Team TokuNet Writer Malunis reviews the episodes of Kamen Rider Zi-O that aired in November 2018. In reviewing this month’s episodes, the review will also talk about spoilers for Ex-Aid, OOO, and Gaim.
Ep10: Taka-Tora-Batta 2010
When we last left off, Kuroto Dan from Kamen Rider Ex-Aid became a self-proclaimed king after becoming Another OOO. While Geiz and Tsukuyomi follow a false lead, attempting to defeat him in 2016 with GenmArmor, Sogo decides to join the Kuroto army and leads Geiz to believe he’s started his path towards Oma Zi-O. Also, we learn that Eiji Hino, Kamen Rider OOO, is a politician held captive by Kuroto.
Shortly after Eiji meets Hina, she displays the anime strength she had during the OOO run, which I was wondering about last time. The two escape, which Sogo seems fine with allowing to happen, and Kuroto corners them. As Sogo joins him, he perplexes Kuroto by asking what his intentions are as king – as he puts it, everyone is just assuming Kuroto is evil without hearing his side. Unsurprisingly for Kuroto, he only cares about being at the top, and will opress as he feels. Eiji’s not okay with this, and Sogo assures Kuroto he’ll take care of them.
Meanwhile, Geiz is getting healed up through Tsukuyomi’s future tablet, which is a good way to raise suspicion once Sogo’s uncle shows up with a first aid kit he said he was going to get. Another good way to raise suspicion is to talk only-kinda-vaguely about Sogo’s actions, suggesting he’s going to become an overlord after all. Geiz leaves in a huff after feeling like he’s gone too soft, while Sogo’s uncle returns and immediately gets distracted by the Nobunaga image from last episode. While Nobunaga was known as an overlord, it seems like he must’ve been a decent guy if he united Japan. Tsukuyomi’s learning a lesson in different perspectives and much like Geiz, she leaves without much explanation. Poor uncle.
Geiz calls Sogo for a rematch, and… we finally get an explanation for why Sogo joined Kuroto: He wanted to know the signs of an overlord so that he doesn’t become one. I guess, in some weird way, that’s kind of a Sogo move. While talking with Eiji and Hina, Sogo learns from Eiji the important lesson that you can’t save everyone yourself – this is why he became a politician. Kuroto barges in, realizing Sogo isn’t on his side, and they fight! And in quite a rushed sequence, Hina uses her anime strength to get Another OOO out of the room so that Eiji can hand Sogo two RideWatches with no other explanation but “These must be yours.” Man, getting flashbacks to how Wizard did product placement…
Transforming, Zi-O takes on Another OOO, but is quickly sidetracked when Ora swoops in with her own TimeMazine based on Castle Doran from Kamen Rider Kiva – very cool design choice. Geiz shows up, being quite tsundere as he helps Zi-O reluctantly, telling him to go to 2010 to deal with Another OOO. First, though, more product placement.
In the TimeMazine, Zi-O takes on Ora’s TimeMazine. The Taka Watchroid that helped him out last episode somehow gets inside, indicating he should use the OOO RideWatch he just got from Eiji. Doing so, the TimeMazine bares the OOO RideWatch face and has claws on the arms, giving it an edge against Ora. Zi-O then assumes the OOO TaJaDor Combo RideWatch will be good for flying – and it does in fact give his TimeMazine wings! Good thing he figured that out with literally no information.
With Ora fleeing, it’s time to go to 2010. Tsukuyomi explains that in May 2016 – when she and Geiz showed up to fight Another OOO – Kuroto Dan actually murdered his father so that he could get control of the company. For those interested in some lore, the premise of Ex-Aid involves Kuroto Dan’s father being imprisoned from 2011 to 2017 due to him being blamed for the existence of Bugsters, so it seems unlikely he’d be running the company.
But wait! Toei director Shirakura confirmed on Twitter that monsters (ie: Bugsters) ALSO cease to exist when the Another Riders/RideWatches of those associated Riders come into existence. So, that would mean that Masamune Dan stayed in control of Genm Corp all this time because none of the Bugster stuff happened, meaning Another OOO is a thing that happened because of Zi-O’s Ex-Aid RideWatch. That, as a plot, is VERY clever… but it takes a Twitter comment from the director to actually bring it all together, because the show is very bad at explaining itself.
Aaanyway, we see the encounter with Heure in 2010 that led to Kuroto becoming Another OOO, which affects the actual Kamen Rider OOO during his finisher in episode 3. I remember that! I’m glad(?) they remembered OOO has trouble performing successful Rider Kicks.
And so we get into the climax of the arc. Zi-O takes on Another OOO, and thanks to Eiji’s words about working together, he has the Taka Watchroid deal with Another OOO while he transforms into OOOArmor. This is a super clever design, making use of the animal motif by actually making animals that turn into armor, which also have the Taka (Hawk), Tora (Tiger) and Batta (Grasshopper) katakana written on the chest. I love the design aesthetic of this series. As you do, OOOArmor makes quick work of Another OOO, bringing the battle to a close as Kuroto Dan freaks out.
Once everyone returns home, it turns out Geiz has left the house with his stuff, implying he’s leaving. Geiz has decided to go off on his own so that he may defeat Oma Zi-O – Ora watches from a distance with intrigue. Meanwhile, without Woz’s narration for once, we see a good boy with an orange in hand and a smile that’ll melt your heart. Oh the hype is intense.
Okay, I’ve been all over the place with this one. I gotta say, much like the first review, I was pretty off with where I thought the plot would go with this arc. I felt like I saw the writing on the wall for Sogo’s motives, and where they might go with Geiz. I can see where they’re coming from with these decisions though, so it’s fine.
Also once again, the rules in place for Another Riders make it unclear what Eiji’s situation is. Like, I get it – the .5 shorts implied that personality remains unchanged after they lose their powers, so Eiji will act like Eiji. That said, if the events of Kamen Rider OOO never happened, Eiji wouldn’t be spouting this talk of “You have to reach out” and “You can’t do everything by yourself”, because these are the lessons he learned by the time you got to the finale. The idea of him becoming a politician only works if this is post-finale Eiji, but here it isn’t as clear what his story is.
Also small aside, bit weird that the Taka Watchroid isn’t explained, and it’s a shame no attention was drawn to the idea of the TaJaDor Combo RideWatch potentially being a reference to Ankh. At least they remembered to put a red feather on Eiji’s suit.
I will say, the returning actors did a good job at least, considering what they had to work with. Kuroto Dan’s actor is known for loving his role, and it shows – I love seeing him give his 110%.
Ep11: Zi-O On Parade 2018
Episode 11 opens with Woz telling us… that Zi-O has just obtained the power of Kamen Rider Gaim and is now taking on Another Gaim. Wait, what?
In 2013, Zi-O fights Another Gaim with GaimArmor, and we also see he’s fighting to get Geiz out of the Helheim Forest. Once he defeats Another Gaim, the original Gaim (Kota Kazuraba) regains control – he’s essentially a god after his show’s finale, so uh, that’s probably confusing to people who didn’t watch that one. Highly recommended.
In a visually striking scene, Kota questions Sogo’s motivations for being a king, for he seems to believe that he needs to do everything by himself – is that what a king really does? Is it worth having anyone fight alongside you? And is that person you’re trying to save really all that strong if they need rescuing? He urges Sogo to have faith in Geiz, only for Another Gaim to reform and leave Zi-O on the battlefield alone.
I normally save this for the overall comments at the end, but it really must be said: That scene is the single most interesting thing anyone has done with Kota since he became a god. A common criticism with Kota is that he loses all personality here, but I feel this scene is respectfully executed – his speech brings to mind the lessons he learned in his own show, such as the flaw in solely shouldering the burden. It feels well researched, and for good reason: The writer of this arc (and the OOO arc) worked on Gaim.
Following Geiz’s departure from the last episode, he encounters Ora and Swartz, who take this moment to join forces. While Geiz sees them as the bad guys, they figure he and the Time Jackers aren’t so different if they’re both messing with the timeline to dethrone Oma Zi-O, and Geiz is unable to refute this.
Meanwhile, it’s November 18th, exactly the day this episode aired – Sogo dons his white shirt and shoes to go find Geiz, with his uncle only knowing that they got into some sort of argument. Woz shows up to convince Sogo that Geiz contributes nothing to Oma Zi-O’s future, but Sogo feels that Geiz is important to keeping him on the straight and narrow. He leaves, disregarding the conspicuous blue shirt person hiding nearby.
While Woz and the uncle have a comedic moment, Sogo suddenly shows up again in a blue shirt, leaving them to question if he forgot something. Sogo suddenly runs over to a magazine, pointing out that some news popped up recently about the disappearance of members from a street dance team. He feels pretty strongly that this might be the work of Time Jackers and it’d provide a clue to Geiz’s whereabouts. Without much explanation, Sogo drags Tsukuyomi out.
The dance team in question is Team Baron, who are getting ready for another show, when one of the team members confronts the leader (Asura) in private. He knows too much, having seen Asura transform into Another Gaim and guessing he’s the reason the other team members disappeared, so Asura transforms and tosses him into a crack leading into the Helheim Forest.
Geiz watches from afar with Swartz, but he decides to intervene when Another Gaim attacks an innocent civilian. Just then, Sogo arrives with a Tsukuyomi who’s surprised that Sogo was so on point. While Geiz is distracted, Another Gaim sends him into Helheim, leaving Swartz to depart. Sogo raises suspicions with Tsukuyomi and Woz as he lets slip that he knows the monster is Another Gaim, and happens to have the Gaim RideWatch that he definitely got the other day. Woz is woefully distressed at the fact that this event isn’t written in his book of the world’s history.
In Helheim, Geiz wanders around until he encounters some Inves attacking a Team Baron member. Transforming, he fends them off to allow the person to escape, then meets another Team Baron member: Kaito Kumon…
Back at home, Sogo is rocking his classic white shirt when Tsukuyomi returns, questioning how he got here so fast since he was taking an injured civilian to the hospital. Sogo doesn’t know what she’s talking about and says he hasn’t had any luck finding Geiz, but is about to head out again. Donning his blue shirt, Sogo then runs back in, apologizing for the wait and confusing the heck out of Tsukuyomi.
Sogo promptly changes the subject and explains what he knows about Another Gaim. Back in 2013, Asura was kicked out of Team Baron, when Swartz showed up to force the power of Another Gaim onto him so that he could take down anyone who got in his way. He used this power to become the new leader of Team Baron. When Tsukuyomi questions how Sogo figured all this out, he makes an excuse and leaves the building. Before she can head out to follow, Sogo comes back with a white shirt and remarks that they need to come up with a plan to find Geiz instead of roaming around at random.
When told about what happened so far, Sogo is confused since he never did any of the stuff she claims. Suddenly, she realizes that Sogo has been seen in two different shirts all this time, and decides to come up with a plan of her own.
Meanwhile, Geiz continues to explore Helheim, learning that Kaito has been stuck here for 5 years. When Kaito learns that Geiz is desperate to put a stop to an overlord, he remarks that he sees hesitation and questions if Geiz really has what it takes to defy fate.
Sogo and Tsukuyomi go to a Team Baron event, where Tsukuyomi demands that Sogo take on Asura – even if he has no idea what’s going on, she’s sure that “he” will show up as a result. Asura recognizes Sogo, who transforms into Zi-O, with him becoming Another Gaim. The two fight, with Zi-O donning OOOArmor, and… oh geez how do I write this…
A second Zi-O appears, which surprises Woz, but Tsukuyomi has caught on by this point. Our first Zi-O looks him over, and decides to just go along with it. The two fight Another Gaim together, and seem to have him on the ropes, but the second Zi-O tells him it’s not time yet. Another Gaim takes this opportunity to deliver an attack that gives him the chance to escape. Once the smoke clears, the de-transformed white shirt Sogo questions who the other guy was, only to see it’s… blue shirt Sogo! And he seems very nonchalant about seeing his white shirt self.
We then get a look at a good boy cleaning the glass door of a building, with a couple RideWatches dangling from his belt. Oh, what a tease.
So, I obviously need to save overall arc thoughts for the next episode, but this was a fun one. Zi-O has a way of being a rollercoaster for me – this felt like the start of a super interesting plot, and I was real curious how this would resolve itself, which is different from most of these arcs. The use of different shirts is also a clever simple way of telling the two apart. And like I said, the Kota stuff at the beginning was stellar.
With that said, let’s move onto the next one and see if it keeps this up.
Ep12: Me & My Stage 2013
Another interesting opening as Woz recaps the events so far, remarking he never thought it possible for an event to happen that circumvents history. Just a nice lil moment, that’s all.
So now Tsukuyomi and Woz are fully in the know: Future Sogo is from 3 days into the future, and while they feel he’s altering history in a way that’s no different from the Time Jackers, he feels it was important to come back so that he could save Geiz. In his words, he needed “another me”. Future Sogo provides a clue he originally wanted Sogo to find, which would lead him to the Gaim RideWatch. Generally, Woz is of the opinion that Geiz isn’t valuable, but he allows his overlord to do as he wishes.
In Helheim, Geiz continues to look for an exit, only to conclude he’s been going around in circles. He questions what Kaito said before, and assures him that he DOES aim to change the future, but Kaito questions if he really has what it takes to do that. Deja vu. Meanwhile, once Swartz deals with the diva he hired to be Another Gaim, Woz shows up to offer a temporarily collaboration since their interests align for once…
Sogo and Tsukuyomi arrive at Druper’s, and soon meet a clumsy employee (Kota Kazuraba, pre-godhood) with RideWatches on his belt. Before they can talk, Asura shows up to take down Sogo, because 5 years of secrecy has been squandered because of him.
Transforming, Zi-O takes on Another Gaim, revealing to Kota that this is where those RideWatches come from. He gives them to Zi-O, with the hunch that it’s probably for the best he take them. Before he can use the Gaim RideWatch, however, Swartz uses his intense Time Jacker powers to freeze Zi-O in place and toss the Gaim RideWatch into a Helheim crack. The green RideWatch that Zi-O obtained alongside it transforms into a little Kodama Suika Arms robot, which chases after the RideWatch – Swartz disregards it and allows Zi-O to dwell on this inconvenience, with he and Tsukuyomi learning that Woz ratted them out.
Back at the house, we learn that Future Sogo actually knew this was going to happen. He uses his Kodama Suika Arms to project footage of the one in Helheim, which gives the Gaim RideWatch to Geiz. The Kodama Suika Arms then projects similar footage to give him a look at the two Sogos, allowing them to talk it out. Geiz has no interest in playing along, but Future Sogo hints at what Sogo remarked earlier: If he doesn’t want him to become an overlord, he needs to get out of Helheim. While Geiz wonders what to do, Kaito notices one of the watches on Geiz’s RideWatch Holder: The bike…
Asura dances alone in an abandoned building, and is surprised to see Sogo show up considering he lost his one way of defeating him. Despite that, Zi-O transforms to take on Another Gaim. Meanwhile, Kaito brings Geiz to a rift in space he came across, which is over a huge pit – if Geiz has the guts to change fate, maybe he can escape by destroying it on his bike. Geiz reflects on what he’s been fighting for, and declares that he won’t let Sogo become an overlord! Transforming, he revs up his bike, then charges forward. Once he reaches the pit, the Gaim RideWatch glows and gives him a burst of flowery energy that propels him forward, allowing him to break through!
Geiz appears from the crack, falling into the building where Zi-O is fighting. He tosses him the Gaim RideWatch, which is when things kick into top gear.
In the location from the start of the previous episode, Future Zi-O transforms into GaimArmor while Present Zi-O does the same for the first time, giving Woz the opportunity to give his usual speech. GaimArmor is a very wonderful design incorporating everything a Gaim form should have, complete with the transformation sequence.
In a fight where we see both Zi-Os taking on Another Gaim, which is filmed beautifully, we finally see the defeat of Another Gaim. The godly Kota reveals his intent, which is that a true king has faith in others – he then fades into nothing, as the Gaim timeline changes due to Sogo’s new form. Goodnight, sweet prince. Or, king. Or, god.
As all the Team Baron members return to the real world, they rejoice in seeing Kaito. The weakened Asura stumbles towards him, only for Kaito to tell him a very in-character statement: If you don’t have the ability to reach the top through your own strength, there’s no place for you on the team.
At home, Sogo lets his uncle know that Geiz is alright, and before he can say anymore, Geiz shows up with dinner – while they’re alone, he makes it clear that he’s still going to keep the overlord down, and he figures it’s wise to stay close by from now on, which Sogo understands. It seems there’s an undertone of appreciation that Geiz is back.
We end with Woz telling us that his beloved overlord will go to great effort to get what he wants, but he stops once he looks at his book of history and realizes: “This cannot be – Geiz’s name is…” Now, THAT is a twist I wasn’t expecting…!
And lastly, our clue for the next arc is a shot of a temple, and a good boy who’s too sugary sweet for my tastes but is undeniably a good boy. It’s Kamen Rider Ghost.
SO, that’s the Gaim arc! As the self-proclaimed number 1 Gaim fanboy, I was actually a little nervous about going into this arc because of how shaky Zi-O has been. But honestly? This may be the best one so far!
The OOO arc and Gaim arc were both written by Nobuhiro Mori. This bares mentioning because not only is the head writer taking a break, but Mori was also relatively involved with OOO somewhere in the middle, and especially involved with Gaim.
While most of that show was handled by its head writer, Gen Urobuchi, there’s a couple pretty notable episodes that I consider to be my favorites, like episode 18 with the Beat Riders group dance. He also did the fun Kikaider crossover episode, the hilarious summer movie tie-in episode, the first winter movie, the crossover between Gaim and ToQGer… aaand basically all of the Gaim Gaiden stuff that came out after the show ended. He’s even writing the upcoming Kamen Rider Zangetsu stage play with supervision from Urobuchi.
Why do I bring this up? Well, despite criticisms for the OOO arc, I can’t deny it felt familiar since the writer was familiar with the material. But I also think that the Gaim arc was a much stronger set of episodes because of how much Mori wrote for that series.
The arc had an overarching theme of changing fate, which is a theme DEEPLY rooted in Gaim. It not only applied to Geiz, but also Sogo’s very decision to go back in time to change things for the sake of someone he keeps being told is unnecessary to his future. Not only that, but Kaito – despite being a presumably pre-Rider Kaito – was very in-character. And of course, I must again say Kota was also in-character when he’s a god and when he’s not, even if briefly seen. Everything here felt right, even if I could’ve used more of Kota and Kaito on screen.
Also it just must be said that I’m super happy they got both of the actors to show up for this. They’ve gotten some lead actors before, sure, but this was the one that got me the most excited. Everything about this arc gave me a wonderful nostalgia for 2013. Gaim was when I started doing the kind of blogging that got me here on TokuNet, so it means a lot that Zi-O was able to pull this arc off without a lot of hiccups along the way.
I’ve been up and down with the show, and at the risk of jinxing it, I’ll say I’m cautiously hopeful for what the next arcs bring. We’re starting to reach an interesting point in the show’s, heh, future.