Wednesday 9 March 2022

Miniseries REVIEW: Kamen Rider Revice: The Mystery

Kamen Rider Revice: The Mystery

As the series that marks the 50th anniversary of the Kamen Rider franchise, it was almost a certainty that Kamen Rider Revice was going to have plenty of supplementary material. Long gone are the days where everything you'd ever need to know about a tokusatsu series is solely contained in the main show itself, with numerous movies, blu-ray specials and streaming service miniseries utilised to fill in the gaps. Kamen Rider Revice: The Mystery is a five-episode miniseries produced for Japan's TELASA streaming service, which has been the home to a number of Kamen Rider specials since 2017. Written by Hiroki Uchida and directed by Koichiro Hayama, it notably features the return of Ryu Terui/Kamen Rider Accel from Kamen Rider W as well as a few other surprises from across the franchise.

The cast of Revice: The MysteryMurder most foul

While attempting to track down an attacking Deadman, Ikki Igarashi and Hiromi Kadota are led to the Pension Nijitenka guest lodge where they meet its owner Suzu Saionji. Here they are also joined by police officer Genpachiro Otta, who reveals he's on an undercover mission to locate a Roidmude at the establishment. As a love triangle begins to develop around the two Kamen Riders, the house is shaken by an act of murder! Now it's up to Ikki to uncover the culprit, who it turn may lead to both the Roidmude and Deadman.

Meanwhile George Karizaki takes a trip to Futo City, where he teams up with Ryu Terui to uncover another mystery. Vistamps are appearing that contain the powers of the various monsters the Kamen Riders have fought over the years, and it seems that their creator's plan in almost complete.

George meets TeruiRevi, Vice and Accel

Unless perhaps you're Toshiki Inoue going completely off the rails, it's fair to say that the outcome of these "murder mystery" Kamen Rider specials are never a huge surprise to the adult viewer. Even if the culprit isn't immediately obvious from the plot alone, the guest stars are usually a good indicator of who is going to get the most fleshed out role. While this fact may be true of Kamen Rider Revice: The Mystery, it's able to keep the intrigue by adding twists and turns to where exactly the story is headed instead. What initially seems like a basic murder mystery plot expands into something much bigger, drawing from elements across the entire franchise with both surprise cameos and story nods.

To start with, one of the biggest surprises about this special is its length. While a total of five episodes isn't really that unusual for something like this, the 18-20 minute running time for each of them in. That isn't far off the running time of a normal Kamen Rider episode, giving both sides of the story plenty of breathing room to progress and develop. Miniseries-exclusive characters can often feel a little undercooked given that they have so little time to work with, but The Mystery does a great job of giving the important ones serviceable material to work with while making sure that both the main and legacy casts have plenty to work with too. Though the bulk of the plot may be self-contained for these five episodes, it also cleverly weaves in the backstory behind the Vistamps creation too – carefully striking balance between giving a streaming special relevance to the overall story and making sure it doesn't give away so much that this suddenly becomes just as (or even more so) essential than the series itself. 

Suzu SaionjiLovesick Hiromi

Kamen Rider Revice has spawned quite a sizeable cast in a relatively short time, so it's nice to see The Mystery cut things down to just a few key members. Obviously it's Ikki and Vice at the centre of it all, but it's great to see them given the opportunity to play off of Hiromi without all the added weight of FENIX. Hiromi is usually on the more serious side of Revice characters so it's a nice change of pace to see him as a lovesick puppy here, and Junya Komatsu plays it really well without breaking that previous characterisation. Vice is also at his very best here, with a special like this being the perfect place to use that fourth wall breaking to full effect. On the main show it can often feel out of place, but here it's responsible for some of the best laugh out loud moments.

Arguably though the biggest draw of this miniseries though is the amount of legacy characters it features, all of whom not only feel like they've been brought in to fit the setting but also for how well they'll play off the Revice cast. At the centre of all this is Ryu Terui, who's arguably become the go-to character from Kamen Rider W to bring back in the absence of the main duo. Accel's role as a special crimes investigator means he can seamlessly fit into any Kamen Rider series without much explanation, and here he's able to strike up the perfect dynamic with Karizaki. We already know from the main series that George is a bit of a Kamen Rider fanboy, but it's not something that's really been explored outside of the odd belt/action figure cameo. Here that love for all things Kamen Rider can be used to full effect – both for comedic value and an explanation point for viewers unfamiliar with these older shows. He's the wacky one to Terui's straight man act, and the two play off each other nicely. 

It isn't always just returning Kamen Riders that can go down a storm though, as is evident by the appearance of Kamen Rider Drive's veteran police officer Genpachiro Otta. Though we may not have seen him since Drive's story effectively came to an end in Drive Saga: Mach/Heart, like Terui he's another character that can easily slot into any series thanks to his role. He also is proof that not every inclusion has to have some huge plot relevance, and in some cases it's just a whole lot of fun to see these characters again. Not only does he have a good rapport with Ikki, but even the idea of him trying to give romance advice to Hiromi is charming enough to justify his return. 

Otta returns!The Charmant boys are back!

While Terui and Genpachiro may be the main returning characters for the special, they aren't the only surprises The Mystery has in store either. The little network of Kamen Riders in touch with each other continues to grow with the appearance of Oren and Hideyasu from Kamen Rider Gaim, last seen only a few years ago in Gaim Gaiden: Gridon VS Bravo. Even though the real reason is probably just they were the two costumes Toei had lying around, it is nice to get that little bit of continuity between the two specials with the appearance of Kingdurian and Lychee Arms suits. Their role in the story might not be a particularly big one, but it's a key one when it comes to making all these series feel connected. It isn't just shows from the last decade or so that are getting the love either, with Kamen Rider 555 continuing its victory lap of having additional content LONG after the series has ended. The appearance of Naoya Kaido isn't perhaps the big twist the miniseries wants it to be (actor Misuru Karahashi seems to barely age), but seeing a character like this get a role like this later just goes to show how you never know which stone the franchise may upturn next. Kamen Rider alumni aren't the only ones appearing either, with Rina Aizawa (Engine Sentai Go-onger's Saki/Go-on Yellow) appearing as Suzu. 

Through trying to capitalise on the whole whodunit aspect the miniseries is primarily character-driven, but nevertheless each episode still aims to deliver at least one action piece. Even if they're just as simple as Revi, Demons or Accel facing off against a monster, the use of different types from across the franchise helps to mix things up a bit. This all of course eventually leads to an explosive finale where Revi and Vice finally team up with Accel – not only playing up the crossover element even more though extensive use of the Eagle Genome but also giving Accel the opportunity to flex with Trial Form as well. Even if some of these older suits are looking a little worse for wear these days, the chance to see them again is never any less special. 

Bonne Lecture!W-B-X!

With the main series wisely choosing to forge its own path rather than overly relying on legacy elements, specials like Kamen Rider Revice: The Mystery are the perfect means for it to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the franchise. What could have easily been forgettable fluff is instead an incredibly fun miniseries – revelling in its murder mystery setting and making great use of both the Revice cast and all its returning favourites. It also serves as the ideal supplementary piece to the main show as well – not being essential viewing to understand it but offering a touch of additional context just to keep things interesting. There are so many of these Kamen Rider spin-off pieces now that it can be hard to keep up, but this is definitely one not to miss out on.


Anonymous said...

Kamen Rider 4 or Gorider: which is your favorite crossover miniseries of these two?

Anonymous said...

Here’s an idea. Have you ever thought reviewing any none Japanese Tokusatsu like Armor Hero or BIMA Satria Garuda?