Thursday 2 March 2017

Special REVIEW: Kamen Rider Brave: Let’s Survive! Revival of the Beast Rider Squad

Kamen Rider Brave: Let’s Survive! Revival of the Beast Rider Squad

The growth in Kamen Rider spin-offs in the past few years has allowed many secondary and tertiary Riders to have their moments in the spotlight, and this trend continued onwards into Kamen Rider Ex-Aid with the announcement of both Kamen Rider Brave and Kamen Rider Snipe specials. The first of these to be released is Kamen Rider Brave: Let’s Survive! Revival of the Beast Rider Squad, a webisode currently exclusive to Toei Tokusatsu Fanclub members but due for release on DVD/Blu-ray later this year (also for Fanclub members). The episode is notable for cameo appearances from past animal-themed Riders, including Beast, Sasword, Dark Kiva, Tiger, and Ouja. Ouja is a particularly special case, as it sees Takashi Hagino reprise his role as Takeshi Asukura for the first time since Kamen Rider Ryuki.

Hiro, Mizuki & SatsukiKing Dark

A being known as King Dark gathers together a team of animal-themed Kamen Riders, resurrecting Takeshi Asakura with the promise of a new fight. Meanwhile Hiro Kagami is set to leave Japan for a New York, leaving his nurses Mizuki and Satsuki to keep things running in his absence. As Emu and Poppi try to learn why they follow Hiro so blindly, the nurses are both attacked by the Beast Riders. Finding himself without his Gashat, Emu also finds himself on the receiving end of a vicious attack.

As Asakura and the Beast Rider Squad continue to chase down Satsuki, it’s up to Hiro to return and defeat them. As Kamen Rider Brave he unlocks new powers from the mysterious Night of Safari Gashat, giving Asakura the fight he was looking for as he returns as Kamen Rider Ouja.

Emu & PoppiTakeshi Asasuki

First of all let’s not kid ourselves into believing Kamen Rider Brave has anything substantial in the way of plot. Even for a 25-minute special it’s incredibly thin on the ground, mostly serving as an excuse to have Brave fight Ouja while making some easy money off a new piece of merchandise. The episode does shed a little bit more light on both Mizuki and Satsuki, but even they’re really only there to act as damsels in distress. Given that Hiro has really developed as a character in the more recent episodes of Ex-Aid it’s a shame that this special doesn’t touch upon his motivations or backstory more. We do get some insight at the very end in the form of a quick flashback, but it’s nothing that couldn’t have easily been inferred before.

Not that any of this really matters in the grand scheme of things, because it’s the return of Kamen Rider Ouja that got everyone talking about this special. Despite 15 years passing since the character last appeared onscreen, about the only thing that’s changed about Asakura is his age. He’s still as wonderfully one-dimensional as ever, with his brutal and thuggish ways completely setting him apart from other Kamen Rider villains. In fact this special is intent on pushing that element of his character further than ever, as Asakura preys on women, beats his victims to a bloody pulp with a metal pipe and eats raw fish (a fun nod to Hagino's previous role in Changerion) to show just how unhinged he is. Between Emu being beaten nearly to death and Satsuki getting attacked in the shower by Kamen Rider Tiger there’s a definite effort to make things feel more “mature” than the show, but it’s done in the most juvenile fashion.

Kamen Rider OujaEmu gets beaten

As for the other returning Riders? Don’t expect to get any sense out of why they’re in the picture or why Beast is hanging around with a group of villain Riders. Ouja is the only one that really matters here, as the rest are mostly relegated to background mooks that occasionally pay the price for getting in Asakura’s way. There’s even less explanation for the villain who brought them all together in the first place – appearing out of nowhere before turning out to be one of the franchise’s biggest surprises in recent years. Many fans will love the fact that a certain ongoing element of the post-Decade series has finally resurfaced after a three year absence, but whether or not this is going to blossom into anything substantial is yet to be seen. Judging by how things have gone in the past, it doesn’t seem all that likely.

Of course the main aim of these specials is also to flog some sort of new toy, and this time it’s the Night of Safari Gashat. This Gashat unlocks Safari Quest Gamer Level 4 – a safari-themed retool of Drago Knight Hunter that swaps the dragon motif out for wild cat. Drago Knight Hunter was a pretty gaudy form to begin with, but Safari Quest takes it to an all-new level. The armour looks like something out of a comedy Hyper Battle DVD, with the colours drastically clashing against the silver and blue of Brave’s base suit. But then, that completely fits in with wacky armour aesthetic Ex-Aid has been pushing from day one so it might not be all that bad.

Night of Safari GashatKamen Rider Brave Safari Quest Gamer Level 4

Kamen Rider Brave: Let’s Survive! Revival of the Beast Rider Squad sure is…something. It certainly isn’t a valuable piece of Kamen Rider Ex-Aid fiction that sheds some light on one of the show’s more multi-faceted characters, but it is half an hour of hilariously over the top edginess and the return of one of Kamen Rider’s most despicable villains. It’s all just silly fun, and whether or not you choose to take the special as nothing more than that will be what determines your overall enjoyment of it.


Unknown said...

I've been trying to watch this subbed,where did you find it?

Alex said...

RTA have a subbed version up on Nyaa, and Excite Subs have an alternate script for it if you'd prefer their subs.

JF said...

I seriously have no idea why Emu gets the shit beaten out of him in these specials. Did the creators just have a severe hate boner for him all of a sudden?