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File:15 Kamen Rider Hibiki 2005 - 2006 5213.jpg

 Hit the beat, keep your beat!

The 2005-2006 series of Kamen Rider, actually based on a story by Shotaro Ishinomori titled "Onigeki Hibiki", and the sixth installment in the Heisei Era.

A secret war is taking place between the Oni- humans who have trained their bodies to be able to harness supernatural power- and the Makamou, demonic creatures that lurk in the forests of Japan. Into this conflict stumbles Asumu Adachi, a young boy who is unsure what he wishes to do with his life. He encounters one of the leading Oni of the Takeshi organisation- a cool and confident man named Hibiki- and soon they develop a student-teacher relationship.

Later on, additional Oni enter the story: first, a mellow young man named Ibuki and his young student Akira, who is in training to be Ibuki's successor as an Oni. Meanwhile, an excitable new Oni named Todoroki wishes to create his own legacy under the watchful eye of his veteran teacher, Zanki.

The story is told from the perceptive of Asumu and is very much a Coming of Age Story focusing on the relationship between mentor and student, the old and new generation and the choices that we make in life. The Oni are all Musical Assassins, using their "pure sound" to purify the Makamou they fight. The series also averts Hard Work Hardly Works by showing the Oni training hard to maintain their bodies and ability to use the Oni power; in fact, an entire arc- "Summer Of Training"- is devoted entirely to their training efforts.

As a Kamen Rider series, it foregoes a large amount of action in order to focus on characterisation and discards a lot of the aesthetics of the franchise in the process: for example, the Oni do not say "Henshin" to transform, nor do they use belts as their Transformation Trinkets. Also, the Takeshi organisation was depicted as having thousands of Oni members positioned across the globe, which was in stark contrast to the "lone hero" archetype of Kamen Riders past. For this reason it divided a lot of fans as to whether or not it was a "true" Kamen Rider series, with its defenders arguing that it has the most empathetic characterisation of any of the New Generation series and that the titular character carries the true heroic spirit of a Kamen Rider far better than many of his predecessors.

Sadly, the series will also be notable as the most tragic victim of Executive Meddling in the franchise's long history. Circa episode 30, Toei executives ordered a massive Retool of the series in order to bring it more into line with what a "normal" Toku would be like. The amount of action was greatly increased, characterisation was decreased with some characters suffering full-blown Character Derailment or Flanderization, elements that were considered Nightmare Fuel by Moral Guardians were eliminated, a Scrappy called Kyosuke Kiriya was introduced to act as a Jerkass Rival to Asumu, a second female Rider was eliminated, a new Opening Theme replaced the unique Instrumental Theme Tune, scripts were being rewritten right up to the day of shooting... the list goes on.

The Retool was a critical disaster, with fans, critics and even the cast absolutely hating the changes made to a series that had very much grown on everyone. While it still managed to have some good moments, the original spirit was very much lost and the executives that had ordered the Retool got lambasted for their gross mishandling of one of Toei's premier franchises.


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