Olteca sarcastically welcomes Vail back into the demons Driver. Vail says he thought lending Olteca his power might be fun yet. Over at Fenix, George and Director Akaishi are trying to shoot the Gifu coffin open. But not even a scratch.
Meanwhile, Kagerou again taunts Daiji about the revelation that they are descendants of Gifu. Kagerou says he will no longer hold back and the time has come that he can take over Daiji’s body permanently.
Kagerou tells Daiji to just let him win, but Daiji refuses. Kagerou says it’s time for their decisive battle then. Human vs. demon. Right vs. wrong.
The Siblings sit in the living room unsure about what to think about their Grandpa Gifu. Sakura gets up and leaves. Daiji also stands up and admits that Kagerou is starting to act up. Ikki wants to help, but Daiji says this is his battle.
Over at Fenix, George and Doctor Akemi talk about how Gifu grows stronger with every demon the Igarashis defeat. And that in turn affects their inner demons, causing a negative chain reaction. George says that will put Daiji in the same danger as Ikki. He’s been developing upgrade Stamps for both.
Kagerou arrives, grabs the doctor and demands George hand over the Two Sidriver and new Crow Vistamp.
George says using the Crow Vistamp in its current state will result in either Evil or Live being permanently erased. George says nothing happens without Daiji’s approval. But Director Akaishi walks in and tells George to hand it over. This will help Daiji’s growth and allow him to have a future if he can overcome this trial.
The director doesn’t care which of Daiji or Kagerou survives.
Vice asks what’s to become of them now. Ikki says their parents aren’t even back home yet. But that’s when Buu-san walks in to say to leave Papa and Mama Igarashi to him.
While Sakura confronts Papa Karizaki at Weekend HQ, Buu-san is also telling Ikki the story.
Buu-san says he and Shiranami Junpei (Papa Igarashi’s real name) were like kindred spirits. They first met at a military research organization known as Noah who worked to develop a system that could exploit demons for military purposes. Junpei as Kamen Rider Vail was tasked with eliminating demons from failed experiments.
But that everyday hollowness took a toll on Junpei’s heart until he met Mama Yukimi who would be able to pull him out of that darkness. Junpei chose to run away and live a happy life with Yukimi. But the battle resulted in him losing his memories. After changing his face and name, Junpei was able to become Igarashi Genta.
Papa Karizaki tells Sakura that he did everything to help Junpei escape as a way to repent for the evil he did by injecting Gifu cells into him. But he also created the Libera Driver and Rolling Vistamp as a way to atone too.
Papa Karizaki says he merely hopes the three siblings can overcome their demons.
Buu-san says once Junpei left Noah, a splinter group of their former comrades stole and deified the Gifu coffin, starting to worship demons as Deadmans.
Just then, George calls Ikki, Vice and Sakura to tell them about Daiji being in trouble.
Over in an abandoned warehouse, Kagerou releases Daiji so he can be in his own body, allowing them to physically face each other. Daiji asks if they must really fight each other. Kagerou says he’s tired of being a dog and if he can be free by slitting Daiji’s throat, he’ll do it.
Daiji says a part of him hoped they could get along like Ikki and Vice do. Kagerou laughs at the thought and tosses him the Driver and Stamp. They both henshin and begin their battle.
Kagerou again taunts Daiji about seemingly holding back. Ikki/Vice and George arrive to watch. Vice tells Ikki to jump in and help. But Ikki says this is Daiji’s battle and he will not be interfering.
While Sakura is running to her brother, Aguilera pops in to flip her to the ground. Sakura says she does not have time to play, but Aguilera forces a conversation. She wants to know how Sakura keeps getting stronger all the time. Sakura tells her to figure it out herself and tries to walk away. But Aguilera refuses to let her go. They spar a little until blood drips out of Aguilera’s mouth.
Sakura says Aguilera helped her become stronger. Aguilera realizes then that she’s become weaker because of Sakura. Aguilera cries, asking what she is supposed to do now. “F-k if I know,” Sakura says, “You need to figure that out!”
Sakura tells Aguilera to find her own purpose and fight for her own sake. And maybe the reason might even be in front of her already. “But you keep looking away and pretending not to see anything!”
Daiji gets the upper hand on Kagerou, but Kagerou just laughs and says this is far from over. He wants more. Daiji is about to slice at Kagerou, but he realizes Kagerou has grown weaker. Kagerou says it’s because of Daiji’s kindness.
Kagerou says Daiji shouldn’t be holding back against a demon. Daiji has drawn his strength from everything that is the opposite of Kagerou. Daiji stands and chargers toward him.
Just then, Olteca pops in and he henshins. Ikki and Vice henshin in order to prevent Olteca from butting into Daiji and Kagerou’s face off.
Daiji punches Kagerou in the face, smashing his helmet’s visor. Kagerou is about to fall, but Daiji grabs his hand before he does. “What the hell are you doing?” Kagerou tells Daiji to be more ruthless.
Daiji lets go of Kagerou’s hand and delivers one final punch which forces Kagerou to dehenshin.
Olteca uses a power-up and forces Ikki/Vice to dehenshin as well.
Kagerou acknowledges Daiji has grown stronger. Daiji thanks Kagerou and Kagerou calls him a moron idiot. The Stamp Kagerou holds in his hand turns into a Holy Wing Stamp.
Kagerou begins to turn into feathers, but he gives Daiji the new Stamp before he bids farewell.
Daiji uses the new stamp to henshin to Holy Live and vows not to hold back against Olteca.
So I was definitely not as enthused or hyped up after this episode like I was after last week’s. No MaGMCMs this week, that’s for sure. Actually, I felt quite underwhelmed and disappointed. And when I feel negative about one thing, it usually sours my mood for the whole episode. And that’s absolutely the case this week.
For me, it’s two reasons. First, I know both Sentai and Kamen Rider like to slow down and take a breath after big episodes. But considering the major revelation last week, I think they wasted a lot of momentum by not picking up right where they left off.
My favorite part of this episode was Buu-san’s expository story time about Papa Igarashi’s former life and the tease about his and Mama Igarashi’s love story (or if you’re Vail, a story of betrayal lol). I would’ve preferred they focused this episode on the fallout and perhaps had Papa or more likely Mama Igarashi telling the story herself. I hope we still get that moment in the future. But considering they had Buu-san give us the CliffsNotes version anyway, they should’ve (and should in the future) just let Mama and Papa Igarashi be the ones to tell their children the whole story.
By not picking up where they left off, this episode just felt abrupt. And certainly not on the level of last week’s satisfying intersection of story and characters.
And that brings me to my second reason. And that is the unceremonious demise of Kagerou. Ever since his first “defeat” (Live’s debut), they’ve trotted Kagerou out as either random comic relief (what is it with Revice turning villains into the butt of jokes?) or to randomly torture Daiji for a minute.
And I bring that up because this episode was mainly about Kagerou’s demise bringing about Daiji’s new power up. A wonderful, holy suit, sure. But for me who doesn’t really follow toy releases and focuses more on the TV show, I was really disappointed.
I’ve mentioned how sad I’ve been that they weren’t really utilizing Kagerou in the best way. They certainly haven’t developed his relationship with Daiji beyond Kagerou taunting him from time to time. Ikki-Vice, they are not. But even Papa Igarashi-Vail have a more fleshed out relationship in one episode than Daiji and Kagerou.
The show has not really fleshed out Kagerou and Daiji enough to warrant this supposed emotional climax for them both. I mean, they even attempted some kind of Kagerou redemption arc scene which ends up being hollow without any development past the debut of Live.
Kagerou being able to manifest himself in Daiji was because of all the emotional baggage Daiji had. Aside from that being conveniently resolved (which was fine), the show didn’t really give Kagerou a reason to exist aside from being a regular, though quick, nuisance to Daiji.
A theme this episode was about becoming stronger/weaker. And we’ll get to the Sakura-Aguilera yuri turn later. But what the episode wanted us to take away from Daiji and Kagerou was that Kagerou hoped Daiji would be less kind and more passionate or fierce/cutthroat. He’s mentioned Daiji being too timid. But throwaway lines like that don’t equal the kind of development we’ve seen elsewhere this season. The stronger/weaker theme felt kind of forced, merely something to try and connect everything together. I don’t think it worked.
What made Kagerou want to motivate Daiji in a positive way. What brought him and us to this point? And if Kagerou was supposedly on his way to death anyway, what exactly brought that about? Especially considering Daiji has certainly continued struggling emotionally and mentally from Kagerou swimming around inside him.
The lack of true development for their story and relationship really made the entire sequence from battle to fading into wings to the debut of Holy Live feel very hollow and unearned.
When last week the show cashed their check in when it comes to emotional satisfaction, this week’s episode check bounced.
And that’s not to say the idea of Kagerou unwittingly/actively helping Daiji to become strong is a bad one. It’s actually a good idea for a story. It’s too bad we didn’t actually get to see it play out.
I don’t expect Kagerou to survive a second time, though I won’t be surprised if he does. But Kagerou (and Wataru Hyuga especially) deserved a fuller and more complete story. And that in turn would’ve helped Daiji as a character as well.
Wataru Hyuga has done such an excellent job in the dual role. But he was definitely robbed of some potentially great material.
Speaking of ideas good on their own, not so good when executed on-air; the idea of Sakura and Aguilera’s sismance rivalry/frenemies whatever is a good one. And considering how far Aguilera has fallen, Sakura telling her to look right in front of her for the reason she should keep going and keep fighting could’ve been a big moment. Regardless on how you view their relationship. (I mean, Sakura was basically screaming at Aguilera to look at her.)
Instead, that whole scene felt sorely out of place when, at the time, we were revving up for the decisive (foundation-less) battle between Daiji and Kagerou. This is with George Karizaki himself, the sneaky and mysterious guy that he is, seemingly sincere in his concern for Daiji’s survival. As much as he wanted his new toy to get used to feed his Kamen Rider fanboy heart, the show had him look legitimately concerned for Daiji. And when paired with seeing him last week actively search for the truth before carefully dropping the bomb on the Igarashi Sibs, it would be one of the few things that picked up where last week left off.
So Aguilera butting in and keeping Sakura from potentially helping her brother came off as some sort of unnecessary distraction instead of an exciting character development for both her and Sakura. And I’ve already talked about how disappointed I am in the downward trajectory of Aguilera’s (and Julio’s) character. She’s coming across as some whiny brat.
Of course, she’s a child bride after all. So that partly makes sense. She’s a lost puppy. But that doesn’t necessarily excuse how disjointed her, Julio and (as deliciously evil as he is) Olteca’s story has become after the split. It’s a good thing everything else on the show is much better written and Seki Hayata is following in the combined footsteps of Nachi Sakuragi/Gai, Shota Matsushima/Brain, Tomoya Warabino/Heart; otherwise the collapse of the Deadman3’s story could have easily derailed the show. (That’s exactly what happened last year.)
Tl;dr: This episode was like the opposite of last week’s. When last week’s episode successfully cashed in on well-developed story and a strong foundation to power emotionally satisfying moments and plot twists, this week’s episode was the complete opposite. A supposed climax and new toy/power-up debut with almost no development and a potentially big moment for two characters shoehorned into the middle of it.
For me, this was probably one of my least favorite episodes of the season. Coming after last week’s excellent episode certainly doesn’t help. But I feel like the show dropped the ball on story that should’ve been much more impactful and explosive with better execution.
Anyway, please don’t kill off Olteca any time soon. Especially when we don’t even know if his name is supposed to be Ortega or not. (kidding not kidding)
You kill off Kagerou, formerly a perfect candidate for penultimate boss. You weaken Aguilera, former girl boss, now merely conflicted between her feelings for Sakura or her dead husband-to-be that she’s never met. Juliomaki is off stuffing his face with cake. The director is by no means someone that should survive past the mid-30s. Vail’s beef with the Igarashis is yet to be fleshed out. And Mr. George Karizaki is obviously endgame.
So you kill off the only legitimately menacing, evil villain this early and you’re basically Saber, killing off all the interesting characters early and leaving boring ones until the end. And not many people want a repeat of that. So, #LetOltecaLive.