Tuesday, 22 February 2011

Kamen Rider OOO 23 Review

Kamen Rider OOO
Episode 23: Beauty, the Egg, and the Sleeping Desire
A review

I’ll admit a certain amount of trepidation about this episode set in when the preview started reminding us who Uva, Kazari, Ankh, Date, Gotou and Eiji were. Was this going to be a massively important and groundbreaking episode that warrants this slightly unusual reminder?

In other news, Thursday will come after Wednesday
this week.

 No. Not really. Unless you count Date tormenting the good Doctor Maki as ‘groundbreaking’ I suppose.

 But like any good episode of Kamen Rider, though, the plot is simmering away, even if it’s arguably not the main focus of the episode, and there are several interesting developments: We get hints towards Date’s condition, and are shown Kazari’s shiny new abilities courtesy of pilfering Mezuru and Gameru’s cores.

 Truth be told, however, this is something of a mediocre episode. For people wanting action, excitement and explosions, we get very little apart from a few one-sided battles between Kazari and various others. The battles all end pretty much inconclusively, and really only serve as a first look preview of Kazari’s new abilities – which granted are not uninteresting. It’s genuinely fascinating to see Kazari combine his wind abilities with Mezuru’s water abilities, and use Gameru’s gravity abilities in a way their original owner never did (seeing as he never actually used his powers. Ever. Which made sense for Gameru – he was never meant to be the brightest crayon in the box), in the same way that it’s always interesting to see Eiji’s combinations.

Although you'd think an octopus-legged
hawk-headed gorilla would be pretty damn scary.
 People wanting new and amazing combinations, this episode also falls short. Apart from a brief look at the octopus legs (whose powers seem to be the supernatural ability to stand up, but the preview for the next episode promises some more body-horrific uses), there’s really nothing new in terms of OOO’s powers. The writers have shown they can make combinations of new and old medals, or even old and older medals, into a spectacle worth watching – the Hawk-Tiger-Condor combination of the last episode was proof of that – but were not so much on form this time. Maybe Octopus Legs and Gorilla Arms are just not an interesting marriage of abilities.

 People wanting sweeping, epic plot developments won’t be keen either. We’re given hints about Date’s condition (which rumours say is an incurable disease of vagueness – possibly Sudden Onset Manly Collapsing Sickness, the male equivalent of Pale Complexion Disease, but we’ve yet to see any manly collapsing), and as mentioned multiple times, we see Kazari testing out his new powers, which raises interesting questions as to what happens when he absorbs that Zou Medal and that Kamakiri Medal we know he has. But apart from that, the episode is rather light on plot, especially compared to TaJaDor’s introductory arc.

 People wanting a strong, engaging episodic plotline about the Yummy and their host will probably be the least disappointed, but may still find this episode lacking. The Yummy host in this episode is Sakura Yumi, a make-up technician working for her sister, Sakura Rei, in a situation that would not be out of place in a Charles Perrault story. Yumi’s desire is to be beautiful like her sister, a desire compounded by her sister’s cruelty and a chance meeting with Date, an old friend.

Most teen comedies lack stingray-firing beachballs
but no genre is perfect.
 Actually, unlike some previous Yummy hosts, Yumi is a pretty likeable character, which is a welcome change after a man who went around having his Giant Grasshopper Friend beat people up while dragging his exceptionally irritating child in tow. But the plot suffers from the episode being spread altogether too thinly, and from its culmination in a ‘Beautiful All Along’ scenario that would not have been out of place in a teen romantic comedy.

 It probably sounds like I’m slating the episode, but I enjoyed it. It served its purpose – namely, to set things up for the next episode – and did so while still having some good moments. Eiji and Date’s chat, Maki and Date’s exchange at the beginning (which is hilarious right up until you realise that you’re watching a large, physically powerful man torment his smaller, weaker, mentally ill colleague by preying on his illness), Kazari and Uva’s meeting and pretty much any scene with Yumi in were all highlights.

 It just suffers the same problem as most odd-numbered episodes: It leaves you wanting more partly because you want to know what’s going to happen, and partly because you didn’t really get the pay-off of your week’s wait in this episode.

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