“Revolution of the Apocalypse”, “The Truth Behind Best Matches” and “Legacy of Doubt”
As Evolt prepares a new scheme to conquer Earth, Sentou discovers just how deeply his own father is involved in the legacy of the Rider System.
I think it’s been fair to say that our primary criticism of Build throughout most of its run has been how it just has too many plotlines floating about and not enough attention paid to any individual one to make it effective. This is a problem you’d expect to naturally begin to die down as the show approaches the finale, as subplots are gradually resolved or coalesce into the main story. Needless to say, that’s not what’s happening. Instead, Build is introducing even MORE factors into the already overcrowded story, and the net result is the entire show is messier and more slapdash than ever.
Let’s tackle the big one first, which is the sudden introduction of the mysterious ‘Lost Bottles’ that are the latest McGuffin to determine the fate of the world. I’d be lying if I said Kamen Rider had never suddenly shifted its plot focus late in the show, but it’s very rarely a good thing and that’s also the case here. Build has already suffered from the banality of the chase for the merchandise more heavily than a lot of toku series (and that’s saying a lot) so suddenly introducing yet another set of things to collect is hardly an invigorating new thing for the audience. Furthermore, these bottles were never really teased or foreshadowed, they just appear and are suddenly the most important thing in the plot. It’s tough to take them too seriously when we’ve been given no indication why they’re dangerous or what they’ll do.
The other big issue I have with this block of episodes is the sudden introduction of Sentou/Katsuragi’s father, a trope which is so tired and so worn out I audibly groaned when I realised it was going to be a big thing. Look, I understand that ‘perpetually missing father’ is an obvious touchstone for the young boys who are of course Kamen Rider‘s primary audience, but it’s been such a reliable plot beat for so many years now (in Super Sentai also) that it’s hard not to feel a little underwhelmed when they whip it out here. It’s also a great example of Build’s addiction to making its plots as complicated as possible. Originally we thought it was Katsuragi who designed the Rider system, then he was doing it under contract to Nanba, then it turned out Evolt was really the person who provided the tech, and now beyond that it’s meant to have been Katsuragi Senior who did most of the dirty work. Not only is it confusing, it’s unnecessarily complex and just gums up the works of the story.
There’s also the weird matter of Evolt’s own personal plotline, which is concerning to me since he’s been by far and away the best character for a while now and anything that threatens to derail that would be a bitter blow. The idea that Build Genius’s ability to neutralise Nebula gas has suddenly given Evolt emotions is already weird and sort of out of nowhere – is it because it makes him more ‘human’? – but what’s particularly bad about this is…well, he’s had emotions all along. As Soichi, Stark, and then Evolt, the character has constantly displayed glee, inquisitiveness, anger and even flashes of compassion. I guess you could argue he’s a sociopath who is just mimicing emotional reactions, but that really seems a bit of stretch. ‘Emotions’ also seem to just mean Yasuyuki Maekawa gets to overract a lot more, which is kind of a shame since he’s been one of the few genuinely good performers up to this point.
Speaking of emotions, the show continues to be bad and clumsy at trying to extract them from us. The absurd explanation that the best matches are actually based on Misora’s suggestions and Soichi’s memories is not only completely, patently ridiculous (since when was a vacuum cleaner a dangerous weapon?), it’s an obvious, lowball attempt to make us feel unearned emotional attachment to them. And again, it’s a case of Build making something way more complex than it has to be for seemingly no reason or return. In the same vein, the show takes Gentoku and spends most of these episodes turning him into absurd comedy filler, only to suddenly revert to a dramatic plot in the back half of episode 42 and ask us to take the character seriously again. It’s a prime example of something I go on about endlessly in my writing, the belief that character development is just having stuff happen to characters, rather than any sort of arc or growth. The idea of comedy Gentoku isn’t actually terrible – he’s a born straight man – but the execution is classic lowest-hanging-fruit, no effort writing and continues Build‘s legacy of absurd tonal whiplash which massively undermines the points when the show tries to be serious.
Really, that describes a lot of Build at the moment. I’d had hopes, as I said at the beginning, that the show could be saved by having its sprawling plot naturally narrowed down, but instead the showrunners doubled down and now we’re in even murkier, messier and more confusing territory than before. At this point my highest hope is probably an ending that at least makes a modicum of sense, but I don’t think even that is certain.
- Between people-smuggling lady and very first Smash guy, there’s a lot of weirdly specific call backs to stuff that happened the better part of 9 months ago, with very little lead in.
- There’s also a considerable amount of flashback and recap in these episodes, which don’t do much to endear them to me.
- Banjou’s struggle to restrain himself seems to be a pretty obvious hint his ‘Evolt’ side is coming back…even though that plotline was meant to be over and done with.
- I REALLY hope that Silver Bottle doesn’t turn out to be yet another different powerup type.
- Based on past experience I would say there is at least an 8/10 chance Sentou’s dad is actually a mole for the good guys.