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Monday, September 15, 2014

Kamen Rider Double Episode 2 Review: Half Boiled

Sorry for the little delay on Double, I'm really trying hard to work in a daily schedule for my episode reviews, but it's been hard with recent events. Not saying I am having a tough time or anything, I'm actually really happy it's just being happy does take up a ton of time. Either way let us continue with Kamen Rider Double as another Dopant has appeared and it takes the prime suspect for some reason.
While the first episode of Double was clearly bringing exposition in a great fashion, it now knows what to do next for the follow up episode. Now Double does follow the two episode formula, but the series really works with this well thanks to the cases. Each case doesn't feel too long as it's a great amount of focus leaving room for likable minor characters and knowing where to live the important details. Episode two shows that in many ways because while Shotaro is putting this case to an end, we are also shown who the villains are and expecting someone new into their family. The episode then doesn't give too much exposition and just starts filling in the gaps of information that episode one didn't explain yet. Meanwhile during this, Akiko is much silenter in this episode as she is getting things and as I said before she is clearly showing the audiences' thoughts so around this time the people watching should be catching on as well. There are even some subtle details this episode puts in and you can see them if you really remember the first episode or the overall series itself as I will easily mention those in the review. Overall the second episode is a perfect follow up thanks to how it keeps on going without stopping at any point.
Phillip gets a bit more screen time in this episode and things start to get interesting with his character. First, we now learn how Phillip's powers of accessing information and how he helps Shotaro with the cases. Along with that he starts to spout out more of his opinion in this episode. Phillip is straight to the point just like his information. It's a funny thing since he is a man who just reads and learns as he doesn't really have a code of conduct as of yet. The series does start to build on his humanity much more later on, but as of now Phillip can be insensitive. Now this doesn't mean he is just being a jerk to be a jerk he has his reasons. Shotaro wants to save Marina because she is a close friend of his and right there is not the hard boiled style Shotaro wants to live by. Phillip says she should be finished off since she has been consumed by the Gaia Memory. Phillip then brings up how Shotaro is actually half boiled and doesn't have it in him to be hard boiled. This really starts to bring up the most important character arc in the series as Shotaro needs to find out who he is.
Shotaro has said this many times before and the saying itself have been said multiple times in the series already and that is hard boiled. This is Shotaro's greatest struggle since he wants to be like his boss who sadly passed away, but he cannot let his true self go at the same time. If you watch Kamen Rider Skull's back story which I highly recommend you can see what hard boiled is. Shotaro is simply not that type of man since he wants to save people even if they are criminals. When Shotaro learns that his friend, Marina is the Dopant who killed the previous suspect and has been working with him before he went out of control. Shotaro is told that she herself has gotten out of control, but Shotaro still hopes that she is herself. Now Shotaro ends up delivering justice to the woman as he plans on arresting her and he does keep his serious performance. A thing to note here then is that Shotaro is mostly wearing all white which is something his boss had on when he was killed. He does start to crack up though when he had to confront Marina when she was pretending to care about the fallen man and again when Marina started to act out of character. I just love how the actor performs during these moments as he is Shotaro, there are rider actors that are great, but only a few can really be the character themselves, Renn Kiriyama is one of those actors though as I will easily bring this up on multiple occasions.
The series will also be bringing up on how Shotaro and Phillip work together. Now we can easily tell that they are used to their line of work, but their partnership still has to improve. We see the two fight for the first time and it wasn't a pleasant one. Shotaro ends up giving Phillip a punch to the face and Phillip couldn't predict that whatsoever since that was out of character for Shotaro. Now the overall Double lore does have a follow up on this as it's brought up more than once. Let’s just say Shotaro's boss had some bad moments as well. In the end though, Phillip comes to save Shotaro as the two quickly work together again and become the two in one detective.
While the case was straight to the point with no mystery, the series decides to put more focus on the Dopants themselves and the people selling the Gaia Memories. First of all I love how they show what happens to people who use Gaia Memories. Before Marina went crazy we are told that people end up losing their sanity after using the memories and yet we never clearly seen that. The Magma Dopant just seemed like a normal MOTW while the next one was clearly insane. Marina was the T-Rex Dopant and she soon started to build up a craving for human flesh when she became the Dopant. She literally says that she will eat Shotaro! It's a great way of showing us how Dopants act as the people who start becoming them end up becoming the exact thing they represent. Also for a simple T-Rex monster the series got creative with it by letting it grow a full dinosaur body, now they had to use CGI and this was 2009 so it wasn't the best, but still I give points for the creative touch. The series easily has some more clever Dopants though and it's one of the many reasons why they are my favorite type of monsters in the franchise.
So who is exactly letting these memories get into the public's hands? Well it's the rich family with fancy looking business men of course! We have seen the Sonozaki's before in episode one with their fancy dinner. We did get to see that one of them is a Dopant as well, but something is special about them. We then see more of these special Dopants and start to learn that they use a belt of their own. The character Kirihiko is also shown for the first time and we see more than his character, fan girls calm down! The Sonozakis give out these Gaia Memories for a price of course, but we don't really know their plans as of yet, pretty much it just seems like they are making money at this point. Still having the Gaia Memories being passed out like drugs is unique and again makes it easily blend in with the world of Double. It's quite funny that Marina was hiding her memory in her purse, just an odd thing to have with your other daily supplies. Then the initiation scene was quite interesting as Kirhiko gets a special belt and a Gaia Memory of his own, easily establishing a big villain for the series.
Onto the action of this episode as it pretty much saved until the end, but there was a cool scene with Shotaro. In the previous episode we have seen him use some cool little gadgets and we got to see two more of them. These devices work with memories as well, but you can tell right off the bat they are not Gaia Memories. His camera uses the Bat Memory and transforms into a camera, pretty simple and Stag is used for his phone as it transforms into a stag beetle. I do like these cool little gadgets as they do get their time to shine as well in the bigger action scenes later on. Going on then, most of the fight used CGI which isn't a bad thing and the series does use it better than how some other series both before and after. It does get bad at points like when Double himself because a CGI module, but the soundtrack and the quickness of the fight still makes it decent none the less. We also got to see the power of both Heat and Metal Memories as it's a powerhouse! They are used quickly and we can already tell that it's the power form for Double. This is thanks to how Heat Joker was used as Double uses his fist more and with the Metal having a new weapon and straight up bashing through the enemy really establishes that. Double has the best gimmick that rider series has been using lately as Double easily started that trend, sadly none did it as well as Double.
Episode two is a great follow up episode as it establishes more of what makes this series great. Phillip and Shotaro start developing and playing off of each other. Akiko's role is easily more established in this episode. While the case was simple and Shotaro knew who it was early in the episode there was the inside look at the Sonozaki's to really give the episode some more meat. The action could have been better, but I still give credit for the creative touch for the T-Rex Dopant. The episode gets a solid A has again it's one of the best beginnings to an absolutely amazing series.
Next Time: Money and Metal!

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