Absolutely bizarre episode, even recalibrating for Saber’s baseline of WTF Was That. The Zooooous cliffhanger from last time continues into a barely-addressed B-plot that still manages to land some intriguing emotional punches; a brand-new Rider is introduced who makes a pretty terrible first impression, character- and acting-wise, before having a pretty thrilling battle against Desast; and the rest of the cast does a whole bunch of research to find Avalon, without it being especially illuminating, or even coherent. It’s easily the Saberest episode to date.

Let’s start with Kenzan, because he’s the biggest deal in this weird-ass episode. He’s a member of the Sword of Logos, but he’s mostly a gigantic, disrespectful pain in the ass. Nominally here to demonstrate the wrong way of being a superhero in the Kamen Rider multiverse – thinking might makes right, laughing at the idea of empathy, and relishing the opportunity to detonate monsters – the episode mostly just has Ren be an immature prick to Touma, and then absolutely prove that might makes right by single-handedly defeating Desast. In an episode of multiple fights, the only clear victory comes from the worst character on the show.

I’m sure we’re going somewhere with this. I’m sure we’re going to be getting an arc where Kenzan either gets humbled or killed. But to have his introduction be that not happening, when there’s so much horribleness to his debut… it doesn’t sit well? It’s annoying to watch, and then there’s no real catharsis to it. It’s just Ren Is A Goofy Dickhead, the end.

And worse, it doesn’t even really connect to the other plots? We’re still in an incredibly messy layout, where there doesn’t seem to be much of an overall theme to the episode, and several plotlines exist in isolation. It’s just a bunch of stuff happening, all to various degrees of success, with nothing unifying to elevate the material. Individual scenes sink or swim, and that’s all the episode can be measured by. Kenzan’s an irritating brat, but then the Desast fight is awesome. I don’t know what to do with that?

It’s the same way for Touma’s plot this episode. One of the Book Club guys locks his sword in its scabbard, so Touma… has to find a magical land no one’s ever been to in order to unlock it? And it’s the same magical land Calibur’s looking for, which is why the trap was set? Sure, okay, whatever. It’s nothing that makes a ton of sense (what does any of this have to do with the Zoooous stuff? Or with Desast?), but it at least gives us the Daishinji/Touma stuff, which is fairly appealing. It’s the right kind of physical comedy, where Daishinji’s poor social skills are leveraged by Touma to get access to the secrets of the Sword of Logos. The thing they’re after is worthless to me, and the supposed Eureka moment Touma has makes me worried (oh god he needs to collect thirteen eyecons oh god noooooo), but the chemistry between the two actors carries lousy material, the same way this show has dodged up to five bullets so far.

It is… man, I don’t know how much longer I can keep giving this show the benefit of the doubt? This was almost unforgivably messy, with what feels like four different episodes worth of subplots tossed in haphazardly and stitched together recklessly. It never feels like it’s saying anything about its world, to me. There’s no guiding hand that feels like it’s got something it wants to communicate, and that super sucks.

Desast fight was cool, though. Show still knows how to make that shit work.


Rintaro was a good boy.

That was what he was told his whole life, from his earliest days, up to the previous day at the 7-11. (He’d helped an elderly woman with her bags. It was the proper thing to do.) He acted in accordance with his training, and with his sense of duty. He supported his friends. He protected the innocent. He served the Sword of Logos. He was honest, and forthright, and polite, and caring. He was a good boy.

“Now go home and have a good ol’ cry to mommy, okay?”

He had never felt this kind of rage in his life. He’d lost duels, and been bested by adversaries. He could handle defeat. This wasn’t that.

This was failure.

He’d never needed to tamp down his emotions. He had the strength of his convictions, and his role as a swordsman in the Sword of Logos preached a higher level of self-control that homo sapiens couldn’t understand. The anger that less-disciplined fighters – he didn’t want to think of Ogami, but he did anyway – would use to occasionally-detrimental effect, it just passed through him. He didn’t need to calm down, or manage his anger, because his anger didn’t exist.

Now, though, the anger was all that existed.

His failure in battle with Zooous was like a fire that destroyed every version of himself that he held in his mind. Whatever “Rintaro” was or meant to others was immolated, reduced to ash, and that ash was scorched into nothing. He’d been weak, been clumsy, been worthless.

He’d never liked that word, “worthless”. It suggested a state of no return, where improvement was impossible and effort was redundant. Effort could always yield better results, with the right attitude. Improvement was inevitable, with the right direction.

His failure put the lie to that belief. He’d worked hard, been resolute in his focus, and been humbled. Been embarrassed. Been made a laughing-stock by the very monster that had murdered his master, a crime for which Rintaro had trained himself to avenge. The shame of it was unbearably; the rage was unbelievable.


Someone was shouting his name, he thought. A woman’s voice. A million miles away. It was difficult to focus on it, over the noise of a scream. An animal was screaming, probably wounded. It sounded impossibly guttural. Its pain was horrifying. He’d hoped the woman might put it out of its misery, so that he could find some way to focus himself back from the white-hot emptiness of his own pain.

He hated the Rintaro that lost to Zooous, that much he knew. He might not have been killed – as much as he wished he had been, there’d’ve been honor in that – but the nice boy that dishonored anyone and everyone he’d ever cared about was surely gone forever, burned at the stake of worthlessness.

The animal was screaming again. Rintaro grasped at the ground, hoping to distract himself from whatever could be in that much pain but still live.

He’d force himself up soon, he vowed. He’d get to his feet, and this new version of himself would succeed where the nice boy – the good boy, the honest boy, the kind boy – had failed.

Zooous had robbed him of his better self, but perhaps his enraged self could prove its worth.