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Saturday, 20 February 2016

Kamen Rider Ghost E17+E18

Kamen Rider Ghost
Episode 17 + Episode 18

And at last, eighteen episodes in, which is - actually surprisingly few, come to think of it, we've seen all of the Heroic Eyecons in action. I admit that it's a little strange that there are apparently only fifteen heroes in history, with at least one of them being a criminal who murdered and stole in the name of self-interest, but I'm not going to argue with Toei, they clearly did their research here and if they say there's only fifteen heroes in all of history, they're probably right. That's just how it's going to have to be from now on.

Anyhow, this fortnight's episode sees the team approached by a woman who can see the future - and who is, in fact, possessed by the Himiko Eyecon. With a new Superior Ganma, Igor, on the scene; a Ganma armed with twin knives that can remove people's souls with a single cut; Alain still at large as Necrom and Makoto having disappeared, the team is out of their depth - and Akari and Onari attempt to ease the pressure on Takeru by taking on some of the burden of defeating Ganma themselves, even as they clash on the best way to do that.

I admit, I had actually thought the whole Makoto-as-Necrom-Specter subplot would be over and done with - he'd be a monster of the week, functionally, and the situation would be resolved by Takeru using the Himiko Eyecon and purifying him with her various shamanistic abilities. I'm kind of glad I was wrong, though - two episodes in and while there's been significant movement on that plot, in the form of Takeru and Kanon both finding out what happened to Makoto, and Makoto showing some semblance of free will in spite of Alain's best efforts, the plot is still very much ongoing, and it's providing some great character conflict. Takeru now has to deal with having to fight his best friend, and with the possibility that he might not just be able to hug the evil out of Alain; Kanon has to deal with her brother having been enslaved by someone she respected and thought of as a friend; and Alain seems entirely torn on whether he actually did the right thing.

Um. Subtle.

(Here's a hint, Alain: You didn't. You didn't do the right thing. That's just not how friendship works.)

In a way, I expected a bit more from Kanon finding out that Alain is a wrong'un. This is, after all, someone she clearly trusted and thought of as a friend, or even a kind of second brother figure. For her, this must be an enormous betrayal, and maybe we'll see that being conveyed in the next few episodes.

Most of the rest of the plot focuses on Akari and Onari tangling with Igor and the Knife Ganma, paralleled to a similar conflict between Newton and Himiko, in which one represents science and the other represents magic. I do adore Akari and Onari's interactions, I think they make a wonderfully warm and engaging double act who are equally capable with both comedy and more serious drama, so this was a treat for me - even if I was left a bit sour by the end.

Still, Himiko is a really nice form.

Sorry, but 'science and a belief in mysticism can work togeeetheeer' as a message just doesn't work. Superstition and science aren't compatible, and the presence of unexplained mysteries doesn't change that - science knows it can't explain everything. If it could, it'd stop. A big part of science is acknowledging those unexplained mysteries, and not filling those blank spots in with fiction.

It works even less in the world of Kamen Rider, where magic is an empirical fact, and usually one that can be explained with science, at least to a degree - the idea of using science to explain magic has been a prominent theme in the series so far, and if you believe that all the Neo-Heisei series take place in the same universe (which I do), then even our last big magic-focused series, Wizard, had its Most Wizardly Wizard du Jour be a professor of physics.

Which isn't to say I didn't like the character-related symbolism of Newton and Himiko, representing Akari and Onari, working together to achieve what they couldn't alone. It's just, you know, I wasn't keen on the broader message.

Beyond that, we got a couple of new forms this episode, namely Himiko Form for Ghost and Sanzo Form for Necrom. 

Sanzo just didn't impress me.

I admit, I'm not all that impressed with Sanzo - much like Grimm, it comes off as a little overdesigned, and I can't really see a way that it changes things up from how regular Necrom fights. I mean, he has a telekinetically controlled wheel now, but it's not as if he ever really needed one, you know?

I do like Himiko Form, though. It's so elegant and graceful, and the pink and gold works surprisingly well with the black and red of the Fighting Boost suit. Also, this form seems to actually give us something concretely different from the other Fighting Boost forms - namely, 'she can use magic', even though it hasn't been made at all clear what this magic actually entails or what it can do. So this will probably be our occasional Deus ex Machina form.

So, a fun pair of episodes, basically. I do worry about the series starting to get a bit stale now that we don't have a constant stream of Heroic Eyecons, but then we do have two new forms for Ghost and a new form for Specter coming up before too long. Coming up more immediately, we apparently have an appearance by Alain's father, and a Ganma who just wants to paint.