Review of Kamen Rider Zi-O (Episodes 1-5)
Team TokuNet Writer Malunis reviews the episodes of Kamen Rider Zi-O that aired in September, the beginning of a new show. In reviewing this month’s episodes, the review will also talk about spoilers for Build, Ex-Aid, Fourze, and 555.
Welcome to my first TV show review for the Tokusatsu Network. If you’re not familiar with me, I’ve seen all of the Heisei Rider shows, and in recent years have been doing monthly reviews to talk about them. It makes sense to do it monthly since these shows air on a consistent weekly schedule, and it helps me feel less repetitive if I do them in batches.
Kamen Rider Zi-O is, as many would put it, the Next Decade. It is the 20th entry in the Heisei era, 10 entries after Kamen Rider Decade, a show that was celebrating the fact that they made it to 10 shows. That brings with it a hefty amount of responsibility to tell a good crossover story, but it has a lot going against it before it even existed.
To try and be as concise as possible: Japanese culture doesn’t value continuity the same way fans might expect. In an age with things like the Marvel cinematic universe, it’s easy to look at cameos in Rider shows/movies and think it’s all intended to be connected. The reality is, none of these show are written with the idea it being connected, and their target audience is probably too young to care either way. These cameos serve simply to promote an upcoming show – at the end of the day, it is a toy commercial franchise we’re talking about.
Meanwhile, Zi-O is a show that’s billed as a time travel story in which he travels to the past and fights alongside past Riders. That is immediately going to cause some continuity issues when every show has its own set of “These events took place this many years into the past” and “The world almost ended” scenarios which will inevitably not be brought up. Right away, I’ll just say, this is already looking like it’ll be the weakest part of Zi-O.
And no, I don’t buy into the fan theory of “Maybe this show has its own timeline where all these shows happened slightly differently” because of the reasons I gave above. I’ve been in the franchise and seen enough crossovers to know that Toei isn’t that intricate.
That being said, the Toei approach works fine for a movie since it’ll come and go… but Zi-O looks to be an entire show with that sort of logic. Let’s see if that was the right idea.
Oh and if you’re wondering, the Toei Tokusatsu Fan Club has been releasing these .5 shorts to go with each episode (1.5, 2.5, etc) – they’re goofy little meta shorts that talk a little bit about the writing side of things, but most of the time they’re just kind of dumb in a fun way. I bring them up because they do provide some clarity, and in the case of 4.5, a little confusion.
Ep 01: Kingdom 2068
Our protagonist is Sogo Tokiwa, an average high school student with not-so-average aspirations: He wants to become a king. No one thinks it’s realistic, and he’s going so far as to ignore college plans in favor of focusing on that aspiration. He also has a very patient uncle who runs a clock shop in their house. It’s a cute idea for a setting and his uncle seems pretty charming.
Sogo is encountered by a mysterious hooded prophet who proclaims that this is his special day, which it is – he suddenly gets chased by a giant red robot (or TimeMazine) piloted by a teenager with attitude, and is then rescued by another TimeMazine piloted by a girl in a white dress. She ends up taking hm to the age of dinosaurs, which was a fairly pointless bit of fluff, and also pretty dangerous since she then has to use the robot to wrestle a t-rex away from Sogo. Which is kinda funny, I’ll admit.
The girl, Tsukuyomi, takes Sogo to other time periods and shows him footage on her time traveling TimeMazine. She explains that, in 2068, Sogo Tokiwa is known as Oma Zi-O, a tyrannical Rider-like person who uses his time powers to leave the world in ruin. Sogo seems to take joy in knowing he’ll be a king, even though Tsukuyomi’s time does seem kind of like a bummer place to be.
Tsukuyomi takes Sogo to the Edo period that Toei loves to come back to once in a while, and it’s here she picks up on the fact that Sogo is more pacifistic than she anticipated, so she wonders if she got the right person. There isn’t much time to think, as they soon encounter Geiz Myokoin, the teen from before, who is also known as Kamen Rider Geiz – he’s traveled to the past to chase down Sogo and end his life before he has a chance to become Oma Zi-O, which means it’s time to run to another time period! Tsukuyomi takes Sogo on the TimeMazine and the two enter a time tunnel, which Geiz bumps them out of, only to have the two fall into a world… with the Skywall. November 30th 2017.
Fittingly, our first crossover is with Kamen Rider Build. Due to the nature of its setting, being a world where Japan was split into 3 nations by a wall from Mars, it’d make sense to think of this as an alternate universe, but as we later pick up on, this is the same timeline as Sogo’s 2018, so… someone on the writing staff didn’t do their research. It’s dumb but like I said, gotta just power through the crossover inconsistencies.
Also if you’re interested in the idea that this is “in” “continuity” with Build, November 30th puts us just after episode 12 – Ryuga Banjo just became Kamen Rider Cross-Z and has had some fighting experience, while Sento Kiryu just retrieved all of the is Fullbottles that were stolen from him in prior episodes. This was also just before the big Blood Stalk reveal, which leads into some heavier story, so it’s a nice clean place to do some Build and Cross-Z action.
It’s here Sogo encounters Build and Cross-Z, two Riders that rescue him from a Smash. At Nascita, the usual cafe/headquarters for this series, Sento confirms that Sogo’s RideWatch is using some futuristic technology. Before they can really continue, Tsukuyomi comes in and stuns all three of them with her gun, remarking that you shouldn’t meddle too much with the past, says the time traveler who came back in time to alter history AND put a t-rex in a chokehold with her giant robot.
In 2017, a random basketball player nearly gets hit by a car, but the car is stopped by the time powers of a boy in blue, who we later learn is named Uhr. He lets the basketball player know that his life was supposed to end there, but if he makes a deal with him, his future could turn out differently. He agrees, then Uhr inserts a purple RideWatch-like item into his body and proclaims that he is now Kamen Rider Build! Turned into a monster version of the Rider, called Another Build, he uses empty bottles to suck up helpless athletes, turning them into Fullbottles. Unfortunately, they’re not a Best Match, so he continues his search for more victims…
At this point, Tsukuyomi took Sogo back home off screen, so he wakes up and has a talk with his uncle about all he learned of Oma Zi-O, and his uncle is very patient as always. He also provides some solid life advice involving clocks and no second chances. As Sogo takes a walk, he encounters the Another Build monster, and fails to fight it as is. He makes a grab for the blank RideWatch he had before, declaring that he wants to better the world and make people happy, so being a king is the only logical step in his future.
With that, the hooded prophet returns, who Tsukuyomi identifies as Woz – or Wars, depending on the intent of that name. He proclaims that Zi-O will become king, and his power will be unbelievable. Sogo decides that, if he’s going to become an overlord, he may as well fight to become the world’s NICEST overlord, which is a comment that surprises both Tsukuyomi and Woz. This causes his blank RideWatch to turn into the Zi-O RideWatch!
And so, Sogo is given a Ziku-Driver from Woz, transforming into Kamen Rider Zi-O. We get our first proper fight, as Zi-O manages to get the upper hand on Another Build and even summon his Zikan Girade weapon. With a finishing move, he manages to turn Another Build back into a human, which is when Geiz shows up to deal with Zi-O. He recognizes the “I was destined to become king” mentality that he and Oma Zi-O share, which only pushes him to fight. Geiz transforms into… Geiz, then uses the Ghost RideWatch to transform into GhostArmor, giving us a taste of what’s to come for form changes, and making us question whether we’ll get a Ghost crossover.
And that… is the first episode, which is technically half of an intro.
As first episodes go, I’ll admit, I found it a bit rushed on the first viewing since it jumped around quite a bit. I liked the setup in concept, but the pacing definitely gives this vibe that it was probably a little longer and some stuff had to be cut for time. We’ve had Director’s Cut releases for episodes of OOO and Fourze, so I could totally see that happening here.
Let’s actually move straight into episode 2, because that’s where things get… interesting?
Ep 02: Best Match 2017
Geiz tries to fight Zi-O, but Tsukuyomi steps in with the TimeMazine to fight him off so that Zi-O can summon his bike and escape. Once Zi-O is out of sight, Geiz questions her on why she’s helping him, but she doesn’t quite know what got into her.
Sogo has another encounter with Woz, who explains more about his motives. As it turns out, he wants time to play out as intended, with Sogo Tokiwa becoming Oma Zi-O, a king who rose to power on a path of conquest and beat every Rider in his way. There are also the Time Jackers, turning people into Another Riders, who aim to groom other candidates for the king role. So in an interesting twist, this is a time traveling story in which the heroes and villains want to change the past, while Woz is this single entity who is aiming to keep history on track.
The Time Jacker known as Uhr takes the basketball player and turns him back into Another Build, with Geiz finding and fighting it once he notices it causing trouble. Meanwhile, Sogo has another encounter with Woz, who reveals that the Time Jackers have essentially altered history so that this monster is now Kamen Rider Build – since Sogo has met Build, he finds this concerning, and goes to find the monster once he’s told Geiz is currently fighting it.
Zi-O steps in and helps out, destroying Another Build with a Rider Kick, only for another copy of it to walk into view. Zi-O has a hunch that maybe the actual Build could do something about this, so he goes to Nascita in 2018, where Ryuga and Sento, now going by his pre-amnesia name Takumi, are fanatics of the band Lynks and are running a fan cafe. Which is a cute nod to Build lore.
As it turns out, with Another Build now taking on the role of Kamen Rider Build, these two aren’t Riders anymore. As Geiz briefly destroys Another Build, Sento and Ryuga suddenly come to their senses and remember who they are, and have blank RideWatches in their pockets for some reason, which turn into the Build RideWatch and Cross-Z RideWatch. Sento recalls a memory from 2017 involving this watch, so he gives them to Sogo, hinting to him to go to the past.
Geiz seems to have trouble beating Another Build, because he keeps respawning, which Geiz has a hunch about – this is when Sogo returns to explain that they have to go to the past in order to beat this monster. In 2017, Sento and Ryuga encounter Another Build and attempt to fight it, with Build noticing something wrong with his suit once he transforms. They’re unable to put up much of a fight, which is when Sogo shows up. Uhr also steps in since he recognizes this is the future Oma Zi-O, but after Zi-O gives a speech denouncing what the Time Jackers are doing, referencing what his uncle said before, Uhr steps away to see if Zi-O can live up to his own hype.
Zi-O, Geiz, Build and Cross-Z fight, but only briefly, as Build and Cross-Z’s suits dematerialize. Sento remarks that their powers are fading, leaving it in the hands of Zi-O and Geiz. Once Zi-O sees Geiz using GhostArmor once more, he puts together that he should use the Build RideWatch this way, which Woz kindly confirms by stepping in out of nowhere. Zi-O accepts the responsibility of this power, then uses the watch to transform into BuildArmor, and takes on Another Build successfully. Geiz uses the Cross-Z RideWatch in his Zikan Zax weapon, then Zi-O delivers a finisher while Geiz performs a Cross-Z style finisher using his weapon.
With that, the Another Build Watch breaks, allowing the monster to finally be defeated once and for all. The basketball player that started it all wakes up where he left off before this happened, but without a car hitting him. All is well. Or is it…?
Geiz remarks to Sogo that it doesn’t make sense for Sento and Ryuga to have had these blank RideWatches with them, so Sogo gets a bright idea and presents a pair of blank RideWatches to them now – he figures this is what needed to happen for them to receive these RideWatches in 2018. Weirdly, Ryuga refers to Sento as Takumi again, and the two seem unaware of what all transpired moments ago. Despite that, Sogo feels that Build will become Build one way or another. Or something.
Later, Tsukuyomi and Geiz talk about what happened. Even though she feels that there’s a huge difference between the protective Zi-O and the tyrannical Oma Zi-O, Geiz remarks that Zi-O stole Build’s power and effectively erased him from history, which means time is still progressing towards the future they want to prevent. Which means one thing…
… They’re moving in. No really, apparently Sogo’s uncle had rooms available and they took the offer. They’re going to keep a close watch on him, making sure he doesn’t take that turn into Oma Zi-O territory. We’re also told by Woz that we would soon meet another legendary hero: a PEDIATRICIAN.
But first, lemme just give some closing thoughts on the Build stuff, the good and the bad. It’s fun seeing Sento and Ryuga do their usual thing. It’s a bit sad only seeing them since the whole cast of the show is a lot of fun, but at least the cafe got some use.
The stuff they establish about Another Riders not being able to exist at the same time as the Riders they’re based on, that’s kind of an interesting idea, but it does feel a little weirdly utilized. Because up until the last fight, it seemed to be like a complete amnesia, yet when they did their last fight and Zi-O used BuildArmor, Sento was still clearly Sento. It seems blatantly inconsistent for the sake of letting the character still be in character, at which point you have to wonder if they should’ve even established these rules in the first place.
The unfortunate thing about this crossover is that Zi-O, as a show, seems to involve a minimal amount of research on past shows. The Skywall is something you can read up on if you want, but suffice to say, I think the depth of the writing was “Build premiered in 2017, right? Put a wall in 2017, don’t worry about putting it anywhere else.” It’s unfortunate considering how much more Build cared about its setting.
Ep 03: Doctor Gamer 2018
We begin this episode by reminding the audience that Sogo IS a high school student, and it turns out both Geiz and Tsukuyomi are the same age as him, so they’re going to be going to his school. Or at least, that’s their version of what’s happening: The reality is that they’re hanging out around the school in uniform (with conspicuous accessories) to stalk Sogo and make sure he doesn’t do anything evil.
Meanwhile, in 2016, we see a father worried about his son who’s going to the hospital, when he’s met with another Time Jacker known as Hora. She offers him the chance to change his son’s fate, allowing him to live – as a result, she transforms him into Another Ex-Aid, our second monster of the series.
While Sogo manages to ditch his stalkers to find a place to eat lunch in peace, he encounters a student playing a game that looks a whole lot like Mighty Action X with a palette swap, who says that this is some supposedly unbeatable game. When he manages to make progress, Another Ex-Aid shows up to work its monster magic and put the student in a coma.
As it turns out, many people have been falling into a coma like this, and doctors can’t figure out why. Sogo wants to help, which Geiz is opposed to since he interprets their last adventure as “Sogo stole Build’s power and erased him from existence”, but Sogo can’t just sit back on this. He determines that the game might have some connection, so they’ve gotta play it to find out.
… Unfortunately, Sogo is bad at video games. He concludes that they need someone who’s really good at gaming, which leads them to track down someone going by the handle “M” – however, they can’t find any info on who he really is. Once Sogo is witness to another victim, Woz appears and tells him that he needs to take the patient to the Seito University Hospital, which he does.
Thus begins our Kamen Rider Ex-Aid crossover. Compared to Build, it’s easier to do.
While there, he overhears nurses talking about Dr. Emu, which sounds a whole lot like M, and he’s apparently way into games. When they ask about it, an esteemed surgeon named Hiro Kagami walks into view, asking them what business they have with the pediatrician named Emu.
The hospital has taken in several patients who happened to fall into comas due to unknown cause, and since they all seemed to be playing a supposedly unbeatable game, Emu was researching it only to mysteriously disappear – but not before leaving a weird note at his desk. When the gang reads the note, it turns out is the Konami code, or some close approximation! Cute.
When Sogo inputs the code while playing the game, he, Geiz and Tsukuyomi are transported into a game setting and have to fight off Another Ex-Aid. Zi-O makes use of BuildArmor once more, while Geiz gets to show off another new one, DriveArmor. Once the two turn the monster back into a human, Emu suddenly steps in and transforms into Ex-Aid, telling them this is as far as they’ll go…!
Ep 04: No Continues 2016
Before the fight with Ex-Aid can really escalate, Hora shows up and turns the man back into Another Ex-Aid, then the two leave, returning the gang back to the real world with an Emu who suddenly doesn’t know who they are or what Ex-Aid is. This is when the gang realizes that the Another Riders, and the Rider they’re based on, can’t exist at the same time. When they try to explain that they can save some patients from their coma by defeating Another Ex-Aid, Emu surprisingly tells them they shouldn’t get involved since he has a much different goal in mind…
Despite that, Geiz decides he should to go 2016 to beat Another Ex-Aid, and tells Sogo to back off since this isn’t his fight. Tsukuyomi puts into context why Geiz feels this way: The two of them saw a lot of death at the hands of Oma Zi-O, so it’s understandable why Geiz sees him as just another enemy waiting to be defeated, but Sogo wonders if Tsukuyomi feels the same way – she isn’t really sure, but she does feel that it’s worth guiding him so that he never becomes that overlord, a notion he finds oddly comforting.
Geiz travels to 2016, and we’re treated to a nice throwback as he enters episode 2 of Kamen Rider Ex-Aid, just as Ex-Aid and Brave are defeating a Bugster. He returns with them to the hospital, explaining their situation and warning them of the Another Rider and its ability to erase their power. However, Hiro finds that this is all a bunch of nonsense and carries on like usual.
As Another Ex-Aid comes into existence and sends someone into a coma, Geiz shows up to fight it, only to find that it comes back to life after being defeated by a finisher. While Sogo wonders why Emu told them to stay out of it, we get… some kind of clarification?
On the rooftop of Seito, a regular location in Ex-Aid, Emu enters a game world to speak to Another Ex-Aid and talk him out of hurting others since his son needs him right now. However, the man doesn’t think the doctors can do anything to help, so he’s taking this matter into his own hands.
Confusingly, Sogo and Tsukuyomi show up, because Sogo figured out another connection between the victims of Another Ex-Aid: They were about the right size to be organ donors for his son. He also recognizes that Emu was trying to keep them out of this so that he could handle this peacefully, which Sogo manages to connect to Tsukuyomi’s efforts to prevent him from becoming Oma Zi-O. Bit of a clever comparison, even if delivered in such a strange way.
Despite their attempts to talk it out, the man becomes Another Ex-Aid once more and leaves. Sogo lets Emu know that his job is to help the patient, while Sogo deals with the monster, because protecting his people is what a king does. Emu has an Ex-Aid RideWatch for some reason, unaware of how it got into his hands, but figures Sogo must be the original owner.
As Sogo attempts to go back to 2016 to stop Another Ex-Aid, Uhr suddenly shows up with a TimeMazine of his own, based on Captain Ghost – an odd but fun twist! Transforming, Zi-O’s RideWatch forms the head of his robot, the two duke it out, and Zi-O manages to give him the slip.
Back in 2016, Zi-O shows up to fight Another Ex-Aid, who summons a bunch of Bugster grunts, which is a nice way to work in grunts for a show that doesn’t appear to have any of its own. Emu also shows up, recognizing that the monster looks like him, and decides to join in the fight.
While his suit ends up malfunctioning due to the logic they’ve established for Another Riders, he gets enough attacks in for Zi-O to realize that Another Ex-Aid can only be defeated by Ex-Aid’s hands, which Woz confirms once more. He uses the Ex-Aid RideWatch to transform into Ex-AidArmor, delivering a fun fight and an even more fun finisher to finally defeat the monster.
Once this is all said and done, the father remembers the urgency of his son’s health, to which Sogo introduces Emu and explains that he should let Hiro know that this man’s son needs a good surgeon. He then gives Emu a blank RideWatch, letting him know to keep it safe, which Geiz reluctantly allows – it seems that Geiz is starting to let his guard down around our hero.
Back in 2018, Sogo sees the boy from before, alive and well, and knows that this was all worth it. Back home, we get some resolution on the drama established in this arc, where Sogo hits Geiz and Tsukuyomi with a surprising statement: He still wants to become a king, but wants them to take him down the moment they recognize his turn to Oma Zi-O – it seems that he trusts their judgement on the matter.
Finally, we end with a teaser for next time: A high school student with a pompadour and a bookbag labeled “Friendship” – who could it be?!
Okay, so… this crossover was a bit more interesting than the Build one, but it isn’t much more logical. They put a lot of emphasis on the idea that a Rider can’t exist at the same time as the Another Rider or the Rider Armor, but… Emu seems to retain enough of his memories to know that Another Ex-Aid is a man whose son is in danger, which reads a little weird.
The 4.5 short seems like it tries to explain this away by establishing the notion that their personalities wouldn’t change just because they aren’t Riders (To which I look at episodes 1 and 2), but it does also make things more confusing by also establishing that Brave never became a Rider as a result of Ex-Aid not being a Rider. I betcha they figured that made sense on a meta level, but if you did your research, most secondary Riders exist independent of the main Rider, Brave included – Build actually made Cross-Z’s gear so it made sense for him to be affected.
I will say though, I did like getting to see the actors again. Their screentime was brief but they felt in character, especially the notion of Emu wanting to stop the Another Rider peacefully so that he can be there for his son. Feels very Emu. Even though it’s still not the greatest crossover, it felt like an improvement.
The 2.5 short also established how Another Riders can’t exist at the same time as the related Riders and can only be defeated by the power of the related Rider Armor, and I’m glad they brought it up in this episode. There was a brief concern that these shorts were required to understand the show.
Ep 05: Switch On! 2011
Hora and Uhr squabble about their failed plans, when we’re introduced to a Time Jacker who seems to be more powerful than them: Swartz. This man berates them calmly about the importance of crowning a new king that isn’t Oma Zi-O, and decides to take matters into his own hands.
Meanwhile, Sogo is hanging out with Tsukuyomi and Geiz, who inform him that there’s some odd disappearances involving a bunch of girls who happened to all be 18 year old Libras, and they all seemed to be happening at Amanogawa High School. Since the last two monsters were going after specific targets, it makes sense to investigate by posing as Amanogawa students.
Sogo cleverly gets hurt so that the nurse would leave the office and allow Tsukuyomi and Geiz to use the nurse’s computer to narrow down who might become another victim, and Sogo happens to run into the same girl they found. Sogo worries about the girl since she seems dazed and tired, and runs when he tries asking her what’s wrong. As he chases her, he instead runs into Woz, who gives him a hint of where his journey takes him next… It begins with a shooting star.
The girl makes it to a rooftop, and is then met by a scumbag who attempts to strangle her. Sogo and the others happen to notice the girl falling off a rooftop, but when they show up, they find one of the Another Riders (Another Fourze) with a seemingly safe girl.
Transforming, Zi-O and Geiz take on the monster, and Geiz even gets a chance to use BuildArmor, attempting to finish off the monster. The girl from before suddenly steps in, seemingly trying to hold Another Fourze back, which reveals the 2011 on the monster’s shoulder. The monster wrestles her off, then makes a quick escape. They try to let the girl know they’ll protect her, but she just runs off once more. Lots of questions.
Geiz and Sogo attempt to chase after her, but two nerds show up, wanting to know if they’re Kamen Riders. The two are part of the Kamen Rider Club, and have never had the chance to meet a real Kamen Rider before. The two introduce them to their club, all about the “urban legend” of Kamen Riders. Sogo spots a person named Ryusei on the board, and thinks that might be what Woz referred to as “shooting star” since Ryusei can mean just that. Ryusei was in the club in 2011, which turns some gears in Geiz’s head.
That’s when Mr. Osugi shows up! He encourages these “new students” to become part of the Kamen Rider Club since they’re all about friendship. When Mr. Osugi is told these guys are Riders, he spots the conspicuous RideWatch Holder on Geiz and freaks out. It turns out, they have a Fourze RideWatch, which he was told to pass on to “someone awesome” who shows up at the club – the club’s advisor specifically ordered this, who we know as Gentaro/Fourze, a student who became a teacher by this point in time. After this, the gang concludes they need to go back to 2011, the year of the first disappearance – Tsukuyomi will stay there to keep an eye on things.
In 2011, we see a strange young man who seems to have some sort of power? He has a glowing hand over a girl he’s got lying down in a dirty old room, and once the glowing stops, he remarks that he’s losing his powers. Shortly after, he walks out near a school and shows up while Kamen Rider Fourze is fighting the Scorpion Zodiarts, a fight that I definitely recognize from some early point of the show but can’t quite pinpoint.
Swartz freezes time and appears before the young man, with some odd wording… The young man freaks out, telling him he wants in on Swartz’s plan for him because he still needs more power, to which Swartz basically punches the Another Fourze Watch into him, referring to this as an “experiment”… he becomes Another Fourze and history is altered, causing Fourze behind him to turn back into Gentaro and the Zodiarts to disappear. So basically, their encounter never happened.
Then we cut to the point in 2011 when Another Fourze had his first victim – using a Switch, Another Fourze seems to turn the girl into energy and absorb her. Zi-O and Geiz show up to fight, which goes on for a bit until Zi-O decides to use the Fourze RideWatch. In an interesting turn of events, the monster starts to attack Zi-O while he’s defenseless, only for Woz to block the attack and effortlessly knock away the monster, implying he’s got a lot of power.
With an opportunity to switch out, Zi-O puts on FourzeArmor and it’s a lot of fun. The design looks vaguely Transformers-esque and even allows him to transform into a rocket! Zi-O makes quick work of Another Fourze, delivering a very Fourze finisher in which he sends the monster into space and back. Once it’s all over, they make an alarming realization… Another Fourze is alive, his armor sheds away, revealing that he’s actually Another Faiz!
While this was happening, Tsukuyomi tracked down the Libra she figured would be the next victim, and finds her coming to an abandoned building with a bed – not unlike the one the young man was at in 2011. The scumbag from before shows up, aiming to do ssssomething about this potential victim, when he’s stopped by a man with beautiful hair. As it turns out, we’ve got ourselves two crossovers in one: It’s Takumi (Faiz) and Kusaka (Kaixa) from Kamen Rider 555/Faiz!
And that’s where the review ends, halfway into a two-parter. Blame the format of my monthly reviews and the fact that these are two-parters.
This was probably the best episode out of all of them, but I’m also working with half of a two-parter. Even so, nothing stood out as being as confusing as the last two arcs, and it’s even impressive seeing all this stuff from Fourze being brought back. I’m beginning to think they’re getting a feel for how the stories should go, and that’s good. The way they’re tying two series together is also kinda interesting, and fun, considering one show is about friendship and the other is about lies and deceit. They both also involve numbers!
The Fourze stuff is also interesting for them to work with considering the timeline of that series – the 2012 winter movie had a 5 year time skip, which means it actually makes sense to see the school after all these years.
It also makes sense why you wouldn’t see most of the cast since they’re off living their own lives by this point – if anyone had to show up, it had to be Mr. Osugi, and I loved seeing him be the same goofy character he always was. I’m curious if they’re building up to a face reveal for Gentaro or if they couldn’t get the actor, since they’ve consistently been showing him from the back – it’s probably just the former, though.
As for Faiz? Well, there is one particular inconsistency to be had with Kusaka, considering he died at the end of the show. But since we have Another Faiz now, it’s safe to assume (based on the writing quality) that Kusaka never became Kaixa because Takumi never became Faiz, therefore he didn’t die. Cool to see both actors again – Kusaka is the worst and I stand by that, but I loved Takumi as a protagonist so I look forward to seeing more of him.
Since I have the chance to theorize, lemme guess at how this all ends: The young man from before became Another Faiz first, then Swartz decided to find out what happens when he becomes a different Another Rider after that. Maybe he’s got a friend that he’s able to cure from some incurable illness, which involves some Orphnoch business with Another Faiz. Once his powers started fading, Swartz gave him Another Fourze’s powers, and now he’s turning Libras into Cosmic Energy to inject into his Libra friend.
So now we’re at the point where I give some final thoughts. It’s the first month of a new show so there’s a lot to say about what they’re doing overall. Here’s some overarching comments on these episodes.
The cast has been fun to watch. Sogo is kind of an idiot with good intentions, and when he figures things out, it’s satisfying. I also really like the angle of “I wanna be a king so I’ve gotta protect my people”, it turns a silly idea into a fun idea.
Geiz is your typical secondary Rider in that he’s the enemy of the hero, but I really like how they’re handling that – they use it for genuine character development but they’re also not above using it for comedy, and I can appreciate that. Things like, when he passes a knife to Sogo by flinging a knife towards him and hitting the wall instead.
And starting with episode 4, they add these nice subtle moments where you see him start to let his guard down around Sogo – little things, like allowing him to give Emu the blank RideWatch despite what happened with Build, and also giving him back the Build RideWatch after using it as if to say “I acknowledge that this is yours”. Geiz is a Rider I’m starting to get invested in already.
Tsukuyomi is a character I don’t have as much to say about, but I like how she offers a gentler side to things, being a voice of reason who wants to deal with Oma Zi-O in a peaceful way. For reasons I won’t say, I’m keeping an eye on her since I wanna know what her story will be.
I also really like Sogo’s down-to-Earth uncle and the house that’s also a clock shop – it’s not a new thing, sure, but I always enjoy having a shop setting like that in a show. Like, one thing I always have a problem with in these shows is the fact that you never see the characters home, or you see their home but don’t see how they’re affording to live there. So this combination house/shop is serving a purpose outside of being a cute tie-in to the time travel element.
Let’s talk about Woz, or however his name is spelled. He’s a lot of fun! He serves a unique purpose as the show’s narrator while also being a character who actually has all the knowledge of the events taking place. They also make good use of his ability to just show up at any point by having Sogo react to his sudden appearance. I like that he serves as a hype man for all of Zi-O’s debut forms, showing up to introduce Zi-O as the ruler of time etc etc. I’m looking forward to what they do with him.
The Time Jackers are an interesting bunch that I definitely wanna see more of. I like that they’ve all got these funky clothes and time powers – really makes you wonder how it relates to Oma Zi-O of the future… Who, speaking of, is voiced by the person doing the Ziku-Driver/RideWatch dialogue. Yeah I don’t buy into the idea that it’s Sogo.
The style of the Riders and their gear is also very eye-catching and stylish. I really like the use of katakana/hiragana, and how it also serves as decoration on the weapons and is even part of the finishers. The use of Ex-Aid’s finisher is brilliant. Really the strongest thing this show has is the suit styles and the fight scenes.
The Rider Armors are also interesting. It seemed like what they were doing was a uniform format with a suit of armor and unique chest/helmet parts, but with Fourze – and some stuff shown in magazine/toy reveals – it feels like they’re basically just doing that for any form they might make swappable. FourzeArmor is not the only one that’s going to be unique and that has me excited.
The continuity stuff, what else do I say about it? Knowing what I know about Rider crossovers, from seeing all the movies and recognizing how Japanese culture treats these things, I don’t see a future where this show starts writing like an analytical fan – as a crossover, the show is gonna be as paper thin as any crossover movie. I’m only pointing out the inconsistencies because poor writing and lack of research deserves to be addressed.
There’s other things that could really use more explanation, of course. We’re shown that while the future is in a bad shape, they do have TimeMazines, so presumably the Ziku-Driver is a similar situation. Only way to explain why Geiz has one. I don’t have a problem with them not explaining where their gear comes from because it definitely seems like a thing that will be explained when they have the chance. Maybe there’s room for a Geiz spinoff to address why he has these Rider Armors.
But yeah, that’s the first month of Zi-O! It’s a shaky start, which I was anticipating. Like I said, I’ve seen allll of the crossover movies, so I know what to expect when it comes to crossover logic. The fact that they’re applying their usual logic to a show makes for a rough story in terms of continuity and I’m gonna just have to point out those inconsistencies while also allowing them to exist.
The point of Zi-O is to celebrate 20 years of Heisei Rider. It may have been off to a rocky start but it seems to be getting some footing with each episode. I’m interested to see where it goes, especially once they reach the end of 2018. Join me on this ride, won’t you?
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