Friday, July 31, 2015

Tokusatsu Review: Kamen Rider Gaim Gaiden Zangetsu & Baron Part 1: THINK OF THE CHILDREN! (Spoilers)

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I've been waiting for these two for quite a while. As I've gone over several times before Gaim is currently my favorite Kamen Rider series and I know I should be throwing a bit of a fit that Toei is going to be milking this as much as they did with Den-O especially since as far as I can tell Urobuchi isn't going to be writing these direct to video spin-offs. Then again he hasn't exactly been having the best of luck with his more recent shows and projects and that personally makes me a bit of a Sad Panda. But hey if Gaim, Madoka, Psycho-Pass and Fate/Zero are his only good stuff then at least right now he has a better hit/miss record in my mind then George Lucas ( and no I haven't seen American Graffiti, it and Psycho-Pass are on my to do list).

But be of good cheer fair readers; these and subsequent Gaim Gaiden movies will be written by Nobuhiro Mōri and Jin Haganeya; both of whom assisted Urobuchi in writing Gaim and the movies so I still have hope for these spin-offs. I don't want to watch bad stuff if I can avoid it, but I do know that if corporations be it gaming, movies, toku whatever know something works they'll exploit the ever loving shit out of it until people get sick of it, just like with Den-O and its stretched out movie series. Now to start this review but first be forewarned; this will contain spoilers for Gaim since these movies take place between episodes 20 and 21 so before you read this go watch up until at least episode 21 then come back.
So we open on Takatora talking to Kouta at the end of episode 20 where Takatora finished showing Kouta the ruins of the Helheim Forest and explaining his plan to slowly kill off 6 billion people so that the remaining 1 billion have a chance of surviving the world being over taken by Helheim in the next ten years. Takatora also says that if Kouta gets in Yggdrasil's way again he's a dead man. Kouta of course is not happy and asks if Takatora really thinks that this plan is right, but he just walks off. Later that night we see some Kurokage Troopers burning down some of Helheim's plants that have started to sprout in Zawame.
The Kurokage troops are Yggdrasil's foot solders/ mass production Kamen Riders.
Suddenly a crack opens and the two stooges are attacked and knocked out, the next morning Takatora and Sid investigate what happened, Takatora thinking that Kouta might be the one responsible. Okay, he has probable cause but any evidence there chief? Sid of course asks what he'll do if Kouta was the culprit. Takatora saying that he'll eliminate him personally. After Sid leaves he says to himself that no matter how many people must be sacrificed it will be his burden to save what's left of humanity from Helheim.

Later on Takatora returns to his mansion where he has a flash back to his father telling him of Noblesse Oblige.
What pre Iron Man Tony Stark should have learned, but hey hindsight is 20/20.
His little brother Mitsuzane tells him that there's someone here to see him. Her name is Touka Akatsuki, she was his father's maid who Takatora hasn't seen since his father collapsed, so I'm guessing she's here to tell him how his father's doing; catch up on what they've been up too and,
awkward.
Yeeeeeaaaahh that's exactly the news he needed to hear, not only is he spearheading a plan to kill about 80% of earth's population but now he just found out his dad's dead; this of course comes as a shock to him. Later on he asks Micchi about his feelings on this news, Micchi says he doesn't feel anything and walks off saying that he has more important concerns then the dead, damn, you cold dude. Takatora flashes back to when he first met Touka when the two were children. She was brought in by Amagi to be Takatora's servant; on her first day she baked Takatora an apple pie, even though he thought it tasted horrible he ate it nonetheless just for her company and the two had a little laugh about how bad it tasted, aaaaawwww he actually had a heart back then. Takatora brought it up during dinner that even though it tasted horrible it was one of the better meals he's ever had.
I know right he almost seems human, like someone who isn't trying to commit near genocide. Go figure.
Later that night Sid is attacked by the crack warping assailant; he pulls out his Cherry Energy Lockseed but the attacker is gone leaving behind some Helheim vines. The next day Yoko confirms that the M.O. of the attacker was the same as the person who attacked the Kurokages. Takatora, more annoyed then anything says that he hopes he's the next target so he can kick the culprit's ass and get it over with already. He thinks he's about to get his wish in the garage, but it just turns out to be Touka who offers him to stay at her place since he seems stressed out. Oh ho hoooo I see where this is going, she wants him to come over and have a piece of her pie.
What? At least it doesn't look burnt and it does look good.
However it still tastes horrible but he still eats it noting on how it brings him back to his childhood. Now I'm not really going to talk much about this sequence aside from showing that Takatora still has some semblance of humanity and may be leading up to his development in the series. The next day at Yggdrasil Yoko sees some Helheim vegetation and follows it to an electrical room where the lights go out and is attacked by a shadowy figure, the figure then transforms into a Rider before running off. Now that Yoko knows that she's dealing with an Armored Rider she pulls out her Peach Energy Lockseed and Genesis Driver and becomes Kamen Rider Marika, she engages the mystery rider before he teleports into another crack, but not before Marika manages to get off two shots into the crack before it closes.

Takatora brings in Ryoma Sengoku, the creator of the Sengoku Drivers, Genesis Drivers and the one responsible for the utilization of Lockseeds. Anyway he says that the attacker is an unknown Armored Rider and since Ryoma knows who got the Sengoku drivers he must know who has this belt, the problem is that if he did know he's not telling since Ryoma is about as ethical as Dr Suchong. Ryoma then remembers to give Takatora a prototype Lockseed he was working on to replace the Suika Lockseed that Micchi stole from him without his knowledge.
The Watermelon Lockseed, and you can just bet it's as safe as a pillow.
Takatora asks if he knows who has the belt but as I said Ryoma doesn't say who but does say that if it wasn't a beat rider, Takatora thinks it must be someone from Yggdrasil. Ryoma asks for more details about the Rider and when Takatora says he can make cracks without a lock vehicle Ryoma starts to worry. That night Takatora is looking through some research files at home to try and find a clue. He doesn't find anything until he discovers a hidden safe behind a painting and the files inside.
Oh that can't mean anything good.
And inside the files Takatora finds a picture of his father, the institute and pictures of children, some with circles on their picture; others with a red X instead and most damning of all a concept drawing of a prototype Sengoku driver. It's skipping ahead here but yeah it's obvious from what's seen here that Amagi was involved with experimenting on children trying to prefect the Sengoku driver. Yeah he was involved with some seriously bad Juju, but hey it's not like we've seen time and time again
that large
organizations
performing
experiments on
children
was a
horribly

unethical,
and insanely
stupid
thing

to do

right?
Right?

Right?!
Why does this shit keep happening?! I mean those were only just examples off the top of my head. But those more then show that Child experimentation leads to horrible, horrible shit and those that survive more often then not end up as genocide seeking nut jobs with a higher kill count then Chin from Hong Kong 97. So as far as we can guess something undoubtedly horrible is just around the corner with this little revelation. We get some confirmation of that assumption as Micchi gets attacked by the Rider but he retreats as soon as Takatora shows up. He pulls out his Melon Energy Lockseed to transform but the Rider uses his control over Helheim to summon a crack and steal the Lockseed with vines.

Takatora decides to head to the abandoned institute to see if he can find any more clues and hopefully find the Rider. Now I would honestly question why he's going alone and not bringing say Yoko or Micchi or even some Kurokage troopers as back-up since we've seen this Rider taking these guys out when they were caught off guard or were unaware of him. But now they know and could easily out number him, sure even though Takatora lost his Energy Lockseed he could either still stick to Normal Zangetsu or hell since he owns the company that researches these things get another Energy Lockseed from Ryoma. Oh wait there goes me and my logic again. So yeah this genius head of a multinational corporation that owns Kamen Rider production tech goes inside the creepy abandoned research institute on his own to track down someone who has a Sengoku driver yet has easily outfought some of his most powerful comrades and stole your Energy Lockseed reducing him to his original form in case something goes fubar.


 So our oh so smart protagonist heads inside and finds that the place is trashed with very clear evidence of a struggle and yet no bodies. He goes into the basement and finds..... the laboratories where Yggdrasil conducted their experiments on the children.
And we know that nasty business was conducted here since it's an abandoned Shocker facility.
I joke but seriously it's the exact same damn location. I've seen waaaay too many of these shows. Also Toei, splurge a bit and get some new sets already jeez!!!
Takatora is of course appalled that not only were these atrocities perpetrated by Yggdrasil but that his father was the one who authorized it all. He notices an Inves hiding in a door but is attacked by the assassin before he can follow it. As the two struggle Takatora manages to pull off his mask revealing Touka. She explains that the purpose of the facility was to raise potential members of Yggdrasil, some as researchers, others as leaders and others as agents in the criminal underworld. The rest that didn't meet their expectations were used as Guinea pigs in Yggdrasil's Helheim research, that Inves seen earlier a result of that research.

She also reveals that she did in fact kill Takatora's father as part of her well deserved revenge plan, but that was just the tip of the iceberg as far as she's concerned, she won't stop until both Yggdrasil and the Kureshima name are reduced to a pile of ash under her boots. However she hates the fact that someone as nice as Takatora is Amagi's son but as long as his blood flows through Takatora's veins she will chase him down to the ends of the earth to kill him. So with her resolve hardened she pulls out her Sengoku driver and the Ringo Lockseed,
where she becomes Kamen Rider Idunn.
Hang on, she could never make her apple pies taste good, she wants to kill Takatora, her Rider Form is based on an Apple and her name is Idunn?!
He tries to reason with her but she's in full blown crazy revengeance mode and won't listen. The fight moves outside; Takatora saying that while he hates his father and knows all the horrible things he's done there will always be one thing that he taught him that he will never discard. Noblesse Oblige, and that no matter how many sins he must commit, no matter what trails comes his way he will hold on to that lesson and save humanity no matter what. With that he pulls out his Sengoku driver and the Prototype Watermelon Lockseed.
Becoming Kamen Rider Zangetsu Watermelon Arms.
The two Riders face off; Idunn using her ability to control Cracks to her advantage outmaneuvering Zangetsu.
There you big baby, you complained soooo much about the testing, how it hurt and hurt, and yet here you are, killing the only man you've loved. Congratulations, you monster. But hey, at least there will be pie in the end, pie that tastes like death. But you should know that already.
But Zangetsu has his own tricks and goes all Reb Brown on her ass by pulling out the Watermelon Gatling gun and chasing her off. Now we know why he doesn't use this in the series, while the Watermelon gun is incredibly powerful the kickback however is far to much, leaving Zangetsu vulnerable to attack. Since he can barely hold on using that weapon he has to make his next shot count or Idunn will kill him. Which he does, unloading a full assault on Idunn when she tries to do another sneak attack forcing her to power down and drop both her Ringo Lockseed as well as the Melon Energy Lockseed. Zangetsu also powers down due to the strain of the kickback from the Watermelon Gun, the two pick up their respective Lockseeds transforming back to Idunn and Zangetsu Shin.

Zangetsu Shin and Idunn hit each other with their respective Squash attacks, but since New Generation Riders are already stronger then Armored Riders, Zangetsu Shin manages to overpower Idunn forcing her to power down again. Zangetsu Shin however can't bring himself to deliver the killing stroke.
Unlike Dr Manhattan, he misses his swing as we cut to Touka making it back to the research lab where she starts to, for lack of a better term rot away, and that's when Ryoma shows up. It turns out that the Ringo Lockseed was created by him back when Amagi was in charge and just like the Yomotsuheguri Lockseed was considered a defective prototype. He only let her use the Lockseed just so he could use her to get more data on the thing. He further explains that the Ringo Lockseed allows people limited control over Helheim proving to him that the Golden Fruit of Helheim exists and now that she's no longer useful to him, he'll kill her just like she did with Amagi.
Nuttier then an almond joy, showing complete disregard for human life yeah it shows, especially with you.
Touka transforms into Idunn again but is too weak to defend herself so Ryoma transforms into Duke and guns her down like a thug. So the first segment ends with Takatora reflecting on what Kouta said and his time with Touka before walking into his home office.
Tune in next time where we take a look at Baron's part of this straight to video special. Hopefully with a bit of a more lighthearted note.

Kamen Rider is owned by Ishinomori Productions, Toei Productions, and Bandai.
Fullmetal Alchemist is owned by Studio Bones, Square-Enix, Funimation, Viz Media and Hiromu Arakawa.
Bioshock is owned by 2K Boston, 2K Australia, Take-Two Interactive, Ken Levine, Alyssa Finley and 2K Games.
Bioshock 2 is owned by Take2 interactive, 2K Marin, and 2K Australia.
Bioshock Infinite is owned by Ken Levine, Irrational Games, 2K Games amd Take-Two Interactive.
Kill La Kill is owned by Studio Trigger, Hiroyuki Imaishi, Kazuki Nakashima and Aniplex of America.
Mass Effect 2 is owned by Bioware and Electronic Arts.
Metal Gear Rising Revengance is owned by Platinum Studios, Konami and Kenji Saito.
Eureka Seven is owned by Studio Bones, Funimation and Tomoki Kyoda.
F.E.A.R is owned by Monolith Productions, Vivendi Universal and Craig Hubbard.
Monster is owned by Naoki Urasawa, Viz Media and Shogakukan.
Genocyber(OVA) is owned by Koichi Ohata, Shô Aikawa and Central Park Media.
Akira is owned by Katsuhiro Otomo, Tokyo Movie Shinsha, and Toho.
Persona 3 The Movie: No 2 Midsummer Knight's Dream is owned by Atlus, A-1 Pictures and Aniplex.
Persona 4 Arena Ultimax is owned by Atlus, Sega and Arc System Works.
Elfen Lied is owned by Studio Arms and ADV Films.
Command and Conquer: Red Alert 3 is owned by EA (Electronic Arts)
Watchmen (Film) is owned by Zach Snyder, Legendary Pictures, DC Comics, Lawrence Gordon Productions and Warner Brothers Entertainment.