I had a sudden urge to write a character analysis on Naoya Kaido from Kaman Rider Faiz. Unfortunately, my memory of Faiz isn’t clear enough for me to write one. So that character analysis must be postponed to a later date. I can’t promise it will happen. However, I would like it to happen. Life has a habit of making you too busy or too disinterested in doing future plans.
Naoya Kaido has captured my interest recently, I have wondered why for a bit. Perhaps, it’s my realization of how much of a unique supporting character Kaido is. Most supporting characters from my experience tend to stay within the perimeters of their ”side-kick” like role. Kaido is an odd supporting character that appears to overstep the boundaries of being a side-kick. Kaido with slight exaggeration runs the gamut of being a minor villain, anti-hero, comic relief and finally a hero over the span of the show.
Kaido is a failed musician having the aspirations, and the talent to be a world-class guitar player once, such an aspiration met a fatal end when a jealous teacher ruins his hands through a fatal accident. The theme of dreams is a major theme in Faiz. Kaido says himself: ”if you can’t make your dream come true, you’ll always be cursed”. Consequently, Kaido is forced to live such a cursed existence, Kaido lives like a drifter of sorts that takes the odd job to support himself. Kaido’s curse turns two-fold when he is forced to become an Orphnoch. In simple terms, an Orphnoch is a mutant created via a person usually dying and capable of superhuman abilities afterward.
Perhaps, it is this so-called cursed existence that makes Kaido such a dynamic character as he continually moves to a different type of role. One instance, Kaido manages to transform into a Kamen Rider by harnessing the power of the Faiz belt. It is the power of the main heroes of the show (narratively the belt was created by the villains of the show), yet Kaido treats this great power with a playful nonchalance. Through a series of sheer circumstances, Kaido comes under the leadership of Kiba, a tragic man in a similar predicament to Kaido. Kaido vehemently opposes Kiba at first and even uses the power of the Faiz belt to challenges Kiba to a duel. Kaido misses willingly to deal the death blow on Kiba. This moment probably informs his entire character: a man who totally prey to his emotions but held back by a strong conscience. Afterward, Kaido falls under Kiba’s guidance. However, Kaido is self-conscious of his role as a subordinate to Kiba. Kaido, always a free spirit, opposes Kiba’s guidance through his antics. Kaido’s entire ”rebellion” sees him transiting to a full-blown comic relief character for the bulk of the series. Romance comes to subsume Kaido’s life; he becomes the target of Yuka’s affection which he harshly brushes off, but soon ”karma” forces Kaido to endure the same treatment when his romantic advances towards Mari are harshly rebuffed. In spite of Kaido’s childishness during these moments, Kaido’s vulnerability comes to shine. But his treatment of Yuka should deserve some flak, but I got the impression, he didn’t know any better.
Beyond the comedy, I enjoyed Kaido’s character in these moments because it portrays him an average joe with everyday problems while rest of the cast was too concerned with the central conflict of the show. Kaido, despite being bumbling and in a world of his own, attains a sense of humility for me while others are too distracted by grander concerns. Kaido’s concerns are rather quite down to earth.
Not successful in the field of love, Kaido is sick of living in Kiba’s shadow. Kaido stopped staying with Kiba then finds a sidekick of his own Yoshio Kobayashi. Before leaving Kiba, Kaido tells Kiba something important ”I’ll defeat you”. These words will foreshadow something important in the future.
Kaido and his new sidekick Yoshio Kobayashi plan to take over the world. So the two decide to join Lucky Clover, a group of elite Orphnoch the best course of action to accomplish this. But the two break apart when revealed only one can join Lucky Clover, and that person must kill Kiba. Tensions between Yoshio and Kaido reaches its height when Yoshio kidnaps Yuka to lure out Kiba to fight him. Kaido arrives at the scene to save Yuka, then telling his once protege ”his inability to throw away his humanity is actually a good point of him”(paraphrase). “This entire brief saga, if you could call it that, serves an important confirmation that Kaido’s ”villainous streak” can’t overtake his inner humanity.
After that incident, Kaido finds himself a bit of a father figure for a boy he saves from a fire. Little do the characters know that this boy, Terui Suzuki, will awaken the final villain of the show the Orphnoch King. These segments besides proving that Kaido will be a terrible father keep Kaido relevant to the narrative while providing comedic moments. To some, it might be a little forced to keep him relevant such a way. I feel that it keeps him as more of an ”everyman figure” that keeps being pulled into the much larger things by simple mundane events.
Kaido actually becomes ever increasingly relevant to the plot as his heroism grows in the last arcs of the show. Kaido’s connection to Teruo the future Orphnoch King draws him to things he can’t even comprehend at first. Unfortunately, Yuka has the poor unfortunate fate of getting caught between the machinations of Smart Brain and the police. Kaido still rejects her offer for one date, and even he vows to leave Yuka because he doesn’t want to get caught up with her issues. Here, I found Kaido a terrible person and not worthy of respect, but for all of his cruel rejection of Yuka, absolute honesty is a facet of Kaido’s character. Kaido doesn’t lie to others, Kaido doesn’t love Yuka romantically so to go on a date with her would be a dishonest ordeal for either party. In spite all of his insistence to leave, Kaido sticks to Yuka’s side.
Slowly, a split between Kiba and Kaido develops as Kiba’s patience for humanity reaches a boiling point due to the cruel treatment that Yuka received at the hands of the police. Kaido notices this subtle change before anyone else. Kaido startled by this change in Kiba leaves Kiba and Yuki losing the closest thing Kaido has to a family. Alone and confused, Kaido tries to enter a ”new family”, all end in comedic failure. Kaido in need of a purpose and companionship, Kaido meets up with Kiba again without realizing the Kiba he knew is gone. Kiba no longer views himself as a friend of mankind, instead, its annihilator.
The tragic fate of Yuka forces Kiba to a breaking point where he can’t tolerate the cruelty of humans any longer and even crowned the president of Smart Brain. When Kaido realizes the truth about Kiba, Kaido can’t support his old friend, Kaido’s conscience refuses to let him. Kaido’s attempt at rebelling against Kiba this time ironically ends with him trying to be the man Kiba once was. Kaido even vows to be the bearer of Kiba’s fallen dream, a dream in which Orphnochs and Humans co-exist in peace and harmony.
For all his talk of evil, Kaido is always a good man at heart with a conscience too strong to sink him to the dark side. Nor, do I believe that Kaido consciously blocks out his good side. Instead, Kaido is so given to his emotions at the moment that his good side falls by the wayside, but his inner conscience is strong enough that keeps him from actually becoming a bad person. A righteous indignation always deep inside Kaido. A step to Kaido realizing himself as a hero is Kiba’s fall from grace whom he held as a paradigm of virtue. Kaido disgusted at Kiba’s turn to evil takes it upon himself to become the man Kiba once was, Kaido once remarked ”I’ll defeat you” to Kaido, here Kaido has defeated Kiba by always retaining his humanity, something Kiba has failed to do. A personal victory for Kaido. Some people were shocked how Kaido was the only one to survive from the three Rogue Orphonochs since he was the brashest, but it’s fitting considering he is the only from the three who doesn’t kill a single ”innocent” person. A slight distinction about Kaido that keeps ”karma” on his side to help the audience viewed him as a hero later on.
Kaido endures one last trial before realizing himself as a hero. Kiba warns Kaido that all Orphnoch are doomed to die if they don’t eliminate humanity through the power of the Orphnoch King. Faced with such a tragic dilemma, Kaido still sticks with humanity to the bitter end thus to the very end Kaido never loses sight of his inner humanity. In another instance of irony in Kaido’s life, a literal curse becomes the final catalyst to get Kaido fighting for a dream he believes in. While previously, Kaido losing his sight of his dream to be a musician made Kaido believe his life was ”cursed”. Now, with a dream worth fighting for, Kaido gets a new lease on life paradoxically when he accepts the brutal realization his life is fated to end in a short time. Like everyone in Faiz, heroism is attained through gaining a dream and fighting for it. Kaido’s journey to reclaim a dream takes him from an aimless man and a rebellious sidekick to a defender of mankind. Such a journey befitting for a man one could easily describe a ”free spirit”. A free spirit whose nature is free flowing.
Such a malleable nature of Kaido’s character must be a reflection of how he sees himself in the world, a wanderer without an overall purpose who is totally given to the moment. Possibly, the best indication of this is Kaido’s frequent mood swings, Kaido goes from joy to bouts of sadness in a few seconds. In an odd way, Kaido refuses to let the world around him change him; he in more vulgar terms a so-called ‘man-child”. So Kaido can be immature, selfish, rude however like a child Kaido is up front with his feelings. Kaido always stays true to himself and to the world. In contrast to most people in the world, Kaido’s authentic self is always expressed. Ironically, Kaido might be the most ”un-Faiz” like character from the cast, Faiz is a show that gets criticized for having characters that can’t communicate their true feelings well, so Kaido becomes the oddball who is always communicating his true feelings in a sea of people who can’t communicate well. It’s a minor tidbit of Kaido’s character that makes his presence on the show all the more striking. It makes a character already eccentric in personality even more peculiar since his character dynamic is different from others. By character dynamic, I am referring to the ”poor communications” aspect of the Faiz characters, a trait sorely lacking in Kaido. Idiosyncratic as Kaido is, Kaido is never short of being an Everyman.
In all, Kaido is a free spirit that steadfastly rejects the role of a ”sidekick” that the show puts upon him, Kaido sees the role beneath him. Yet, in an entirely ironic twist of fate, Kaido’s journey to assert himself and to find purpose in his life, he adopts the dream of the man, he sought to distance himself from most of the show. Kaido is in many ways a mirror image of Takumi Inui the main hero of the show; both are aimless wanderers in want of greater meaning in their lives. Yet, unlike Takumi, Kaido doesn’t revel in ”heroic glory” since he isn’t the main hero of the story, it keeps his character more ”humble” for me.
Kamen Rider has known many wide and varying characters over the course of its history. Kaido has struck a chord with me in a way that few characters from the franchise do. It’s pretty hard to put into words why exactly but it’s because I see a lot of myself in Kaido. Kaido doesn’t feel idealized; he is heavily flawed and really emotional and pretty much treated as a ”joke” by most of the cast. Yet, in the face of being so pathetic, Kaido’s free spirit persona is so strong that it makes him an indomitable figure in my eyes.
PS: When I set out to write this, I didn’t intend for this to be so long. But I just had the urge to add more and more until it became really long. Of course, that has its drawbacks; I may sound like I’m rambling at points but treat this like a passion project more than anything. So I went back to the show and watched clips to refresh my memory. This entire effort took over a week to write. But I would blame this more on my laziness more than anything, I have a horrible habit of always putting things off when I’m writing. Hopefully, this bad habit of mine will be corrected in the future someday. A bit of disclaimer, I’m not proclaiming that Kaido is a perfect character, like many characters in Faiz, are all-too-human so perhaps all too human for their own good. Since this writing piece was grown large enough and in-depth enough hopefully, that character analysis I planned has basically become this.
I like to thank you if you made it this far!
Special thanks to @SunglassPri for helping me iron out some grammatical errors.