Kamen Rider Build Episode 39

“The Unstoppable Genius”

Determined to defeat Evolt and Utsumi once and for all, Katsuragi goes about constructing Build’s ultimate power-up.

Zigg’s Thoughts

This episode is basically Build in microcosm – there are some good, even provocative ideas here, but they’re incredibly poorly presented and, as always, the show cannot decide what sort of tone or plot it wants to pursue. So we’ve got stuff like Banjou dancing in showers of imaginary money, then Katsuragi talking about murdering him to save mankind, all in the space of a few minutes. In fact, the whole Banjou thing is as bizarre as hell – the fact that he was no longer associated with Evolt at all was a huge plot point a few episodes back as it deprived him of his ability to transform. Then he got that back…somehow, and now the show is basically telling us that there’s still a part of Evolt dormant in him that could wake up at any point. I think a smarter show would have tried to connect those points by saying that Banjou retained his ability to transform because there’s still Evolt in him, unknown to both of them, but as it is Build never even gestures towards the idea. It’s not a major problem but is also yet another example of the kind of careless, sloppy storytelling which prevents us taking the show’s attempt at epic buildup seriously.

The tonal niggles also carry over to the main plot, which is clearly meant to be an ideological clash between the two parts of Sentou/Katsuragi’s personality – Sentou’s faith and Katsuragi’s cold pragmatism. The idea that Katsuragi can just hand control of their body back to Sentou is a little silly, but it’s perfectly acceptable given the circumstances. The problem is though that I just don’t think there’s enough emotional torque applied here to make that decision make sense. Katsuragi’s scene with Misora isn’t bad but it also doesn’t really go anywhere, and it’s pretty laughable that they try to cast Gentoku as some sort of noble hero struggling to fight for his friends. Again, maybe if he’d turned a dozen episodes ago his redemption story might have been more believable, but as it is the abrupt break-neck swing from murderous freak to paragon team player remains a bit much to swallow.

Banjou’s sudden sacrifice is probably the best of the attempts to persuade Katsuragi to turn control back over to Sentou, because it’s a tried and true way of communicating how much he’s willing to sacrifice for Sentou. Sure it’s a cliche, but it works and so it’s totally acceptable to use. What’s less forgivable is the preceding speech from Utsumi, which is yet another variation on ‘science is evil and can only be used for evil!’. We’ve seen so many spins on this basic theme that it’s pretty much impossible to believe that it could shake anyone at this point, and while you could be pedantic and say none of those have been directed specifically at *Katsuragi*, it’s still just the show recycling its own themes and storylines to boring effect.

At the very least Build‘s long awaited Ultimate form is extremely neat looking and while it’s gaudy as hell, that’s Kamen Rider suit design 101. It’s got a coherent look and theme, which immediately puts it ahead of most final forms of the last couple of years. Putting it right at the end of an episode seems a poor choice though, since we’re denied the cathartic beatdown that normally is associated with a powerup. It’s emblematic of the overall level of this episode – noble intentions and some solid touches can’t make up for the fact that there’s just not enough of a solid skeleton to make those touches matter.

Random Observations

  • Mad Rogue’s ability to use Build’s previous powerups seems another case of a need to shill older toys late in the show.
  • While I appreciate the shonen-esque nature of Kazumi and Banjou’s fight/training together, it does sort of feel there hasn’t been much meaningful development in their relationship.
  • Utsumi’s long introspective sequence in the middle of the episode is interesting but ultimately reveals itself to be nothing but filler, since he just goes back to being utterly mad afterwards.
  • Easily the best moment of this episode is Misora’s disgusted sneer as Katsuragi walks out proclaiming himself a genius.
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