Originally, I had planned on renewing the Toei tokusatsu shows quarterly, after the 13th, 26th, 39th and final episode. However, I’ve been doing a first impressions post following the first 7 and it didn’t make any sense to revisit the series just 6 episode later. Therefore, I’m going to do a mid-way post, looking at the first half of the series, then a series finale post reviewing it to the end.
Therefore, here we go with the first 26 episodes of Toei’s 24th Kamen Rider series: Kamen Rider Gaim.
If you haven’t read my first review, which includes the premise behind the show and the plot for the first seven episodes, I suggest you go look at that first or you’ll be completely confused. It’s okay, I’ll wait.
The plot has moved quite a bit forward since we last visited Kamen Rider Gaim, we make discoveries about the nature of the Inves, the secrets behind the Yggdrasill Corporation and the coming war for the survival of mankind. See, the Helheim Forest isn’t just a place where the Inves live, waiting to come through and attack us, it was once a world just like Earth, with a dominant humanoid lifeform. Unfortunately, it was invaded by the Lock Seeds and when that world’s lifeform ate the Lock Seeds, they turned into the Inves, mindless monsters bent on destruction. Not all of them became mindless though, a certain few retained their intelligence and became super-powerful Inves Overlords. Luckily, technology has been keeping up and Yggdrasill has come up with the next generation of Rider belts, called Genesis Drivers, that allow the Riders to combine the power of two Lock Seeds at the same time. For instance, it allows Kouta to use both the Orange Lock Seed and the Peach Energy Lock Seed to become Kamen Rider Orange Jimber Peach Arms, which allows him to use super-hearing. There are many different combinations for those Riders lucky enough to get the Genesis Driver. The ultimate form, at least so far, is Gaim’s Kachidoki Arms, pictured above. It’s a good thing too because not only do they have to worry about the Inves, but Yggdrasill as well. See, Yggdrasill has known about the imminent invasion from Helheim for a while and they realize that the only hope that mankind has is to radically reduce the human population to stop the number of people who might potentially turn into new Inves. Now the Riders have to try even harder to stop the Helheim invasion, working against their Overlords before Yggdrasill implements their plans and starts wiping out most of humanity.
This show just keeps getting better and better. I liked it from the beginning but it’s gotten away from the teen dance crew motif, although there is still plenty of dancing going on, and into a more mature plot about the lengths some will go to in order to save the human race. I knew it was going to get beyond it’s very silly beginnings and it hasn’t disappointed me at all. I foresee the series getting progressively darker as the Kamen Riders fight against horrible odds, not only against the Inves and their Overlords, but against Yggdrasill. I have the feeling that Micci, Kamen Rider and brother of Yggdrasill head Takatora, might be the one pulled most strongly in multiple directions because of his split loyalties but I don’t know how it’ll all come out in the end.
I highly recommend this series to anyone who has any interest in the tokusatsu genre, this is a fun one, it has the elements not only to appeal to the kids, but to adults too, which is a balance that is often hard to achieve. The characters are very strong, both the acting and the action are excellent and I’m actually interested in where the storyline is headed, something I can’t say about most of the recent Kamen Rider series. There was a rumor that Gaim was going to have a short season this year, speculations that the World Cup might cause the series to end early were apparently not true because, as we’ve discovered, none of the World Cup games have been scheduled during the time that Kamen Rider Gaim airs. I think it was all a misunderstanding, caused by several of the actors saying that the show had “entered the latter half” around episode 18-20. Of course, they have filmed dramatically more of the series than has been shown, they were likely talking about where they were on filming, not on airing.
So go get it. Download it. Enjoy it. It’s a lot of fun, you won’t regret it.