Kamen Rider Kuuga

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One Kamen Rider, a TON of different forms.[1]


A New Hero. A New Legend.


The 2000-2001 entry in the Kamen Rider franchise, and first in the Heisei Era.

A group of archaeologists uncover an ancient tomb of a legendary warrior, and discover a mysterious belt-like artifact known as the Arcle. Unfortunately, they also happen to pop the lid off of the Sealed Evil in a Can at the same time, unleashing a race of monsters known as the Grongi. The tribe-like Grongi compete against each other in a "game" of killing humans, with the strongest Grongi winning the right to challenge their leader for domination of their race.

Enter Yuusuke Godai, your typical everyday nice guy. While in town visiting one of his archaeologist friends, the building they are in is attacked by one of the Grongi. Seeing the Arcle and feeling an overwhelming urge to protect everyone, Yuusuke instinctively dons the belt, which is then absorbed into his body. From that point on, he can summon the Arcle from within himself to transform into the legendary warrior known only as Kuuga.

While Kuuga's power is extremely weak to begin with, Yuusuke learns to use his instincts and burning desire to protect those around him to access new and more powerful forms to battle the Grongi. However, he must also contend with the police who, baffled by the appearance of these "Unidentified Lifeforms", have classed Kuuga as an enemy alongside the Grongi.

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.

Tropes used in Kamen Rider Kuuga include:
  • 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.
  • 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 Biker: Who else? The titular hero himself.
  • Badass Normal: Kaoru Ichijo. He even wears a Badass Longcoat.
  • Badass Spaniard: No, not a character, but Kuuga's Cool Bikes were both made by Spanish manufacturer Gas Gas. Coincidentially, Kuuga has the most awesome Bike Fu of any Heisei Kamen Rider series.
  • Battle Amongst the Flames: Episode 2; Mighty Form's debut.
  • Beware the Nice Ones: Don't mess with kids if there's even a chance Yuusuke will find out. This is your only warning.
  • Big Bad: N-Daguva-Zeba
  • Big Damn Heroes: Godai pulls this off a lot. The police get their fair share, too.
  • Black Speech/Cypher Language: The Grongi language is a cipher of Japanese. While no translation was present in the original broadcast, subtitles for some of the dialogue appear on the DVD releases and Toei Channel reruns, and the entire cipher was reverse-engineered by fans.
  • Book Ends: Yusuke Godai, Friend to All Children.
  • Butt Monkey: The bat Grongi Zu-Gooma-Gu. Who ironically manages to outlive both the Zu and the Me classes and acquires an upgrade, only to be defeated upon the introduction of the strongest of the Go class.
  • Combining Mecha: Sort-of-invoked when the robotic beetle Gouram merges with either of Kuuga's bikes to form TryGouram or BeatGouram.
  • Compilation Movie: A "director's cut" of the first two episodes.
  • Cool Bike: The TryChaser 2000 and the BeatChaser 2000.
  • Curb Stomp Battle: Kuuga gets one against Go-Jaraji-Da in episode 35. It is not often you see a Grongi bleed in this series but when Godai gets pissed, look out.
    • Subverted when N-Daguva-Zeba nearly kills Kuuga prior to the Final Battle
  • Depleted Phlebotinum Shells: The Nerve-Severing Bullets made from research on the remains of Zu-Gooma-Gu.
  • Destructive Savior: The Rising forms impart enough power that avoiding this is a key plot point of the second half of the series.
  • 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 monster 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 monster 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. 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 rather jarring.
  • Evil Counterpart: Go-Gadoru-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).
    • Grapple Form = Mighty Form; Shooting Form = Pegasus Form; Herculean Form = Titan Form; Quick Form = Dragon Form; Shocker Form = Rising Mighty Form.
  • Eye Scream: The Zu-Mebio-Da gets several bullets to the eye. The result is very painful and bloody. She then decides to take revenge for this and takes out several humans' eyes.
  • 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 Yuusuke, not Kuuga, pummeling Daguva to death in the snow.
  • 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: "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 Mighty Kick", a Rider Kick said to be so insanely strong, it could cause an Earthshattering 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.
  • Fish Out of Temporal Water: Zu-Baduu-Ba witnesses some people buying things, and when he picks up a coin, he offers the coin to people, thinking it would buy him something. Pretty much applies to most of the Grongi; especially given their clothing...
  • For Happiness: Practically Godai's official job.
  • Four Is Death: Subverted. Kuuga's considered "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-Jaraji-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.
  • 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.
  • Gory Discretion Shot: Happens with some of the more violent Grongi killing sprees; after all, it's still a kid's show.
  • Homage: The Go-Bada-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, he performs the classic Rider 1 henshin pose in order to do 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.
    • Shinzo is shown in the 19th episode.
  • Hot-Blooded: Yuusuke Godai.
  • Hour of Power: Kuuga can only maintain Pegasus Form for a short time before he forcibly transforms to Growing Form and cannot transform again for two hours.
    • 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 thirty seconds.
  • How Do I Shot Web?: Each episode arc introducing Kuuga's new forms involves him getting used to the strengths and weaknesses of each, as well as learning which weapon it uses.
  • Humans Are the Real Monsters: 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.
  • Immune to Bullets: The police try to fight the Grongi with their regular pistols. It doesn't work out well.
    • ... at first, then this is subverted HARD. With some serious upgrades, by the end of the series regular humans with guns are able to kill high level Grongi with little effort.
  • Improbable Aiming Skills: Pegasus Form.
  • Improvised Weapon: Subverted. Kuuga's three auxillary forms can turn random objects in their hands into their Weapon of Choice.
    • 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 handlebar key will work, something used later in Kamen Rider Faiz), but Pegasus needs an actual gun - usually Ichijo's.
  • In a Single Bound: Dragon Form.
  • Inferred Holocaust: Kuuga's Rising Mighty Kick causes a gigantic explosion, which at one point happens in a heavily urban area. This is the point in which the show begins to show that Kuuga becoming even more powerful isn't a good idea... While no one is actually killed in the blast due to Godai informing Ichijo that his kick might be too powerful, the property damage leads the police to begin doubting No.4's status as an ally.
  • Kiss of Death: The Mushroom Grongi Me-Ginoga-De uses this as his murder method; he manages to deliver this on Kuuga who falls gravely ill. He gets better, but could only assume Growing Form until he fully recovered.
  • Kill It with Fire: Godai plays it straight in Episode 20.
  • Lethal Joke Character: Yuusuke 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 Characters), it has all the weaknesses of the other forms, and none of the advantages: slow like Titan Form, weak like Dragon Form, feeble like Pegasus form AND it doesn't have any weapon.
  • 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, 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
  • Man in White: Daguva's human form.
  • Masquerade: Subverted. The police try to cover up the first few incidents to prevent 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.
  • Mid-Season Upgrade: As a result of his resurrection after his supposed death at the hands of a Grongi, Kuuga's basic 4 forms are upgraded - complete with gold-trimmed armor and upgraded weaponry.
    • Subverted later with the last of the Go class Grongi getting multiple forms like Kuuga and Zu-Gooma-Gu.
    • Not to mention Yuusuke/Kuuga acquiring the BeatChaser 2000 after the TryChaser is wrecked in a battle with Go-Bada-Ba.
  • Multiform Balance
    • Joke Character: Growing Form
    • Jack of All Stats: Mighty and Rising Mighty Forms.
    • Fragile Speedster: Both Dragon Forms.
    • Glass Cannon: Both Pegasus Forms.
    • Mighty Glacier: Both Titan Forms.
    • Lightning Bruiser: Amazing Mighty Form
    • Super Mode: Ultimate Form
    • Super-Powered Evil Side: Black-eyed Ultimate Form and Rising Ultimate Form.[2]
      • As mentioned above, several late-series Grongi have the ability to perform Form Changes much like Kuuga, with obvious parallels - their Fighting, Quick, Shooting, and Herculean Form correspond to Mighty, Dragon, Pegasus, and Titan Forms respectively. Go-Gadoru-Ba has a full-powered Shocker Form which parallels Rising Mighty or Amazing Mighty, while N-Daguva-Zeba has an Imperfect and a Perfect Form, paralleling Growing and Ultimate Form respectively.
  • My Horse Is a Motorbike: The Gouram was originally armor for a horse that the original ancient Kuuga would ride. When Kuuga returned in the modern day, it adapted 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 & 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.
    • 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.
  • New Powers as the Plot Demands: This is actually the explanation given as to how Yuusuke 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!")
  • Noodle Incident: The cafe owner's mountaineering exploits in the Himalayas.
  • One-Man Army: Kuuga still stands unique amongst the other Heisei series as being the only one to feature a single Rider. There are no other secondary, rival, or evil Riders here.
  • Police Are Useless: Zig-zagged, they're doubtlessly a Redshirt 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. In the end mostly subverted when they invent bullets that do work on Grongi.
  • Recap Episode: Episode 17. Episode 31.
  • 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.
  • Revival
  • 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 Zu class, and the Me class to a lesser extent, dress in outlandish clothing. The Go class manages to blend in human society better.
  • 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 Zu 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".[3] While there are two in-story revivals in that episode, it also indicates the beginning of the Revival of the Kamen Rider franchise.
  • Super-Powered 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.
  • 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 sorts,[4] and the third part refers to their species/type.
  • This Is Something He's Got to Do Himself: Yuusuke's final battle.
  • Those Two Guys: Arguably, Sugita and Sakurai, Ichijo's colleagues in the Science Police. They do manage to defeat Ra-Dorudo-Gu with the Nerve-Breaking Bullets later on.
  • Took a Level in Badass: Apart from the obvious hero, special mention goes to the Grongi Zu-Gooma-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-class 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
  • Tranquil Fury: The version of Ultimate Form Yuusuke takes in the final battle.
  • 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.
  • Weapon of Choice:
  • Where It All Began: Kuuga battles Daguva at the mountain where the Grongi were sealed (and revived in the first episode).
  1. From left to right: Growing, Mighty, Dragon, Pegasus, Titan, Rising Mighty, Rising Dragon, Rising Pegasus, Rising Titan, Amazing Mighty, Ultimate.
  2. Only while he's under the control of Dai-Shocker. Once he's back to normal, it becomes more of a God Mode/Lightning Bruiser.)
  3. Fukkatsu in Japanese, which, like the English term, can mean either a resurrection or a media revival
  4. which typically forms a pun on the Japanese word for what plant/animal they resemble