Not as strong as last time, but still a really solid one-off story, with only a couple quibbles.

The main thing I enjoyed was the way the overlapping desires of Fuwa and Naki were used to talk about the universality of the Humageaar experience. Naki’s arc in this episode is just a sped-up version of Fuwa’s, really: they follow orders, then they start to wonder if there’s more to life than just following orders, and then they fight to free themself from the grip of others just enough to find a little space to figure themself out. It’s all mixed in with the childlike stages of Humagear development, where basic concepts of autonomy and desire are slowly discovered and increasingly valued, but otherwise, it’s Fuwa’s whole thing. But that’s perfect, because Fuwa’s need to figure himself out isn't a real unique phenomenon; literally everyone goes through it. So to give Fuwa a mental partner who wants the exact same thing he does, despite Fuwa giving them absolutely zero help in self-actualizing, that’s going to give viewers a resolution worth celebrating. We get a story about how humans are treated like tools, and Humagears want to dream of a better future, and it’s all just one story about people. Literally no difference in their struggles, up and down the episode.

Like, Delmo barely reads as a Humagear, she’s so vibrant and sassy. (I wish she didn’t have a distractingly-testicular face massager or whatever, and I wish her and Izu didn’t gesture with it quite so much, but I still liked her character.) She’s a Humagear that’s confident in her abilities, happy in her career, and unashamed of her origins. Last episode gave us G-Pen as a robot that was learning to dream, and this episode gave us Delmo, and her willingness to fight to retain her dream. Across the two stories, there’s a neat progression of Humagear independence, and a road map of what everyone’s fighting for. Pretty fantastic to get such a quick delineation of the stakes for this section of the show, and in such beautifully dramatized ways.

(And, yes: Del-mo the mo-del. Gotta have Hiden Intelligence!)

It’s not all intricate character work and nuanced symmetry, though. There’s also some sloppy plotting?

If you’ve hired a bodyguard for Humagears, and that bodyguard gets hacked by basically the only group who’d want to harm Humagears, why in the world would you continue to have them guarding Humagears?! When Delmo opens her door to see Fuwa standing there, I was genuinely shocked. Put someone else on guard duty! Put Aruto on guard duty, because he’s doing absolutely nothing onscreen until Delmo needs to be saved because Fuwa isn’t around! This is incredibly bad strategy, and I honestly can’t believe the script didn’t spend a line or two to try and shore up the logic.

And then there’s Thouser, once again underestimating how much shit he can make someone eat and paying the price. We’re three in a row on Thouser Shows Up To Be A Big Meany And Then Gets Detonated, and I’ve basically forgotten the time when he wasn’t a clown. (Last time he was like No One Gets To Have Dreams, and now he’s like I Make Humagears Cry. Remember when he had some slight nuance in his methodology?) His schemes are pointlessly vindictive – he mostly just shows up to try and blow Aruto’s house down – and frustratingly dull. I wanted him to have some big scheme when he took over Hiden Intelligence, but it sort of doesn’t matter at all? It’s the same old shit as always, but now with the added feeling that this rivalry is 1000% beneath Gai.

(Also, I don’t want to harp on the verisimilitude of the superhero show designed to sell toys to children, but I’d at least expect a Bandai project to understand how manufacturer-initiated recalls work. Just because ZAIA discontinues Humagear manufacturing and initiates a recall, it doesn’t mean a consumer is morally obligated or legally required to comply. If you don’t comply, all that happens is you can’t sue the manufacturer if something goes wrong, like your Humagear screams so loud that wires shoot out of its body and it tries to murder you. If you’re fully paid up on your Humagear, you are legally entitled to keep it as long as you like. It’d be like Apple initiating a recall on an iPhone, and then kicking down your door because you didn’t send yours back. Never gonna happen! Moreover, I’m not sure ZAIA can do anything about Humagears? If Hiden Manufacturing owns the patents and associated technology, Gai can’t do a single thing to Hiden, legally. It’s all very dumb, is what I’m saying about Gai’s legal standing re: Humagear executions.)

But! This was still a thought-provoking and emotionally resonant episode of Zero-One. We’re into the point of the show where distinctions like “human” and “Humagear” are becoming less relevant all the time, and that’s a fascinating concept to explore.