Wednesday 10 April 2024

Special REVIEW: Geats Extra: Kamen Rider Gazer

Geats Extra: Kamen Rider Gazer

With quite easily the most Kamen Riders introduced in a single series ever, Kamen Rider Geats certainly isn't going to run out of fodder for spin-off fodder any time soon. The Toei Tokusatsu Fanclub already got a good head start on ancillary material during the show's run, and it looks to be continuing on following its conclusion with the release of Geats Extra: Kamen Rider Gazer. This one-off special is the third major instalment in the Geats Extra series (following on from Kamen Rider PunkJack and Kamen Rider Tycoon meets Kamen Rider Shinobi), chronicling the origins of Niramu/Kamen Rider Gazer as well as acting as a prequel of sorts to the Kamen Rider Geats: Jyamato Awaking V-Cinext release.

Ziin greets Niramu back in the futureNiramu travels to the Sengoku period

Following Suel's defeat and the fall of the Desire Grand Prix, Niramu wakes up in the future with no memories of his past life. Prompted by Ziin, he tries to recall back to his appointment as a DGP producer and his first ever job.

Choosing Sengoku-era Japan as the setting for his first game, Niramu meets the navigator Miiru and learns more about the era and the importance of its realism. Elsewhere, the veteran producer Neremu is fired from the DGP for secretly tampering with the game. Having uncovered the truth behind the game's navigators, Neremu makes a final bid for power. Can the fledgling producer defeat the veteran and establish what's truly important in his game?

MiiruGazer vs Gazer Zero

Rather than use this special to give a better look at the inner-workings of the DGP or even its origins, instead it's some loose backstory to characterise Niramu a bit more and contextualise his mindset towards the Desire Grand Prix. How well it works is debatable, since it's hard to detach the special from how much of Kamen Rider Geats he spends as antagonist. While certainly not the worst of the foes Geats fought over the course of the series and would eventually rebel against Suel, he still spent a fair portion of it calling the shots of the DGP. Since the special doesn't actively involve a version of the DGP either, it's much easier for him to assume the role of the protagonist here even if the thing he's fighting for is still somewhat questionable. However at the same time, resurrecting him in the first place for this does just feel like another example of the lack of consequences modern Kamen Rider tends to have when producing epilogue material. 

That all aside, there is enough here to convey that Niramu does have passion for the development of the Desire Grand Prix and wants to believe in the "realism" of it. Though their relationship had the potential to be quite sweet, the character of Miiru is entirely a plot device to further Niramu - giving her both very little in the way of agency and a (typically over the top of for a TTFC special) departure. Including Ziin in the story is also a great choice, as he's another character that could do with added backstory and development to make him a little more palatable. Again its strange to go into this special viewing him slightly differently to the morally questionable fanboy approach of the main series, but he's a good partner to Niramu both in the flashback sequences and bringing him up to speed in the present (future) day. 

Niramu and MiiruNeremu

Although there's plenty of scope for Gazer to work with just the previously established DGP staff members, a new character is naturally required to create some conflict that doesn't have quite so obvious outcome. For that purpose we have Neremu, whose backstory is fairly fleeting despite his tenure having some major ramifications on the DGP. Not only was he able to catch on to the fact that the Navigators are being raised as copies of the Goddess of Creation, but he also helped originally bring the Jyamato into the games - a plot point that easily could have been the basis of this special. Despite all this though the character proves to be fairly one-note, his frivolous and arrogant persona there to somehow make Niramu seem less bad. That all said Syo Jinnai is a perfect choice for the role, bringing that same villainous energy and charisma he brought to Enter in Tokumei Sentai Go-Busters. It is however nice to see him working alongside Archimedel, who remains a somewhat enigmatic but nevertheless interesting member of Geats' extended cast.

Geats is exactly the kind of series that can go overboard with different Riders and power-ups, but Gazer is actually surprisingly restrained in this regard. The special features no new form for Gazer himself but does instead throw in a new variant as Neremu's Rider form - Kamen Rider Gazer Zero. Though a straightforward recolour of Gazer (albeit with the Zillion Driver as opposed to the Vision Driver), Gazer Zero is interesting as the colour scheme is of course a direct reference to Kamen Rider 1. His transformation pose is also a homage to Takeshi Hongo's, as is his finisher being named the "Cyclone". Further references come in the form of finisher poses, which pay tribute to both Kamen Rider Black and Kamen Rider Kuuga. While certainly fun little homages for the viewer to pick up on, Gazer Zero doesn't have any in-story reference to these Riders which makes it fall a little flat. Not that every tribute like this should have a more direct tie, but it just feels oddly placed in a story that's otherwise entrenched in Geats lore specifically. The Rider 1 colour palette is the kind that can look good on any suit, but here definitely lacks the impact of both the standard Gazer and Kamen Rider Glare. From a story point of view it would have been cool to see this special delve a little more into why the Producers need these Rider forms (particularly as Geats wasn't a thorn in their side quite yet), and how they've developed. Seeing two Gazer forms fight makes for a good-looking final act, but doesn't have much to offer in the way of substance.

Kamen Rider Gazer ZeroZiin and Gazer team up

Ultimately Geats Extra: Kamen Rider Gazer is exactly what the title proclaims it to be - a fun little extra to Kamen Rider Geats as a whole. While the backstory presented here doesn't quite have the same impact as Kamen Rider PunkJack did, it does provide a look back at the earlier days of the DGP as well as a further (if somewhat shallow) attempt at humanising Niramu. Though the ending may serve as a nice lead in to Jyamato Awaking really nothing here feels particularly essential, but at the same time it's existence doesn't have a negative impact on Geats' overall story either.

1 comment:

CPF said...

This honestly could have been stretched to a two or three parter to make everything work better and give the material and ideas more time to develop. Seriously, if Yodanna can get four specials, why can't Gazer?