Kamen Rider Build Episodes 9 & 10

“The Trap of Project Build” & “Technology of Destruction”

Night Rogue and Blood Stark decide to steal Pandora’s Box, hoping this will trigger a war between the three countries.

Zigg’s Thoughts

Note – Apologies for falling a little behind, it’s been a very busy fortnight or so in the world outside of rubber suits and explosions. Hopefully normal service will be resumed from here on.

Build has been a little different from a lot of Rider shows in the sense that we’ve seen major plot beats appear pretty rapidly. Still, the ten episode mark is traditionally where actual long term developments start to take place, and Build certainly gives us a pretty striking pair of episodes to mark the occasion. A lot happens across this 45 minutes or so and, in an encouraging sign, it’s a bit more evenly paced and structured than the now normal jumbled rush of story bits.

In big picture terms, probably the most significant thing that happens is the establishment of a big villain above Gentoku and Blood Stark. Still, it’s also probably the most disappointing aspect, since Nanba seems to be the very epitome of a filler villain – a nondescript old Japanese corporate villain with minimal characterisation beyond making a quick buck. In fact, if there’s one thing that bugs me the most about Faust’s whole setup at the moment, it’s the idea that the entire enterprise is dedicated to flogging Rider tech for the sake of war profiteering. It’s a new-ish angle for a Rider show and arguably a pretty realistic one, but it’s a little…underwhelming compared to the usual insane schemes we see put forward as motivating forces. Fortunately, I don’t think this is going to stick – Gentoku is so obviously being portrayed as the main villain that I can’t really see Nanba sticking around much, and what with the still untapped power of Pandora’s Box lurking in the background, I get a feeling the stakes will eventually escalate beyond mere money.

With that said, there is one terrifically effective part of the Nanba plotline, and it’s the revelation that Sawa is in fact a mole in the Build camp. For a show which historically has a pretty strong history of plot and counterplot, it’s surprising how little Kamen Rider has used the ‘traitor within the team’ trope to help move the story along (aside from the ever-different Gaim that is). Sawa’s been so successfully presented as the plucky reporter so far that the thought she had an additional dimension never occurred to me, and subsequently I was pretty blindsided. It’s a shame that Misora discovering the bug seems to indicate that this will be a short term development at best, but something genuinely surprising is always welcome.

Speaking of stunning plot twists… the revelation that Katsuragi is still alive is perhaps one of the least surprising revelations of all time, though the air of mystery around him has been kept up enough that it’s still pretty intriguing. The show is very, very heavily pointing us towards the idea that Blood Stark is Katsuragi, but that doesn’t jive with me for two reasons. One is the fact that the hinting is so heavy handed it’s almost assuredly the setup for a swerve, and the second is that Stark being Katsuragi would open several major plot holes, most notably around the hunt for his missing notes we saw a few episodes back. EuricaeriS advanced a theory a few episodes back that Katsuragi actually put his mind inside of Sentou and I think there’s some merit to that idea – a terrible musician had to become a genius scientist somehow right? Regardless, the writers are keeping their options open and us on the hook with this particular thread, and that’s a good sign.

Next week promises big changes, what with Ryuga finally steeping up to Second Rider-dom, something the show has done a good job of building up to slowly. He’s noticeably more powerful and able in this pair of episodes than the somewhat buffoonish figure he’s been in the past, and the time feels right to pull the trigger on him as a character. We’ll have to wait and see if they can do that successfully.

Random Observations

  • I don’t really have much to say about the new powerups being introduced because there are so many, and the show does a bad job of giving them weight or utility. They’re just sort of there.
  • Ryuga and Misora’s trip out into the world is not only an excuse for the traditional cosplay episode but also a nice bit of gentle character building for both of them.
  • The fact that Faust can turn the government Guardian robots against them was established in an earlier episode in a small but solid bit of foreshadowing.
  • I really wish that the prop people could have done a little more to make the Pandora’s Box appear heavier than the hollow plastic shell it obviously is.
  • Even by toku standards, using the ‘convenient heart attack’ trope is impossibly corny.

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