Takatora Kureshima is a project leader in the Research and Development branch of the Yggdrasill Corporation and the main antagonist for the first half of Kamen Rider Gaim, before being deposed by Ryoma Sengoku.
Seeking to ensure humanity's survival against the Helheim Forest invasion at any cost, Takatora is the mastermind behind Yggdrasill's "Project Ark", which would involve killing off 6/7s of the human population to deny Helheim its food source, while the remaining fraction of humanity would receive Sengoku Drivers to allow them to survive against the invasive forest. With his Sengoku Driver, Takatora transforms into Kamen Rider Zangetsu. He later obtains a Genesis Driver and gains the power to transform into Kamen Rider Zangetsu Shin.
He serves as a background antagonist in the "Beat Riders" arc, the main antagonist of the "Yggdrasill" and "Helheim" arcs and an anti-hero for the rest of the series, as well as one of the main protagonists of the first part of Movie War Full Throttle. He also appears as the main protagonist of the V-Cinema Kamen Rider Gaim Gaiden: Kamen Rider Zangetsu.
He was portrayed by Yuki Kubota.
At some point prior to the beginning of the story, Takatora was instrumental in testing the early prototypes of the Sengoku Driver. Though he suffered physical harm and scars from setbacks, he uses the Melon Lock Seed and a finalized Sengoku Driver prototype to become Kamen Rider Zangetsu to deal with the Inves in Helheim Forest. Despite his questionable methods, his intentions are well-meaning, proven from the fact that he instructed Ryoma to lower the specs of the Sengoku Driver to facilitate easier mass production, so to save more people, instead of hoarding power to himself.
Beat Riders Saga
Takatora is seen throughout the Beat Riders Saga as the protector of the Helheim forest, protecting his men as they forage into the forest to harvest the Helheim fruits. During one of these expeditions, he battles Gaim and teaches him the cruelty of reality and that the Sengoku Driver is not a toy.
During the events of the Kamen Rider × Kamen Rider Gaim & Wizard: The Fateful Sengoku Movie Battle, Takatora finds that three of the Sengoku Driver users have gone missing. During his search, he finds a Crack that leads to the Sengoku Period world, with Mai following him behind without him realizing it. Takatora accidentally aids Bujin Gaim, causing Bujin Double to be defeated, before realizing that Bujin Gaim isn't his world's Gaim. Takatora picks up the Joker Memory, the remnants of Bujin Double. Later, after Bujin Fourze was defeated, he picks up the Rocket switch. When he encounters Ryugen, he gives him the Suika Lockseed to use. During the climax of the movie, Takatora appears once more as Zangetsu, aiding Gaim, Baron, and Wizard against Bujin Gaim and the Nephenthes Inhumanoid. Although Nitoh and Mitsuzane are saved, Takatora fails to pay attention that the young man with the Sengoku Driver is his brother due to Takatora focusing on Gaim, and focus on saving the alternate world from Bujin Gaim's reign. When The Mysterious Girl appears, he realizes that the remnants of the Bujins resonate with the Lockseeds that the girl left in her wake, creating the Fourze, OOO, Double, and Wizard Lockseeds. Together with the Armored Riders in their respective Rider Arms along with Beast Hyper, they destroy the Nephenthes Inhumanoid with a combined Rider Kick. In the aftermath, Takatora misses Mitsuzane once again, seeing only Kouta pass by as Takatora, Ryoma, and Yoko all containing an Energy Lockseed and a Genesis Driver.
Takatora later appears during the Lockseed gathering game, causing all 7 prototype Sengoku Drivers to appear in the forest. Takatora defeats Gridon, Baron, and Bravo without breaking a sweat, but in a rage, destroys Kurokage's Sengoku Driver by accident. He returns to Headquarters displeased that Gaim saved his men, calling him street trash.
After the development of the Genesis Drivers and his new transformation into Kamen Rider Zangetsu Shin, Takatora deems the Beat Riders to have outlived their usefulness. After learning that Mitsuzane was made an Armored Rider behind his back, Takatora shows his younger brother the ruins in Helheim Forest to convince him to help him for the greater good. When meeting Kouta and showing him the ruins, Takatora sees the same ideals he once embodied in the youth and it only makes him more adamant to crush Kouta's spirit. He succeeds when he reveals to Kouta that in his first battle as Armored Rider Gaim, he killed his friend Yuya Sumii, who had been transformed into the White Tiger Inves. However, Takatora later is shocked that the revelation has the opposite effect on Kouta, who destroys Yggdrasill's Scalar System.
OverLord SagaAfter Mitsuzane reports to the group that DJ Sagara is helping Kouta, concealing the full story of the Over Lord Inves, Takatora does not believe these turn of events at first. However, Takatora learns the truth when he confronts one of the Over Lords leading an attack on the research team with Kouta informing him of how the type of Inves may be instrumental in stopping Helheim Forest's expansion. Seeing a way to stop the invasion without massive sacrifices, he decides to ally with Kouta to stop the Over Lords. However, Takatora is oblivious to the fact that Ryoma's group is conspiring against him. This becomes Takatora's downfall as he is usurped by Ryoma's group and loses his Genesis Driver while being subsequently thrown off a cliff. Eventually rescued by the OverLord king, Rosyuo, Takatora learns the origins of the Femushinmu. Now realizing Ryoma's ambition, he realizes what Ryoma meant by him never understanding what he worked for. To his dismay about humanity being able to be saved, Rosyuo declares that humanity is foolish and will not obtain the Forbidden Fruit to repeat the tragedies that happened to his civilization.
While trying to find more answers about the Helheim's origins, especially Rosyuo's deceased wife, DJ Sagara later appears, informing that Demushu has recklessly struck the city, with Rosyuo unleashing the forbidden fruit he guarded from his hand, taking some seeds and turned them into the Kiwami Lockseed, much to Takatora's surprise, as DJ Sagara leaves to find a rightful person to be its guardian. He is soon spotted by Sid, and is about to be killed. Luckily Rosyuo protects him and kills Sid, but Takatora is shocked in horror at witnessing it. Shortly before finding out the Over Lords are setting their ways to invade Earth, Takatora takes Sid's hat as a keepsake shortly before Redyue takes it from him.
Takatora is a very reserved and collected man. He generally keeps a very cold and aloof demeanor, being utterly ruthless in his goal of saving humanity from the Helheim Forest's encroachment and willing to take whatever means he believes are necessary to see to humanity's preservation. He was willing to test out the Sengoku Drivers by employing teenagers as unwitting guinea pigs, seeing them as "street trash", and brutally attacks Gaim and beats him down in order to send a warning about the Helheim Forest.
However, though he does not show it, Takatora is in actuality a man greatly burdened by his responsibility and duty to save humanity. Though seeing it as a necessary evil, he is deeply saddened by the fact that only 1 billion humans can be saved from Helheim and that the other 6 billion will have to be culled. When Kouta shows him an alternate solution to save humanity, Takatora agrees to it and abandons Project Ark relieved that there is a different path that would not require the loss of innocent lives. Takatora also deeply cares for his younger brother Mitsuzane, though he is sometimes difficult at showing it. He desires for Mitsuzane to get a job at Yggdrasill working alongside him and often encourages him to devote more time to his schoolwork and less to being a Beat Rider.
Despite his stoic and tactful nature, Takatora does possess a blind spot towards those he considers close allies, failing to notice that his old friend Ryoma Sengoku was plotting behind his back with the rest of his inner circle. After abandoning Project Ark and Yggdrasill, Takatora begins to express guilt for many of his past actions, believing himself and his aloofness to be what caused Mitsuzane to become evil.