Two of my few gripes with Kamen Rider Ex-Aid was its lackluster final episodes and the way the series (which set out to merge the worlds of science/medicine and video games) dealt with the finality of death. So I was pleasantly surprised to watch True Ending and feel like the film did those two things a little better than the series itself.
The series’ final episodes were filled with plenty of exciting action sequences, but they lacked a little bit of depth and impact that maybe were a little stronger earlier in the season.
And when it came to life and death, the series did a pretty solid job throughout the season of comparing the finality of death in medical terms with the ease and simplicity of using “Continues” and extra lives in video games. But the series ending with the idea that the people who “died” from Game Disease were merely trapped in video game cartridges, I felt, contradicted what they had been doing well.
Which is why I very much enjoyed Kamen Rider Ex-Aid: True Ending.
First of all, the epic-ness I felt was lacking in the final episodes (mainly due to the repetitiveness of Papa Dan surviving seemingly decisive finishers) was present here. All our heroes were involved either actively trying to solve the crisis or as a victim of the villain’s evil plans. Emu going into the VR world is certainly something that fits with the season’s overall theme. And the final battle against that huge monstrosity that was Gamedeus Machina felt a little more exciting and big than many of the several “final battles” against Papa Dan. (Even if there’s questions about how Emu was able to finish him off on his own this time.)
Maybe even the most epic of all was that wild goose car chase Kuroto leads the ninjas on.
But all of this action stems from the very simple plot of an estranged father, with some nefarious influence on him, wanting to keep his little daughter with a brain tumor (whom he apparently abandoned) alive in a manufactured VR world.
The father and son Dan basically wanted to have the power of God through video game realities. But the idea of a father (however sketchy) wanting his sick daughter to bypass any difficult surgery and recovery process without any guarantee of survival by inserting her consciousness into a perfect VR world does maybe one of the better jobs of illustrating the divide between science and technology, medicine and video games.
Aside from the revenge aspect and the god complex aspect of Game Disease and the Bugster virus, we see another idea for how Kamen Rider Chronicle might appeal to the masses. Papa Dan touched on it in a few episodes I think, though it almost felt like it was in passing; this idea of Chronicle revolutionizing medicine and life as the world knew it. But I don’t think the idea of dying people (that is, from actual, non-video game disease) being able to live on in a virtual reality/game world was ever really introduced.
Some people might not like using the “sick child” trope here, but it actually works. Especially when it comes to the idea that people who have vanished into the game world aren’t dead-dead. Having something like Madoka’s story (or someone of any age, really) in-series would’ve really helped to make that final press conference of Emu promising to revive all those people in the future a little more reasonable.
At the same time, Madoka’s strain of virus (the Gamedeus strain of course) propagated just like the regular virus in-series; through stress and worry. Madoka wanted to make her father happy by living out this perfect, idyllic virtual world instead of a possible short and painful existence in the real world. (Not the fake out misdirection of wanting to go to her school’s sports day.)
There are times when you’re watching something where nothing seems to be working and you are more critical to the point of nitpicking everything. But True Ending worked so well for me that I didn’t notice or pay attention to any of the possible inconsistencies. None of it mattered.
At the time of this writing, it’ll have been 26 weeks since Ex-Aid ended and that’s certainly a lot of time to begin missing something and being nostalgic about revisiting old friends. But that’s not always the case. (See: Ghost REBIRTH)
For Ex-Aid though, it was definitely fun and enjoyable seeing the entire gang back together. Daichi Miura’s “Life is Beautiful” playing at the end of the film also helped to instill some good will too.
But overall, I think Kamen Rider Ex-Aid: True Ending really felt like an ending. I know there’s a few more films coming soon. But in depth and scope, the film really felt like a more fitting finale to the series than the actual final episode. Not an epilogue like the upcoming V-cinemas will likely be, but an actual finale. A true ending, not so much as it being the “truth,” that is not an alternate, fan made ending. But an ending fit to wrap up what was a good, solid season.
And oh… we can just ignore that Build cameo tacked on after the credits. At least, the cameo wasn’t part of the actual movie. lol