And that's it for Tezuka, now and forever Kamen Rider Quarter.

I wish this episode hit me harder. I liked it fine, but it wasn't one of my favorites. The beginning is FANTASTIC, with the Knight/Zolda fight. The whole Trick Vent versus Shoot Vent thing, where every blast from Zolda has another Knight duplicate running around, it's probably one of my favorite Ryuki fight concepts. I just dig the physicality of Trick Vent, that they just have another Knight costume and they throw it on a different stunt performer. I like that it's multiple physical Knights running around, flanking Zolda. This episode opens so strong.

Everything after that... it's like I was watching it, and understanding it, but I wasn't feeling it.

Tezuka's backstory is a neat twist on Ren's and Shinji's. Like Ren, he's working out his guilt and anger through being a Rider, and like Shinji he got into this not out of a personal wish but as a way of protecting people. He's a clever amalgam of the two of them, while still feeling like his own character. After Shinji's crisis with Ren, where he wants to try to keep his mind open about Rider Battles, Tezuka's pretty much on his own. He's the only one trying to keep Riders from fighting, and it's seeming ever more impossible.

I guess maybe that's it, why I didn't feel that shocked or angry or sad when Tezuka dies? I liked his character, but it seemed like he had a target on his back as The Pacifist Rider. And, to the show's credit, it doesn't really spend a lot of energy on trying to sell you on But Maybe Tezuka Will Fight. Shiro tries hard, telling Tezuka that Yuichi was totally all about killing Riders at the end, he wished he'd killed a ton of Riders, and he told Shiro to tell Tezuka that killing Riders is super great. It's a defining end for Tezuka, that he never really wavers on his principles. He doesn't fight Ouja, despite Asakura being the one who broke Yuichi's hands. (And that's probably 99% of the reason Asakura got a Card Deck, ‘cause Shiro hates a quitter.) He sacrifices himself to save Shinji, since it was Shinji who was fated to die and the world needs Shinji more than it needs him. So, yeah, a narratively appropriate ending, with Tezuka getting his wish of changing a Rider's fate, and of him both avenging and honoring Yuichi's death. It's well-written, and sort-of lovely at the end. There's a tranquility that's appropriate for Tezuka's final scene.

I just... I just didn't feel it, emotionally. Intellectually, I was very I Like What You're Doing There, but when Tezuka finished dying I was okay to move onto Knight's upgrade. (Knight gets the first upgrade?!) Quarter getting bumped off was no more or less interesting than a new coat of paint on Knight. I feel like it should mean more, should evoke... something, but it's just making me say Okay. Okay, Tezuka died. And maybe it's because of the neatness of it, the way it ties up his narrative so effectively, that it feels emotionally unfilling. As appropriate as a fated ending is for Tezuka, The Way It Was Always Going To End, it has a hollowness to it. (And, I know that he wasn't actually fated to die, that he changed his and Shinji's fate, but it's more that this feels like how his story had to end.) There's no gutpunch to Tezuka's sacrifice, and the show doesn't feel like it's going to be worse off for him not being around. He did the things he needed to do, we got his whole arc, and it's okay for him to be gone. I liked him, I liked his story, but I'm a little surprised I didn't care more about his ending.