Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Anything Goes: A Look at Kamen Rider OOO

What, ANOTHER toku post?  Well, after watching Kamen Rider W, I quickly moved onto OOO so as to "catch up" in between the weekly episodes of Fourze.  I think I blew through it even quicker than I did Double, so I guess that immediately says something positive about the show, since I'm not the kind to force myself to sit through 50 episodes of a show I'm not enjoying.  Without further ado, here are some thoughts.

The plot of Kamen Rider OOO is a bit...different.  Creatures called Greeed, which exploit people's desires in order to sustain themselves, are unsealed after hundreds of years in confinement.  These desires gain them some satiation in the form of cell medals, but their main life force and source of power, however, comes in the form of core medals.  One of the Greeed comes in the form of a disembodied, floating monster arm.  This is Ankh, who proceeds to give our hobo hero, Eiji, the means to transform into OOO, primarily to gain assistance in collecting his own medals.

Ankh makes this complicated by possessing the body of a dying police detective, which is great for getting around.  However, Mr. Detective's sister, Hina, gets involved when she sees her brother's form (albeit with crazy hair) and develops a close relationship with Eiji and even Ankh to some extent.

The plot pretty much turns into a rat race for a good portion of the show, with Greeed constantly betraying other Greeed to get their hands on their core medals and Eiji defeating their Yummies, manifestations of a human host's desires.  Medals come and go, and the plot thickens when Dr. Maki, a strange scientist with a doll perched on his arm, sets a world-ending scheme into motion, intending on using the Greeed and the medals as a catalyst.

Also heavily involved in this whole medal-gimmick is the Kougami Foundation, whose president, called Cakeboss by many fans, is constantly seen making a cake for some occasion.  The power and funding of this organization can be both a great help to Eiji and Ankh or an annoying setback, depending on how El Presidente decides to play his hand. 


The foundation's investment, along with Dr. Maki's brains, also results in the creation of Birth, a modular and mechanized suit that is fueled by cell medals (as opposed to OOO and core medals).  Akira Date, a bro-tastic former combat medic, dons this suit to collect cell medals for the foundation, and he usually ends up assisting Eiji and Ankh in their fights, taking all of the cell medals in the end, of course.  Assisting Eiji and Date is Gotou, a Kougami employee who wishes to save the world.  He comes across as a bit prickly at first, but comes into his own as the series progresses.   That covers many of the plot basics, though things thicken up as it moves forward.  Let's proceed on to the characters.

"Gotou-chan, NICE!!"

The characters in OOO are probably one of its strongest points, IMO, at least in terms of likability.  How they are handled is a different story.  Anyway, I think I found a reason to like just about all of them, even the Greeed.  Eiji is sort of an amicable hobo Jesus.  He's appreciates the simple things in life, like having clean, flashy underwear and some spare change.  At the same time, the guy is almost completely selfless, wanting nothing more than to help other people.  He never really thinks of himself, which is an issue brought up several times during the course of the show.  Unfortunately, there are a couple of show-stealers to contend with in OOO, so Eiji's status as the main character loses a bit of its kick at times.

Hobo Jesus and Brotou.

One of the show stealers is Ankh.  The guy is a complete prick through 90% of the series, and yet, I couldn't help but like him and be completely enthralled with his time on screen.  Maybe it's Ryosuke Miura's solid performance as an actor that grabbed my attention.  It also could be that Ankh is just more interesting than Eiji in several regards.  Throughout the show, he actually experiences some very important character development that never quite comes to light until near the end, partly because it's in his very nature to suppress any emotion or action that doesn't make him look like a complete turd.  Every once in a while, something more trickles to the surface, and it makes him incredibly intriguing.

Gonna stab you so hard...

The other big show stealer is Date, the first Kamen Rider Birth.  Even if Ankh is present, this guy completely ransacks the scene with his bro-ness and likability.  One of my biggest beefs with how the show is handled concerns Gotou becoming Birth.  It's such a glorious moment when he transforms for the first time, especially since he had been working his way out of Date's shadow for about 2/3 of the show.  Gotou is truly great as Birth, but lo and behold, Gotou isn't Birth for even ten episodes before Date is back and is using a prototype Birth suit to help his Brotou out.  Really?  I mean, I love Date as much as anybody else, but I really thought Gotou deserved more time to be awesome before Date comes back to save the day with his bro-tier charm, not to mention that Date sure didn't take long to recover from his underground surgery...  Whatever.

I also found myself liking the Greeed to some extent, especially Gamel...poor, dumb, childish Gamel.  All the poor lug wanted was some candy and motherly love.  I found it difficult to dislike Dr. Maki too much, probably because of the funny scenes where the doll falls off of his arm and he freaks out in a rather humorous way.  However, it did make the guy even harder to take completely seriously, which brings me to another interesting point:  The humor.

See? Uva thinks it's funny, too.

Now, humor in Kamen Rider isn't a new thing.  Den-O really brought forth extra bursts of comedy, and many of the Rider shows since then have been a bit looser with the funny stuff.  OOO is a little bit bipolar at times.  One scene will contain SRS BUSINESS and the next second will be something not just funny, but completely ridiculous.  Dr. Maki freaking out about his doll falling off of his arm after a serious speech about ending the world or a flashback to some deranged trauma from his childhood is an example of this.  I'm not going to say that sudden bursts of humor is always bad, but I definitely couldn't take the show as seriously as a result.  I probably wasn't supposed to.  There were just times when it seemed oddly-timed, inappropriate, or mood-killing.

Not sure I have too much left to say.  It is worth mentioning that the trend of multiple forms has extended to OOO.  Each core medal contains a different power, and three of the same color results in a powerful, but energy-draining combo.  The mix-and-match core combinations can be kinda janky, but the combos are very cool. (Cool enough for me to buy some action figures...)

My reaction upon seeing the cool S.H. Figuarts for OOO

Also, the music is great.  I think OOO even beats Double in this department.  Most of the vocal songs used for the endings were sung by Shu Watanabe (Eiji).  In addition, many of the songs are awesome fanwank man-duets.  Eiji + Ankh, Date + Gotou, Eiji + Akira Kushida (!!!) are a few examples of these man-duets.  These guys can sing very well, and the songs rock.

All in all, Kamen Rider OOO is a very entertaining show.  I don't think it's quite as well done as Double in some regards, but its a solid series with many great qualities that kept me coming back.  I can safely say that it is now one of my favorites.  Go check OOO out if you haven't.