Friday, 23 April 2021

Miniseries REVIEW: Kamen Rider Genms -The Presidents-

Kamen Rider Genms -The Presidents-

It's that true within genre fiction that you can rarely keep a good villain down, and for the Kamen Rider franchise that seems doubly so for Kamen Rider Genm. After being both dying and resurrecting within Kamen Rider Ex-Aid itself before meeting his apparent end in Another Ending - Genm vs Lazer, Kuroto Dan returns once more to terrorise the world of Kamen Rider Zero-One in Kamen Rider Genms -The Presidents-. A two-part miniseries released via the Toei Tokusatsu Fan Club, this special was previously announced all the way back in 2018 as an April Fools' joke, eventually coming to fruition the same way Kamen Rider Brain did back in 2019. It was also written by Yuya Takahashi, who served as the head writer on both Ex-Aid and Zero-One.

Gai's new businessA Bugster awakens

Following the collapse of ZAIA Japan, its former president Gai Amatsu now seeks to establish his own company - employing the help of new Humagear secretary Rin to do so. But it seems Gai hasn't been feeling too well lately, and the cause is a Bugster virus that goes by the name of Kuroto Dan! Resurrected by the Ark in the world of Zero-One, Kuroto is thrilled to see that the world has seemingly caught up to him and makes plans to reestablish Genm Corp's former glory.

Kamen Rider Thouser attempts to fight back, but Gai is no match for the powerful Bugster virus. However it seems Kuroto wasn't the only infection within Gai, as Masamune Dan also returns to finish his son once and for all!

Thouser vs GenmMasamune Returns

Although Kamen Rider Genms -The Presidents- may have been announced long before we knew exactly what Kamen Rider Zero-One was going to entail, the prospect of a “Kamen Rider Genm vs Kamen Rider Thouser” special was certainly an interesting one. Here we have two villains from different series in very similar positions, yet different outlooks on what it means to be the president of a company. While Kuroto seems to have comfortably slipped back into a villain role during the events of the Ex-Aid Another Ending trilogy, this special comes at a point where Gai Amatsu has shed his villainous ways and looks to make amends. It’s a shame as seeing the pair at the height of their villainy would have made for a good special, and could have even incorporated the competition format that has pretty much defined Thouser by this point. But sadly The Presidents tells a far more basic story, and one that has much less interplay between the two presidential Kamen Riders. More than anything it’s simply opportunity to bring Tetsuya Iwanaga back again, who can seemingly do no wrong in his role as Kuroto/Genm.

After being turned into a walking meme following his return in Ex-Aid, it is pleasing to see Kuroto finally return to a more villainous role. Being the bad guy has always suited him better, and the new Zero-One setting gives him new characters to play off against. By this point Kuroto’s delusions of godhood have reached their peak, and Iwanaga completely hams it up as usual - just watch the amount of head-tilting this special has. While it’s fun to see Kuroto running around in Zero-One, there isn’t actually a whole lot of it here and as a result it comes across as nothing we haven’t already seen before. As someone who loved Genm during his time on Ex-Aid, the joke is definitely becoming somewhat stale now. Iwanaga’s larger than life acting may still be enjoyable, but it isn’t enough to carry a whole special.

Kuroto vs GaiGenm Level 2

Also returning is his father Masamune, who seems to be continuing his mission to destroy Kuroto from Genm vs Lazer. At least that’s what I’m presuming his role here is, because he kind of just shows up and then argues with Kuroto about who is the best president. He isn’t anywhere near as interesting or engaging as he was in Genm vs Lazer, and even as Cronus his fight with Genm is fairly lacklustre. If we’ve gotten to the point where the more enduring member of the Dan family has stopped being enduring, then there isn’t much hope for poor old Masamune. His appearance also takes away from “Genm vs Thouser” dynamic that could have been, since the latter part is mostly just father and son fighting as Gai looks on helplessly.

Which finally brings us to Gai Amatsu, who surprisingly proves to be the most interesting character in this whole special. There's no denying that Gai's "redemption" within Zero-One itself was incredibly rushed, so hopefully both the epilogue movie and subsequent supplemental material will be able to flesh that out a little bit more. The Presidents gets off to a pretty good start in that regard, as we see Gai begin to take on the challenges of a new company as well as welcoming a HumaGear secretary as his first member of staff. Although the story begins with Gai contracting the Bugster virus, it's less about him trying to defeat the Dan family and more learning a valuable lesson from them about how to run a company. Granted it's nothing that he couldn't have learned from Aruto within the series itself, but seeing Gai attempt to grow as a person and President from seeing how its torn Masamune and Kuroto apart is an interesting parallel. It also leads to a strange yet bizarrely heartwarming end for the special, which takes it firmly back to that "April Fools'" comedy context. The first half of the special also sees him don a black version of the Thouser suit (which appears in the Kamen Rider Metsuboujinrai movie as "Kamen Rider ZAIA"), but there isn't really much attention brought to it outside of it being a side-effect of the Bugster virus. It's a visual surprise at best, and arguably just an advert/tease for the movie.

And that's all there is to The Presidents really. An odd bit of character development for Gai, a few scenes of Kuroto hamming it up and then a whole lot of Genm and Cronus slapping each other about. It's unclear whether the special was filmed with heavy COVID restrictions in place, but it certainly feels like it given the very limited cast and use of only two deserted filming locations.

Genm vs Cronus...what?

It might seem a bit unreasonable to expect from a semi-joke announcement special that only has around 25 minutes of running time, but Kamen Rider Genms -The Presidents- really is a whole lot of...not very much at all. There are so many fun things that could have been explored in a proper Genm vs Thouser special, but instead all this really is is a vehicle for more Kuroto mannerisms and Gai getting some odd character development as he attempts to diffuse a family squabble. Even Kamen Rider Brain felt more substantial despite how silly it was. At one point the prospect of more Kamen Rider Genm would have seemed wonderful, but at this point it feels like I'm all Genm'd out. Even going into this special with low expectations, it's hard not to feel like it had the potential to be something far more substantial.

1 comment:

M said...

The best thing that came out of this special is the ending song.