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Review of Kamen Rider Zi-O (Supplementary Plan)


Review of Kamen Rider Zi-O (Supplementary Plan)

Team TokuNet writer Malunis takes a look at the bonus content of Kamen Rider Zi-O, the Supplementary Plan shorts. In talking about these, the review contains spoilers for the show and its finale.

Known to some as the .5 shorts, the Supplementary Plan was a Toei Tokusatsu Fan Club exclusive series of shorts that were released during the first quarter of the show, each of which would debut after the latest episode.

It was not clear what these were going to be until the first one popped up, but in a nutshell, they were goofy shorts that were poking fun at a number of things – usually the production, and some small tidbits for the plot. But mostly jokes.

Some people really dislike these for their transparency, and others love how goofy they are. I’m pretty much in the latter camp but I understand how these can rub a person the wrong way, and I will address them as they come up.

I’ll give the briefest summary I can as I talking about the contents. The nutshell of these is that it’s characters from the show, holding scripts, partially in-character while also aware this is a TV show. I’ll refer to them by character name regardless.

#1.5: The Mystery of Naming

Kamen Rider Zi-O has just transformed. Sogo has doubts since he was told he’d become an overlord called Ohma Zi-O. But he then also remarks how Ohma is actually an anagram of Maoh (Overlord).

This brings on the discussion of names. Did you know that the name Zi-O is derived from “Ji/Zi no Oh”, or “King of Time”? And also looks kind of like 20, with this being the 20th Heisei Rider show? That one’s obvious. But Tsukuyomi’s name apparently means “Counting Moons” or “God of Counting Time”. When Geiz’s name comes up, he’s not quite sure what it is but he’s pretty sure it’s German, which I think was also my reaction when I saw the name spelling of Geiz.

Woz explains to us that Geiz is a longshot attempt to work in the word “Gate” since kings in ancient times were seen as gateways to the gods and the future. But why go with Geiz/Gates instead of Gate? Simple: It sounds cooler. 

I can appreciate a bit of transparency when it comes to intent. The fact that they thought that much about names is pretty cool, and I completely get the “It sounds cooler” angle – it’s what I assume, and it’s what I also do with fancharacter names.

#2.5: The Rules of the World

In this one, Sento (Build) explains the rules of this world.

1. Multiple instances of the same Rider’s power cannot co-exist. This is why when Another Build was created, Kamen Rider Build’s powers disappeared. It’s as if the show Kamen Rider Build never existed.

2. Another Riders can only be defeated using the same Rider’s power. This is why Another Build kept regenerating until defeated by Zi-O in BuildArmor. “Why?” “I dunno, why not watch the next episode to find out?”

3. Don’t ask unnecessary questions about adult circumstances. This is basically telling the audience to stop nitpicking the little things that don’t flow well with the continuity, such as how Sento should probably look like Katsuragi when he loses his powers, and then we have Ryuga (Cross-Z)’s whole situation…

This one came out after the Build arc had ended, and I know that myself – along with others – needed more explanation as to how the Another Rider stuff worked. We got it, but not in the most mature approach.

That last rule is really the one that got the most flak. If you followed interviews at the time the show was new, there were a lot of somewhat disheartening comments about the intent of the writing, all coming down to “Time travel is complicated, we’re dumbing this down for the kids”. More to that point, it seems like that also gets applied to continuity.

The target audience is kids, so I dunno if I have a place in saying whether that’s wrong… buuut I do think the idea of saying “It’s a kids show” to the idea of simplification is a bit of a weak answer since toku, and shows in general that are directed to kids, are fully capable of thought and depth. I’m more for writing something that can be enjoyed by all ages. Because of this, while I do enjoy some of these shorts, this one leaves a bad impression pretty early on, a line in the sand about Zi-O‘s quality.

#3.5: Regal Spoilers

When Sogo and the others try questioning Emu (Ex-Aid) on spoilers, he won’t budge. This is when Ora, the newly established Time Jacker, stop times and tells us some spoilers of her own: The Time Jackers are trying to crown a new king, because at some point, Riders from across time will fight each other for the title of king. This tidbit is a secret, even from the production staff!

And that last bit is funny in retrospect, because it… wasn’t… the direction they actually went in? Unless we’re talking about the Ohma Zi-O timeline? It’s such an odd short, with information that’s somewhat new but ultimately doesn’t matter.

But I did enjoy seeing Emu looking comically disinterested and just kinda there as the crew talks about who watched the first episode. Also, the suggestions to stop the Time Jackers ranging from convincing the writers to… blowing up Toei’s studio. Bold of them to make that joke about themselves!

#4.5: Confessions from the A-Legends

Sogo questions if it’s really okay for Emu and the Ex-Aid cast to have lost their memories from him obtaining the Ex-Aid RideWatch – and it is. But Sogo pauses as he reads the script, because he learns something: “History has changed, so Hiro (Brave) is referred to as After Hiro, or A-Hiro, from this point on”. As it turns out, these are the terms used by the writers. Emu (Ex-Aid) before was B-Emu, now he is A-Emu.

It really isn’t a huge revelation outside of “Oh so these are terms the writers use”, but it’s a short I came back to a lot because it establishes something you technically didn’t SEE in the show: Every Rider associated with Ex-Aid has lost their memories, not just the main Rider. This makes some amount of sense in a really loose meta way, as Sento previously mentioned “It’s as though the show doesn’t exist”…

… But when you look at this as a TIME TRAVEL show, that’s when things get weird. It implies that if Emu never became Ex-Aid, then Hiro would’ve never become Brave, which is very inaccurate and perhaps shows a lack of research in these series. More often than not, the secondary Rider (let alone all of them) had an origin story independent of the main Rider’s origins. We also get secondary Riders as RideWatches later which is just another thing that makes this all a bit shaky.

The producer, Shirakura, has commented on Twitter that each of the shows presented in Zi-O are indeed meant to be alternate timelines/worlds, and by the end of the show, that does appear to be the case since they pivot to Decade style rules… after having it all clearly be on one timeline earlier on.

Over time, this short makes a little more sense, yet at the time just served to make the show look worse.

#5.5: Sogo Tokiwa and the Mystery Phone

When Another Fourze was seemingly defeated, he was revealed to be a different Another Rider with the name Faiz written on his shoulder. Geiz has no idea who Faiz would be, if such a Rider exists. He and Tsukuyomi have a handy device to sell you, though: The FaizPhone! No relation. Also, Sogo Tokiwa (or Tokiwa Sogo to Japanese speakers) has no relation to Tokiwa-So, the apartment where series creator Shotaro Ishinomori resided.

This is basically a goofy “filler” episode, if you can call these anything but filler. It just pokes fun at the idea that Geiz and Tsukuyomi have gadgets clearly themed after Kamen Rider Faiz but don’t bring attention to it. Ever. I guess I can appreciate some meta humor like that – feels very net movie-esque.

#6.5: The Secret of Fourze 555

Sogo’s a tad confused as to why the supposed Fourze arc ended up being a Faiz arc as well. Takumi (Faiz) comes to explain: Fourze is an homage to 555, obviously, based on the shapes on his limbs – but not all of them.

Then Kusaka (Kaixa) appears to reveal the truth, that the show 555 was all about the Orphnoch King, and Fourze’s name is using the kanji for “King”, so it was inevitable that they would both cross paths with Zi-O. Both of them spend so much time arguing over who’s lying, so the gang decides to go watch the latest Bleach movie.

This is all Producer Shirakura’s fault.

While some of these may be filler, so to speak, this one is a fun non-answer to the question of why Fourze and Faiz share an arc. It seemed like the most honest answer up front is that the big stars of Fourze are all in the latest Bleach movie and thus had no time for Zi-O. There’s also a nice dig at the expense of Takumi’s actor, implying he had nothing better to do.

And so begins the jokes about Shirakura…

#7.5: Who is the Most Blacklisted?

Sogo is feeling troubled when he recounts the various scenes that got cut, despite his best efforts to act. Woz shows that that some have it even worse, as Geiz had a small appearance in the Edo era scene in episode 1, which he spent an entire day to do, only for it to get cut out. When Sogo finds out the Directors might be to blame, he decides he’ll go talk to them. Woz then later informs us that Sogo Tokiwa’s future has been cut, and it’s time for him to seek out a new overlord.

This was a surprisingly cool short. It provides us with several little moments that got cut for time, a couple of which had special effects that they didn’t slip in (ie: Geiz de-transforming, but using a simple fade between shots). It has me curious if there’s any room for a director’s cut of these scenes – there have certainly been DVD releases like this in the past.

#8.5: The Terrifying Time Paradox!

Kosuke (Beast) is confused about how he got the Wizard and Beast RideWatches, so Geiz explains to him how time travel works. He eventually gives them to him by going to the past. In a loose attempt at jokes, Kosuke gives “the few fans of Beasts” a transformation pose and catchphrase, then beats up Geiz. Then jokes ensue about Geiz’s name being Gate.

This is just a really nonsensical one, but I… THINK the point it’s getting at is how time travel is a bit goofy and confusing. It’d been previously addressed in interview snippets that they wanted to simplify it for the kids and I guess this was some attempt at that. I mainly enjoyed this for Kosuke.

#9.5: King, God, and Adult

Sogo gets that the OOO arc is a thing because of all the OOO-related merch being released at the same time, but why is Kuroto (Genm) in here? There IS a Genm RideWatch campaign, so there’s that – but does that mean everyone here is just playing to Bandai’s whims? According to Kuroto, of course not! As it is explained, things are rearranged to fit the availability of their returning actors.

This is weirdly another one I keep coming back to. I’ve frequently explained my theory about it, so a brief summary: I feel that the Kiva arc plays out like a lot of the early arcs, which is to say not very well written, and with that “I think this watch might be yours” talk that’s so poorly executed.

My theory was that they rearranged things so that the returning Kiva actors could take part, and some minor tweaks were made, such as fitting Ginga into it. This short constantly sticks in my mind because it really makes a lot of sense.

This is also pretty entertaining because Sogo keeps stumbling over his lines, to the point that Kuroto teases him immensely at the end, and Sogo can’t help but devolve into a giggle fit. It’s adorable.

#10.5: Mori VS Shimoyama

The gang can’t help but feel that their personalities seem somehow different, leading to the realization that Shimoyama wrote the first 8 episodes, while Mori wrote the latest couple. Not only that, but they’ve cycled through 5 directors so far, with another on the way, and yet another directing the upcoming winter movie – how do you have that many directors? Despite that, Sogo believes that they can keep their characters in check if they work hard as actors. Geiz reminds him that he messes up more than anyone on set.

This was one where I wasn’t sure what to make of it. It’s true that you can get different characterization, with different writers, but it is also surprising to realize they went through a different director for each arc. This was mostly apparent when Sakamoto was directing the Fourze/Faiz arc since the action was especially good. I’ll also admit that when other people besides Shimoyama started writing, I was having a bit more fun.

#11.5: The Mysteries of 9 5 Do!

Hot off the heels of that time a second Sogo appears in the Gaim arc, Tsukuyomi remarks that Sogo has no idea what kind of Rider he is – he apparently didn’t catch onto the fact he’s time-themed, so Woz shows us concept art for Zi-O where we can see the watch motif more clearly.

Tsukuyomi then remarks that there’s some other mysterious things about his uncle’s clock shop, such as the clock from Build’s lab, or several other apparent references to previous series. References that I don’t understand also come up.

This was a weird one, but not entirely pointless – I love seeing concept art. Normally the most we get these days is the concept art for the finalized design, not even the work-in-progress stuff. The fact that they apparently littered the place in references is also neat, even if I only recognize the one clock. Tried looking at the hashtag they promote but people have been tweeting in it for the past year and I didn’t immediately see any answers as to what people found in this particular short.

All in all, it sure was a diversion from the mysterious cliffhanger of episode 11, which happened before with the FaizPhone X short.

#12.5: An Interview With Future People

In the show, Geiz temporarily aligned himself with the Time Jackers, and Woz steps in to comment on the fact that we might have one too many future folk with not a lot of clarification on their origins. In response to viewer suggestions, an interview happens between Geiz, Woz and Swartz. We learn their origins (barely), their goals (basically), and personal opinions on real world topics (sure).

More importantly, their real goals! Geiz does want to kill Zi-O, but he recognizes that people like when he’s reluctantly nice to people he hates; Woz denies having ulterior motives but does say that plot twists keep a story interesting; And Swartz is thinking of getting a bodyguard since the stakes always seem to raise during Christmas…

This, this was a pretty transparent one for a few reasons. The one I always think back to is Swartz – looking at the show as a completed project, we know his origins now, but the character/actor basically admits that his backstory hasn’t even been decided up to this point, all he knows is that he’s not from the present.

More importantly, it acknowledges the tropes of Rider writing, for better or worse. Geiz more or less spells out how he wants to kill Zi-O now, but he’s probably gonna be nice to him eventually since he wouldn’t be as likeable as a character if things go his way. And of course, Woz lying to our faces about his loyalty, and the notion of introducing bigger threats around Christmas to introduce new power-ups.

It’s definitely more of a talking point than you’d expect, because it’s also delivered in such a goofy way. Their faces are censored at one point in an intentionally bad way, and they do random voices at another point. Let us also not forget the moan added in.

#13.5: The Ghost Teacher

In the show, Sogo’s been turned into a ghost by Another Ghost! So he learns from Takeru (Ghost) about various things. Among them, live editing means that the ghost scenes won’t be expensive, a GhostArmor was made for Zi-O so that they could do a Ghost arc later when Takeru(‘s actor) was available, and they leave DriveArmor unspecified because Takeru doesn’t wanna lose his job.

Most importantly, Sogo learns he needs to collect all 15 Eyes in 99 days to wish for life – go watch Kamen Rider Ghost, it’s definitely not Dragon Ball. Since it’d take so long to film, however, it might be better if Sogo stays dead.

This was a good one. We actually do get some more information, little bit of film trivia as well as confirmation that there was a reason for holding off on giving Zi-O the GhostArmor form – if you followed toy catalog stuff then you’d know that was apparently slotted for a debut around October, just after FourzeArmor.

Seeing this in retrospect also makes it a bit of a shame that Zi-O never got DriveArmor. The way they frame it here suggests that it was probably a bit undecided anyway, especially since Drive’s actor is literally known as the most ideal man in Japan these days. Probably not quite as affordable as he was in 2014.

#14.5: The Pink Devil

Sogo and Geiz are concerned about their new pink enemy, Tsukasa (Decade), at which he corrects them by saying he is in fact magenta. Whether you call it magenta or pink, Decade is known for his color, and may in fact be a trendsetter for more unique colors, particularly pastels. Even so, curse you, Decade. 

This was a pretty fun one for the Decade fans, between the argument of pink VS magenta and a nice big Onore Decade at the end. It’s also nice hearing the… possibly skeptical origins of why magenta was the color they considered. I believe it.

What’s true, though, is that there’s been lots more variety since Decade – I’ve always remarked about how a majority of Heisei phase 1 consists of a black/silver/red color scheme, but since then we do get things like green, white, orange, blue, and Zero-One is officially considered yellow despite the subtle green hue. I love bright colors, and Rider delivers thanks to Decade. Direct all your Onores to Zi-O.

#15.5: Supplementary Plan Forever: Part 1

With Sogo giving up his Ziku Driver to prevent himself from becoming Ohma Zi-O, who shall be the star? Perhaps we should call this show Kamen Rider Geiz? Dare we dream of Kamen Rider Tsukuyomi? Sogo is upset since he’s only following the script, but Tsukuyomi and Geiz have come to realize they don’t like what these Supplementary Plan scripts are making them say about destroying Toei and changing writers.

Before they can do anything, Woz arrives to shamelessly plug the new movie, Heisei Generations Forever, which is coming out soon! But is there a point to it when fans who’d be on the Toei Tokusatsu Fan Club are probably the types who’d see it regardless? Woz does let us know, however, that there’s a SURPIIISE in the movie to look forward to! And also the next short will be the last.

This was another fun goofy romp, but of course, one thing that continued to stick in my mind until the end of the show was… Kamen Rider Tsukuyomi.

We all know the score with female characters in Rider, and especially with female Riders – rare, and usually short lived, both in terms of status and/or life expectancy. Teasing fans with Kamen Rider Tsukuyomi so early on, and having it be a gag in these shorts, is probably one of the biggest talking points out of all of them…

… and it would overshadow all of the entertainment of these shorts if they hadn’t eventually given us a Kamen Rider Tsukuyomi in the final episodes of the show. More importantly, one that isn’t an obvious Zi-O ripoff, and is more or less entirely unique. Even if it was brief, I consider this a major, MAJOR bullet dodged.

It actually makes me wonder if they were perhaps paying attention to fan response here and got to thinking “Yeah okay, maybe we should commit to this bit”, whether it be out of kindness or out of fear. I dunno – it depends on how important the non-target audience is to Toei. I’d like to think it’s more of a positive since, again, we got such a nice unique design out of it. And it’s one that’s gotten some use outside of the show, appearing in the Final Stage show and seemingly in the upcoming GeizMajesty special.

#16.5: Supplementary Plan Forever: Part 2

Heisei Generations Forever has aired, and it turns out the SUPRIIISE is… about a scene with the monster, which no one but the director were even aware of, since they deliberately left placeholder text in the script and filmed on a day when there was to be no filming – or at least that’s what I take away from it. This is, apparently, a true story.

The group is perturbed by the fact that the producers would leave them in the dark like this, and Woz informs them that the controversy was so bad that these producers were let go – even going so far as to say that Toei sent hitmen to finish them off. It’s a happy end, so everyone thanks the viewers for sticking with them so far and to look forward to where the show goes in 2019.

However, in the shadows, at his throne, we see he still lives… Shirakura…

So! That was the final short, and it’s an interesting one to end on since it provides some legitimate intrigue for the movie. I have not yet seen it as of writing this, but it’s on my list! I’m going to look out for this so-called scene. When I review it, I’ll be sure to comment on it.

These shorts were, for better or worse, the best part of the first quarter of the show. Zi-O had a rocky start, between its rules for crossovers and the dumbing down of continuity, so these brought some welcome laughs to my experience.

I also appreciate when each series experiments a bit. It wasn’t long ago that they started including spin-off stories in the blu-ray releases, and it was even sooner that we got Toei Tokusatsu Fan Club content in the form of Ex-Aid‘s Kamen Rider Brave spin-off. This was just another attempt at something new, and it made me nostalgic for the net movies that were associated with the movies up until around Wizard.

These were a mixed bag, but when I got a good one, I got a very good one that stuck with me.

And that’s another Zi-O review down! I did want to get an overall review of the show out there, but in the meantime, check out our podcast for the Heisei Rider retrospective. Part 3 features plenty of talk about what does/doesn’t jive with me about Zi-O.

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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