It’s the last hurrah for the Ghost crew and they decided to go out with a proverbial bang. That is, they completely shot up whatever little semblance of cohesion and story the original series had in the first place.
And as I wrote in my Season Wrap-up of Kamen Rider Ghost, the season was directionless and a mish-mash of (many times) unconnected plot points. It was an even bigger disappointment and waste of potential than its predecessor Drive.
But Kamen Rider Ghost RE:BIRTH: Kamen Rider Specter, the V-Cinema and final official release for the season, just takes the confusion and insanity up a notch and maybe to the highest level too.
*SPOILERS START NOW*
Kamen Rider Specter felt too much like a complete retcon of the season itself. Billed as the big reveal of Makoto and Kanon’s origins (they had origins that needed to be revealed?) with the promise of greater insight into the Ganma World, the movie instead presented more questions while seemingly dismantling everything we knew about everyone and, really, everything Ghost.
The big bombshell revelation of course is that Makoto and Kanon are actually fake humans, created literally in a tube by the completely bonkers Danton. Danton was apparently part of a group of humans (?) led by Papa Adonis who established the Ganma World. (Though we still don’t know where the hell they came from before arriving on this red-hued planet or what they even are.) Danton started having creepy ideas of making artificial, evolved humans in a lab which eventually got him banished into space.
Fast forward to a few years after the Ghost crew played Pac-Man and Alain is struggling to keep the former-pod people alive in the desolate and toxic Ganma World environment. The former-pod people (Ganma?) are growing restless waiting for the sky to turn blue. Akari and Igor, now science buddies, are hard at work on a contraption that’ll paint the red sky blue.
But just as Akari and Igor feel they’ve finally got it ready to work, Danton suddenly arrives on the Ganma planet, ready to restart his original, creepy plans especially in the absence of Papa Adonis.
And speaking of Papa, it turns out Danton is a father as well. It is revealed that before he was banished to space, he had already successfully (and 100x unsuccessfully) birthed two artificial humans: Makoto and Kanon.
Makoto is first to learn this shocking news after somehow feeling a connection with Danton (who sings about giving his blood to hatch human eggs, more on that later). Having charmed Makoto, Danton shows him a cavernous room of tall towers of pod-like “eggs” containing hundreds of deformed bodies in the likeness of Makoto and Kanon. (And after decades, no one thought to look inside it other than I assume Adel?)
After Danton explains that he gave birth to him, Makoto has an existential crisis before eventually siding with his new, real father to the point that he has no qualms about killing his brother-in-law Alain.
(WTF! Have I lost you already?)
The pod-people Ganma are sick, literally, of the lack of results from Alain. The Ganma people humans are dying waiting for the sky to turn blue. So many are easily persuaded by Danton to join his side and live better under his wacked plan which Makoto supports. That is, until Danton knocks Kanon around after he finds out she is defective and a failure since she actually died once. His pod children should be perfect, evolved humans so he decides to kill her. But out of nowhere, Saionji pops in to save her by taking a finger bullet to the abdomen.
(Okay, seriously, what in Ganma hell is happening?!!!!)
Makoto then wakes up from his moping, declares he’s a real boy despite how Danton gave birth to him and kills his #3 father Danton (Papa Tenkuji and Papa Fukami are 1 and 2) to save the Ganma World.
Oh and the Ganma sky is finally blue now thanks to Akari, Igor and Onari.
I feel like I had to explain all of that to illustrate my following thoughts and that’s not even all of it.
The movie started out creepy enough. In addition to the usual V-Cinema gore, we also got a creepy song about blood and giving birth.
But it all fell off the rails when we learn of Makoto’s true origins. Which I absolutely don’t get.
We are to believe Danton’s blood babies are actually birthed as fully-formed adults. We see towers of adult Makotos and Kanons swimming in green goo. And not only that, the completely pointless Chloe (apparently Makoto and Kanon’s little sister) is birthed as a full formed teenager in chains.
But Makoto and Kanon were kids. They were childhood friends with Takeru and Akari. They played around and trained at the Temple together. They enjoyed takoyaki as kids. Makoto and Kanon got sucked into the monolith as kids and grew up in the Ganma World raised by Aria.
So how does that work?
That big reveal, though nicely acted by Ryosuke Yamamoto, was where things really got sketchy for me. And the rest of the movie just got worse from there.
After Makoto’s existential crisis and him questioning being a human, the narrative suddenly becomes a story of friendship. And that friendship is the one between Makoto and Alain. So much so that Alain obtains Necrom’s final form thanks to friendship. What?
Makoto killing his supposed friend and now brother-in-law (Legend of Hero Alain heavily implied Alain and Kanon were married) felt like an overdramatic waste of time, especially when there was no explanation as to how Alain ended up alive and well enough at the end of the movie to deliver his heavy handed speech about friendship. (Which Hayato Isomura delivered quite well, despite it being so cliché.)
This movie flip-flopped between the themes of humanity and friendship. The two themes were in no way connected to each other and both were completely hollow in the overall scheme of the film and definitely in relation to the greater Ghost story.
They even decide to throw in the Seven Deadly Sins for kicks.
We learned nothing new about the Ganma World other than it’s an actual planet somewhere. Aria was of course completely wasted as a character again.
However, much kudos to getting almost the entire cast back together, even the mailman. Though seeing Grampa Sennin and Yurusen’s commentary on the insanity of the film would’ve maybe made it fun at least.
Double kudos and a sigh of relief that Takeru (who was mostly absent this film) did not die and resurrect for the 500th time.
But as the final Ghost chapter, this film was a contrived, nonsensical mess. It felt like a complete retcon and dismantling of the season and a mere writer’s vanity project instead of a legitimate epilogue. Maybe if the basic premise of this film had been fleshed out in the series itself, it could’ve worked. But it takes a lot of effort to feel more hollow and unfocused than Ghost, the series. And that’s exactly what Kamen Rider Ghost RE:BIRTH: Kamen Rider Specter was: hollow, unfocused, contrived, nonsensical. Just a disappointment beyond the disappointment of what was once a very promising season.