When it comes to shows with hybrid motifs, I’m always down for titles filled various things that would normally not go together. Even though the latest Kamen Rider series, Ex-Aid, mixes video games with the medical field, the idea isn’t something that’s too bizarre since this sort of link has existed in other scenarios.
In this case, Ex-Aid’s weakness isn’t its theme, but the way how the team implemented the show’s video game aspects. The staff’s decision to add video game effects in a Scott Pilgrim-esque manner takes away from the action scenes, due to the messages appearing at a speed before the viewer has the chance to register the show’s special touches. Even when the words are viewable, the whole thing feels a bit subpar in comparison to previous Rider shows where the special effects were flashier.
For a show that’s doing its best to capture the magic of video games, the special effects in Ex-Aid’s action scenes made the whole thing look like a poorly-made live-action adaptation of an existing title. Thankfully, the series’ choreography is enjoyable when the fights are more focused on the heroes fighting their opponent.
While many of Toei’s tokusatsu shows have never had a huge budget, previous Rider shows like Fourze showcased a great mix between its special effects and action to the point where it gives off a better gaming vibe than Ex-Aid. Sure, they got Hironobu Kageyama of JAM Project to voice the series’ transformation belts, but the program can’t keep up with the guy’s energetic lines and songs that cause people’s blood to boil. In fact, the show introducing folks to a dynamic super robot-themed rocket punch can’t make up for it either. Despite this issue, the series still has some promise.
As for the show’s combination of medical and video game themes, Ex-Aid manages to make the whole thing work. The main villains were game-related glitches who turned into creatures called Bugsters, and their goal is to infect people with diseases so they can become complete beings. Of course, this adds a bit of intensity to the series since the main Rider has to prioritize in saving the victims before they fully succumb to the bad guy’s diseases. Depending on what the staff does with this idea, the show has the potential to turn this premise into a super serious matter.
The other connection is that the show’s main Riders are all different types of doctors, with the program’s lead, Emu, being an Intern Pediatrician. From the looks of it, the series goal might be to use the guy’s status to have him view the medical field in a different way from the pros, as he tends to find a way to balance his patient’s feeling with their condition. Since the show already introduced a total of five Riders, the show’s rivalry angle might serve as a fun way for the audience to see how Emu deals with this outcome.
Perhaps the factor that sparks this rivalry between the doctors is that you have an unlicensed doctor who’s a shout-out to Black Jack that wants everyone’s Rider Gashats, the cartridges that act as the source of each Rider’s power, and a guy with an unknown agenda as Riders, which makes you wonder if this will get in the way of the group's goal to stop the Bugsters.
Design wise, Ex-Aid is all over the place. The show’s Riders have features that represent various gaming genres, which work well so far. At first, most of the gang’s tacky choice of colors seem weird on the eyes, but they manage to grow on me as I got to see them in action. As a fan of RPG games, it was nice that Kamen Rider Brave’s knight look was a neat suit from the get-go.
Unfortunately, the Bugster’s costumes aren’t as strong as the Rider ones since many of them feel a bunch of rejected Metaroid designs from the Spy-themed Sentai Series Tokumei Sentai Go-Busters. Even though it’s a bit of a step up from Ghost’s early bad guys, there’s something about them that lacks that ferocity that previous Monsters-of-the-Week had. At the moment, Graphite, one of the show’s major villains, sports the best look so I’m hoping that Ex-Aid's later episodes will make way for some cooler looking beasts.
Despite its shortcomings, Ex-Aid still isn’t out of the game yet. The chemistry between the show’s four main Riders could lead to some entertaining conflicts, and the series’ latest reveals could take this show to the next level. Since the series is building up to a possible betrayal moment, there’s a high chance that the show’s staff will increase the difficulty and deliver a more exciting product as its development continues further in the week. Who knows, this angle might cancel out the series odd choice of special attack effects and tacky elements.Photo Gallery: (15 images)
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