This time on Kamen Rider Blade: Garren and Blade team-up to take down a Reindeer Monster in the few spare moments that aren't taken up by exposition! Also, I think this is the episode where the Fourze Net-Movie pulled its Garren footage from!

The thing I really liked about last episode was how the show created space to let the characters bounce off of each other, organic ways to define what Kamen Rider Blade was going to be like. Things were happening, but it was more important who they were happening to.

This one, though. This one.

It's just so. Much. Exposition. Every scene was filling in a blank, or offering a theory, or shading in a mystery. We've got the history of the Rider System, the origins and motivations of the Undead, the Chalice/Amane's Dad stuff, what BOARD was up to, and the ticking clock of the disintegrating Riders. To quote Episode 1's post, it's a lot.

There's a few interesting moments, for sure. The scene where Amane's like Gee Hajime Maybe You're Not Human, it's clunky and on-the-nose, but there's a very sweet way Hajime deflects this very astute analysis with a goofy performance. It's fun to watch, and he's got a solid rapport with Amane. (VERY CONSPICUOUSLY SOLID RAPPORT, DON'T YOU THINK - Yes, show, I got it.)

And, I really like how tense and prickly the friendship is between Kenzaki and Kotaro. It's a bit Build, isn't it? Kenzaki is Banjou, the hot-headed screw-up. Kotaro is Sento, the very excitable brainiac who can't stop saying insulting things to Kenzaki. I really love the runner of Kotaro just out loud suggesting that BOARD picked a terrible candidate to be Blade. I mean, accurate, but so mean!

But there's just so much of this episode given over to monologues filling in details that, y'know, I was not dying to have revealed just yet? Certainly not at the cost of enjoying these characters. I would've been okay with one or two of these things getting saved for later, if it meant that we could come to these crises more naturally.

Because, man, some clunky scenes in this one! Folks can't stop saying all of their histories out loud! That goddamn doctor friend of Tachibana just talking to herself, laying out her history with Tachibana! Who ever has dryly recited personal facts to themselves while doing a puzzle?! And even Amane is just like I Am Talking A Lot About My Dad For A Kid Who Was Just Established As Not Talking About Her Dad. If you're going to spend so much of your episode saying your life story out loud, find a more organic (or, god forbid, fun) way of doing it! Don't just vomit it all out every spare second of the conversation!

And I sort-of want to give a pass to the Tachibana/Kenzaki scene at the end. It's what the whole series has been building up to since the end of the premiere (so, about 40 minutes), and, again, there's a few interesting moments! I love how hard it is for Kenzaki to stay mad at Tachibana. Most of the scene is disappointingly one-note, with Kenzaki screaming at Tachibana and Tachibana trying to ignore him. But there's this flash of sadness on Kenzaki at one point, and he stops screaming accusations long enough to try talking with Tachibana. He tells him he doesn't want to fight. You can see it in his body language, that he's looking for a reason to forgive Tachibana's betrayal. But he quickly puts on his Serious Face and gets back into the interrogation. It's this neat look at how Kenzaki awkwardly wears the role of Kamen Rider, how at heart he's a very sweet boy, but he's in a story that needs him to be a strong hero. And Tachibana's incredulity at how massively off-base Kenzaki's view of things is, I thought that was a nice beat.

But it's just more information, in another episode that's neck-deep in information. It's Tachibana laying out the stakes of the show, not really sharing a scene with Kenzaki. The whole episode feels like that, where the joy is (I guess?) supposed to be from having more of the show's mystery filled in. But, that's not what I'm watching for? There's funny little moments (Kotaro's ridiculous car), but they feel like floating islands in a sea of exposition.

I... this one felt like a step back to me. Liked it more than the first one, since I'm more invested in the characters. But I liked it less than the second, because they spent most of their time relaying information to one another instead of connecting as characters.

Didn't really do it for me, this one.

Next time on Kamen Rider Blade: Moth Monster fights! Forest battles! And an investigation into a photograph that is probably going to have some more exposition attached to it!