It is incredibly bold of a show that I’m not entirely convinced knows how to tell the story it’s trying to tell, to end its second episode with the question Who Is This Mysterious Boy On A Flying Carpet and open its third episode with the answer Shut Up It’s Time To Learn About Buster.

Incredibly bold!!!

This one’s the first two-parter in the series, so it gets a little bit of slack for not exactly tying its many threads together as elegantly as I’d like, but… wow, it’s a messy one. We’ve only just met Kento (I think that’s his name? There are a lot of introductions in this episode!), gotten a hint of his role in Touma’s Narratively-Convenient Amnesia, before he’s basically gone from this episode entirely. It’s so weird that he’s a member of the Sword of Logos, is hanging out at their North Pole base, but doesn’t go with the rest of the team when there’s a monster to detonate and a boy to save. I guess it’s some COVID restriction on how many actors/suits they could use at once? But the episode never even bothers to explain why he showed up at the bookshop, said Hi, and then went back to his job. Kento was just, like, checking in? I guess? It’s such a random element of the narrative, with so much weight coming off the cliffhanger, to then be nothing more than some light exposition and hints toward the greater mystery.

Or it could just be that Buster’s debut is too awesome for any other cast member to matter?

Like Touma, I love the tropes that Buster is playing around with. There’s an iconic feeling to this manly swordsman who’s also a superhero dad. Kamen Rider as a franchise barely acknowledges moms (give or take a memorable Build HBV and some physical abuse in Geats), but it sure as shit loves to talk about dads and sons. If you’re running a show about the primal power of storytelling and how it both constructs our childhood and deconstructs our adulthood, you gotta have Kamen Rider Dad in there somewhere.

And Buster’s, just, like: yeah. Yeah, it would be awesome as a kid to have your dad be a Kamen Rider with a big-ass sword who takes you to monster detonations like it’s a trip to the store. But as an adult, Buster just feels like a guy who’d be crushed under the weight of too many responsibilities, if he wasn’t so resilient. Like his turtle inspiration, he’s built to carry an insane amount of weight on his back, in a way that makes him almost long for the contradictions of Warrior Dad. He’s a dedicated soldier in a war against the apocalypse, but he’s also a devoted father who thinks his kid’s awesome. Like Rintaro, he’s just really wholesome and cool?

The thing that elevates the story is that, like many adults, he finds the flightiness of young men in tokusatsu series to be an endless frustration, so he immediately dislikes Touma’s fascination with the narrative power of his life. He doesn’t have the bandwidth to think about the thematic relevance of his duties; he’s got too many duties. For a Saber that’s all about the power of storytelling, and a Blades that’s all about the impossibility of living up to the stories that taught us, here’s a Buster to show us what it’s like when indulging in fiction can cost you everything.

It makes for a fun storyline in a now-typical Saber episode: weirdly paced, confusingly arranged (just some random new other guy at the North Pole???), but filled with a bunch of people I want to get to know better. It’s… man, we’re getting to a place where I wish this cast was in a show that knew how to utilize them. Hopefully the second part of this story will create something special!


Another long day at a job he could barely describe, to support a family he barely saw.

Kouhei wasn’t sure why it’d all ended up like this. By all accounts, his life was idyllic. Steady work during an economy-cratering pandemic. A home whose mortgage was trickling away with security. A loving marriage with a supportive spouse. Hell, even his commute was only ever a minor inconvenience. He was doing fine, and the rest of his life looked like it’d be just as fine.

Was it some mid-life crisis, ten years early? He’d only just turned 30 a few months back – he didn’t feel the restlessness that would provide him with a lease on a sports car, a haircut better suited to a teenager, and impending divorce papers. He didn’t want something else. He loved his family. He just wasn’t sure he was what they needed.

He wasn’t sure what they DID need, but he had grown to resent the man he’d become. His dedication to stability had wrung out the dreams of youth, replaced them with a monotony and complacency that would’ve rolled the eyes of his younger self. He’d wanted adventure, but now he only had routine.

Kouhei would eventually get home, and greet his family, and have dinner, and hear them talk about their days, always wondering if his family longed for a different man at the dining table. Someone with something exciting to share, rather than which drinks were sold out of the vending machine that day. (It was Fanta Grape today.) He tried to muster up enthusiasm, tried to create a sense of self-acceptance that would keep them from worrying, but he never knew if he’d succeeded, or if they just didn’t care.

On the rare occasions where he had time after dinner, when the night’s office work – emails from overseas vendors, last-minute problems from underlings – could be pushed off until the morning, he tried to spend time with his son Yohei.

Tonight was another night where his son would look to his father for a playmate, and his father would feel like a fraud. Kouhei’s infrequent visits with his son felt more and more like visiting another family, full of references he didn’t understand and stories he’d missed out on. He longed for some way to make his son feel loved, feel seen, but the days were conspiring against him.

As he’d felt himself sinking into another night of depression and self-loathing, he’d caught sight of an object at his feet.

It was a tiny plastic book, all in white. It looked… Hmm. It looked like one of Yohei’s toys, from one of those superhero shows he’d sometimes see in the living room as he passed by. Some bit of plastic, like the cars and robots and gemstones from that Sentai show Yohei liked.

It was funny that he’d remember it, considering the amount of detail from Yohei’s life that regularly eluded him. He chuckled to himself, amused by this reminder of his own youth and the many plastic weapons he’d coveted as a child. He’d longed to be a mighty warrior for justice, a valued teammate, and here he was as a man: the barely-mentioned parent, absent from the heroic narrative.

He gripped the plastic book tightly.

Those shows… they’d given him so many lessons, if he’d bothered to recall them. Stories of teamwork and support and sacrifice; all the things his son was learning without him there. But maybe… maybe this could be a starting point for a new story. This tiny toy book from some superhero show… maybe it’d be a way to talk to his son about his interests, to be a character in his story, to find some connection.

This was going to work. This was how he’d find the version of himself he thought was gone for good. The version that was vibrant, was engaged, was–

There was a bright flash, and Kouhei was gone.