First Look: Kamen Rider Ghost

[Over-Time] Kamen Rider Ghost - 01 [76585D82].mkv_snapshot_01.02_[2015.10.07_18.49.39]Premise

Takeru Tenkuuji  is the son of a famous ghost hunter who’s unsure if ghosts really exist or not. One day though, mysterious monsters known as Ganma appear and murder him, dooming him to spend the rest of his existence as a spirit. His only chance to regain his life is to gather the 15 Eyecons, containing the powers of long-dead souls. To do this he’ll battle the Ganma as the haunting hero, Kamen Rider Ghost!

Zigg’s verdict: Who You Gonna Call?

As ever, it’s hard to gather too much from the opening of any Kamen Rider series because they tend to be pretty formulaic, but I was encouraged by the flashes of originality we saw on display here. having your hero be killed in the first episode is certainly a novel way to kick things off, and it immediately establishes a firm goal and a motivation for our hero, not to mention a time limit which should prove useful in wracking up the tension. The basic gimmick is great too – I’m psyched to see what sort of people get turned into sweet powerups for our hero. Fingers crossed for some super left-field choices. The idea of 15 forms must be music to Toei’s ears – imagine the Figuarts! – but I’m concerned about the potential for endless toy spamming and a lack of originality between them.

Our cast seems solid so far, with decent sidekicks for Takeru and a pretty quirky choice for a mentor figure, something which I’m very much into. As she did in the final episode of Drive, Madoka-voiced Yurusen steals the show somewhat. Let’s hope that doesn’t become irritating over time shall we? The suit, the powers, the attacks are all cool on first blush and the general look of the show is miles ahead of the early, jerk-cam days of Drive. It’s a respectable, safe opening for our latest rubber suit hero. Now let’s see where they can go with it.

[Over-Time] Kamen Rider Ghost - 01 [76585D82].mkv_snapshot_15.38_[2015.10.08_21.29.04]

Aqua’s verdict: Phantom Menace

The Kamen Rider opening episode is a genre of its own, and Ghost barely deviates from the norm to a point where making any kind of assessment of the show based on the pilot is pretty much pointless. There’s a lengthy fight sequence, considerable time wasted on showing kids of all those new toys work and of course, exposition dialogue up the proverbial wazoo. Based on this episode, Ghost clearly picks the side of less subtle Rider shows like Fourze and Drive, quite shamelessly telling its main character what their adventure will be all about and who they’re going up against. It’s lousy writing, obviously, especially compared to, say, the fine-tuned consistency of OOO‘s opening, yet the now familiar tropes and intricacies of the franchise make it all the more hard to figure out if this ham-fisted hand holding was a necessary move to immediately capture young viewers’ attention, or if show-runner Takuro Fukuda is simply a bad writer.

Luckily, as underwhelming Ghost‘s plotting is at this point, as impressive is its presentation. After Gaim and Drive‘s somewhat lackluster set design, Ghost boats a large, fully dressed temple as its setting, including a gorgeous garden and multi-leveled secret base. Judging from some of the brand-new locations where Ghost gets to fight his adversaries, it looks like Toei traveled outside Tokyo to shoot the show, and after years and years of the same plazas, abandoned warehouses and that one stadium, I hope they intend to keep this up. Furthermore, the simplistic suit design and uniform look of the Ganma more than live up to the franchise’s strong standards. Most strikingly, however, is the solid direction on display. People fearing for the return of Drive‘s dreaded jitter cam after Ghost’s lousily shot début last week may rest easily, as Ghost’s first fights are shot with cameras firmly mounted still. With the copious amounts of wire-fu integrated in Ghost’s fighting style, this seems like a necessity more than a stylistic choice, but I couldn’t be happier with it.

[Over-Time] Kamen Rider Ghost - 01 [76585D82].mkv_snapshot_17.45_[2015.10.08_21.29.26]

In the end, however, what usually sets a good toku show apart from a bad one, are the characters, and luckily, Ghost‘s cast makes a nice first impression. Takeru (Shun Nishime) is a convincing leading man, and while he’s not the type I’d envision as a ghost-themed Rider who needs to control his brooding, it’s been a while since we’ve seen his breed of pretty boy take the wheel. On the other side, there is Akari (Hikaru Osawa), who proudly follows in Kiriko’s footsteps as the skeptical, assertive Scully to Onari’s (Takayuki Yanagi) frantic Mulder. However, no one puts in as hearty a performance as Aoi Yuuki. None other than the voice of Madoka steals the show as Takeru’s sassy advice fairy Yurusen, without a doubt the most endearing literal plastic figure dangled into the screen from a fish line since Gokaiger‘s chatty parrot Navi. Whatever first impressions there are to be had of Kamen Rider Ghost are mostly positive, so if Fukuda can spin his interesting premise and characters into an endearing plot, we’re in for another year of rubber suited greatness.

Random observations

  • Shibuya, the glasses-wearing monk at Daitenku Temple, is played by Takuya Mizoguchi, who played a de-aged Ryotaro in several Kamen Rider Den-O films.
  • The retro-looking tapes on Takeru’s wall were recycled from the set used as Shocker’s base all the way back in the original Kamen Rider series, apparently. Toei really do hold onto everything, huh?
  • The black blood spouted by the Ganma upon being hit looks so cheesy it becomes cool again, though it makes the lack of any kind of wounds on the monsters after being bifurcated a bit more glaring.
  • Shun Nishime is the youngest Kamen Rider ever, and likely also the smallest. The size difference between him and Seiji Takaiwa in the Ghost suit is rather obvious.

[Over-Time] Kamen Rider Ghost - 01 [76585D82].mkv_snapshot_17.56_[2015.10.08_21.29.56]

Euri’s verdict: Very Spooky

I can’t help but feel like the creators of Kamen Rider have had a ghost-themed show in the works since Youkai Watch blew up, so I wasn’t too surprised when the first images started to leak a few months ago. Instead of watching Drive (which didn’t really grab my attention in the first few episodes) I went and watched Fourze for the first time. I love that show to pieces, so to say that expectations for Ghost were high is something of an understatement. Fortunately, the first episode doesn’t disappoint. The suit design is pretty cool, I love basically everything about the belt’s voice and phrases, and the focus on famous spirits is an interesting concept. I’d like to see their personalities come through Ghost, but it’s early days. Definitely excited for episode two, so in the meantime, let’s relive Ghost’s introduction:

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2 thoughts on “First Look: Kamen Rider Ghost

  1. You know, hacked Ghost Driver videos has been released for a while, which revealed all the Heroi–I mean, the Eyecons recorded for the belt. While I won’t spoil anything, let’s just say, some choices are very left-field, while a few really goes down south. If you need more clues about the recorded Eyecons without spoiling anything, think about all you knew about the hijinks of Fate series’ summons, and there you go.

    Anyway, seeing the first episode, I suddenly thought of Hibiki…and Gaim. And (ugh) Wizard. I love Hibiki, but now I’m also hoping that Ghost didn’t get the same fate production-wise. Oh, and Ghost really looks like Deadpool. Now try to un-see it.

  2. Actually, Shun actually ties for the second youngest Rider actor ever, tying with none other than our OG Ryotaro, Takeru Satoh. The youngest Rider would technically be Masaki Suda, who was 16 when he was cast as Phillip (although I don’t know if you would count that, since he was only one half of the two-in-one Rider)

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