Kamen Rider Saber came out during the 2020-2021 period, during the 50th anniversary of the series just 3 years after the 20th anniversary of the Heisei Era. However, while Super Hero Senki is tied to Saber as a commeroation of the franchise, Revice would be the official anniversary series. So, technically Saber is an anniversary series but only in year.
Since this is the first Kamen Rider series I’m covering, I’ll quickly go over the basics. I would advise to go to my blog post covering Kamen Rider in general. Like every season, Saber has a weird ass gimmick that leads to a lot of genius, physical puns. This time, it’s a combination of books and knights. Many seasons before, especially in the last 6 years, lean heavily into science fiction as a homage to the Showa era. Saber, on the other hand, stands out as a high fantasy show with its own lore and alternate dimension, making it more of a homage to a lot of earlier Heisei like Kuuga and Blade.
When the first scans of the show were released, I had a mixed response. I loved that we were returning to the mystical side of rider, since it was what got me into Kuuga back in the day. While I still love the science fiction aspect, it was getting pretty stale by Zero One. The books looked interesting, considering how small the toys were, and the sword and knight aesthetic had the potential for more sword-based combat that would make Saber stand out. However, Saber’s Base suit was, and still is, not impressive. Not only did it lean more towards the design aesthetic of Build, but the idea that all of the dragon armor was on one side made it look incomplete. It also made the belt an eye sore. Drivers with multiple items in it to initiate a combo have all its slots filled most of the time, but the Seiken Swordriver allowed only one book to initiate the transformation. With just one, it just didn’t look right.
But I kept an open mind when the first trailer hit, which revealed that the show would be utilizing full CGI scenes. A new world, called Wonder World, with a rider possibly from it fighting monsters made of books while an indigo knight waited in the shadow. This show had promise. They may not have gotten through it all, but the world building they can do with the knights and this alternate dimension couldhave been it one of the most unique rider seasons in a while. After a year and 36 episodes…
I wanted to buy the hardest liquor.
To spoil a little of the overview post, Kamen Rider Saber became one of the worst seasons in the franchise (consider I haven’t watched every season yet), and a fundamental lesson in how to not write a story or create a tokusatsu show, in my opinion. Poorly executed characters, repulsive inconsistencies all around, and a mess of a plot from start to finish. Revice’s bare minimum, just the bare minimum, was enough to reinvigorate me back into the franchise. In my initial week-to-week viewing, I quit entirely because it was hard to get through.
So, why the hell am I even reviewing it if I hated it so much? Well, because it’s still minty fresh in the mind factory. Before I came into this review, I wanted to trash the absolute hell out of this stink pile. It wasn’t until I sat down to plan this post that, instead, I wanted to not only finish it, but re-watch it in its entirety. I had the thought that maybe, in my numbness, I missed something that might have actually been good. I wanted to review the whole show bit by bit to understand why I didn’t like or what I might appreciate more. Something to make it more analytical and fairer rather than 10 pages of pure anger. Was I wrong, or was I right?
I’ll be splitting this review into different parts based on the 4 arcs of the show, including the short film with Falchion, before the overall finale. For those who have watched it, I will not include the swordsman chronicles series in the overall show synopsis, or the Sword of Logos saga for now, but I will use info within for clarification and character insight when needed. You do not have to watch the swordsman chronicles (due to it containing 2 new scenes and a bunch of repeat scenes) and you cannot watch the Sword of Logos saga until you’ve finished the second arc (due to spoiling said arc).
The next page will be a full story review for those who need a refresher before I give my thoughts or if you don’t want to watch the show. I will then split the rest, from characters to worldbuilding, into their own pages from pros to cons. Saber does have a lot, even in just one chapter, so I want it to be digested as easily as possible.