Kamen Rider Build Episode 3

“Borderline of Justice”

The team attempts to track down Nabeshima, the mysterious man who abducted Ryuga and their only link to finding Night Rogue.

Zigg’s Thoughts

For better or worse, Build continues to move at a million miles a second, and I’ll say this – at least we’re not bored. I’d expected the search for Nabeshima to take at least a few episodes, but instead we’re thrown right into the heart of the matter immediately. That, and the obligatory introduction of flashy new powerups, makes this third episode feel just as frenetic as the second one. That’s a good thing, at least for now.

Beyond the rush of new info though, the show is doing a decent job at setting up a wider world for us to get invested in. Misora’s abrupt transformation into a super perky internet idol is an utterly left field joke that works surprisingly well. Longtime readers of the blog will know I’m not a huge fan of ‘idol culture’ so I’m pretty into the idea of an idol who’s secretly a bitter, world-weary hack who’s just leaning on her fans for info. Sawa’s animated commentary over Build’s battle is another decent joke and a nice combination of good physical comedy from actress Yukari Taki and some nice character development for Sawa, emphasising her silliness and energetic attitude. Having had the lion’s share of screentime last episode Ryuga steps back a bit – although he’s still the engine driving the plot he doesn’t really get any important scenes this time round, bar his intermittently amusing fight in disguise. Messing with the ‘Best Match’ machine just feels like one of those superfluous scenes designed to shill the toys and the character insight it gives is to make Sentou appear slightly stupid for not just trying all the available combinations.

Where this episode really excels though is in building the grander conspiracy that surrounds our heroes, and giving us a feel that there’s a deep web of conspiracy to uncover. The actions of Night Rogue and his evil organisation (now outfitted with the stock meaningful name of ‘Faust’) continue to be pretty shocking and give the show a dangerous edge which it much needs to combat its tendency to swing towards the wacky. The opening showing the three heads of the three countries meeting demonstrates that Japan’s current state of affairs is at least as much self-imposed as a necessity, and it seems pretty obvious that the charmingly bearded Gentoku is going to knock off his amazingly reasonable father and become an evil ruler. Furthermore, the revelation that he’s in possession of a Bottle ties him directly to Faust, and while it’s possible the enigmatic ‘Stark’ could be Night Rogue, it’s far more likely to be the mysterious Cobra who shows up at the end of the episode. The best Rider shows have always been powered by strong villain ensembles at the plotlines here show encouraging signs that they’re preparing for a long-term story with plenty of mysteries to unravel.

With all that said, there’s still some aspects I’m not entirely sold on. I still don’t think much of Build himself, with the gimmick still being unoriginal and the aesthetic pretty lame, although HawkGatling is the best of his forms so far. More worryingly, Sentou still hasn’t really given us much indication of the kind of character he is, with the flat generic nature that has dogged a lot of more recent main riders lurking close to the surface. He does gain one unambiguously great moment this episode though – when Ryuga asks him if he cares more about helping people as Build, or finding his memories. He chooses the former without hesitation and with some obvious derision for the question being asked, and it feels like a great, character affirming moment. Let’s hope more of that personality comes out as we move forward.

Random Observations

  • What sort of mother takes their child along on their illegal people smuggling boat?
  • I really love also how the mother signifies her shift in attitude by changing into Dangerous Black Leather Clothes™
  • Even by the loose standards of the toku world, the scene where our heroes are ‘hiding’ while the guards are literally feet away strains credibility.
  • The Kamen Rider series has a tradition of having bat monsters as the first or one of the first enemies a new Rider faces. This dates all the way back to the very first Kamen Rider where Kamen Rider Ichigo fought a Bat-man (no not that one) in the franchise’s debut episode. This is probably the reason for Night Rogue’s bat theme.
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