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Review of Kamen Rider Zi-O (Episodes 13-16)


Review of Kamen Rider Zi-O (Episodes 13-16)

Team TokuNet Writer Malunis reviews the episodes of Kamen Rider Zi-O that aired in December 2018. In reviewing this month’s episodes, the review will also talk about spoilers for Ghost, and Decade.


I’ve been meaning to do some changes in honor of the new year, so we’re gonna try a bit of a different format this time – I stuck to my episode synopsis format with the last review since it started off that way, but this new format is in favor of those who’ve seen the episodes and don’t need a play-by-play.

My reviews are just the key points I wanted to talk about, but if there was something else you wanted my thoughts on, feel free to ask in the comments.

Ep13: Ghost Hunter 2018

While Sogo and the others are going about their daily lives, a new Another Rider starts going after several people and stealing their souls. Since Sogo is seen at the scene and has the ability to transform, he’s captured by Takeru Tenkuji (Kamen Rider Ghost) of the Supernatural Phenomenon Lab, a small agency that pursues paranormal activity. It seems that the monster has a connection with the disappearance of a girl’s older brother, as the monster appeared after he saved her from some falling steel beams.

It turns out that the monster is Another Ghost, and it’s in fact the girl’s brother. The tricky thing about defeating him is the fact that he’s actually dead without these powers, due to being hit by steel beams before. What’s more, even with GhostArmor, Zi-O can’t properly defeat him because of a new threat: Kamen Rider Decade. The self-proclaimed destroyer of worlds has agreed to ally with the Time Jackers, giving them an edge. Another Ghost tries to steal Sogo’s soul, only for Takeru to intervene and send Sogo’s soul flying. Takeru is able to see his soul, revealing that Sogo is essentially now a ghost, to his disbelief. 

This episode was one I was interested in because of several factors, not including the return of Decade. For one, it’s yet another arc by Nobuhiro Mori – while I don’t remember OOO well enough to know how I felt about the episodes he wrote, I certainly enjoyed what he had to offer from Gaim, so I looked at his Ghost credits and found that he wrote a great amount of enjoyable episodes.

The fact that we’re even getting a Ghost arc to begin with is also pretty swell. Geiz began the show with Ghost and Drive RideWatches, which CERTAINLY raised questions about his backstory, but also made me go “Well, I guess we won’t be getting episodes about them”. I figured that would all be covered in a Geiz spinoff (haven’t heard anything about the blu-ray contents yet~), but they actually address it well at the beginning by saying that he stole them from Oma Zi-O. That means they left the door open for us to see these story arcs at some point.

Plus, you get some familiar faces and settings. Get a load of this: Renn Kiriyama of Kamen Rider W reprised his lead role pretty frequently, but as far as time goes, it was a year or so after the show ended – plus another return a few years later. Shun Nishime has returned to play Kamen Rider Ghost for like 3 years in a row, which I think is just as impressive. Even if he was not my faaaavorite main character, I can really appreciate the actor being willing to do this time and time again.

Oh you also get Shibuya and Narita returning here, along with the temple. The fact that minor characters get to make a return kinda makes me smile, because you’d sooner expect Riders and more prominent cast members to get top priority. Part of that might also be the fact that Onari’s actor is… apparently in the US right now as a stage actor? He posted an English message on Twitter wishing Takeru good luck, which was incredibly charming.

And let’s not forget the destroyer of worlds himself. While I don’t get to see him do much here apart from mock Zi-O, I always felt that Tsukasa was more fun when he wasn’t in his own show. The more Zi-O presents its time travel logic, the more I yearn for Decade‘s simpler alternate timeline premise – and yet, the more I think back on Decade as a show, the more I think Zi-O‘s cast is a lot stronger and has more going for it when crossovers aren’t happening. They have an interesting yin and yang.

As for the monster, it’s a cool twist on what the show has been doing so far. The older brother is a police officer, so when the Time Jacker offers to save his sister’s life from the steel beams, he immediately denounces them as shady and decides to sacrifice himself for his sister – only to be turned into Another Ghost, a monster themed after a Rider who received his powers after death. And the fact that he goes after specific people who cause the death of others in the future… nice touch. I really enjoy the Another Riders and their powers and this may actually be my favorite Another Rider design.

This arc is promising, to say the least. Let’s see how it goes.

Ep14: Go-Go-Ghost! 2015

With Sogo in the hospital, Geiz rushes to 2015 to stop Another Ghost when he first comes into existence. He’s stopped by Decade, however, and his Ghost RideWatch is… blank’d, making it impossible to defeat the monster. Decade tosses him the Decade RideWatch, for reasons, and leaves him for dead. Meanwhile, since Takeru is capable of seeing Sogo due to the Ghost RideWatch he has on him, Sogo shows Takeru how to pilot the TimeMazine and go to 2015 to save the man from becoming Another Ghost, undoing the soul-stealing and bringing Sogo back to life.

Despite their efforts, Heure interferes. Makoto (Kamen Rider Specter) shows up and he and Ghost fight off some Ghost-related grunts summoned by the Time Jacker. He creates Another Ghost again, this time an alive one, which still puts us where we left off with a dead Sogo. However, using the ghost-seeing gadget made by Takeru’s friend Akari, they’re able to all see the dead Sogo, and he joins Geiz in 2015 so that they can fight Another Ghost once more.

Of course, the Time Jackers can’t have that. Dropping my the usual warehouse set, the four TimeMazines duke it out, with Zi-O switching to its Ex-Aid mode then Build mode, and Geiz switching to his Genm mode and Cross-Z mode. With them fleeing, the two make it to Another Ghost. Geiz gives Zi-O the Decade RideWatch, allowing him to transform into DecadeArmor, then switch to its subforms for Build and Ghost, the latter of which finishes off Another Ghost. The girl’s brother returns to his ordinary life, except Sogo. He arrives him to find that a visitor arrived: Tsukasa Kadoya, Kamen Rider Decade. He came by just to let Sogo know that he can forget about being king… because he will destroy this world.

And that is the Ghost arc. Okay, let’s see…

First off, fun returning cast. Takeru was actually pretty endearing here, helpful too, and I liked the bits where he relates to Sogo being a ghost then turning back to normal… bit weird considering the rules set in place which would presumably mean he never died, so it’s a mixed bag. But the Ghost RideWatch does at least kinda provide him a reason to see ghosts. As always, the RideWatch rules continue to make things shaky.

Makoto was a very brief inclusion, which did the minimal job of making you go “Okay, so this is set within Ghost’s setting”, I’m guessing around December when the two stopped fighting each other, or else Makoto would’ve shown up to beat Takeru’s face in.

Tsukasa was really the highlight though, acting smug all the way through. This is also where the inclusion of Decade becomes very fanfic-y, because not only does he get to fight Zi-O, he also has a new pink DecaDriver and has an updated KamenRide arsenal that goes up to (at least) Build. I love it. I also love the way he mocks Woz for giving his usual form debut speech, especially when he starts doing it again in response to DecadeArmor’s subforms.

Speaking of! DecadeArmor is neat, and highly appropriate. You can’t do another crossover show, 10 whole shows later, and not pay tribute to Decade. The use of subforms has been getting some flak due to it being unoriginal, but I kind of just shrug at the notion – it doesn’t really bother me, and it makes a bit of sense as a concept. I’m looking forward to seeing just how much mileage this power-up gets, in the show and in SO-DO’s toyline since I’m collecting those. Tsukasa seems to be implying he just gave Zi-O this form so he’d be more of a challenge, which I kinda shrug at since I’m not aware of where this will go.

Oh, and the TimeMazine stuff was cool to see! I figured there would come a point when the TimeMazines would just, get blown up so that they don’t have to do all that CGI stuff, but in the meantime they’ve been getting a lot of mileage out of these robots. I like that we can get some more use out of that Cross-Z RideWatch as well.

Lastly, lots of cool time stuff happening with the arc. I was wondering how they’d handle Another Ghost in the end, and it’s pretty nice how Sogo and Takeru managed to alter history just to save his life, which even surprises Geiz since it was a noble act. Geiz, too, was in a rush to save Sogo, even though he’s not willing to admit it. Likewise, Woz is displeased with this attempt to alter history, so he’s relying on Tsukasa to keep things on track.

There’s a lot of interesting things in place as of this arc, and Woz becomes an even more interesting character by this point since he isn’t quite as affable to Sogo as he appeared to be. He has a plan and it involves playing all sides.

The arc was… pretty good I suppose, all that in mind. It’s weird, the more I go over what happened, it feels like it was barely a crossover, yet the things that transpired felt like a good combination of Ghost concepts and Zi-O concepts. Since I’m of the assumption this might be our last proper RideWatch hunt crossover, I’d say it’s good to end on that note.

Ep15: Back To 2068

Sogo and the others go about their daily lives, when suddenly the city is attacked by DaiMazines – the giant sentries of Oma Zi-O. It seems that he’s become aware of the attempts to alter history, and has also sent a loyal servant named Kasshine to attack Geiz and Tsukuyomi. Decade interferes with the fight, and we get this constant back-and-forth where Zi-O refuses to believe he’d become such a horrible person.

Decade decides that Zi-O needs to face reality, so he tosses him into one of his time walls (followed by Tsukuyomi) in order to send him to the year 2068. There, Sogo sees the destruction caused by himself, the remaining population, and has an encounter with his future self which leaves him beaten and battered. It seems that there’s only one way to stop this future from happening, and it’s what Geiz pleaded him to do earlier in the episode: Get rid of the Ziku-Driver. But does he have the mettle to do it?

After about 14 episodes of crossovers, we are now hitting that point I was curious about: The show is shifting focus to its own original content. It’s wild to see this encounter so early on, and to have it not directly tied to his power-up debut.

Kasshine was an interesting addition I wasn’t expecting, giving us a type of monster design that isn’t at all like the Another Riders’ aesthetic, but more sleek and robotic – I dig it. And it adds an interesting twist to the main fight of this episode since he was sent by Oma Zi-O, meaning he will protect Zi-O from a furious Geiz and the interfering Decade, and won’t listen to Zi-O when he tells him to stop. In a lot of ways, this episode is about Zi-O being powerless to the monster he apparently becomes.

On that note, Oma Zi-O… it’s interesting that they chose to shadow him the way they did, and it leaves me curious if they’ve got some trick up their sleeve. Obviously, I and a lot of other people figured that the Oma Zi-O of the future was probably NOT Sogo, because of that classic “They keep insisting it so it must be a red herring” logic that served me well with the previous show. But as the next episode shows, it’s gonna be hard to take this as anything but a future Sogo. Time will tell.

But I dunno… the show’s making a good case for it with how persistent the message is, especially due to the ominous dream that Sogo seemed to be having. If that is indeed Sogo, I’d be interested to see what the moment was that caused that turn from good king to wicked overlord. Might be a good subject for a movie!

Oh, I suppose the dream is a good talking point as well. Pretty fishy – I’m suspecting there’s going to be some sort of twist to that, along the lines of “Someone altered time, and Sogo, being too young to know better, interpreted it as some sort of dream”. Not the most solid theory.

Anyway, how does this resolve itself?

Ep16: Forever King 2018

With Oma Zi-O leaving him a broken man, Sogo and Tsukuyomi are sent back to 2018 where Kasshine is still fighting Geiz. In order to put an end to all this, Sogo makes Geiz destroy his Ziku-Driver, making it so Oma Zi-O never comes into existence. He bids farewell to Geiz and Tsukuyomi with the intent of living a normal life where he doesn’t strive to become a king, but the Time Jackers send Kasshine after him to make sure that Oma Zi-O never comes back. 

Despite his inability to transform, Sogo tries to protect others from Kasshine. Despite everything, Geiz makes Sogo transform so that he can take on the Time Jackers, promising that he’ll take Sogo down if he ever becomes an overlord. With a reborn sense of justice, Zi-O takes on Kasshine, the two Riders take on Ora and Heure in another TimeMazine fight, and they have a nice Christmas dinner. Woz ends by letting us know that things are about to get more interesting… as we see a glimpse of the third Rider. 

And that was the first story arc that didn’t involve hunting for RideWatches. And I gotta say, it was a good one – it might be my favorite arc overall. It has a pretty quick resolution on Sogo’s decision to stop being a Rider, which means that ANYTHING could happen in the remainder of the episode. I like that sort of “What’s gonna happen?” anticipation.

I suppose a big talking point of this arc as well is, well, the classic logic with time travel stories. Geiz and Tsukuyomi probably wouldn’t actually be here if Sogo decided to not be a Rider, but they would be if you pull some alternate branching timelines logic… which brings into question Oma Zi-O and Kasshine. I dunno, time travel stories are always gonna be messy.

It’s of course not a new idea, the plot where the main Rider – by choice or by someone else’s hands – is unable to transform. The thing that makes it interesting is finding out how they get their gear back, especially when Sogo’s belt is thoroughly turned to dust. Turns out Woz just has a spare, because he is just that concerned with keeping history on track.

Speaking of motives, it seems like Tsukasa has some of his own. It looked as though he just wanted to make his fights with Zi-O more interesting by giving him more power, but now it seems like there’s something else going on. And I’m very curious where that’s gonna go – even he has acknowledged previously that he doesn’t dig the whole king idea, in reference to the very strange plot twists in his own show, so I’m not sure what his angle is. I’m waiting for the moment where he mocks the Time Jackers for trusting him, a hero, to be a villain. I mean, this is the guy who says “They’re all unlikeable, unlike me.”

And really, the best part of this episode is the action – the quick resolution at the beginning means that a lot of fighting can take place, and you get a bunch of cool stuff, such as Geiz and Zi-O swapping RideWatches like bros, and SPEAKING OF BROS, you get DecadeArmor’s Ex-Aid Form which is based on Mighty Brothers XX, meaning two Zi-Os join the fight and one of them is piloting the TimeMazine. It’s a lot of fun seeing the show play with these concepts, and once again, I’m impressed at how much they’re doing with the TimeMazines.

And… yeah, hype for the next few episodes. That’s the stuff I’m most interested in with this post-crossover story we’ve now entered. Along with our hero, Oma Zi-O is back in action, but his DaiMazines will apparently have to wait a few more months to take action… presumably in time for another power-up.

Copy editor for TokuNet. Creator of a few casual Kamen Rider blogs on Tumblr (FruitRiderNews/GameRiderNews/BuildRiderNews). Collector of Riders, Transformers and generally robotic/cute stuff. I also do a lot of art, so if you're interested in a commission you can check out this link. Thanks for stopping by!

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