Today’s selection: Kamen Rider x Kamen Rider Wizard & Fourze: Movie War Ultimatum (2012, dir. Koichi Sakamoto)
Subgenre: Henshin Hero
Available from: Fansub-only
For those unfamiliar of how the Kamen Rider franchise’s “Movie War“s go, it’s a three-act story: the first is an epilogue for the Kamen Rider series that ended the previous season (in this case Kamen Rider Fourze), the next is an adventure for the currently running rider (in this case, Kamen Rider Wizard), and the last act is a crossover between the two. This entry is pretty good, though not as excellent as last year’s Movie War Megamax, with the following breakdown:
The Fourze story takes place five years after the TV series, with Gentaro now a high school teacher. He reunites with his old crew (who are all successful and doing exciting things, but join him at the drop of a hat) to deal with some of his students, who happen to be the cast of Inazuman. This is the best Inazuman’s ever looked in live-action, and is closer to Ishinomori’s manga than the others have been. Also, Nadeshiko’s back (from the quasi-dead), via a couple nods to previous movie continuity.
The Wizard story takes place in the mind of the classic Ishinomori heroine Poitrine, or at least someone who fancies themself to be her. The more annoying aspects of Wizard’s show are mercifully sidelined.
The team-up is against the Akumaizers, who are villains this time around. Eiji from Kamen Rider OOO makes a brief cameo, imparting his spirit into Poitrine’s imagination so that OOO can make a guest spot (he still can’t transform in the real world), and Riders W, Birth, and Accel also pop up.
Sakamoto brings his trademark extreme action and crazy dutch-angle zooms to the film to great effect, though I’m not wild about his fixation on the twirling skirts of every female character during combat. Also, I’m sort of wondering what’s up with Toei reviving all of Ishinomori’s old hero characters as villains lately: This movie had Inazuman, Poitrine, and the Akumaizers (with hints of Bibyun), and we’ve previously seen similar treatment with Arashi, Kikaider, Kyodain, Daitetsujin 17, and even Rider 1. Sure, it’s cool to see these characters again with modern designs, but by redoing their personalities it makes them seem more like adulterations than homages.