If you’re going to conclude Rintaro’s emotional growth, it’s sort of necessary to do it in a Base Under Siege story.

Rintaro’s whole thing is seeing his coworkers and friends as a surrogate family, so the most effective visualization of an attack on Rintaro’s value system that he can dramatically overcome is, basically, a home invasion story set at his work. If we need to create a situation where Rintaro feels most connected to the peril, and we’ve just done a story where Mei’s in danger, the only other option is for Master Logos and Storious to mount a two-pronged (well, three prongs: Durendal's trident) assault on Rintaro’s family home.

It’s a fun callback to the season’s earlier assault on the Southern Base, with a whole bunch of moving parts, some hallway chases, and a dazzling fight in what’s clearly a ballroom – this time with square columns instead of cones. (The Northern Base is too kind-hearted for your sinister cones!) We’re doing similar matchups, as well, with Yuri and Touma taking a second run at Durendal, while Rintaro gets his own storyline to address.

And it’s, really, a Rintaro episode. We get some slight movement on plot stuff – Sophia’s key finally gets used, Reika’s suspicious of the Megid involvement – but this is definitely the climax of Rintaro’s character arc. We’ve seen him deal with his inferiority complex alongside his friends; now it’s time to see him deal with it alongside his dad's memory.

Which: this is completely a story about Rintaro trying to come out from under the shadow of his dad. In the incredibly weird way Rintaro has reshaped a family dynamic around the workplace he was adopted/indoctrinated into, he had just finished seeing his value to an organization when his coworkers are better at their jobs than he is, through being a great team-player. Now, he has to find a way to make his boss proud, and honor the hard work of the people who built the company.

It’s a fun conclusion, where Rintaro literally embodies the institutional history of the Northern Base and uses it to defend his home and family. It’s as perfect a Gets A New Power-Up finale to this type of story as I can think of for Rintaro. He acknowledges that his mission is to protect his family – not just a guild or a code – and has the entire history of the sword of Logos go You Finally Figured It Out, through the bestowal of a slick new Wonder Ride Book that allows him to obliterate Zooous, the Megid who killed his boss/dad. It’s Rintaro’s whole story, wrapped up with a bow.

It’s so focused on Rintaro that it kind of doesn’t leave much else to discuss! The Saber/Durendal fight was fun, with Touma’s, like, sonar being able to track Durendal’s time-dilation and negate his advantage. (I love the little PINGs on the soundtrack!) There’s also the requisite fun moments of characterization, like Ogami geeking out over his new pin, and every weird thing Daishinji does in the background. It’s just, none of that even comes to the level of a B-plot in this one. It’s Rintaro’s story this time out, from front to back.

Which is okay by me! I don’t know that I felt like Rintaro needed more after last episode’s thrilling battle for his place in the group, but this is a neat little coda for that accomplishment, at the very least. (I just… I’ve never really cared about his relationship with a boss/dad who died fifteen years before the show started? It’s way less vital to my understanding of Rintaro than any of his current relationships.) We’re in that pre-endgame part of a show where non-Primary Riders need to wrap up whatever character arc stuff they’ve got outstanding, because once we hit Episode 40, there probably won’t be room left. Typically courteous of Rintaro to get his character work done so promptly! He’s a good boy.



A SONG FOR OUR FATHERS



Daishinji thought of himself as an expert on swords, not swordsmen – but over the years he felt that he’d grown to appraise both well. He understood swords in a way that he’d never understood a person, but a swordsman was an extension of their sword, so there was a bit of overlap between the two. Not enough to call himself a good judge of character, as evidenced by the ways Master Logos had plotted unseen, but enough to speak with authority on the qualities of swordsmen of the guild.

Rintaro was the best swordsman the guild had ever produced.

Daishinji followed Touma because of his ability to fulfill prophecy, and because of the strength of his convictions, but he wasn’t the swordsman that Rintaro was. Ogami could swing a sword in a way that the earth itself respected, Ren was powerful beyond his age, Kento had mastered a sword as old as the guild itself, the Southern Base produced unstoppable killers, Yuri literally was a sword man; none of them held a candle to Rintaro.

Rintaro’s greatness as a swordsman wasn’t his technique, which was practiced and focused. It wasn’t the strength of his swing, which was powerful. It wasn’t even his dedication to his craft, which was all-consuming. It wasn’t that he needed the guild, or respected the guild, or feared the guild.

It was that he loved the guild like family.

Daishinji had worried about it some, over the years. Rintaro was just a child when he was rescued by the guild. He’d been raised with all the care the guild could offer, but it wasn’t what Daishinji would have considered the most loving upbringing. They were warriors on a sacred mission, and they each had their own battles to fight. They did their best, though, and Rintaro had seemed to develop into a stalwart, happy young man. It was still something that nagged at Daishinji: Did they do a good job, as guardians?

The answer stood before him in a freezing, glorious form.

Rintaro had received the blessing of the history of the guild. While Touma may have been ordained by the Sacred Swords, Rintaro had been honored by generations of swordsmen. He loved the guild, and was loved by the guild in return. He was a child of the guild, and he’d made his parents proud.

Daishinji felt that pride as well. Now he just needed Rintaro to turn the cold down some.
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