Kamen Rider Gaim First Impressions
So yeah. This finally happened. My friends and I spent about two or three months cracking wise about this break-dancin', sword-slashin', fruit-lovin' crime-fighter, but now that its out, it's not so bad.
What I Liked:
- The Fruit: I know, right?! Like I said, my friends and I had a billion jokes about Kamen Rider Toucan Sam, but in the end I actually liked the way they implemented it. While in theory not really much weirder than USB memories or say...grasshoppers, in practice, using fruit as a major theme for Kamen Rider Gaim was weird, and most everyone thought so. The reason why I liked it is because the writers let us know from the moment they were introduced that this isn't normal.
The Lock Seeds themselves are seen as mysterious, strange objects that came from nowhere, and anyone who actually, y'know, thinks about it for longer than 3 seconds knows it. And later, when they get transferred to the dimension where the Lock Seeds come from, it's presented as this weird, almost ethereal place that takes place in an entirely separate reality. By making the fruit a central point and explaining that, "hey, the characters think this is weird, too" rather than glossing over it and acting like, "lol fruits are normal, what's wrong with you", the concept comes off as more intriguing and it actually settles better in my head.
Kouta: After the assured quietness of the static character that was Haruto/Wizard, its nice to see someone like Kouta. They could've gone any number of wrong directions with the guy--made him spineless, or a jerk, or worst of all, just indifferent to everything--but they didn't. The introductory scenes for Kouta are of him helping people, meaning this is something that's central to his person.
But unlike Haruto, who never questioned his lot in life or even looked like he was wavering from his purpose or even the way he went about his purpose, Kouta has doubts. He wonders how he can improve, how he can better help those around him. It was a little "cheesy" when he outright said "I want to transform!", but it summed him up pretty well: sure it takes time to grow into the person you really want to be, but Kouta needs to be that person NOW because there are people that need him NOW, which is why he went for being Gaim so quickly. (And that his hasty actions may very well have reprecussions later.)
The Rider Suit: For one thing, as with every Rider suit except Fourze (which seemed to drain out every ounce of visually appealing or logical aesthetic design for the main character and distributed it to everyone else in the series), Gaim Orange Arms looks better in motion than it did in still shots. But that's not what I mean, really.
I like the way they took the time in the fight to show Kouta gradually getting used to his powers. He didn't instantly know how to do everything, like other Riders do. The fight scene went through great pains to show him gradually figure out his powers, from learning to activate his belt, to realizing his greater strength and agility, even down to his weapons. And for things that would've been outright impossible for him to figure out like his Kaleidoscope Fruit Splash special, they introduced a new character to show him what to do. It's one of those little things that went a long way in terms of setting up believability to this new series that I really liked.
The World: Not since W has a Rider series so carefully set up a genuinely unique world for its characters to live in. Yes, there's Fourze, but in his case that world could be summed up as SCHOOL, and while it was a different school from most, it was still a nice framework to creatively maneuver inside of, while Gaim's world is created pretty much whole cloth.
Gaim's world is one in which a massive corporation appears to provide everything of major infrastructural importance (something you just know is going to come back to haunt them). It's one in which a colorful DJ is a major celebrity, because he tells you about the results of these giant breakdance battles between different clans. And its one with a seedy underbelly that we just saw the barest glimpse of in episode 1, with the shady Lock Seed dealer. It all works together in the first episode to create a distinctive world for the adventures of the cast of Gaim to take place in.
...Honestly? Nothing so far. The show managed to do all of that and fit it into roughly 22 minutes, while simultaneously sneaking in some nice foreboding for the overall direction of the series. I'm really not sure what else you could ask for.
So yeah. For now I'm considering the first episode of Gaim as a big success in that it at least didn't fail, in my eyes.