For me, Kamen Rider Revice was a tale of two sides. On one side, the main Sunday morning series which completely collapsed halfway through. On the other, the wonderful miniseries/web series that were exclusive to TTFC or Blu-ray releases. Much to my surprise, Kamen Rider Revice: Battle Familia was somewhere in between.
When the movie was first announced, I had relatively high hopes as it seemed like it would focus on the Igarashis and their familial bond was one of the stronger aspects of the main series. In fact, family also ended up being the strongest theme across the several miniseries as well. Not to mention most of the plot threads of the series as a whole seemed to touch on family too, to varying degrees of success.
Battle Familia features some great moments with regards to that. But ultimately, the film brings back all the disappointment and regret from the series. All the dropped balls and unrealized potential on full display. So technically, this movie might be the best representation of Revice as a whole.
Battle Familia focuses on the Igarashi Siblings rushing to save their parents and a plane full of passengers after they are taken hostage by Azuma (Akaishi’s fellow Gifu disciple from 3000 years ago in the Americas) and George’s demon Chic. A trap set by them in order to mine Gifu DNA from the siblings to save Azuma’s deteriorating, no longer-immortal life.
It is an all hands on deck scenario as Hiromi goes Top Gun and George recruits Olteca (and former friends) in order to break through Area 666 where Papa and Mama Igarashi and the passengers are being held. One of the plane’s passengers is Otani Nozomu who is eager to avenge his parents’ deaths caused by an explosion brought about by Azuma and Chic’s goals. And all together, they work to defeat the remnants of Gifu’s disciples and the demons who hope to exploit that power.
Despite the film’s title, the family theme plays just a small part of the overall plot. And many times, that family theme is merely used as convenient deus ex machina-type power-ups instead of sincerely emotional story. (Like was seen in Revice Legacy: Kamen Rider Vail and Dear Gaga.)
As the film reached the more action-heavy scenes, I began thinking that it all looked very familiar. Like it was a Koichi Sakamoto production. And sure enough, he was indeed the director of the film. His trademark direction, explosions and all, was definitely on full display. And those legitimately thrilling action sequences helped to carry much of the film. Especially the latter half.
One of the things I was most looking forward to with the film was seeing JO1 member Mamehara Issei be a part of the cast and eventually be able to henshin into a Kamen Rider himself. For those who might not know, he is a big fan of the franchise. So much so that he auditioned for Produce 101 Japan using the great pop-dance theme song of Kamen Rider Ex-Aid.
I came into the movie thinking he’d have a bigger role than he did. Especially when he was barely in the first half of the film. It was great to see him living every fan’s dream by getting the chance to henshin into Kamen Rider Chimera. But his fleeting moments, including those between him and Papa and Mama Igarashi were some of the best of the movie.
Those few interactions, plus Nozomu’s desire to avenge his parents, are the kind of moments that play on Revice‘s strength of family that the series itself seemed to forget halfway through.
It was disappointing to see the film fail to truly use the strong foundation set in the early part of the main series as well as the two miniseries. Pull out some of that emotion from those stories to truly raise the stakes for the characters. Especially the “familia” of the title.
But like I mentioned earlier, any family-related aspect was diminished to being mere plot devices to give the action sequences a couple more explosions.
Elsewhere in the movie, seeing the Deadmans make a comeback in full gear was unnecessary nonsense. But seeing Olteca back in action was definitely a welcome sight. Even if it was a reminder of how Olteca should’ve at the very least survived longer in the main series, not to mention potentially ending up the secondary final boss complete with redemption arc. Probably one of the worst handled characters with the most potential of the series.
Speaking of nonsense, however. I thought Toei was done with the next-Rider-cameos in the movies. But nope. Geats popped up for absolutely no sensical reason. And in fact, helped ruin one of the potentially stronger moments of the film by jumping in.
It was really great to see Kane Kosugi as Azuma. While I have not watched Kakuranger, I know of his work. And honestly, seeing him here is another regretful disappointment as it would have been amazing to see him and the character of Azuma as the main antagonist in-series.
Also fun to see Tateishi Haruka pop in as a pregnant woman on the plane (I guess to show how precious human life is? Family!). It reminds me of the rumors of most of the Zyuohger cast not getting asked back because they’ve either quit showbiz or have run into problems or something.
Anyway. I was tepidly looking forward to Battle Familia even though I ended Revice on quite a negative note. I came in expecting something along the lines of Kamen Rider Vail and Dear Gaga. Or even something like the excellent Beyond Generations movie. But Battle Familia felt more like something that would fit perfectly in the main series. In fact, the story probably should’ve been included in the series. Especially during the middle portion where the season really began flailing and didn’t seem to know what it was doing or where it was going.
It really makes you wonder how they were able to put together some great stories and production for the miniseries, but fail so miserably for the main series.
And that’s ultimately what Battle Familia ends up being. Koichi Sakamoto’s always explosive and exciting direction along with fleeting moments here and there are able to carry the heavy weight of Revice‘s overall shortcomings that sadly seep into the movie.