Tuesday 6 October 2015

First Impressions: Kamen Rider Ghost

Kamen Rider Ghost

It's the beginning of October, and that means Halloween is almost upon us. And in what can only be considered as a piece of absolutely perfect timing, the newest Kamen Rider probably wouldn't look out of place at a Halloween party either. Now that Kamen Rider Drive has come and gone, the latest entry and hero of the long-running franchise goes by the name of Kamen Rider Ghost. Once again Toei are getting some fresh faces on the staff for the show, with the head writing duties being handled by Ultraman Max/Ultraseven X sub writer Takuro Fukuda. In the directors chair is Satoshi Morota, who's work on the franchise dates all the way back to Kamen Rider Hibiki in 2005.

When Takeru Tenkuji receives a mysterious artefact known as an Eyecon in the post from his father (who had died ten years previously), he suddenly gains the ability to see ghostly monsters who swiftly strike him down in order to take the Eyecon for themselves. Upon dying, a strange man tells him that Takeru's soul is now stored inside the Eyecon and that he has been burdened with the task of battling against these monsters - the Ganma. After providing him with the Ghost Driver and a snarky little guide named Yurusen, Takeru returns to the living and battles against the Ganma as Kamen Rider Ghost. It isn't long before he also discovers that, as Ghost, he can also call upon the powers of historical icons to change forms and further his own powers in the fight.

But that isn't all there is to Takeru's new lease on life. In order to return to the world of the living, he must also gather the souls of 15 heroes in 99 days. The clock starts ticking as the adventures of Kamen Rider Ghost begin!

With the lead character dying, resurrecting and then being told he only has a limited time before he loses the chance to regain his mortality, Kamen Rider Ghost immediately starts with a lot more urgency than usual. Having Takeru killed by the Ganma (who themselves are ghosts) and brought back as an even more powerful ghost feels like a nice little spin on how the classic Kamen Riders were turned into cyborgs by and then fought against a largely Cyborg evil organisation, even if that isn't the intention of the whole situation. Takeru's shaping up to be an enjoyable lead, if only because the situation he's been placed in looks like it'll call for some good development over the course of the series. Here he's pretty unsure of himself and his abilities, but has a good heart and desire to be like the heroes he's read about. And though the puppet used might not be to everyone's tastes, Yurusen (voiced by the ever wonderful Aoi Yuki) is shaping up to be a fun little sidekick with their snappy comebacks and largely uncaring demeanour.

So far the villains are completely shrouded in mystery, with what are presumably the head honchos only showing up in the final minutes. This isn't a bad thing though, as the episode already had a lot of ground to cover in regards to Takeru and his mission. By simply killing Takeru, the Ganma don't need the any explanations to make a decent impact.

From the initial reveals it was clear that the Ghost suit itself was going to be a particularly interesting element of the series. The hooded-jacket gimmick seems bizarre at first, but suddenly feels very inspired when you see the jackets floating around like your stereotypical sheet ghost. The black and orange combo is a great colour scheme for the base form (especially with those glowing effects), and the Musashi Damashii incorporates the motif with some really nice flare - the katana hilt as a samurai topknot especially. That said there are some more questionable elements to it, such are the moulded abs and the obnoxiously large belt. Speaking of obnoxious and belt, both the Ghost Driver and Gangan Saber seem to have plenty to say. Remember all those Kamen Rider Wizard jingles? If you weren't a fan of those you might find yourself wincing a bit here as well.

At this point going all out on the action is pretty much a given for any Kamen Rider premiere, but what makes Ghost's first episode stand out amongst it's more immediate predecessors was the choice of locations for the fight sequences. Granted Gaim had its fair share of moments in the Hellheim forest, but for the most part a lot of the more recent shows have had pretty strict urban settings. The opening episode of Ghost featured two main sequences - one in a forest, and the other on a beach. While the former was the perfect setting to make Ghost stand out (although a black and orange suit would probably stand out anywhere in all fairness), the latter's wide open space was ideal for having Musashi Ghost slashing through a hoard of Ganma. Combine this with the shrine setting for the civilian sequences and you have an opening episode that really felt like a breath of fresh air. Judging by the next episode preview this may not be a permanent thing, but it's definitely something I hope to see a lot more of.

All in all Kamen Rider Ghost has gotten off to a pretty great start. This episode certainly tried to cram a lot into it, but didn't feel too overloading on the information and has still left plenty of questions to be addressed in the next few episodes of set up. The action is as sharp as ever, and no time has been wasted in showing off both the Rider's gimmick and his alternate forms (I do worry this will seem rushed since yet another is debuting next week, but time will tell). But the visuals are definitely where this premiere really stood out, and if it can keep things up in future week's then one thing is for sure - this year's Kamen Rider is definitely going to be a treat for the eye(cons)!


DarkFaiz said...

Hmmm another wimpy protagonist....
I miss the day where kamen rider alter ego is a manly man like Takeshi Hongo or Kotaro Minami....
The kind that can kick monster ass even when in human form...
The kind that kids will say "I want to become like Kotaro Minami when I grow up!"

Lucas said...

@DarkFaiz I don't remember Shinnosuke being wimpy or Tendou or Haruto or Shouichi or Kenzaki or Hitoshi. Do you see where I'm getting at?