“The Man Called Rogue”
With seemingly unlimited power at his disposal, Gentoku leads the invasion of Touto, forcing Build and Grease to team up in an attempt to put him down.
For an episode named after him, there’s surprisingly little Gentoku here. Instead, this is a largely character driven episode that focuses on Sentou, Misora and Kazumi. That’s not a bad thing in itself, but it does somewhat feel like Build is sidestepping the area where its narrative strength currently lies, in favour of tilling somewhat well worn ground.
That’s frustrating because what we do see of Gentoku’s arc after abandoning Faust is pretty good, and makes for a nicely dark and moody opening. Prostrating himself before Utsumi is a good shorthand of how far Gentoku has fallen, and the subsequent torture and experimentation is evocative of the classic Kamen Rider themes of transhumanism and technological enhancement. Really, I would have been happier with this being a full episode flashback rather than a three minute insert. Blood Stark aside, Build has suffered from having pretty shallow villains thus far, and there’s a lot more fire and emotion given to Gentoku in even this brief scene than he’s demonstrated across the whole story. Giving us more time to see his fall and rise, and giving some more insight into his new hyper-nihilistic outlook, would have been both interesting and a decent way for the show to slow down its still wildly rampaging pace.
As it is, there’s still some solid character work here, just not in that particular direction. Sentou and Kazumi’s latest graveside confrontation is another good, strong scene for both characters, but its impact is lessened a little by the fact that it’s basically a less dramatic retread of what we’ve seen before. It’s also harmed a little by the scenes which bookend it – on the one hand a tiresome battle with Blood Stark which is clearly there just to up the mandatory fight count, on the other some more of the tired, weird Kazumi and Mii-tan schtick, which is positioned for maximum mood whiplash. Sentou and Misora’s scene is also largely a retread, but it’s always nice to have some quiet moments between characters, and they don’t all have to mean something huge. Sometimes a nice moment can just be there for it’s own sake, and I think that’s what we get here.
All this builds up of course to the direct confrontation between our now-three heroic Rider and Rogue and his scowling henchmen. I really like that Gentoku is still able to defeat Black Hazard Build here, as a lot of the renewed menace of the character is dependent on his raw physical strength. He’s no chessmaster like Stark, so keeping him strong by having him comprehensively defeat the most powerful form Sentou has is the correct choice here. The big news though is the entry of mystically powered Misora into the story, something which has been hinted at since the show began but has not really evolved beyond ‘powerup dispenser’ up to this point. Mysterious waifus have a long and rocky history in the franchise, so I’m interested to see if they can make hay with this story, or if it’ll ultimately be a sideshow.
- The drama of Gentoku’s rebirth is considerably lessened by the ridiculous teal jumpsuit he’s wearing for some reason.
- Though it’s been pretty obvious from the start, I think this is the first time it’s been explicitly identified that gathering all of the Bottles will open Pandora’s Box.
- We return to the idea that the opening of the Box ten years ago fundamentally changed the personalities of everyone who was present. Whatever’s inside that thing, it’s probably not friendly.
- I’ll admit it – Banjou running all the way to the battle was extremely funny.