Kamen Rider Gaim Episode 22

OBJECTION!

Recap

Both Yggdrasil and Team Gaim plan to stakeout any cracks that show up to prevent any more Invess from passing through. However, when Kouta bumps into Professor Ryouma, the latter reveals the dark thruth about “Project Ark”. Meanwhile, Kaito hides his weed in Helheim looks for the source of Helheim’s power.

Aqua’s Thoughts

After Sid last week, it’s Professor Ryouma’s time to show how big of a scumbag he really is. Can’t make Yggdrasil come over too sympathetic now, can we? As usual, I appreciate Kouta using his head and figuring out he’d best eliminate any Invess before they pass through to the real world, yet the sudden upped stakes are a bit needlessly overdramatic. Why do we suddenly have to evacuate people and blow up the entire city if one Invess passes through? We’ve seen worse before and it’s not like we don’t have enough Riders to deal with them. It’s a silly flaw that could have easily been fixed with a minor rewrite, yet nonetheless the only blemish on an otherwise standout episode.

As the Professor reveals the truth behind Yggdrasil’s true intentions for saving mankind, his true colours are revealed at last. Similarly to Doctor Maki of Kamen Rider OOO fame, Ryouma cares not one bit for mankind, and simply wants to use it as a tool for his crazy science experiments. Yet what sets Ryouma part from Maki is that unlike everyone’s favourite creepy doll collector, Ryouma has almost no backstory. We only ever see him “on the job”, but do we know anything about him beyond his explicit role in the story? This lack of personal fleshing out certainly makes the good Professor a lot creepier than he already is, but  this kind of “hands-off” character writing is hardly uncommon in Urobuchi’s works.

If Tumblr loves homosexual tension between borderline sociopaths with high-functioning autism and grumpy middle-aged men, why isn't Gaim the most popular thing in the world yet?

Gen Urobuchi doesn’t write characters as much as he writes ideas: unities of tropes and values in human form. His characters are almost allegorical representations of certain points of view on the subject matter at hand. They are supposed to embody certain stances on a moral spectrum more than that they are supposed to represent human beings. For Urobuchi, characters are not necessarily a part of the plot; they are tools for advancing it. His highly distilled brand of writing doesn’t allow for any sort of digression that doesn’t directly affect the story he is trying to tell. It allows for his signature suspenseful high pacing, but the characters do suffer. They are a mere means to an end – which in itself is an ironic delight given how the utilitarian Kaito is by far the character the most guilty of this in all of Kamen Rider Gaim.

Urobuchi’s characters may be morally tormented or philosophically complex, but they are, in a way, entirely enigmatic and cut off from the audience. What do we really know about characters like Yoko or Jonouchi, aside from whatever role they serve in the story? I wouldn’t go that far as to say that they are impossible to relate to, but this particular quirk of Urobuchi’s does make his characters appear a tad bit inhuman. This was already an issue for some in Puella Magi Madoka Magica, but in my opinion really didn’t become that big a problem until Psycho-Pass, a show that – in spite of its engaging levels of suspense and interesting, complex moralities – was mostly carried by men in suits philosophically pontificating at each other.

"And don't you dare stare up my Rider skirt!"

Yet does this mean Kamen Rider Gaim has bad characters? Anything but. On paper, the characters may lack a bit of human idiosyncrasy, but on film, virtually all the actors spice up their lines with their own brand of quirkiness, delivering the script with such verve their eccentricities and backstories almost reveal themselves. Sid’s nonsensical lectures on being an adult wouldn’t be half as infuriating if it were not for Kazuki Namioka’s slime-drenched performance. No one does this better than Tsunenori Aoki, however, who escalates Professor Ryouma from a mere self-absorbed science geek to the delightfully smug, flamboyant and quirky troll that we know and love. Well, used to love, maybe. The man is crazy.

Still, sacrificing 85% of humanity to allow the remaining million to live on as some sort of transhuman race of jungle-roaming Kamen Riders is a goal that, despite their differences, sensibly unites Ryouma’s darwinistic views with the extremely pragmatic utilitarianism of his employer, yet it remains to be seen if this alliance will last a lot longer. To once again invoke the spirit of Kamen Rider OOO, all the villains pretty much hate each other, and if you still think Takatora is some sort of scheming mastermind, I’ll have to disappoint you. The man has unknowingly surrounded himself with the most unstable, back-stabby horde of lunatics he could find, and it won’t be long before it’s either him or them. Ryouma’s disdain for his boss is already known, Sid and Yoko seem to have something up their sleeves of their own, and then there’s Kaito. Indeed, when the guy who thinks wiping out 6 billion people to save 1 billion is a necessary evil is the most sensible villain of them all, you know you’re watching an Urobuchi show.

Scooby and Scrappy ready to solve another mystery.

Random Observations

  • Is it me, or does Mitchy really look a lot more like his brother as of late? Nice combination of different make-up and hairstyling there.
  • I don’t know what Kaito was doing in Helheim, but it really did look like he was hiding packets of hash out there. Now we finally know the source of his strength.
  • Really nice how they managed to make Kouta outsmart Yoko and steal her Lock Seed without making Yoko look any less competent – or terrifying, for that matter.
  • I haven’t even mentioned the fact that Kouta finally finds out what happened to Yuuya in this episode. He probably should’ve figured that out on his own by now, but still, I’m happy to see some meaty character development for him before gaining his cool new Triumphant Arms, as seen in the preview for next week’s episode.

2 thoughts on “Kamen Rider Gaim Episode 22

  1. Thank you for the review. I think, in addition to Kouta being able to steal Yoko’s lockseed, him being able to get in a few hits against Zangetsu was much bigger for me….yet Zangetsu still wins

    • I was confused as to why he went back to the lemon raiment for that final fight, seemed like he realized that the cherry raiment was way more effective.

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