I don’t know, I thought this was really cute?

I liked how it supported the main Zero-One themes: looking at interpersonal relationships as partnerships instead of rivalries; the necessity of being supportive, even if it doesn’t gain you anything; how one generation can best care for the next generation; how societal gains are more important than individual victories. Pretty basic stuff for this show, but I honestly never get tired of seeing these topics explored.

It’s a little hard to make this sound like a fun episode? Describing it in detail makes it sound both minor (it’s just about some guy learning to treat technology as another point of view, rather than an adversary) and sort of formulaic (Thouser continues to no-sell everything and be an unbeatable bad-ass 24/7). The beauty of this episode is in the delicateness of the struggle, not the bombastic tokusatsu shenanigans. It succeeds because the fear of losing our humanity due to the increasingly inescapable technology of the near-future is a relatable one: what’s the point of humanity if technology can replace even our artists? Having a message where the teaching of art to computers gets us seeing art in new, better ways, or in finding our new aspects of our humanity within that process… I don’t know, I thought that was a compelling idea to dig into.

And, like, it doesn’t even matter if the Humagear lost the contest, because Aruto won the argument. I like that resolution so, so much. I like a story with a moral victory, even at the cost of the actual victory. I’m going to remember that handshake between the human and the Humagear way more than I’m going to remember almost anything else from this episode. It’s a sweet resolution to a sweet story.

Really, the only bum note for me was the big superhero battle in the middle of the episode? As fun as it was to see Valkyrie and Vulcan have a little duel, the placement of it in the story felt utterly arbitrary. Fuwa thinks that Yua and ZAIA have reactivated Horobi, based on literally no evidence I can recall, and Yua gets unnecessarily shifty and combative. They start fighting, and then Gai shows up to illustrate that even Vulcan’s most powerful form is no match for the narrative power of no-selling, so Thouser wipes the floor with yet another character. Nothing in this fight furthers any particular plotline (Fuwa just goes back to Horobi Lecter with information from a different climax he was not even present for), and it feels so blatantly Thouser-centric that I’m wondering if this show is actually sponsored by ZAIA Enterprise. Thouser’s cool! I get it! I don’t need individual fights of him demolishing every single member of the cast!

So, yeah, this was one of those episodes where I was incredibly dialed-in on the human interest stuff, and found the superhero action to be alternately forgettable or a distraction. The rest of it, though! Very cute episode.