Kamen Rider Gaim Episode 11

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Recap: Zangetsu kicks everyone’s ass.

Aqua‘s thoughts: Kamen Rider Gaim continues its streak of amazement with another highly cinematic, action-packed episode in which the stakes are considerably upped. While Kouta sneaks around Helheim Forest looking for the mysterious extermination crew, Zangetsu takes up a considerable amount of the episode decimating the other Beat Riders. Especially his complete curbstomping of Mitchy is hard to look at despite the strong cinematography and excellent choreography. Toei have been doing an excellent job at making Takatora and his masked alter ego look impressively intimidating. With an upgrade for Zangetsu in the pipeline without his basic form even being scratched, the bad guys seem to be at an all-time biggest advantage, and Team Gaim can only try to use their newfound knowledge about the experiments to tray and sway the other Riders into their cause.

The question is whether the other “street thugs” even have any interest in fighting for justice and all that. Kaito seems more pissed off than ever, the Nuts have been effectively taken out and taken prisoner by the Yggdrasil Corporation, and it remains to be seen if Pierre even wants to oppose Takatora. Sid the Lock Dealer seems to be Kouta’s best shot at more information, but with the man seemingly retiring from the Invess game, the magnificent bastards of Yggdrasil are more out of reach than ever. The existence of a tree-like cloaking shield above the city seems to imply they want to keep some sort of emission from their tower hidden from the public, or maybe even conceal the outside world from the good citizens of Zawame City.

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In any case, Kouta manages to make good use of the shield as he blasts out of Yggdrasil Tower and fights a horde of Invess mooks in the sky. It’s the sort of all-out CGI madness you’d normally only see in the finale of a movie, and it makes me wonder if this year’s Kamen Rider show managed to grab a hold of a bigger budget — what with the large number of Riders, the explosive special effects, picture-perfect direction and (relatively) higher-profile writer. I’m not complaining, however, as the smart use of budget at least gives Gaim the kind of cinematic flair its high ambitions deserve. Next up, even more bloody Riders!

Random observations

  • Takatora really should have just shot Hassy when he had the chance, Raiders of the Lost Ark style.
  • What was the point of that dance practice scene?
  • Kouta finding a second Watermelon Lock Seed seems to joss my theory about Mitchy keeping it in order to manipulate Kouta. For some reason, I can’t let go of my suspicions about him, however.
  • Hassy proclaiming he “won’t just become some mook” becomes delightfully ironic upon watching the preview for next episode.
  • Speaking of which, Gaim will be on break for New Year’s next weekend. Tune back in January 5th for the debut of Zangetsu’s upgraded form!

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Zigg’s Thoughts: Another very enjoyable episode of Gaim, and one which again caused me to openly appreciate the production and direction. The show just feels way more cinematic than anything we’ve seen out of Kamen Rider in quite some time. There’s some great directing, some actually pretty impressive effects work and a quiet confidence to the writing and story that really make it flow from scene to scene effortlessly.

I think one of the key things which has made Gaim appealing to me was the care which they seemed to be putting into building up the characters, and that continues here. No ifs, no buts, Takatora’s a badass, and the show is going out of its way to demonstrate that. There’s a real, tangible sense of menace whenever he shows up, and even Pierre’s (pretty funny) comedy moment doesn’t derail that. His first confrontation with Mictchy is absolutely excellent – the tense, tight cinematography, the great music, the excellent fight choreography, it all adds up to the feeling of a showdown with real stakes. That’s a tough feat in a show where battles happen weekly.

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There’s also good movement on the main plot front. I really like the increased emphasis that Yggdrasil is not entirely in control of the situation – it gives the entire setup a very cool ‘meddling in powers beyond your control’ vibe, as well as making Helheim seem equally dangerous to all sides. It’s becoming increasingly clear that while the corporation has an agenda, even they’re not fully aware of everything about this mysterious otherworld, and that’s a great plot hook. Kouta’s discovery that Yggdrasil is manipulating the Riders from behind the scenes is a total game changer, and I think this will mark the point when the ‘dance battle’ aspect fades away, to be replaced by a full on Riders vs. Yggdrasil conflict. Indeed, the portentous trailer at the end definitively marks this as the close of a chapter. I’m very, very eager to see what’s next.

Random Observations

  • Love that Zangetsu outdoes Ryugen at his own shooting game.
  • The fact that Yggdrasil’s high tech control room looks liek a classroom with a bunch of random computers in it is unfortunate.

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