Kamen Rider Ghost is in full swing, and we’re at about the halfway mark for the series. I’ll be honest – my initial impressions on Ghost weren’t very good; character development was slow, the protagonist seemed initially incapable of functioning as an adult let alone as a Rider, and his dialogue was pretty bland. Add in some belligerent side-kicks, and my first thought was that this series was doomed to be terrible.
That said, I try to give every series about 5-7 episodes to ramp up and suck me in. If we’re being frank – Ghost missed this mark. The build up was very Super Sentai feeling which is something I’ve never felt from a Rider series before. But, being a loyalist, I gave it another three episodes before deciding if it was time to write it off. I’m glad that I did – since episode 10, I’ve been absolutely hooked.
First, let’s talk about the story. For those unfamiliar with the premise, this series centers around Takeru Tenkuuji – the descendant of his ghost chasing father Ryu. Not much is known about Ryu at the beginning of the series, and for the sake of avoiding spoilers we’ll keep it that way for the purposes of this review. Partway through episode one, Takeru is killed by rampaging ganma (ghosts) after receiving an “Eyecon” from his deceased father for his 18th birthday that allows him to actually see these ghost (getting murdered by ghosts sounds like a delightful birthday gift, right?). Upon his death, Takeru enters a spirit world of sorts – presumably some sort of purgatory or heaven-type place. Here, he is met by the “Old Man” who tells him he can revive by taking up the mantle of Kamen Rider Ghost, fighting the Ganma, and beating them to collecting the spirits of 15 famous luminaries and using their power to wish for his resurrection – but there’s a catch: this task must be completed within 99 days or he dies for real. These spirits are gathered by way of turning them into Eyecons which can be paired with the Ghost Driver to infuse Takeru’s Ghost power with that of the chosen luminary. While this premise is arguably basic, the fun is in the journey.
I was surprised, to say the least, with how early a second rider was introduced in this series. I’m not nearly as well versed with Kamen Rider as I am with Super Sentai, but the introduction of Rider #2 took place far earlier than I am used to experiencing. Truthfully though, the introduction of Kamen Rider Specter is what really got me to pump the brakes on quitting Ghost early on – he added a much needed level of seriousness and aggression to counterbalance the immaturity displayed in earlier episodes by Takeru. While it was almost too much initially, the over-aggression displayed by Makoto (Specter) and the extreme immaturity initially shown by Takeru were seemingly rounded out right around Episode 10 which is where the real “hook” begins and the story starts to really unfold. I guess if I were to TL;DR the first nine episodes of Ghost, I’d say that it was victim to generally poor writing. I would implore any on-the-fence readers to push on, because I promise you it gets better.
Costuming is a big victory for this series. While I was a bit apprehensive at first to the very Tron-esque costume, I’ve turned into a total sucker for it – especially how it plays so well into the henshin gimmick for the show. The core body-suit remains the same, but the parka/hoodie being worn and helmet change with each different Eyecon activation – I’ve been thrilled with the concepts and costumes designed for each of the luminaries chosen, and am even more thrilled that the luminaries employed throughout the series aren’t just restricted to Japanese historical figures. I think my wife audibly laughed at how excited I was to see Newton and Edison Eyecons and the ridiculously awesome abilities that they have. My opinions on costumes may be a bit jaded though – I have a tendency to end up loving every single Kamen Rider costume by the end of the series.
If you can’t already tell, I’m a big cheerleader for Ghost in a seemingly vast sea of naysayers. My enthusiasm doesn’t stop at just the show, however. The Ghost toy line has been absolutely fantastic thus far, and I’m not ashamed to admit that I’ve spent more money than I probably should have on the DX role play sets and Eyecon collectibles. My hope is to soon have some product photos up in the Kamen Rider Toys section in short order, maybe even a review or two. Since this post has become significantly larger than I had initially intended, I’ll say just one thing about the Ghost toys so far – the details and sound effects on each applicable toy are superbly accounted for, even with the reduction in scale for the weapons.
If you’ve hung on this far, I promise I’m done blathering. If you haven’t watched Ghost and are trying to decide if it’s for you – try it. Seriously. You might be as pleasantly surprised as I have been. If you watch it and want to share your thoughts, hit the comments below!
See you all next time!