Team Gaim are forced to confront an unfortunate consequence of their actions. Meanwhile, Takatora hires Pierre to eliminate the remaining Beat Riders as Yggdrasil decides to abandon the Invess Game altogether.
Gaim already had a pretty complex plot, but this episode introduces yet more moving parts to the mechanism. That’s not bad thing though, as what transpires in this episode really adds weight and depth to the fiction. It’s our most classically Urobuchi script yet, complete with reckless desire for power driving someone to do something insanely stupid, and a classic ‘perhaps the real monster is MAN!’ moment.
One thing I immediately approved of in this episode is how quickly and decisively the Yggdrasil higher ups decide to end the Invess Game. You’d think it’d kick around for a while to provide lighter content and help shill toys but no, there’s an admirable focus on plot common sense over other concerns. The method of execution is ingenious too. By hiring Pierre to do his dirty work, not only does Takatora distance Yggdrasil from what’s ultimately a hired hit, the script also gives Pierre and the other Riders a legitimate reason to go at each other. The delicious twist is that the public think he’s a hero and that the Beat Riders are villains, which adds a nicely dark undertone.to the whole thing. There’s also the additional challenge the Riders face of having to win back the public’s affection.
The reason that they’re in the public’s bad books is of course the dark beating heart of this episode, and one of the most compelling twists Gaim has yet pulled out of its bag. There have been a few hints before, but now it’s official – Helheim is out to destroy ‘our’ world. Its monsters are turning our people into plants and its fruit are turning our people into monsters. This is a full on cross-dimensional invasion. There’s a bunch of really clever stuff here but the utterly fantastic thing is the way it’s all been tied together. The Beat Riders aren’t technically responsible for the ill people, but they’ve certainly been unleashing Invess left right and centre and bear at least part of the blame. Having actual extras from previous episodes come back really reinforces the idea that terrible things were happening below the surface of a ‘normal’ rider show and the hospital freakout is memorably chilling.
Speaking fo freakouts, Hase’s descent into madness is well scripted and excellently shot, giving it weight and gravity despite the inherent cheesiness of the dilemma. His transformation is a killer cliffhanger to end on and raises big questions about the nature of the enemy they’ve been fighting. Is every Invess just a human who was dragged into Helheim somehow? That’d be a pretty extreme (and dark) path to go down but the fact it’s even a possibility shows how well Gaim has evolved its story. Urobuchi has a huge thing for creepy body horror, so hopefully the content restrictions in place here can curb his nastier tendencies and give us more episodes like this one – compelling, surprising and brilliantly executed.
- With Helheim invading, could Yggdrasil’s true aim be to save the world? It’d be an interesting path to take.
- The cinematography in this episode is excellent and really helps with the impact of some scenes, like the use of jittery handicam in Hase’s hallucination sequence.
- Even the CGI is slightly less atrocious than normal!
- Big, big credit to Aesir for translating “C’est incroyable!” as “This is bananas!”
- The preview reveals, among other things, EVEN MORE RIDERS. Between this and Kyoryuger, it seems bigger is better for toku teams.
- Wine Glass Pierre may rival Mustache Daigo as my favourite toku character ever.
So, how many times has it been Urobuchi has pulled this “the monsters were actually humans all along!” twist? And how many times have we been genuinely shocked by what is essentially the same bloody twist over and over again? Exactly. I don’t know how, but the man has a talent for putting new spins on his pet tropes, and it’s surprising how he has managed to keep them intact in a show that, last time I checked, was still primarily for kids. Just to see how many of them everyone’s favourite butcher has pulled out of his hat already in a mere thirteen episodes, let’s take a look at the Internet-certified Butcher Bingo.
As of this episode, we’re not even halfway through Kamen Rider Gaim and we already have a full line! This week’s episode makes up a large chunk of the crossed-out spaces on this bingo card — as Zigg says, most Urobuchi episode up to now — but in general, he has been doing a great job of making Gaim a more nuanced and mature show without abandoning the inherent silliness of the Kamen Rider franchise. The perfect embodiment of this philosophy is without a doubt Pierre, who manages to be both hilariously hammy and intimidating at the same time. He loves his mousses and glasses of wine, but he also loves beating up children — even though Kaito was totally asking for it. As with many of the alliances in this show though, I don’t think his stint as Takatora’s champion of “justice” is going to be a particularly long one. The debut of three new Riders next episode seems to imply Yggdrasil’s moving on to the next phase in their scheme, providing their own ‘heroes’ to discredit Gaim and co. even further. Can’t go wrong with more riding, though!
Anyways, just to recapitulate, here’s the Butcher Bingo spaces we got to cross out already:
- Dark Twist: No, you don’t get any points for guessing the twist I am talking about here, and no, it’s not Gaim using Banana Arms. (Episode 13)
- Hamartia: Or “the fatal flaw leading to the downfall of a tragic hero or heroine”. Hassy’s desire to be part of the cool crowd with sweet powers sure didn’t end the way he intended, didn’t it? And that fatal flaw is probably just the first of many more to come. (Episode 13)
- Betrayal: Hassy and Hideyasu stabbing Kaito in the back really should have told the former something about how trustworthy the latter really is. Yeah, it really does suck to be Hassy. (Episode 6, Episode 12)
- Eldritch Abominations: As if the Inves themselves don’t already count, Hassy seems to become a positively Lovecraftian one in the next episode. His eating of the fruit led to my very first “No, please, don’t do that!” of the season, so I guess this is officially an Urobuchi show now. (Episode 13-14)
- Suits: Takatora rocking them like there is no tomorrow. (All episodes)
- Corruption: Gee, what else can I say about Hassy? Also, Kouta in the opening credits, let alone those poor folks infected with plastic plant disease. (Opening credits, Episode 13)
- Suffering: Everyday. (Episode 4 onwards)
- Utilitarianism: Sadly enough, we didn’t see a lot more of Mitchy and Kouta falling out, but Mitchy’s methods are veering straightly in this direction. Nevertheless, it remains to be seen if opposing Yggdrasil is indeed a greater good. (Episode 12)
- Madness: Excellently portrayed by Atsushi Shiramata as Hassy in this episode. (Episode 13)
- Innocent Main Character: Kouta and, arguably, Mitchy. Initially, at least. (All episodes)
- Dystopian: As of the revelation that the Invess Game is just one big propaganda ruse by the evil (?) Yggdrasil corp, Zawame City can safely be called one. (Episode 7)
- Martial Arts and Explosions: It’s a Kamen Rider show, what the heck do you expect? (All episodes)
- Anti-Villains: Maybe Yggdrasil may not be as evil as we originally thought? (Episode 9)
In other words, is it Sunday already?