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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.
This series contains examples of:
- Acting for Two — Zanki and movie-only Touki. Lampshaded in the after-credits movie teasers.
- Alliterative Name — Every Oni began life with one; upon becoming an Oni, they adopt a new name that begins with the same letter (Ex.: Hitoshi Hidaka -> Hibiki). Though Todayama was briefly given the option to take the Zanki name.
- All Myths Are True — well, just the ones about Japanese demons at any rate...
- The Apprentice — Asumu
- Attack of the 50 Foot Whatever — Notable as the first time that Heisei-era Kamen Riders battle monsters the size of buildings, WITHOUT relying on giant size themselves. The first were the battles against King Dark and the leaders of the Delza Army and Neoshocker
- Badass: All the Oni, but especially Hibiki and Zanki
- Badass Normal: Most of the Oni are strong fighter even untransformed. Justified as they always trained their body and most of their strength come from their own training instead of being just Instant Expert. Biggest example would be Zanki after his semi retirement before Shuki shows up
- Big Eater — Todoroki. Mentioned to be the source of his strength in the Hyper Battle DVD.
- Bolivian Army Ending — Oddly enough, the penultimate episode ends with one of these.
- Breath Weapon — Hibiki could shoot flame from his mouth, before the Retool tossed the ability to the wind.
- Captain Crash — In a massive subversion of the best known Kamen Rider trope, pre-Retool Hibiki is utterly crap on a bike or in a car.
- Cool Bike — Notable as the first time since Riderman that Kamen Riders use completely normal (but still impossibly cool) motorcycles.
- Hibiki gets a Honda Valkyrie, listed under Real Life in the main article. Says it all, really.
- Distant Finale — Unlike the standard version of this, it takes place only one year down the line.
- Dojikko — Todoroki(!)
- Elemental Powers
- Ending Theme — Notable for being the first Heisei Kamen Rider series since Kamen Rider Kuuga to have an ED sequence; here, it is Akira Fuse's "Shonen yo!" (quoted atop the page)
- The Everyman — Asumu Adachi
- Everything Is an Instrument — Inverted here. Apparently the orchestra performing the soundtrack for this series doubled up as the foley department.
- Evil Mentor — Shuki, Zanki's Knight Templar teacher.
- Expecting Someone Taller — Watch Kiriya's expression when he meets Hibiki for the first time.
- First-Name Basis — The one-year-later Distant Finale is open-ended as to the nature Asumu and Hitomi's relationship, but the change from calling her "Mochida-san" to calling her "Hitomi" is pretty blatant, nonetheless.
- Freudian Trio
- Ego: Hibiki
- Superego: Ibuki
- Id: Todoroki
- Get a Hold of Yourself, Man! — Zanki does this to Ibuki once, and Todoroki gets something like a Heroic BSOD when he thinks Zanki doesn't believe him to be worth the trouble.
- Giant Enemy Crab — Recurring enemies much like the Demonic Spider entry above.
- He Who Fights Monsters — Shuki, whose Oni form reflects this by growing an ugly demon face.
- Hey, It's That Voice! — Fuse Akira, who performs the ED and 2nd title theme, appears in-show as a retired Oni and Drill Sergeant Nasty.
- Homage — A couple to Shotaro Ishinomori's earlier work, Henshin Ninja Arashi, which, according to rumor, Hibiki was at one point planned to be a spin-off/sequel/remake of. The Oni Armor used by briefly used by Shuki was visually inspired by Arashi himself, and the Makamou that appear in The Movie bear a symbol remiscent of Arashi's Blood Wheel Clan.
- Honest Axe — Asumu learns to narrate this fable towards the end of the series. It's relevant to the plot in a way, as Asumu has to be honest with himself about whether the path of an Oni was ever the one for him.
- Hot Scientist — Improbable Weapons inventor Midori, whose debut in ep 11 involves a Crash Into Hello.
- Idiosyncratic Episode Naming — All episodes in Hibiki are composed of a noun following a verb that qualifies it.
- If It Swims, It Flies — Some of the monsters are giant flying fish with wings stuck on.
- I'm a Humanitarian — The Elite Mook Berserk Douji.
- Improbable Weapon User — Pretty much every good guy in the show, since they're all Musical Assassins.
- Instrument of Murder — Ibuki's gun/trumpet and Hibiki's fireball-shooting drumsticks.
- Instrumental Theme Tune — The only Kamen Rider series to have one such thing... until the executive meddling struck in.
- Kabuki Sounds
- Karma Houdini — Kiriya eventually gets his wish to become an Oni despite all the crap he pulls to try and cheat his way to the top. However, this could be a subverted trope, since he does get much character development and becomes more humble towards his superiors. He even admits to his rival Asumu that he thinks well of him in the epilogue.
- Karmic Death — Shuki, responsible for Zanki's Game-Breaking Injury many years ago, dies by her own hand in the present.
- Lampshade Hanging — The in-universe explanation for Hibiki's Kurenai Super Mode is that monsters get stronger during the summer months, and Hibiki wants to save time by blowing them up in one hit.
- Larynx Dissonance — A comedy trope played for the creepy factor. The Douji (male) speaks with the voice of the Hime (female) and vice versa.
- Location Theme Naming — The five movie-exclusive Oni are all about Location Theming — Nishiki is The Idiot From Osaka, Touki invokes Hokkaido's climate as the Mighty Glacier, and Always Camp Kabuki hails from the entertainment capital Edo (which would later become the actual capital, Tokyo.)
- Law of Chromatic Superiority: Hibiki's first Super Mode is one that turns him red.
- Magic Music
- The Magnificent Seven Samurai — The Movie, Kamen Rider Hibiki & The Seven Fighting Demons is very much a homage to the Akira Kurosawa classic.
- Meaningful Name — Ibuki ("majestic breath demon"), Hibiki ("echo demon"), and Todoroki ("roaring demon") all have names associated with sound.
- Mentor Archetype — Hibiki, though he doesn't want to admit it.
- Mentor Occupational Hazard — Zanki.
- Mix-and-Match Critters — A manta ray with eagle wings and claws? Check. A deepsea viperfish with buffalo horns? Check. A crayfish that flies on dragonfly wings? Check.
- Multiform Balance — Like Faiz, Hibiki is the only Rider with more than one form.
- Musical Episode
- Musical Pastiche — The instruments of the opening theme change depending on which Oni is the focus of the episode. (e.g. Drums for Hibiki, trumpet for Ibuki, electric guitar for Todoroki.)
- Mythology Gag — the traditional Rider Kick is no longer the finishing blow of the season, but that doesn't stop our heroes from executing them anyway, from as early as episode 2. Black RX did pretty much the same thing.
- Hibiki being utterly crap on a motorcycle (pre-Retool) could fall under this.
- And the three primary Oni's special salutes hark back to Godai Yusuke's thumbs-up gesture in Kuuga.
- See Expecting Someone Taller above: the same thing happened in Kamen Rider Agito, and coincidentally involves another Jerkass meeting another title character for the first time.
- Non-Serial Movie — Despite providing a backstory for the Takeshi organisation, the different origin for the Armed Saber and the actual presence of Orochi, an offscreen monster in the series finale, qualify The Movie under this.
- Obfuscating Stupidity — Hibiki's behaviour sometimes borders on this, at least to total strangers.
- Older Than She Looks — Shuki.
- Only Known by Their Nickname — The Oni all go by their Oni titles in everyday life. Only the real names of Todoroki (Todayama) and Zanki (Zaitsuhara) have been revealed.
- Palette Swap — Hibiki's first powerup form is... Hibiki in red and silver. The one that follows is significantly more elaborate. And Zanki and Todoroki look exactly the same, apart from bronze and silver detail respectively.
- The Power of Rock — Todoroki (and to a lesser extent, Zanki), who wield electric guitars. Todoroki even goes so far as to play his own guitar solos whenever he wins a battle.
- Pragmatic Adaptation — The series was partially based off a story by Shotaro Ishinomori titled "Onigeki Hibiki". It was originally going to be a non-KR series, but after Ishinomori's death his son turned it into a KR series.
- Quirky Miniboss Squad — "Super Douji" and "Super Hime", introduced after the Retool.
- Razor Wind — One of several finishing moves the Armed Saber is capable of.
- Red Oni, Blue Oni — Hibiki and Ibuki may appear to be a literal verion of this, but they're really quite similar apart from an age difference and some levels of maturity. Hibiki and Zanki however...
- Retraux — It's basically That '80s Show for Kamen Rider.
- Robot Buddy — The Disc Animals.
- Rule of Funny — the lighthearted attitude prevalent in Hibiki (which helped result in Broken Base) reaches fever pitch when romantic troubles cause Ibuki and Todoroki's finishing moves to give out on them.
- Scarf of Asskicking — Interestingly inverted: the Mooks wear the scarves, and the improvement is entirely cosmetic.
- Episode 24 features one such Mook attempting a Rider kick, and failing quite hard.
- Shameless Self Promoter — Okay, it's standard procedure to advertise the series' movies every year, but aside from the end-of-episode bloopers, in episode 30, Hibiki advertises "an interesting Jidai Geki movie about seven cool men" to two elderly ladies at Tachibana. Maybe it's something else in-universe, but we spectators can't be fooled into thinking it's anything but the Seven Oni Warriors movie.
- Shout-Out — the organization "Takeshi" shares a name with Takeshi Hongo (Kamen Rider 1).
- Slice of Life — With the twist that most of the cast are professional demon hunters.
- This Loser Is You — Asumu.
- Those Two Girls — Kasumi and Hinaka.
- Training From Hell — Hibiki and Todoroki have to undergo this after they lose their powers.
- The Un-Reveal: Akira in her Oni form. Shuki as she should look, given her actual age.
- Visions of Another Self — The movie, which features "samurai era" parallels of the entire cast.
- Weapon of Choice:
- The Archer — Shuki fires these from her Harp Of Doom.
- Bigger Stick — Touki.
- Blade on a Stick — Todoroki, Habataki.
- Boom Stick — Habataki's Blade on a Stick doubles up as a blowdart pipe and a flute.
- Dual-Wielding — Hibiki, and by association, Ibuki and Todoroki after he coaches them on taiko drumming during the summer arc.
- Two one-time examples: Sabaki is seen wielding twin daggers, the only time he's using any kind of weapon; Todoroki is seen wielding his and Zanki's axes at the same time in honor of Zanki's memory.
- From the movie: Kirameki with his cymbals, Kabuki with a sword and umbrella.
- Epic Flail — Blatantly averted: Nishiki's weapon is modelled afer the Chinese tri-chain staff but is never used as such on-screen. Kabuki steals it and kills two villagers with it in secret.
- Flaming Sword — Hibiki learns to turn his drumsticks into these mid-season. The Armed Saber sometimes turns into a HUGE one.
- Katanas Are Just Better — Movie-only Oni can turn their tuning forks into these.
- More Dakka — Ibuki's gun is always set to Five Rounds Rapid, before he turns it into a trumpet.
- Parasol of Pain — Subverted here: Kabuki jabs his katana through an umbrella for Cheap Shots.
- Precision-Guided Boomerang — Kirameki's cymbals have this added function.