This time on Kamen Rider Blade: Tachibana is cured, but at what cost? Hajime is trying to move on, but are his feelings for Haruka and Amane too strong to be denied? Also, Kenzaki appears!

Boy, we are at a point in the show where there's just not much for Kenzaki to do, aren't we? I mean, he's helping out, and he's interacting with the rest of the cast, but he's not really doing anything right now, which feels incredibly strange.

It's not like this episode lacks incident, though. There's obviously a ton of movement on Tachibana's storyline, as well as some cute moments with Hajime, Jin, Amane, and Haruka. But, like, the character in the title is a sidekick in every story, except when he's imperiled.

And, sort-of been this way for a few episodes now? There isn't a lot of momentum to Team Blade, if I'm being honest. I love seeing them all hang out, and I love the way the decision-making feels more democratic than Whatever The Hero Says Goes, but that somewhat lackadaisical approach to monster-fighting means that any plotline that's more emotional, like Chalice or Garren, is naturally going to pull the spotlight.

I assume this is just a minor turn in the story, letting it ebb towards our supporting cast so it can be more powerful when it flows back towards Blade. It's just weird how fully Blade has receded to the background, and how early it's happened in the series. I want to spend more time with Kenzaki! I was just getting to know that kid!

But, again, plenty happens in this episode. It's a pretty good one!

The Tachibana story takes up the most screen time, and it's a very fun, action-heavy story for him. He gets his first W against an Undead, since the premiere, maybe? Or ever? He's been getting his ass kicked so consistently that I was really pulling him for during the second fight with Zebra Monster. (Was this the first time his fight music played? I liked it! A little reminiscent of Justifaiz? A little?) He's so excited to be of value to his team, to have his confidence feel earned. He's been a wreck for so long that it's great to see him happy and complete.

It's all bullshit, though. Everyone knows it. He was a shattered, miserable wreck yesterday, and today he's just totally cured? Just, y'know, don't worry about him, cero miedo, we're all fine here, now, how are you. To my everlasting delight, literally every single character he interacts with on this show knows that he's not beaten any part of his fear. He seems too happy, too convinced of his fearlessness. Dr Ladyfriend seems more worried for him than when he was screaming about exploding. Kotaro, who's known Tachibana for about thirty minutes, immediately calls out how fake he was acting. There's not a minute of the show where we're supposed to think Tachibana's turned a corner. And he loves corners!

There's a metaphor in Tachibana's story with Trenchcoat Mastermind, maybe. I don't a hundred percent have a handle on it. It's maybe something about how medicine is useful, but medicine needs therapy to be most effective. Like, whatever green goo he was submerged in is a crutch, while actually dealing with your fears is like physical therapy. Tachibana's avoided the hard work of self-analysis for a quick fix, and it's going to make trouble for everyone.

Trying to sublimate your feelings rather than actually feeling them is going equally swimmingly for Hajime, who is officially a Kamen Rider thanks to his wacky sidekick, Jin. You can't be a brooding Kamen Rider without a wacky sidekick! I mean, look at Ren from Ryuki, and his wacky sidekick Shinji!

And, man, I do like Jin and Hajime's schtick. (Sorry, AkibaSilver.) Jin is incredibly broad, but since Hajime is almost cartoonishly closed off, it sort-of works? Jin's maybe no one's idea of a great person, but since Hajime despises all of humanity (except for Amane and Haruka), why not confide in Jin? It's like telling your darkest secrets to a dog. The dog can't possibly understand what you're talking about. It's a lower life form. Go ahead and unburden yourself, you know?

Hajime's story is nicely sad right now. He's never cared about anything, so he's never felt the loss of losing something you care about. These ideas were academic to him before, the failings and quirks of a ruined species. Now he's seeing the strength of rage, and the weakness of loss, and every other weird emotion that humanity has to contend with while not falling apart. (Thank you, Kotaro, I see it now.)

It's a pretty strong episode, despite Kenzaki being around mostly to tell Tachibana that he's a fan, and then to get mauled by Trenchcoat Mastermind at the very end. Hopefully we'll get to see Kenzaki a little more in the driver seat sooner rather than later.

Next time on Kamen Rider Blade: Trenchcoat Mastermind gives Garren more power! Dr Ladyfriend is in danger! Jin and Hajime go for a boat ride! And Blade is only in the very end of the teaser to get punched by Garren jfc show i was literally just talking about this you've got to at least try to meet me halfway here