Not a ton of time, but let’s see what there is to say about this episode.

It’s a great premise, the whole Job Battle thing. It allows for a neat little Humagear/humanity story, while being in service to the larger ZAIA plot. And the stakes… I mean, it’s just to let Gai feel like a smug prick, which is sort of amazing? There’s the larger threat of ZAIA taking over Hiden, or whatever is going on with Ark, but this story is fundamentally about feeding Gai’s ego, front to back.

On that level, it’s great? Gai’s thing is that he absolutely cannot conceive of any way in which he’s less than Aruto, which makes Aruto’s digs (like noting that ZAIASPEC sales haven’t gone up 1000 percent, only 700-something) such a delight. Gai takes himself a thousand percent seriously, so he’s a natural foil to a stand-up comedian. Beyond the corporate trappings and the weird backstory with Grandad Hiden and whatever, there’s a natural friction between these two people that works so well in every scene. I could watch Gai smirk and Aruto snark pretty much all day.

The actual meat of the story was nicely low-key, trading in a gentleness that I love to see. The central conflict is a fun one, where Gai is pushing human augmentation, while Aruto stumps for Humagears. It’s an interesting idea, because ZAIA’s feels like the more humane approach: it’s about centering human achievement, rather than dumping humanity’s hard work off to robots. But it actually comes off colder here than the use of Humagears, because it’s all about rigid math. ZAIASPEC is a multiplier, and nothing more. The Humagears, however, are about collaborating to create something unexpected, and the wonder of that partnership. ZAIASPEC is science, but Humagears are art. Putting those two things in opposition makes for a fun story.

And then there’s Thouser! Gai finally gets his Kamen Rider debut, and it’s as gaudy and ostentatious as you might’ve expected, but turned up to 1000. His driver uses two Zetsumerise Keys. The costume is gold and silver. Every belt jingle has a little “ZAIA Enterprises” tag, which is *chef’s kiss*. His whole debut is just no-selling Zero-One’s offense, which is disappointingly pedestrian (every single Q2 Rider gets the same type of debut!), but the weird psychodrama of his take on Kamen Rider more than makes up for the standard elements. He’s nothing special, so he needs to be shouting how special he is all the time. It’s great.

I liked this episode quite a bit. Not everything landed, mind you (Yua! Give Yua something better to do!), but the bones of this story were remarkably sturdy. Good stuff!



KAMEN RIDER ZERO-ONE SO-DO AI 05: KAMEN RIDER THOUSER



Good suit, too!

The gold and silver, as noted previously, are perfectly flamboyant. The multiple horns coming in to form a crown for the helmet, also ridiculously on the nose. Some tiny bits of purple to add even more regal highlights. And we can’t forget his signature weapon, the hysterically named Thousand Jacker, which gives him superior Jacking ability, enough to even Jack a thousand times. (He’s very excited to let people know about his Jacking!) It’s the suit of someone who needs you to know how special he is, at all times, forever.

The figure is also fairly premium? Very few stickers to this guy, which is absurd. Nearly all of one particular color could’ve been stickers (all the silver or gray, for instance), but it’s not. A few accent pieces for the legs and forearms, but that’s it. Painted pretty much from head to toe, which is practically unheard of for a non-P-Bandai release. But Thouser’s gotta look a thousand percent better than the rest of the wave, so I guess we know where the paint budget went for AI 05.

Great little figure, honestly. I’m amazed at how much Bandai put into it on the paint side, and the end result is appropriately swanky. Happy with how this Gai turned out!
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