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Monday, April 21, 2014

Kamen Rider Gaim Episode 19 Review: Attack Of The Tulips!

In this episode of Gaim, Kaito is thinking about breaking into Yggdrasil once more and Kouta is on his side. Can the two really break in or will a rat ruin their plans?
The episode started with a bang as it continues from the cliffhanger of the previous episode. Armored Rider Duke appears in front of Kouta and keeps asking him to transform and to make sure he does he starts firing at him! Kouta defends himself with Jinba Lemon Arms and surprisingly not even that can keep up with Duke. Now for those who are wondering, Duke is no other than Ryouma the scientist who made the belts. It's quite amazing to see a man like him being a fighter and he even says he's inexperienced, but that actually gives him quite of an edge to work with. By being inexperienced he doesn't know how to control his powers so he is using all of his strength whenever he is fighting. It is even implied that Yoko was holding back in her previous fight and not using all of the powers with her Genesis Driver. Agfter defeating both Gaim and Baron, Ryouma retreats since he has gathered enough information. He's happy to see that Kouta is drawing great power from the unfinished prototype that Kouta is using as of now. I just find it amazing that this guy just went guns blazing just so he can keep getting information; it's actually quite scary to think he could just pop up again and do this again. Ryouma is actually a threatening fighter and that is something I can't believe I'm saying since he is just a scientist.
This episode then has Kaito and Kouta working together since Kaito wants to break into Yggdrasil again so he can reveal their secrets, but he has a different reason for this. I really want to discuss how these two worked together since this hasn't happened before in the series. Now the two did fight together in episode eight, but that is different compared to this since they have a common goal and it does feel that Kaito is acting more heroic than before. The two played off nicely with each other as they are both stubborn about getting through Yggdrasil's defenses. Kouta is even disconnecting himself more from Team Gaim since the Inves Games are over and there isn't need for any fighting for the Beat Riders now. So Kouta and Kaito are working by themselves and will help each other since the two want Yggdrasil to finally stop hiding things. It's a great comparison between the two and they have different reasons, but at the same time there are many similarities as well mostly with how the two progress in the series. This even makes Kaito a much better secondary rider since his anti-hero like qualities are still around, but he is easily being more of a hero and I can't wait to see if he does become that full hero.
More onto Kaito as I did mention before he is acting more heroic than before. In the beginning of the episode he comes to defend Kouta from Duke. It has easily been established that Kaito does think of Kouta highly as he uses power to a great extent and tries to make his goals a reality. Kaito is the same way and again this helps increase the bond between the two characters. An interesting development though comes when Baron as to fight Sigurd. The two yell at each other about Yggdrasil and what Kaito is really aiming for. Again he has the dream of power and wants to see other people be stronger. Kaito hates what Yggdrasil did to his past for sure, but he wants to see if the company is truly strong and exposing them will show him if they can remain strong. This is supported by the people Kaito is around and the people he ends up respecting and it's an amazing change compared to how I used to think he just hated Yggdrasil because of what happened in the past. Kaito gained his ideology because of that event he doesn't regret it and just wants to see more power from anyone. This soon caught the attention of Ryouma who is now impressed with the boy. Kaito is easily making his impressions on the series as he does have past connections with the company and I'm quite interested to see how this could continue.
Kouta has clearly changed as well since he is focusing more on Yggdrasil since the Inves Games are now over. This does cause Mai to get sad because Kouta could not be around as much anymore and even Micchy is feeling saddened by this as well. After seeing the Beat Riders fight for what they want, Kouta was inspired by them. This is because he is experiencing a similar experience of being put into a corner. The Beat Riders were being hated and barely anyone was supporting them and then they come back and gain the city's love by themselves. Kouta is being kept down by Yggdrasil and he is facing some strong opponents like the Genesis Riders. Kouta doesn't want to give up though and wants to make a big change in the whole issue. The best moment for Kouta clearly had to be when he meets Zangetsu again where they first met. Kouta remembers what he was told before about the world being evil for no reason and he sees that evil killed Hase. With that, Kouta doesn't want to think it was fate and that Yggdrasil is creating that evil. During his fight with Zangetsu, Zangetsu says that he will clear Kouta's misconception and after being defeated, Takatora will show him what the evil really is. 
I have mentioned many times before how the plot of Gaim is reminding me of Tales of Symphonia as the rivalry between Kouta and Takatora easily remind me of Lloyd having to face off Kratos. Kouta and Lloyd are people trying to become the new hero for the world as they cannot stand back and let things continue. Takatora and Kratos in a way are heroes themselves, but they know when sacrifices have to be made to keep things in peace. Both Kouta and Lloyd don't know what is really happening with their world and Takatora and Kratos do know what is happening and is going for a more straight answer and will not take any other way. Kouta has clearly changed from when he started and he has seen someone die before his eyes as Hase was just a victim. I can even compare this to when Lloyd ends up seeing Marble a person he tried to save become a monster and ends up dying as she did nothing wrong. I am absolutely loving this development for these two characters as it can easily expand much more as both sides are not in the wrong so we have good facing off good, it's just one of the good sides is just going with one answer and nothing else.
Micchy had an interesting moment in the series as I find out how much more he is reacting to knowing that Yuuya died. Micchy doesn't want Kouta to know and he goes as far to trying to stop Kouta from entering Yggdrasil. Micchy followed Kouta to the cafe and talks with him and Kaito about breaking into Yggdrasil. Micchy ends up betraying the two by telling Takatora about the plan. Now I am not saying that Micchy was being evil in that moment because he is trying to do some good here. He knows if Kouta finds out the truth about Yuuya he will be destroyed there is no doubt about that. I do believe that Kouta can step up from that though, but it would be a hard obstacle for sure. In a way this is similar to how Takatora is doing things. The two brothers know more than Kouta for the two big situations, Yuuya and the secret of the forest. Micchy is clearly stopping Kouta that he doesn't find out and in a way this is similar to how Takatora is trying to hide the secret of the forest from society. The two have their reasons and it's a great comparison between the two as these brothers are more similar than I would have imagined.
So when the two riders fail for the first time as they try to get back into action quickly, but someone appears to help them. Its DJ Sagara again as he is doing things on his own. First he is still having the radio show still be on the air for some reason as he continues to support the Beat Riders. When Kaito finds out that Sagara has been helping out before, he finds it suspicious that a man from Yggdrasil is doing this. Sagara pretty much says he isn't one of Yggdrasil's men, which could men he has some higher power or is simply using Yggdrasil. Sagara even continues to boast about how much fun he is having watching over the riders and mentions about who the forest could pick as he will keep watching to see who becomes the chosen one. Sagara even gives the two the Tulip vehicle that just stopped the riders from breaking in. I really loved this scene as I can tell something is going on and yet I don't know. I can only keep guessing on what is going to happen since it isn't obvious since everything hasn't been revealed. For some reason though, Sagara is very concerned about the forest as he could know more about the truth than anyone else. I can tell he is going to be a big player, but its how and why that is the question.
Yggdrasil is becoming stronger than before as Sid unleashes the new type of vehicles onto the two heroes. The Tulip vehicles I have to say look silly and having them mostly be a computer generated effect makes them look even sillier. Even how they walk is silly as these make me think of prototype versions of the AT-RT and AT-ST vehicles from Star Wars. I will say though the devices are quite effective as they can hide in the scenery and makes great surprise attacks. The device can even make rifts appear and force anyone out of the forest. So the series uses these things well and for the big fight that they were put it, I was actually fine with it. Again the CGI wasn't the best, but it was interesting to see how the riders came back so quickly. Gaim uses the Tulip to get rid of one at a time and then Kaito helps by sending the flying vehicles to tie them up around their legs... yea this is reminding me of Star Wars. So for how silly the newer devices are getting they are being used and I can even say the same for another CGI effect.
To my surprise the freaking Watermelon Lock Seed got used in a different way than before. Kouta has gained some great strength and since he was going to use the Tulip he gives Kaito the Watermelon Lock Seed. Kaito ends up using it and to my surprise it came with a bigger variation than I thought. It seems the so called form can change for other riders as Baron gains a sword with the Lock Seed. Also he used it for only a quick moment so that he can defeat a Sigurd a Genesis Rider! So the Watermelon Lock Seed still has some amazing power that even a Genesis Rider can't face. The CGI effect still looks the same though, but I will say it does look a bit more realistic when the background is an effect as well. So to my surprise even the Lock Seed I hate got used in a correct fashion, Gaim clearly knows what it is doing.
Other action moments would have to be in the beginning of the episode where Duke fights both Gaim and Kouta and when Gaim fights Zangetsu. I like the beginning because it did start with a bang and having Kouta dodge the laser arrows while not being transformed was awesome! It even continued when the big fruit from the sky ends up blocking some of the attacks. I also love how Duke fights, he keeps one hand out for a majority of the time and ends up using it for a defensive and yet offensive type of attacking. He blocks attacks and then goes for attacks with that hand and even throws Gaim around. Duke even takes a hit from Gaim's Sonic Arrow and just continues on with the fight like nothing happened. Then to show a difference of powers, Kaito enters the fray and is taken down by two slashes. Reminding me of power differences, the fight with Gaim and Zangetsu clearly shows that as well, but also a skill comparison as well. Zangetsu is easily the most powerful rider as of now and he even got the skills to back things up. Gaim still didn't get a hit on Zangetsu as he was blocking and then connecting all of his attacks on Gaim. Gaim even is downgraded back into his normal Orange form because Zangetsu knocked him out of it. Gaim doesn't give up though as he tries to use his sword finisher on him and Zangetsu lets the first part of the attack hit him and then blasts him down before he can get the final slash on him. This clearly shows how powerful the Genesis Riders can truly be and Yoko has been holding back before, so what is she really like?
This is yet another amazing episode and I don't think the series is going to stop with being great as it's on role and the series knows how to keep the plot moving by one episode each. Again comparing this to Wizard, Gaim is clearly the better series as of now. The difference of plot versus filler easily goes to plot, but I still won't say Wizard is horrible or even bad because I do find that it worked fine with its filler. Gaim though is clearly continuing on with what is really important as we got amazing fights from the Genesis Riders, silly vehicles that still got used correct and even Watermelon got used correctly as well. The amount of development and changes we are seeing for the characters are big and I do love the comparisons and the differences between them all. This episode clearly gets an A as really the only bad thing I can say is that the CGI effects are still not the best.
Next Time: The secret is revealed to Kouta.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

500th Post! My Top Ten Favorite Godzilla Kaiju

A Gaim review will be coming up for tomorrow, yesterday I was a little too busy and wasn't feeling all that good with myself. Anyways, a little top ten list can make me feel much better and I love Godzilla, so let's hope that this makes me feel better. (http://herotaku.com/blog/1/entry-11731-my-top-ten-favorite-godzilla-kaiju/#.U1AJuvldVLZ)

Monday, April 14, 2014

Kamen Rider Gaim Episode 18 Review: Reunion Dance!

The Beat Riders are still going through tough times as Kouta is still the fear of the city and fellow dancers can't even get along with each other. Team Gaim want to perform a dance with every team possible so that they can clear their names and get the love from the people again.
The first thing I want to discuss is that the show actually reveals another new rider! With Kaito leaving Team Baron, he makes Zack the leader of the team. It's quite funny that we got to see Zack before Kaito, heck the same goes for Pec. I will get to Kaito's reasons later since I'm focusing on Zack and Pec here. Zack and Pec were followers of Kaito and even did their own little stunts like we have seen in the first two episodes of the series. The two didn't try their own stunts after Kaito gave them a strict talking to and since then they have been on the bench like other Beat Riders. So now we got a new leader of Team Baron and as a gift he gets the driver that was said to work on anyone. Then with Kaito gone from the team, the two tell Team Gaim that they would be up for the group dance since the two did want to dance. Pec actually speaks out against Kaito about rejecting the offer in the beginning. Zack easily felt the same way, but he knew how Kaito would act, or so he thought. Zack then stands up on his own when Bravo and Jonouchi attack the Beat Riders. With this he becomes Armored Rider Knuckle! How he stands up on his own and helps Gaim and the fellow Beat Riders really gave this character a boost in his development, personality, and likability as this is probably my favorite rider reveal in the series.
Knuckle looks similar to Kurokage, but I think it's mostly because of the overall black color scheme. Knuckle uses the Walnut Lock Seed and wields some deadly fists. It's actually a little funny that this rider has a boxer motif to him since many of the previous riders are based on much older warriors. Now he does have a mix of a medieval squire, but the boxer motif sticks out much more. His fists are the biggest part of the suit which makes sense of a rider called Knuckle while his overall suit is actually pretty slimmed down compared to the other riders. There is a nice touch of simplicity that I really love about this suit as the added parts have some nice details. Personally, Knuckle's helmet is like my second favorite as the mouth piece, visor, and the back of the helmet work well together. This is thanks to the added touches of silver and having the light brown behind the helmet while the yellow eyes stand out. His chest and shoulder pieces are nice as well as they are not big and have some nice detailing to them. Which reminds me; on the helmet you see ridges on it which reminds me of when I open a walnut. Surprisingly overall this is a great design to look at and I thought I would only have three to four sentences for this design, guess not.
Anyways onto Kaito, the reason he left the team was so that he could focus on his own battles and being alone would help him. Now I do feel that Kouta was right about something, Kaito left right at the time when his allies started to speak on their own. I can tell Kaito didn't just quit because he wanted his team to be happy, but he saw that they are saying their real thoughts and started to express their own power. Kaito respects people who use power to get around in life so he felt that Team Baron can be left in good hands as he goes on his own. Kaito is surprisingly a nice person even though he does have that power ideology he follows. With that ideal though he can respect people and help them at the same time as people being able to do things on their own is important. Also there is the fact that Kaito knows more about Yggdrasil now and he won't go down without a fight just like how Kouta is right now. I'm really interested to where Kaito is heading to in the series since he got many traits of being an anti-hero and yet it seems that he is forming into a pure hero as he does help others like helping Knuckle in the Bravo ambush.
I do have to say this does feel like a finale for the Beat Riders as their importance for the series is important, but the series is clearly moving on with the plots regarding Yggdrasil and how other characters will act. There is Micchy who has become Yggdrasil's spy and wants to keep his happiness. Kaito has now moved away from the team and will fight for himself. Kouta is going to be the defender of the city. Bravo and Jonouchi are working under Yggdrasil as they do act to be comic reliefs, this episode and the previous one do show that they are still a threat. Now I do have to wonder how the series will use Zack since he is clearly becoming a bigger character and I would love to see him interact with the Yggdrasil plot points. Then with having the Beat Riders getting a happy ending with the people seeing that they are good people as for some reason Sagara was doing the broadcast again. Along with that there were more hints of what's going to come afterwards. Ryouma still wants to see more data from Gaim as he even appears before him as he was transformed as Armored Rider Duke. There was even an interesting line from Micchy where he says he will betray anyone for this happiness, yikes. So the Beat Riders get a great finale as they all join up and have one big dance to win the hearts back from the people as we even get a new rider and many signs of how the series will move on.
Another part that helps with the Beat Rider finale is seeing all of the good teams dancing together even though there were two teams I never seen before. I did find out that the girls in white were the Kamen Rider Girls as that's a nice cameo, but I'm not a big fan of them they just exist and that's my opinion on them. Other than that it was awesome to see the Beat Riders finally stopping this war like game and focusing on their dancing like what they were originally doing. Mai had some nice moments with her not giving up and even trying to get Team Baron to join by herself only. Then there was the dancing, now it wasn't all that special regarding on how they were moving, but has in mind that they are dancing in sync with each other. There are like nearly fifty dancers in that scene so that had to be hard to work with. What's also great is how they continue to dance and we see this in the background of the action. It was a nice thing to look at since they did stay in sync with each other for most of the time and seeing their passion burning did give a boost of excitement for the action. Even with threats like Alfonzo and Jonouchi around they still continued to dance as again this feels like a great finale for this part of the series.
Alfonzo and Jonouchi clearly had their comedy moments in the episode which was around the beginning where we see Jonouchi trying to see which Lock Seed was the real one. He picks the fake one and gets hurt again and then it escalates with Alfonzo kicking him and then using his butt to attack him (I have a feeling he plays as Peach in Smash Bros). I did know about the Alfonzo meme that is going around, but still watching the scene for the first time was really funny. It had a bit of surprise humor along with good physical comedy, all these two need to a third member and we got the closest thing to having Three Stooges like humor in Kamen Rider. These two work nicely together as Jonouchi is the hopeless student who gets a beating from his strict teacher. Other than that though, the two still pose as a threat. Alfonzo is Bravo and he is a strong warrior and then there is Jonouchi who hides in the shadows. Bravo fights Gaim while Jonouchi summons Inves to attack, even though some of them were actually dancing... Jonouchi even tried to stop the performance by getting rid of the music, but it fails as the Beat Riders make their own music. In the end, Bravo is defeated once more and Jonouchi actually joins the other Beat Riders in the dance. These two are good comedy characters and it's surprising to see Bravo still posing as a threat while the same can be said for Jonouchi, but I do wonder when he will be fighting more one on one.
The action in this episode was another great moment for this episode and the series overall. First there was the reveal of Knuckle who easily impressed me by a huge margin. Then there were the dancers in the background. The third thing was that how the fight kept building up. At first there was trouble as Bravo and the first couple of Inves were scaring people. Knuckle then joins the fight and helps boost the morale. I like the little effects they give Knuckle in this fight as whenever he gets a big hit on someone we see a shell being shattered which easily shows the walnut theme he has. Also his fighting style helps with the boxer motif as he sends little punches and then goes for the big punch to end his combo. He even knows some nice jabbing as he gets the quick jabs around the stomach or chest area and then those big punches go to the higher areas than that. Other than that we got to see Bravo fight Gaim with the Jinba Lemon arms again, but this time there were more swords clashing than in the previous fight they had. It actually does feel like Kouta is picking up some skills from fighting. The best part though was Baron and Knuckle fighting alongside each other and delivering strong finishers together. The two faced the Dragon Inves as that hard armor did prove to be a hassle for the two riders, but they had great teamwork with each other, probably thanks to the times they danced together. It was a great fight overall as there was strong build up and it knew when to keep bringing the punches.
Now compared to other episodes there is less to talk about here. Thanks to that though, the episode knew how to use those elements perfectly while giving each part a strong focus. Knuckle's reveal was well done as it was a surprise while giving a character a new look. The Beat Riders get a happier conclusion now and there were many hints showing where the series will focus on as it continues. It's a really strong episode that also brings a good amount of emotions into play as this easily rivals episode nine as my favorite episode in the series. I give episode eighteen an A+
Next Time: Lemon Jinba versus Melon Energy!

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Kamen Rider Gaim Episode 17 Review: Defecting To The Other Side

Micchy has now become a part of Yggdrasil and he has to make a big move to look professional and to obtain a high ranking spot in the company. His first task is to take Kouta's driver at any cost, will Micchy betray friend or will he stay along with the Beat Riders?
Micchy in this episode is easily the best part of it and is also Micchy's best moments in the series. We see everything about Micchy that was hinted at before in the series. First is his devilish side, Micchy can be a scary person when he is planning out his strategy. To make sure he doesn't get his hands dirty he is going to have other people under Yggdrasil to help out. Surprisingly Micchy even has a bigger reason why he is playing in the background of the plan. It's because his brother already shows that he is the forceful one, the one who can be reliable in the battlefield. Micchy is simply showing that he is not going to compete with his brother, but show how he is different from him to get a grand spot in the company. It's quite genius I have to say as Micchy gets Oren and Jonouchi to help in this scheme of his. This is clearly showing, Micchy's darker side as shown in previous episodes. Yoko even says she sees the devilish side of him that Sid has saw before. That line easily got me thinking about that first time he shown his other side as it's a great callback to the previous episodes and it continues.
I remember in one of the previous episodes I was rather confused with Micchy at one point. When he started to become a rider he wanted to help the team, but there seems to be more than that. He easily has an established bond with both Kouta and Mai. For Micchy this was hard for him to betray his friend like this, he even holds his sister as a hostage! The thing is that, Micchy is struggling with what he actually wants and finds way to keep stalling his decisions. Micchy finds out that there was another plan behind his own and he ends up helping Ryouma in the process, which I will get to later. The shocking part is that it seemed that Micchy was going to be back on Kouta's side, but again he cannot decide. Micchy knows the truth for Yggdrasil's reasons and at the same time he doesn't want to break away from his bonds. In the end, Micchy has found a way to keep working with Yggdrasil and stay with the Beat Riders as well since he became a spy. The final scene for Micchy is him watching the Christmas dance Team Gaim had and he's happy that he can stay with Kouta and Mai for a little longer. I'm surprised that there were so many hints to character elements like this in the previous episodes as it easily makes me think differently about how Micchy acted in episode five.
Another character that is part of Yggdrasil got to have more scenes and easily more establishments of being a character which was Yoko! In her previous episode she easily established herself as a serious fighter and follower of Ryouma and this episode shows that nicely along with her own ideals and thoughts. First, I have to say I love her personality, when she was talking with Micchy she has a sense of an ego as she kept smiling most of the time when she talked. Her smile along with her tone of voice easily helped with this as well, it feels that she is constantly taunting someone in her scenes. Then when she is going to bring the beat down on someone, she has a completely serious face on. I want to say she is some of the best acting in the show because she may not get the most lines, but her facial expressions and tone in her voice give this character more depth than one would think. Also knowing that Yoko knew what the real plan was does show something else. By that I mean even she knows how to get someone like Micchy off guard and try to make him fight and getting dirty. Overall, even though as I said before her character may not be the biggest in the series, but if there is more to her, she could replace Kaito has my favorite character in Gaim.
Kouta in this episode was being the hero in a corner this time. Kouta knows that his power can help the people of the city and he already knows that there are lives at risk here. The worst starts to happen though as his sister was kidnapped by Yggdrasil, well sort of... Kouta was really having a struggle with his decision this time as Kouta giving up his powers would put the city in danger or so he thinks. So Kouta stood his ground even when his sister was in trouble. Unlike many heroes, they would usually just drop their weapons and try to have the hostage be safe. It does feel like that Kouta knew that Yggdrasil wouldn't just give his sister back though as seen when he was tricked by Oren and Yoko. Now the only thing I would have to complain about Kouta was that he never asked why Micchy was around. I know for the fight it's defensible because he was in the middle of battle and could use some help. Then comes what Micchy said to Yoko which was the hint that he knew what was going on. I can't believe there wasn't a scene where Kouta asked how he knew about Ryouma, but his sister was in danger so a little bit defensible. I will give credit to Kouta staying true to his cause though as this will easily be shown in future episodes I bet.
A big surprise in this episode is that Alfonzo is still working with Yggdrasil and now he even has Jonouchi help him in these schemes. For this, the two were giving upgraded belts and Alfonzo is promised that he will get to meet the melon warrior if he works with the company. So the mercenary is being used as a mercenary, it's so simple and yet I was surprised that Alfonzo is being used like this. He was more serious this time compared to his previous moments as he was apart of kidnapping Kouta's sister. He gets the sister in his shop by giving her a grand prize of desserts from a raffle. There Jonouchi can strike when he is commanded to. I'm sure Micchy was the one who thought of this as this helps to disguise the whole plan, excellent thinking there Micchy. It doesn't matter though as Alfonzo tricks Micchy since he doesn't want to attack someone who is enjoying his desserts. Pretty much Alfonzo wants to do his job, but he knows not to attack the innocent and since Kouta came to them all he has to do is fight him. Alfonzo got defeated by Kouta thanks to the Lemon Jinba Arms. I can easily tell that Alfonzo easily now sees that Kouta is a stronger warrior since he changed his tone when Kouta started to win. I can't believe a character I thought who was going to be just used for comedy is still being used for big parts in the series and it's done perfectly at the same time. Finally, I loved how Alfonzo screwed the plan up!
The action for this episode then was amazing as well with the first fight being with Gaim and Bravo. Bravo knows that Gaim cannot face him alone as he as the advantage in the beginning. I loved the beginning where Bravo is acting cocky like usual and he had the guards to prove it. All he had to do was lift his leg to make a successful block and then just put his sword near Gaim's head. To counter Bravo, Gaim knew he had to use his new powers. This is when it's revealed that Yoko knows that Bravo will lose since he doesn't have the same powers of the Energy Seeds. This was true since the fight quickly when to Gaim's side and even Bravo's finisher couldn't stand against Lemon Jinba Arms. For the many times that Gaim couldn't stand up facing Bravo and the only time he could get a win was with Watermelon and with Baron on his side. So it's great to see how far Kouta has gotten now as the most experience rider got defeated. For the final blow, there were some great effects for Bravo's giant energy Durian and then having that get destroyed by Gaim's energy arrow.
The second fight in this episode is with Marika! Yoko steps in after Bravo is defeated and this got Micchy thinking about what was really going on. Anyways, the fight was awesome! Both Gaim and Marika were jumping around, hurdling over cars, and dodging each other's attacks in similar fashions. Again this easily establishes that Kouta's new power can stand up against the Genesis Riders. I really love the choreography in this fight as well since the suit actors really had to work in sync with each other. When one did something, they had to follow up right away as the best moment was with when the two both fired an arrow at each other and dodge at the same time. There were even moments when, Marika was giving Micchy signals to strike and Gaim knew she looked away and fired an arrow at her. There was also a fast pace to the fight and thanks to how the camera went to different shots it doesn't feel like a mess. The camera follows the actions perfectly and knows when to focus on whom during the exact moments. It's easily one of the best rider versus rider fights I have seen in a while.
When Micchy transformed he had to make his decision as he shot Marika and told her that he would stay with Kouta. The truth is that Micchy found out what was going on since Yoko didn't join the fight when Bravo was having trouble. If Yggdrasil really wanted Kouta's belt, they would easily have her fight alongside with Bravo. Takatora knew nothing of this as Ryouma did something on his own account. Thanks to Kouta having new powers he is still giving data to the professor and he doesn't want this to stop. Ryouma also knows that the Beat Riders are the scapegoat for the Inves attacks so why not continue with that as well? This gives Micchy the chance he can have which is being a spy for Yggdrasil. Ryouma even gives some compliments to Micchy as he sees that he is smarter than his own older brother. This was a great twist at the end of the episode because I was thinking that Micchy was siding on the right side again, but nope he got his own motifs in play.
Episode seventeen is another strong episode for the series it has it shows everything that Micchy had in previous episodes. This also shows the struggle he has with himself as he cannot decide which side he is going to be on. Micchy doesn't want to lose anything and I have a feeling that things could get bad for him if he keeps thinking like that. Along with that there were some surprises from characters like Kouta and Alfonzo and with Yoko being absolutely awesome! Slap in some well done fights and you got an amazing episode, an A.
Next Time: Another Armored Rider?!

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Super Smash Bros. Direct 4.8.2014

For those who know, I'm a big fan of the Smash Bros games. Also I have recently done something different. Usually I do opinion pieces like all of my reviews, it has been a while since I covered about any type of news. With the recent Nintendo Direct though I covered that event. There were a lot of things to look at and I do feel I will make a follow up post to focus more about the new playable characters that were revealed, like Greninja! (http://herotaku.com/blog/1/entry-11595-super-smash-bros-direct-482014/#.U0U-vvldVLY)

Monday, April 7, 2014

Kamen Rider Gaim Episode 16 Review: Mixing The Fruits (Spoiler Alert!!)

The escape continues from the previous episode and the three riders do escape, but there are new matters to deal with. Beat Riders have been jail breaking their Lock Seeds and Takatora has a talk with Micchy and shows him the truth.
The beginning of the episode was quite interesting as I wasn't expecting the chase with Baron and Gaim to continue. All I expected was Micchy fighting his way out and having Takatora react to seeing his brother fighting the Kurokages. Bringing me to a pretty big flaw in this episode as it's really the only bad thing I can talk about in this episode. That is how the effects were handled mostly with the Kurokages on the new hover bikes. For Micchy's fight, the additions of the CGI and green screen backgrounds really made this a pretty horrible fight to watch. What would have helped a little is add more animation to the background so there isn't a big contrast difference between the actual items and the background itself. I will say though it was cool seeing Micchy fighting without his gun and using one of the bikes himself. Luckily, the chase with Gaim and Baron was handled with more care. The forest area has some additional effects to work with and most of the time the bikes were in the background or covered up by some sort of glare. It helped make the CGI effects look a tad bit more realistic at least, but they did too many cut away shots so that kind of got annoying. So this episode didn't have the best start, but after that the rest of the episode really picks itself up.
Right after the chase, Kouta and Micchy go to the hospital to check up on their friend, Rat. Shockingly, this is actually one of his first focused moments in the series. Rat was pretty much just a background character just like some of the other members of Gaim. Actually the previous episode gave some more lines for one of the female members and now the other one got more than usual as well in this episode. Luckily, Rat is not going through the symptoms that the many other victims have and he is expected to make a quick recovery. Kouta starts to apologize since he does see that he could have prevented this from happening, which is something Sid said before. Rat tells him though that Kouta doesn't need to feel responsible for everything since this was something out of his control. Also they are friends so if Rat is fine with what happened, then Kouta should be as well. It's a nice little scene for a background character like Rat since even these types of characters can help the main characters with their problems. I bet this does give Kouta some sense of relief and something to think about at the least.
Regarding the Beat Riders now, Mai and her friend see an Inves robbing a jewelry store and find out it's from Team Red Hot. Since the town is scared of the Inves as of now they found a way to bring out the real Inves out from their seeds. This is actually something that's really surprising as we have seen many scientists working on the Lock Seeds and the drivers and now the kids have found a way to hack that same technology. So with these Lock Seeds having special changes they can summon the Inves and still have control over them. I do wonder if this could bring up some interesting little villains for the show as I can see other teams like Hot Red using the Inves for evil purposes. Heck, Team Baron even mentions that there are other teams doing this as it made the streets quite dangerous now. Gaim is really doing some exploring with its own world with possibilities like how the Beat Riders are reacting to this situation.
Kouta and Mai share the same reaction to this news as they are disappointed in fellow Beat Riders stooping so low. For Mai she is brought to tears by this because she remembers the days when it was all about the dancing and not the ranks. This is then supported by her ideology of wanting to make people happy with her dancing so it's understandable why she feels like this. For Kouta he is disgusted by this and tries to talk some logic into Hot Red. Kouta saw a man turn into a monster and doesn't want to see that again and he doesn't want to see people getting hurt by the Inves. With what Kouta has been learning about recently he is taking some bolder steps of being a hero. Now he doesn't want to hurt team Hot Red as he even saves the team from the out of control Inves that they used to have control over. After everything that happens then, Kouta starts asking himself if power makes people into evil people, but Bandou helps him by telling him that even weak people can be evil. Power is something that is used and it's true there are bad people who use that for the wrong reasons. There is another fact then, power comes with a responsibility as one choice can make someone into a villain or a hero. I do really love where Kouta's character is going as he does want to be the hero and he knows he has to fight, but he won't attack any victims. In honesty even Hot Red were victims in the end as Sid ends up using the team for his own needs. Team Hot Red were bad people, but they don't deserve to be attacked like the others and Kouta sees this as he is a hero who wants to protect the innocent and help the villains to see what is clearly right and wrong.
Kouta had many chances to give the leader a quick punch, but he never hurts him.
Reminding me of team Hot Red there was a nice amount of imagery used with these guys. In the previous episode there was some great work with how the physical appearances help to give an image to the characters. Hot Red get those moments as their hangout spot reminds me where the Greeed from OOO were hiding, it even gives me thoughts about the Grongi from Kuuga as well. The whole area is dark with dim lights as it just gives off an evil vibe. Another thing that works well is how Hot Red dresses the leader got his hat on backwards which was a pretty stereotypical way of showing who a bad person was, but his other teammates hold some qualities like that. One of the teammates didn't look all that well groomed; he let his hair grow down and sometimes hides his face in certain shots. Again these are little things that give you a sense of how characters are going to be and it's nice that they are subtle and not in your face like how a bad comedy would point out a stereotype about a certain race of people. I easily approve of this and I bet looking back at certain episodes I could find new details I didn't see before.
Takatora took an interesting route that I wasn't expecting as he finally found out that his brother is an Armored Rider. I loved seeing how he went straight to Sid about this as I just felt like Sid was going to get screwed big time. Sid says that he thought Takatora gave Micchy permission to become a part of the experiment since Micchy came straight to him. Why would Sid reject the younger brother of the overseer and this then confirmed that Takatora is in charge of the project, but something feels like there is just someone more powerful than him in all of this. I was thinking Takatora was going to try to take the driver away from his brother since he is over protective about him. To my amazement though he is actually proud that Micchy took control of his own fate. Takatora even makes a connection between the two as he did something similar in his life that gave him complete control of his life. So I can guess that his father tried to be over protective just like he was towards Micchy. Things even continue to take a turn into the unexpected, as Takatora takes his brother to see the truth of the project.
With Micchy in all of this, even he is quite surprised how of Takatora reacted to the situation. I did love how Micchy didn't try to hide anything to make him look innocent as he boldly tells him what he is going to do with the footage he found. Micchy wants to tell the world of what Yggdrasil is doing with the people and take down the corrupt business. Takatora though takes him into the forest and shows him the truth of Helheim. Now the audience doesn't get to see what the truth is, but basing it on Micchy's reaction it's quite horrible. Micchy falls to the ground in shock and starts to change his mind about everything. He even agrees with his brother that the people cannot know about this. At that point, Takatora gives his hand to Micchy and gets him to join Yggdrasil so that they can fight the real war that is going on. I was expecting this from Micchy, he just had these little moments of a more serious character and I take back saying he felt evil at points, that was just him being good at business. It's actually more of a connection between his brother since he does act like him in those moments. These two are good people and their goal is to save humanity, but it's just the way they are doing it can be viewed as wrong. Who knows though since the truth behind the forest could change my mind as well when I see it.
So back with Kouta's, he tries to find out how to use the new Lock Seed he got from Sagara. He sees that the Lemon Energy Seed won't work in the slot of his belt as it only fits in the attachment. The question is how the attachment can be part of the belt. Well when fighting an out of control Inves, the face piece of the belt falls off and then Kouta realizes that the attachment can go there now. With these he combines his Orange Lock Seed with the Lemon Energy Seed and transforms into Jinba Arms. The Jinba Arms can change it seems as this is Lemon Jinba Arms. The style of transformation is mixing which is what the belt says when the transformation starts. The form looks pretty nice as the giant piece of armor actually works nicely with the Gaim suit. The color yellow works pretty nicely with the overall blue of the suit and the patterns on the lemon parts help out as well. Even Gaim's helmet gets some changes as silver replaces the gold and his mouthpiece gets a change as well. It's not final form upgrade, but it's a cool way showing how the Energy Seeds can work along with the old drivers. He can also now wield the Sonic Arrow weapon as it's used like how Zangetsu was using it before. It can be as a sword and the bow part of the weapon gives it a long range. The finisher for this was sweet then as it reminds me of Blade's Royal Straight Flush, but with oranges and lemons! Overall, it's a cool form that shows a nice sense of upgrades and yet not to the point that is can be the same as a Genesis Rider.
As I said before the beginning of the episode is probably the only really weak part as everything else is strong. Well the reveal of Lemon Jinba Arms wasn't the best as it felt a little too quick, but it did show everything about the form though so I'm still very happy with that. There were some great character moments with the best being between Micchy and Takatora. My favorite part of the episode though was the fact that the Beat Riders found a way to hack into the Lock Seeds and some are becoming villains during all of this and there were some nice focus scenes on those Beat Riders. I give the episode an A-
Next Time: More Marika, YES!

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Kamen Rider Gaim Episode 15 Review: Heroes Don't Lie Down! (Spoiler Alert!!)

Kouta and Kaito are taken into Yggdrasil and there are many who want to do different things. There is Sid who wants them dead and there is the professor who wants to give them a task. Will the heroes fall under Yggdrasil or will they make their escape?
The beginning of the episode was a great way to start out. First, it keeps moving on with a great pace as Kaito and Kouta meet up under the custody of Kurokages. Kaito asked about Hase and he could already tell by Kouta's face what happened to him. Then we establish that Micchy is still in the building as he sees the two characters being taken into another room. It's a good amount of set up that really grabs your attention since who knows what could happen? Where are Kouta and Kaito being taken to and how will Micchy save them? It was a short and sweet beginning. Then the episode shows the many ideas of the characters in pretty short scenes. You can already get a sense of who they are and how they will act. The best example would be with Sid since the first thing he mentions to Takatora is he thought the two riders would have been completely gone. Then it has Takatora reacting with how he doesn't want mindless bloodshed and he knows he can fight them with ease thanks to the new powers. I will easily be mentioning about more moments like that as this is probably the best episode to have these quick appearances and already getting a great sense of knowledge from them.
So regarding Kouta and Kaito they are taken to the professor as this is actually the first time we hear his name, Ryouma. In many other reviews I had to keep calling him the scientist because I didn't know his name. This is also the reason why I didn't want to analyze too much into the guy since characters can have a lot to hide. So in a way this is a more detailed introduction for this character. We got his name and we learn that he isn't even in charge of the whole project. In previous episode it seemed like he had the right to give orders and he does, but there is an extent to that. Kouta is taking fangs to this man already and putting all the blame onto him since he did invent the belts and that was mostly it. There is an overseer in this project and I would guess that would be Takatora, but for some reason I think even he is not that high in the grand scheme. What I can tell from Ryouma he is fine with only making the belts since he does have a strong passion for his research. He even mentions that the whole introduction sounds for the rider transformations is a guilty pleasure of his. Then there is the fact that he still wants to continue in his research as the company is not giving him the green light for his new project, which is why he wanted Kouta and Kaito. Overall Ryouma seems to be a smart, fun, cruel, and realistic person at the same time. He knows the risks being played with the belts and he even says the new experiments could be dangerous and here he is trying to get people to risk their lives for his research. Then he does take the fact that these terrible tragedies do occur like with Hase, but he continues on with his research.
There was actually a new character that was shown in this episode and this fits with my first impressions discussion I had before. Her name seems to be Minato as she acts as Ryouma's bodyguard. I was told who the actress is as she is the same person who played the Hopper Dopant from Double... YES! I love that this actor came back as she did her role in Double so perfectly and her character here does remind me of Hopper Dopant. Even though she is a bodyguard she seems to have a cynical sense of fun with the job and she is serious though. There are many little details I can mention here like when Kouta stood up, Minato stared right at him. Then when Kaito got mad and started to run at Ryouma, she attacked him on the spot and when Kouta got close she took him done. The face she had on her face there was great as it shows someone having fun bringing pain to these boys. There was also the best part in this episode where she counters Kaito's plan of getting the drivers back as she acts relaxed with her pen, but she ends up using it to deflect the card that Kaito tossed. She doesn't get much dialogue and I have so much to analyze still, it's amazing! Minato is even the peach rider called Marika. I just can't wait for more of her!
There was one character that is seriously starting to take an interesting turn and that person is the deejay. He had many lines that did pop out in the series before and this is when he starts to do his own plotting. He feels that simply stopping the riders from fighting won't be protecting them since they already had a taste of power. Sagara feels that they will not stop just because someone wants them to and so goes to Kouta. At first he acts like he is broadcasting to a live audience towards Kouta calling him the big hero and thanking him for how much popularity he brought to the site. Then he starts to get more serious saying that Kouta got to be this great thanks to what happened. He then goes on about how Kouta is going to live his life and how much of an impact he will make on the world. I will get to how Kouta feels about the whole situation later, but Sagara starts to take a liking to him. He even gives Kouta the security pass, a Lemon Energy Seed, and a new item that seems it can latch onto the belt. Then by what Sagara said about how no knows who the forest will pick, it seems he has confidence that Kouta could be the chosen one. So is Sagara doing some plotting on his own and in some way is he the big cheese in all of this? At first, I thought he was going to be a comedic character, but he is rather serious and have further involvement in the plot. This is another factor I can't wait to see further in the series.
So how does Kouta feel about all of this and will he give into being used for Ryouma's experiment? Sagara tells him that he should take the chance so he can get more power. Kouta will refuse though since he doesn't want to be used just so that Ryouma can gain more powers. Kouta sees that Yggdrasil is paying too much attention on the experiments and not defending the city. To prevent from the innocent from getting hurt he will take that role of being the real guardian and will use the power he has to do it. He doesn't want power just for the fact of having power, but he wants to use it to save others. This is easily another example I can make with Lloyd Irving as even that boy gets incredible powers and his aim is to use it for good and not for the reason of just owning power. This makes both of the character likable for many reasons as they are good people and can do follow up on their promises. Kouta can now have a new power so that he can continue to becoming a stronger hero, but again does Sagara see that or is he just using him?
For Sid he is clearly becoming a villain now. He is out for blood as I mentioned before and his views do show that as well. There is a scene where Kouta starts to escape, but he is caught by Sid. The two talk about what is right and wrong. Kouta is mad at the people of Yggdrasil for not taking protection in their plans. For Sid he sees no problem with that since being an adult for him means being able to know when to do the dirty deed. I just love seeing these two having a rivalry because Sid is the exact opposite of Kouta. Now maybe there is an overall good to the experiments as Ryouma said this could take humans to the next evolution. So is Sid more of a Foil for Kouta? The two are opposites for sure, but could Sid actually want to help humanity? Again for him he knows when he has to work with dirty hands for the experiments so is he aiming for good? Sid is yet another character I didn't expect to take such a big step in development as he has now become the antagonist for Kouta. A great thing about him is his presentation as how he transforms and fights show off his character greatly. His transformation pose is rather serious as he holds his serious look and then while fighting he gives off taunts. He did this many times before in the series where it seemed like he was taunting the characters and he is doing that again while fighting. There are so many characters I want to see more from and Sid is easily one of them now.
There was a quick scene that occurred with the Beat Riders. It's quite funny how all their leaders are being tied up in other matters or should I say were in other matters. There was Yuuya and Hase who share the same fate of being killed when they were Inves. Kaito was kidnapped and being held by Yggdrasil and Jonouchi is working with Oren now. Well the teams still gathered up as Mai tries to tell them that they should stop the Inves Games. This is so the people can stop blaming them for the Inves attacks. Sadly, Team Gaim is at the number one spot and with no leaders around no one else wants to listen. They think that Gaim wants to stay at the top so they quickly walk away. What I love about this scene are these little impressions we get from these minor characters. Team Baron is full of arrogance and doesn’t like to be taken away from their oppurtunities which can be said for Kaito as well. Team Wild's members seem rather lackadaisical as one is eating and the other one is lying down on the ground. Team Invitto's members are really weird as they dress to similarly and even do the same actions and follow up on their sentences. It even gives us a little insight of who the characters are as I can see how Jonouchi has this rather flamboyant feel about him. I do have to wonder about how Hase even worked with such lazy guys since he was stubborn and hard working, but they didn't help him all that much, so that could make sense. Still for a little scene like that, it was rather interesting to see some of the teammates who don't get the spotlight that often.
For Micchy he has an interesting reaction to Yuuya's death as he it seems he doesn't blame Kouta for what happened. This is shown since Micchy still saves Kouta and tries to hide that information from Kouta. Micchy knows this will destroy Kouta as a person and his own ideals. I know Micchy didn't know about his speech about how he couldn't murder another person, but I think Micchy knows how Kouta acts. If Kouta did find this out this easily could screw him up and bring him down into despair. I still have to wonder if Micchy actually forgives him though since he wants to help him still. I can easily see this working for a character moment for Micchy and now with his brother knowing who he is things are going to get more interesting.
The action for this episode was pretty good with the three heroes having to fight Kurokages out of suit, until Kaito transforms since he never runs away from a fight. I have to say these are grown men in the Kurokage suits and yet they get beaten up by young children that haven't even transformed; I think those soldiers need a better Lock Seed. Now they did prove to be a threat when they are on a hover bike! Sadly, they use them on the gun rider so I can see how that will go. For the most part there wasn't a lot of action as this was another episode focused on the plot, but there are still cool moments. There was Sid and how he acted while fight which was fun to watch. Then there was Baron and Gaim using their bikes to take Sigurd down and escape. Nothing too big though with the action as it a little too short, but that is the purpose of an escape.
This episode of Gaim really gave me a lot to think about. There was a great deal of presentation done right in this episode. How the characters are acting right now gets me very interested to see what they will do next, mostly with Sagara and Sid. There were also cool moments for Minato as she shows off a badass female character done right so far. I will say the action could have been better and personally I find the hover bikes to look a little too silly and for some reason I am thinking of Star Wars... Wait a second the Kurokages are the Storm Troopers! Either way though this episode gets an A, as is grabbed my interest in many great ways.
Next Time: Gaim's new power!