“Can Devils Only Be Evil After All?”
As Ikki struggles with the idea of joining Fenix and fighting Deadmans full time, the villains make their first move, tempting a downtrodden caddy to turn on his employer.
A strong first episode is all well and good, but with the big splash out of the way the real work starts here. Now that the premise has been established, the early parts of any show should be about building your world and characters and endearing them to us in short order. On that front, I’ve got mixed feelings about this second shot of Revice – there’s some good bits and some bits which are a little more suspect.
Let’s start with the good though, and I think the main factor here is that Ikki continues to be a likeable personality and his supporting cast mostly continue to be engaging. Given we’re going to spend fifty odd episodes with these jokers it’s important they at least be tolerable to be around. Attempting to refuse the call is a fairly standard Kamen Rider plot beat by this point, but Ikki’s reluctance here is done well, rooted in the value of protecting his family which has already been established as one of his central character tenets. There’s some flashes of steel too, such as the climactic scene where he basically bullies Vice into accepting his conditions for continuing as a Rider, and in general their odd-couple chemistry looks to be headed down a fun, if familiar, path. We don’t get too much of the extended family in this episode but there’s just about enough to reassure us that they’re still going to be a big factor, and there’s some fun little banter to boot.
On the flip side, I’m much less impressed by the aesthetic choices the series looks to be making. A blizzard of bad CGI is somewhat routine in early episodes of a Rider show by now, but even taking that into account the Eagle and T-Rex forms look absolutely hideous, and the camera lingers on them way too long for my liking. I’m not super hot on all of Revi and Vice’s forms being based on older Riders either – it’s sort of appropriate since this is the 50th anniversary show, but the Double inspired getups here are limited and ugly, and it doesn’t feel like long enough since we had this gimmick in Zi-O to be doing it all over again. The monster design is uninspired too, particularly since the modern trend away from fully unique suits is highly evident. I get why this happens (budgetary concerns) but it’s still a bummer regardless.
As much as I’m sold on Ikki, I’m still on the fence a bit regarding Vice. The idea is clearly to create a lovably dumb, boisterous lunk in the Momotaros (Kamen Rider Den-O) mode, but the jokes are so broad and the antics so superficially wacky he just comes off as a bit of a tryhard. I’m especially displeased with his habit of talking directly to the audience, a technique that’s very difficult to execute properly. I don’t think it lands here and it brings an annoying level of flimsiness to the proceedings. Hopefully what with his browbeating at the end of this episode he’ll stop acting quite so KER-AZY and settle down into a more tolerable groove.
This is a workmanlike second outing for Revice then, not exactly fumbling the ball but perhaps opening up a few gaps that could do with plugging. Overall, despite my critiques I’m still interested in what the show has to say, and there are big areas we haven’t even touched yet, such as the villains and the Fenix organisation. Look for Revice coverage to continue over the next few weeks.
- Since I last wrote about tokusatsu, a series of letters from Toei has driven the vast majority of fansub groups ‘underground’ in fear of legal retaliation. I’ll simply note that there’s still currently no legal way to watch Kamen Rider online in English and allow you to draw your own conclusions.
- After Saber‘s bizarre left turn into easy listening ska-pop, the opening this year is back to what Rider shows do best, which is to say it’s a bizarre mess of j-pop, rap, and EDM. I dig it.
- Vice is voiced by Subaru Kimura, who’s popped up here and there in Super Sentai over the past few years, probably most notably as the narrator and toy voice in Kyuranger.
- Eagle form is of course a reference to Kamen Rider Double and his signature wind powers. Revi takes his distinctive dividing line and ‘W’ crest, while Vice takes his green & black colour scheme.
- The Fenix commander Wakabayashi (played by Kamen Rider Amazons veteran Kazuya Tanabe) has perhaps the squarest jaw I’ve ever seen.
- Boy, the golfer and the caddy sure forgive each other’s attempted murder pretty easily.
- We learn that Vice eats ass I guess. It’s a show for kids!