What a week! Kamen Rider Rogue makes his entrance, fighting for Seito. Sento, Ryuga, and Kazumi now have a common enemy as they fight for the freedom of Touto and Hokuto. For me, this episode was powerful. Episode 23 brings a lot of the elements that make Build so entertaining together in a very satisfying way. Kazumi/Grease, in particular, displays a lot of the juxtaposition between silliness and heartfelt character development that have made the show so enjoyable.
To begin, the transition between Kazumi calmly accepting defeat in the Proxy Battle from episode 22 to his reaction at finding out Misora is his idol, Miitan, is just hilarious and stays very true to his character.
Sawa wastes no time in trying to exploit this, of course, asking for 50,000 “Dollarks” for Kazumi to shake Misora’s hand.
The simple exchange, though played for laughs, fit flawlessly with both of their characters, especially when Kazumi’s companions had to remind him that, “That’s money we need to live!” These little moments, whether for comedy or drama, show how much thought has been put into making every single character believable and consistent. When the group learns Hokuto has been occupied by Seito, however, the dread on the faces of the Hokuto Kamen Rider and his companions is palpable.
The introduction of Engine Bros and Remote Control Bros, and the way they handily defeat Kiba, serves to raise the stakes not only for Hokuto, but for the overall scale of the conflict, and the video of Kiba being defeated by them is paired with a touching, dramatic musical score. This only makes Kazumi’s reluctant acceptance of help that much more vital to the story as a whole. His endless loyalty to his men, especially after so long faking amnesia to create distance, highlights the strength of the bond when he and Aka take on the new Kaiser system users to rescue Kiba.
Like the last major character death on the Hokuto side of the war, Kiba’s exit is a powerful, moving scene, and does a lot to show the lengths the Hokuto group will go to for their own. Even knowing they are beaten, they do everything they can to keep fighting, and do so without hesitation. Seeing Kiba’s desperation as he urges Grease and Aka to leave him, while they refuse to stop fighting for him, only makes the one-sidedness of the second part of this encounter feel that much more dreadful. His sacrifice to protect Kazumi and Aka gives real weight to his character.
Coupled with the shots cut in of the reveal that Nanba Heavy Industry and Utsumi are working together, there was a very real sense of our heroes being moved like pawns on a chessboard.
The introduction of Kamen Rider Rogue plays out in a way that feels very much like a Kurosawa-era Samurai film, with Rogue being painted as the old, gritty ronin, wandering the road in search of a battle. Obviously, he is given a clear motive and purpose, to carry out the orders of Seito’s government, but the shot draws some unmistakable parallels. When Rogue does finally arrive on the battlefield, at the base of the Sky Wall, the feeling harkens back to classic Samurai films like Rashomon, Seven Samurai, and even the more contemporary Rurouni Kenshin.
But, for all the grandeur and weight the show gives to this encounter, the battle is over almost as quickly as it begins. In this respect, the writers do an excellent job of cementing that Rogue, revealed almost immediately to be a returning Himuro Gentoku, is on an entirely new level. Even together, Banjou and Sento are quickly defeated by Rogue and his new abilities using the Crocodile Crack full bottle and Sclash driver. He looks more worn and weary than when we last saw him. Gone is the composed, politically motivated patriot of Touto and in his place there is a man clearly pushed to his limits. Gentoku’s new look evokes images of old cinematic samurai, with the coat-on-shoulders and arms-out-of-sleeves aesthetic. The episode ends on this reveal, leaving us to wonder what comes next.
Overall, episode 23 is an excellent entry into what is proving to be a quality Rider show. I look forward to seeing what episode 24 has in store.
What do you think? Leave a comment down below!