Ok so I trust you are all reading my Tokusatsu personal articles? You see because it was Kamen rider’s 50th anniversary their parent company put up some Kamen Rider stuff on their official YouTube channel (the same one I used to watch the first 2 episodes of Zubat) this included for one day the Crossover Movie between Kamen Rider Zero One and Zi-O. So let’s dive in 🙂
To explain the title a little- Japan treats eras differently than we do and refers to them in connection to the current Emperor. Recently we moved from their Heisai to the Reiwa period. Franchises that are long running are often referred to by which era they are in. Like how Godzilla has the original Showa era stuff and later Heisai (there’s also Millennium but that’s a different thing) to separate different continuities of movies. Kaman Rider Zero One is the first fully Reiwa period and thus the first Reiwa Rider hence the title.
I never thought I would get to talk about Kamen Rider Zero One in an official capacity since I didn’t think they would ever release or make available any media of it over here. But yes thanks to the 50th anniversary I got a window to watch the crossover movie. These are a common occurrence, the previous series characters meeting the new one. Of course there is the problem the old series has their end game stuff while we’re lucky to have the new ones first real power up.
Now I came into this having never seen Zi-O, only had rudimentary knowledge of it but had watched all of Zero One. Which is sort of a problem in a sense… not too much for following the Zero One part of it but certain characters motivations left me head scratching. Using the time alteration elements of Zi-O the film creates an alternate timeline where an important element of the back-story of Zero One never occurred, however our lead Aruto was for some reason not explained to be unaffected. He now finds himself in a different world where robots have taken over. Then he gets beaten up by a dark version of himself that apparently is something to do with Zi-O plot’s given a version of the transformation device used normally by the bad guys of his series (and it makes painfully clear it wasn’t meant for human use) before the Zi-O people show up to rescue him from killer robots and travel back in time to try and fix what was changed and stop who did that.
The best part of the movie is the part set in the past which allows the exploration of characters and back-story the main series never got into too deeply as we never met them outside of small flashbacks (most of the important details revealed in this movie were later shown in a clip show episode of Zero One). But that just leaves the Zi-O cast feeling like a plot device. For all the great development for Aruto, the other part of the crossover cast feel underwhelming, only used for fighting the real bad guy… whose entire raison d’etre was probably explained in Zi-O so no idea what’s going on there.
What’s more the rest of the Zero One cast are oddly used. The villains from the main series are completely lacking in what made them great in the main timeline and are just used as stronger mooks. The action is great and some good fights, yet many lack pathos. We get one battle that really means something outside of just beat the bad guy that works for story structure.
Using the time travel and alternate timeline plot however was great to learn more about characters the main series had as important but was unable to delve into and I do recommend it for Rider fans who enjoy Zero One (which is going to be seeing a official release in America at least). Plus I had never seen fully a Kamen Rider crossover movie before. If I ever get another chance I will need to compare it to this one and see how both sides are treated.