With Takatora now aware of the Overlords, the other members of Yggdrasil decide to dispose of him.
It was only a matter of time before Takatora would bite the dust, wasn’t it? As soon as Ryouma and co. were introduced, it became blatantly obvious he was too trusting to survive his infinitely more manipulative colleagues. His almost dorky, naive turn to the good side last week would be the obvious nail in the coffin, though I was surprised to see Mitchy not being the one who’d off him first. It makes sense, though. Mitchy, for all his viciousness, has no real reason to personally stab his brother in the back. His motive — at least for now — is still to kill Kouta, and for that purpose a Genesis Driver could come in very handy. It was a bit comical to see him just watching Sid, Yoko and Ryouma refuse to stab their boss in the back, but the pay-off was more than worth it. Kouta still doesn’t know what is going on, Takatora is unaware of his brother’s betrayal and Mitchy is more of a threat than ever. Ryugen has always looked just a bit too goofy for a villain as despicable as everyone’s favourite sweater-wearing Nice Guy™, so Zangetsu Shin is a welcome upgrade. It’s not doing a fat lot to assert his authority, though, as shown by the cliffhanger ending. Besides, shouldn’t Mitchy using a Genesis Driver and a Melon Energy Lock Seed result in Ryugen Melon Energy Arms, like it does with Kaito? Kamen Rider shows being weird about their transformation mechanics? You don’t say. Feels like it’s 2006 again.
Anyways, given the rather casual dismissal of Takatora’s drop off a cliff, I don’t buy him being dead one bit. It would be a nice opportunity to get vanilla Zangetsu back into action, but I wouldn’t expect to see him back in quite a while — especially with Helheim’s sole permanent gate now being closed. Then again, this is Gaim, so who knows we’ll see him ripping Sid a new one before next week’s credits roll. His disappearance seems to be having detrimental effects on the situation in Zawame City already, though. With Mitchy trying his hardest to discredit his brother and rupture whatever fragile alliance him and Kouta had going on, the status quo has devolved into everyone backstabbing everyone, which puts our hero at the biggest disadvantage ever. Kaito’s the closest thing he has to an ally, and if the fight between our token social darwinist and Mitchy has anything to say about it, the former’s still not particularly interested in working together with, let alone saving anyone. The confrontation between Kouta’s two former ‘allies’ was just a bit too cheesy for my taste, but I won’t blame Gaim for trying to make its themes a bit more obvious for it’s actual target audience. Speaking of which, are there any kids actually still watching this show?
- A bunch of loveable selfish assholes all manipulating and backstabbing each other while a much more dangerous threat looms beyond a wall, in a world where good and evil don’t seem to exist? Urobuchi, have you been watching Game of Thrones?
- Neat little touch: Mitchy and Takatora seem to be gradually switching hairstyles.
- I just wonder how Sid, the most worfed Rider this side of Baron, is ever going to survive in Helheim all on his own.
- Sweet little bro move from Brando to hire Kouta for serving fruit and ‘occasionally saving the world’. Also, notice how our hero once again didn’t touch his food. Hmm…
For a few weeks now we’ve been expecting Mitchy to just openly flaunt his dickishness and turn into a full on bad guy, but the writers have been a lot cleverer than us and decided to string everyone along for a bit. So we’ve got the latest in a series if deliciously agonizing episodes that just position him as a bigger and bigger jackass while all the time still giving him the façade of a good guy. I want to punch Kouta for not seeing it, and you know what? That’s fantastic.
It’s become increasingly apparent as time has gone by that the show has positioned the two Kureshima brothers on opposite ends of a rotating axis. While they’ve definitely paid more attention to Mitchy’s fall than Takatora’s defrosting, both have been accomplished well and in a way which cleverly parallel each other. This was pretty much the culmination of the arc for Takatora, moving from anti-villain to full on hero in peril, before enduring a backstabbing that’s resulted in what I suspect will be a temporary but multi-episode write-off. Even though he’s only in about half of the episode, they do a great job building on the sympathetic foundation they established for him last week, while at the same time keeping up his all-business style. Though he gets his ass kicked, it takes all three of his betrayers to do it, and he’s kept strong in the process. I look forward to his inevitable return in what’s bound to be a pretty charged atmosphere.
On the other end of that axis, Mitchy is just THE WORST. The story has done such an unbelievably good job of making his fall to the dark side believable and erstwhile, but now he’s there it’s gleefully just making him absolutely loathsome, and it works spectacularly. His barely concealed contempt for Kouta is apparent throughout, and the fact that he not only stands by while his own brother is (apparently) killed but then besmirches his name by imitating him and attempting to off his rival is just the icing on the cake. He’s so, so hateable now he can easily carry the show and while his vendetta still isn’t the main plot arc, I have to imagine it’ll be butting in soon enough.
The major plot takeaway from this episode is of course the breakdown of Yggdrasil into what’s essentially factional warfare. While I think most of us saw this coming eventually (especially since the entire philosophy behind Ryouma’s group is ‘survival of the fittest’) I’m surprised they pulled the trigger on it so quickly. The more I think about it though, the more it makes sense. Takatora was the linchpin that held this group together, both on the surface as the team leader, and behind the scenes as an objective to be toppled. Now he’s gone, it figures that they’d devour each other pretty fast. While it may not do much good for the company, it’s certainly compelling viewing.
- One particularly noteworthy thing is that while Mitchy does not help Takatora, he doesn’t openly turn on him either. This means their illusion of comradeship could well continue whenever the elder Kureshima decides to return to the stage.
- Pine Arms in a classic ‘Hey, remember this toy is still available!’ appearance here.
- Sid turning on the others makes a lot of sense, as he’s not only the most underhanded of them but (from a storyline point of view) easily the most disposable.
- Kaito ping-ponging between sides continues to be a fascinating enigma. It’s still difficult to say whether he’ll ultimately end up a hero or a villain.