[NOTE: If you've missed out on last week's post, click the "Rider Battle" photo above. For this post, just click on the subtitle.]
Our official first round of Rider Battle!This week we'll look into how Ryuki and Dragon Knight decided to begin they're series. Unfortunately I've been hearing a mysterious ringing all day while writing this so while I go check that out, please enjoy my findings of Kamen Rider Ryuki & Kamen Rider Dragon Knight!
*DING* *DING* *DING*
Kamen Rider Ryuki - Episode 1
In terms of a pre-opening title sequence goes, it's interesting. Not great but interesting. We see a lady get kidnapped by a monster in a mirror meanwhile two character sense this and go in direction of it. There really isn't anything else to add to that.
Now let's go to the opening itself. I like it. It plays on the whole mirror and parallel world motif. An great shot to point out is the shot where characters and various objects are moving out of the center of the shot to the right while an alternate reality version goes to the left. E.g. Kamen Riders to the left, humans to the right. And everything you own is in a box to the left.
...What? I was in a groove.
Anyway we're introduced to Shinji, a reporter in training who is also an idiot. Purely this is to try and put some comic relief in there but it just feels shoehorned in. There's really not much else to go on in terms of personality. We're told certain aspects but we don't really see it. Case in point, remember that "idiot" thing? Again, we're only told this by other characters Shinji interacts with. There's a great rule in writing, film making, theatre, etc and it's "Show, don't tell.".
Although I will admit there's things the show does very well with applying this rule. The monsters for example can only be seen by riders and originate from a reflective surface. There's even a scene where the lady in the beginning notices web around her neck but can only see it in the mirror. And that's great. It explains without having to sit down and say "Hey. Just so you know. They come out of mirror...y'all."
Today's magic macguffin is a deck of cards, the advent deck, which held towards a reflective surface will make a belt appear. Slam the deck in the belt and a very cheap effect to transforming ensues. How Shinji discovers the deck frustrates me. It's left on the floor of a room with all the reflective surfaces covered and Shinji just trips over the damn thing. I would've been fine if it had been in a place of safe keeping like a box or something but no, on the floor where everyone can see. I'm hoping for some explanation from the person who left it there.
Finally the rider's debut, which I've noticed seems to be a very common troupe in Kamen Rider. The rider themselves will transform near the end of the first episode and for the most part makes sense plot wise. But I struggled to find a justification here. Shinji here's a noise, which pretty much screams "MIRROR MONSTER HERE!!!" then is sucked into a car window (remember, reflective surface) and as he falls and screams his way to the other side he's transformed into a half assed version of Ryuki. Now I get why, it's established that he hasn't made a contract with a monster. My problem is this sucked in business. Like the comic relief it feels like it's shoehorned in. It just felt like a "Oh right! I forgot to add the Kamen Rider part of KAMEN RIDER.".
If I can get out of my negativity bubble for a minute I will say that the visual and audio effect for Shinji first time hearing the noise made me feel like him. The white noise and the painful filters actually work in it's favour and I for one like it. It gives that feeling of immersion that I haven't experienced with a show before.
Unfortunately I'm trying to find some excuse to say "the episode is great" but it's not. There's places where it chose to slack off. On the off chance some Ryuki fans are reading this and want to bellow that "the series is good so shut up" line allow me to defend my statement by saying:
"I'm sure it's a good series BUT this is how they chose to introduce it to you."
But hopefully this will get better for me to acquire SOME entertainment value.
Kamen Rider Dragon Knight - Episode 1 (Search For The Dragon)
A dark night in car park, a woman is being kidnapped by...butterfly ninjas? *sighs* Fine, moving on. A dark rider saves the day night and turns back into a douche-bag. I'm sorry but this is my first impression of him. The scene is pretty much there to say "look what we can do" as I'm guessing this scene was made exclusively in the west.
Which brings me to a point I need to address. Yes, Dragon Knight uses stock footage from Ryuki for it's episodes. On first watch-through, I didn't notice expect for the final scene which we'll go through later. But on the second watch-through it became very noticeable. For example, earlier on, Kamen Rider Douche-bag (a.k.a. Wing Knight) transforms and in the next scene, in his Rider form, we're shown an entirely different place BEFORE he enters the fray. I've studied digital media for two years, I'm shocked I didn't notice at first. Now I should point out that these mispasted scenes wont be effecting my overall view of the show. Personally I think that if the writing is good and you move your scene quickly before anyone notices then you're fine.
But I'm getting ahead of myself. Let's talk about the opening title sequence.
It had me going with it's guitar and rev up sound effects until the lyrics started up. I'm not a fan of it. The lyrics just seem too simple, like they're trying to ape Power Rangers to bring in that crowd to Dragon Knight. Understandable but not impressed. If I want to see a giant robot battle and five colour coded super heroes beat up bad guys I'll watch Power Rangers or if I can stomach it, Power Rangers: Samurai (but let's not loose our heads here). I'm also not impressed by the opening introducing every single rider in the show. For a first episode. You'd want to gradually introduce them as they appear in the show. (Right?) Ryuki, despite my complaints, keeps the other riders a mystery and I can only assume it will do what many other Kamen Rider shows have done and introduce other riders as the show progresses. I will however tip my hat for the lovely background effect.
Four paragraphs in and we're introduced to Kit, a foster kid now a foster adult, who is talking to his father...in his head. The set up is extremely similar to the show Dexter and how he talks to his father. Its like a normal conversation between two character plus a shiny filter and echo effects. It shows his love for his missing father and one suspects this will be a way of seeing his true personally. But most likely this is a way of driving the plot.
While a mysterious dragon is following Kit, he discovers the advent deck in his old house which will now be serving as his HQ from now on I'm guessing. Like Ryuki, the deck is placed in plain sight but I'm choosing to let it slide on the grounds that his father most likely owned the deck and wants Kit to have it, as he says "search for the dragon" to Kit for the umpteenth time.
Trying to hide from Mr Douche-bag (until he establishes his name in the show, I'll refer to him as this) whose after Kit's advent deck, Kit accidentally falls into the reflection of a car transporting him to another world and transforming him into a half assed version. For me this works. It certainly one ups Ryuki. It doesn't seem like it was shoehorned for the sake of it.
I should point out that the transformation word has been changed to. Ryuki's is "henshin" which means "transform" whereas Dragon Knight's is "Kamen Rider". Think of that how you will but personally I think its better. Fans of Kamen Rider will say "it's always been henshin so it must be for now and forever" and I think it's just silly to say so. Dragon Knight is it's own show and in the general public or rather it's target audience, wouldn't have a clue about all of that rider lore. If you really wanted to you could explain in the show how the riders orginated in Japan and travelled to America to justify keeping the word but that's screen time that doesn't need to be added. Besides, I think they're trying to justify the title of the show here so it makes sense. Some what.
If I could say one really bad thing against it, its that the voice acting for Kit in his rider form that kills it. His jungle scream just breaks it for me. Regardless it was a fun introduction to the series.
The Edge: Dragon Knight
Ok, this ones a no brainer. Ryuki just didn't make a strong enough first impression on me. It wasn't entertaining enough and it's lead character is more of an empty vessel rather than a fleshed out character. Kit is a better lead in comparison. More personality not just "oh here he is doing a funny" and a lot more enjoyable to watch as he drives the plot along.
To ensure that these get released weekly, I'll only cover one episode from each series per post and on occasion bump it up to two. The episode ratio for Ryuki to Dragon Knight is 50:40 and since my TAFE course starts next Monday (on my god damn birthday) I don't want to worry that I haven't seen 13 hours worth of material each week like last year's project. Besides, that means I get to dissect the plot of each episode even more.
So look forward to next week as we go through another round of Rider Battle!
(Found out the ringing...neighbours are celebrating Australia Day...)
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