If you ever want me to do an instant 180 on a character, the easiest way to do it is having part of their arc remind me of either KickHopper or PunchHopper.

So, Ren: new favorite character?

As soon as I saw him grumpily eating convenience store ramen under a bridge, those old Kabuto neurons started firing again. And then here’s Desast to make that compelling Come Be A Scumbag With Me pitch, and I’m over the moon. It’s an incredibly fun space for this show to play in, that chaotic dirtbag zone. We’ve got determined heroes, and apocalyptic villains (two sets!), and a tortured antihero, but Ren and Desast fill this intriguing role for the show as guys outside the Optimism/Pessimism divide. Their story is about feeling unfulfilled in a workplace, but unmotivated to determine what would actually make them happy. They don’t lack skill, they lack drive. They love the work, but they don’t know how to turn that into a career. They’re waiting to find something worth believing in, and they’re going to be a giant pain in the ass until they do.

There’s a bunch of other stuff in this episode, but, boy, none of it really hit me like the Ren/Desast stuff. That story was exactly what I was waiting for. The other main plot is… not my favorite kind of Saber storytelling. It’s half emotionally-resonant Touma/Kento friendship stuff, and half weirdly-deployed exposition about things that aren’t super relevant right this second, but clearly will be over the next dozen episodes.

It’s a little sad to see that, amongst so many huge improvements from the first batch of episodes (Ren!!!), this show still randomly drops huge details in a relative void, like it’s all some big stew of plot details. There’s no slick puzzling out of key information, it’s just maddeningly abrupt declarations like Sophia Is A Hologram Clone Created To Mimic Luna. It’d be an absurd yet tantalizing detail if Touma discovered it through episodes of hard work; here, it’s that Saber standby of characters revealing insane elements of the series arc like they’re recapping the previous episode, and I still dislike it intensely. There’s barely any reason for Kento or Master Logos to talk about it right this second, beyond giving context for viewers, and it’s that sort of expository clunkiness that would always take me out of generally-excellent emotional scenes from earlier in the run. It’s no different here, and that’s a bummer.

Because, otherwise, good scene! I like that Touma – just like with Rintaro – cannot ever close the deal on reuniting friendships because he always rushes the resolution. Kento’s coming around after a picnic reconciliation, but then Touma’s like STOP BEING LONELY AND BROODING AND FIGHT WITH ME and Kento remembers why he’s keeping this guy at arm’s length. It’s incredibly funny to me that Touma still doesn’t know how to separate work and friendship. Maybe Rintaro’s been a bad influence on him?

The Master Logos stuff was also really good. I dig the way he’s all about psychologically torturing his foes to keep them off-balance. He’s not only having a blast telling Kento and Touma how fun it was to destroy their childhoods, he’s using that information tactically. He’s making it personal for them (even This Isn’t Personal Kento completely loses his shit), and while it’s great as a little team-up moment for fans, it also renders both Saber and Calibur less effective in battle. Pretty much a win/win for Master Logos!

Despite some dull integration of plot details, this was still a terrific episode of Saber. The Ren/Desast stuff makes up for a lot of deficiency, but the B-plot with Kento and Touma wasn’t a complete loss. The characters continue to be strong enough to overcome some artless plot developments, and nearly all of them get a chance to shine this time out. And I didn’t even mention the fun runner with Yuri and Mei!

(Oh! I watched that Desast Walk Vs Kenzan Walk thing, but it’s only a minute long and didn’t have subs. Cute fight scene, though!)



SUNDAY MORNING



Yuri looked around the cottage, searching for any clues to Victor’s disappearance.

He’d never known Victor to leave his post, except for rare (and recent) occasions. He’d guarded the Wonder World for a thousand years, and never once wavered in his dedication. He had a strange sense of humor, but he was steadfast in his duty. Yuri respected that.

As he looked around the room, a wall clock began to chime. It struck nine times, despite hours and minutes being foreign concepts to the Wonder World. He approached the clock, as a tiny bird came out from a door at the top. The bird had a card in its beak, and it hovered in front of Yuri.

The card said READ ME.

Yuri took the card and thanked the bird, which promptly vanished. He read the back of the card, which contained several paragraphs that confused Yuri. It was all information he knew, and even experienced. What was this for? Why did Victor want him to read this?

To his left, meters from the room’s sole chair, a portal opened.

The portal was perplexing, even for Yuri’s vast knowledge. It was maybe a foot in diameter, and its contents were conflicting. It was as though he could see a face, or maybe millions of faces. They were waiting, patiently, for something. They were looking at him to–

Oh. Of course.

Yuri sat down in the chair at the center of the room, facing the portal. He looked at the card, and began to read from it.

“Bonne Lecture, my friends,” he said with his most precise and serious enunciation. “My name is Yuri.”

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