It’s that time of the year folks! The time when an old Rider prepares to settle the score with his greatest foe, and a new Rider prepares to take the stage! Meet Kamen Rider Ex-Aid! Now, my attitude towards Ex-Aid has been quite the roller coaster to say the least, and here’s why:
1. Ex-Aid, huh? So a doctor/ambulance kind of Rider? Hmm, interesting.
2. Ex-Aid is based on VIDEO GAMES? What does that have to with saving lives!?
3. Oh come on, the only AID part is because the main character himself is a doctor? Please…
But with the release of early information and the first trailer, all that has been blown out of the way!
ALL THE RIDERS ARE DOCTORS! IT’S NOT JUST SOME ‘OH LET’S CALL THE SERIES EX-AID COS THE MAIN RIDER IS A DOCTOR’ NONSENSE. IT’S A FULL-BLOWN. HOSPITAL-BASED. DOCTOR. RIDER. DRAMA. THING. Looking at the characters though, I’m loving what they’re doing so far. The main character is a typical goofball who will probably be better at being a Rider than a doctor. The other Riders though, they really manage to characterise doctors with different convictions, and this matches up with the video game genres that they utilise as Riders. Also Kagami is totally the Kitaoka (Zolda) of this series. Any series that begins with a bunch of Riders is good news to me.
This year’s female lead gets a thumb-up from me.
One thing clear about the series so far is that the Rider Systems are created and managed by some background organisation (hint Yggdrasil hint). Coupled with the multiple Riders, Ex-Aid seems to have a sort of Gaim-y feel. The enemies, however, remind me more of the Roidmudes from Drive. I can’t help but feel that the enemies might be some accidental by-product of said organisation’s experiments, and said organisation created the Rider System to deal with them. Especially since said organisation is shown to be doing some cloak-and-dagger business with the Health Ministry in the trailer. Also the question arises, why the video game motif? I think that the motif might have severe implications with the plot. Perhaps the ‘viruses’ are digital beings? The main villain revealed in the trailer also looks like he might be the purple-black recolour of Ex-Aid based on his clothes, but I hope he’s not.
As for this year’s new Rider himself, I really dig his outfit and thinks it goes really well with the whole video gaming motif! My first impression of it is a lot better than those I had for Ghost, Drive and Gaim. I think Ex-Aid has a sort of unRider-ish feel, but in a fresh way! The henshin pose in the trailer was pretty awesome, and I LOVE the whole Gashat idea! Especially that each Gashat is represented as an individual game on its own instead of an entire genre. In the early scans, there was this Dragon Quest-ish Gashat that each Rider eventually will be able to use, and cross-Rider usable upgrades are always fantastic because they add so much depth and realism to the worldbuilding, especially for a technology-based Rider like Ex-Aid.
One thing I’m not so sure about is the Level 1 Form for the Riders, though. Are they really necessary? Will they add anything to the plot? Don’t get me wrong, I love the Level Up gimmick and my mind was blown when it was revealed that the Rider’s default forms are actually Level 2 instead of the base, but the Level 1 forms are just too… caricature-isque. I get that it’s supposed to fit with the video game motif but it just feels a bit off to me. Maybe the Level 1 forms could have been something like the Blank forms of the Riders in Ryuki.
As a whole though, I am super looking forward to Ex-Aid and its merchandise (though I probably won’t be collecting all the Gashats haha). Can’t wait to see what other game genres they’ll bring into the picture and all that sweet doctor drama with clashing of personal ideals between the Riders! Originally, I think they mentioned in one of the scans that the Ex-Aid recolour would be 1 of 7 or so ‘bosses’? So looking out to see what comes out of that as well! Get hyped and get ready to Level Up! Mighty Mighty Action X!
All images used in this article are taken from Kamen Rider Ex-Aid’s first trailer and belong to Toei Company.