Archimedel damns Ace for meddling in the JGP’s grand plans. But Michinaga has just the game for the next round.
Back in Tokyo, Neon wraps up her livestream by thanking everyone for the birthday greetings as today is her big day. But in reality, Neon considers today the commemoration of both her happiest and saddest day.
Keiwa and Ace are out shopping. Keiwa hopes to buy a nice present for Neon and asks Ace what he’s getting her. Ace says his mere greeting will be enough to give her. Keiwa comments how it’s a bit hard to wrap his head around the idea Ace has been reincarnated and that he retains memories of his past lives. He acknowledges that’s probably why Ace has dominated the DGP.
Ace says he thought Keiwa would be more shocked by the revelation. But Keiwa says Ace is still Ace, after all.
Just then, a Jyamato appears waving a flag and scaring people outside. Keiwa and Ace run after it. But while Keiwa is able to catch up, Ace gets stopped by a barrier.
Beroba and Michinaga pop in to meet Keiwa and Michinaga explains that this bullfighting JGP game was his idea. With Keiwa being the bull in this situation, he quickly henshins and takes on the Jyamato.
Beroba says the order for the Jyamato side will be Rook, Bishop and MichiBuffa. While for the DGPers, it’s Keiwa, Neon then Geats last. The losing team at the end of these one-on-one battles will be eliminated for good.
Neon wants to hurry and help Keiwa, but Ace says only audience members are allowed to enter the arena at the moment. But they will find a way around it as this is the perfect opportunity to eliminate the Jyamato players once and for all. That would be a fun birthday present for Neon. In addition to all the gifts her fans have sent in to the DGP.
Ace notices Neon looks pretty down for her birthday, but she assures him that she’s fine.
They proceed to watch Keiwa’s battle just as he loses the first round to the Jyamato, thanks to interference from Beroba. Beroba laughs as Keiwa gets thrown in a cell. But Michinaga tells her to back off since this is his game. She tells him to chill out, especially since they won anyway. He should just sit back and enjoy the DGPers’ suffering.
Beroba has just the information that will ensure Neon’s defeat during her face-off.
Downtown, Kyuun tries to approach Neon with his birthday present for her. But he gets shy when she notices him and assumes he is here to help celebrate. Kyuun denies it and says he can’t help it when he just randomly runs into her all the time.
To Kyuun’s shock, Neon knows he is her anonymous supporter. They head to her audience room and she asks why he is so sweet in his letters to her while being so salty in person. She asks which is the real Kyuun and he says definitely not the “sweet” one.
Neon asks if he was just bullying her for the heck of it. Before he can even answer, she storms out, saying that he is the worstest.
Kyuun talks to flowers to ask for clarification about his feelings for Neon. Papa Kurama approaches him and thanks him for his support for his daughter. While Mama Kurama wants to marry Neon off to someone who will be beneficial to their business, Papa Kurama would rather build connections with people from the future.
Papa Kurama says he sincerely wishes for Neon’s desire of true love to come true.
Later, Ace finds Papa Kurama at a warehouse leaving flowers on the floor. Ace asks if these flowers are more important than his daughter’s birthday. Papa Kurama tells Ace to pretend he never saw any of this.
Ace finds Neon and mentions the incident when she was kidnapped 11 years ago on her birthday. Her parents paid ransom for her release, but the trauma has made this day a mix of both happy and painful memories.
The Jyamato comes by to wave the red flag signaling Neon’s turn at the game. But Ace stops Neon and walks through the barrier himself first. Michinaga is annoyed and Beroba is pissed that her surprise will be a failure now.
Ace henshins using Keiwa’s Ninja Buckle and takes on the Jyamato. He revolves and then goes MarkII to get the advantage against the two Jyamatos that eventually pop up.
But Beroba’s surprise kicks in when an announcement about Neon is made to everyone watching. Everyone is seemingly shocked.
Ace boosts himself and drives the second Jyamato away. Beroba says it’s no use because the Riders will still disappear, expecting Neon to lose the final round thanks to her wallowing in despair after the revelation.
Neon heads to her audience room and blows out her candles to apparent cheers from the gifts. But actually, the stuffed toys begin hurling insults at her. And the audience piles on, saying Neon only exists because of the Goddess’ power and that she is a fake “Kurama Akari.”
Neon has no idea who the hell “Akari” is.
Turns out, Neon is fake and Akari, the true Kurama daughter, actually died in the kidnapping. Papa Kurama had been granted the desire for a new daughter who would be an embodiment of his ideals if he agreed to become a sponsor of the DGP.
So Neon isn’t even a real human, just something fashioned using the Goddess’ powers. This revelation angers the JGP audience who tell her to remove herself from the competition this instant.
Kyuun runs into the audience room to a devastated Neon.
Meanwhile, Ace uses his anger over what’s been done to Neon to finish off the Jyamato.
So this is one of those episodes of Geats where it feels like they’re just dropping something out of nowhere. And it’s only a “feeling” because actually there’s relatively enough foundation and lead-up to this revelation than other things we’ve been told recently on the show.
For me, the “feeling” stems from how the season’s narrative flow has been a bit meandering in how they jump from one idea to another. Again, I think I’ve mentioned how this season has some good, interesting ideas. But it hasn’t been able to piece them together as well as they could have. So it “feels” like the season’s story is all over the place with no consistent flow or focus. And it takes away from how punches land and how impactful any twist and turn can truly be. That’s why many times this season, things feel more like deus ex machina or straight up exposition rather than a well-paced, well-developed narrative.
Still, this revelation about Neon is certainly not the worst curveball the season has thrown. And it plays reasonably well with the season’s overarching plot regarding the Grand Prixeses and the granting of desires.
For example, we get the explanation (exposition! Lol) of why Papa Kurama is involved in the DGP. And it’s pretty good. It gives his involvement and Neon’s backstory a bit of unexpected dramatic heft that I think the season has been lacking. (The lack of clarity about Ace’s past and the show brushing off Keiwa’s past with his parents feed into that.)
And most especially for Neon’s character who has probably had the messiest development of any of our four main Riders. This helps to focus her character much better. And hopefully this revelation opens up more possibilities with her, especially with how it relates to her parents and then the DGP.
This more empathetic Ace that we’ve been seeing feels more convenient rather than a natural progression for his character. But this is one aspect of the season where I can look past the lack of cohesive movement because Ace had been so one-note. So anything that adds more dimension and color to him is welcome, regardless of how we got here.
The revelation about Neon also made me forget that they didn’t drag out the Neon-secretKyuun dynamic longer. On one hand, I think they could’ve done a lot with that dynamic for a few episodes. On the other, I don’t mind if they just move on from it instead. We’ll see what they do with them moving forward, as I expect Kyuun and Kekera to at least get 75% the amount of development focus that Ziin got last week (in one! week). Maybe more.
Overall, this was a fine episode. It’s another leap forward for the story instead of steady steps. But for this season, I will take any movement that potentially makes things much more interesting and engaging. Especially for our main characters.