Five episodes into reviewing this marvelous TV show, and I’m wondering if Kamen Rider Build will even have episodes that don’t contribute to the overall plot in some way. So far, every episode has majorly factored into the ongoing expansion of Build’s world and the characters within, showing no signs of stopping. Let’s dive into the events of Episode 5 and count up our title hero’s list of fashion crimes.
As if the awesomeness of Build’s dueling recaps couldn’t get any better, we now have the cafe owner Soichi getting in on the narration game, opting for a slightly longer summation of recent events. My first thought is that, yeah, they actually kind of need this. There are some Kamen Rider shows where the recap feels almost like a waste, because they’re not actually reviewing anything in particular. It becomes more like a showcase of the last power-up the heroes got than an actual reminder of important information. Here, the recap, complete with title cards that flash character names and everything, has four episodes overflowing with actual stuff. Who are you and what have you done with modern Kamen Rider?!
Actually, that’s a good question: “Who are you?” Last we saw, Soichi was being confronted by a hammer-wielding Sento with zero chill, wondering why in Gaim’s name the silly owner of a cafe with no customers has a stolen panel from the mysterious Martian Pandora Box in his possession. It looks as though Soichi had better cough up some answers right now or face some dire consequences!
Naturally, we transition to a completely different setting, where Soichi has been given time to brew some coffee and everyone just drops their grim faces from last time to patiently wait for the calm infodump.
Soichi laughs at Sento’s accusation that he was a member of Faust, but confesses that he was indeed involved in the Skywall Incident that divided the country into three separate territories. He was the actual astronaut that first encountered the Pandora Box giving some of us Kamen Rider Fourze flashbacks with that shadowy helmet. It’s interesting that the box was already working its chaotic mojo on him after the first touch, prompting him to interrupt the ceremony that started this whole thing, when Gentoku’s recollection of events made it sound like people didn’t start getting affected until after the mystery man (now revealed as Soichi himself) ran in and seemingly activated the Skywall.
So, in a sense, the box turned itself on? They’re serving us some serious Lord of the Rings realness this year, aren’t they?
They’re also taking pretty heavy influence from classic Showa Era Kamen Rider here, as Soichi explains that his daughter Misora had been captured by Faust, and his whole plan to stop them involved stealing the Pandora Panels in exchange for her. But in the process of retrieving her, he swiped some Full Bottles and asked Sento to become Kamen Rider Build. They’re sort of taking the classic Kamen Rider origin story and twisting it for the new era. Sento was made a lab rat for the evil organization terrorizing their society, only for a sympathetic figure among them to appear, prompting him to turn their dark machinations against them and fight back. Only Soichi isn’t technically part of Faust. Or so he claims. Misora just happens to have the power to enhance the essence stored within the bottles. And Soichi can do… whatever the hell he did in episode two to turn a tablet computer into a backscratcher!
After everyone’s near-vomitous reaction to Soichi’s awful coffee, Sawa comes in with a worthy distraction (what a busy bee this one is). She’s found someone from Sento’s life before the amnesia set in. And he embarrasses the daylights out of him.
Sento reacts with surprise, hearing that he was in a rock band with the loud, off-kilter, strangely-dressed Tatsuya, who shows him to the apartment they once shared. The place is full of trash bags and other clutter. I can’t tell if this means they’ve just been really inconsiderate to their roommate or if Sento used to be the perfect candidate for a guest appearance on Hoarders, but he doesn’t seem pleased with the setup. Or with any of this, really. And man, am I jazzed to be witnessing our amnesiac hero finding tangible proof of his past in episode 5 instead of episode 45. They should be holding toku writers’ seminars where all they do is just show Kamen Rider Build episodes and say “do it like this”.
Tatsuya tells Sawa that the Artist Formerly Known as Satou Taro went missing on the day Sento recognizes as his first meeting with Soichi, in the rain-soaked alley. So, despite the awkward disbelief Sento feels upon looking at a picture of himself with a guitar, a red jumpsuit, and hair that would make Son Goku take a seat, this really was (probably) his life before Faust. What a difference a traumatizing brain injury makes, amirite?
This calls into question some things we know about the current Sento, who not only likes things more clean and orderly, but is also a super-genius who constructs his own battle gear. Was he always this intelligent, or was even that part of the transformation from the old Taro to the new Sento? Unless this is a weird Good Will Hunting situation where he hid his smarts to live among the muggles, his brain may have gotten a boost as a result of what Faust did.
Before Sento can ask much about the drug trials Tatsuya says they were working on, some nearby laborers are harassed by Faust’s robots. Sento’s about to intervene when government-programmed Guardians show up and immediately blast them into next week. They may not be able to relay relevant data to their bosses back at HQ, but they are aware of the other Guardian-bots and know exactly what to do with them. And as if this wasn’t a cool enough little bit of expository action, Cobra Guy shows up and seems to instantly hack the Guardians, turning them too into servants of Faust. So, the whole chain is explained to us in one nifty sequence, demonstrating the difference between Faust and the (official) Touto government, and how Faust keeps mooching off their robots.
Despite the fact that Sento just saved them with his awesome HawkGatling suit, the laborers immediately identify him as “the fugitive” and run for their lives. You’re welcome, guys. No thanks required. And, like any good Stalker, our favorite snake in the grass is chilling on the sidelines, having watched the whole thing from afar. Sento’s none too thrilled to be getting dicked around by the likes of him, so the first of the show’s two best battles commences, making his signature Rider Kick look halfway cool for once. Sadly, Blood Stalk catches that mofo like a weak pitch and tosses him off with little effort. Stalk walks off with a laugh that would rival the overdramatic howling of Showa villains echoing in the wind.
When brought back to a frustrated Ryuuga stuck at the cafe until his name is cleared, Tatsuya learns that the absent-minded fighter was framed for the Katsuragi murder. He freaks out, running off with a quickness that could only be prompted by plot-relevance. Meanwhile, Sento’s hard at work on his next Best Match, trying to figure out the (still extremely simple) combination of Full Bottles that will give him the most effective powers in battle. Once again, Ryuuga immediately picks the right pair and we have our next form change. Sento’s inadequacy issues cause his stiff hair to go flaccid. Clearly, Sento can’t compete with Ryuuga’s magic touch.
When a new Smash attacks Touto’s lab, Sento is confronted again by Stalk, who sadistically taunts him with the knowledge that Tatsuya had volunteered for the procedure, calling him a fool, laughing in Sento’s face about his misfortune. Royally pissed off, Sento launches into the second of the two best fights of the show so far. When Stalk catches his Rider Kick this time, it’s packing a little something extra, and it looks like our serpent buddy’s not shrugging it off as easily as last time. Strangely, this seems to amuse him, perhaps even encourage him. Is this what he hoped would happen all along?
The Smash attack casts further doubt on whether Touto is in league with Faust, but because Build is now trying to save Tatsuya from the Guardians, it also makes him look even more like an enemy to them. He’s the hero Touto needs, but not the one it deserves.
Ryuuga rides through to give an extra assist, we think just out of the kindness of his heart. In fact, he’s mostly there because he just heard that Faust’s monsters would probably return to their secret lair when their mission is finished or aborted. So, after Sento restores Tatsuya with his extremely awesome-looking NinninComic suit, doing cool ninja crap and finishing with a flaming sword attack, Ryuuga shockingly knocks out his new partner and re-infects Tatsuya with the Smash essence.
I’m sure Ryuuga assumes they can just save him again later, but this is a boat-rocking turn of events, risking a bunch of lives just to track down Faust and get some righteous payback. Clearly our Rider-in-training has a few more lessons to learn before he can henshin with the big boys. Gaim only knows what will happen next, as we end on the most traditional Heisei Era Kamen Rider cliffhanger of the series so far.
Truth be told, I can’t say I’m in love with how far they took the ridiculousness of Tatsuya’s character. It’s the one bit of comedy so far that took me out of the show, if only slightly. What I do love is that he’s another civilian presence of genuine importance, both in terms of furthering the plot and strengthening our understanding of the heroes. Also, if you don’t love NinninComic’s rad purple-and-gold costume, you’re a monster. Although this may not go down as a favorite episode in my book, it was still tons of fun and bodes well for future installments.
Keep on trucking, Kamen Rider Build. You’re my favorite thing in toku right now, and that’s not nothing.