Recap: Jonouchi and Hase reveal their Armoured Rider forms, but not exactly in the way Kaito had planned. Meanwhile, Kouta continues his job hunt and ends up at the most popular patisserie in town.
Aqua‘s thoughts: No Rider show has even been as significantly enhanced by the fandom hijinks as Gaim has. Especially the wise guys over at Æsir Subs have gone out of their way to make this admittedly rather serious show into a memetic paradise of hidden jokes and meta hilarity, and I would not have it any other way. Whereas the show itself is lacking in humour just a bit, the characters are strong enough to be credibly sent up without losing their integrity, and there are no characters who display this better than Hase and Jonouchi, or as we shall affectionately call them, “the Nuts”.
From the beginning it was obvious that the Nuts were not exactly the brightest of the bunch, and their actions this episode only further prove that: they name themselves after gratingly lame puns — the Ornac/Gridon gag is one thing, but Hassy literally named himself “Black Shadow” like he belongs in Love, Chunibyo and Other Delusions — they stab Kaito in the back mostly just because they like being dicks and I’d be surprised if this were the only time they get their asses kicked and sent back to Sid the Lock Dealer with their tail between their legs. While the show itself is not very heavy on the jokes, seeing these guys bumbling around desperately trying to look cool while dressed as a giant pinecone and acorn respectively adds a wonderful layer of humour.
Of course, the Nuts aren’t the only ones who get to shine this episode. Most of it serves to introduce the owner of the sixth Wärring Driver, Pierre Alfonso “Mister Dangerous” Ouren, whom the official website introduces as Armoured Rider Bravo. Let’s get the elephant out of the room right away; yes, he is a highly toxic and dated stereotype of a camp gay man, and the fact that his effeminate antics are not even used as a means to humour, but as a way to make him appear menacing and disturbing makes the whole thing even more painfully regressive. Nevertheless, I am glad to see that “he’s gay” is not the character’s sole or even prime defining trait. His goofy exterior covers up some rather menacing hidden depths, and I am curious to see the character being developed futher.
Speaking of character development, it’s nice to see Kouta loosing up a little again after his brief breakdown in the last episode. The scene where he eats cakes with Mai and his sister once again puts Gaku Sano’s facial skills in the spotlight, while his job hunt sees the character constantly moving forward. It is nice to see Kamen Rider Gaim entirely shun the status quo, always changing up the situation and developing its characters. I would not be surprised if some of the belts — especially the Nuts’ — will change ownership a few times. Given that he’s the only one of the bunch who still thinks being an Armoured Rider is all fun and games, Mitchy seems to be next in line for a schooling. Having stolen what seems to be his brother’s Watermelon Lock Seed, he’ll probably give it to Kouta in the next episode, as the preview suggests. I’m fairly certain Takatora
bata will not be pleased.
Zigg’s Thoughts: I really, really wish Kamen Rider would stop leaning on outdated ‘flaming gay’ stereotypes, but at least this time the character behind them seems to have some substance. In fact, Pierre’s a pretty surprising and intriguing addition to the cast, and is yet another effective wildcard in a show which increasingly seems to be made up of nothing but them. The key is that for all his…er, ‘flamboyance’ he’s still portrayed as scarily competent and dangerous, and in fact, aided by a great performance from Metal Yoshida (seriously, how great is that name?), there’s actually a genuine sense of uneasy menace whenever he’s around, aided by his wild looking Rider outfit. I’m hoping they can skip over most of the tasteless jokes and just concentrate on the actual character, because this soldier turned patissiere with a taste for a fight is a pretty interesting spanner in the works for the teams still obsessed by the Inves game.
Elsewhere, this is an episode which doesn’t turn the plot on its head, but makes several small, significant changes. The Nuts turning on Baron almost immediately is a cool twist I’ll cop to not seeing coming at all. I honestly thought they’d roll with him as cannon fodder lackeys, but instead it looks like they’ll be jobbing out to all the Riders equally. Their charmingly rubbish training session is a pretty great visual gag and though I suspect their role in the story won’t be huge, it’s good to have a couple of comic relief guys around.
Mitchy discovering Takatora
bata is a Rider though is something that’s bound to have far more serious consequences down the line. For now though I do like how it’s relatively underplayed. Subtlety is not exactly a hallmark of the Toku genre, but by letting the discovery be pretty low key and by leaving the plot thread hanging for now, it helps give the impression there’s more than one plot bubbling under the surface here. I suspect Mitchy’s theft of the Watermelon Lock Seed will be what eventually draws Taketora bata and his shadowy overlords into the gang conflict. We’ll just have to wait and see.