Well, I’ll be a dead monkey’s bloody uncle.
If you haven’t yet caught up on the legend in the making that is the Kamen Rider Build television series, I forgive your mistake. Since it exploded onto the scene a few months ago, it gave the impression that it was telling its story a bit differently from its predecessors in the long-running action hero franchise. It had a way with character, world-building, and general tone that set itself apart from the rest, and that only becomes more apparent as the surprisingly dramatic, strikingly creative series spins on. Especially when it comes to its dynamic portrayal of the villains in the series, the exploration of which can sometimes feel as complicated and rich as how it treats its many heroic figures. Which brings us to the current GOAT of the show’s bad guy community, in former Acting Prime Minister Himuro Gentoku, otherwise known as the powerhouse supervillain Kamen Rider Rogue.
When he wasn’t secretly moonlighting as the armored Night Rogue, his day job consisted of arrogantly swaggering through the Touto government offices, quietly seeding the overthrow of the entire organization with his dark co-conspirators, threatening people’s families and manipulating the hearts and minds of pretty much anyone within earshot of this smooth-talking monster of a man. Then came the righteous fall, when Kamen Rider Build, the resident hero of the story, kicked seven shades of bruises into his posterior, exposed him as a traitorous psycho, and got him excommunicated by his father, the true prime minister of the land.
From there, things got a bit more complicated, and the character’s journey only grows more interesting as time passes. It makes you wonder why we don’t have more nuanced villains in these shows when something like this makes it look so damn easy. I knew something more was in store for us once he returned from his considerable fall from grace, looking like a demented cross between Sad Affleck, Hungover Dracula, and Homicidal Kurt Cobain if all three were locked in a cabin someplace dark and scary and not let out until one of them said they liked something and meant it. Instead, they somehow brewed up a lovechild in that cabin that grew to adulthood within hours and broke them free in time for the next episode of Kamen Rider Build, and here we are. With one of the best Rider costumes to boot, and a transformation sequence that is a literal scream. (I’m still chilled by that.)
To help fill in the gaps of Gentoku’s long and arduous quest to take his revenge for all that he’s lost, the devious dastard is getting his own spin-off arc, which will play out in three separate episodes. Finally, a supplemental story for the Kamen Rider franchise that I actually want to watch instead of feeling like I have to track it down out of obligation. It’s not the first mini-series of its kind for the Rider brand, but it’s one of only a few that I find myself excited by.
It may be fair to say that these ancillary materials are often used more as promotional tools than genuine stories worth watching. Their narrative usefulness varies from one piece to another, sometimes having major ramifications for the mainstream series they’re attached to, other times just being fun little extras to enjoy in the gap between new episodes and movies. An ongoing criticism some have is that any truly vital piece of story found there should just be included in the show itself, and I can’t say I’m not sympathetic to that viewpoint. Nothing takes me out of a moment fast enough when I realize I’ve been expected to see some other thing in order to enjoy the actual thing I’m looking at at the time. It’s not like watching films in a cinematic universe, as that is already set up in a way that suggests you’re “supposed to” watch everything in that line in sequence. Here, it’s a bit more random, sometimes being necessary to keep up with other non-show offerings, but another time maybe kindanotreally. I can only say that, quite simply, if it feels worth it, I’ll be less bothered. And that’s really more a comment on the franchise as a whole than on any individual part of it.
Well, that… that was bloodier than I imagined. For a moment, I thought I was watching excerpts from the more adult-leaning Kamen Rider Amazons series, or a Rider show of a different time, when gouging eyes and melted heads were more of a regular occurrence than a shocking isolated incident. This is all about the misery of Gentoku, who suffers one bout of indignity after another on his path toward becoming a Kamen Rider in his own right, and wreaking terror on all who steps to him. I’m into it.
Episode 1: NIGHT ROGUE RISES – The evolution of Gentoku from human despot to superhuman maniac.
Episode 2: DARK NIGHT FALL – Hold your Batman jokes. It’s Gentoku’s journey post-ass-whooping, powerless, caged up, and thoroughly pissed off.
Episode 3: KAMEN RIDER ROGUE – I’ll give you as many guesses as there are episodes to deduce what this one’s about.
Part 1 of ROGUE will be available with Volume 1 of the Kamen Rider Build Blu-ray collection box set, comprised of the show’s first 12 episodes. Part 2 follows suit, aligning with the structure of the show and releasing with the next set in the line, linking each major event in Gentoku’s life in the show with the next stage in his secret origin.
Kamen Rider Build Blu-ray Collection 1 drops March 28, 2018.
Don’t misspell his name as Rouge – that’s just rude.
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