Rintaro!

I love him so much. I love how this show treats Rintaro returning to the fold as proof of Touma’s moral clarity. Like, if Rintaro thinks you’re worth following over the Sword of Logos, you are definitely doing something right. It’s not even that Rintaro’s some key soldier, or some secret weapon. He’s just Rintaro, and that’s the best thing for any group to have.

It’s an episode that’s sort of circling around two main topics that are vital to Rintaro’s sense of self-worth: What do we do when the things we believed in let us down, and what value do we have as people in the aftermath?

Those are both INCREDIBLY Rintaro concepts, which makes the episode interesting as a way of getting into his psychology, but they’re also key points that the series keeps coming back to. Saber’s a show with a traditionally (for Kamen Rider) skeptical view of large organizations. It’s also a workplace dramedy, so it’s not exactly a Blade sort of situation that’s all about demolishing some faceless organization to better express the diversity of human experience. It’s interrogating the idea of large groups, not necessarily advocating for or against.

For Rintaro, the Sword of Logos was a family, a job, and an organizing principle for his sense of right and wrong. Acts that supported the guild were moral; acts that went against the guild were immoral. Rintaro loved the people inside the guild who brought purpose to his life, and in doing so he loved the guild.

The transference of that love – how we imbue organizations with the same affection we gave to the people inside that organization – is a Big Deal topic for Saber as a show. There’s a cognitive load that comes with having to consider a mass of people as individuals, so it’s easier to think of them as part of a larger whole. But, at a certain point, we think of the whole instead of the people within it, and we start to value those people less. The Sword of Logos mattered more to Rintaro than his friends, despite his friends essentially being the Sword of Logos. Reika and Master Logos, they aren’t what Rintaro respected or loved about the Sword of Logos. Rintaro’s respect is for a dead master, and a delightful selection of apostates at the North Pole. We shouldn’t ever really love an organization, because an organization can’t love us back. An organization doesn’t have a morality to it, so it can’t teach us right from wrong. An organization is not a person, and it isn’t worth more than a person.

And yet, it’s not without value.

It’s probably the hardest thing Rintaro’s ever done, screaming on that parking garage floor about the Sword of Logos being bullshit. (Very nice of Durendal to check his phone or whatever while that deeply emotional scene was taking place!) It’s him not only acknowledging that his value system was screwed up, but having to do it while Touma risked everything to come get him. It’s embarrassing, if nothing else. Shameful. It’s Rintaro’s entire life exposed as empty gestures at best, jackbooted villainy at worst. He needs saving from the thing he dedicated his life to. It’s pathetic, and it makes him wish he’d made every decision in his life differently.

But, the thing is, the Sword of Logos was something people made, and a thing people believed in. That alone gives it value. If someone like Rintaro is willing to dedicate their life to it, it matters. This whole episode is about how an organization is improved by true believers, and how an organization that doesn’t value that isn’t worth believing in. But it can be made better; it can be turned into something worthy of its believers. If the Sword of Logos has been corrupted, it’s not something that’s permanent. An organization's just people, and it gains its identity from those people. It only needs better people in charge for it to be better.

Like every group, it just needs Rintaro.



YOUR HAND IN MINE



They needed Rintaro. He just couldn’t see it.

Mei was excited to get the call from Rintaro, right up until he said he wanted to meet on Brooding Roof. That was not exactly the sign she was looking for. It most likely meant that Rintaro wasn’t yet resolved to join them all back at the Northern Base. Which meant that she’d need to try and convince Rintaro to return.

She thought she’d done it once, when he and Touma had that adorable shouting match about how great each one thought the other was. (She was still kicking herself for not recording that.) Rintaro seemed to finally realize that Touma needed him, and that the best way to make sure everyone stayed safe was to stay together. She thought she’d finally gotten through to him.

But no, because this was Rintaro. Stupid, loyal Rintaro. Stupid, cute, loyal Rintaro. Idiot.

He’d gone back to the Sword of Logos, probably because he hadn’t made himself sick enough from anxiety. Every time she saw him lately, he seemed on the verge of two or three breakdowns. He was as scared and sad as she’d ever seen him, and she’d seen him walk by an open-air pastry festival once.

She’d bet money that he’d chalked all of this up to him not being as strong as someone, or as smart as someone else, or as clever as whomever, or as brave as she didn’t know who. As much as Touma tried to tell Rintaro that the problem was the Sword of Logos, Rintaro couldn’t ever hear him. He probably told himself that the problem was him; if he could be more SOMETHING, everyone would come back and they’d all be a family again. He was the problem, he was surely telling himself.

Well, Mei was starting to agree with him.

Rintaro was the problem because he couldn’t see how much they all needed him. They were warring swordsmen right now, but if Rintaro joined them, they’d be a family. They didn’t need him to do anything other than join them; that was it. They didn’t need a cunning swordsman or a powerful warrior, they just needed that big, adorable dummy to come home already. He spent his whole life looking for a family, but he was the only thing that made them all a family.

So she’d bring him home. She’d let him know that they needed him. She’d get him to see it.

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