What a better way to celebrate the month of Satan himself than to talk about Gundam. So, like my upload schedule, I did not expect them to release The Witch from Mercury yesterday. And just like my posts, I was a bit disappointed and demand the creator to publicly apologize for the crime of testing my patience.
That’s not to say it wasn’t a good first episode…but it really wasn’t. I’ll first talk about the Prologue and then the actual episode to get a better understanding of my criticisms. Admittedly, this is my first real recent Gundam show. I haven’t watched Iron Blooded Orphans, Age, or any Build Fighters. The most recent show has been 00 and I’m not even done with that. I’ve primarily watched Universal Century, but I’ll only bring up comparisons when necessary but not judge WFM based on the past.
I loved this prologue when it came out. The animation was stellar, the plot felt like a tragedy for the main character despite the show not starting yet, and I loved the plot that it set up. What I found really interesting about the conflict is how none of it really centers around war, at least for now. Sure, the mobile suits are still weapons of war here, but the ending never sets up that a war is coming. Rather, WFM’s conflict is centered around corporate greed and the Gundams being this dangerous device. There’s a heavy emphasis of mobile suit manufacturers and I believe the Gundams were denounced because of how better their performance could have been compared to the rest. In one shot, it showed that, unlike most Gundam shows, that spacenoids are actually doing better financially than the Earth. Considering Ochs Earth is from…Earth, I think Delling’s secret motive was to keep Earth “in line.” I like this new approach to Gundam storytelling. Whether or not war will become apart of the storyline, the fact that we’re getting the before rather than the after is such a fresh change of pace. At least for me. Again, haven’t seen Iron Blooded Orphans yet.
I loved the concept of the Gundam being this dangerous and experimental machine that uses the technology used for mechanical limbs to have the pilot connect with it better. I got this feeling that the show will explore the themes of man somehow combining with machines to expand further into space. It kind of turns over the UC’s themes of nature over humanity, where WFM wants to explore how these giant machines could be used outside of war. I live for that. I wanna see how giant robots can help with our day-to-day activities.
I also love how depressing Ericht’s story is. On her 4th birthday, her entire life is ripped from her. Lost her father, lost her home, and now she’s cursed with being a Gundam main protagonist. My favorite scene is when her mother, Elnora, realizes that Ericht is the registered pilot of the Lfrith. The sadness and fear in her eyes as her naive daughter barely acknowledge the death around her is tragic. There’s a meta aspect to it, like her mother had watched previous Gundam shows before and knows what her daughter is about to go through. It’s perfectly executed. And that last scene of her father singing happy birthday as his last breath. Fucking sad man. Suletta is shaping up to be my favorite main character, including what happens in the first episode.
The prologue is amazing, managing to hit all the dark aspects of Gundam while bringing something fresh to the table. It’s dark but in the right ways.
The First Episode: Is This the Same Show?
I think they handled the first episode poorly, but what we got wasn’t half bad. I liked the twist at the end when it’s revealed that Weiss-I mean Miorine is now Suletta’s fiancé because she beat up her previous one. So now Suletta, the girl with a Gundam, is gonna be married to the daughter of Dellings, the guy who staged that whole raid to get rid of Gundams.
I love the mecha designs, going for a style that’s between the blocky aesthetic of UC while also having feminine designs that give it its own style. Especially the Demi Trainer. They’re my favorite Zaku inspired mech now because of how adorable they. But I love how the Aerial, which is now one of my favorite Gundam designs. The show presents it like a mystical force of nature, slender than the other mechs shown while having its blits fly around as if powered by magic. The fight scene was pretty good, although it was really dumb how Guel, Miorine’s previous fiancé from the 18th century, kept missing shots for no reason. Other than that, the score as Aerial formed its shield was stellar. The presentation alone is enough to enjoy the show, and the milk all the spectacle they can get.
Besides all that, I felt really disappointed with the episode. The whole way through, I thought that I was watching a different show. The events of the prologue were barely ever mentioned. Sulletta’s tragic backstory and the Gundam incident is barely brought up, and even Dellings is just glazed. He’s in this episode for like 2 minutes and he has the importance of a Starscream in the Bayverse movies. I loved him in the prologue as this (possibly) honorable veteran who hated the idea of Gundams hurting their users. You might be thinking, “but Samuel, you ameba, isn’t that the point? Everything you want is in the prologue.” That would be the case, except the first episode is tonally different and everything that happens is not continuing what was establish beforehand. It felt like something was missing in-between both episodes. Why would Suletta be sent to school run by the very people who murdered her father? Why is she going to school to help Mercury? How did they sneak the Gundam in when it literally looks the same from when it was the Lfrith?
What’s worse is that there is a short story does a better job at being a continuation of the prologue and a first episode. Titled, “The Cradle World,” it shows Eritch’s life on Mercury after the incident. From age 4 to age 16, it dives into the loneliness she feels, how she wants to go to a normal school, how the people of Mercury don’t like her, and explains that she’s been piloting the Aerial for months in order to help the Mercurians. The short story actually gives a better reason for why Suletta is going to school that connects better with the Prologue. Her mother is sending her as part of a revenge scheme, hoping Suletta would duel and win Mirone’s right to marriage just like what happened in the first episode.
With the way the first episode making it seem like Suletta’s marriage to Miorine is the focal point of the show, without the context mentioned above, it almost seems like Sulleta’s mother’s plan is supposed to be some kind of reveal that’ll change up the story later. But then why put it in a random short story released at the same time? It’s like the writer thinks hiding really basic, important information for the story as some kind twist reveal is good writing. They might have well not released the prologue at all if they’re gonna treat it like something we should have and shouldn’t have watched at the same time.
Like I said, the first episode isn’t that bad. It’s just the way they handled the overall story is messy. There could have been better ways to connect the prologue to the main story, instead of acting like it doesn’t exist just to “surprise” us with basic plot points that should have been in the first episode instead of a random short story. I’m not gonna drop the show, it’s been like one episode, but I do hope the plot and writing gets better. At least I know about the short story because Suletta’s marriage plotline got a whole lot more interesting. Cause, if that was gonna be the entire show’s premise, I would have been bored out of my mind.
I’ve been very negative with Kamen Rider lately that it’s time to be actually positive for a change. And very quickly because the topic of this post is getting vastly updated every day. I don’t want to get too much into Revice yet, since I’m not sure if I want it to make posts about it later on, but I’ve been enjoying the hell out of it. Amazing plot, complex characters, and familial love that is the heart of the show. I haven’t been this excited about Kamen Rider since Build. And what better way to crank out more excitement than with the newest rider for this year.
Kamen Rider Geats, because Shinobi was too good for us. Now, a lot of information has come out since the initial trademark. Far are we from the discussion that this would be based on Beowulf. But first, let me just say how hard this (original) poster slaps! Everything from Geats with that Faiz-like electricity around, to the neon lit buildings, to the fireworks like a parade going on, just pop out. For a first poster, it’s really gotten me interested.
And then the new one that just dropped, which is the same poster but with more riders edited in. And…we’re gonna get some weird looking rider heads this season. The more I look over this poster, the more this feels more like a typical live action-drama poster than a Kamen Rider one. Previous posters put more focus on the rider suits, so the background has little to no detail besides maybe a solid color. Look at Revice’s initial poster. It’s very abstract. Here, though Geats is front and center, there’s equal attention given to this street and the buildings surrounding the riders. The location is given more attention than usual, which makes me wonder why change the usual poster style.
After this, we got a story synopsis alongside the confirmation of his cameo in the Revice movie…plus some leaks. I could just give the synopsis for the show, but this is my blog! You can read the original synopsis on the Wiki page, so I’ll give my vastly superior version.
A Battle Royale Unlike Any Other Since Ryuki, Gaim, Ex-aid-
In a Japan, where the threat of the Jamato spreads, a game known as the “Desire Grand Prix” takes Korean poor people and masks them into “Kamen Riders” to protect the peace. Those who survive and win the game will have the ability to “create the ideal world they desire.” In other words, a world where the ATM is online 24/7 and young males stop going after lolis. In another other words, only true heroes will win.
One of these participants is Floating World Sound aka me getting canceled, a confident genius in Apex Legends and flossing who boldly states he’ll win at the end. As a participant, he becomes Kamen Rider Geats, the average american who uses a glock to get you to stop. For what ideal world he wants is yet to be seen, but hopefully it’s age appropriate..
The story of Geats is nothing the franchise hasn’t touched before. A rider war has become a staple by this point, and I wouldn’t be surprised if the only thing people know of this franchise is rider vs rider combat. I’m kind of tired of these. I feel like rider vs rider has become too formulaic at this point. The obvious cynical would say it’s to sell toys, and I agree. It comes across as an easy plot, so obvious in nature that no number of small changes fixes the same idea. I’m not saying rider wars are bad, but it’s become boring to me. According to an Oricon article, the concept behind Geats’ rider war was based on the popularity of Fortnite and Apex Legends. Now, I haven’t played the Fortnite cause the cringe prevented me. But, with the benefit of doubt, seeing how they take the mechanics of those games and applying it to Kamen Rider will be interesting to see. The prize also gives us so much potential for juicy character motivation. I can smell it.
Yuya Takashi returns as the head writer, who wrote Kamen Rider Ex-aid and Zero-One. I have my mixed feelings. I loved Ex-aid when it came out, even though most of this is just nostalgia cause I haven’t watched it in years. The goofiness was too much sometimes, but I remember it nailed the darker moments and managed to make how the riders work interesting while conforming to the typical toy formula. But, I did feel like Yuya and the writing team dropped the ball with Zero-One. The worldbuilding was all over the place, the tension was non-existent, and they really screwed the main character over. I’m excluding what happened in the last part since they did have covid to worry about, so a lot of this revolves around the first two arcs and the finale. I’m hoping Yuya and his team, whoever they are, have found their stride with the franchise.
Originally, I was only gonna talk about the one form announced, but so many magazine scans came out while writing this post that I have to constantly change it. We got a look at Geats as a whole and it’s a lot to take in. The most consistent feature is his kitsune mask, which is Geats’ defining feature among all the riders. I had to get used to it the first time I saw it. My main nitpick is that it looks too much like Revi’s mask. The fox ears are way to much like Revi’s exaggerated eyes. Geats didn’t look like our 2022 rider. He looked like a Revice movie rider. Hell, because he’s on one of the Revice movie posters, I thought he was gonna be a secret evil rider. But no. This is our main rider. Over the last few weeks, though, I’ve grown to accept it for what it is. Still not a fan but it’s a small problem.
The rest of Geats is absolutely weird. So, his base suit, called the Entry Form, is nothing. It’s a fully black jumpsuit with the only notable thing, besides the mask, is this silver cross section thing that splits his torso and legs where the belt, called the Desire Driver, is. This is where the gimmick comes in, called Raise Buckles. He’s like Double and Build where gimmick items are reflected in only one half of the body. However, Geats’ whole stick is that it’s the torso and legs that are split and not one half of the body vertically. He’s basically OOOs in that regard. For example, in the picture above, the silver body is “magnum” while the legs are “boost.” Unlike Build or Double, he doesn’t need both of them to transform. In leaked footage of his appearance in the movie, Geats only transformed into his Magnum form before adding Boost later. In new shots from a toy magazine, Geats is shown with a new form called “water,” that is shown only on his torso, and he’ll also get forms called “arrow” and “hammer”.
Before I talk about how the driver works, it looks too much like the Zero One Driver. I mean look at the two pictures, you can’t unsee it. But I’m not mad. At least they stole from a good driver. You know, from themselves. Sleek and badass looking, almost like the Tesla of drivers. The Desire Driver looks premium, really fitting with the futuristic look of the poster. Now, the information we got was how the hell the Desire Driver works. I read an earlier rumor that stated the driver will change plates similar to the Sengoku Driver. Well, that seems to be true. The rider symbol in the middle is a small chip that you can take out. We actually got a look at a new rider in the future, who looks to have a purple bull theme. The driver’s circle not being as complete as the Zero-One driver is because some raise buckles fill up the detail and are detachable. Strangely, only some buckles do this. Others like the hammer and water buckles are smaller. Finally, it was revealed that the entire front of the belt can rotate like the Ziku Driver. Which means, for the first time, one of the gimmick items that is one part of a whole isn’t limited to one side. Boost may have been shown for the legs, but newer pictures show it as torso armor. Jesus, this is one of most advanced Drivers in the franchise. I can’t wait for the budget to dip by episode 23.
Finally, the henshin sounds revealed by…leaks. I was never gonna escape them. What I heard was something I’ve been wanting for so long. Simplicity. No long as standbys, no long ass jingles that border on songs, and no exaggerated voices (although I do get it’s for the target audience: kids). After Saber, the fun of long henshin jingles died for me. I wanted something like the early heisei series. Henshins that got right to the point, sounds that actually make sense in universe, but were still had that Toku flair to not be border line “realistic.” God that phrase has lost meaning. Just enough of a grounded feel. And Geats delivers. The voices they got are robotic and threatening. The delivery of noises and phrases get to the point. All the henshin says is, “Magnum. Ready? Fight!” That’s it, and I love it. The driver sounds like fighting game announcers, which I guess makes sense for the theme of the show. Gives an in-universe reason for existing. Fans do love the longer, more exaggerated henshins the series is known for. But for me, Toei ran it to the ground. Seriously, Xross Saber is a fucking song. Geats’ driver noises fit the darker tone we’re getting with this series, and I appreciate that.
Jeez that’s a lot to take in. And I’m alright with a majority of it.
I love Magnum Boost, and I’m guessing every combo form, because it looks the most complete. I also love the bulky proportions. I like my riders thicc. Despite appearing to be another animal based rider, he’s more mechanical in design like Faiz or Drive. Diminishes the fox motif but I’m fine with that. We’ve had so many animals riders in the past 3 seasons that I’m fine with an abstract based rider. The colors are also striking. The white, or silver, mixed with the red gives off a vehicle look. Which makes sense since this form is based on a gun and a motorcycle. Dude got so mad at the restricted japanese laws on custom bikes that he decided to wear the thing. Also insert joke about using his second amendment right. Insert into monster’s cranium. This a really good looking base form. Very simple but executed in the right way. This guy leaves an impression.
Unfortunately, every other form sucks. We’ve had a lot of “blank” forms in the franchise. Their barely seen, only shown once on their own before being reduced to the midway to the real form. But Entry Form Geats is the worst one. Other blank forms like Gaim’s and Den-O’s are still bare bones, but they’re still recognizable and have their own identity. Entry form doesn’t have that. It looks like a Rider grunt, which are usually made to be as basic and forgettable as possible. These guys aren’t meant to last…unless you’re the Revice Demons Corps. Why are they a thing again? I understand why the Entry form was designed like this, as it’s easy for the suit designers to switch around the auxiliary form parts. But the Entry Form feels too basic that it makes forms like Leg Boost (the one where only the legs have armor) come across as cheap and lazy.
Because of the entry form’s lazy look, it makes the half forms also appear unfinished. Especially the recently revealed Water Form and Hammer Form. This seriously cannot be the finished product. Now, because it may come up in later retrospectives…possibly, I have no issue with auxiliary forms that are just add-ons. They aren’t fully different forms, so they have more uses without having to destroy the show’s budget. Fourze did this well, showing off all the ways the Astroswitches can be used and combined throughout the entire season rather than shoving them in the first 10 episodes and never bringing them back. Geats ain’t this. The astroswitches add on to an already finished design, while the raise buckles forms come across as trying to compensate for a half-finished figure.
Hell, the water form spraygun is just a retool from Kamen Rider Build’s firetruck form just painted from white to sky blue. WHAT!? Which leaves a lot of questions as to why they need to do a retool so early. I mean if they feel like that was the best aerial ladder prop they’ve made then I guess retooling it is fine. Not saying they shouldn’t use their previous assets since these shows don’t have the biggest of budgets. It doesn’t even look that bad by all means. But it does leave a bad impression when seasonal fans know retools and repaints are usually reserved for later in the season and in the movies.
Whatever the case, while I love Magnum Boost and the bulkier design aesthetic we’re presented, the entry forms and half forms leave a lot to be desired and almost border on cheap. Hopefully, watching the show may change my view. If this is Geats’ entry form, I can’t imagine-oh, I think every rider is gonna share it. Oh dear lord…
Geats is an exciting next step for Kamen Rider, even with my gripes. The early heisei call backs, the survival game’s potential for more darker moments, and the driver’s more serious tone makes me look forward to what’s to come. Hopefully, Bandai doesn’t lose their damn mind and make half of the belts premium bandai. Can we all agree that Bandai doing that to Revice’s drivers is one of the weirdest moves they’ve done. I mean, could you imagine being a kid and loving riders like Aguilera and Demons, only for their belts to be limited run on a website. Parents must have been annoyed at their kids raging on about the newest belt being a limited item around 47 bucks that has to be pre-ordered or else they wouldn’t get it. Bandai have a real sick sense of humor. Like sure you get a shit ton of money, but you don’t have to waggle that in our faces while you make us pay for barely repainted mobile suits or Kamen Rider items that should have been retail. That’s not even counting the shipping. I mean what kind of jackass does that-
I… got off topic. I’ll go now and watch more reveals age this post. Good bye and have a good day.
If you read through my post about Kamen Rider Saber, you’ll know how much I hated yet appreciated the first part. Although I was angrier than usual in that post, I kept going because I wonder if the rest of the show will improve. Also, I already promised it and I’m going to finish it unlike my Mother 3 post. But we’re not here to continue the adventure. We’re here to talk about the sidequest that’s almost important to the adventure.
This show came out during the height of the pandemic, when the actor who played the Red Ranger in Kirameiger (the Sentai of 2020) contracted it. That moment was not only frightening because of how young he was, but also halted much of what Toei was doing. The sets were shut down for a while, meaning Kirameiger and Kamen Rider Zero-One was postponed until further notice. Kamen Rider suffered the most, as Zero-One lost 4 episodes from its 49 episode run and the summer movie was pushed back to December. This would not only be one of the few shows of this current generation to not have a summer movie, but also the first time there wouldn’t be a crossover movie known as a VS movie. Or the Generation series; it’s kind of complicated.
All this meant that Saber, in the long run, would not get a standalone, non-V-cinema film in the summer since Super Hero Senki, the crossover, was pushed to the summer. Although part of me was happy, it also felt strange and sad. But, Toei came in and rectified it by making a short film rather a feature length one. One billed next to Zero-One…which also meant no Super Sentai film. Jeez, this was a strange time. This film, the first ever gekijo-taban in the franchise, would be called Kamen Rider Saber: The Phoenix Swordsman and the Book of Ruin. A poster was released to showcase Saber, a book, and a floating ghost to act as our antagonist.
Coming back to be our villain, Kamen Rider Falchion, was veteran Tokusatsu actor Masashi Taniguchi, the blue ranger from GoGoV (Power Rangers Lightspeed Rescue in America) and Amazonz Alpha in Kamen Rider Amazonz. A movie form would also come as well. Although not the same as a feature length film, this movie became a replacement as if the pandemic never happened.
I haven’t watched it for the obvious reason. Why watch a movie from a show you despise? But, this film would continue providing many firsts since Falchion, because of a later plot point about the Seiken, has a Seiken, meaning he would become important to the show. So, I thought it’d be good to watch it for the overall review in order to have the context for later. And…this movie sucked. Not bad, yet far from good.
Side Chapter: The Immortal Swordsman Sends All to the Void
We start with a loser kid watching a game of soccer like how I stalk my neighbor. Intense, with hands covered in Dorito chips. Just then, a mysterious stranger sits down next to him. Nothing bad happens. The guy just tells him to put the chip bag down and get a life.
Back in Wonder World, a man named Bahatobama steps off a cliff. Like a teenager who just discovered nihilism, he opens up a butthole into the sky and starts sucking out the life out of everything. Tassel opens up his window and smells the cringe like, “ooooh, that funky.” The shithole was created by the Book of Ruin, which came frooooo-well, it’ll destroy both worlds.
The hole opens up in the sky, sucking up Japan like a political talk in a party. Everyone runs away while Tou Mama Caught Me Yankin and his band of bitches walk through the crowd, swords in hand. They appear before the portal, promising to keep to their abstinence and also to survive. They scream at Bahato that his twitter comments are cringe and unproductive. Bahato laughs at their ideals, before revealing his Wonder Ride Book: Eternal Phoenix. With the power of a poor understanding of nihilism he watched from anime, he unsheathes his sword, Kyomu, and becomes Falchion: The Void/Immortal Swordsman.
Touma and the gang transform and enter Wonder World with the power of abstinence and friendship. While the non-protagonists fight a horde of Shimi and Megid, Bahato takes Touma head on. Touma spouts about how fighting is wrong, while Bahato spouts how humanity is always set on obtaining power and will betray each other for it. Touma becomes Crimson Dragon and slashes Bahato so hard the explosive cells in his body activate.
However, as Touma lowers his guard, a single orange feather falls. Gas Money base boosts as Bahato returns. Touma’s gets stunned by the sick beat (seriously, listen to Gas Money by Xavy Rusan) that Bahato gets the hit on him. Touma falls down the cliff.
Meanwhile, back on the homeworld of Albert Einstein and Hentai, citizens watch in awe as the world is close to being destroyed. However, Meiby it’s Meibaline tells them that the Kamen Riders will win. From their combined will of literally 3 bystanders, Jake the American Dragon leaves Touma and flies up to the butthole to bring out Toothless and that dragon from Shang-Chi. They all combine with the others to become a new book for him: Emotional Dragon. With this new power of wholesome youtubers, he becomes Emotional Dragon and faces Falchion one last time.
Swords clash and bodies fall as the others destroy their targets. Falchion and Saber fight until Saber gets the upper hand. With Falchion shown videos like Girlfriend Reviews before Rekka slaps him in the face, he becomes immobilized. Tootless and the Shang-Chi dragon deform Touma as they drag Falchion into the butthole. Falchion vows to return.
With life returned to both worlds, everyone has a happy ending. The boy takes all that trauma and plays soccer with the kids who managed to survive. Our heroes watch when Mei suddenly whips out four black cocks. Rintaro gets excited and tries to take them to eat the cre-okay, I’m done. Hahaha…I’m sorry.
The Entire Plot
Since this is a 23-minute movie, I’m basically combining a bunch of sections. Anyway, what plot? This movie is basically a distilled version of every standalone Kamen Rider film. A dark rider appears to face our main team, they threaten the world, the good guy gets a movie form, they beat up the dude, and the day is saved. It’s very by the numbers with nothing making it stand out amongst the many others out there.
Bahato’s character gets expanded in the show, but here he just comes out of nowhere. None of the riders question why there’s a random dude with a freaking Seiken, even though up to this point everyone with one has been a member of the Sword of Logos. Sure, the fate of the world is at stake, but at least indicate something to the audience. The Book of Ruin comes out of nowhere, with no time to explain what the heck it is. Touma’s Brave Dragon flies into the butthole and pulls out 2 random dragons. Granted, most movie forms come out of nowhere anyway, but this one aggrieves me more than usual. There’s no time to explain anything in this movie, so it just jumps right into a fight for the rest of the screen time.
The rest of the movie puts focus on these 3 civilians because the theme of the film is that “we live our lives normally while there are those fighting in the background to keep our lives in peace.” There’s a kid, a high school student, and a dad. However, it is so forced and blatant that it hurts. Understandably, the kid would stay with Mei since she’s an adult, but then she just makes him watch the Rider fight while parts of the city are getting sucked up. It might be a cultural thing, but wouldn’t this kid want to go to his parents or something? I love how they show his face, inspired, as Mei tells him about the theme of the story. It’s exactly like when Sophia ranted about how powerful books are to Touma. It’s so obvious.
When Mei helps the kid and tells him that her friends will help, the student just stops running away from the apocalyptic event to listen. Also, conveniently on center stage for the camera. Then, as Mei’s explaining the theme, the same student and the dad are just conveniently there, and the movie puts more focus on them than any other civilian. One, why are none of them running away and hiding in a bunker? Second, although there’s an apocalypse threatening the world, there’s nothing here to get invested in these random people. The kid? Yeah cause we had a scene establishing him. But the rest are these cardboard cut outs meant to be the beacon for the theme. I didn’t care when they go back to their normal lives at the end of the movie. Who were these people?
The movie relies on two sets of cliches, both embedded in the franchise and within superhero movies in general. All the dialogue is non-stop exposition about good and bad, faith in humanity, and the friendship. Nothing about it is organic. Everyone talks like they’re in a TED Talk. When the beliefs of the 3 random civilians go into Touma as he gets Emotional Dragon, ironically, I felt no emotions from it. Nothing has weight in this film. This movie tried to be ambitious like the show but, also like the show, it falls hard on its face
Alright, here’s the cosmetic stuff. Falchion is one of the best-looking riders in this show. Seriously, he got the good end of the stick. The orange and black contrast well, becoming uniform with his sword and belt. Something I forgot to talk about in the first review was how every rider’s mask are based on a sword swing. Saber’s is a cross slash, Blades’ is a vertical slash, Espada’s is a horizontal slash, Buster’s is a downward crash splitting a mountain, Kenzan’s is a cross but in the shape of a shuriken, and Slash is a thrust that resembles both the impact of the sword and the cartoonish bang used in cartoons to signal gunfire. Calibur does a downward slash as well, but his mask is more like a standard knight. Falchion follows this trend by having his eyes resembling explosions, which are things that reduce things to nothing. It’s one of the few consistent things with this series.
There’s also his main suit, which is just gorgeous. I love how inverted his armor is, with the phoenix head on his right shoulder, while the tails act as a skirt for the left side unlike the other Seiken Swordriver users work. It’s like a phoenix resting on him. I also love how the tails go around his base suit like chains or cracks. It’s visually pleasing, as if his own existence is breaking apart. As if he was corrupted to his core.
On a side note, Falchion is an example of a rider suit reusing parts from previous suits, albeit very subtle. This is standard within the franchise, since it seems they don’t have the budget to always have new parts all the time. Not sure about that, since it’s not readily available information. For Falchion, his left side shoulder pad is taken from Kamen Rider Build’s TakaGatling form. Yes, there is a form where it’s a Hawk with a Gatling gun. Don’t question it, it gets explained in the show. The entire base suit was taken from Ghost’s, which painted over the translucent parts. It’s not very noticeable, and I only learned that from the wiki page pointing it out. A more obvious one is Emotional Dragon, which reuses the Hedgehog mask from Espada to be the white dragon head. The Brave Dragon shoulder pad from said form is mirrored to become the black dragon on the left side. The cape is taken from Kamen Rider Tsukuyomi from Kamen Rider Zi-O, while the shield was taken from the Shield Module from Kamen Rider Fourze.
While it may seem lazy, the best part of reusing parts is seeing how creative the team can be went retooling it for another rider…sparingly. It’s okay for them to reuse stuff for movies and specials. For the main show, it can be pretty abhorrent. Trust me…we’re gonna get to that soon.
I’ve always enjoyed the CGI backgrounds of Saber. Sure, it’s Tokusatsu CGI, meaning it looks like garbage, but it at least varies the locals that’s typical of these shows. Even if the concept was too ambitious for Kamen Rider, the CGI allows Wonder World to be fully realized as if it actually exists. This movie takes place primarily in Wonder World, where Touma fights Bahato onto of a tall mountain from day to night. While it does transition back to the same cliff area in every Tokusatsu show ever, it blends with the CGI. Nothing feels jarring, and, if you accept the CGI, the finale is an amazing spectacle. Seeing Saber fight Falchion under the night sky as a large portal is sucking up everything made the movie bearable. I wish the rest of the show was more like this, sparingly, since CGI be expensive, because this is really one of the last times Wonder World is explored.
The credits are pretty charming. Not because it’s the end, but because it’s cute. It has scenes of each character doing something as a picture book, with each scene being transitioned by the book turning the page. Ryo cutting down boulder after boulder, Kento flying in the sky, Daishinji testing out the gun mode of his sword, and other brief moments that give character. It’s visually appealing, fitting the book theme, and it’s one of the very few times I enjoy these characters. If the whole show was like this, I’d enjoy the hell out of it more.
This movie is a hard pass for anyone who’s a veteran Toku fan or even a newcomer. There is no substance whatsoever, the plot is nonexistent, and it relies on cliches so much despite not doing anything different with them. I would even say I made a mistake. Though this story introduces Falchion, his introduction here is about as random as someone watching the show without watching the movie seeing Falchion come out of nowhere. I don’t think you need to watch this film to enjoy the show. It’s best left untouched.
At first, I thought of making an argument that this movie would be a good start for newcomers to Tokusatsu. I wouldn’t say it would make for a good Kamen Rider introduction, as the franchise is more story based than Power Rangers or Super Sentai. But, as an introduction to Toku, I think it may work. It has a villain who wants to end the world, as many Toku villains are. It showcases the toys that do plague modern Toku but isn’t so much that it’s overwhelming. It has all the themes of these shows, albeit cliché. And the main rider gets an upgrade form, which is something to be expected. Plus, it’s a short film, so they have all the time to watch and finish it. But what do you think? If you’re an expert of Toku, or have watched this movie, would you show this to someone looking to get into the genre as an introduction? Let me know in the comments.
Anyway, next time, we return to Touma’s adventure as he tries to discover who the traitor is; the person who’s caused all the events in this series. However, he’ll learn that such a quest won’t bide well with his companions, so he’ll need an ancient one to survive.
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Kamen Rider Saber came out during the 2020-2021 period, during the 50th anniversary of the series just 3 years after the 20th anniversary of the Heisei Era. However, while Super Hero Senki is tied to Saber as a commeroation of the franchise, Revice would be the official anniversary series. So, technically Saber is an anniversary series but only in year.
Since this is the first Kamen Rider series I’m covering, I’ll quickly go over the basics. I would advise to go to my blog post covering Kamen Rider in general. Like every season, Saber has a weird ass gimmick that leads to a lot of genius, physical puns. This time, it’s a combination of books and knights. Many seasons before, especially in the last 6 years, lean heavily into science fiction as a homage to the Showa era. Saber, on the other hand, stands out as a high fantasy show with its own lore and alternate dimension, making it more of a homage to a lot of earlier Heisei like Kuuga and Blade.
When the first scans of the show were released, I had a mixed response. I loved that we were returning to the mystical side of rider, since it was what got me into Kuuga back in the day. While I still love the science fiction aspect, it was getting pretty stale by Zero One. The books looked interesting, considering how small the toys were, and the sword and knight aesthetic had the potential for more sword-based combat that would make Saber stand out. However, Saber’s Base suit was, and still is, not impressive. Not only did it lean more towards the design aesthetic of Build, but the idea that all of the dragon armor was on one side made it look incomplete. It also made the belt an eye sore. Drivers with multiple items in it to initiate a combo have all its slots filled most of the time, but the Seiken Swordriver allowed only one book to initiate the transformation. With just one, it just didn’t look right.
But I kept an open mind when the first trailer hit, which revealed that the show would be utilizing full CGI scenes. A new world, called Wonder World, with a rider possibly from it fighting monsters made of books while an indigo knight waited in the shadow. This show had promise. They may not have gotten through it all, but the world building they can do with the knights and this alternate dimension couldhave been it one of the most unique rider seasons in a while. After a year and 36 episodes…
I wanted to buy the hardest liquor.
To spoil a little of the overview post, Kamen Rider Saber became one of the worst seasons in the franchise (consider I haven’t watched every season yet), and a fundamental lesson in how to not write a story or create a tokusatsu show, in my opinion. Poorly executed characters, repulsive inconsistencies all around, and a mess of a plot from start to finish. Revice’s bare minimum, just the bare minimum, was enough to reinvigorate me back into the franchise. In my initial week-to-week viewing, I quit entirely because it was hard to get through.
So, why the hell am I even reviewing it if I hated it so much? Well, because it’s still minty fresh in the mind factory. Before I came into this review, I wanted to trash the absolute hell out of this stink pile. It wasn’t until I sat down to plan this post that, instead, I wanted to not only finish it, but re-watch it in its entirety. I had the thought that maybe, in my numbness, I missed something that might have actually been good. I wanted to review the whole show bit by bit to understand why I didn’t like or what I might appreciate more. Something to make it more analytical and fairer rather than 10 pages of pure anger. Was I wrong, or was I right?
I’ll be splitting this review into different parts based on the 4 arcs of the show, including the short film with Falchion, before the overall finale. For those who have watched it, I will not include the swordsman chronicles series in the overall show synopsis, or the Sword of Logos saga for now, but I will use info within for clarification and character insight when needed. You do not have to watch the swordsman chronicles (due to it containing 2 new scenes and a bunch of repeat scenes) and you cannot watch the Sword of Logos saga until you’ve finished the second arc (due to spoiling said arc).
The next page will be a full story review for those who need a refresher before I give my thoughts or if you don’t want to watch the show. I will then split the rest, from characters to worldbuilding, into their own pages from pros to cons. Saber does have a lot, even in just one chapter, so I want it to be digested as easily as possible.
Kamen Rider is a Power Rangers rip off that- nah I’m kidding. Kamen Rider is a tokusatsu show, a Japanese type of live action cinema or television that heavily uses special effects and originated from Japanese theater shows. Kamen Rider is the best know example of the superhero “henshin” genre, alongside others such as Ultraman and its sister series Super Sentai, in which a young man, usually early 20s, is given powers to transform into a bug-eyed hero to fight evil on a motorcycle. The franchise is currently celebrating its 50th anniversary, so I think it’s necessary for me to reveal my absolute love for this series.
History: Presented By Zaia
The franchise was created by Shotoro Ishinormori(original last name Onedara), an influential manga artist who defined tokusatsu with such series’ as Cyborg 009 and Super Sentai. The first ever Kamen Rider series, just called Kamen Rider, aired in 1971. It told the story of college student Takeshi Hongo, IQ genius and Sega lover, who had been kidnapped by Shocker, an evil terrorist organization who wanted to rule the world with modified humans, in order to create the ultimate warrior. However, irony kicked in when Hongo escaped the facility, taking with him the power to transform into the Kamen Rider.
With a bike, martial arts, and the eventual help from Hayato Ichimonji, the second and first Secondary Kamen Rider, Takeshi managed to beat each of Shocker’s warriors on a weekly basis until the Double Riders destroyed the organization. And thus started this sequence of events as future rider would beat their own monsters on a weekly basis and deal with the troubles of life, friendship, and the occasional talking belt.
The show became a hit and would later spawn 9 more seasons and 4 movies in the Showa Era, or I guess Heisei as well with the movies. Unfortunately, Ishinomori passed away on January 29, 1998, two years before he could see the revival of the series, Kuuga, make the franchise popular again in 2000.
After Kuuga became a hit with the moms, the franchise would continue to today under the…moderately okay hands of Toei studios. With a total of 32 seasons, and crap ton of movies and special, and a passion filled fanbase, it’s become a prominent figure in Japanese Pop culture.
Cast Off! What is a Kamen Rider?
A Kamen Rider is a spandex wearing superhero who rides a motorcycle. Their first designs were based on grasshoppers which gave them their unique insect look, most notably their compound eyes that became a staple design in future riders. They also had a red scarf, though this would only appear later in a few incarnations. To transform, you needed two things. First, a transformation device. The staple device is a belt, which would later be known as Drivers with Decade, though many Riders have a spin on this. Ichigo, the name of the first rider since it got too confusing, used the Typhoon, which used the wind with a spinning device in the center of the belt would be referenced in many future belts. The second is the term Henshin, yes this is where it comes from, which is a term every single rider uses to activate the transformation. Do a cool pose and watch as your armor comes on with magic or technology, not no Morphing Grid.
Build Change! The Rider Machines
Motorcycles is a Rider’s steed, otherwise they wouldn’t be considered a Rider. Unless your Drive, who drives a car. Known as Rider Machines, from the Cyclone to Diago Speedy, these machines would serve a Rider to help with running down bad guys. Or you could be Kuuga and use the damn bike as a replacement for your fists. However, in recent years, they haven’t seen much screen time due to Japanese laws against modified bikes. Watch from Kuuga to Zi-O and notice the lacking appearance of these machines. It’s sad, but it can’t be helped. At least the movies show them.
Final Form Ride: M-M-Motifs!
Motifs are a common trend with Kamen Rider. It started out simple with animals, usually bugs or even a dragon. Then things got weird and complicated with Heisei. 555, or Faiz, had a motif of phones and technology, Blade had a theme of playing card, and then you get to Gaim who is based on fruits. Their weapons and henshin device would tie well with their motif, especially with the collectible gimmick. Starting with Ryuki, belts required an external source to be placed into the belt to transform. For real, it’s to sell toys. It’s a Japanese kid show, it needed high quality screaming toys. Each gimmick corresponded with the motif, so you’d get stuff like game cartridges, soda bottles, cards, and even eyeballs once. The show would make them important, so it didn’t feel as cash grabby, much to the dismay of fans of the older seasons and people’s wallet.
Kick Strike, Saiko!
A Kamen Rider’s greatest weapon is their own body, or sometimes a weapon. The Rider Kick is the signature finisher every Kamen Rider has, where they jump into the sky and perform a flying side kick. Though, you could be a badass like Kabuto and perform a roundhouse kick. Other finishers come from punches or their weapons. This started with Riderman and became a trend in Heisei for that sweet toy money. Most weapons are swords but there have been guns, staffs, axes, and even a DJ table gun-sword thing.
Hissastu Dokuha: Cross of Fire
One of the bigger themes with Kamen Rider is the fact that, despite being made or directly tied to the evil antagonists, you can use your powers for justice and peace. This is known as the Cross of Fire, termed in Wizard. The very fact is many of the protagonists could have turned out evil, but it’s their own choice to use their given powers to do good.
This concept would be challenged in many seasons, from other Kamen Riders using their powers for selfish or evil reasons, with a common trend now having the final villain be a Kamen Rider, or even the protagonist willingly become evil. Many shows have other themes, but the Cross of Fire is the theme of Kamen Rider no matter what.
I am the child of the Americas, Kamen Rider Adaptations!
Kamen Rider Japan’s baby, but it has seen some adaptations here in there in America. The most infamous being Masked Rider, an adaptation of Black RX Saban made during their experimental time in the 90s after the success of Power Rangers. However, it didn’t do well and that ended any chance of Saban doing any more Kamen Rider adaptations. Whether that was a good thing or not is left unknown. Steve and Micheal Wang would go on to adapt Ryuki into Kamen Rider: Dragon Knight in 2008, which I did watch personally. It was good but didn’t do enough to get Kamen Rider western fame.
However, things would change in 2020, when Shout Factory Tv would create Tokushoutsu for their own streaming service and PlutoTv. Not only did Super Sentai and Ultraman come to the west, the original Kamen Rider would be aired for the first time ever. Later on, Kuuga would be added to the roster and then the Build/Zi-O crossover movie “Heisei Generations:Forever” with subtitles. As confirmed by Toei, in celebration of the 50t anniversary of the series, both era starters and Zero One, the first of the Reiwa era, will be coming to Toei’s official Tokusatsu World youtube page for the franchise’s 50th anniversary.
3, 2, 1! How to Watch.
For the time being, not everything Kamen Rider related is available. Most of the seasons can be watched on places like Kissasian and other “legit” streaming service. There aren’t very reliable, or safe honestly. I’m not advocating for it, do what you watch, but until these seasons become readily available in more legal ways this is the way.
Open Up! My Personal History
I’ve been a fan of the series for a long while. I believe I started watching in 2015, during Power Rangers: Dino Charge’s run, when I first watched Gaim and Fourze, which I didn’t really finish until 2020. A friend of mine got me into it, and ever since then I’ve been trying to watch as many as I can. I’ve seen Gaim, Drive, Ghost(which I didn’t finish), Ex-aid, Build, Blade, Zi-O, Fourze, Kuuga, Zero-One, and currently Saber.
I love this series to death, even when it does disappoint at times. Many are a hit or miss, but the storytelling can be incredibly engaging and unique. For a kids series, the series is not afraid to be more mature and dark, more than any of adult shows in America. No sex, sometimes cursing, and pretty violent. The themes are thought provoking, leaving me wondering throughout and remembering afterwards. From the ethics of war, the effect of friendship, whether or not a person’s ideal is right or wrong, and even if a child should be born in a world full of violence. When it hits, it really hits. But each show has its way of shining a bright light, having fun with each episode. Sure, its cheesy, really cheesy, but it’s some of the most entertaining content I’ve seen in a long time. It proves Japan has some of the greatest storytellers. If only Toei would get that through their heads sometimes.
The thought of whether or not Kamen Rider being popular in America is a good or bad thing is left for another day, but I can say I hope the franchise continues for a very long time. It has its faults, I can’t deny some seasons infuriate the hell out of me, but the good overcome the bad. This is a series that worth checking out on your own time, of course with a virus protector. Look past the cheesiness, and you get a show that’s worth it.
Apology for the late post. I got held up with the internship and coming back to my college. It hurt not being able to post this but I do hope you enjoy me rambling about a popular and niche topic. In terms of the future, the schedule has gotten out of whack and I’m not sure if posts will come to the planned date. Earthbound Beginnings may come early February.
Either way, I’ll make sure to update more about the blog, the website, and my book so stay tuned. Alright, have a good night and remember to pray for love and peace.
A fine Christmas Day we have. I’m writing this Christmas Eve while watching “It’s a Wonderful Life”, but it’ll go up Christmas Day. Might be a stretch, but what 19 year old do you know that actually watches that movie? Who am I kidding, I shouldn’t lump my generation into one group.
Anyway, this time I’ll be writing a quick rant about The Christmas Elves, a 1995 Christmas movie made by Golden Films based on the tale of the Shoemaker and the Elves. I watched it a few weeks ago on Tubi, the streaming land of both popular movies and sad obscure ones that either never got to see the light or were too bad to grasp it.
The Story: In the a distant kingdom, the King does everything he can to get the finest shoes. Unfortunately, that means raising taxes, getting into debt, and then later selling a bunch of land. Meanwhile, a man named Hans takes in a thieving boy as his apprentice and later finds out shoes are being made in his sleep. Despite never making shoes before, people believe the beautiful shoes are his, and so they pay him for them. Hans becomes a famous shoemaker around his parts, even better than the King’s shoemaker.
However, his wife becomes suspicious that he’s just able to make shoes in his sleep and convinces him to stay up on look out. As it turns out, a couple of elves, training to be apart of Santa’s crew, have been making the shoes. He confronts them, however, just as they leave, they accidently transport him back to their base.
He finds a elf training base not in the North Pole, as only elves that work with Santa get to live in the North Pole. The elves that make his shoes are a bit of misfits with no real chance of being with Santa. The head elf puts Hans to sleep just as Santa arrives, fearful of him seeing a human finding out about the base, and later sends him back home.
Hans wakes up and remembers the whole thing, due to one of the elf’s cloth being in his pocket, and makes new cloths for the elves. The elves come back, but they are unsure if they should help him now that Hans knows. However, they want to give their gratitude and end up giving Hans magic to continue making shoes. And so they leave.
Some time later, the dumb King, after promising a ham to a maid and to be a royal, sends for guards to Hans in order for him to make the finest shoes by Christmas…unless he wants to be imprisoned. Unfortunately, Hans wanted to make shoes for his apprentice. He stays up all night, until he wakes up realizing he didn’t make the shoes. The guards come and take him from his wife to rot forever.
However, the elves came back and made the shoes, sending it to the king and releasing him. The King puts on the shoes, but they take control of him and make him a nicer person against his will. The elves that help Hans become Santa’s elves, as they realize that them giving Hans the magic he needs despite it being against the rules is the true meaning of Christmas. The movie ends with them being on the back of Santa’s sleigh as they ride out the night.
I was coming into this film thinking it was either gonna be bad or okay enough to like it. Afterwards, I came up with the latter. The film’s charm and wit made for a good Christmas film. I’m not sure if its true, but the animation is exactly like the animation from “Grandma Got Ran Over By A Reindeer.” The voice actors and actresses did a pretty good job, even if the movie didn’t credit them. That’s why the IMBD is pretty barren.
The story is fine, but the wit and performances made for a fun sit-on-the-couch Christmas film to watch with my family. It tells of the heart of doing something for others, from Hans helping his apprentice to the elves helping him with shoes, and the evil of greed. Seriously, the king got his kingdom in debt for shoes. Good lookin shoes but still! It’s like some classmates I used to know would seriously spend so much on dang shoes.
Other than that, there isn’t much else to say about the film. It’s short, about 48 minutes, and I can’t much say about the original tale since I never read it. However, I did enjoy it, and I think it did its job as a solid Christmas movie. If you have a Roku, Tubi, and some time on this Christmas Day, I say take a chance and give the movie a shot. It might become a new holiday tradition for you.
Well, after all that, I leave you with a Merry Christmas. The end of the world might be around us, but I think this Christmas can be a time to remind us of the holly and jolly that we can share together…of course at a distance. It might be wishful thinking, but someone’s gotta dream a little. Anyway, happy holidays and pray for a White Christmas wherever you are.