came back. Unfortunately, Daguva got the first hit in, and forced Kuuga back into his human form, whose body was not immune to the passage of time... but since he's the sort of guy that willingly became Kuuga in the first place, he seems to have been getting up to fight anyway before dying.
  • Secret Identity: For the first part of the series, only a small number of people like Ichijo and Sakurako are aware that Yusuke is Kuuga; the police mistakenly believe he's a Grongi (hence labelling him "ULF Number 4") and don't entirely trust him. Granted, Yusuke is very cavalier about the whole thing, gladly telling people that he's Kuuga — it's just that nobody except Sakurako even knows that Kuuga is "Number 4". As the story progresses more people join the circle of trust, and the police finally accept that he's on their side, even letting him sit in on briefings.
  • Self-Imposed Challenge: invokedRather than engaging in a straightforward massacre, the Grongi have their "Gegeru", a game where they have to kill a certain number of humans within a set amount of time, with some kind of restriction placed upon them. The low-tier Xu class has the rules set upon them by Baruba (the "referee"), while the higher-ranking Me and Go class can set the limitations themselves. Examples include targeting only male students from a specific high school, killing people by running them over with a truck (driven backwards), or leaving hints for the police to find. What makes the Grongi so horrifying is that even with these restrictions, several of them still manage to kill dozens (or sometimes even hundreds) of people.
  • Snow Means Death: The final battle occurs on the snowy slopes of Mount Kuro, Where It All Began.
  • Sorting Algorithm of Evil: First, we see the Xu class. Then we see the Me class. After the Me, we see the Go class, who are supposed to be the strongest group of the Grongi besides their overlord, N·Daguva·Zeba. (Then again, there are also the Ra class, who aid in keeping score for the Monster of the Week and the Nu class, who build weapons) This is justified by the "league" system that the Grongi have: the victor of the "Zu" class games gets promoted to "Me" class, the winner of the "Me" games is promoted to "Go" class and the winner of the "Go" games fights the sole member of the "N" class for supremacy.
  • Stealth Pun: The title of the first episode is "Revival"note . While there are two in-story revivals in that episode, it also indicates the beginning of the Revival of the Kamen Rider franchise.
  • Superpowered Evil Side: Ultimate Form, which combines the powers of all of Kuuga's other forms but at the (rather vaguely defined) risk that the user would become evil.
  • Super-Senses: Pegasus Form. The strain it puts on Godai's nervous system necessitates its Hour of Power - 50 seconds for the normal form, 30 for Rising.
  • Super-Speed: Dragon Form.
  • Theme Naming: Each of the Grongi is named in a certain fashion; the first part refers to their class, the second is a personal name of sortsnote , and the third part refers to their species/type.
  • This Is Something He's Got to Do Himself: Yusuke's final battle.
  • Those Two Guys: Arguably, Sugita and Sakurai, Ichijo's colleagues in the Science Police. They do manage to defeat La·Doldo·Gu with the Nerve-Breaking Bullets later on.
  • Thunderbolt Iron: Expanded Universe materials explain that the material the Grongi and Kuuga use to transform came from this source.
  • Time Skip: Quite a few, actually. Kuuga defeats 7 Grongi (the police also blow one up, apparently by luck) between #6 and #7, and then there's another one between #8 and #9. This can be confirmed by the sudden jumps in the Unidentified Lifeform ID numbers.
  • Took a Level in Badass: Apart from the obvious hero, special mention goes to the Grongi Xu·Goma·Gu who, after taking a part of Daguva's power for himself, manages to overcome his photophobia and go toe to toe with the remaining Go Group Grongi.
    • Add in the fact that he also was on the verge of killing Kuuga and would have done it had he not sensed Daguva near by and went to challenge him only to be killed off screen
    • The police later invent bullets that actually KILL Grongi, allowing them to support Kuuga more directly.
  • Tranquil Fury: The version of Ultimate Form Yusuke takes in the final battle.
  • Transmutation: Kuuga's Dragon, Pegasus, and Titan forms allow him to temporarily transmute objects items of a certain shape into weapons suited to his forms. High tier Guronji also have this ability.
  • Unflinching Walk: Yusuke's solution to defeating the Squid Grongi after obtaining the well-armored Titan form.
    • Really, Yusuke's default strategy whenever he uses Titan form.
  • Unstoppable Rage: What Ultimate Form would be if Godai entered it out of rage. And by "unstoppable" we mean "until the world is a smoldering wreck".
  • Where It All Began: Kuuga battles Daguva at the mountain where the Grongi were sealed (and revived in the first episode).
  • The Worf Effect: Goma, after receiving a massive power boost had handed Kuuga's ass on a silver platter and would have finished him off had he not sensed the presence of Daguva... And then Daguva kills him in an instant, showing Yusuke that Daguva is much stronger than anticipated.
    • Also, want to make the Grongi of the week seem really powerful? Have it leave devastating (sometimes visible) marks on Titan form, which could previously tank anything without even flinching.


Video Example(s):


Kuuga brutalizes Jaraji

This is what happened when you pushed one of the nicest Kamen Rider with a monstrous actions.

How well does it match the trope?

4.97 (29 votes)

Example of:

Main / NoHoldsBarredBeatdown

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