Welcome to the first installment of our new Anime and Manga column where each month we will be making recommendations on starting points in various manga and anime genres! This month’s genre is HORROR!
By Science SARU
In this remake of Go Nagai’s classic Devilman, you are hit with tons of style and themes. Director Yuasa Masaaki and his studio Science SARU take their flattened, high contrast, and high energy animation style to breathe new life into the story from 1972. In Modernizing the story, the classic anti-war themes change to cover things more for today’s world like sexuality, self-confidence, and more. From a Black Sabbath to a drug and sex-filled rave there are many changes that make this ten-episode Netflix Original anime, an amazing series worth watching for anyone.
Follow Akira as his old friend, Ryo, drags him into the world of demons and possession. Akira is one of the few to be possessed by a demon; becoming the first Devilman! Akira must lead the Devilmen in taking on the demon hordes, led by Lucifer, as they bring upon the apocalypse. Can the soft-hearted crybaby Akira stop the destruction of Earth and save his loved ones? Find out.
I genuinely loved this when I watched it during a winter break in college. The color palette of the series just pops at all times because of the flatter art style causing the high contrast bright colors to work so well. Also, there is a character who is always rapping and he ends up being a decent guy in the end. It lived up to the hype that I had been seeing from all my friends.
By Ishida Sui
Imagine, you meet a cute girl and she asks you out on a date to talk about books over coffee. One thing leads to another and you become a flesh-eating, coffee-sipping ghoul! Well, that’s exactly what happened to Ken Kaneki. Now as a half-ghoul, he must navigate the worlds of humans and ghouls while managing his new diet.
For me, this series is best read rather than watched. The anime’s second season outpaced the manga and took on an alternate story to the source material. To add more confusion goes back to the original story for the third season. But the manga is a fantastic read and the art is so kinetic I could look at single panels all day. I admit while reading it on the Shonen Jump app I screenshot so many of my favorite panels.
By Fujimoto Tatsuki
I read Chainsaw Man very recently and devoured all 11 volumes in less than 48 hours. I truly wasn’t interested in it for the longest time and then all of a sudden, I found myself paying $2 for the Shonen Jump app solely to read it. There’s so much to say about Chainsaw Man and how utterly fantastic it is. The thing that really stands out for me the most, even beyond the stunning art, is how it treats its female characters. This is the first Shonen Jump series I’ve read in a long while where the women dominate the story, even though its main protagonist is a man. While Denji certainly falls into the stereotypical trappings of being a Shonen Protagonist, there is still a lot of care taken to give his character more everything and make the reader feel like he’s unique in a very oversaturated genre. Makima, Power, Kobeni, etc. all have more spotlight than almost every male character, and even female characters we see for only a volume feel like someone we’ve been with for a while. Each one has substance, an arc, and though they leave just as quickly as they came, it doesn’t leave you feeling unsatisfied. Warning for body horror and gore, but if you’re a fan of things like Invincible, Slasher movies, Berserk, etc. where the violence isn’t just there for gratuity’s sake, and you want some really beautiful looks at trauma, humanity, and morality, all mixed in with goofy fun, I truly cannot recommend Chainsaw Man enough.
By Iwaaki Hitoshi
Parasitic aliens fall to Earth and begin implanting themselves into the brains of people with few special cases. One of those special cases is Shinichi Izumi. Through his fear of bugs, panics at the parasite tunneling into his body, but stops it from getting past his arm. He is rewarded by a shapeshifting talking hand named Migi, who helps Shinichi fight off other parasite hosts in a bid for survival.
I’m not too far into the anime but it’s super easy to follow. I appreciate that it doesn’t have Migi give a long-winded explanation of his origins because he doesn’t know much himself. I thought it had some really cool ideas and even some funny bits in how Migi tries to understand things. It’s an interesting take on body horror without seeming to go overboard with it
Can you guess who’s hard to kill? The Devil. Luci-fans, Luci-stans, but never Luci-furries, we welcome you back to Season 5b of Lucifer! He’s been to hell and back (literally), and that doesn’t include a Fox cancellation and Netflix resurrection, as nothing can keep our neighbor to the deep deep south down. With character adaptation so on point some are led to believe he may be ol’ Scratch himself, Tom Ellis leads the charge into the penultimate season of Lucifer. To get you in the mood for satanic worship, Ashley & RJ are here to give you a rundown on their favorite episodes if you’re a newbie, and when to catch the irresistible Lucifer Morningstar and his detective for the season finale.
If you’re new to the show, we think starting at the beginning is going to give you the best introduction to Lucifer and the people that inhabit his world. Lucifer, the tv show, is an adaptation of a DC comic. The character, created by Neil Gaiman, first showed up in The Sandman #4. Due to his overwhelming popularity, he found himself starring in his own comic. It was formally adapted and transitioned into a FOX program, premiering in January of 2016. In the Pilot episode, Lucifer has a chance meeting with LAPD Detective Chloe Decker when a friend of his is murdered. Lucifer comes with his own set of devilish talents that aid Detective Decker in solving the case, and this episode is the framework for the rest of the series. Lucifer signs on to use his talent of persuading suspects to admit their deepest desires to assist Chloe with her cases. For our newbies, we’d like to issue a clear SPOILER WARNING: anything going forward may give away important plot points!
RJ – Episode 1: Pilot / A Priest Walks into the Bar Tough decision out the gate, as I was truly torn between this episode and a later episode entitled “A Priest Walks into a Bar”, but I think this pilot truly mastered the art of purposeful immersion for the audience. Tom Ellis, Lucifer, rolling up to his private nightclub Lux, with this effortless swagger and charm, hell, even I thought he WAS the devil. Exploring his ‘daddy-issues’ from day one, introducing his catchphrase ‘What is it you truly desire?’, and most importantly, establishing a believable connection to his partner (double entendre intended) Chloe Decker. This episode turned me from Luci-skeptic to Luci-fan and I would come back for Luci-more (okay I’m done.)
Ashley – Episode 1: Pilot / A Priest Walks into the Bar I LOVE PILOT EPISODES. Doesn’t matter what it is, I always go back and rewatch pilots, and Lucifer is no exception. There’s something special about knowing where a show eventually goes, and then returning to its humble beginnings. This episode introduces us to all the major players like Chole, Mazikeen, Dr. Linda, Amenadiel, and Detective Douche (sorry Dan). Chloe and Lucifer meet and work together to find the killer of a fading pop star. This episode is pretty low stakes, but it does a stellar job showing us what the future holds.
RJ – Episode 13 / A Good Day to Die Chloe Decker is poisoned and Lucifer must return to hell to learn the antidote from “The Professor”, who had subsequently poisoned Chloe in the previous episode before his own demise. Now, just imagining Lucifer travelling back to the home he had fled, only to return to it as a means to torture The Professor’s damned soul, all in the hopes of saving his detective, I mean, that’s enough right there. But, like Loren Allred says it’s “Never Enough, Never Never”, as this episode approaches an emotion we all know too well, guilt. For it is guilt, like cement shoes, that ground us and prevent some of us from moving on, and in this case, almost prevent Lucifer himself from returning to the land of the living and saving his partner. Won’t spoil much more, but damn, this onion of an episode has layers.
Ashley – Episode 6 / Monster If there’s anything I love more than a pilot, it’s a holiday episode! This Halloween special opens with a zombie themed wedding turned deadly. Lucifer’s on the prowl after everything that went down with Uriel (who was played by the fantastic Michael Imperioli) and Chloe is doing her best to keep him on task to solve the murder. Highlights include Mazikeen trying to take Chloe’s daughter, Trixie, trick-or-treating. Who doesn’t want a demon being their candy guide?
RJ – Episode 13 / Til Death Do Us Part Lucifer and Marcus Pierce, AKA Cain (the biblical one), AKA Smallville’s Superman himself Tom Welling, are forced to live undercover as husband and husband in a cul de sac suburbia to get to the bottom of their current case. Aside from the two of them being just an amazingly handsome couple, Welling and Ellis do a SUPERB job as their acting chemistry carry this entire episode. Even if you watch it solely for their fake wedding photo in the tropics, I may also instruct you to listen carefully as Lucifer mentions he intends on figuring out Pierce’s Kryptonite, which, I mean, c’mon, somebody save me.
Ashley – Episode 24 / A Devil of My Word Dan is reeling from the loss of Charlotte Richards, and everyone finally comes to terms with the identity of the Sinnerman. It’s time to take down Pierce, but it’s pretty hard to do that when he’s constantly lurking at the precinct. Where this episode really shines is the last ten minutes. For three seasons, Lucifer has been open with Chloe about the fact that he’s the devil. He’s never shied away from sharing his truth with her. But true to her nature, she hasn’t been able to accept that a lick of what comes out of his mouth is true. Up until this point, they’ve been at an impasse; Chloe just accepting that Lucifer believes what he says is true. Everything finally comes to a head, just as Chloe and Lucifer walk into a trap set by Pierce. To protect the Detective, Lucifer will do anything. This show of selflessness earns him back his wings, and for fans, this scene is squeal inducing. The takedown of Pierce and his thugs by a bloodied Lucifer donning angel wings is everything, and Chloe finally glimpsing Lucifer’s devil face changes their dynamic forever.
RJ – Episode 7 / Devil is as Devil Does The 4th season was not my favorite, and you’ve stuck with me this long, so I’m not in the business of lying to you. Regardless, there were still great episodes, and this is probably the best. Plot wise, there’s going on, Ameniadiel trying to protect his child, Linda and Maze becoming close, Dan is still adrift at his loss and finds comfort in Ella, but most importantly, Lucifer is starting to look like the Lucifer of old. Lucifer has resorted to his use of strength and anger to get what he needs while investigating this case. Chloe becomes concerned and eventually we see Lucifer wade his way back to doing things by the new book, not the old one. Let me be frank, I was never a fan of the Eve storyline, BUT, symbolically, the idea that Eve has become the snake in the garden, trying to lure Lucifer away from Chole…I see what they did there. Even with all that, my favorite part of this episode resides in the final moments. Lucifer, horrified by his behavior calls on Dr. Linda to find out why the worst has happened, his wings have returned, DEMON WINGS. Watching Tom Ellis convey this overwhelming lunacy the scene required, it’s something you need to watch, like NOW!
Ashley – Episode 10 / Who’s da New King of Hell? As RJ so eloquently stated above, season 4 was not our favorite. While I love Graham McTavish as an actor, I wasn’t a fan of the Father Kinley storyline and didn’t really vibe with the whole Eve arc either. This season 4 finale was a return to everything I love from this show. We open with a giant dance number to Kenny Loggins’ “I’m Alright” and the Devil is feeling himself. Father Kinley becomes the host of a Demon who escaped hell, determined to get his King to return to the throne of the Underworld. McTavish portraying the demon Dromos inhabiting Kinley’s body was so fun to watch, he is such a talented actor. Dromos wreaks havoc on L.A. and forces Lucifer’s hand. I love this episode because Chloe finally comes to terms with Lucifer’s devil features, learning to appreciate every side of him. However, their declarations of love are bittersweet, because Lucifer must return to hell and keep the demons at bay.
RJ – Episode 6 / BluBallz Let me begin with stating the obvious, Our Mojo, is the better episode by far. However, this episode gives us two moments that are much too important to ignore: Dan finally sees Lucifer’s true face (Devil Face), and CHLOE AND LUCIFER HAVE ADULT TIME UNDER THE COVERS!
Ashley – Episode 7 / Our Mojo Thats right folks, they FINALLY did it! And afterwards, it appears that Chloe has stolen Lucifer’s mojo! She’s now able to compel him to expose his deepest desires, and Lucifer is rattled. They pay a little visit to Dr. Linda for some couples therapy to get to the heart of their sharing issues. Aside from the emotional drama, there’s a serial killer on the loose and the gang is hard pressed to find who’s responsible before another body turns up. This episode ranks as one of my favorites because we finally make some emotional headway between Chloe and Lucifer. Their dynamic is the driving force behind this show, and it’s far and few between when they’re on the same page emotionally. Leave it to Dan to come in during the last moments of this episode and rain bullets on our joy.
As much fun as this has been to write about, it has unfortunately stirred the two of us to give up on our current spare time activities (Ashley just finished reading People We Meet on Vacation and RJ is starting Six of Crows) and take up binging more than 60 hours of Lucifer! Netflix drops Lucifer Season 5b Friday May 28th and Season 6 is due out sometime late 2021/early 2022. So, don’t be a Detective Douche, put on that adult diaper and grab the snacks because this is what you TRULY DESIRE.
Superman and Lois is great. I’m going to lead with that, no well-thought-out poetic discussion on how Superman is my favourite character (he is). No long drawn-out rambling on my relationship as a fan to Superman, or rants about how certain writers or directors don’t understand the character. I just want people to give this surprisingly great show a chance.
As someone who generally has very mixed feelings towards the CW, I entered Superman and Lois with very low expectations, however, they were blown away by what I saw. Superman and Lois follows Clark Kent and Lois Lane as they try to balance raising two sons (Jonathan and Jordan), both unique with their own struggles and needs, as well as the couple’s responsibilities to the world, all the while dealing with emerging threats. The show is connected to the ArrowVerse, however, it seems quite separated in its own way, first and foremost there’s been a lot of money spent on it to look good, like HBO-level good. The action is great and the CGI is solid.
Then there’s the drama; as the family makes big changes to their lives, the boys navigating their adolescence and growing pains, Clark being Superman, and Lois exploring big stories within and without the community they’re now a part of. Everything about the drama works extremely well, carried by compelling performances from the two leads, Tyler Hoechlin and Bitsie Tulloch. The kids are kids but they’re not unnecessarily annoying and angsty, their struggles with being the son of the most important and powerful hero is very understandable, as well as just trying to fit in at school.
The family has good chemistry and play-off each other well. Lois has a lot of agency and her skills at juggling being a reporter and mother are fleshed out. Then there’s the heart of the show, Superman, my personal favourite hero. I was not a fan of how he was portrayed in Supergirl, but in this show, there’s much more respect for him and his honesty in his struggles, and figuring out what is best for himself, his family, and the world. It’s a blast to watch. Clark is great at being superman but interestingly, he’s struggling at being a great father though he’s giving it his all. Just four episodes in and I can say with confidence that the show so far is a great one, and I hope others join in on the fun.
The below article contains spoilers for WandaVision.
WandaVision is one of the best shows of the year. It follows Marvel’s Wanda Maximoff and The Vision as they navigate life through a strange world of various sitcoms from across the ages, from the ’50s to present-day mockumentaries. A well-acted drama with a huge budget and a very intriguing and engaging premise, WandaVision was well on its way to being my personal best show of the year. That was until the very last episode where the awesome setup and conflicts didn’t pay off that well. I would even say the show shied away from the greatness it was showing.
Marvel had done an awesome job crafting an intriguing mystery, all the while creating a compelling drama about grief and loss. The only problem was closing the deal. The downside of the Marvel mold of filmmaking reared its head, the company had gotten so used to having a clear good and bad guy that they brought upon themselves a major problem come the finale. The show had an awesome villain, Mephisto. Just kidding. No, the great big bad of WandaVision was Wanda herself, not Agatha, not Hayward, Wanda. And this had amazing potential, the only issue was the writers and the show itself didn’t seem to realize it, or, they did realize and tried to cast others in a more negative light and walk back on that choice.
They had us with “Agatha All Along”, except It wasn’t. Agatha was maybe right, her only flaw was trying to steal Wanda’s powers (well, and threatening her kids), but Wanda kidnaped hundreds of people and tortured them for weeks. Should Wanda really be in charge of such power? In the final episode the directing, writing, and narrative choices seem to make a concerted effort to state that If there was a villain, it was not Wanda. But the truth is, no matter how we slice it, Wanda was the one who kidnapped an entire town and traumatized them.
Having Hayward be a sneaky villain makes no sense. The United States government wanting a powerful weapon like Vision is incredibly on-brand, no need to be sneaky about it. And more importantly, Wanda taking over the town pretty much gives him carte blanch, his being sneaky and duplicitous makes no sense. Lastly, and sadly for me, the biggest victim of these story decisions was sadly Monica Rambeau. Monica was a pretty cool and interesting character. Initially our guide into this world, who was trying to figure things out right alongside us, the audience. But after a while, she became fixated on Wanda and not the many victims in The Hex. Even when it became clear Wanda was the cause of it all, she didn’t have any wariness of her. It was particularly odd of Monica to absolve Wanda. How does Hayward stealing Vision’s body make him a bigger villain than Wanda? I still like Monica but hopefully she gets treated better in future instalments of the MCU. Regardless, wandavision is a great show but that last episode held it back from becoming a truly fantastic entry in the MCU.
The hit 2003 Image comic Invincible by Robert Kirkman has been adapted into an animated series by Amazon Studios, starring a star-studded voice cast of Sandra Oh, Steven Yeun, Zazie Beats, J.K. Simmons, and more.
The show stars Mark Nolan (Steven Yeun) as he tries to live up to the superhero legacy of the world’s most powerful superhero Omni-Man, who comes from an alien race called the Viltrumites (a thinly veiled superman pastiche), who as the show goes, on is revealed to be not all he seems. While Mark is excited that his power have started to emerge, he discovers being a superhero isn’t what it’s all cracked up to be (much like Spider-Man), he still has to balance personal relationships and his responsibilities as a high school student. It’s fun seeing him try and juggle all this.
The cast of characters are likeable and have great personalities. From mysterious government agencies that monitor and regulate heroes that both Mark, Omni-Man and other heroes work with, Mark’s mum, Debbie, to his regular human friends and his colourful and growing cast of super-villains; who range from somewhat comical to frighteningly powerful, clever and dangerous. Watching Mark trying to navigate them all is a rewarding, but very stressful journey filled with highs and lows and a shocking but amazing season finale to cap it off.
Season 1 ends with an awesome world expanding montage that gets us geared and excited for the future (the show is already renewed for a 2nd and 3rd season) and I am super buzzed about it. The show has great drama but also brutally awesome action. The superpowers on display are awesome, but it shows just how devastated regular human beings would be if they were exposed to them. Heck, even super-powered beings get the short end of the stick when dealing with powers, and if you’re squeamish about blood and gore this show might not be for you.
The show isn’t perfect, sometimes time moves too fast. Some of the animation at times isn’t smooth, and environments can feel a bit bland at times, but it doesn’t necessarily hold Invincible back from a great and memorable first season.
Amazon has carved a niche with darker and more mature superhero shows. If you loved The Boys and Spider-Man, this is the perfect show for you.
We’re back! For you, it’s been 7 days, for Ethan and Justin, a mere few seconds. That’s the beauty of time travel. We hope you enjoyed last week’s recommendations. This week we’ll be closing out our beginner’s guide to Doctor Who by giving you a look at adventures from Doctors 9 through 13. These stories will encompass what is considered the modern era of the show. After a hiatus of 16 years, barring one exception as mentioned last week, the show returned in 2005 and has since taken the world by storm.
We’ll give you two stories from each Doctor’s era. One chosen by Ethan, one by Justin. These will be a look at the kind of stories that encompass the era they’re from. We want to give you a distilled experience of what each Doctor is like so you can decide what best fits your tastes. So here we go. Let’s take a trip into the Vortex!
The 9th Doctor – Christopher Eccelston (2005)
“Well, you can stay there if you want. But right now, there’s this plasma storm brewing in the Horsehead Nebula. Fires are burning ten million miles wide. I could fly the TARDIS right into the heart of it, then ride the shock wave all the way out, hurtle right across the sky and end up… anywhere. Your choice.” – The 9th Doctor (World War Three)
Dalek (Ethan’s Pick) – When Doctor Who returned in 2005, showrunner Russel T. Davies spent the first 5 episodes establishing the characters, both Christopher Eccelston’s war-ravaged Doctor, and Billie Piper’s Rose Tyler. But then, in the sixth episode, Davies, and scriptwriter Robert Shearman, introduced a whole new generation to the Doctor’s greatest enemies, the Daleks. What makes this episode so effective in bringing the terror of the Daleks to the screen is that there’s just one, just one Dalek, in an underground bunker, rampaging through dozens of helpless people. We also get an incredible scene between the Doctor and this lone Dalek in which he unleashes a diatribe of built-up rage that shows just how well-cast Eccelston was as the Lonely God.
The Empty Child / The Doctor Dances (Justin’s Pick) – When people tell you that Steven Moffat is a big deal, this episode is usually the reason why. Tracking a mysterious object through the vacuum of space, the Ninth Doctor and Rose Tyler are transported to London at the height of the Blitz. But the city is under siege by more than just bombs as a creepy “gas mask plague” has swept through the war wards and bombed-out neighborhoods, freezing the populace in terror. While plenty creepy and packed with scares, this two-parter also displays Moffat’s cunning wordplay, dynamic characters (like Captain Jack Harkness, making his debut here), and tremendous episode hooks positioning it as the first real “standout” episode of the reborn franchise. Just this once, dear readers, everybody lived and it’s just as powerful today as it was then.
The 10th Doctor – David Tennant (2005-2010)
“I’m the Doctor. I’m a Time Lord. I’m from the planet Gallifrey in the constellation of Kasterborous. I’m 903 years old, and I’m the man who’s gonna save your lives and all six billion people on the planet below.” – The 10th Doctor (Voyage of the Damned)
The Girl in the Fireplace (Ethan’s Pick) – Possibly the most emotional episode in the show’s history. We see David Tennant’s 10th Doctor at his most romantic, before being utterly devastated come episode’s end. A ship in the 51st Century lies deserted, only its robotic attendants remain. They believe that to repair the ship, a brain must be acquired. To achieve this, they open a window into the past, specifically the life of one Madame de Pompadour. The Doctor must save her. From here, the episode only gets better. To get the full effect of the episode’s magic, it must be experienced. Prepare to cry.
Human Nature/The Family of Blood (Justin’s Pick) – Though the Doctor loves humans, he rarely gets a chance to live as one. That was until Paul Cornell’s seminal Seventh Doctor novel Human Nature, which he later adapted into one of the best episodes of David Tennant’s tenure. Doggedly pursued by an interstellar blood cult, the Doctor and Martha Jones (a tremendously underrated modern companion) are forced to go “undercover” in pre-WWI England, moonlighting as staff of a boy’s school. For Martha, that means just getting a new job, but for the Doctor, that means changing everything about himself. Down to his very DNA. What follows is an emotionally charged, immensely creepy, and thunderously sad exploration of the Doctor as a heroic archetype and the chaos that touches the towns and peoples he comes into contact with. Basically, you come for the bloodthirsty scarecrows, but you stay for the bravura performances of Tennant, Freema Agyeman, and guest star Jessica Hynes (she of Spaced fame).
The 11th Doctor – Matt Smith (2010-2013)
“There’s something you better understand about me, ‘cause it’s important and one day your life may depend on it. I am definitely a madman in a box.” – The 11th Doctor (The Eleventh Hour)
The Doctor’s Wife (Justin’s Pick) – The Doctor has often claimed that the TARDIS was alive, but what happens when that becomes explicit? One of the best episodes of the Matt Smith era that’s what. Scripted by British Invasion icon Neil Gaiman and containing one of the most skin-crawling performances from Micheal Sheen, The Doctor’s Wife just feels instantly special. A message from a long-assumed-dead Time Lord brings the Eleventh Doctor, Amy, and Rory outside of normal space to a junk planet called House, filled to bursting with the wreckage of ships past. But House carries with it the power to steal the TARDIS’ soul, transporting it from its shell into the patchwork body of a woman who lives on the planet, Astrid (an angelic Suranne Jones). From there the Doctor and his companions must learn to trust this woman while learning the true meaning of “being bigger on the inside”. A towering achievement for the show as it starts to hit its peak of popularity, on both sides of the ocean.
The God Complex (Ethan’s Pick) – A seemingly endless 80’s hotel. Groups of people plucked from space and time. Every room is filled with a person’s fear. One of those rooms is yours. If you find it, you will praise Him. if you praise Him, you will die. This is what the Doctor, Amy, and Rory find when the TARDIS brings them to the hotel. Throughout the history of the show, there have been many so-called “almost-companions”, those characters who the Doctor takes a shine to, who he offers the chance to travel with him, but for one reason or another, they don’t. This episode contains the best of these “almost-companions” in Rita. She’s delightful and you’ll love her. Oh, and the episode also contains perhaps the best examination of faith the show has ever done.
The 12th Doctor – Peter Capaldi (2013-2017)
“Winning? Is that what you think it’s about? I’m not trying to win. I’m not doing this because I want to beat someone – or because I hate someone, or because I want to blame someone… I do what I do because it’s right! Because it’s decent! And above all it’s kind! It’s just that. Just kind.” – The 12th Doctor (The Doctor Falls)
Listen (Justin’s Pick) – Arguably the Rosetta Stone of Peter Capaldi’s tersely entertaining Twelfth Doctor. Newly regenerated and left to his own devices in the TARDIS, the Doctor has a theory. That a set of creatures can be so silent, so imperceptible by other creatures, that they can evolve to have flawless camouflage, blending into the background of a thousand worlds. And what would they do with their evolutionary superiority? LISTEN, naturally. Pulling the thread from 80s Leeds to ancient Gallifrey, the Doctor and Clara discover that “fear is a superpower” and set up one of this era’s most affecting leitmotifs. One that stretches all the way into both Clara Oswald’s and the 12th Doctor’s final moments.
Under the Lake / Before the Flood (Ethan’s Pick) – The Doctor and Clara arrive at a deserted base. There they discover strange goings-on and a terrified crew. This is the premise for numerous “Base Under Siege” episodes of Doctor Who. A lot of the episodes we’ve recommended fit into this sub-genre, but they all had other qualities that made them perfect starting points. But what makes this two-parter incredible is it is the perfect distillation of the “Base Under Siege” story. The scares are high. The supporting cast is delightful. It does something unique with the structure of the show. And you get wonderful performances from both Peter Capaldi’s very Scottish Doctor and the ever incredible Jenna Coleman’s Clara. My personal favorite TARDIS team, and one of my favorite episodes ever.
The 13th Doctor – Jodie Whittaker (2017-Present)
“You want the whole universe. Someone who has seen it all, and that’s me. I’ve lived longer, seen more, loved more, and lost more. I can share it all with you, anything you want to know about what you never had.” – The 13th Doctor (It Takes You Away)
The Woman Who Fell to Earth (Ethan’s Pick) – We’ve strived throughout these beginner’s guides to avoid regeneration stories as best as possible, but this is, on top of being an excellent story, the cleanest fresh start the show has had since it was brought back in 2005. Jodie Whittaker takes over the role of the Doctor, becoming the first woman to play the part, and she is incredible right out of the gate, nailing everything the Doctor should be, no matter what you may hear from idiots on the internet. We’re also introduced to the Doc’s new companions. Ryan and Yaz are fun and well-rounded characters, but you will fall in love with Bradley Walsh’s Graham, the fourth person in this TARDIS quartet. Just wonderful stuff.
Nikola Tesla’s Night of Terror (Justin’s Pick) – Though it doesn’t have quite the personal resonance of Jodie Whittaker’s first “historical” episode Rosa, the Fam’s later dip into history is still one for the record books. Materializing in 1903, the Thirteenth Doctor and her companions connect with the great inventor (played with an understated grace by Goran Višnjić) after rescuing him from stranded alien spider-monsters looking to return to their home planet. Ya know, that old chestnut. My attempt at levity aside, this episode really makes wonderful use of both it’s time period and historical guest star, providing yet another high class drama that only Doctor Who could really provide.
And that’s that! We hope you’ve enjoyed our three-part beginner’s guide to the greatest show on TV. We’ll back in the future with more recommendations from the world of Doctor Who. Or maybe we’ve already given those recommendations. Time travel, it;s a tricky business to get right…
We’re back! For you, it’s been 7 days, for Ethan and Justin, a mere few seconds. That’s the beauty of time travel. We hope you enjoyed last week’s recommendations. This week we’ll give you a look at adventures from Doctors 5, 6, 7, and 8. We’ll give you two stories from each Doctor’s era. One chosen by Ethan, one by Justin. These will be a look at the kind of stories that encompass the era they’re from. We want to give you a distilled experience of what each Doctor is like so you can decide what best fits your tastes. So here we go. Let’s take a trip into the Vortex!
The 5th Doctor – Peter Davison (1981-1984)
“When did you last have the pleasure of smelling a flower, watching a sunset, eating a well-prepared meal? For some people, small, beautiful events are what life is all about!” – The 5th Doctor (Earthshock)
Earthshock (Ethan’s Pick) – One of the most famous stories of the classic era. Chiefly for showing the Doctor actually lose. How and what does he lose? Well, I’m not telling. You’ll need to watch to find out. What I will tell you though is this is where Peter Davison comes into his own as the Doctor, showing he has the steely nerve of an action hero behind the brave heart he wears on his sleeve. Assisted by an unusually large TARDIS team, the Doctor comes up against his old enemies the Cybermen, returning to the show for the first time in 7 years. They are plotting to wipe out the Earth, but what else is new? For an action-packed ride of a story with a heartbreaking ending, this is the one for you. Just make sure to bring some tissues.
The Caves of Androzani (Justin’s Pick) – The platonic ideal of a “regeneration episode”. Landing on the backwater planet Androzani Minor, the Fifth Doctor and companion Peri Brown are just looking for a little galactic R&R. But when they are mistaken for a pair of gun runners, arrested, and exposed to a deadly toxin native to Androzani, the Doctor must sacrifice everything to save his friend and Androzani Minor. Displaying a ticking dread and tension the classic era never really displayed before, and only in a couple instances after, viewers are forced to watch arguably the noblest Doctor basically die across the whole serial, fighting the effects of the toxin while still attempting a brave face for his friends. A fitting (and very in-character) end for Peter Davison while also delivering a stirringly contained example for “regeneration” episodes for years to come.
The 6th Doctor – Colin Baker (1984-1986)
“Planets come and go. Star perish. Matter disperses, coalesces, forms into other patterns, other worlds. Nothing can be eternal.” – The 6th Doctor (The Mysterious Planet)
Vengeance on Varos (Justin’s Pick) – Do ya like Doctor Who? Do ya like 2000AD? Well, what if I told you there is basically a whole ass 2000AD prog ABOUT the Doctor? That’s basically Vengeance on Varos in a nutshell. Freshly regenerated, the Doctor is looking to repair his TARDIS. And the only place he can find a rare element to do so is on the planet Varos, a grubby little world that is obsessed with its televised state executions framed as reality TV. Alongside providing the show one of its weirdest cult favorite monsters, Vengeance on Varos is a nasty bit of future shock that feels right at home during the Colin Baker era.
Revelation of the Daleks (Ethan’s Pick) – The Doctor and Peri take a trip to the planet Necros to visit the funeral home Tranquil Repose. There they discover Daleks doing some truly horrific experiments on the dead for their creator, Davros. A dark, brooding tale full of death and destruction that stands as Colin Baker’s only on-screen encounter with the Doctor’s greatest enemies. Check this out if you’re looking for a story that encapsulates the Doctor’s relationship with the Daleks during this era of the show.
The 7th Doctor – Sylvester McCoy (1987-1989, 1996)
“There are worlds out there where the sky is burning, and the sea’s asleep, and the rivers dream; people made of smoke and cities made of song. Somewhere there’s danger, somewhere there’s injustice, and somewhere else the tea’s getting cold. Come on Ace. We’ve got work to do.” – The 7th Doctor (Survival)
Battlefield (Justin’s Pick) – A stone-cold classic of an episode. Materializing in the English countryside, the Doctor and Ace find a UNIT convoy in trouble. While transporting a nuclear weapon for disposal, the convoy comes under attack from the forces of Morgane Le Fey, who is after more than just the convoy’s payload. Complicating matters is the body of King Arthur in the lake and why does Le Fey keep calling the Doctor “Merlin”? That’s just the TIP of the iceberg for this jam-packed episode.
The Curse of Fenric (Ethan’s Pick) – A unique story in the history of the show, this was filmed entirely on location, giving the events that transpire a rather cinematic feel unlike any other from the show’s original run. The Doctor and Ace arrive at a seaside village during the height of World War 2 and quickly become embroiled in a tale of vampires, Russian heroes, and corrupted British soldiers. But in the shadows is an old enemy of the Doctor’s, looking to finish a game centuries in the making. For a story that shows the Doctor at his most Machievlian, you can’t go wrong with this.
The 8th Doctor – Paul McGann (1996, 2013)
“You feel that pounding in your heart? That tightness in the pit of your stomach? The blood rushing to your head do you know what that is? That’s adventure. The thrill and the fear, and the joy of stepping into the unknown. That’s why we’re all here, and that’s why we’re alive!” – The 8th Doctor (Storm Warning)
The TV Movie (Justin’s Pick) – the thought of “American” Doctor Who might be dubious, to say the least, but that doesn’t make the TV Movie any less interesting. Produced as a co-production between the BBC and American studio Fox, the TV Movie was intended to be a brand new relaunch for the show. While transporting the ashes of the Master back to Gallifrey, the Seventh Doctor is killed by an errant gunshot, regenerating under the care of a Dr. Grace Holloway. Unfortunately, the Master too gets another life and new Doctor Paul McGann and his new American companion must defeat the Master and recover the Doctor’s TARDIS before certain doom. Cheesy, sure, but immensely charming thanks to McGann’s infectious energy and a stately new take on our favorite Time Lord. After this adventure, Paul McGann only got one more televised story as the Doctor, which will be mentioned below. However, what he, and we the audience, did get was a slew of incredible full-cast audio adventures from the good folk over at Big Finish Productions. We’re planning a much more extensive look at these in a future article. But for now, if you do find yourself enjoying these couple of stories with the 8th Doctor, then rest assured there’s much more out there than first appears.
The Night of the Doctor (Ethan’s Pick) – Nearly 20 years since his first appearance, Paul McGann got to return to our screens to close the loop on his Doctor’s life. Bringing along the experience of hundreds of audio stories he’s performed in the meantime. McGann’s Doctor is very different, war ravaged, beaten down, alone, but still the same man at heart. He packs a hell of a punch in less than 10 minutes, showing he deserved many more adventures on our screen than he got.
And that’s it for now. Let us know if you check out any of our recommendations, and make sure to come back next week for even more!
With the recent announcement of Shin Kamen Rider, a question I’ve been hearing frequently is, “How do I get into Kamen Rider?”. It’s a fair question to ask, as unlike other Tokusatsu series and movies like Ultraman, Power Rangers, or Godzilla, Kamen Rider isn’t as readily accessible to a western audience . I don’t mean this as a matter of the content being difficult to get into; it’s tough to find all the various television seasons, movies, and manga in English. I hope that with this guide, I can explain why the current state of Kamen Rider’s presence in the West is the way it is, and make it easier for you, the reader, to get into this wonderful franchise.
What is Kamen Rider?
Kamen Rider is a tokusatsu (lit. “Special Filming”, a term used to describe the genre of live-action films and TV shows that use special effects) franchise created by manga creator Shotaro Ishinomori. Ishinomori originally intended to adapt his manga series Skull Man for television but ultimately opted for a grasshopper-esque design for the hero instead, as Skull Man’s content was deemed too dark for the show’s intended 7-13 year-old audience.
The first series in the franchise, the suffix-less Kamen Rider, first aired in 1971 and followed the adventures of college student-turned-cyborg Takeshi Hongo as he fights the terrorist organization Shocker. Since then, the franchise has undergone many iterations, with roughly 40 main riders and over 100 riders in total at the time of this writing. While themes and plots vary, at its very core, the franchise will always follow a singular motorcycle-riding masked hero who fights against monsters (or Kaijin, as they’re commonly referred to) and evil organizations.
The Kamen Rider franchise’s many seasons can be categorized by the eras in Japanese history within which they aired in: The Shōwa Era (Kamen Rider – Kamen Rider Black RX, 1971 – 1989), the Heisei Era (Kamen Rider Kuuga – Kamen Rider Zi-O, 2000 – 2019), and the Reiwa Era (Kamen Rider Zero-One – Kamen Rider Saber, 2019 – Present). The show took a break from 1989 to 1999 (the first ten years of the Heisei era), but during this time the series was kept alive through movies and stage shows.
While the bulk of the Kamen Rider franchise is its long running TV show, there are also movies, V-Cinema (direct-to-video releases), web-series/net movies, novels, manga, and stage shows that expand on the series’ many seasons. As of the second half of the Heisei era (Every season after Kamen Rider Decade and before Kamen Rider Zero-One), each season of Kamen Rider has had at least one crossover movie with either the previous season’s rider or a variety of previous riders (often referred to as “Movie Wars”), one Summer movie which typically introduces a new movie-exclusive villain, and a set of post-show V-Cinema movies, usually focusing on other riders from the show.
Kamen Rider has been adapted for American audiences twice. The first was in the mid-90s, when Saban Entertainment, fresh off its roaring success adapting Kamen Rider’s sister series Super Sentai into Power Rangers, was trying to adapt other Toei properties to recreate that success. Kamen Rider received an adaptation from Saban Entertainment similar to Power Rangers with the Masked Rider series, which adapted Kamen Rider Black RX into a 40-episode series. The character also appeared in a 3-part crossover with Power Rangers. Unlike other Saban Entertainment adaptations like V.R Troopers and Big Bad Beetleborgs, which both ended as the company ran out of Japanese Footage to adapt, Masked Rider was canceled due to low ratings and paltry toy sales.
However, the Kamen Rider franchise would see yet another American adaptation in 2008 with the CW’s adaptation of Kamen Rider Ryuki, Kamen Rider: Dragon Knight. The series managed to win a Daytime Emmy for Outstanding Stunt Coordination, and even got two video game adaptations, but had received neither a second season, nor a follow-up.
At the time of this writing, Kamen Rider is celebrating its 50th anniversary with a number of recent announcements including a remake of Kamen Rider Black titled Kamen Rider Black Sun, an anime adaptation of the Kamen Rider W sequel manga Fuuto Detective, Shin Kamen Rider, directed by Hideaki Anno and slated for a 2023 release, and two new American localizations of Kamen Rider Ryuki and Kamen Rider Zero-One done by TokuSHOUTsu. The latest season, Kamen Rider Saber, began airing in August of last year, and is slated to end later this year, before the next season, presumably celebrating the series’ 50th anniversary, is released.
Why is it difficult to find Kamen Rider media in North America?
While there’s no concrete reason for the lack of Kamen Rider content in North America, some possible reasons include the slightly more mature material not being appropriate enough for younger audiences familiar with Power Rangers, as well as there being a lack of interest in the material. As mentioned above, both attempts to adapt Kamen Rider for Western audiences proved to be commercial failures at the very least.
But the world has changed significantly since the release of Masked Raider and Kamen Rider: Dragon Knight, and the advent of the internet has made it far easier for Western audiences to become more acquainted with the series. Despite a rapid increase in interest in the series overseas, Toei’s acknowledgement of said interest has progressed at a snail’s pace. The amount of localized Kamen Rider content that Toei has licensed for the west is far outnumbered by fellow production company Tsuburaya with their Ultraman series. Will things change with the 50th anniversary of the series? Only time will tell.
What is being done to make Kamen Rider more accessible in North America?
While Toei has been rather averse to localizing and translating Kamen Rider for Western audiences, it doesn’t mean that there haven’t been attempts to bridge that gap. Currently, through legal means, North American audiences can watch the original Kamen Rider series, Kamen Rider Kuuga, and the Heisei anniversary movie Kamen Rider Heisei Generations Forever on Shout Factory’s TokuSHOUTsu channel, as well as Tubi TV for free, with ads. (NOTE: KR Heisei Generations Forever, as well as most, if not all Kamen Rider movies, are not good entry points into the franchise). The 2001 season Kamen Rider Agito can also be streamed with a subscription to the TOKU streaming platform.
To celebrate the series’ 50th anniversary, Toei has been releasing subbed versions of the first two episodes of variousseasons of the franchise, as well as movies like Kamen Rider ZO and Kamen Rider J to their Toei Tokusatsu World Official YouTube channel, though there’s been no explicit mention of how many episodes they will be uploading to the channel in total.
On April 3rd, 2021, the anniversary of the premiere of the first episode of Kamen Rider, it was announced that Kamen Rider Ryuki (2003) and Kamen Rider Zero-One (2019) would be localized for North American audiences by Shout Factory, with the two seasons streaming on their TokuSHOUTsu platform, and the latter receiving a blu-ray release, making it the first season of Kamen Rider to ever receive a physical blu-ray release in North America.
How to Access Kamen Rider currently
There’s a harsh truth to be acknowledged in regards to getting into Kamen Rider in that, as very little of the franchise has been legally localized in North America, and even less so in Europe and other regions, accessing Kamen Rider involves a significant amount of piracy. Pearls be clutched, gasps be had, but it’s true. But the very fact that people outside can access so many seasons of Kamen Rider outside of Japan is thanks to the work of subbers & scrubbers.
While piracy should never be suggested as a glowing recommendation, when it happens to be the only method of accessing a certain piece of media in a certain region of the world, it should be considered. Nevertheless, as a viewer, you should support official releases whenever and wherever possible. A common practice in the Kamen Rider/Super Sentai fansub community is taking down subbed versions of shows that get official releases, in order to support those releases. In showing interest for official releases, it signals that there is a significant interest in the series outside of Japan, and could push Toei to localize more seasons of the Kamen Rider franchise.
A Primer on Kamen Rider Subs and Scrubs
In order to localize Kamen Rider for english audiences, the content needs to be translated and subtitled. So who is responsible for doing this? Fans; amateurs putting professional-quality work (most of the time) into not only translating the content, but encoding the video as well. As the internet became more and more connected over the years, fansubs became more proliferant, with more and more subber groups popping up to handle subbing various series and seasons. Here are some common terms you might want to know when looking for fansubs:
Sub: A subtitled, translated/localized video
Subber: Someone who translates/localizes raw Japanese video
Scrub: An edited Sub, usually with subtitle errors fixed
Scrubber: Someone who goes back and fixes mistakes in fansub scripts and/or adjusts them to better fit the story
Raws: An untranslated, unsubtitled video, often ripped from streaming sites and DVD/Blu-Ray releases, or recorded from TV
Encoder: Someone who encodes subtitles into video files
Scripts: The raw translated text with timecodes mapped to video timecodes, but not attached to a video
Softsub: A subtitled video in which the subtitles are not hardcoded into the video’s encoding, and can be turned on/off in a video player, or switched out for another subtitle track (often associated with files ending in .mkv)
Hardsub: A subtitled video in which the subtitles are hardcoded into the video’s encoding, and cannot be changed or turned off/on (often associated with files ending in .avi or .mp4)
Where to Start With Kamen Rider
While the answer to this may vary depending on where you look online, most seasons of the Kamen Rider franchise are structured as standalone stories that don’t require any knowledge of previous seasons’ story or lore. At most, previous storylines and characters will be referenced in crossover movies, which in turn don’t have much impact on the season’s main storyline. The biggest exception to this would be Kamen Rider Zi-O, which celebrated the series’ 20th Heisei-era season by bringing back riders from previous seasons. As such, Zi-O should not be recommended as anyone’s entry into the series.
The franchise’s many movies are often not good entry points into the series either, as they assume the viewer already has a significant amount of knowledge of who the characters in the movie are. These movies take place either midway through a season, or after the season has finished, so it’s not recommended to use them as jumping-on points.
As for a personal recommendation, I would recommend Kamen Rider Was any new viewer’s first season, as it’s not only a fantastic season, but also a season I’d consider to be the platonic ideal of what Kamen Rider as a franchise is. It’s Kamen Rider done as detective fiction, and the bond shared by the two protagonists exemplifies the spirit of the Kamen Rider franchise at its purest. Beyond that, you’ve got a fun transformation gimmick in the form of USB Flash drives, a sinister crime family with hidden ties to our heroes, and fantastic action choreography. After that, just choose whichever series piques your interest, and jump on in.
A List of Kamen Rider Seasons and Recommended Ways to Watch Them
Kamen Rider (Shōwa, 1971-73)
College student Takeshi Hongo is kidnapped and turned into a cyborg by terrorist organization Shocker. He manages to escape before being brainwashed and vows to fight against Shocker to stop their reign of terror as the eponymous Kamen Rider (later known as Kamen Rider 1/Ichigo). He is later joined by Hayato Ichimongi, who fights alongside him as Kamen Rider 2 against Shocker and its successor, Gel Shocker.
Scientist Keitaro Jin is able to transform his son Keisuke Jin into a cyborg before being killed by the terrorist organization known as G.O.D. Fighting as Kamen Rider X, Keisuke vows vengeance upon G.O.D for the death of his father.
How to watch it/Recommended Subber:Order of Zeronos (eps. 1-6), The Masked Subbers (eps. 7-35)
Kamen Rider Amazon (Shōwa, 1974-75)
Orphaned from a plane crash in the Amazon forest, Daisuke Yamamoto grows up amongst an Incan tribe as a wild child. His village is massacred by the demon Gorgos and the evil organization known as Geddon. He is given the GiGi armlet and is given the ability to transform into Kamen Rider Amazon, as he heads back to Japan to put an end to Geddon.
Shigeru Jo finesses the evil organization Black Satan into giving him cyborg powers, which he uses to become Kamen Rider Stronger. Alongside Tackle, another cyborg warrior given powers by Black Satan, he fights the organization to avenge the death of his friend and bring peace to the world.
A kidnapped scientist is forced by the terrorist organization Neo Shocker to create superpowered soldiers for them. Instead, he gives injured camper Hiroshi Tsubaka extraordinary powers, allowing him to fight as the high-flying Skyrider.
Kazuya Oki undergoes a cybernetic surgery to prep himself for space travel, but before he can head for the stars, the International Space Development Program’s base is attacked by the Dogma Kingdom. After training under a martial arts master, Kazuya fights the Dogma Kingdom as Kamen Rider Super-1.
How to watch it/Recommended Subber: Bereke Scrubs (over SXIG)
Kamen Rider Black (Shōwa, 1987-88)
Two stepbrothers are kidnapped by the Gorgom cult and undergo surgery to become candidates for the next Gorgom Creation King. One of the brothers, Kohtaro Minami, escapes and vows to save his brother. He becomes Kamen Rider Black, and fights to defeat Gorgom.
How to watch it/Recommended Subber: Bereke Scrubs (over Century Kings Subs, encoded by Bunny Hat); First two episodes on Toei Tokusatsu World Official
Kamen Rider Black RX (Shōwa, 1988-89)
A direct sequel to Kamen Rider Black, Kohtaro settles down after defeating Gorgom, but is kidnapped by the Crisis Empire and flung into space. Morphed and evolved by the sun’s radiation, Kohtaro fights the Crisis Empire as Kamen Rider Black RX.
The first of three Kamen Rider films released during the Heisei era hiatus period. Doctors experiment on Shin Kazamatsuri, a motorcycle racer, in hopes of finding ways to strengthen the human body against diseases. Unbeknownst to them, their research is funded by a crime syndicate who seek to use the research to create their own genetically-enhanced super-soldiers. Kazamatsuri is fused with grasshopper genes and is turned into a humanoid grasshopper.
The second of three Kamen Rider films released during the Heisei era hiatus period. Lab assistant Masaru Aso is experimented on and given the ability to turn into a grasshopper-like being called Kamen Rider ZO. He uses his power to fight the “perfect being” known as the Neonoid.
The third of three Kamen Rider films released during the Heisei era hiatus period. Reporter Kouji Segawa sacrifices himself to save a little girl, but is resurrected by spirits of the earth as Kamen Rider J. J is known for being the first rider to grow in size to fight large kaiju.
Seen as a spiritual successor/sequel to Kuuga, an amnesiac named Shouichi Tsugami transforms into a powerful warrior in the presence of monsters known only as “The Unknown”. Meanwhile, the police force create their own man-made Kamen Rider modeled after Kamen Rider Kuuga, titled G3, to fight against the Gurongi, known here as “Unidentified Life Forms”.
How to watch it/Recommended Subber: Official release; TOKU streaming service (paid). OR Gomen Rider Scrubs (over TV-Nihon); First two episodes on Toei Tokusatsu World Official
Kamen Rider Ryuki (Heisei, 2002-2003)
13 Kamen Riders in possession of 13 respective card decks form contracts with monsters from a mirror world and fight for survival in the Rider War, a battle royale that ends with only one rider standing. Journalist intern Shinji Kido finds himself sucked into the mirror world and enters the Rider War as Kamen Rider Ryuki to protect the real world from the mirror world’s many monsters.
The Orphnoch are seen as the next evolutionary step in human evolution. The Smart Brain corporation tries to use the Orphnoch to take over the world, developing Rider Gear to help them find the Orphnoch king. The Rider Gear is stolen, and one of the gears, the Faiz Gear, ends up in the hands of Takumi Inui, who must now fight against Smart Brain and the Orphnoch as Kamen Rider Faiz.
How to watch it/Recommended Subber: Agony Subs
Kamen Rider Blade (Heisei, 2004-2005)
52 demons known as the Undead fought to the death in the past in an event known as the Battle Royal, and have been uncovered in the present by archaeologists, setting in motion the next Battle Royal. The BOARD organization equip Kazuma Kenzaki and Sakuya Tachibana to fight as Kamen Rider Blade and Kamen Rider Garren respectively against the Undead.
A young man named Soji Tendo trains his entire life to gain access to the Kabuto Zecter and get his revenge on the human-imitating Worms walking amongst humans.
How to watch it/Recommended Subber: Earthly Subs
Kamen Rider Den-O (Heisei, 2007-2008)
High School dropout Ryotaro Nogami finds himself possessed by four benevolent Imagin, wish-granting demons from the future, who have come to the present to gain corporeal forms through making contracts with humans. Ryotaro and the four Taros fight together as one against the other Imagin as Kamen Rider Den-O, travelling through time on the time-travelling bullet train, the Den-Liner.
In 2008, a reclusive young man named Wataru Kurenai fights against the Fangire race as Kamen Rider Kiva. In 1986, Wataru’s father Otoya Kurenai fights the Fangire race alongside Fangire hunter Yuri Aso using the Kamen Rider Ixa module. A season with two concurrent plotlines in the past and present, weaving together to reveal the truth behind the Fangires and Kiva himself.
How to watch it/Recommended Subber: Railler Subs (encoded by OZC-Live)
Kamen Rider Decade (Heisei, 2009)
Nine worlds, each representing the first nine seasons of the Heisei era, are merging into one, causing catastrophe across the multiverse. Amateur photographer Tsukasa Kadoya uses his powers as Kamen Rider Decade to travel to each of the worlds and eliminate the anomalies that lie within them in order to protect his own world.
How to watch it/Recommended Subber: Rider-Time Subs
Kamen Rider W (or Double) (Heisei, 2009-2010)
In windy Fuuto city, hard half-boiled detective Shotaro Hidari and the mysterious genius Philip fight as Kamen Rider Double, the two-in-one Kamen Rider. They investigate crimes committed by Dopants, criminals who use thumb drive-like devices called Gaia memories to become superpowered monsters.
The medal-based monsters known as the Greeed awaken after an 800-year slumber. Traveler Eiji Hino is given the OOO (pronounced Oh-z) Driver as well as three medals by the disembodied hand of one of the Greeed, and uses them to become Kamen Rider OOO and fight against the Greeed.
How to watch it/Recommended Subber: Over-Time Subs
Kamen Rider Fourze (Heisei, 2011-2012)
Transfer student Gentaro Kisaragi finds that his high school is the hotbed for paranormal activity. Along with his friends, Gentaro finds himself able to teleport between his school and a lunar base on the moon, within which he finds the Fourze Driver. Using the Fourze Driver to become Kamen Rider Fourze, Gentaro fights against the monstrous Zodiarts attacking the city.
How to watch it/Recommended Subber: Over-Time Subs
Kamen Rider Wizard (Heisei, 2012-2013)
A mystical ritual unleashes the monsters known as Phantoms into the world. Haruto Soma, a survivor of the ritual, finds that he now has powers and uses the Wizardriver to become Kamen Rider Wizard in order to protect the world from Phantoms.
How to watch it/Recommended Subber: Over-Time Subs
Kamen Rider Gaim (Heisei, 2013-2014)
In the corporation-run Zawame City, dance crews try to bring joy back to the city, competing in dance battles and using the mysterious lockseeds to battle creatures called Inves from another dimension against each other. Portals begin opening up across the city and Inves come through, rampaging throughout the city with no one to control them. Ex-dancer Kouta Kazuraba finds a Sengoku Driver and transforms into Armored Rider Gaim to fight against the Inves and the Yggdrasill Corporation. Rival dance crew leaders gain access to similar powers, which leads to a Sengoku period-like war within the city.
How to watch it/Recommended Subber: Aesir Subs
Kamen Rider Drive (Heisei, 2014-2015)
Recently-demoted beat cop Shinnosuke Tomari works with the Tokujo Special Investigation Unit and inventor-turned-sentient-belt Krim Steinbelt to fight against the time-shifting cyborgs known as Roidmudes as Kamen Rider Drive.
How to watch it/Recommended Subber: Over-Time Subs
Kamen Rider Ghost (Heisei, 2015-2016)
Aspiring ghost hunter Takeru Tenkuji is killed on his 18th birthday by members of the monstrous Gamma race. He’s brought back to life on the condition that he must find 15 Eyecons, representing the spirits of 15 historical figures, within 99 days, or else he will cease to exist. As Kamen Rider Ghost, he fights the Gamma not only to save himself, but to protect the world.
How to watch it/Recommended Subber: Over-Time Subs
Kamen Rider Amazons (2016-2017)
A gritty reimagining of the original Kamen Rider Amazon series, produced by Amazon for Amazon Prime Video.
How to watch it/Recommended Subber: Official release; Amazon Prime Video
Kamen Rider Ex-Aid (Heisei, 2016-2017)
A mysterious virus called the Bugster Virus causes monsters known as Bugsters to emerge from its victims. With the help of gaming corporation Genm Corp’s Gamer Drivers, medical intern and gaming genius Emu Hojo fights on behalf of the Cyber Rescue response team as Kamen Rider Ex-Aid to get rid of the Bugster menace.
How to watch it/Recommended Subber: Excite Subs (encoded by OZC-Live)
Kamen Rider Build (Heisei, 2017-2018)
Ten Years after a mysterious box from Mars split Japan into three regional factions, amnesiac inventor Sento Kiryuu uses the Build System to fight against the evil organization Faust as Kamen Rider Build, and bring unity to Japan once more.
How to watch it/Recommended Subber: Over-Time Subs (encoded by OZC-Live)
Kamen Rider Zi-O (Heisei, 2018-2019)
High Schooler Sougo Tokiwa has dreams of one day becoming a king. When two resistance fighters from the future come to the present to warn Sougo that he’ll one day become a world-conquering Demon King, Sougo’s life is thrown into disarray. As Kamen Rider Zi-O, Sougo fights against Time Jackers seeking to disrupt the fabric of space and time, while travelling through time to meet the Heisei Kamen Riders who came before him.
How to watch it/Recommended Subber: Over-Time Subs (encoded by OZC-Live)
Kamen Rider Zero-One (Reiwa, 2019 – 2020)
A failed comedian inherits his grandfather’s A.I/Android company and fights both as a Kamen Rider against rogue androids corrupted by an anti-human terrorist organization, and as Hiden Intelligence’s CEO against corporate rivals.
How to watch it/Recommended Subber: Official release incoming; TokuSHOUTsu, Tubi TV
Kamen Rider Saber (Reiwa, 2020 – 2021)
A young novelist fights against mystical creatures from a magical alternate world alongside an ancient sect of sword-bearing Kamen Riders.
How to watch it/Recommended Subber: GenmCorp Subs
Kamen Rider as a series is very easy to get into; you pick a season that interests you, and you hop in. However, Kamen Rider as a media is extremely difficult to source legally, which is a barrier that needs to be traversed in order to engage with the franchise. With time, it will become increasingly more accessible for North Americans (sorry Europe, you’re still left in the dust here), and by supporting official releases like the upcoming Kamen Rider Ryuki and Kamen Rider Zero-One localizations, that progress can hopefully come faster. Until then, salute to all the subbers, scrubbers, and encoders translating and localizing this series without any financial compensation, as without them, Kamen Rider’s presence wouldn’t be nearly as big as it is today.
Netflix has once again traversed the stacks of the library to adapt its next big-budget fantasy adventure. They’ve set their sights on Leigh Bardugo’s New York Time’s bestselling trilogy series, Shadow and Bone – as well as incorporating her later books, the Six of Crows Duology. If you’re like me, then the book was better. Yes, I know I haven’t actually watched the series yet (and believe me, I’m excited!) – but I’ll fall on this sword. The book is ALWAYS better. If you’re a newbie to Bardugo’s Grishaverse, and you’re looking to catch up on the book series before devouring the TV adaptation, then this is the article for you. I’m here to help you understand the magic system, and figure out which order you should be reading the books in (because yes, there are quite a few of them at this point).
To understand Shadow and Bone’s world, one must first understand The Grisha. The Grisha are a group of people born in the countries that inhabit the world of these books. They practice The Small Science, which is essentially being able to manipulate elements and the human body, depending upon which order you belong to. In Ravka, one of the countries within the series, children are tested for Grisha abilities. If they’re identified with a capacity for The Small Science, they are are sent to The Little Palace to live and train under the direction of The Darkling, eventually joining Ravka’s Second Army (the first Army is for non-Grisha). Being a Grisha sounds great on paper, but they’re often outcasts. Ravka is one of the only countries that trains Grisha to reach their potential, though the power-free population is weary of them. In other countries outside of Ravka, Grisha are hunted, sold, or experimented on; often hiding their power for fear they’ll be discovered. The Grisha are broken up into three groups: Corporalki, Etherealki, and Materialki. And dear reader, just to make things simpler for you, I’ve made a handy chart explaining what each group specializes in:
What sets Bardugo’s universe apart from other YA fantasy fare is the Russian/Eastern European inspired settings. Her imagined countries within the Grisha books are characters themselves. You can feel the grit of war-torn Ravka, the permafrost of Fjerda crunching under your boots and the limitless possibilities available in a city like Ketterdam, found in prosperous Kerch. All roads to these places begin at Shadow and Bone. This is the first book in the series and introduces us to our heroine, Alina Starkov, a refugee orphan of Ravka’s endless wars. Alina finds kinship in Mal, a boy living in her orphanage and the story follows them further into young adulthood. Shadow and Bone is the setup; we watch Alina go from a nobody with nothing to… well… without ruining the story, somebody. We are also introduced to one of my favorite fantasy villains – I’m keeping this spoiler free, so no names! But I can say Bardugo writes such a multi-faceted baddie, that you find yourself empathizing with them. To complete the arc of Alina’s story and see if she succeeds in aiding the Grisha, you should follow up Shadow and Bone with Siege and Storm and close out with Ruin and Rising.
I enjoyed the Shadow and Bone Trilogy; they lay some exceptional ground work for future books. And while I strongly suggest that you start at the beginning, I’d be lying if I told you I began my Grisha journey there. I’d heard a lot of hype around a book called Six of Crows. Naturally, I picked it up and oh my, it was EVERYTHING. Six of Crows is a separate story taking place in the same world as Shadow and Bone. You do not – I repeat – DO NOT have to read the first trilogy before picking up Six of Crows. Nevertheless, you will have to make peace with the fact that the ending of the Shadow and Bone trilogy will be ruined for you. Six of Crows is to this day one of my favorite books. It’s a rag tag team pulling off an unthinkable heist – gleefully blowing stuff up and taking down oppressors. This story is a two-parter, so when you’re finished make sure you pick up Crooked Kingdom for dare I say it – an emotional and action-packed finale? I love Leigh Bardugo’s writing, but you can tell that Shadow and Bone is her first series. I suggest reading it because it is a worthy tale that is interesting and really immerses you into her unique magic system and world, but Six of Crows is where lightening strikes. It’s a five-star page-turner that I recommend to almost everyone I meet.
In 2019, Bardugo returned to the Grisha Universe to continue the story of Prince Nikolai, a fan-favorite character from the original trilogy. The first book is King of Scars. In it you will find excellent humor, monsters, and an ending that will SHOCK YOU. The follow up, Rule of Wolves was released in March of 2021 and includes a satisfying ending to Nikolai’s story with the possibility for more tales on the horizon.
There we have it folks. Leigh Bardugo has created a magical world where the lives of the Grisha hang in the balance. There are riveting villains, politics, humor, and a coming-of-age cautionary tale on the balance of power. So pick up a book and get a head start on Bardugo’s Grishaverse and don’t forget to stream Shadow & Bone on Netflix April 23rd, 2021.
Adventures in time and space sound like a lot of fun, and no one has done that better than the BBC series Doctor Who. However, it’s been going on for nearly 60 years and can be a daunting task when looking for a good starting place. There are over 850 episodes totaling nearly 300 stories. It’s a lot.
But that’s where we come in. The GateCrashers Doctor Who extraordinaires, Ethan and Justin! A quick rundown on how this is going to work: Over three articles covering Doctors 1-4, 5-9, and 9-13 respectively, we’ll give you two episodes from each Doctor’s era. One chosen by Ethan, one by Justin. These will be a look at the kind of stories that encompass the era they’re from. We want to give you a distilled experience of what each Doctor is like so you can decide what best fits your tastes. So here we go. Let’s take a trip into the Vortex!
The 1st Doctor – William Hartnell (1963-1966)
“Have you ever thought what it’s like to be wanderers in the Fourth Dimension? Have you? If you could touch the alien sand and hear the cries of strange birds, and watch them wheel in another sky, would that satisfy you?” -The 1st Doctor (An Unearthly Child)
The Mutants (Ethan’s Pick) – While not the first episode of the show, Doctor Who as we know it today would not exist without it. It may have not even made it past its first season. This is the episode that introduces The Doctor to his arch-enemies, the Daleks, and they are terrifying. It’s easy to see how these villains gripped the public consciousness. Set on a distant planet, The Doctor and his companions have to find a way to defeat the metallic drones or risk losing their lives. For an excellent early episode of the show full of great moments with both Doctor and companion, you can’t go wrong with this.
The Romans (Justin’s Pick) – Not the first “historical” episode of the show, but certainly one of its most fun. Waylaid slightly in the time of the Romans, The Doctor, Ian, Barbara, and Vicki are forced to take refuge in an abandoned estate on the outskirts of Rome while the TARDIS repairs itself. But mistaken identities and historical intrigues gather them all to the ancient city, where Emperor Nero is tuning up his fiddle. Though optically kind of dicey in parts, The Romans shows a real cheek and historical detail for the show and proves that even the early days had some knack for charming hijinks amid real settings and eras.
The 2nd Doctor – Patrick Troughton (1966-1969)
“There are some corners of the universe which have bred the most terrible things. Things which act against everything we believe in. They must be fought.” – The 2nd Doctor (The Moonbase)
The Invasion (Ethan’s Pick) – Moving on to the 2nd Doctor, a much more personable, quirky incarnation than his predecessor. This story sees The Doctor, and his companions Jamie and Zoe, coming up against some of his greatest foes, the Cybermen, in then-present day London. A great entry in the canon, it introduces one of the most important aspects to the series, UNIT. The military force tasked with protecting the planet from extraterrestrial forces. And with this comes The Doctor’s greatest ally, Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart. Arguably the most beloved recurring character in the show’s history. If you want a truly epic story, that features some of the most evocative imagery in the show’s history, this is the one to watch.
The War Games (Justin’s Pick) – This was the moment that, as the kids say, shit got real for Doctor Who. Co-written by the absolute powerhouses of Malcolm Hulke and Terrance Dicks, two names that would become synonymous with Doctor Who, this mammoth serial finds The Doctor, Jamie, and Zoe locked in a war that doesn’t make sense. A megalomaniac known as the War Lord has been kidnapping and brainwashing soldiers from across time, sweeping them up and depositing them into a grand conflict for their own amusement. But beyond that incredible setup, The War Games finds The Doctor facing his own people, The Time Lords, for the very first time, explicitly naming his race and setting the show up for all sorts of mind-bending Time Lordy insanity for literal decades to come. A true watershed moment for the show, early even, in its own run.
The 3rd Doctor – Jon Pertwee (1970-1974)
“Courage isn’t just a matter of being frightened, you know. It’s being afraid and doing what you have to do anyway.” – The 3rd Doctor (Planet of the Daleks)
The Dæmons (Ethan’s Pick) – The Doctor’s third incarnation, having been stranded on Earth by his own people at the start of this new life, has set up shop as UNIT’s scientific advisor, assisted by the ever loveable Jo Grant. Also on Earth, concocting plots in the shadows is The Master, The Doctor’s old friend from his home planet, now a suave, maniacal bad guy. He’s been causing a fair amount of trouble for The Doctor, Jo, and UNIT. This story sees him attempting to awaken an ancient demon beneath a church in an old English town. The UNIT family, as they’re lovingly known, all come together to put a stop to this latest nefarious scheme. It’s some of the purest fun ever had in the show. If you’re looking for a story where the cast is just having a grand old time, this is the one for you.
The Green Death (Justin’s Pick) – The Third Doctor, having regained his ability to travel in space and time, faces a personal metamorphosis in The Green Death. A mine in South Wales has been poisoning the populace of the town. Making matters worse, large insects have been plaguing the workers as well, causing the Doctor and UNIT to leap into action. But while The Green Death is a wonderful example of the sort of eco-conscious, grounded storytelling the Pertwee Era excelled at, this serial also marks the final appearance of Pertwee’s companion, Jo Grant, as played by actual ray of human sunshine. Katy Manning. Though bittersweet, The Green Death provides a wonderful send-off for Jo, and sets the blueprint for the show’s always affecting take on the exits of companions for years to come.
The 4th Doctor – Tom Baker (1974-1981)
“The very powerful and the very stupid have one thing in common – they don’t change their views to fit the facts. They change the facts to fit their views, which can be uncomfortable if you happen to be one of the facts that needs changing.” – The 4th Doctor (The Face of Evil)
Terror of the Zygons (Ethan’s Pick) – If The Invasion was the beginning of the UNIT era of the show, and The Dæmons was that era’s high point, then Terror of the Zygons is its grand finale. Having been away from Earth for some time, The Doctor, now in his fourth incarnation, along with his companions the iconic Sarah Jane Smith (Elisabeth Sladen) and the loveable idiot Harry Sullivan (Ian Marter), return to help UNIT investigate strange goings-on in the Scottish Highlands. A major portion of Tom Baker’s run was very much immersed in the horror genre, and this kicked that off. Featuring treks through foggy forests, shapeshifting aliens, and a constant sense of unease, this is the story to introduce you to the darker side of Doctor Who.
City of Death (Justin’s Pick) – Probably the closest Doctor Who has ever gotten to a “party episode”. Fresh off the regeneration of Romana (passing from iconic actress Mary Tamm to the equally iconic and inhumanly adorable Lalla Ward), the Doctor and Romana II find themselves in “present-day” (read: 1979) Paris thanks to the TARDIS Randomizer. But not content with sightseeing, the pair are swept into the dangerous time experiments of a roguish count, played by Julian Glover who is absolutely playing to the rafters here. Funny, breezily performed, and more than a little goofy, this episode is perfect for a rowdy Sunday screening for your non-dork friends to show just how it can sing during this iconic run with Baker. Also of note, this episode carries with it a tremendous BritCom cameo and a script co-written by Douglas Adams (using a pen name made up of his name and the names of two other writers). Watch while having a stiff double ice water!
And that’s it for now. Let us know if you check out any of our recommendations, and make sure to come back next week for even more!