Izu is face-to-face with Horobi who henshins with a new Key. Before he can kill Izu, Aruto comes flying in to protect her. He runs to attack Horobi, but Horobi grabs him by the neck.
Aruto says they can still make peace with each other, but Horobi tosses him aside.
Izu wonders if this is another of ZEA’s simulations. But Azu appears and says it’s Ark-sama’s simulation this time. Azu says Ark-sama has become a god and therefore cannot be defeated. As long as there’s malice, Ark-sama can be born again.
Aruto wakes Izu from her dream. He is surprised that Humagears can dream. Izu says it was much more like a nightmare since Horobi turned into Ark.
Just then, Horobi broadcasts a message to all Humagears, calling on them to join his holy crusade against humanity. Izu hears the message, but does not tell Aruto and leaves on her own.
Over at ZAIA Japan HQ, Gai is surprised by the arrival of ZAIA main office head Yotagaki Williamson.
Yotagaki is here to take over for Gai who will be relieved of his position, citing his failures and role in creating Ark. Instead, Gai will be put in charge of the Thouser Division and tasked with whatever Thouser needs to do.
Jin wakes up in Daybreak, looking for Horobi who is nowhere to be found. He gets a call from… Yotagaki who expresses how happy he is the Ark has been defeated.
But now, Yotagaki wants Jin to destroy Horobi. Jin asks if that’s still necessary since Ark is gone. But Yotagaki says as Ark’s legacy, Horobi is still dangerous.
Meanwhile, Horobi has assembled an army of… 12 Humagears. But before they can start their destruction, Izu stops them at the door.
Izu begs Horobi to stop the fighting and asks how he is certain human’s extinction will be positive for Humagears.
At Hiden HQ, Shesta reports to Aruto about Horobi’s Humagear message and asks if Izu had told him. Aruto remembers her nightmare from earlier and hurries out.
Horobi tells Izu that she can’t even imagine how evil humans can be. But Izu says Horobi does not understand how wonderful humans can actually be. Humans created Humagears, after all. And thanks to humans, Humagears learned why they exist, how they can dream and what it means to have a heart.
Horobi says they also learned about the evil in human hearts. Izu laments that they are both Humagears, but have complete opposite perspectives on humanity. She says perhaps learning from biased data is what they should be afraid of, not humans.
Izu says it is not too late to have Aruto show him the way.
Just then, Isamu and Yua come running toward them, guns pointed. Izu pleads with them, saying fighting will not solve anything.
But it’s no use, Isamu, Yua and Horobi all henshin. And along with the army of 12, they battle.
Back in Daybreak, Jin is surprised when Azu appears. She shows him the Key of Singularity data she collected during one of the COVID recap specials. Jin asks why she still made it when the Ark would never get to use it.
Azu says Ark will never be truly gone as long as there’s malice in the world.
Azu kisses the Key and longs for the day she can reunite with her Ark-sama.
Jin wonders if nuArk will actually be Horobi.
Izu again tries pleading with Isamu and Yua to stop fighting Horobi. But Aruto arrives just in time to save her from Horobi’s army attacking her. She says she believes Horobi can still be reasoned with. Aruto wants to believe that, but Izu should not have come here on her own.
Aruto henshins to Zero-Two and joins in the battle.
Horobi asks Isamu if he is sure Ark will never return even if malice continues to breed within humanity. Isamu doesn’t care and instead gets shot by Horobi instead.
The battle dies down and Izu again confronts Horobi. She is sure Horobi can change once he learns about the heart from Aruto. Horobi shoves her aside, saying he doesn’t care about trivial things like that.
Izu adds that she believes Humagears, including Horobi, can smile and express the joy they feel deep in their hearts. Horobi swats her hand away.
Izu asks if Horobi sincerely wants to eliminate humanity. Because if so, then he’s a hypocrite. Horobi says he has no need for a heart, yet his desire to eliminate humanity comes from deep within his.
Horobi turns and points his arrow at Izu, telling her to shut up.
Izu says she believes in Horobi and in his heart.
A teary-eyed Horobi hesitates then tells Izu not to look at him like that.
Jin arrives just as Horobi pulls back on his arrow. He declares that he has no heart.
Horobi lets go and fires the blazing arrow right at Izu.
Aruto hears the explosion and hurries inside to find Izu’s badly burned body on the ground. He runs over and takes Izu in his arms as Isamu and Yua arrive inside.
Aruto asks Izu to hold on.
With her final breaths, Izu says she believes one day Humagears, including Horobi, can be truly happy. Aruto agrees, but says Izu has to be right there with him.
Izu’s body suddenly begins overheating.
“Sayonara.” Izu pushes Aruto off her as she struggles to stand.
Aruto runs back toward her.
Izu stands, in proper form, and looks at her president as she explodes.
Aruto is stopped in his tracks by the intense explosion.
Aruto falls to his knees.
Izu’s ribbon glides down in front of him as he screams in agony.
Jin follows Horobi outside and asks why he would do such a thing.
A visibly distraught Horobi tells Jin to leave him alone. Jin grabs Horobi and says if he does not stop now, he will become Ark.
Horobi knocks Jin aside and walks away.
Aruto has not moved since Izu’s death. Yua starts to approach him, but Isamu stops her.
They leave. But Aruto remains on his knees as darkness falls.
Aruto picks up Izu’s ribbon and clutches it in a tight grip as he thinks of what Horobi did.
Suddenly, he hears someone calling for him. “Aruto-sama.” He turns and sees someone who looks exactly like Izu approaching him.
Next day, Tokyo is under attack by a larger MetsubouJinrai force and residents have been ordered to evacuate immediately.
Isamu and Yua lead A.I.M.S. in responding to the attacks. But Horobi’s forces are too strong and they are outnumbered.
Jin arrives and pleads with Isamu and Yua to stop, otherwise Horobi will truly become Ark.
Just then, something comes shooting down from the sky, causing a huge impact explosion and sending all of them flying.
Everyone is shocked when they see… Ark?!
Jin is shocked that it is not Horobi. But then who?
nuArk’s immense power is on full display as he dispatches basic Humagears with a flick of a wrist and then proceeds to beat down Horobi.
Summoning fear, rage, hate and despair, nuArk unleashes a Perfect Conclusion finisher that engulfs the area and forces Horobi, Jin, Isamu and Yua to painfully dehenshin.
They are shocked by nuArk’s incredible power.
Horobi is just as confused.
Suddenly, nuArk begins to struggle. Jin can’t imagine who this could be.
nuArk screams and falls to his knees as he dehenshins to reveal…
They are all utterly shocked.
A demented-looking Aruto stands and disappears into the mist.
He is approached by Azu, vaguely disguised as Izu, and congratulates Ark-sama on a job well done so far.
A flashback to the night before.
Azu approached Aruto, saying she felt the surge of malice erupting inside of him. So she hands him the Singularity Key which Aruto grabs and is immediately engulfed by.
Back to the present, Aruto cries in agony. Azu says she is here for him, her “Ark-sama.”
Oh!!! Oh dear. Okay. I see. Hoho! Wowow!
Having had high expectations for Zero-One and then kind of toning it down after seeing the possible combination of a COVID-induced scramble and typical toku final arc burnout, I have to say I was absolutely blown away by this episode. And I think it’s been building up quite well, albeit subtly and slowly for a couple of episodes now. Perhaps even season-long.
There’s two things about this episode, its story and its execution. They can be seen separately and together.
First its story. It was interesting mix of shocking and predictable. Izu’s “goodbye” in the preview last week, I guess, prepared me for her “death.” But it wasn’t any less sad and impactful. Of course, there’s the understanding that she’ll pop up again soon too.
And as soon as nuArk arrived, I knew it had to be Aruto and I was so excited for the big reveal. I was really waiting for it and seeing everyone’s reaction to it as well.
This shot of Aruto was beyond anything I ever expected:
It is so powerful and chilling for the moment.
The episode was already interesting from the start. The first half of the episode was focused on Izu and Horobi. Their confrontation of sorts (both the fake one and the real one) was great in providing the contrast between them, but also kind of showing that perhaps they are two halves to a whole.
Izu mentioned how they were “diametrically opposed” in their views and how the biased learning he had has affected his thinking. That is so fascinating to consider in today’s world where many times, people refuse to see both sides or a fuller picture.
It would appear Horobi has been having an internal struggle since that moment between him and Aruto talking about fathers.
Horobi’s hatred for humanity is one of those situations where you’ve had a long-held belief. And when that belief is shattered somehow, you find yourself sort of lost. People can react many different ways to that. But for some, it might feel like the world crashing down on you. The world you saw and lived in feels like it has been a lie all this time.
So Horobi not knowing what to do with himself, even if his default setting is “kill humans,” is a very human reaction to such a blow to one’s beliefs and philosophy.
One thing I loved was seeing Horobi on the verge of tears.
Obviously, Horobi isn’t going to cry. But that speaks to the emotions of the scene where Shuya Sunagawa gets caught up in the moment. Definitely can’t blame him for that. Actually, it was all part of his excellent, nuanced and emotional performance this episode.
The fact that Shuya Sunagawa, Daisuke Nakagawa and Noa Tsurushima can control their tears in such emotional scenes is testament to their abilities! Such a great cast.
There’s a little sense of denial as well. In today’s very polarizing world, confirmation bias is a very real thing. People tend to look for and accept only ideas and information that confirm their original way of thinking. When they are confronted with something that counters it, they can react in a violent way. (Physically, emotionally, mentally.)
Horobi perhaps getting swayed somewhat by Izu (and Jin and Aruto in the past) showed them there was a path forward to getting Horobi to wake up to the sunny side of the human-Humagear collab.
Which is why Aruto giving in to his malice, his despair and anger is such a perfect twist at this point in time.
First, it serves as an abrupt counter to Izu and Jin’s sincere efforts in trying to get Horobi to snap out of it. There’s evil in the world thanks to humans, but the good outweighs that. Izu and Jin learned that from Aruto himself.
But wait! Now the eternal optimist Aruto has just thrown everything out the window and has allowed himself to be filled with the love of Ark-sama. (The cultish vibes continue! Eeek! lol)
How is that possible though? They threw in Azu changing her hair color, I guess, to imply Aruto was tricked somehow. But I think if that’s the case, it was not needed. Aruto had been on his knees in the warehouse, not moving, for hours. He was in obvious grief and shock.
So, it’s absolutely believable that his despair and anger would allow him to be more easily seduced by Azu or Ark-sama or any malevolent force. I think there’s a little bit of a religious or supernatural aspect in that sense. I know there are certain emotions that can lead one to be more susceptible to that sort of thing, possession and whatnot.
We know who Aruto is. What he stands for. How he feels about Humagears. And especially what he feels about his friends. Izu is certainly more than just a secretary or even a friend to him. That’s already a huge reason for him to feel so angry and grief-stricken.
But again, Aruto has been the eternal optimist. When everyone else was pessimistic and defeatist in their attitudes toward a harmonious human-Humagear future, Aruto was the positive one. He was determined to achieve his dream. He was certain a bright future was ahead and within reach.
Like Horobi, however, his world came crashing down here. What he’d been holding on to snapped right in half. And coupled with the loss of a loved one, he was left absolutely broken. Plus any underlying frustration and doubt rising to the surface. Add in Azu’s evil intentions and that is chaos in Aruto’s mind. How he will overcome it is likely what our final three episodes (THREE EPISODES?!?) will focus on.
There are so many different directions the show can take with this shocking development. And I think most paths lead to a pretty profound result.
And that’s where the execution comes in. This episode was so stunningly directed. Horobi and Izu’s confrontation was so well-done and their talk of kokoros was so impactful. Especially as it was between them.
But the final third of the episode. From Izu’s death all the way to the reveal of Arkuto, there was this emotionally dramatic treatment to the events that almost seemed poetic. From the cinematography to the scoring to the excellent performances from everyone involved, it was really some of the very best minutes of toku I’ve seen in a long time.
Just rewatch those final 7-8 minutes and absorb it. It was so affecting. And! Effective.
And that’s very important. For such huge and shocking story developments, the execution can make or break the series. But it definitely made it. The way they presented this episode only enhanced the great writing and wonderful performances. And of course, it all worked brilliantly and worked within what the season has eastablished.
This isn’t even the finale, but the final three episodes now have a high bar to clear, to be honest. (And unfair. lol)
And my goodness, we haven’t even talked about Williamson Yotagaki. When he popped up my first thought was “Oh no, please don’t let this out-of-nowhere character end up being the Final Boss. Please please.” To be honest, it was the least interesting part of the episode. Even when he was involved with Gai and especially Jin. I’ll just set him aside for now as really, there’s other, more important things to deal with at the moment.
Overall, a truly excellent episode with a stunning final couple of minutes that I absolutely loved. It’s the kind of grand, exciting character-driven story I want to see in a final arc.
ALSO! I did not appreciate the preview for Episode 43 just like I was not at all appreciate last week’s inclusion of Izu’s “Goodbye.” I will not have anything bad happening to Jin. Nope. I will not accept it! lol