In order to hunt down Sid, Ryouma proposes an alliance with Kouta. Meanwhile, Takatora has survived his fall but finds himself in the grip of the Lord of the Overlords.
What a twist! Takatora is still alive! Who’d have seen that coming? Actually surprising, however, is Ryouma unceremoniously recruiting Kouta and his gang to help him take out Sid. “The enemy of my enemy is my friend”, as they say, but I wouldn’t be surprised if there were ulterior motives behind this unlikely alliance. Mitchy, for once, can be cleared of all suspicions of being the mastermind, as he decides to betray both Ryouma and Kouta to team up with Sid. Once again, it’s an enemy mine situation that motivates Mitchy to humour the bowler-hatted snake’s requests, yet I do wonder why Sid even bothered to come back to Zawame City just to recruit Mitchy. I assume he simply hopped through a random crack, but if he’s just as dependent on them to get into Helheim as everyone else now, what was the point of giving himself a head start by destroying Yggdrasil’s crack in the first place? (Zigg’s note – the Lock Seed he’s twirling when Mitchy first shows up is a Lock Vehicle).
As prime evidence of the fact that Sid isn’t very good at planning, his plan to assist Mitchy in killing Kouta goes about as well as you’d expect from the single most useless Rider amongst Yggdrassil’s ranks. Both slimey bastards forget the fact that neither of them are very good at fighting, resulting in Kaito catching up with Kouta as soon as the latter’s done reminding Mitchy he should really stop underestimating people so much. As usual, the bow-and-arrow shootout between Sigurd and Baron’s Lemon Energy Arms is a sight to behold, while the outright chaos in the end is aided by some strong directing and lampshading from Gaim himself. Action is not the main focus of the episode however, as the entire subplot basically revolves around not only around the differences in personality between Kouta, Kaito and Mitchy, but also what they think these differences to be. Kaito, for instance, has a firmly tight grip on the way Kouta’s mind works — revealing the true dangers he poses — whereas Mitchy keeps underestimating him. Kouta finding the courage to attack ‘Takatora’ in order to settle their dispute was a bit of a rehash of character development we’ve seen before, yet as affirmation of Mitchy’s disdain for his former friend starting to cloud his judgement, it works extremely well.
Of course, the main attraction of the episode was Takatora’s conversation with the king of the Overlords, who reveals some important details about the downfall of his race and the Fruit of Knowledge Ryouma is looking for. The idea of a survivor fighting to prevent a disaster from happening again is — once again — a favourite trope of Gen Urobuchi’s, but as with every Butcher check box we’ve seen in the show, it fits perfectly within established canon. Gaim in many ways feels like Urobuchi trying to compose his definitive work, his attempt to bring all his pet tropes and themes together into a single 50-episode epic (though one could argue Psycho-Pass already being exactly that), and at the moment, it feels he might even be able to pull it off. Lord Overlord’s motives remain vague as ever, though. He seems to favour a complete eradication of humankind over Yggrasil’s darwinist ideals — even making a legit case for it, yet I can’t help but think he has some ulterior motives. Redyue and Deemushu are just bored, but the Lord’s penance for his former Kaito-ish behaviour seems to imply he means humans no harm, as long as they stay away from his Fruit of Knowledge. The allegiances are getting so blurry you’d start to wonder if there even were any to begin with, so as usual, I can’t wait to see what happens n– Wait, who’s that?
- Adorable little scene with Mai and Kouta at Drupers. Of course, our heroine having so little to do she gets to do the hero a favour by taking his shifts for free is all sorts of wrong, but at least shows how Mai tries to help Kouta despite being unable to fight.
- In the very same scene, Mitchy shows off his absolute worst knit sweater and brightly coloured trousers combo to date. Then again, horribly dressed villains are kind of a Kamen Rider tradition.
- In one of the most brilliant casting gags in toku history, the Lord of the Overlords is voiced by Joji Nakata, best known as the voice of Kotomine Kirei in the Fate/Stay Night franchise. The more you think about it, the scarier the similarities get…
- Next week, another bloody movie promo crossover! To be honest though, it can’t be much worse than the ToQger one, no?
I’ve always said that the real mark of a quality show is when you realise that, regardless of what happens in the plot, you’d just like to spend more time hanging out in the world with the cast of characters. Gaim has absolutely reached that point, except instead of hanging out with the characters, I’d happily watch them stab each other in the back until the cows come home. So deep and tangled is the web of rivalries, alliances and motivations at this point that it’s easy to just pair up a fresh combination and sit back and watch them try and turn on each other as quickly as possible.
Given how cutthroat everything is, I was somewhat surprised to see this episode open on a teamup between Ryouma’s forces and Kouta’s, but it’s important to remember that a lot of the Professor’s more vile villainy has taken place behind closed doors. So it makes a certain amount of sense, and the dynamic it sets up is fascinating. It’s obvious now that Mitchy’s overriding objective is to kill Kouta, and while they can’t come out and say that it really makes the entire situation pretty chilling. I love though that he’s such a despicable slimeball that he can’t just do it face to face in the ‘real’ world. Instead he has maintain an increasingly thin facade while he’s around the others and then hide behind Zangetsu’s mask to try and get the upper hand in Helheim. There’s a plot related reason to string out he and Kouta’s relationship of course, but it also works really was as a commentary on his cowardice and inability to openly declare himself a villain.
The biggest thing going on here though is of course Takatora’s confrontation with the Lord of the Overlords. The twist which comes isn’t the most original one in the world, but it’s so deliciously dark, and so perfectly parallels what’s happening in the plot right now, that it makes huge impact. I particularly like that they don’t have to drive the THIS HAPPENED BEFORE point home with a sledgehammer. Instead, the story is left to unfold relatively free of commentary and the show trusts the viewers to appreciate what’s happening and how it relates to our current plot. The Overlord Lord seems unusually well sketched out for a monstrous ‘villain’ – there’s a certain tragic weariness to his story and the eyes thrown at that coffin seem to indicate there’s a lot more going on here. This also gives an excellent reason for the Overlords to oppose all parties equally, and throws yet another competing motivation into the stew. Whatever comes out the other end, it’s going to be a harrowing journey getting there.
- The events of this episode do raise an interesting question – does the Lord of the Overlords actually have control over his ‘subjects’? It certainly sounds as if their infighting has continued even past the point they were consumed by Helheim.
- Likewise, the precise nature of the mystical fruit remains ambiguous. It’s strongly implied that the Lord claimed it when his world was consumed by Helheim, but outwardly it certain doesn’t seem it gave him enough power to achieve whatever goal he was seeking.
- The script is doing a good job keeping Kaito’s refusal to spill the beans plausible…mostly by portraying him as a gigantic asshole.
- It’s a shame an episode this good has to be derailed by a terrible crossover movie plug at the end. I’ll have my fingers crossed, but these things basically never turn out well.