Tuesday 6 July 2021

Special REVIEW: Kamen Rider Specter x Blades

Kamen Rider Specter x Blades

Kamen Rider fans probably didn't expect the 5th anniversary of Kamen Rider Ghost to be celebrated with a multi-part Kamen Rider Saber crossover story, but then given that the two shows share the same writer in Takuro Fukuda was there really any other way to do it? The latest Toei Tokusatsu Fanclub special kicked off at the end of May with Kamen Rider Saber x Ghost, and after leaving things on a pretty sizeable cliffhanger there wasn't much of a wait before part two came along. This time it's the turn of those true blue secondary Riders, as Kamen Rider Specter x Blades takes to the stage. As well as Mio Kudo and Shun Nishime reprising their roles as Kanon Fukami and Takeru Tenkuji respectively, this part also sees Ryosuke Yamamoto naturally rejoin the crew as Makoto Fukami/Kamen Rider Specter.

Kamiyu and MullerMany Kanons

Picking up straight after the events of Kamen Rider Saber x Ghost, the surviving members of Danton's followers once again send out Kanon in an attempt to lure Makoto into a trap. However as it turns out this isn't the Kanon we know, but rather one of four clones remaining from Danton's previous experiments. The "real" Kanon also returns to Earth in an attempt to put a stop to the scheme herself.

Once again Desast takes an interest in the wandering Kanon, and the ensuing chaos catches the attention of both Kanon and Rintaro. As Danton's followers join the fight, can the combined efforts of Kamen Rider Blades, Kamen Rider Specter and a newly transformed Kamen Rider Kanon Specter to save the four captive Kanons?

Mei and RintaroIntroducing Kamen Rider Kanon Specter

Although most of the heavy lifting for this part of the story was already covered in Saber x Ghost, Specter x Blades still has some interesting revelations stemming out from Ghost RE:BIRTH: Kamen Rider Specter. In hindsight it makes perfect sense that the Kanon we met in the first part of the story wasn't the one we got to know throughout Ghost's storyline, and that in fact there are still a bunch of Kanon copies still wandering about after Makoto destroyed his (first) father's laboratory. This on top of everything that went on in the series proper (not to mention the relationship between the Shindai siblings in Saber) really brings into question the whole siscon thing Fukuda has going on, but as far as Ghost alone goes its a pretty good continuation of the big revelations that came out of the Specter movie.

Specter x Blades pretty much follows exactly the same story as the previous part, but the switch up in characters used makes a big difference. Takeru and Touma are demoted down to cameos while Makoto, Kanon and Rintaro take the stage - all of whom have spent their respective shows having to find (and ultimately choose) their family. It's a great little character trope that binds the three together, and a shame there isn't much time to explore it more in a 20 minute special. Despite the name being Specter x Blades really it's Kanon's special, and it's great to see her properly take the lead. Nevertheless we get some good moments with these key riders together and playing off of each other, and as always Mei is on hand to bring some cheer to the whole thing.

The cast of Specter x BladesKamen Rider Blades Specter Gekikou Senki

It's just as well that the strength of these specials continue to the the returning (or in Saber's case, current) cast, because it still really doesn't have all the much to offer as far as villains go. Desast isn't really doing anything here that he wasn't previously doing, although it will be interesting to see if his appearances in these specials (as well as the parallels between him and the Kanons) is going to lead up to anything. Danton's followers are still forgettable to the point that they may as well remain nameless (for the record it's Kamiyu and Muller), but while the characters' themselves aren't driving the story their overall plan is working for the special pretty well. It's connected to the Specter movie enough that these crossovers don't feel like a waste of time, but isn't so complex that it makes these episodes feel underdeveloped. Ultimately it's all just an excuse to see some veteran characters back in action anyway. The Ganma Superior Perfect and Ganma Ultima Ebony suits still look great, and the fight that ensues plays to the strengths of all the characters involved. You couldn't really ask for much more from a random special than that.

Being a crossover special of course another crossover form is in order, but admittedly this one isn't quite as thought out as Saber's Ghost Ijinroku form. Though it boasts its own unique Wonder Ride Book Blades' Specter Gekikou Senki form is effectively just the standard Blades suit with the Deep Specter hoody thrown on top of it. But while it may feel a little slapdash, being able to just throw the hoodies onto a costume is what makes the Ghost gimmick work in the first place. This crossover has already graced us with Ghost Ijinroku so technically it didn't need to the same for the secondary Riders, but did anyway and was all the stronger for it. Plus this way fans got to see all three of Specter's main forms represented in the special, with the wonderful Sin Specter suit turning up towards the end of the fight for an explosive finisher.

The Ganma attackKamen Rider Sin Specter

But of course the biggest thing coming out of Specter x Blades, as well as the this whole Saber/Ghost crossover is Kanon's long overdue ascension to the ranks of Kamen Rider. The biggest congratulations to Mio Kudo, who is now the first actress to have appeared as both a Super Sentai heroine and a Kamen Rider. Granted white and pink isn't exactly the most original colour scheme for a female Kamen Rider to take, but it is a new colour palette for the base Ghost design and works extremely well - especially with those silver eyes in place of the black. Specter x Blades might not quite break the status quo by still having Kanon need her brother's help in the end, but her taking a more active and physical role in fighting back against the bad guys is a huge step forward for the character. With the story not quite over yet it's reassuring to know that we'll probably see her again, but fingers crossed this special won't be the only time Kamen Rider Kanon Specter ever graces screens. 

Kamen Rider Specter x Blades is another great continuation of the Kamen Rider Ghost story we all didn't know we wanted, using Saber as a launching platform to create some great little crossover pieces that play to the strengths of particular cast members all while coming together to create a fun little story. Some Toei Tokusatsu Specials try to bite off more than they can chew while others just turn out completely forgettable, but this one really playing to the strengths of each show. Another post-credits sting (featuring Japanese pro-wrestler and tokusatsu super fan Hiromu Takahashi no less) pretty much guarantees a third part coming soon, so the adventure definitely isn't over yet.


M said...

I wonder if Part 3 will be Espada x Necrom

Stephen Cassat said...

I sure hope so. That would be lit!