Garo: Hoono no Kokuin #2, Kamen Rider Drive #1 & Kamen Rider Blade #1

 Garo: Honoo no Kokuin, Kamen Rider Drive  Comments Off on Garo: Hoono no Kokuin #2, Kamen Rider Drive #1 & Kamen Rider Blade #1
Oct 122014

Tokusatsu post, as it were.

Garo: Hoono no Kokuin #2
I’m writing this after just finishing up this episode. I liked it. I actually did. To tell the truth, I wasn’t sure about episode one. It seemed above average. But I wasn’t sure if my view was clouded by my wanting a Tokusatsu based property to succeed. But episode #2 is really solid. It opens with a terrific little scene and the rest of the episode was a good mix of exposition and action with a little humor and some world building thrown in. It feels way more balanced than the first episode.

The main dude remains the weakest part of the show but next episode will feature Zaruba, so he might improve a tad. If the rest of Garo: Hoono no Kokuin is able to keep this level of quality, I’d say it’ll be one of the better straight up adventure anime of the year (note the very specific category). Between this and Shingeki no Bahamut: Genesis, it looks like we’ll be closing the year with a solid batch of pure adventure programming.

Kamen Rider Drive #1
Saw this when it came out. It’s pretty decent for what it is. As with many Kamen Rider shows, especially the sillier ones aimed at kids, it opens with mass murder.

The pilot opens with an event known as the Global Freeze, which messes with everyone’s time. People suddenly freeze in their tracks or slow down, but their perception of time is still going at a regular rate. During which, monsters immune to this effect, start indiscriminately (and arbitrarily) murdering everyone. A diner full of people are shot with lasers which explode in slow motion, so they’re conscious in real time whilst they’re being blown to bits in slo-mo. Meanwhile, a giant bowling pin (or was it a bowling ball?) from the local bowling alley is knocked off the roof and is slowly about to crush a group of hapless bystanders; when suddenly, a monster jumps outta nowhere and kicks it at them. So they’re quickly smashed to bits rather than slowly crushed. That’s hilarious, since they were gonna die anyway. That monster dude’s just being a dick there.

Anywho, we skip to the future/present, where our main character is a slacker cop in a division that investigates “Slowdowns”. Blah blah blah, it’s a very kiddy show feel here. Monsters appear, our hero learns to transform and defeats them through the power of merchandise driven powers. The end.

Overall, a nice first episode and I’m somewhat intrigued for the second episode. It’s doubtful that Drive will be another Gaim, simply because Drive’s format will be 2 episode shorts, which wouldn’t be very conducive to Gaim’s style of serial story telling. The tone seems to lighthearted but not overly silly, despite the fact that magical little toy cars seem to be a very integral motif. Hopefully Drive will be solid overall and make a good gateway series for the filthy casuals, like Kamen Rider W.

Kamen Rider Gaim’s still the way to go if you’re from an anime background though. I’d recommend sticking through that till ep 4, ’cause that’s when the show stops sucking, and if you can stand it, watch till ep 14, ’cause that’s when the show actually gets good.

Kamen Rider Blade #1 (live-ish)
Supposedly one of the better Kamen Rider shows, although it too supposedly had a slow start. I’m writing this as I watch, so this might be a live-ish (edit: definitely a live-ish) thing. We open with motorcycle riding and someone fighting Batman (psst, it’s Kamen Rider Garren vs a Bat Undead). This is followed by abseiling because, DUH, what else would you do after riding a bike and fighting a monster?

The main dude is asked to hurry on his bike to go and save the guy fighting the bat monster. The guys at mission control are asking him if he wants to save the dude, if so, to hurry. But… well, we get sound effects that he’s hurrying, but our eyes tell us that he’s travelling at a very leisurely pace. Guess Blade doesn’t want to save Garren after all.

As Blade arrives to help out, we cut to the opening sequence, which is HILARIOUS given the death battle we were just witnessing. Not a bad opening though. I like it.

We get a nice chase scene out of it. Especially given the technical capabilities of the time (2004 to 2005). Blade uses Tackle! It is the opposite of Super Effective!

AHAHA! Garren just told Blade that fighting blind is no good… against a bat monster. OHOHO, oh you subbers.

More AHAHAing, the main guy returns to his apartment and it turns out the landlady rented it out while he was out of town. What a bitch (not because she rented out a tenant’s room without letting him know, but because she rides a muscle bike).

Okay, I’ve just finished ep 1 and I like it. I heard peeps saying the first few eps were slow but I totally disagree. The first ep gets a lot of backstory out of the way, considering we know this series has multiple main characters. It also sets things up for future intrigue.

While Kamen Rider’s always been about the merch, this was from a time when the merch was less obvious. So unlike the toy commercial pilots we’ve been getting for the last half dozen years or so, there’s no shilling at all in this ep. I mean, yeah, the characters have ostentatious designs and use gimmicky equipment, but this first ep is very much a straight up sci-fi/horror drama so far. The only humor is where this dude’s niece sass at him.

If this show only gets better from here on out, I might have to reassess my Kamen Rider rankings.

Kamen Rider Gaim 41, 42 and… well shit, 43.

 Kamen Rider, Kamen Rider Blade, Kamen Rider Drive  Comments Off on Kamen Rider Gaim 41, 42 and… well shit, 43.
Sep 012014

Weird, I thought I only missed blogging Kamen Rider Gaim 42 at most. Seems I’ve missed episode 41 as well. Welp, let’s talk about some additional stuff to make up for the lull, shall we?

I’ve talked about how Kamen Rider Gaim’s the one series that feels the most like a live action anime, and that’s exemplified by the main character, Kazuraba Kouta.

The first episode of Kamen Rider Fourze totally felt like a live action shounen manga/anime series with how the school the show’s set in being divided by cliques and stuff. But then the show veered off into… weird territory. So then came Kamen Rider Gaim, written by Urobochi Gen, who’s been writing a buncha anime of late, and you can feel it from the pacing of the first dozen or so episodes. But then things go interesting ’cause the story progressed in a way that’s probably unlike most other shows, anime or otherwise.

See, they knew they had at least 40+ episodes to work with. Most other kids shows would rely on a number of different formula to fill up the run. Shows like Pretty Cure or Sailor Moon can be pretty repetitive, and you can arguably skip a bunch of episodes and not really miss anything. Stuff like Polar Bear Cafe, Tentai Senshi Sunred, Shinryaku Ika Musume, Keroro Gunsou and others, rely on being episodic and having running gags, but don’t really have a strong continuous narrative. Then you have shows that are adaptations of long running series like Hunter x Hunter, Death Note, Naruto etc. These tend to be delivered in chunks known as “Arcs”, because presumably, regardless of how popular the original source material was, the manga guys really couldn’t know for sure how long they’ll hang around. Or whether they’d be ALLOWED to end their series.

But Kamen Rider Gaim knew it was gonna be a long running story and the production guys apparently wanted to tell an actual story here. Sure, there’s some padding here and there. Not because they were short on story material, but it seems they had to slow things down to be in time with the release of the toys. But the point is, it’s rather rare to see a full year(ish) long series with a definitive goal in mind.

The other point I wanna make, the main point in fact (because I accidentally went on a tangeant), is that… where Kamen Rider Gaim is totally a live action anime, the main character, Kazuraba Kouta is totally an anime main character. Not simply for his role in the story, but in all his mannerisms and over-acting; you could literally transplant him into just about any anime series with his character type.

Outside of this context, he’s kinda over-acting, but within it, it’s an interesting thing to note.

So, Kamen Rider Gaim 41 and 42… things go about how you’d expect them to. The episodes are solid enough, with plenty of drama, but we’re neeeeeeeeeeeerds, we know how this was all gonna go. They’ve also planted the seeds to some timey wimey action going on. And episode 43 delivers.

By god does it deliver. Not just on the timey wimey, which was straightforward enough. But well, you know they’re gonna have to asspull a bit for the remaining 4 episodes, but by gosh… I have no idea who’s going to be the final boss right now. I know we’re gonna get a final boss due to magazine spoilers. But at this point, it could even be the side character chick for all we know.

Actually, know what? I’m calling it. I’m hoping Ryouma’s out of the picture and that Marika’s gonna be Jam.