Yua! Yua’s so great.

My favorite character on the show, and I already love a half-dozen of these dorks. A lot of it was her barely-restrained aggravation at existing next to Fuwa’s whole Automatic Fire As A Personal Philosophy thing for what’s probably way too much of her career, sure. The foil to that dude is always going to look like a superhero, even before she gets a tokusatsu suit. What this episode manages to do, though, is expand her character in a whole bunch of really interesting ways.

As the counterpoint to Fuwa’s relentless pursuit of expended ammunition, Yua’s emphasis – in all things – is precision. You can see it in her clothes: a sharp pantsuit, instead of Fuwa’s casual wear of a bulletproof vest (or loose tie that he probably keeps balled up on his bedroom floor). Her tactics are analysis, observation, and patience. She waits for things to line up in her favor, and then she strikes. She’s not someone to start a fight, but she’ll finish it before it's barely begun. Fuwa’s a hammer, she’s a scalpel.

The other major difference with Fuwa is her view on Humagears. I thought this was going to be a standard Empathy Vs Cynicism riff, where Fuwa’s bloodlust would be contrasted with Yua’s maternal instincts, because these shows are sometimes not great with the writing for action ladies. (We’re only a few weeks out from Time Mom, you guys.) But the show smartly swerves towards a different outlook, where Fuwa’s intense anger at machines is contrasted with Yua’s detached logic. To her, getting mad at a Humagear for a rampage is like getting mad at your modem for breaking. Why waste your time getting mad at a piece of technology, or try to ascribe it a motivation? It’s a thing. It can be disposed of, fixed, replaced, discontinued, etc. Do one of those things. But, like, swearing vengeance on it? God, why? That’s idiotic.

It’s a neat turn in the story, because it ends up painting both of the AIMS characters as zero help in Aruto’s mission to create empathy for Humagears, which is what most of this episode is dedicated to. Fuwa’s obsessed with destroying them, and Yua’s obsessed with dehumanizing them. Aruto’s seemingly alone in his bid to show how human the Humagears really are, but then the sushi chef he’s spent the episode with points out that the AIMS crew isn’t doing all this because they don’t think the Humagear are real people; they’re doing this because they do think of them as real people. Fuwa and Yua can’t admit it, even to themselves, but they both see a humanity in the Humagears, or they wouldn’t care about making the arguments they make. Fuwa’s anger and Yua’s detachment are both a result of their need to keep Humagears at arms length, and they only need to do that when they start seeing greater possibilities than a machine that follows its program.

Which was a nice little runner for this episode, a story about how Humagear act as teammates to the people they work alongside. There’s a complementary nature to the Humagear, which is different than subservience. Aruto sees the Humagear as a way to help people, but also a way for people to imbue value and purpose to Humagear. It’s like a comedian and their audience: symbiotic, not separated.


Briefly thought of doing Biting Shark this episode, but come on. That action sequence! Biting Shark gets the We’re Never Making A Figuart Of This treatment, while Valkyrie gets a fight scene worthy of a summer movie. We can only talk about Valkyrie - Rushing Cheetah this episode.

(Incidentally, since we’re going to probably have more episodes where multiple suits debut, there’ll probably be a point in the 20s or 30s where we’ll come back to some of these early form changes. Not gonna make Yua wait just because Aruto got a new collectible!)

Another Shotriser suit, and pretty much the best one so far. I think Valkyrie - Rushing Cheetah was the first Zero-One suit that I really loved when I saw the photos. Shooting Wolf’s good, and Rising Hopper’s iconic, but everything about Rushing Cheetah works for me. Going with orange as the color is fantastic, since it misses the easy Third Primary Color thing of a red suit for something more unique. Not a lot of orange suits in Rider, you know? The asymmetry of the coloring carries over from Shooting Wolf, but the proportions are more uniform now; there’s no giant spikes or whatever. It’s a leaner suit, and one that feels more intentional than Fuwa’s pile of childhood trauma.

My favorite thing from Rushing Cheetah is how the cheetah spots come in as these black triangles. It’s a mechanical version of something organic, which is this show’s aesthetic to a T. The silver balances everything out, tying together the design rather than pushing against it. Just a really great suit.

I built this one a couple years ago, I think, and I remember it being a fun build? There’s really not a lot to it. Anything with a triangle is a sticker, as well as some of the black on the ribcage. After that, it’s just the two Shotrisers, and you’re done. Pretty straightforward!

I really adore this suit. I like speedy suits, and this one has that to death. It’s everything Shooting Wolf does, but, like, fixed. Which is pretty much on-point for Yua!