Takatora remembers his past before coming face to face with the Overlords.
How cruel you are, Urobuchi. First you tell us Ryouma hates Takatora and is just using him, and then you ramp up the homoerotic tension between the two of them up to eleven? If you didn’t write Rebellion, I’d say you got a kick out of stabbing shippers in the proverbial back. Speaking of backstabbing, of course Kouta survives Mitchy’s betrayal, yet he remains blissfully unaware of his former buddy defecting to the side of the self-important villains. Someone give that kid a fedora. Luckily, Takatora of all people is there to tag out with his brother. A brief flashback confirms something that has very gradually become clear over the last few episodes — Takatora’s intentions are entirely selfless, he’s simply prepared to do anything to fulfil them. Having finally realized his coworkers aren’t exactly on the same page as him, he reaches out to Kouta, seemingly joining him in rejecting the present reality and substituting his own. Has Kouta finally found a somewhat stable ally? With Sid, Yoko and Ryouka actively scheming to take their employer down and Mitchy being the most likely candidate for inheriting his position, Zangetsu seems marked for death. This is Urobuchi we’re talking about after all.
Meanwhile, Kaito continues to circle around the median between good and evil, giving Mitchy some well-deserved punches in the face for being the backstabbing bastard he is. In a scene with Mai, everyone’s favourite sweater aficionado does reveal he’s not entirely lost yet, though it’s a bit strange to see Mai be so nice to him, given the way their last encounter ended. Mitchy’s character development has been so engrossing and shockingly well executed – both by Urobuchi’s writing as by Mahiro Takasugi’s acting — that you’re almost starting to root for him, no matter how despicable he may be. Same goes for Ryouma, really. This episode confirmed he very much is, and in fact, always has been, a villain of the most classic variety, yet Tsunenori Aoki’s performance hints at all the hidden depths the script may not have the time to reveal. With Takatora coming dangerously close to be removed from the equation, the question who will end up taking the crown as true big bad of the show. Will Mitchy stab Ryouma and co. in the back as well, or will his thoughtless ambition come back to bite him in the ass? And how about that third Overlord Invess? Is he the king of the bunch? Oh, and given how this show loves to dig up characters who have been locked out of the loop for week, is Pierre going to be relevant again at some point? And will this show ever stop being good? I sure hope not.
- You better remember the little mention of the fact that using Lock Seeds in belts takes your hunger away, because you can bet your ass that will become very important in the long run. In fact, remember Kouta not eating his food last episode?
- Loved the like five seconds of sitcom rivalry antics between Kouta and Pierre.
- Please tell me Takatora’s hand slowly sneaking under the blanket during his flashback heart-to-heart with Ryouma was fully intentional.
- Really, Mitchy, you’ll never be a true villain if you still let your mum pick out your clothes for you.
- The language of the Overlords remains ever fascinating. Of course, we could decipher it if we wanted, but what would be the fun in that?
I’ve written a lot about how Gaim is one of the first Rider shows to really use its hyper-extended running time to put the plot on the very slowest of burns. It’s been pretty obvious for a while now that Takatora and Mitchy have been on diametrically opposing character arcs. The former was initially portrayed as a cold, calculating baddie but was given a level of humanity that belied his stoicism, while the latter has been a beautiful example of a character being twisted into a villain for very believably pragmatic reasons. When we combine last week’s episode with this one, it certainly feels like a key moment in the brothers’ development as they essentially switch sides for good.
Much of this episode is spent hammering home Takatora’s credentials as a good guy and while it’s a little ham-fisted for my taste, it does do the job pretty effectively. The flashback, laden with homoerotic tension as it is, is an effective way to communicate the hitherto unseen tension between the Professor and Takatora. It both absolves Takatora of much of his presumed guilt for endorsing the ‘Project Ark’ while at the same time enhancing Ryouma’s credentials as the truly evil one. Juxtaposing Takatora’s initial reluctance against his palpable hope when he learns what the Overlords are creates a neat little character arc from him throughout the episode, which is what flashbacks should really be used for. His fight alongside Kouta is excellent too, full of shakycam and dramatic angles, really embracing the power and ferocity of the three participants.
It’s a slightly more mixed bag outside of that core plot arc. I’m not a huge fan of ‘Bravo as comic relief character’ – I always found him more scary when his absurdism was combined with his genuinely scary ass-kicking ability. I suppose that as the power-up lottery passes him by it’s to be expected, but the more they lean on the camp gay stereotype the less I like him. Kaito is far more effective in his limited screentime though, beating the crap out of Mitchy and further muddying the waters on his alignment. he may be the most morally murky character on the show at the moment, and that’s really saying something. The pick of the subplots definitely goes to Mitchy though, who alternates between horrifying slimeball at the start (Aqua and I joked about him attempting to shoot the unconscious Kouta, never believing he’d actually try it) and a surprisingly isolated, human figure in his scene with Mai. It’s a reminder that perhaps even he’s aware of how far his fallen. And there’s still a long way down to go.
- This episode features that rarest of things, a plot relevant shower scene
- On that note, Takatora is RIPPED.
- In an inversion of the trope, Ryouma only becomes properly evil when he takes the glasses OFF.
- That white Overlord certainly looks like some sort of leader or king, and not a benevolent one either.
- Notable omission – while Takatora revealed his name to Kouta, he did not give his family name, which Means Kouta is sill unaware he’s Mitchy’s brother.