While Yggdrasil assesses the consequences of the Beat Riders’ visit, Team Gaim deals with Team Red Hot, who have been summoning Invess to rob banks for them. Meanwhile, Takatora confronts Mitchy and reveals the secret of Helheim to him.
I’m running out of ways to say how well Kamen Rider Gaim is doing, and while this was very much a transitionary episode after the double whammy of previous weeks, neither the quality of the writing nor the pacing dropped an inch. Something I found especially endearing in this episode was the increased role of Team Gaim. Rat’s sudden dismissal from the hospital triggers all sorts of suspicious alarms, and it remains to be seen how his eventual fate will affect the team’s dynamics. The Invess and the forest of Helheim seem to have some sort of control over when and where the mysterious vine illness breaks out, leaving Team Gaim with a time bomb amongst their very ranks, and worst of all, it might not even be the only danger threatening them from the inside.
Despite her lack of involvement in the whole Rider business, Mai continues to shine as she copes with the Invess game — and the attitude of rivaling teams — changing around her. Pretty much all the dancers not in Team Gaim being uncaring, egotistic jackasses reeks a bit of Urobuchi’s rampant misanthropy, but Mai’s increasingly ameliorating relationship with Team Baron happening parallel to Kouta’s befriending Kaito seems to point at an alliance in the near future. I wonder what her confessions to Chucky will eventually mean for her in the long run — Will she turn her back on Beat Riding altogether, or will her involvement become closer than ever? — but it’s very nice to see a female character in Kamen Rider being more than a damsel in distress, exposition fairy or comic relief.
While the concept of ‘jailbreaking’ Lock Seeds is a bit silly, it does allow for fully matured Invess being unleashed upon the city without the lengthy process seen in earlier episodes. Whether that means Kamen Rider Gaim will become more dependent on monsters of the week, in the same vein as its predecessors, remains to be seen, but as for now the Invess remain little more than cannon fodder to try out new power-ups on. Gaim’s shiny new Lemon Raiment doesn’t look any less silly than his usual forms, and the lack of any particularly mind-blowing new abilities make it seem like a bit of a cash grab, but at this point some toy coining is hardly an offense. Contrary to toku tradition, the significance of the upgrade in the story is much more important than the toy itself, as it will no doubt lead to Takatora and his cronies being a lot more wary of the mysterious DJ Sagara. There has to be a reason why the Energy Rider program shafted him in favour of newcomer Yoko Minato, no?
Speaking of Takatora, the man was finally able to put two and two together, and he certainly didn’t hesitate to recruit Mitchy upon finding out the truth. The revelation that his pampering was in fact a secret test of character, and that he actually wanted Mitchy to stick his nose where it doesn’t belong is a nice twist on the classic formula. Mitchy turning on his friends was inevitable, and while it might seem strange that the one person who was the most radically opposed to Yggdrasil’s antics now joins their ranks, Mitchy’s utilitarian methods have always been the most similar to Yggdrasil’s, which makes his sudden change of heart a lot more believable. It’ll probably be a long time before we find out what’s in the quarry Takatora showed him, but to see how this twist affects Mitchy’s already strained relationship with Kouta, watching the next episode will suffice. We will miss his pink capris, but at least we’ll get something even pinker in return.
- The random Team Baron member who saves Mai and Chucky looks way too much like Kaito himself, it’s pretty confusing.
- Assuming Kouta can use the Lemon Raiment in combination with his other Lockseeds, I presume it to be a power-up in the same vain as Wizard’s Dragon Styles.
- Team Red Hot’s hangout is totally the bar where the Greeed used to hang out in Kamen Rider OOO. Given how their minions, the Yummies, were introduced in that show, the similarities are rather amusing.
After a couple of pretty intrigue heavy weeks we needed a slightly more slowly paced episode to give us some breathing space between plot-arcs. What does it say then that this supposedly transitional episode includes a new super form for Gaim and a long heralded side-switch for Mitchy? Well, it says that Gaim is so packed with drama that even transitional episodes are must watches.
To me at least by far and away the most compelling part of thsi episode is the interaction between Mitchy and Takatora. I think it’s wonderfully underplayed, with the elder brother’s relaxed, almost nonchalant approach to the betrayal infinitely scarier and creepier than any sort of rage-filled fury could be. The big question this raises of course is what exactly Takatora showed Mitchy. Whatever it was was so devastating (and clearly so unambiguous) that it caused him to ally himself with Yggdrasil almost immediately. I’m always wary of these sort of setups, as the secret in question is rarely equal to the hype and anticipation surrounding its reveal, but its worth giving the show the benefit of the doubt. As long as it’s sufficiently convincing, I can believe a rapid turn by Mitchy. He’s always been driven more by personal curiosity and a desire to break out than by any intense attachment to Team Gaim (or it can be argued, his friends). Given his intensely pragamatic approach, it’s easy to see him taking the side of what he believe is practical.
As different as the show continues to be in many respects, one fine lesson it’s inherited from recent Kamen Rider series is making the baddies fight each other as much as they fight the heroes. The tension between the group is cranked up considerably this week as Takatora accuses Sid of luring Mitchy into the Invess game, something which Sid cooly denies (which we know is a lie of course). I also like that the bad guys aren’t stupid – they immediately figure out that the Riders couldn’t possibly have escaped the building without considerable assistance, and quickly come to the conclusion that there’s a mole in the organisation. This raises even more questions about DJ Sagara, who we know from his interactions with Kouta last week doesn’t appear to be a mole per se, but instead seems to be trying to reach the organisations objectives in a different way. As ever Gaim raises more questions than it answers, but when the questions are this interesting I’m totally OK with that.
- Weird that you’d use that creepy commercial footage in a cold open.
- The extended (jet)bike chase in this episode is clearly filler, but it’s entertaining and surprisingly well executed. I got minor Return of the Jedi vibes even!
- Lemon Raiment looks OK I guess. I like that they’re attempting to continue the Sengoku look, but it’s a little bulky.
- Bravo is mentioned several times in this episode, and the preview reveals he’ll be back next week. It’ll be interesting to see how he stirs up the situation.