Tuesday 28 November 2023

Miniseries REVIEW: Kamen Rider Gotchard VS Kamen Rider Legend

Kamen Rider Gotchard vs. Kamen Rider Legend

Even though it feels like we've barely scratched the surface of Kamen Rider Gotchard's storyline, Toei certainly don't waste any time when it comes to launching supplementary material. The first of Gotchard's web spin-offs is a rather special case though, as rather than expanding on the main series' story it instead welcomes a new Kamen Rider to the Reiwa era. Kamen Rider Gotchard VS Kamen Rider Legend is a two-part web special released via Toei's official (region-locked) YouTube channel, marking the debut of Kamen Rider Legend – a Ride Chemy Card-powered Rider with more than a few similarities to Kamen Rider Decade.

Hotaru held captive!Houou Kaguya Quartz

Hotaru is suddenly summoned to a parallel world, where he meets an alternative version of his friend Ryo Kaijki. This version, known as Butler, is the chamberlain to Houou Kaguya Quartz - an extravagant man who fights against an evil organisation known as "Hundred" as Kamen Rider Legend. While Legend has been able to gather the powers of the past Riders to aid his fight, he has not been able to do the same for Gotchard as he is simply "not gorgeous".

While Houou attempts to make Gotchard gorgeous, Hotaru learns how Houou came to become Legend and more about the fight to protect his world. When the Hundred attack, the pair are forced to fight together – and Gotchard learns he too is able to draw upon the powers of the legacy Riders.

Kamen Rider LegendHundred

With months to speculate thanks to a very early (and incredibly accurate) leak, it was very easy to build Kamen Rider Legend to be more than he actually turned out to be. Between the lavish new suit, newly created Driver, legacy Rider based powers and Masahiro Inoue simply being Masahiro Inoue, the signs all pointed to Legend having something to do with Kamen Rider Decade - one early rumour even suggested he might even be an alternate universe Tsukasa. But while there’s still certainly a lot to take away from Kamen Rider Gotchard vs Kamen Rider Legend, the reality itself is far more mundane. At its core Gotchard VS Legend is the same old demonstration of a new Riders’ legacy forms that we’ve been seeing for years now. A little more dressed up perhaps, but still along the same lines as Kamen Rider Ex-Aid “Tricks”: Kamen Rider Genm or Kamen Rider Ghost: Legendary Riders’ Souls. Given that they were both YouTube specials as well maybe that was all Gotchard VS Legend was ever meant to be, in which case it just goes to show how the promise of a shiny suit can make your imagination run wild.

That said, Toei definitely didn’t need to go as all-in as they did with Legend’s backstory - and the amount they’ve already fleshed it out across two 15-minute episodes is already particularly impressive. The idea of Legend as this parallel world Rider fighting against an evil organisation was already strong enough to carry the special, but throwing in a surprise appearance by Kamen Rider Decade to help tie things together definitely makes it all a lot more interesting. After being saved by Decade as a child, we can see how the encounter shaped Houou - not only in the way Legend’s appearance closely resembles Decade’s but also his mastery over alternate worlds as well. The Aurora Curtain System he uses to traverse parallel worlds not only resembles Decade’s own abilities, but the device that powers it resembles a DecaDriver as well. It’s a backstory that has plenty of detail in both what is being told and what is being shown on screen, with plenty of scope for the character to return for future web spin-offs should he prove popular enough.

Legend summons the legacy RidersKamen Rider Decade

Houou himself is also a fun character - very much style over substance, but perfectly fitting for both the length of these specials and the story it’s trying to tell. Every bit of Houou screams excess, from the clothes he wears to his narcissistic confidence. The design of Legend also perfectly fits this personality, having taken Decade with the sole intent of making it flashier - or more specifically, more gorgeous. His powers are again “Decade done better”, combining Decade’s transformation powers (whilst also keeping a bit of that Legend flair intact) with Diend’s summoning powers. He very much comes across as an “Original Character Do Not Steal” Rider, but it works because that’s part of the joke.

Compared to all that, Gotchard’s placement in the story doesn’t even feel that necessary. Hotaru’s apparent lack of gorgeousness might be the catalyst that sets the whole mini-series off, but other than some humorous exchanges between the two Riders doesn’t have a whole lot to offer outside the usual cliches of one character coming to accept another. That said, in theory Gotchard’s are one of the more interesting examples of legacy Rider powers - combining different Riders together just like the Chemys. It isn’t the first example of multi-Rider forms and probably won’t be the last, but names like “Exceed Mighty”, “Cyclone Tatoba” and “FullFull Rocket” definitely make them seem more exciting. The designs of the forms do a great job of combining the two Riders’ motifs into a somewhat functional (but suitably outlandish) form, even if the overuse of gold does spoil them a bit. While it may fit Legend’s whole look, it doesn’t work quite so well on Gotchard - particularly with the helmet using other colours as well. They very much fall within the same realm as Revice’s various forms, which looked great but could have done with less uniform colouring to give them a bit more individuality.

Gotchard Exceed MightyGotchard FullFull Rocket

There isn’t a whole lot to say about Hundred either, who serve their purpose nicely as generic monsters for the pair to fight. Again it’s something a writer could flesh out should they choose to make any more Legend content, particularly with how this side of the story draws from Kamen Rider Zi-O as opposed to Decade. The Hundred soldiers are the Kasshine, while their leader suddenly transforms into Kamen Rider Barlckxs without any reason given. While it could just be that these were the most suitable suits Toei had lying around for the job, the specific use of the other Heisei-era anniversary series leaves plenty to speculate about.

Despite the design, gimmick and reveal of Kamen Rider Legend perhaps suggesting something a bit grander than what we actually got, Kamen Rider Gotchard VS Kamen Rider Legend is still a nice little special that could easily be built upon in the future. As far as Gotchard is concerned it doesn't really do anything that Kamen Rider hasn't already been doing for years with legacy Rider powers, but there's definitely scope to build upon both Houou and Kamen Rider Legend in the same vein as Kamen Rider Shinobi. Given the effort that went into the suit and the amount of merchandise he's already confirmed to be getting, surely this can't be it for him?


Chengkeng said...

It's okay, not the best. Like homelander said "legend is just a cheap knockoff of the original Decade".

Oar said...

Feels like a no-brainer that there should be another special at some point where Legend crosses path with Twokaiser. Then again, those two are so similar in concept and personality that drawing attention to it might not be a good idea lol