Kamen Rider Ex-Aid Episodes 4 & 5

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“Begin Operation Dash!” and “Gamers Assemble: All Out Crash!”

Kiriya Kujou, a coroner, reveals himself as the last of the four holders of the Gamer Driver. He attempts to retrieve a ‘sample’ the Bugster virus, but is foiled by the mysterious dark Rider known as Genm. Genm is capable of achieving a level 3 transformation and Emu is going to have to match that if he has any hope of defeating him.

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 Zigg’s Thoughts

Once again Ex-Aid goes down the path of having some interesting ideas and then failing to execute on them sufficiently well. What happens in these two episodes is all good, solid plot building, and while not exactly compelling I think in a better show it’d be a decent progression considering we’re still very early on in our story. But there’s a crucial lack of spark here, a failure to imbue life into the characters or fun into the proceedings, and that I think has to be the show’s greatest weakness so far.

Take for example, the introduction of Kiriya, theoretically a big deal since he’s the last of our core quartet. The show doesn’t really do a great deal to make his arrival feel important or notable and it also doesn’t do much to give him a key personality trait until the very end of his debut episode. Even then, his sly betrayal feels significantly underplayed compared to the bombshell that it might have been. Even when it’s being ‘serious’ tokusatsu tends to work best when played to hammy extremes and I feel a much more overt presentation for that scene might have worked better.

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I’m also a little concerned about his Level 2 form. On the surface it’s a fantastically dumb bit of superpowered buffoonery, but the team doesn’t really play it for laughs like I feel would be most effective, and I think it’s something that’s going to be a real issue for the character going forward if they’re just going to reduce him to a power-up when every battle starts. The alternative is giving him a Level 3 form that’s actually useful, but then why bother with the dumb bike form in the first place? It just seems self-defeating and one of those times toy sales clearly dictated the form rather than actual story needs.

The other big wasted opportunity in this pair of episodes is Genm. I appreciate that they at least try and obfuscate the reveal of the character’s identity, but the way it’s set up means the true reveal is so blindingly obvious that you can see it coming from a mile off. That’s especially a shame because it sucks a lot of the pathos out of Emu and Kuroto’s rooftop conversation, which is probably the best acted and written scene in the show thus far.

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The other major problem with Genm in these two episodes is that his Shakariki Sports powerup is without a doubt one of the most stupid looking things in Kamen Rider history and that’s a really high bar to hit. Beast riding a pedal bike in Kamen Rider Wizard was fantastic because it was played as an out-and-out comedy action scene, but here we’re meant to believe Genm’s ludicrous mountain bike is really SUPER DANGEROUS and it tests even my famously liberal suspension of disbelief finds it real hard to accept this. Then he puts it on his shoulders and just makes a bad suit design even worse and oh god make it stop already.

Ex-Aid is reaching the point where it’s severely trying my patience, in case you couldn’t tell. It’s not that the show is aggressively bad per se, but the individual components are so mediocre that it’s hard to see how the story could assemble them into a satisfying whole. I’ll keep my hopes up but for now let’s just say I’m unimpressed.

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Random Observations

  • As ever, not a big fan of the ‘kidnap a woman to hurt the victim of the week’ thing.
  • The chase in episode 4 commits the unpardonable crime of using bad superimposed explosions. Is nothing sacred?
  • Gekitotsu Robots doesn’t exactly look great, but it’s miles better than Shakariki Sports and it has a rocket punch finishing move, so it can stay. The Genm POV camera is a nice bit of flair too.
  • In the ongoing effort to make the movie as totally insane as possible, it was announced that one of the bad guys in the upcoming Kamen Rider Heisei Generations will be played by Japanese pro wrestler Hiroshi Tanahashi, who has long been a high profile fan of the franchise and previously appeared in the Kamen Rider Wizard opening music video.
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