In what I’d hoped would be a brand-new phase of Saber’s storytelling, with a firmer hand on how to tell its story, we are very much in some Traditional Saber territory, for better or worse.

Let’s start with the Worse!

As soon as Storious opened his mouth, I knew I wasn’t going to love this episode. It’s another scheme that’s pulled from thin air, as three random Alter Books and a whole bunch of Wonder Rider Books will now give Calibur all sorts of crazy power. It is, as always, the dullest way to kick off a Calibur plot. He just stands in the room waiting for a new Book Club hoop to jump through – usually accompanied by a totally random Megid – and then we get to watch him jump through it in the most straightforward way possible. There was a time, once, when this show had Calibur and the Book Club and Desast and a Megid all working in unison, to manipulate our heroes into a cunning trap. That episode feels like it belonged to a different show, for all the similarity to this episode’s basic-ass monster attack premise. This one’s just A to B to C, with no particular cleverness needed from the Sword of Logos. It’s barely worth thinking about, thankfully -slash- sadly.

But, speaking of Slash!

He’s the Better, obviously. As Tassel’s introduction and catchphrase suggested, it’s time to meet a new swordsman. (Also, a new swordswoman, probably!) The only spark this episode had was in its introduction of Daishinji’s Kamen Rider identity. It’s the smartest part of the episode, mostly because of its dedication to getting incredibly dumb.

Much like Daishinji’s personality changes when he becomes Slash – wild and uninhibited – this episode shifts gears in a major way for its middle third. It’s like a rock song, where there’s no nuance or intricacy; it’s just loud, fast, and fun. Every Rider gets to detonate a monster, and turn their back on the explosion. Slash gets multiple form changes, both of them gloriously garish and stupidly fantastic. Touma gets his Wonder Combo form, Crimson Dragon, and it’s slick as hell. The whole fight scene against Calibur and the Ducklings was so jaw-dropping (and reminiscent of the killer Geats action scenes I’d watched just before starting Saber) that I had to look up who the director was: OF COURSE IT WAS SAKAMOTO. Love how he moved the camera during the Calibur/Saber portion of the duel; easily the best brawl this show has had to date. This episode is only really concerned with introducing Slash, but it made that introduction so indelibly wild that I kind of don’t hate that decision.

There’s nominally a Touma plot here, where he starts the episode wondering what to write about, and ends the episode deciding to write about his friends, but… that’s literally the whole plot. There’s no, uh, middle section of that story, unless you count Fighting A Bad Guy. It’s the sort of bookend sequence that could’ve landed on nearly any of the last five episodes, and I don’t even know why they bothered with it here.

Oh, almost forgot! There’s that aforementioned new swordswoman! And growing suspicion that Calibur isn’t who anyone thinks he is! But no details are forthcoming, so I don’t have anything to say about that!

I really enjoyed the Slash action sequence in this one, don’t get me wrong, but there’s basically nothing else here besides that. I’m never going to be super in favor of a show trading out narrative momentum and character drama for a big ol’ fight scene, but I guess I can make a slight exception for a fight scene as grandiose as this one, and an expansion of the very charming Daishinji’s role on the show. It’s a bit of a wash!


As Touma looked over the sea of notes, he felt adrift. Could all of this have really only occurred over the last nine weeks?

It seemed absurd, when he saw it all written down. The people he’d met, the battles he’d fought, the places to which he’d traveled… nine weeks? It was enough incident to fill months; years. To fill books, not a book. To fill a series. To fill a library.

He didn’t hurt for inspiration, that was for sure. He just needed a start, any start. A single one of those notes. Something to–

The door chime rang. A delivery of books from one of the store’s vendors. The box was opened, the packing slip removed, the items checked off for order accuracy, the inventory entered into the Point of Sale system’s database, the one damaged book set aside for replacement (after quickly filling in the requisite fields on the vendor’s website), the books shelved in their sections, the box broken down for recycling, the counter cleaned of detritus.

There. The work completed, Touma sat himself back to his wall of notes. What if he started with–

The phone rang. A question about a particular title, and whether Touma’s store stocked it. An affirmative response, followed by a trip to the shelves to verify its current availability. Yes, still there. Yes, he can set it aside. Thanks for calling.

Okay, back to the writing. He–

The door chime rang. One of his regulars, a local family. He spent time introducing the two children to some gorgeously-illustrated picture books, and then chatted with the parents while the children made their picks. The topics included the weather (a little drier out, thankfully), the nearby restaurant openings (a ramen cart that Touma raved about; an ice cream shop that the family had recently tried and enjoyed), and what had been enjoyed on TV (Touma didn’t watch TV, but he was happy to let others share their excitement). Once the children had decided on their books, Touma thanked the family for their visit and waved as they walked out the door.

That was fun, but he needed to get a start on this–

The phone rang. A question about an upcoming book, and whether Touma’s store would be carrying it. A quick check online indicated the book would be out next month, and Touma assured the caller that he’d have copies on the day of release. A quick note made to call the interested customer back when the book arrived, and Touma placed the phone back on the cradle.

Okay, now–

The door chime rang. A confused looking woman, who inquired about the location of a nearby business. Touma gave the directions quickly (it was a common request; why did everyone come to the bookstore to ask directions?) but pleasantly, and wished the woman luck on her search.


The phone rang. A question about a book, and whether Touma had it in stock. It was a popular title, so Touma assured the customer he had one as he walked over to the… hmm. It wasn’t there. Maybe it had been misfiled? No, it wasn’t in the section at all. Maybe it was moved to another part of the store? Touma apologetically informed the customer that he didn’t seem to have it in stock, but would certainly have a copy shortly. The customer replied that they’d needed it today, for a gift, but thanked Touma for his time.

With the phone call ended, Touma scoured the store for the book. No luck. Checking his inventory database, a copy was clearly indicated. Where had it gone? Giving up after considering the various possibilities (theft; database error; hallucination) Touma reset the stock level to zero, and hoped he wouldn’t lose any further sales in the wait for a reorder.

Okay, he could–

Touma dropped the pen. He’d forgotten to write out this week’s email to his customers, with updates on events and the list of new releases. He quickly typed out the new information into his template, and scheduled the email for the next day.

With that out of the way, he could finally get started on his writing. He looked over the notes for a moment, ready to grab the first one that caught his eye.

Behind him, a banging noise, and a young woman’s plaintive cry. “Geez, what’s with you, do you have writer’s block or something?”