I've only seen like a couple of SU episodes, and it's pretty good from what I've seen. But I love it when shows reference that kind of stuff. Also, that's a pretty hard-boiled Ryu.
So last week, I finished Kamen Rider Drive, and now, after two years of doing this, I've seen every Heisei Rider season (aside from Amazons if that counts), so I'm just gonna give my thoughts on each for those interested.
My opinion of Kuuga pretty much matches with the general consensus within the community. It has really good concepts, but the series itself really drags out after a while. Godai Yusuke as a character, while incredibly cheesy at times with his whole "protecting other people's smiles" banter, is one of my favorite main Riders. And the show can get really suspenseful, since he gets seriously hurt in battle on several occasions, and he's the only Rider throughout the entire thing. His detective sidekick, Ichijou, is fleshed out and developed pretty well. As for the side characters, there's a lot of them, and for the most part, they're very forgettable. Kuuga's design is simplistic but in a cool way. The belt is Showa-like in terms of how little it does. The theme song is one of my personal favorites despite how dated it sounds. The final battle, while somewhat symbolic, was pretty underwhelming. Overall, I'd say Kuuga is a bad place to start, but if you're familiar with more of the standard Rider seasons, I'd check it out just to get a feel for how different it is.
I'll say this to start: Agito was forgettable. I know it's one of the fan-favorites, and I will admit that it's very memeable, but the designs are pretty simplistic and the story, like Kuuga's, can drag out at times. Not a huge fan of the belts. Shouichi is okay, I guess, and the same goes for G3, although he spends a good chunk of the time getting beat up by the monster of the week. Gills is probably my favorite because of how edgy he is, and Another Agito came out of nowhere. Mana is one of the better main females in Rider. The theme song isn't the best, but it grew on me, and I love the remix they used for the second half of the season. Towards the end, things got very good, and I like the ending, but like Kuuga, it can be a pain to sit through sometimes. I'd have to say that if you're gonna watch Agito, do it right after Kuuga, because early on, they tried to connect the two seasons together, and even if they dropped the idea, it's cool to spot all the Kuuga references in the early episodes. Also, there was this one side female who died in like episode six and stayed in the opening for half of the entire season, and that always bothered me more than it probably should have. Overall, it's not a good starter, but it's okay for later on.
Ryuki was one of the darker and more interesting seasons, and I like it for that. Shinji and Ren were awesome, Zolda was forgettable but also pretty neat, Raia is too good for this world, and by contrast, Ouja is literally a criminal who kills people because it's fun. A lot of the riders kinda came and went, and therefore didn't have much personality to them. Yui and Tatakae Guy's story is cool, but somewhat confusing. I literally had to get @BeefJStag, who is a Ryuki expert, to explain their whole deal to me. The designs are okay, but aside from the Survive forms and Ouja, kinda bland. The belts are also pretty basic, but a step in the right direction compared to what came before them. The theme song is alright. Not one of my favorites but not one of my least favorites either. The ending was also kinda confusing at first, but @BeefJStag explained that too and now I appreciate what they were going for. The Riders, rather than fighting monsters of the week, go up against each other most of the time. Because of that, I wouldn't recommend making it your first season. So familiarize yourself with a more traditional season, then watch this.
Faiz is my favorite early-Heisei season. While it suffers from having a lot of characters, I didn't find any of them to be particularly one-dimensional aside from the ones who die early on. Takumi is kinda rude, but he's one of my favorite main Riders, like a step or two above Godai/Kuuga. Kusaka is literally my favorite secondary Rider. If Takumi is "kinda rude", then this guy is a straight-up scruffy-looking Nerf-herder, and I love him for it. Delta was pretty forgettable, but I like his design. Speaking of which, Faiz's designs are some of the best in all of Kamen Rider. They're futuristic in a way, but also very functional. The belt buckles double as phones which double as pistols. That's pretty legit. The theme song is also one of my favorites. I'm a fan of the ending, mainly because of the impact it left on the surviving characters. Takumi's involvement in Heisei VS Showa, GP, and the YonGo episodes really show how he's changed and grown since the end, and how the events of the series really affected him. If you're gonna start with an early Heisei series, Faiz is definitely a great place to start.
@BeefJStag is probably gonna kill me for this, but Blade isn't nearly as good as Faiz. It's okay, but not one of my personal favorites. A common issue I'm starting to notice with KR is that seasons tend to drag out. Blade is no exception to this. While it's very memeable, and all four of the main Riders were enjoyable characters, I found myself bored while watching it pretty often. It has its good parts, but it was somewhat of a chore to watch. In all honestly, I'm not a huge fan of the designs. I can't put my finger on exactly why, but the clear parts on the helmets definitely contribute. The belts themselves are cool, with the way Blade's and Garren's flip around during transformation. Also, the voice on the belts is my least favorite in all of Kamen Rider. You can barely tell what the guy is saying, and the names for the cards are just plain weird. I like both of the theme songs, but Elements is wayyy better than Blade Brave. The ending was cool because the four Riders finally work together for once. Overall, while not as good as other seasons, it's a decent start if you're willing to get past its flaws or find it more entertaining than I did.
Usually, when people talk about Hibiki, they say that while the first half was fine, things fell apart around halfway through because of the change in direction. While I agree with this notion to an extent, I didn't hate the latter half that much, and the first half wasn't the greatest thing either. Hibiki-San himself is a chill dude, and Asumu is pretty relatable to me in terms of the stupid things he's capable of doing. Ibuki, Zanki, and Todoroki were there I guess. The designs are cool, but very different. Hibiki's first theme was an instrumental, which to my knowledge is a first for Kamen Rider, and I honestly despise the second theme. The ending, like I said, isn't that bad, but it would have been better if it went according to original plans. Hibiki is definitely the black sheep of the Heisei seasons, and in no way should someone start with it, but it'll at least be interesting for experienced Kamen Rider fans.
Kabuto was my second Rider season. I saw it a good year ago, so my memory on it isn't perfect, but I've researched it since. Kabuto is the first really modern season that doesn't feel that dated, since it's only 10 years old at the time that I'm writing this. It's definitely not my favorite season, but it's pretty up there. Each of the Riders are fleshed out and enjoyable, the soundtrack is one of Heisei's best, and the story, while kinda confusing at times, is also among the best. Tendou, Kagami, Daisuke, Kageyama, Yaguruma, and Tsurugi are all awesome. The designs are comparable to Faiz in terms of how futuristic and cool they are. Each of the Zecters seem like they'd be cool desk toys to just mess around with when you're not Rider Kicking Worms. The theme song grew on me a lot, and while it's still not one of my favorites, it's alright. The ending was pretty epic to me, but it wasn't the best thing ever. Kabuto is a pretty good start for newcomers, as long as they're not as confused by certain plot elements as I was.
Den-O is in no way a trainwreck. It's a step up from Kabuto in terms of quality, and that's saying a lot considering how good Kabuto was. While it does have a looooot of movies, not all of which are that great, the series itself is one of Kamen Rider's funniest. Ryotaro, Yuuto, the Den-Liner crew, and the Imagin are all some of my favorite characters in all of Kamen Rider. The designs are cool because of how the armor transforms depending on which form Den-O and Zeronos use rather than bringing in a completely different suit. The belts, while a step down from Kabuto's intricate Zecters, are sleek and functional. Den-O has some of the best music in all of Kamen Rider, even if a good chunk of them are just remixes and covers of the same two songs: Climax Jump and Double-Action. The ending is one of Kamen Rider's strongest, and I almost cried during it, which is something I don't do a lot when watching television, so Den-O gets extra points for that. It's a good place to start if you don't mind the focus on comedy.
Assuming @kamen_rider_kiva is as much of a Kiva fan as his name would suggest, I'm not sure if he'll agree with everything I have to say. Wataru, Otoya, and Taiga are really cool, and Yuri and Megumi are some of Kamen Rider's stronger female leads. But I'm honestly just not a huge Nago/Ixa fan. Kiva's base design is okay (Why doesn't he have a Figuart yet?), but Emperor and Dark Kiva are really some of my favorite designs in all of Kamen Rider. They're edgy and the bat/chain motif really works with their color schemes. I like all of the belts except for Ixa's. The Kivats and Kivat-like entities are like better versions of the Zecters. However, the Ixa belt is kinda like Blade and Garren's. I appreciate the function, but hate the voice. Kiva's music is on-par with Den-O, except it's not all the same two songs remixed, covered, and milked to the last ounce. The songs are different, and I like that. But it's a shame that This Love Never Ends, Feel The Same, and the individual form themes didn't play in the show much, if at all. The theme song is pretty solid, too. As for the ending, it's not what I expected. I would have liked it if time travel wasn't used as much, but it's alright. Kiva is okay for beginners, but if you're edgy emo trash, you'll probably enjoy it more than others.
Decade isn't as bad as people make it out to be. It's not exactly the Gokaiger of Kamen Rider either. I just think it's good in the sense that it gives a general idea of what each Heisei season is like (even if they simplified some of the details to make it work in the two-episode format), and the characters aren't that bad. Tsukasa grew on me after a while, Natsumi is kinda on-par with Hana from Den-O, Kaito is actually one of my favorite secondary Riders, and Onodera, while he basically forgot he was a Kamen Rider a lot of the time, was a pretty worthy stand-in for the original Godai. I wonder if they're ever going to explain Narutaki's whole backstory, though. He's still an enigma 7 years after the fact. In terms of designs, they really did the whole card motif better than Ryuki and maybe Blade. The DecaDriver and DienDriver are two of my favorite designs for transformation devices ever. They're just soooo aesthetically pleasing. The RideBooker is also one of my favorite role play toys despite how unrealistic it is that the blade could actually store in gun and card case mode (the DX toy reflects this), and my phone lock screen is, not even kidding, a K-Touch.
I also really like the music. Gackt is pretty popular in Japan, from what I understand, or at least he was when the season aired, so the fact that they got him to sing Journey Through The Decade, The Next Decade, Stay The Ride Alive, and maybe some other songs (I honestly don't know if he did anything else) is pretty cool. Journey Through The Decade itself is a Godly masterpiece and one of my favorite KR themes. My main gripe with Decade is how the ending was a cliffhanger that was only continued in the Double crossover that came out six months after the season ended. I'm on the fence as to whether or not this is a good start, because while it gives a general idea of each Heisei season and could help first-time viewers decide what they wanna watch next, you lose part of the experience if you haven't already seen those seasons beforehand. So I suggest watching the first nine Heisei Riders before Decade.
Double is one of my favorite seasons. It's a bit unorthodox in the sense that the "main Rider" is actually two people in one, but at the same time, it's just reeeeeally gooooood. The story is great, Shotaro and Philip are equally awesome, Akiko grew on me, and Terui is just cool and tragic. I don't love Double's design because asymmetry HeatTriggers me, but Accel, Skull, and Eternal are all great. The belts are cool because the GaiaMemories contain noises rather than the actual buckles, meaning they could potentially make an infinite amount of GaiaMemories if they wanted to, and GaiaMemories are my favorite Kamen Rider gimmick. The Lost Driver is a pretty lazy design though, to be honest, and I can't justify why it's double the price of the original Double Driver on the after-market. Double also has a pretty hard-boiled soundtrack, both in instrumentals and insert songs. Like Den-O, the ending made me actually cry, except even moreso than Den-O did. I won't spoil anything, but get yourself a box of tissues before going into the last 4-5 episodes. You'll need it. Double is one of the best seasons to start with, but the fact that the "main Rider" is actually two people in one might be a bit too untraditional for someone who just wants a taste of what Kamen Rider is usually like.
OOO is the third season I completed, therefore I am somewhat biased towards it. However, putting my bias aside, it's roughly as good as Double, but not quite as unorthodox. Eiji is one of my favorite main Riders, no question about it. He's like Godai Yusuke without the cheese. Ankh is a handful and a jerk, but a likable jerk. Hina is a strong character in more ways than one. I prefer Date over Gotou, but Gotou grew on me after a while. The story itself is great, but my main complaint is that they dragged out the PuToTyra arc for waaaaaay too long. OOO's design, while not consistent in TaToBa and other combo mixes, is among my personal favorites. Not a huge fan of Birth's design, but I appreciate the concept, and the execution was decent. The belt itself is pretty simple in similar fashion to the Double Driver. The Medals are pretty cool gimmick toys, but they don't do nearly as much as the GaiaMemories that came before them. OOO's instrumental soundtracks have some of my favorites, but the insert songs are perfect. Anything Goes is one of my favorite themes. As for the ending, while I admittedly didn't cry, it wasn't really expected, and aside from how long they dragged out the PuToTyra arc, it remains as one of my favorites. OOO is definitely a great season to start with. It's got the quality of Double, but it's a bit more traditional than its predecessor.
Fourze was my first season. It's been roughly a year and a half since I saw it. I remember a good chunk of it, though. The high school setting, while cliché, was executed pretty well. Gentarou isn't really the best main Rider compared to Eiji or Takumi, and while I'm somewhat jealous of his ability to make so many high school friends, that's not entirely why. They didn't really give him that much personality or backstory. He's still a likable character, though, and the Kamen Rider Club has some of my favorite side-characters in all of Kamen Rider. I didn't like all of them at first, but the ones I didn't initially like grew on me by the end of it. Ryusei is a pretty cool secondary Rider, but not one of my favorites. The story is really straightforward compared to other seasons, but that's what I like about it. It's easy to process. I love the Fourze designs, too. They all give off a fitting space vibe. The Fourze Driver itself is currently my only Kamen Rider toy, and I'd say it's a good first. The Meteor Driver is alright as far as secondary Rider belts go, but I don't plan to pick it up anytime soon. Astro-Switches are good stress relievers. Just grabbing one and turning it on and off repeatedly has honestly helped me calm down on more than one occasion. They're a step above the Medals but still not quite as good as GaiaMemories. The soundtrack is okay, I guess. The theme song grew on me. The ending was alright, but not one of my favorites in retrospect. Fourze was an okay start for me considering how I'm used to light-hearted Super Sentai seasons like Kyoryuger and ToQGer, and I would say the same goes for anyone who's used to the more light-hearted stuff.
I went into Wizard with very low expectations and came out not hating it as much as I thought I would. I'll admit, sometimes it can get pretty cringy and boring, but it's not my least favorite. Yes, Haruto is bland. Yes, a lot of the characters don't contribute much to the story. But it wasn't nearly as bad as I expected it to be. Rinko and Shunpei are some of my favorite side-characters. Nitoh, while he doesn't ultimately do much, is a pretty fun secondary Rider. Koyomi is whatever, I guess. Like Fourze, the story is pretty straightforward and predictable at times, but I will admit that Fourze did it a little better, since Wizard gets a new form every other episode for the first entire half. The designs are aesthetically pleasing, some of my favorites to be honest. However, the belts, while also aesthetically pleasing, aren't exactly my favorites. The Wizard Rings are a step down from Astro Switches, going back to the simplicity of Medals, but they seem like they'd be fun to wear, assuming they fit your fingers. The soundtrack gives off a mystic feel, which fits nicely. What doesn't fit nicely is when Haruto transforms during an emotional scene and all you hear is "SHABADOOBIE TOUCH TO HENHSIN" in the background. It's actually pretty funny. The theme song isn't one of my favorites, but it's nice to listen to every once in a while. The ending kinda sucked, to be honest. I wouldn't recommend that one should start with Wizard, and it's pretty skipable aside from the last two episodes, which are actually a crossover with the other Heisei Riders, oddly enough. I still don't hate it as much as I thought I would.
Objectively speaking, many agree that Gaim is one of, if not the best Heisei Riders. And I think it's one of the best too. It has one of the best stories, most if not all of the characters are some of the best, and they did a good job of handling a premise that's easy to mess up. Kouta is somewhat on-par with Takumi and Eiji in terms of how much he was fleshed out. I'm not exactly a huge fan of Mai. I don't dislike her or anything. She's just not very memorable. Gaim has a lot of Riders, similarly to Ryuki, but unlike Ryuki, they did a slightly better job of giving each Rider personality, even if some of them had limited screentime. And Micchy is a lot like Wizard in the sense that I expected to hate him, but ended up just thinking he was kinda meh. My personal favorite Rider from Gaim is Jonouchi/Gridon. While he didn't do that much, he was pretty funny and relatable. The story of Gaim is one of the best in Kamen Rider, but it took a noticeable shift around episode 10. I like it, but I wish it was a little more consistent. The designs are some of my favorites. The Sengoku Driver is one of my favorite belt designs because of the customizability with the faceplate. The Genesis Driver is also pretty cool because soda, but I don't like the Energy Lockseeds as much as the normal ones. Speaking of which, the Lockseeds are my second favorite gimmick toys, second only to the GaiaMemories. The soundtrack sounds like it's straight out of Feudal Japan, which is very fitting since like Ryuki, the Riders fight each other on a somewhat regular basis. The theme song is also definitely in my top 5. The ending is also one of my personal favorites for a number reasons. Starting with Gaim is like a double-edged sword. It's very good, but like Double, it's not exactly traditional, and like Ryuki, the Riders fight each other rather than monsters of the week. Another thing is that because Gaim is so good, watching it first might give someone very high expectations.
I finished Drive just last week, and it's still very fresh in my mind. It can be difficult to live up to the legacy of something like Gaim, and I feel like Drive blew my expectations out of the water. It's not exactly as epic as Gaim, but it makes up for that by being a very fun, laid-back cop drama with humor and serious stuff mixed together. Shinnosuke is, without a doubt, better than Takumi, Eiji, and Kouta. He's my favorite character in all of Kamen Rider. And that's saying a lot. Gou isn't my favorite secondary Rider, but he's definitely better than Ixa or Meteor, for example. Chase is also pretty good. I kinda have a soft spot for robots. Kiriko is one of the best female leads, mostly because of her own personality and how she interacts with the other characters. Krim is awesome too. As for the rest of the Special Cases Department, Kyu is my favorite, but all the others are really good too. There's an arc in particular where Kyu really gets to shine, and I love it. I haven't really talked much about the villains because Kamen Rider villains generally don't have much to them in my opinion, but Drive has some of my favorite villains in anything ever. I don't like Brain that much, though. The story has a formula to it, but it's kinda unclear sometimes if an episode is part of an arc or just on its own. I really like it, though, and I rarely found myself bored while watching Drive, which is something I can't say about a lot of seasons. I love the designs, though Type Wild and Type Technic look painful to wear assuming the tires have any weight to them in-universe. The Drive Driver is cool, and I want one just because Krim has an awesome voice. The Mach Driver is a little simpler, and I don't like the voice as much. Shift Cars and Signal Bikes are kinda on the same level as Astro Switches. They don't make noises on their own, but they look like they're fun to play around with. The soundtrack is pretty cool too, but my favorite track would have to be this one, which sounds an awful lot like "Uptown Funk".
Surprise Drive is also one of my favorite theme songs ever. It really sets the tone for the series, and if you didn't know, it's sung by the same guy who played Eternal in Double. Drive also has one of the best endings in Kamen Rider. They did a good job of setting up Ghost while also giving the characters proper closure (except, y'know, they're just gonna come back for the next crossovers anyways). Overall, I would have to say that Drive is my favorite Kamen Rider season ever. It's also the perfect season to start with. The only downside would be, similarly to Gaim, that it would give you very high expectations for the other seasons.
I'm not gonna give my thoughts on Ghost yet, since it's still airing.