Favourite (narrowed down):
Kuuga, Agito and V3
Kuuga and Agito are two fine, fine shows that really aren’t something that you would see often, that I thought did the best (or as best you could) in telling a Rider story in a modern setting while combining other ideas either from Ishinomori or others (e.g. in Kuuga’s case, Go Nagai’s Devilman. Seriously compare the two sometime).
Deconstruction gets thrown around like candy nowadays, but Kuuga really was what deconstruction is really about; giving real-life ramifications to fantastical situations, while still at its heart being a superhero show that promotes hope and kindness.
Agito is fantastic and is the perfect followup to Kuuga. The thing most underrated by people I think is just how much Agito really kinda is basically reconstructing all the aspects of the old Rider that Kuuga was deconstructing, with Kuuga’s about humanity vs inhumanity and a positive depiction of police force turned upside down in Agito into a story where humanity is still flawed and institutionalized authority is inherently a suffocating presence, latter being much closer to what Ishinomori’s idea of Kamen Rider, or really most of any of his superheroes. Also the presence of other Ishinomori’s ideas such as PSI, God’s War and the icky monstrous Rider he never had the chance to use properly in live action is fun too.
Plus they are just overall really well directed and composed and there’s just a lot of heart and ambition I think with these shows.
V3 is a just a classic superhero show that has good dramatic elements to it and is fantastic at what it does and more, with character of Kazami Shiro and Yuuki Jouji and their struggles. Nothing really can be elaborated without lengthening this post more than necessary.
Least Favourite: Gaim and Drive
Gaim was a real disappointment to me and was a poor pastiche of the shows from Early-Heisei it takes after. A lot of what Gaim tries to do has been done and done way better in other shows, and a lot of what Gaim itself offers is very poorly thought out and typical edgy anime schlock in its writing and the characters. I laud its ambition of trying to be different in amidst of the still prevailing sameness of post-Decade shows, but it just fell flat for me.
I fully admit that Drive is mostly here for personal reasons
than any real tangible fault of the show (though what little I’ve seen
or heard of it has not impressed me much). A lot of what Drive does and
represents just repulses me, which easiest to define is how the show without any
thought or talent completely switched the power-dynamic of the Rider
story, by changing the rebel fighting against an evil authoritative
majority into a superpowered police authority hunting down rebel robots, and has thus far from all I’ve gathered yet to say anything about this (outside the movies probably), which is frustrating.
Plus, everything looks fuck ugly.