Kamen Rider Gaim Episode 19

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Recap

Kouta and Kaito plan to infiltrate Yggdrasil and launch an attack from the inside, but they run into stiffer opposition than they expected.

Aqua’s Thoughts

This week’s Kamen Rider Gaim is very much a transitionary episode, but then again, anything that precedes an episode called “The Invasion Begins, The World Ends” will be a transitionary episode. What’s immediately striking about it are the very large amounts of dialogue — there are almost no jokes and the fights, though not unappealing, are only there out of obligation. It’s a daring move that sets Gaim apart from many other, more lighthearted Kamen Rider shows, and one that gives it a very distinct vibe without becoming an overt attempt to make the show dark and mature — though I keep wondering just how well Urobutchi’s pontificating goes down with the show’s actual target audience.

As per Gaim tradition, Kouta, Kaito and Mitchy once again reveal themselves to be a lot more competent at putting two and two together than most of their colleagues — yes you, Haruto. The trio attempts something few other television characters even consider: they try a previously failed plan again. Figuring out that they could enter Yggdrasil through Helheim was a clever move that shows how well-versed our heroes are in common sense, yet sadly enough for them, the villains are even smarter (except for Takatora). As I’ve said before, despite the fact that they can easily best the Beat Riders in battle, by far the most intimidating thing about Yggdrasil is how they are always one step ahead. Not only on our heroes, but on each other as well.

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While their actions are utilitarian at worst, the show masterfully makes us think of Yggdrasil as the villains simply through their words and behaviour. Kaito’s fight against Sigurd made clear that we only think them the villains because they act like mean adults, barely giving our teenage heroes the light of day. They are effectively hijacking the entire plot while the Beat Riders remain grasping at straws, which makes for an immensely interesting dynamic. With even Yoko being deemed a wild card now, every employee of the mysterious organization seems to be having an agenda of their own, and I can’t wait to see how they all tie into Yggdrasil’s common cause, especially with said cause being so darn vague.

Of course, this may not remain that way for long, as Takatora decides he’s had enough of Kouta’s constant meddling and decides to show him the “truth” behind Helheim as well. It’s a development I didn’t anticipate to happen for weeks, and one that — alongside the title of next week’s episode — hints at a massive paradigm shift to come. Will the Beat Riders join up with Ygdrassil? Will the world actually end, and do we get a post-apocalyptic second half à la Final Fantasy VI? I’d love to see a crazy wasteland overrun by plants, but I doubt Toei can pull it off on their shoestring budget. In any case, they can’t inflate this bubble of tension for much longer — it’s about to burst.

Random Observations

  • There seems to be a general consensus that Ygdrassil is fighting Helheim somehow trying to invade our world. But then why don’t they do anything about the disease spread by Invess attacks?
  • The fighting highlight of the week was most definitely the crazy AT-ST kung-fu.
  • The Super Hero Time eye catch currently feels a bit like airing an M&M’s commercial in the middle of an episode of Game of Thrones.

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Zigg’s Thoughts

One of the things I’m really enjoying about Gaim is how pro-active the heroes are, and how flexible their relationships seem to be. While Kouta and Kaito were set up to be rivals originally, they’ve pretty much metamorphosed into full-blown buddies by this episode. And that makes a lot of sense, since they are up against a monolithic mega-corp after all. In a lot of Rider series they protagonists are happy to sit around while the baddies send monsters of the week at them regularly, never really striking out to find out what’s going on until we get close to the end. Even the good ones are pretty guilty of this, so it’s a real pleasure to see everyone come up with an actually-pretty-good plan to take the fight to Yggdrasil, even if it ultimately doesn’t pan out too well. Points too for Mitchy not being a total idiot, yet also being upfront about his knowledge and smoothly integrating himself into plan. Sometimes it’s nice when the characters act like, you know, people.

With all that said, this is a pretty bitty episode, which makes it interesting but also rather scattershot. Pretty much all the major players crop up in some form or another and as a result it can feel like they’re cramming an awful lot of dangling plot points in just to remind you they exist. So we’ve got the Professor’s ongoing machinations, Sid’s tension with Takatora, Mitchy’s uneasy relationship with his brother and another chance for DJ Sagara to be mysterious. While the purpose of these scenes in the ongoing plot is appreciated, it does mean we don’t really get much story to speak of in this episode. That’s one advantage that the fortnightly arc format had – there was always a clear story to be told. here we’re stuck in the middle and it’s a little nebulous.

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Nevertheless, the episode does end strongly with a new Takatora/Kouta showdown, one that cleverly evokes and calls back to their original encounter. I’m pretty shocked that Takatora is actually going to reveal the secret at the heart of Helheim to Kouta so early on in the story, and evidently there’s going to be massive sea change in the structure of the show. Given it was able to sway Mitchy to Yggdrasil’s cause on the spot, it’ll be intriguing to see the rationale behind Kouta continuing to oppose them. Or maybe they’ll join sides|? In any case, next week’s title promises big things, and I’m eager to see what they are.

Random Observations

  • Impressed by the CGI this week. It’s still not *good* of course, but it passes muster enough to make the battle with the crazy walkers genuinely exciting.
  • I like that despite Gaim’s upgrades he’s still way weaker than Zangetsu, allowing Takator to keep his menace as the (apparent) big bad.
  • Nothing annoyed me more in this episode than Mai’s outrageously stupid way of wearing her hat.

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