“Bullseye! Archery of the Righteous!”
A phantom thief is on the loose, stealing money from corrupt government officials. Takeru figures out this modern-day Robin Hood is his ticket to the next Heroic Icon, but the Ganma are way ahead of him. Meanwhile, Akari discovers a method to make ghosts visible to the human eye.
There’s acting, there’s overacting, and then there’s the cast of Kamen Rider Ghost. There’s no denying that this show is a rather overwhelming experience with its constant establishment of confusing new mechanics, madcap humour and hyperkinetic action. Poor Iro nearly lost his mind when we were watching this episode, which is telling something about how deep down the rabbit whole the average toku fan is, as I actually found this episode to be relatively coherent.
While my preferred method for establishing how the monsters work in Kamen Rider series would still be for it to be established and fully explained from the get-go, Ghost has done a fairly respectable job of teaching its mechanics over the course of these three episodes, especially compared to its predecessor. It’s basically what the Phantoms in Wizard did, at least before they started simply walking up to their victims and yelling ‘Give in to despair!’. The difference here is that both the hero and the monster need to convince the victim, which could lead to some great dramatic speeches down the road: Will they use the historical figure they admire to justify their incorrect actions, or will they allow this inspiration to lead them to greatness?
Similar to last episode’s discussion on whether inventions should exist for people or the other way around, this week’s monster tries to make Mari continue a life of crime, which would kill her and make the Robin Hood Eyecon his, whereas Takeru suggests she can still follow in Robin Hood’s footsteps without breaking the law, by using journalism to fight corruption and aid the poor. It’s a nice reflection on how history can inspire both good and evil, and one I hope Ghost will exploit for all its worth. Takeru doesn’t just gain his powerups through coincidence; he has to earn them by inspiring other people to greatness, and that’s a kind of heroic empowerment I can get behind.
From this perspective, it’s rather interesting to look at Ghost in comparison to its two predecessors. While Gaim had an overall rather cynical view of humanity and Drive flip-flopped all over the place on the spectrum, Ghost is the obvious conclusion of this thematic trilogy, firmly rooted in heroic idealism. This, along with its constant farcical humour and over-the-top performances make it the kiddiest Kamen Rider show in ages, though it is by no means a bad kids’ show. Everyone involved is clearly having the time of their lives, and while it’s not exactly a subtle watch, Ghost shows no signs yet of becoming any less entertaining than it currently is. What could possibly be wrong with that?
- Thankfully, Akari is evolving from flat-out refusing to acknowledge the existence of ghosts to dedicated to finding a scientific explanation for them. And hey, she actually got to do something useful! Here’s to more of that, Toei.
- Mari, our victim of the week, is portrayed by Yukari Taki, who, ironically, also played a thief in the phenomenal Kamen Rider W Returns: Accel.
- Who could possibly be this mysterious man in blue leather spying on Takeru with something that looks a suspicious lot like a toy? (Spoiler: It’s the Second Rider)
Even this early in the show, I’m sort of torn between the complexity of Ghost‘s ideas and execution which I personally have found somewhat lacking so far. I think this episode displays that well – there’s a bunch of noble intentions but the net result is just not very satisfying in some key aspects.
My main beef with the episode is the introduction of the idea that the Ganma will gain the icons if they continue to corrupt their chosen human. On the surface, that’s a fantastic addition – it adds stakes, gives the monsters some motive and creates the potential for some really great push-pull battles between Ghost and his opposition over the people who can give them the Eyecons. Problem is, the way it’s laid out in this episode is so confused as to be off-putting. What happens if Mari keeps on stealing and thieving? Sure, she gets an ominous purple glow, but what actually does that mean? I she going to die? Turn evil? Give in to despair? Then Takeru hugs her and everything is alright. I honestly have no idea what’s happening and the show doesn’t make a very good fist of explaining it.
It’s a shame too because there’s a tightness to the plot construction this week which makes the episode highly enjoyable in other regards. The moral conflict that Mari faces is pretty solid and the scene where Takeru and the Ganma try and swing her both ways has strong drama until the aforementioned magic hug. In addition, it’s great that Akari gets an actual meaningful task, and better yet produces something that has long term plot repercussions. Onari spotting the hole in the Ganma’s defences is clearly meant to be his version of this, but it comes off as rather trite given the relatively obvious nature of the revelation. Still, he gets out and about and is much more proactive with his detective work, so I guess that’s the tradeoff here.
I’m being a little bit harsh because Ghost is after all a kid’s show, I’m just frustrated that the lack of clarity is getting in the way of what could be some really good ideas. Hopefully that’s remedied before too long.
- Among the things spotted in the first Movie Wars Genesis trailer at the end of this episode – Evil all black versions of the three main Roidmudes, Kamen Rider Chase, and perhaps the most blatant second Rider spoiler ever. Literally, you see him filling the screen.