This time on Kamen Rider Blade: Kenzaki, held captive and subjected to brutal combat! Hajime, torn between his human emotions and his Undead Or Whatever urges! Tachibana, enlisted to be the savior of Team Blade, a group that really should know better!

Not to be a broken record, but: Tachibana!

The big lure for this episode is Team Blade trying to get Tachibana to help them find and rescue Kenzaki, which goes precisely as well as you'd think it would, if you've watched literally any other episode of Blade.

In the aftermath of Karasuma's admission to Dr Ladyfriend, that every Garren problem is all in Tachibana's head, Tachibana decides to change absolutely nothing about his approach or goals. He's still worried only about himself, still trying to track down Karasuma. I guess he just flat-out doesn't believe what he's been told? It's totally in-character, considering the way Dr Ladyfriend was very clear that every test she ran came up negative and Tachibana threw a full-on tantrum. Still, it's maybe too stubborn, even for Garren? It's one thing if he's imagining it, it's another if he's imagining it and he won't stop telling people he isn't imagining it. Maybe more frustrating than funny?

Bit of a moot point, because Team Blade decides to take a random Tachibana phone call (you know, just checking to see if Karasuma mentioned anything to them about saving Tachibana's life, what've you been up to besides that) as a lifeline, and get him to contribute just one goddamn time.

It's here that we have both the moral center to the episode, and also something that is so guaranteed to fail that I couldn't keep from laughing during it.

Hirose immediately pegs Tachibana's sweaty selfishness as being about fear, and Tachibana tries to deny it. Kotaro attempts to bring Tachibana into the group by explaining that fear doesn't have to be a big deal, really. Everyone gets scared. It's part of life, and it doesn't have to limit what you're capable of. More than that, everyone has to fight against their anxiety and fear, so maybe stop thinking only of yourself this one goddamn time? (The last part was merely implied.)

On the one hand, it's a nicely delivered Kotaro speech. It's very warm, very generous, very empathetic. It's full of funny details, like how he's scared of steamed buns, and a brilliant physical performance. It's a very cute scene.

It's also a ridiculous thing to have to tell a grown man. Kotaro has to tell Tachibana, essentially, that people other than him exist and have feelings. He has to tell Tachibana that being afraid doesn't mean you have to stop living your life. These are... Tachibana is a grown-ass man and he needs to be told this? I know we like to joke about Tachibana being a garbage human being, but this is a pretty startling look into how much of a screw-up he is!

Of course, the speech doesn't work. Tachibana stomps off, selfish as ever. But then, as he remembers Kotaro's speech word for word, he realizes that he needs to overcome his fear and try to save Kenzaki. I mean, he doesn't say that out loud. He goes back and tells Kotaro that his speech was dumb but that he'll look for Kenzaki only because Karasuma might be there. It's hilariously petty, where Tachibana can't even for a second concede that he may have been acting irrationally/like a goddamn baby, so he creates this excuse to soothe his ego. It's transparent and stupid, but... Tachibana.

Meanwhile, Blade and Chalice are in the secondary plot where... I don't know, man. It's a lot of Gathering Data, which is my least favorite Kamen Rider trope. I don't give a shit about numbers going up or scientists looking at monitors. Whatever.

The good stuff in the plot is all Chalice, and I feel a little bad saying that. Blade's really been pushed to the background these last couple three episodes, and I don't love that idea. He didn't get that much time in the spotlight so far this series, and now he's basically sidelined. What he's got here is him screaming at guards and thrashing around, followed by a fight where his numbers go up due to his anger at Chalice. God! Even what little Blade stuff is in this episode largely works due to his proximity to Chalice!

But, yeah, Chalice. His weird history with Trenchcoat Mastermind has some interesting angles, with the threats and attempts at teamwork. There's a sense of safety the two of them have around each other, a way of honoring their millennia of rivalry (?) by letting the hard work of killing each other wait just a minute. I mean, that's mostly on Trenchcoat's end. Chalice pretty much needs to have Amane threatened with a bomb before he'll hang out and watch numbers go up. There are so many numbers, though! And they go up so high!

But not all of them go up, and I think you can guess whose. Garren bursts onto the scene to save Blade, declares that he's mastered his fear, and then immediately gets his ass kicked because he's perpetually terrified. It leads to a cowardly Tachibana freakout and failure that... I mean, words could never do it justice. Look upon his works, ye mighty, and rejoice:

Next time on Kamen Rider Blade: Blade's first Rider Kick! Chalice versus Blade! And Tachibana goes suit shopping?!?!?!