At Hiden Manufacturing, Izu returns with Ai-chan who reports that she was able to befriend Yua and Isamu. And also that the two of them appear to have made up.
Izu points out Aruto’s dream and the dream of the Hiden family for humans and AI to work in harmony together is coming true.
Aruto says their work isn’t over yet as he is worried for Jin and is determined to defeat the Ark to save him.
VP Jun calls Aruto as an enraged Gai locks himself in the lab to delete all the incriminating data VP Jun had dug up on him. Apparently, Gai had embezzled moneys so he could pamper himself with skin care, salons and expensive spa treatments as well as participate in the illegal arms trade.
VP Jun says Aruto is the only one who can rebuild the company.
Over in Dabyreak, Ark tells the others that he can predict and prepare for all outcomes, such as Jin’s betrayal. Ark re-inserts himself into Horobi.
Naki tells Jin that resistance is futile, especially against their lord and savior Ark.
Jin feigns an apology to Ark. Naki sees him readying his blaster, but so does Ark who is able to counter his not-surprise attack.
Jin is shocked by the Ark’s ability. But the Ark says there is one variable that it is unable to account for: ZEA. Indeed, Naki says without ZEA, they’d be unstoppable.
Ark returns to Jin’s body and says it’s time to finish what they started with Daybreak years ago.
Gai orders ZEA to begin mass production of Raidisers, but ZEA does not respond.
Just then, Aruto, Izu and VP Jun come into the lab through the secret passage. Izu unlocks the lab and Shester and SVP Sanzo join them.
Aruto reminds Gai that ZEA has a will of its own and demands Gai stop his foolishness this instant. Gai says he can 1000% make more profit than Aruto ever could, especially when the Raidraisers go on the market. But VP Jun says all orders have been cancelled. They will not let Gai destroy the company that they’ve taken care of for decades.
Gai henshins to eliminate them. Izu points out that this is an abuse of power and grounds for termination.
Aruto tries stopping Gai, but has to henshin first to Metal Cluster Hopper.
Aruto delivers a Final Rise Strash at Gai and slaps his Driver off him, forcing him to dehenshin.
Meanwhile, Yua leaves the hospital on her own. But Isamu, flowers in hand, arrives and says Yua shouldn’t be up and about so soon after her injuries. Yua says she has no time to waste against Ark.
Isamu asks her what she can do alone. He understands she has nowhere to go now. Yua says he’s one to talk. But Isamu says he will defeat the Ark as it is his mission as a Kamen Rider.
A defeated Gai laments it all crashing down in this way. Shester has sent the video evidence of his abuse of power to the ZAIA board.
VP Jun says the heart of a company is its employees. And if Gai doesn’t care about that, then he is not fit to be president.
Aruto reminds Gai that Hiden is not ZAIA. Someone who doesn’t see that humans and AI can live in harmony together does not deserve to sit in the president’s chair. Izu adds Gai has no right to be president as long as he hates AI.
Gai momentarily flashes back to a memory of a Sony Aibo robotic dog before he runs up to embrace the president’s chair and says he will never let it go.
Aruto says Gai already has ZAIA, so why is he so obsessed with Hiden Intelligence’s president’s seat? Could it be that Gai actually loves Hiden Intelligence?
Just jokes, Aruto says. Everyone laughs, but Gai screams for them to get out and says Aruto is the one person he will never give the chair up to. Aruto says he never intended to return anyway. VP Jun is shocked Aruto is abandoning the company. But Aruto does not intend to do that either. Instead, he has his own company to take care of now.
Gai can’t fathom how Aruto would care more about a lowly company. But Aruto says he built his company from nothing and he will always think about what’s best for it. Gai should be able to understand that.
Shester gets an alert that MetsubouJinrai.net is moving on their Space Development Center. Aruto and Izu hurry over.
While ArkJin shoots at the Development Center’s scientists, Ikazuchi sees the launch pad and suddenly remembers his brother and their hopeful dreams. Ikazuchi does not understand and stumbles away.
Back at ZAIAHiden HQ, Gai is alone, laughing that a president who merely sits in a chair is worthless.
Gai is surprised when Ai-chan greets him and offers to be his friend. Gai says he doesn’t need friends and Ai-chan asks why he would say such a sad thing.
Gai flashes back 35 years ago. His father taught him not to be spoiled or reliant. He must achieve things using his own power and to always aim for 1000%.
Gai’s only friend was a robotic AI dog called Thouser and created by Hiden Intelligence. When Gai received a 99 on a test, his father scolded him for spending too much time with the dog instead of studying.
This is when Gai reluctantly boxed up his good friend for good and since then, has vowed to reach 1000% on his own.
Ai-chan is sincerely interested in Gai having had an AI friend before her. But Gai scolds her and says Thouser was not his friend.
Meanwhile, Aruto arrives at Hiden SDC and demands Ark remove itself from Jin’s body. Aruto henshins and they battle.
On the other side of the SDC, a pair of A.I.M.S. officers catch up to Yua and Isamu. The officers tell them to stay away from Ark, recounting how Ark’s supersonic screams incapacitated their comrades and destroyed human thought.
Yua says that’s all the more reason to defeat Ark. She and Isamu prepare to move in, but the officers say they can’t lose her. She is their captain and always will be. Since ZAIA took over, they lost sight of what they were fighting for. But Yua is their guiding light.
Isamu says Yua seems to have found where she belongs.
Ai-chan tells Gai to be true with himself about wanting a friend like Thouser he could open up to. Gai tells her to shut up and says an AI couldn’t possibly know anything like that.
Just then, ZEA sends orders to the 3D printer. Gai opens the door and sees a brand new Thouser. He turns it on and the robot dog greets him.
Gai takes nuThouser in his arms and remembers all the happy moments he had with Classic Thouser.
Gai is emotional realizing that Thouser would stay by even his side. Gai tearfully apologizes to Thouser.
Ark forces Aruto to dehenshin and is about to finish him off. But Gai arrives and shields Aruto from the finisher.
Gai slaps the attack into the sky. And Thouser comes leaping toward them as well.
Gai says he couldn’t find it in his heart to accept Aruto or Humagears or his idealistic business nonsense. But his reason for all this is simple… Gai loved Hiden Intelligence.
Gai declares it is time to defeat Ark and they will do it together.
So this was an interesting episode. So much going on with every single character that I felt like it was far too rushed and a little all over the place. The quick cuts between the action and Gai’s reunion with a new generation Aibo and then some random “Yua is our leader” thrown in felt a little frenzied. Even though the events we were seeing in the episode weren’t all that climactic or a big shock.
Right off the bat, I’ll say that I still enjoyed the episode. And I’ve really developed a high tolerance to Zero-One‘s minor shortcomings. But I still felt like a lot was missing. Some context. Some depth. Some lead-up to what should be a few big Rider Kicks of plot.
I assume it has to do with the COVID-induced halt in production of course. It’s very sad as I think the show seems to be cramming in the original ~50 episode plan into 45. I think Zero-One lost at least four episodes due to the coronavirus. And it might not seem like a lot. But I think so much could’ve been done with those four episodes.
That’s why these last two episodes I feel could’ve filled at least three or four episodes worth of material. So far, the story hasn’t had time to breathe. Let alone time to kind of rev up or warm up to really have these moments be truly climactic.
Starting off with Yua’s story. I’ve long waited for the big payoff to her shadiness and essentially being a traitor to Isamu in favor of being Gai’s slave. Instead, based on the scene with the two A.I.M.S. officers, her main struggle was finding her place in the world. Huh?
Apparently, her rightful place is Queen of A.I.M.S. Okay, but just a few weeks ago, she was mocking Isamu for being some kind of directionless amnesiac. And we’ve never really seen A.I.M.S. officers as anything other than mindless mercenaries.
With Yua, she rightly regretted being a “tool” of Gai. But other than a few seconds every other episode of her seemingly doubting what she was doing, we never really got to see her go through her struggles. Her personal story, which was ripe for some great material, was almost like an afterthought. Which is why her big slap to Gai was fun, but a little underwhelming now considering what she’s gone through. And also what she’s put others (particularly Isamu) through.
I very much liked that scene of Isamu meeting Yua outside of the hospital. But that scene with the A.I.M.S. officers suddenly coming to their senses regarding Gai’s leadership felt a little contrived and lacked sufficient foundation to really be impactful.
The only thing about the MetsubouJinrai scenes worth mentioning is how awesome Daisuke Nakagawa is as Jin/Ark. He can flip the switch just like that. And while it was great to see Jin trying to fight back, Ark itself kind of feels tame and boring. Especially compared to the insanity Gai has unleashed all season long.
And speaking of… Seeing the show partnered with Sony to have Aibo guest star last week, I speculated Gai’s rise to terror began when his Aibo didn’t love him enough as a child or something like that. His Aibo turned on him or something. But on the contrary, Aibo was a wonderful friend to Gai. And the real culprit to Gai’s psychotic behavior was his father.
Now, that doesn’t really explain why Gai has been so upset with Grandpa Hiden. Or why he holds him and the company with contempt. Is it because Hiden created Thouser (35 years ago! More than a decade before Sony! lol) and Thouser is what caused him to be a disappointment to his father?
I’m not one to diagnose anyone’s mental health of course. But obviously most at fault is Gai’s father who treated him like 1000% crap. Being treated like that would negatively affect anyone, especially a 10-year-old child.
I feel like this episode crammed in 2-3 episodes worth of backstory fleshing out for Gai. Him growing up lonely thanks to a horrible, oppressive father then translating that into misplaced anger is a fine story.
But’s Gai’s redemption arc only started this episode. And next week we’re supposed to just accept him finally teaming up with Aruto just because he got the latest AiboThouser model? (And a quick therapy session with Ai-chan.)
It would’ve helped if we got hints of Gai’s painful past sprinkled a little more throughout the season. Instead, we’ve always just seen him as some statistics or probability-loving megalomaniac and potential mass murderer who enjoys a secret fountain of youth serum of some sort.
(Is his ageless face just a moot point now? Perhaps a simple gag? With Takamichi on Kiramager as well, it seems Toei wants to have older characters, but not older actors. So they have found creative ways to cast handsome young actors to play 40+ year old characters. AND interestingly, both have gotten half-naked these last two weeks. lol Toei looking to appeal to a wider audience base eh? lol)
I’m currently watching the Korean drama I’m Not a Robot and it has a similar theme. A lonely rich young man longs for sincere human connections because a unique situation prevents him from closely interacting with people. (I very much recommend that drama.)
Gai growing up lonely and having his only friend taken away from him is a very reasonable story and a good foundation for something great. However, I don’t really see, or perhaps, feel the connection between that possible pain as a child to all the crap he’s done this last year.
We’ll see if they expand more on that next week.
He despises artificial intelligence so he develops a counter technology that humans can personally use to be 1000%. And he wants to profit from it. Alright.
Going back to the start of the episode, Gai’s desperation in the lab again felt a little abrupt. Yes, he’s had his ass handed to him for months now. But I guess Ark being the one to drive him to this moment feels a little underwhelming compared to if Aruto or any of MetsubouJinrai were the ones to deliver the final blow. Or maybe more appropriately, Yua or Isamu.
But I do admit I set my expectations very high because Zero-One has done a lot of things right and is just overall very fun and enjoyable to watch. I like the premise of Gai’s story. I just think they could’ve done a lot more. But there’s still more show left.
Anyway, gotta point out how the VP, SVP and their Humagear secretary of a technology company didn’t think to save a copy of the evidence against Gai elsewhere? Didn’t they have a USB last week though? All of that worrying about losing the evidence and stuff was very forced.
And back to Aibo. It’s a fun guest starring role for the Aibos. I had to do a double take when it showed that Thouser was created by Hiden 35 years ago. Yet I know Aibo is definitely not older than me. lol Then I realized of course in the show, it’s not Aibo. It’s Thouser. So of course, Thouser could exist 35 years ago. lol But anyway, it’s a cute and clever promo opportunity for Sony. And it works with the overall plot of Zero-One as well.
Overall, I have my little disappointments with the episode. I wish they had done a little more and had gone deeper with some of these story beats. Still not sure if the coronavirus-affected episode count has something to do with it. But in just these last two episodes alone, there was enough material to fill several episodes. It’s just sad to see that COVID may have so negatively affected its storytelling.
And also, SAVE JIN FROM ARK PLEASE! Thank you.