akinoame: (Kings and Vagabonds)
[personal profile] akinoame

2015 has gone, and the OOO Challenge is complete. I kept to my word: Watch all 48-49 episodes of Kamen Rider OOO in a single month, and post four episode reviews a week. While there were some breaks in my scheduling, namely for computer troubles and my studying for the GRE, I stuck to it. OOO Wonderful: The Shogun and the 21 Core Medals came afterwards, along with most of the music videos, but I never intended those to be part of the summer challenge, so they came at a slightly more relaxed pace. While I wanted to review "Te wo Tsunagou" before getting to the Endpoint, since I thought it had some cute stuff to note with Ankh, I ultimately decided to just go on with the Endpoint because what I wanted to talk about there is basically already covered in my notes throughout the series. I'll review it at a later date, along with both of the Movie Wars films; Core will come after I do Movie Wars 2010 to cap off the Decade reviews down the line, and Megamax will come when I review Fourze, since it is genius in retrospect when it comes to foreshadowing.

2015 is also the year I finished Babylon 5, after having been lent the DVDs in late 2014. It's a fantastic series, and it changed my perspective on some things I'd been watching in the meantime—namely OOO and Kamen Rider Gaim. Gaim I'll discuss when I get to it, but for OOO, it allowed me to articulate my feelings about the show in a new way, while also giving me a better appreciation of the roles some of the characters fill. While I'll forever be annoyed with the way women have been shafted throughout Kamen Rider's 45 year history to date, seeing characters like Delenn, Ivanova, Talia, Lyta, and Na'Toth has given me a better understanding of characters like Hina and Satonaka, who had formerly left me frustrated and baffled.

B5 also asked a series of essential questions throughout its run, ones that I find extremely helpful in analyzing OOO and a couple of other shows. I already alluded to one of these questions in my Endpoint for Ryuki, before I ever even watched the show, but here's what they ask:

  1. Who are you?

  2. What do you want?

  3. Why are you here?

  4. Where are you going?

The first two are asked by two of the oldest alien races in the galaxy, the Vorlons and the Shadows respectively, in their proxy war to determine who is right in guiding the younger races. The second two are asked throughout by the younger races, along with the ancient alien Lorien, who poses a sixth question, specific to Captain John Sheridan:

It's easy to find something worth dying for. Do you have anything worth living for?

Yasuko Kobayashi asks, "What do you want?" from her characters a lot, whether it's the wish at the heart of the Rider War in Ryuki or the wishes the Imagin of Den-O tempt their contracted humans with. But in OOO, I picked up a lot of the other questions as well, especially the sixth question for Eiji in the finale.

As with most of the Heisei and Neo-Heisei Rider series, OOO has a large cast of characters. Who are they? What do they want? Why are they here, and where are they going?

While technically, we meet most of the Greeed at the same time, the first one to take action is Uva, the green insect Greeed, portrayed by Yusuke Yamada, with Kazuya Okada as his suit actor. In a way, he's the face of the Greeed. He's the first one to attack, the Greeed who battles in even the "Anything Goes" music video, and fittingly, he's the last of the original bad Greeed to die. Honestly, a lot about his death is fitting, in a way. But let's start slowly.

Uva, quite honestly, is probably one of the most straightforward characters in the entire show. He wants Medals? He finds someone with a strong enough desire, throws a Medal in them, Yummy pops out—you can't get much simpler than that. And I both kind of appreciate him and feel bad for him for that. In a series where even the heroes are working backroom deals and are quite honestly manipulative bastards at times, Uva is way out of his league; it's like an honest man running for political office—he doesn't stand a chance.

This isn't to say Uva is a nice guy. His most essential trait, honestly, is anger—when the Greeed took over an abandoned bar, he was the one always smashing bottles. But it wasn't from any real desire to fight, as with Asakura in Ryuki; he was just constantly angry and frustrated with how Ankh and Eiji were kicking his ass. And this anger, along with his more straightforward approach to things, made him easy prey for more manipulative characters, particularly Kazari, who started stealing the other Greeed's Medals in order to evolve into a stronger being, the Medal vessel.

Uva too realized that he had to evolve, and following Kazari's betrayal, he gained a new sense of caution. He'd already been breaking Cell Medals in half to create Trash Yummies—extremely weak creatures that could barely generate any new Medals, but who were just strong enough en masse that they could give Eiji and Ankh a hard time. He tried to attack Mezool for her Cores, but he failed; however, this didn't stop him from taking others from OOO down the line. But unlike Kazari, he was too cautious to incorporate them into himself, fearing a loss of control. Instead, he hoarded them, keeping them away from his enemies while quietly building up Cell Medals for himself. Kazari kept OOO busy constantly, so Uva would implant Trash Yummies into loan sharks and secretly collect a single Medal from each one of them per night, paying a human to deliver the goods so his operation couldn't be tracked.

He also came to realize when he needed help, when it was clear that both Kazari and Eiji were way too strong for him. He used his Cell Medal hoard and the stolen Cell Medals to revive Mezool and Gamel, but he limited how much power they had, so they wouldn't be stronger than him and betray him. When they inevitably did, seeing that Kazari and Maki really were the stronger side, he took a page from Ankh's book and sealed his consciousness into a single Core Medal, using it to possess a human and find a now-rogue Ankh, who could create a Yummy to provide him enough Cell Medals to properly revive.

But Uva's attempts to evolve weren't enough. He operated from the shadows, but that didn't mean he was out of sight completely. Maki tempted him to fight by offering him his ninth Medal, and at the moment Eiji began to destroy him, Maki provided enough of the other Cores to stabilize him. Unfortunately for him, he added the rest, as quickly as possible, to force him to lose control. His desire was fairly basic—revive completely, destroy OOO, likely devour the world, the usual. It wasn't deep enough to provide a fully-controlled vessel, and by dawn the next day, his personality was completely overwhelmed and he became nothing more than the destroyer of the world—a flying octahedral vessel with no consciousness that broke down everything in sight into Cell Medals and released Trash Yummies on hapless victims on the ground.

This whole thing is what's a shame about Uva. No matter how much he tried to get ahead, to outthink the others, they were always two steps ahead. No matter how ruthless he was, he was still more honest than they were. For all his attempts to stay alive, he was always betrayed in the end. And the thing he knew would be bad for him—taking in others' Core Medals—was exactly what did him in, just as he knew all along. He just wasn't bad enough to keep up.

Kazari, on the other hand, was a manipulative little shit and everyone knew it from the start. Well, except maybe Uva, of course. The feline Greeed, played by Taito Hashimoto and Jun Watanabe in-suit, was up to something from the get-go. He was the one to helpfully point out that Ankh had apparently stolen some of their Medals upon reviving, but he was also the first to realize that the nature of humans' greed had evolved, thus picking an overeater as a host for one of his Yummies. His Yummies, appropriately, operated as parasites—remaining in the parent's body and causing them to lose control of their desire and do as much as they could to satisfy it, before emerging and swallowing the host whole. They were the most difficult Yummies for Eiji to fight, since he had to rescue the humans trapped inside and avoid hurting them when the Yummy hadn't yet matured.

Using the deceptively humble personal pronoun of "boku" and adopting the form of a teenage boy, Kazari's whole game was make himself seem like less of a threat, all while waiting for the chance to stab everybody in the back. He first approaches Ankh while pretending to forgive him for taking his and Uva's Medals, insisting that he understands that Ankh hasn't revived properly and needs to take whatever advantage he can get. He offers a truce for the time being, supposedly so Ankh will join the Greeed willingly after he considers his options. Of course, the entire time, he's following Ankh as he sows these seeds of discord between him and Eiji, not realizing that Ankh's borrowed human body is giving him more knowledge of how things work in the modern era and that the internet sees everything. But to Kazari's credit, he learns quickly that they have to adapt to the times and comes up with the idea of taking on human guises and even buys (or maybe steals—I'm not entirely sure how these guys got money pre-Maki) a cell phone so they can use Ankh's research and lack of cooperation with Eiji against him, tricking him into meeting human-form Uva alone while Eiji fights one of Gamel's Yummies.

More than any other Greeed, he seeks to evolve, and he takes every opportunity to do so. If Ankh has a helpful human in Eiji, then Kazari's going to find an interesting human of his own and see what resources he can use to get ahead of everybody. He finds this resource in Maki, who is the head of the Kougami Foundation's research lab, giving him free access to Cell Medals whenever he wants. The Foundation's interest in creating the Medal vessel and completing the work King OOO started 800 years ago leads both him and Maki into filling a Greeed with additional Core Medals—testing the process with Gamel before Kazari begins to do the same to himself. He betrays Mezool and takes most of her Medals before attempting to do the same to Uva, whom he knows won't see the knife coming toward him until it's almost too late. Hell, he even has a few minor betrayals toward Maki whenever he starts to suggest taking Kazari's Cores or letting him lose control as the Medal vessel—triggering his panic attacks by knocking the doll off his arm or creating a Yummy from him.

Kazari has a special kind of hatred for Ankh, though, who is just as clever as he is, and he does what he can to drive a wedge between him and Eiji. Beyond the attempt to get Ankh to betray Eiji early on, he kidnaps Hina in one episode so that Eiji will go after the same transport truck Ankh wants to hijack to get his Medal. Ankh knows there's something fishy about it, but he can't do anything about it—nothing but fight with Eiji over whether saving Hina or saving his Medal should be their priority when Kazari and the others attack them. He helps manipulate one of Eiji's old high school friends who has a severe obsession with him (read: psycho ex-boyfriend) and uses Eiji's fear and concern for his other friends, as well as Kitamura's possessiveness of him and jealousy toward Ankh, to help isolate Ankh. This is all to help the one person Kazari doesn't betray during the series, Lost Ankh, whom he basically adopts the moment he finds him.

It's a strange relationship. To some degree, I want to say that Lost Ankh imprinted on him. Kazari was definitely intrigued by him, and he decided to keep him around and help raise him to full cognitive development so that they could destroy Ankh. The odd part about this is that it almost seems too straightforward. Kazari always has another agenda for himself, but he doesn't consider anything for Lost Ankh beyond destroying Ankh. It's possible that he wanted to ensure that he had a follower who would be 100% loyal to him—for all Lost Ankh was becoming as sharp-witted as the original whom Kazari despises, there was still the fact that he was basically a baby duck to Kazari and respected him. But at the same time, Kazari was going to end up needing all of the red Medals in order to completely evolve as the vessel. I'm not sure if Kobayashi had more of a plan to it than that or if this was one of those things that seemed to have been changed at the last minute, but their relationship was still a strange alliance that I would have liked to see more exploration of.

Kazari's major downfall, however, was that he still managed to underestimate the cleverness of humans and their ability to manipulate and betray. Just as he miscalculated that Ankh was smart enough to see through his attempts to persuade him to abandon Eiji, he didn't expect Eiji to leave himself open enough during an attack to lose the Kamakiri Medal so that he could rip some of Kazari's Medals out. He failed to deal when he realized that somehow, Kougami had gained his missing Lion Medal, so he decided to join forces with Maki and gain access to the Foundation's Medals and information. And most importantly, he failed to understand just how driven Maki was to destroy the world and that his desire to evolve was at odds with that drive. Furthermore, Maki had the very same Medals that made Eiji so dangerous, and he failed to calculate that perhaps, Maki didn't need all of the Medals to create an out-of-control vessel—just enough. When Eiji cracked one of his Cores in battle, Maki had finally run out of patience. He removed Kazari's remaining Cores and let him wander off, dying finally when his last Core breaks. He'd finally tasted full revival and had come so close to becoming more evolved, but he never got to experience it all the way.

Mezool, the aquatic animal Greeed, is a tough character for me, and probably the only one I'm still really unsure about. In terms of personality, I guess I kind of like her. She's a balancing force among the Greeed—a voice of reason and calming temperance to Uva's rage. She's intelligent enough to figure out when something isn't quite right, and while she doesn't play everyone against each other like Kazari, she does engage in some slight emotional manipulation to try to keep powerful allies close—namely Gamel and later, attempts with Maki. But these traits in themselves always seem to be the default "female" traits, and given her desire and everything else, it almost feels like Kobayashi finally copped out and used "female" as a personality basis.

To start, Mezool has three actors. Her suit actor is Satoshi Fujita, and in Greeed form, her voice is Yukana. But her human disguise is Honoka Miki, who had been 13 at the time of casting. And don't get me wrong; she's a good actress. But there are just aspects to Mezool's characterization that are disturbing when coming from someone that young. Obviously, as I mentioned back in episode 37, it is disturbing and disgusting to see a middle-school girl hitting on a forty-something man. And him apparently being aroused. But even without that brain-scarring mental image, you've got the fact that she's playing mom to Gamel, and you will see Honoka Miki patting his head when he's in Greeed form or when he's in human form (and, mind you, 30). I'm just...it still comes off as disturbing? Especially when one of the Net Movies implies that Gamel doesn't exactly want Mezool to see him as her little baby all the time, but he wants a slightly more mature relationship.

Mezool is a bit more static a character than Uva and Kazari, who took steps to become strong enough—physically and mentally—to overcome OOO. I suppose she knew that like Uva, she didn't stand much of a chance trying to outwit everyone, but unlike him, she was smart enough to align herself with more powerful individuals. After all, she betrayed Uva after he led her and Gamel to defeat against PuToTyra; Kazari and Lost Ankh were stronger than Uva and they offered her clemency. Why not join them? In fact, this fits with her Yummy style, where eggs will emerge from her victim and slowly develop into multiple, fully-grown Yummies as the desires are fulfilled. It's sneaky, and it gives Eiji problems because they can easily swarm him. But again, there's not much developed on this opportunistic style of hers, partly because they kill her off for a while.

After both Kazari and Uva betray her in episodes 15 and 16, she has Gamel fuse with her, but she loses control of their powers and becomes an out-of-control hybrid Greeed Medal vessel. This is a huge moment, setting several things into motion: It proves what lengths Maki will go to in order to bring about the end of the world, it introduces Birth, it gets Ankh to reveal that he wants to create a stronger body for himself (thus foreshadowing that he will offer himself as a potential vessel in the future), and it gets Eiji worried about what happens when Greeed—or anyone—lose control, making him focus even more on how powerful he has to become in order to stop them. And yet, Mezool's transformation itself is hardly ever mentioned again, and they don't seem to regard her as a vessel. Again, this is weird and really deserved follow-up. Ankh is dissatisfied in the final few episodes, even though he's the one being used as the Medal vessel. But in the moment where she confronts him on his dissatisfaction, shouldn't she bring up that she was also a vessel for a short period of time and ask him if he really plans to do what Maki wants and lose control as she did, or something to that effect? Something to acknowledge that it happened and perhaps further her development into her final episode?

Likewise, we learned that she wanted to truly experience love, and she was hurt by Maki's insistence that she wasn't "real," that she couldn't really love because she could only experience it by devouring humans. This reminds me of Kingdom Hearts and the Nobodies' lack of hearts—and by this, I mean it doesn't really make sense. Are we to assume, then, that because Uva is only a Greeed, his anger isn't "real"? Sure, Maki is full of shit, but this is something that really could have been built on and better explained. Mezool plays mommy to everyone, particularly Gamel—she's the Wendy of the team. What happens when Wendy is tired of pretending to be mother to the Lost Boys? Build on that better rather than have her immediately abandon Gamel, whom she'd noted before was the only person who would never betray her because his desires were tied to making her happy. She kidnaps mothers and their children and traps them in bubbles that allow her to experience their feelings of love. Again, this is something that could be built on with her relationship with Gamel—have that be the moment she betrays him, realizing this is better than what she had there and wanting more and more. I don't know. She's still the hardest character for me to get a feel for, no matter how many times I watch. There's a lot of potential in the character, but she isn't given enough time to really work for me. I guess I have to sympathize with her dying moment, when Gamel asks why she left him, and she can only answer that it was never going to be enough.

Likewise, the large-animal Greeed, Gamel, played by Hiroyuki Matsumoto and in-suit by Masashi Takada, isn't just a static character; he's a flat one too. The difference, however, is that he ends up being a much more sympathetic character because of it.

Psychologically speaking, Gamel is a child. His human disguise might be an adult, but he's basically a five-year-old. He eats nothing but candy, even though he can't taste it, he can't understand the complexities of everything going on around him, and he follows Mezool like an eager puppy, constantly wanting to please her. He doesn't even know how to create Yummies properly. Instead of implanting them in humans to satisfy their desires and build Medals, he creates one from himself, from whatever desire he's feeling at the time—if he's tired, it's a Yummy that gives people insomnia; if he laughs because people are getting hit by thrown things, his Yummy is going to throw stuff. Furthermore, the Yummies waste their power—presumably because they can't build much desire from a Greeed—and only break down into the Cell Medal he started with, so it's not much use. Which is probably fine for Gamel when he's completely revived, since his full power allows him to turn anything he touches into Cell Medals.

Because of his immaturity, Gamel is easily taken advantage of. Mezool, of course, babies him in order to satisfy her desire for love. But when she's fully revived, she dumps him in search of the sensation of human love. Kazari uses Gamel's love for Mezool in his plans, particularly when it comes to the initial experiments at creating the Medal vessel, and all it takes is to say that Mezool wants him to take in her Medals for him to do it. And when you get down to it, Gamel never really learns that it's a lie—when Mezool finally finds him, slowly losing control of his powers, she says she loves him and asks him to break down into his component Medals and integrate with her. This is just what he was doing in the first place, so he readily agrees, though she's completely overwhelmed.

Upon reviving again and joining Maki, Gamel definitely feels threatened by Mezool's interest in him and promptly decides that he doesn't like him. But he does try to befriend Lost Ankh, who is the only Greeed on the same emotional and cognitive level as him. He notices that the kid can't really follow all of the complicated talk about their plans and everything and just plays the whole time. So he tries to ask him to play, taking the ball. Unfortunately, where Gamel is a more mild-mannered child, Lost Ankh is a very explosive child who knows what he wants and does not like other people getting in his way—basically, Ankh. Mezool even has to warn him not to retaliate, if only because crossing Ankh—any Ankh—isn't going to end well for him.

As I said before, Gamel is eventually betrayed and abandoned by Mezool. It's devastating to watch, since he can't understand why she left him, and when she dies, he tries desperately to bring her back. He uses his powers to turn objects and people into Cell Medals and gets mad when Goto interferes, sometimes having to refill his Birth Buster canister with the Medals Gamel had just created. But all of his attempts to revive her are futile, since her consciousness is completely gone, and Goto and Date team up for the first time as the double Births and defeat him, while his Medal breaks along the fractures Maki had caused in a previous altercation. His final moments involve a hallucination of her smiling at him and thanking him for giving her candy, when she usually politely took it and tossed it aside.

When the King lost control of his powers and inadvertently sealed the Greeed, something went even more wrong. The bird Greeed, Ankh, reached out to try to take his Medals back, but while his hand was caught up in the seal, the rest of his body was left outside and froze up. 800 years later, Kougami found the body and decided to remove a Medal from it, thus reviving the body without the consciousness, a Lost Ankh.

He's never officially called that in-series, but the toys call him that and it's a good name. Child actor Hikari Tobita plays his human form, and he does a fantastic job developing him from a mute, cognitively slow child to a dangerous mastermind on par with the original. According to Kamen Rider Wiki, his suit actor is Masashi Takada, the same as Gamel's. His voice in Greeed form, however, is Miyu Irino—the voice of many adorable little boy characters, particularly Sora of the Kingdom Hearts games. See, around this time, he was getting a little tired of playing innocent good guys and wanted to play something a little different, a little evil. And while Lost Ankh definitely is still a bit of a little boy, he also does a fantastic job developing him into someone evil, much like his work as Vanitas in Birth By Sleep.

Ankh's revival as only an arm was considered strange, and in episode 15, characters began to hint that it wasn't just unusual; it was wrong. Uva suggested to Mezool that she condense her revival to a single body part, since she was badly weakened by Kazari's attack on her, but she argued that it should have been—was—impossible. And for all Eiji worried about what it would mean for Shingo if Ankh recovered more of his Cores, when Ankh absorbed them at the end of episode 20, he was unable to revive his body beyond manifesting a single wing, and only for a moment before he lost control of it and reverted to complete human form. And the question ate at Eiji for several episodes—why wasn't Ankh recovering normally? What was wrong with him?

The best part about this foreshadowing is that I have a very strong feeling that Lost Ankh wasn't part of the original plans for OOO. Consider the fact that he's not included in the movie, even though the purple Medals are. Sure, the costume might not have been ready yet, but then why not set the movie before April, before both the purple Medals and Lost Ankh come into play? It almost seems like Lost Ankh was a last minute addition, but he's handled fantastically. Furthermore, between Hikari Tobita and Miyu Irino, they both give a good sense of a little lost bird who starts building up his own identity, separate from Ankh's.

When we first met Lost Ankh, he was wandering around in search of Ankh—the both of them drawn toward each other and seeking one another out. He created a couple of Yummies, which had gotten Ankh and Eiji's attention, and finally drew him out. His personality and consciousness were very weak, with him only really able to ask, "Where am I?" in a scared voice, the "I" referring to Ankh. And as I said in the review of his first appearance, he used different pronouns from Ankh. Where Ankh used the confident "ore," Lost Ankh used the more childish and innocent "boku," which fit perfectly when he was still on the cognitive level of a small child, but it became downright creepy as he became more and more intelligent, especially when he was in human form.

For a while, Lost Ankh had to rely on the other Greeed, namely Kazari, to help him absorb and, thus, replace Ankh. But even in episode 33, there are hints that he just might be smart enough to pull it off himself. Kazari notes that he understands he needs to beware of Eiji, and thus needs to keep Ankh separate from him. But before Kazari knows it, Lost Ankh identifies Kitamura, who has just kidnapped Hina in an elaborate scheme to get a rescuing-people date with Eiji, and creates a Yummy from him. From there, Kazari is able to take over and have Kitamura target Ankh next, all while trying to convince Eiji to dump him—honestly, sounding similar to Kazari's attempts to get Ankh to leave Eiji back in episodes 3 and 4. Lost Ankh gets really close to assimilating Ankh, but Eiji interrupts the process and scares them off as PuToTyra.

The near-assimilation has some strange affects on Ankh, and it's not a stretch to assume that it jump-started Lost Ankh's cognitive development as well. He begins to speak in human form, telling off Gamel and attacking him for taking his ball while he was playing. And his play develops, with him eventually playing a game of chess against Kazari and basically winning: Maki takes one of Kazari's pawns and puts him in check, but Mezool realizes that the king is able to put Kazari in checkmate the very next move. I'll discuss this more later, but Lost Ankh is 100% able to understand chess as a metaphor, explaining later that his plan is to isolate the king—Ankh—from all of the other pieces on the board. He does this by getting Eiji and Ankh evicted from Yumemi Town, intentionally having his Yummy injure Shingo so that Eiji's more apprehensive to let Ankh stay (and coinciding with Hina's question whether or not Eiji would really make Ankh leave), and waiting until the opportune moment—the moment of victory, when they've finally moved back in and he's gone up to the attic and relaxed his guard—to attack and take him back. I mean, there's brilliant plans, and then there's Xanatos, and this kid could give the Gargoyles a serious run for their money.

Upon absorbing Ankh, Lost Ankh becomes much more cocky about defeating Eiji, and he has every right to be. As powerful as Eiji is, he's still struggling to control himself in his grief and anger, which puts him at a disadvantage. Eiji's fighting with all of his heart, but Lost Ankh kicks his ass...until Ankh puts up a fight and makes him freeze, forcing him to flee. He starts trying to beat Ankh into submission through pain, and eventually, Ankh's consciousness fades, his memories blending into Lost Ankh's mind so that when he and Eiji face each other again, he asks if ice pops really are as good as Ankh thought they were.

In the battle, however, Eiji's sorrow and rage win out, and he cuts off Lost Ankh's wings midair, causing him to drop to the ground before Eiji cuts into him with the axe, destroying three Medals. Lost Ankh can only react in horror before he explodes. Which is appropriate for the game—see, when Maki put Lost Ankh in check, it was with a pawn, reminding him that the supposed cannon fodder pieces do have the power to take out a king, all while reminding Lost Ankh that he too is a pawn. Mezool, of course, wins by using the king, and the immediate connection you make is Eiji—Eiji is heir to the King as the current OOO, thus a king himself. The king, however, is a limited piece just like the pawn, only able to move one space, although in more directions and with greater strategic value—it isn't much different from a pawn, except for its importance, much like Eiji. Ankh calls him his "useful idiot," which is basically what a chess king is. Furthermore, Lost Ankh used the king to indicate Ankh while explaining his strategy of closing him off from all help and exits—if the king defeated him before, shouldn't he be wary that maybe Ankh had one more trick up his sleeve?

The final Greeed we come to is Dr. Kiyoto Maki, a human who becomes the dinosaur Greeed. And major props to his actor, Yu Kamio, for making this guy utterly creepy. I mean, yes, the nightmare-inducing doll helps a lot, but he puts so much effort into putting in as emotionless a performance as possible. For contrast, here's Yu Kamio as Captain Kamiki in Ultraman X about four years later, just seconds before he gives a speech on heroism to a bunch of high school students that puts them to sleep. I went through about half of X without realizing that this guy played Maki—he's virtually unrecognizable because of the performance. Maki is downright inhuman, which is great for someone who becomes a Greeed willingly. According to Kamen Rider Wiki, his suit actor as a Greeed was Yugo Fujii...which is odd, considering what I've seen of some of his roles, like the Phoenix Phantom, Enter Unite, the first Akaninger, and especially Eiji-Greeed. The guy can really move, and Maki...doesn't. I mean, convenient to have the same guy fit in two similar suits, but it still sounds odd that someone who basically fights like a pro-wrestler every chance he can get is being used as someone who mostly just stands around or flies and relies on his powers. Sure, he got in some good hits once in a while, but for the most part, in their actual physical fight, Eiji and Ankh were doing a lot better. Which I guess is the point; Maki is a research scientist, not a fighter like they are—Ankh's a Greeed attached to a police officer, who has to be pretty fit, and Eiji's a fairly athletic young man to begin with. Maki doesn't have to be better than them, just stronger.

But I'm getting ahead of myself. Let's go back to the beginning—the very beginning. As in Ryuki, Kobayashi sets up the main enemy with a traumatic family life that explains why he thinks the way he does: Maki was raised by his older sister, Hitomi, who was stern and cold (and downright awful) toward him, but she died the night before her wedding, when she would have abandoned him altogether anyway. But the difference between Maki and Shiro Kanzaki, is that there's no chance for sympathy there. Kobayashi sets it up so that it looks like it will be a tragic accident and the young Maki wasn't irredeemable. He goes into her room with a candlestick, and you think he's just going to try to burn the wedding dress and ends up losing control of the burn and setting fire to everything. Or that Hitomi's going to surprise him suddenly, and he'll drop the candle. But no, Maki intentionally drops the candle to the floor and kills her that night, and in her sleep, before removing her doll from the flames. Not in the least bit sympathetic or redeemable. He does this so that he can complete his image of her and preserve in his memories a Hitomi who never existed—who smiled to him and played with him and loved him. She may have smiled and loved, but she never showed that side to him. This way, there is nothing left to contradict his image of her. As she herself said, the only way to complete a human being was through death.

Years later, Kougami discovered Maki's genius and put him in charge of the Biological Research Lab, where he began developing technologies based off the Cell Medals—the entire Medal System, including the candroids, the Ride Vendors, and Kamen Rider Birth. Ten years later, his technology would assist Kamen Rider OOO in defeating the Greeed. But around that time, one of Maki's researchers developed a fascination with bombs, and after an encounter with Mezool, he began to build them in the lab and set them up around town.

Eiji first glimpses Maki after the first of the bombs goes off, with Maki keenly observing the effects of the Yummies. He notices Eiji watching him, so he tries to keep away from him until one of the Yummies finally appears and fights Eiji. Eiji tells Ankh about his suspicions that Maki set the bombs, but Maki explains that he's only observing the bomber, as well as observing Eiji's powers. As more Yummies appear, sometimes multiple at a single time, Maki's interest leads to him locking down the lab and trapping his researchers with the Yummies, all to prevent Eiji from getting in and destroying the nest. But once Eiji catches the bomber himself and disarms his explosives, Maki tells him it's okay to destroy the Yummies now. He learns quickly that Eiji is not a man you want to piss off, which might well explain why he always made sure to keep away unless he was sure Eiji was incapacitated and never did anything directly to him until the end. Still doesn't explain the stupidity of giving him an advantage of four more Medals than him, though.

Maki played it safe within the Kougami Foundation. He wanted to experiment more with the Medals and finding a human or Greeed vessel for them, but Kougami decided that OOO would be the vessel no matter what. This disappointed Maki, but publically, he agreed. In private, though, he formed an alliance with Kazari so he could observe the Greeed and use them to create an out-of-control vessel that would bring about the end of the world, since the whole idea of the apocalypse had become his obsession since his sister's death. In his mind, the world had become ugly and tarnished, so the best thing to do was to just end everything before it could become worse. Not begin again—just make it all stop, and let the last memories of a beautiful world be the only legacy. Despite this being a very good reason to fire him, Kougami kept him on, although he warned that he would not tolerate Maki standing in the way of his ambitions. This would eventually help lead to Maki leaving the Foundation, but not before a couple of key events and people entered his life.

The first was Kamen Rider Birth, Date, who had not been Maki's original pick for the new Medal System—in fact, he'd offered it to Goto, partially to get out of arrest charges for helping Kazari kidnap Hina. But Date was nothing but kind and friendly toward him, if a terrible roommate. Namely because he decided he was going to live in the lab. And kept trying to play with Maki's doll. And accidentally cooked it in soup. And so on and so on. Despite himself, Maki ended up coming to appreciate him, if not quite befriending him, and he repeatedly got on his case about skipping his medical appointments, knowing about Date's condition. And Date tried to get him to open up more and stop looking at his doll whenever he talked, but finally settled for trying to let him play with the creepy little thing. Yeah, didn't happen.

The second encounter came as a result of Date's habit of leaving his stuff all over the lab. Date had gotten a Cous Coussier coupon that featured a picture of Chiyoko, and Maki nearly lost it at the sight of a woman who looked exactly like his late sister. He began to follow her, trying to see for himself, and it left him troubled. Kazari caught up with him at the cemetery by Hitomi's grave and after one too many arguments about Kazari not wanting to lose control, he created a Yummy from Maki and his latent desire for affection...deadly affection, since every woman his Yummy hugged collapsed either unconscious or dead. When it began to target Chiyoko, he went to protect her, but she only saw him after he'd been injured in the attempt. With her so close to him, acting so compassionately—the way he'd wanted his sister to act—he was forced to confront his memories for the first time. He took her back to his old home for treatment and explained what he thought he remembered, only for the inconsistencies to pile up. When she finally told him that Hitomi would never completely be gone, as long as he had the memories of her, his doll fell over—the one thing he had always used as his surrogate for humanity and interaction. But he also realized that Hitomi was nothing like Chiyoko, and at that moment, he knocked over a candle trying to get away. With the truth pointing to itself, he had to go to Hitomi's boarded-up room and finally open it, facing what he'd done and why. Following this event, he gave up all pretense and joined Kazari and Lost Ankh openly, destroying his lab and stealing the sealed purple Medals.

In what I'm sure was some act of brilliance, the King's alchemists created a yin to the remaining Medals' yang: a set of ten purple Medals created from extinct animals (specifically, dinosaurs) that had an inherent desire for nothing. This fitting with Maki's general worldview, he decided to try a new experiment: implanting them in himself, one at a time, until he became a Greeed.

Maki's actions follow along the course of Freudian psychoanalysis, starting with the Oedipus complex and Hitomi. Because he barely remembers his mother, Hitomi takes that place. She is emotionally cold to him, but he wants to keep her. She is going to abandon him after her wedding, telling him that her doll will be a surrogate for her, to keep it in place of her, and the worst part is that it probably has more capacity to love than she ever did. Despite clearly coming straight from the bowels of Hell. The young Maki didn't want to lose her, so the night of her wedding, he killed her—unlike the tale of Oedipus himself, who killed his father and married his mother; Maki just kills his mother figure instead.

However, his personality and drive are the absolute definition of the death drive, or Thanatos as later scholars would put it, that Freud wrote of late in his own life. Following World War I, Freud couldn't reconcile the psychological symptoms we now associate with PTSD with his theories. According to himself, the root of all psychosis was failure of two parts of your unconscious or preconscious mind—the id, or instinctual portion; and the superego, or moral component—to cooperate with one another and develop a strong and balanced ego, or reality component of self. But the re-experiencing that the war survivors suffered through didn't match the ideas of failure to reconcile instinct and morality. Why do something that is painful for you? Shouldn't your instinct be to seek out something that causes pleasure, the so-called "pleasure principle" that drives the id? Instead, he had to reason that there was a second drive, a drive towards death, destruction, and a state of things before life, that also guided our actions and that this drive was the reason behind war. Unfortunately, this theory doesn't have a whole lot written on it, considering that very few of his followers bought into it, but if you want a good argument for it, let me point you out to this essay by Joanne Faulkner for more information.

Maki's Thanatos was very strong, in that he basically seemed to lack any life instinct (or Eros) at all. This made him a perfect candidate for the purple Medals, and he embraced the change from human to Greeed and the loss of senses that came with it. However, for every yin, there is a yang, and Eiji himself struggled with the conflict between Eros and Thanatos, making him an equally viable candidate for a purple Medal Greeed. Just as Maki began his experimentation, five of the purple Medals flew off and entered Eiji's body. This became a problem for the both of them.

Maki's aim in life was to become the Greeed who would destroy the out-of-control Medal vessel, thus bringing the cycle of the end of the world to completion before dying himself. In order to do this, he needed all ten Medals; or at the very least, he needed for the one person who could stop him to not have them. But until he became stronger, he refrained from approaching Eiji again, even running away when Eiji came to save Ankh from Lost Ankh after Kazari's trap. Once he was more Greeed than human, he began to call at Eiji's Medals, putting him through significant pain; however, he was frustrated that for all of his efforts, he could not get Eiji to give them up. Even explaining to Eiji what he would become and what he would go through, offering him a chance to continue to experience the beauty of the world around him through undiluted senses before the end, wasn't enough.

And to be honest, this is probably the kindest Maki has ever been to another human being. Instead of threatening Eiji, he gave him the chance to recover from his Medal spasms and quietly spoke to him. He was also rather direct with him, considering he so rarely spoke to anyone's face, preferring to look at his doll. Date was the only other person he was that kind to, and when Date's brain injury put him through serious pain, he helped him and offered him the money he would need for surgery if he joined him. Upon learning that Date was a spy for Kougami, he admitted that Date was probably the first human he'd ever allowed to become close to him since his sister's death. However, just as he'd killed his sister himself, he had to hurt the other person close to him. He attempted to kill Date through a self-destruct device he'd built into the suit, but when that failed, he had the Greeed attack him. Still, he was surprised to see that Date had indeed survived, and they both admitted that they'd had a strong effect on one another. He was so ready to cast aside everything that tethered him to humanity that it comes as no surprise that he finally casts aside his doll in his last confrontation with Kougami. In that moment, he casts aside his humanity once and for all and becomes a Greeed permanently, never reverting to human form again after this. But he still leaves the doll behind for Chiyoko, dressed like him, so as to leave her with one last kind memory of him before they both die.

But overall, Maki did not care about other people, and he was especially brutal in reminding the Greeed—namely Ankh and Mezool—that they were not living creatures in the same way that humans were, but artificial lifeforms simulating them. Going back to the chess game from Lost Ankh, the pieces and moves also symbolize how Maki regards the Greeed and how they see themselves. He reminds Lost Ankh that he is merely a pawn in the grand game of the series, using a pawn to put him in check. But the Greeed see themselves as far more important, no matter what they may do, symbolized by Mezool's use of the king for checkmate. They believe they have more power and importance than Maki thinks they do, and this leads to their undoing. Kazari feels threatened when Maki brings Ankh into their circle and reveals that he volunteered to be the new Medal vessel. He tries to sabotage Ankh, but Maki destroys him instead because he continued to refuse to lose control, and he gives Kazari's remaining Medals to Ankh to absorb. He tells Mezool that her feelings of love are not "real," and this leads her to her disastrous final battle with Eiji. Gamel he tells not to bother trying to revive Mezool, and when Gamel charges him, he cracks his Medal, causing enough damage so that it cracks under the strain of battle with the twin Births. Uva is overwhelmed by the excess Medals and becomes the out-of-control vessel. And he decides that Ankh has become a liability and cracks his Core while taking the remaining Medals from him. Ironically, this is what brings about his own end—because he cracked Ankh's Core, Ankh realizes that he's fine with dying, especially if it means he could save Eiji from losing his humanity. So he gave up his own life to give Eiji—the last Greeed, the one that Maki himself created—the power he needed to destroy him and save the world.

Green medals

Date: 2017-03-27 03:49 pm (UTC)
From: [personal profile] anothersignalman
I've often wondered what would happen if Eiji, on receiving the King's Medals from Kougami, had thrown the tenth green medal to Uva.

In theory that should have collapsed him to a basic medal-only state, by fully satisfying Uva's needs; that could have then freed the other thirty or so core medals for Eiji to grab and use to stop Maki?

Re: Green medals

Date: 2017-03-28 07:09 am (UTC)
From: [personal profile] anothersignalman
We know that the purple medal set was created with 4 head, 3 arm and 3 leg medals, but we also know that can't apply to the yellow set since Kazari's Lion was destroyed, the King medal was a Tiger and at the start of 45, Maki had 2 lion, 3 tiger and 3 cheetah

We can also be fairly certain that the consciousness of the Greeed was anchored to one Head medal, and it can't be transferred between medals; otherwise Ankh could have shifted to the red medal left behind after Lost Ankh attacked, and Kazari could've shifted to any of the other eight yellow medals he had at the end of Ep44.

I also figure that the tenth medals either a) cause the sets to collapse into just cores, or b) create the monochrome versions of the Greeed we see in the opening theme.

In episode 48, Eiji catches the Kings Medals at 2m21s and destroys Uva at 4m24s, so there was a two-minute period where if any of the characters were thinking clearly (I don't expect that from Kougami, otherwise he'd have thrown the tenth green medal straight to Uva), there was a chance to avoid the outcome we saw.

At 4m24s Maki sends 5 medals to Uva (1 red, 2 yellow, 1 blue, 1 gray - but it's clearly shown that none were Leg medals, so OOO couldn't have safely bargained a trade with Uva.)
At 4m46s Maki sends 6 medals to Uva (2 blue, 2 yellow, 2 ??).
At 5m02s Maki sends 3 medals to Uva (1 blue, 1 yellow, 1 gray).
At 5m07s Maki sends 5 medals to Uva (1 red, 1 yellow, 1 blue, 2 gray).
At 6m25s the King's Medals shatter.

Re: Green medals

Date: 2017-03-29 05:26 am (UTC)
From: [personal profile] anothersignalman
Does he always want them though?

At the start, a set of ten balanced medals exists. Five then transfer to Eiji and Maki takes the other five, and that's enough to create Greeeds in both of them.

Maki then wants (at least some of) Eiji's medals.

He later sends 6 and 7 across to Eiji, which I'm interpreting as an alternative. I suspect at that point he's adapted the plan, and figured that seven is sufficient to send Eiji crazy, but perhaps not enough to focus on getting 8, 9, and 10 from Maki which could restore balance?

Otherwise why did he stop at seven, if one medal is sufficient to maintain a Greeed? He could've sent 8 and 9 across as well.


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