Monday, 1 March 2021

Miniseries REVIEW: Rider Time: Kamen Rider Decade vs Zi-O -Decade’s Mansion Death Game-

Rider Time: Kamen Rider Decade vs Zi-O -Decade’s Mansion Death Game-

Kamen Rider Decade is a series that often seems to be met to mixed opinion, but if there’s one thing most people seem to agree on it’s how great Tsukasa Kadoya is. It’s clear just how much fun Mashiro Inoue playing him, and every time he returns it’s an absolute joy. His extended stint in Kamen Rider Zi-O was a particular highlight, especially as he returned with a brand new (recoloured) Driver and another decade’s worth of Kamen Rider powers. The rapport between the two Heisei era milestone Riders was so good that they’re back again for a pair of three-part Toei Tokusatsu Fan Club specials, kicking off with Rider Time: Kamen Rider Decade vs Zi-O -Decade’s Mansion Death Game-. As well as being the third instalment in the Rider Time series of spin-offs, this special sees the return of Yuusuke Onodera/AU Kamen Rider Kuuga - his first reappearance since Kamen Rider x Kamen Rider & Decade: Movie War 2010.

Yuusuke returns!The Death Game location

Sougo Tokiwa, Yuusuke Onodera and a number of other people awaken to find themselves stranded in a house on an isolated island. They’re soon forced to participate in a seemingly remedial death game, with the loser of each round hunted and killed by Another Ryuki. However it seems that the mirror monster isn’t the only killer on the island, as participants are also being brutally murdered at the same time.

Enter Tsukasa Kadoya. Revealing that the death game somehow relates to the “true” Sougo and Ohma Zi-O, he’s here to help put a stop to it.

Another RyukiTsukasa joins the party

There’s no denying that Kamen Rider Decade wasn’t too great at explaining things, and with the numerous gaps left by the end of the series many hopes that some of these might be filled in subsequent crossover appearances. But to put it as bluntly as possible - you’re not getting any of that here because Decade vs Zi-O is absolute nonsense. It is however the best kind of nonsense. Writer Toshiki Inoue goes off the deep end rather spectacularly in this bizarre spectacle of Rider-infused J-Horror tropes and character acting. This shouldn’t come as too much of a surprise given how many of the recent Toei Tokusatsu Fan Club specials have been weird little skits like this, but this is by far the strangest of them all.

That’s not necessarily a negative though, because boy is this special fun. Even before the sheer silliness of the plot properly settles in there’s a lot to like about it. Yuusuke’s return is enough of a draw as it is, but there are plenty of other Kamen Rider alumni present in this hapless band of death game participants. There are alternate universe versions of Time Jackers Heure, Ora and Schwartz alongside Sougo, and on top of that you’ve also got a few others playing completely unrelated roles. If you’ve ever wanted to see Metal Yoshida (Oren/Kamen Rider Bravo) playing a housewife or Kazuki Namioka (Sid/Kamen Rider Sigurd) as a Yakuza member, then you’ve come to the right place.

The cast of Decade vs Zi-OBravo as you've never seen him before

The special is extremely minimal on Rider action, and instead almost entirely focuses on the various Death Game challenges set by a mysterious man in a clown mask. With many of these specials indulging in “edgier” levels of gore and/or horror you might expect these challenges to get progressively more horrific, but instead they’re completely inane things like finding a chair or playing a game of rock/paper/scissors. Instead the edginess comes from the added murder mystery element, as players are struck down in fountains of obviously fake blood. The story itself tries to play it all with a straight face, but the production itself knows exactly how ridiculous it all is.

The same can be said for the cast. Tsukasa is as cool as ever, sliding into the game with his ever-present air of nonchalantness. Sougo on the other hand initially takes the idea of being crowned a king through winning the game, because who would expect anything less from him? Yuusuke is typically content working as Tsukasa’s sidekick, but does get the chance to break away from that as the story progresses. The supporting cast stick to their designated roles, carefully balancing how straight they play them with the fact they’re all cliche stereotypes in the first place. They’re basically playing exactly the kind of characters you’d expect to be offed one by one in a horror film - silly, but it works.

My man Narutaki is backOhma Zi-O

But just when you think things can’t get any stranger, the final episode happens. Any theories the viewer may have had on just what exactly is going on are completely thrown out the window as Inoue delivers plot twist after plot twist, all of which somehow manage to be even stupider than the last one. These are the kind of ridiculous you have to experience firsthand, so that’s about as the discussion can go here. The only thing it feels somewhat safe to say is that’s equally wonderful to see the ever-enigmatic Narutaki back, whose role in the Kamen Rider multiverse just seems to get even more laughably complicated with each subsequence appearance. Decade is a mess, but god bless it it’s our mess.

The special ends on tragically short fight sequence, as Decade and Zi-O are joined by the other Decade Riders to take on Ohma Zi-O. First and foremost its wonderful to see both Decade Kuuga and Kivala back in action again, since so many recent Decade reappearances have centred around just Tsukasa and Kaito. Seeing Ohma Zi-O as a proper enemy is another highlight, as Zi-O largely viewed him as an inevitability rather than the main antagonist. The brevity of the fight is disappointing given how much focus is directed elsewhere, but technically this isn’t the end of the story either. Decade’s Mansion Death Game is done and dusted, but maybe there’ll be some answers in Rider Time: Kamen Rider Zi-O vs Decade - 7 of Zi-O!-?

Teaming up once againKivala Returns!

Rider Time: Kamen Rider Decade vs Zi-O -Decade’s Mansion Death Game- may be bizarre and inconsequential, but it’s just so damn stupid that it’s almost impossible not to be entertained by it. Decade and Zi-O are so convoluted that they’re exactly the kind of shows that can indulge in such tomfoolery, and Toshiki’s Inoue’s visible descent into madness is the kind of trip that no Kamen Rider fan will be forgetting any time soon. It’s hard to imagine things getting any crazier, but after watching this god knows what goes down in Zi-O vs Decade.

4 comments:

Anonymous said...

Nice review! Also, Alex, what do you think of Toshiki Inoue as a writer?

Unknown said...

...I feel like you just tempted fate.

Alex said...

I like him for the most part. His writing has definitely declined over time, but he’s also responsible for some all-time greats too.

Jinga said...

story overall was confusing, character wise was okay, ending was predictable. rating would be 3 out of 5.