Series Review: Kamen Rider Gaim
So Kamen Rider Gaim has ended folks and we have Kamen Rider Drive (bear in mind, I'm watching Mars a Chinese series for now). So what did I think about the series? For one, the series started out looking silly for me, because of the motif is FRUITS?! Well, but the writing genius that Gen Urobutcher errrr.. Urobuchi has managed to create such a wonderful script. While Naomi Takebe is hit or miss (she failed with Gobusters but I love Kiva and OOO where she is the producer)... Urobuchi has written such a series.
So Gaim feels like Ryuki, Kuuga and later you can see some references from past Kamen Riders. We have Zawame City under the rule of Yggdrasil which is similar to how Smart Brain is, except that the latter is not really evil. The whole "Rider War" here has Kouta who wants to save the world vs. Kaito who is the rival of Kouta, he is the leader of all Beat Riders. The city has the competition where creatures known as the Inves are used for games, but when out of control, can create disasters that only the Kamen Riders can beat. And everything here has some fair share of humor and seriousness.
What does it share with Ryuki- the obvious is the Rider War. Fortunately Kouta is more Godai than that douchebag Shinji. Kaito, well he is like the Renn Akiyama/Knight of the series being the constant opposition but thankfully, he's not a douchebag. We also do have other players like Pierre Alfonso and his pupil Hideyasu who are both Kamen Riders. In this Rider War, Pierre though he is a jerk, shows fair play and so does Kaito. Another element common with Ryuki is the existence of a parallel world. We have the Inves' homeworld known as Helheim which like Mirror World, houses many monsters. The Overlords are similar to that of the Lords in Agito while like in Ryuki, they offer that Golden Fruit which holds that awesome power to restart humanity.
This new kind of Rider War reveals some dark secrets about just everyone. You have people who can turn into Overlords if they ate that forbidden fruit. You have Yggdrasil who is an ambiguously moral company.. which Takatora and Micchy are part of it. You have traitors... and you have all of humanity's struggle to survive. And my favorite part is whenever Kouta and Kaito have this rivalry that almost becomes like another Black vs. Shadowmoon or Kiva vs. Saga relationship. And one may also think of the treachery involved. The conflict with Yggdrasil is not the only thing involved as both Yggdrasil and the Beat Riders have the common problem of Helheim taking over the world. And not to mention, Sid betrays Takatora who only wants to save humanity.
One of the more interesting plots is Micchy's downfall. He is the younger brother, overshadowed by his older brother. Time comes when the Overlords take over the Yggdrasil's Headquarters. To be honest, I felt some pity and hatred for him at the same time. Pity because seldom, I feel like him and hatred, because I seldom see myself and others in him. I thought he had his right motives, wrong actions and how he plans to betray humanity. It's just something how he goes against his brother. Okay I predicted he would die, his brother would die but spoilers, it doesn't go that way. I guess Urobuchi wanted to be less predictable in a good way. Micchy was once an ally but he goes berserk... a nice twist but with a rather different ending which you'll find out why.
What was interesting also is the Golden Fruit. Mai becomes the new goddess thanks to the Golden Fruit while the last of the Overlords is thrown. Now it would be time for that challenge for the fruit which reaches to an improved Black vs. Shadow Moon type of battle. Kouta who plans to restart humanity as he sees fit (but with noble goals) has become a monster. Later on, the problem of humanity has to be with the Inves plague which even with the last of the Overlords defeated, it doesn't stop until the Golden Fruit is won. In this one, Kaito eats the forbidden fruit going berserk which results to a more dramatic version of Black vs. Shadow Moon. Kaito himself could be another Shadow Moon type character... conflicted from within. So it's predictable Kouta wins, Kaito dies acknowledging Kouta worthy. Unlike Black who refuses the ultimate power, Kaito gets that ultimate power and rules with Mai in another place.
The series does try to imitate W's type of ending. Everything is peaceful BUT one enemy remains. Kamen Rider Jam possesses the body of a woman. In the epilogue, Micchy is reconciled with his brother (something that doesn't always happen, I mean that brat was really a brat) and the Beat Dancers are back without Kouta. In the end, Kouta returns to settle the scores after the other Riders are defeated. He does expel Jam from the body of the human woman and defeats the latter. In the end, we see Kaito's spirit converse with Mai. The series ending isn't all that great (but still great) but... the series itself was worth the watch and it still had a proper wrap-up.
My rating? 9/10. It's finally getting Ryuki's concept done right!