This time on Kamen Rider Blade: Violence is temporary. Empathy is eternal.

This is a story about empathy. It's a story about how saving a life can be more important than saving the world, but you might save the world anyway. It's a story about how everyone deserves a chance at happiness. It's a story that refuses the easy solution of violence in favor of the more fulfilling solution of kindness.

It's a story about Hajime.

Hajime knows what he wants. He wants a life of simple pleasures, of family, of friends. But that's not what he's meant for. He's meant for violence, for death, for the end of the world. An existence of combat never prepared him for the possibility of wanting more, and he can't square his desires with his fate. He is the Joker, but he wants to be Hajime. As long as he's the last remaining Undead, he can't be anything more than the Joker.

It's a story about Kenzaki.

Kenzaki was never going to seal Hajime. Never. That's fate, and Kenzaki hates fate. Fate says Hajime has to be sealed. Of all the ways this story could end, that was never going to be one of them. I'd've predicted Kenzaki being sealed before I'd predict Hajime being sealed. That's just not who Kenzaki is. He's someone who fights to give people a chance at life, at happiness. His parents died, right in front of him. His guilt drove him for a while, until he realized that his love was more powerful. He'd sacrifice anything to help people. Sealing Hajime isn't helping him, so it doesn't fit Kenzaki's worldview. He can pretend that he's someone willing to sacrifice a friend, but he really isn't. He's the one who sacrifices.

It's a story about heroism, of course.

Kenzaki isn't heroic because he's strong, or powerful. He doesn't prove his heroism by defeating an enemy. The real enemy of the story isn't even defeated. The Sealing Stone is out there, forever, waiting for a moment of weakness. It can't be defeated, only delayed, perhaps eternally, but never permanently. Kenzaki can't prove his heroism by stopping it. Kenzaki proves his heroism by sharing Hajime's burden. He lets the power of King Form fuse with him, turning him into an Undead. It's a stalemate, nothing more. Two Undead, prolonging an inevitable apocalypse at a cost that's both invisible, and heartbreaking.

It's a story about friendship.

Hajime and Kenzaki don't have a demonstrative relationship. Even in the final episode, there are no tears from either of them over the potential consequences of this Battle Fight. Hajime believes in Kenzaki, and Kenzaki believes in Hajime, but their bond transcends words, gestures. It's two people who understand the burden of protecting people. Hajime grew into someone who saw protecting people as more than just keeping them alive. He learned from Kenzaki, almost accidentally, that the thing worth protecting is the connection people have. Kenzaki didn't need to learn that, but he did learn to acknowledge it, to see what he was really fighting for. The two of them, they were never swayed by power or fear. They cared about people, and they respected that about each other. They started as enemies, but ended as friends.

It's a story about unbreakable bonds.

They can't ever see each other again. That's it. That's the consequence of saving the world. No one dies. Everyone's saved. Tachibana's back, and so is Karasuma. Mutsuki and Nozomi go back to school. Hajime gets to live his life as a part of Amane's family. It's a happy ending. Except, it's not. It's Kenzaki sacrificing his friendship to give his friend a chance at happiness. It's a sadness that feels bigger than a death, more permanent for its open-endedness. Kenzaki is everywhere and nowhere. On a park bench, smiling for his friend. And gone forever, saving humanity by living in isolation. But he's out there, smiling for his friend. You just know it. And he'll be smiling for him until the end of the world.

It's the end of Kamen Rider Blade. It's perfect.

Next on Kamen Rider Die watches Kamen Rider Blade: Thursday is the series wrapup, Friday is the thread wrapup. We're not done yet.