When Redyue declares open war on the entire world, Zawame City comes under threat from a global missile strike.
After the agonizing break last week, Kamen Rider Gaim returns with an episode rather unfortunately lacking in big twists, though subtly setting up what will undoubtedly be Mitchy’s final dance. His slow transformation into a twisted caricature of himself has rather brilliantly come to fruition as he reveals his goals to have morphed into nothing short of absolute selfishness. If way back in episode 18, Mitchy may have still foreshadowed his own descent into madness by stating he’d betray anyone to savour the happiness of being with his friends, by now he’s grown so embittered the only thing still giving him any kind of satisfaction is asserting his absolute superiority over anyone and anything else, including his former friends. We often joke about how Mitchy perfectly encapsulates the fedora-wearing “Nice Guy” the Internet loves to hate, but the resemblance is uncanny, up to and including his unhealthy, insincere obsession with Mai gradually evolving into complete nihilistic selfishness that hardly has anything to do with his attraction to Mai anymore. It’s hard to pinpoint what exactly Mitchy wants. He wants Mai, obviously, and he wants to rule over mankind, but most of all his motive is simply to be a dick. To his brother, whom he resents; to Kouta, whom he despises with green-eyed fury, but especially to the entire world. Because he can. Because he likes it. But most of all, because he knows he has no one left to blame for his problems.
As he lays on the floor of Takatora’s office, cackling madly and stating he made the right decision, it shows that Mitchy didn’t side with the Overlords necessarily because they would provide him an opportunity to rule the world, but simply because no one else did. He sides with them because that would put him at odds with everyone else, which is something he revels in. He likes being on the side that wins, no matter what the consequences might be. I already talked at great length about how this sets him apart from every other human character two weeks ago, and with a great little discussion between Yoko and him, this episode made that even more obvious by setting up his similarities to Redyue. Like Mitchy, Redyue loves to manipulate and torment everyone else because she deems herself superior to humans. If Deemushu was a twisted Kaito, Redyue is a twisted Mitchy, with the added bonus of there already being another twisted Mitchy. Her plan to humour Rosyuo and resurrect his Queen by sacrificing human ‘life force’ might just be a bit too silly for this show, but it efficiently shows she’s just as willing to play for multiple teams at the same time as Mitchy used to be. There is an important difference between the two, however. While Mitchy may think he’s smarter and stronger than anyone else, his plans hardly ever succeed and his fighting skills aren’t exactly the brightest either. Redyue, on the other hand, does pose an actual threat to our heroes, which strengthens my beliefs that Mitchy will have to become a monstrous Overlord if he ever hopes to beat Kouta.
Speaking of monsters, if Redyue thought to prove who’s really in charge of the Overlords by trying to coax the Fruit of Knowledge out of Rosyuo’s hands, the King of the Overlords certainly killed that impression when he singlehandedly protected Zawame City from certain destruction à la Shin Megami Tensei. It makes me wonder how exactly they’ll get to show off more of his awesome power in a fight with another Rider, as, for a character so powerful, Rosyuo doesn’t seem all too keen on fighting anyone at the moment. I don’t doubt he and Kouta will have to clash at some point, but it remains a mystery as to what will push him over the edge. Speaking of action, this episode did feature a nice little fight scene with Zack, Pierre and Jonouchi (NEVER GIVE UP!). It’s mostly comic relief of the most slapstick-y, classic Kamen Rider-y variety, but it’s oddly effective and never really imposes on the ‘darker’ mood of the series as a whole. I’m not a big fan of Overlords suddenly being used as glorified mooks, though. It’s obviously a reminder of this show’s obligations to its brand’s legacy, but it does make the Overlord species look less threatening as a whole. And I’m really only saying that because I have to say something negative about this show, don’t I?
- Why exactly is Takatora still hanging out with Rosyuo?
- As usual, mad props to Mahiro Takasugi and Minami Tsukui for their performances this week, the former being chilling as ever and the latter perfectly accentuating what every viewer thinks of Mitchy in her body language oozing with disdain. Whoever says Yoko is a flat character should check themselves.
- Oh the gorgeous hypocrisy in Mitchy calling out Redyue for “wanting the entire planet against her”.
- And now for something completely different.
Astonishingly, Gaim is moving rapidly towards its conclusion, and what we can see here are moves towards setting up that endgame. Things are rapidly escalating in accordance with that, and this episode showed the firmest signs yet that the how is serious about its global agenda.
For all that being said, it’s something of a holding pattern episode, at least until the pretty epic ending. The big plot advances are big, but they’re also so huge that they have relatively little immediate impact on the moment-to-moment activities of our characters. That personal touch is mostly provided by the continuing dance around over Mitchy’s true identity. In any other show the fact that there are TWO people nominally siding with Kouta (Yoko and Kaito) who actually know Mitchy’s secret identity would feel a touch contrived. Here though, the story has so successfully established their individual agendas that’s it’s believable they would cover up for their murderous former ally. As a result we’ve got a continuation of the marvelously uneasy tension that has characterised the show up to now, even though all but one of our heroes is united against a common enemy.
Speaking of that common enemy, there’s another dynamic that continues to grow weirder and more intriguing as time goes by. At first we thought that Redyue was plotting to overthrow Rosyuo and take the Fruit from him. Now though we discover that not only does Rosyuo know she’s a traitor, but she know he knows. In fact, it’s the crux of her plan here, and it’s pretty telling he reacts in the exact way she expects, while also remarking he’s reacting in the exact way she expects. In other words, each of them thinks that they’ve figured the other out, and those are the grounds for fertile conflict down the road.for a fertile conflict. Hey, nobody ever said it was going to be simple.
The next episode preview reveals that they’re finally going to pull the trigger on Mitchy’s secret identity, and really it feels like the right time to make it happen and kick the show into high gear again. For a while Gaim feels like it’s been teetering on the edge of utter chaos. All it’s going to take is one tiny push for everything to fall apart, and whoever ends up on top, it’s going to be the way they get there which really entertains.