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Wednesday, 30 December 2015

Kamen Rider Ghost E11+E12

Kamen Rider Ghost
Episode 11 & Episode 12.

I think we can safely say we've reached the end of the first act with these two episodes. Takeru's (first) grace period of ninety-nine days is over, Jaberu (Javel? Javert? Jaffa?) has been defeated, Makoto's initial arc is over, and an upgraded form has appeared. The only more definitive finish to an act I've seen in a Kamen Rider series was in Gaim, where they capped it off with a flashback sequence.

In episode eleven, Saionji approaches the monolith to make his wish, only to be absorbed by it instead. Instead, the wish goes to Takeru. Alarmed by this turn of events, Jaberu unleashes a swarm of flying monsters to attack - and as Takeru reappears, the Heroic Eyecons are scattered once again. In episode twelve, with twenty-two days left before Takeru dies, the group goes searching for the remaining Eyecons, with little success. Eventually, however, Jaberu (Jabal? Javar? Django?) makes his move, setting out to kill both Kamen Riders.

So, the whole 'will Takeru choose to save himself or Kanon' choice was handled pretty predictably, with Takeru choosing Kanon over himself, but in fairness, I don't think it could have been handled any other way. Having Takeru choose to save his own life would have made him a decidedly un-heroic character, and gone against everything we know about his personality so far, not to mention killing any chance of Makoto working with him. The show got some nice mileage out of the fact that Akari and Onari clearly want Takeru to save himself, and that while they're never portrayed as bad people for wanting that, the show very clearly emphasises that it's Takeru's decision in the end. 

Lots of fire.

That's an unexpected level of nuance, really, as the show quite deftly deals with ideas of protectiveness and impossible choices and personal agency. While this show got off to a slightly shaky start (only slightly - it's always been fun, it's just that fun isn't always the same as good), it seems to have settled quite nicely now that it's out of its ghost-of-the-week phase.

Episode eleven also gives us some great performances from - well, to be honest, from everybody. The entire cast do great here, portraying extremes of joy and sorrow with a fair amount of skill. The action scenes are a bit lacklustre, mostly involving a form-switching fight against Jaberu (John? Jacob? Jamelia?), and a slightly too long fight scene against some giant monsters. Kamen Rider never excels at giant monster fights, and Ghost is no different, save that it might actually be worse at them than most Neo-Heisei shows.

Episode twelve, meanwhile, is a surprisingly quiet episode. The focus for the vast majority of the episode is on nothing happening - the clock slowly ticking down on Takeru's life, while he, Akari, and Onari try to deal with it in their own way - with Akari throwing herself into working on a solution, Onari trying to balance searching for Eyecons and training, and Takeru clearly resigning himself to fading, and trying to make the most of what time he has left.

Aran, you're acting like a jilted boyfriend.

Moreso than episode eleven, twelve is an episode that lived or died on the performance of its three principle actors, and all three of them did great. It was an emotional episode, and the moment when Takeru eventually fades away was, while a bit corny (truly, guys, angel feathers showing happy memories? Is that - someone had to pitch that idea, and someone else had to approve it, and I'm just not sure how that happened. I know it's in the opening, but that's different), a very emotional moment.

The episode does, admittedly, go a bit downhill from that point, with Takeru's meeting with Ryu seeming incredibly rushed, and the fight with Jaberu (which is preceded by Takeru literally exploding in what might be the silliest moment of the series so far) even more so. But given that that's the last five minutes or so of the episode, I can definitely cope with that - especially since 'downhill' here doesn't mean 'it was terrible', so much as 'it was a bit naff.'

I'm also not entirely sold on the Fighting Boost suit. It's just - it's very red, isn't it? It's really very red. I am actually quite distracted by how red it is.

Soft lens.

We also got a great scene in this episode with Makoto and Aran (Alan?) which made it clear that they are, in fact, genuine friends. At the moment, it's looking like when Makoto and Kanon were sucked into the Ganma World, it was Aran and the Royal Family who saved Makoto, and he swore himself into service to them? Hence all this talk about treason, and Makoto and Aran seeming to know each other personally, despite the fact that Aran is a ghost prince.

All in all, I really liked these episodes. There's no episode next week, owing to New Years, but I'll have an act one masterpost up at some point, and I'm looking forward to episode thirteen, where we'll be seeing the Goemon Eyecon in action, Goemon being the semi-legendary outlaw from Japanese folklore. 

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