Team TokuNet Contributor Sesker continues her review series of Kamen Rider Build with episode 27. This week, the show addresses some interesting questions of free will as the tournament between Seito and Touto draws to a close.
Last week was a transitional episode which set up several plot points that should be delivered on within the next few weeks. This week provides more definitive development for one of the ongoing subplots, but as with every other episode, there are a lot of other threads going on. In this article, there are a few major plots to discuss.
With the recent reveals, it’s now fairly obvious that Sawa getting burned at the beginning of the season was an intentional ruse. She gets a tragic backstory and Nanba Heavy Industries gets a vetted mole with access to Sento’s lab for whatever information they need. However, whereas the Engine and Remote Gear brothers are completely amoral and almost gleeful in their execution of their orders, Sawa is starting to crack a bit.
During Ryuga’s fight, we see her report in person to the president with the data on Sento’s new invention. There, the president specifically reminds her that she is wholly dependent on his good graces and has no choice but to comply. The look on her face is clear. She knows that already, but the audience is left to wonder how much the unfailing optimism and idealism from Sento has rubbed off on her.
The Hell Brothers at first seem to be like Sawa, unwilling participants forced to become weapons. Ryuga’s opponent seems to almost express remorse of his own, saying that his brother’s life is forfeit if he loses the match. Ryuga is taken off-guard by what seems like a momentary glimpse of humanity in his opponent and is unable to fight to his full strength. He said earlier in the episode that he can’t fight for the sake of strangers like Sento does, but here he sees too much of himself in his opponent.
That confession is also a ruse. Ryuga was destroying the Bi-Kaiser form in combat before. The lie was a necessary change in tactics to ensure that the Hell Brothers form would win the match. Both of the brothers have no will of their own other than the President’s orders, but they both take pride in their status as weapons.
While it’s completely in character for Ryuga to hesitate, it brings up one of the few issues with the show so far. Going by straight power levels, Ryuga outclasses everyone else in the show but it’s disappointing that he simply doesn’t win any fights. It’s always justified, this time, by the fact he was tricked into trusting someone against reason. The fact remains though, he rarely ever gets a chance to demonstrate his supposed talked-about power level. In fights, he mostly functions as a meter stick to measure how powerful new enemies are when they trash him.
Despite this, Ryuga still has a significant impact on the show’s plot with his relationship to Sento. Earlier in the season, when they first struck back against Faust in episode 6, the show demonstrated how the two of them help the other grow. Sento’s selflessness has always motivated Ryuga to become a better hero and Ryuga’s drive to move forward from past regrets helps to shake Sento out of his own self-pity at times. Blood Stalk saw their two opposite personalities as inherently in conflict, but Build repeatedly illustrates how they are both necessary and complementary to each other instead. It’s nice to see this reflected in this episode too, when both of them admit it while using the exact same words as the other.
Nonetheless, this episode still ends on Sento’s fight and his characterization gets a bit of extra development alongside his new upgraded form, Rabbit-Rabbit. In many ways, this resembles the scene earlier where he first used Rabbit-Tank Sparkling; In that scene, Sento was confronted with the awful truth about Souichi’s intentions while directing him to be a hero. Yet, Sento resolved to take the same professed heroic idealism and authentically fulfill it to protect others.
Here, Gentoku questions Sento’s idealism again, pointing out that while he speaks of peace, he makes use of weapons of war. This is a fascinating sequence, not just in terms of weighty ethical dilemmas, but in the cinematography framing the dialogue between them. Well, not quite a “dialogue” because there’s a third point of view being debated here as well, Katsuragi’s original intentions in designing the Build system.
Even though Katsuragi is dead, the show has familiarized him to the audience over the course of the show. From his own writings, research, and from the perspective of those who knew him best, we’ve seen his goals, personality and the vision which drove him to sacrifice everything to learn the mysteries of Pandora’s Box.
The viewers hear his words here as well, from a flashback to a conversation with Gentoku. There he admits that creating technological progress with the Box’s power, in order to better benefit humanity, would also lead to war over its control. It’s clear Katsuragi saw that as a regrettably inevitable side effect. Gentoku, in his single-minded drive to unite and rule the country with this power, has come to see war itself as the very method by which humanity is strengthened. In other words, Katsuragi saw his idealistic ends of human progress as justifying the means of warfare. Gentoku instead sees the means as the end itself.
Sento provides a new synthesis from Katsuragi’s own words. Instead of being bound to that original fatalism, he has grown to understand his own power as a way to lessen or stop the conflict entirely. He sees a third, better way to help humanity, one that Katsuragi was unable to hope in while he was alive.
To reflect this new willingness to forge Sento’s own path, Rabbit-Rabbit is an entirely new creation not based on any of Katsuragi’s previous research. While it uses his Hazard Trigger form as a base, the power he manages to crank out of the Rabbit Full Bottle is novel and made possible from his connections with Misora. Also appropriately, Misora represents the hope which comes from the Box.
Sento doesn’t immediately win the fight though. While he spring-kicks Gentoku through a wall into the street outside, the match has not been ended by a Ring Out. In addition, Sawa’s procurement of his data allows the Nanba president and his servants to add countermeasures to Gentoku’s suit against this new form. However, last week we saw that Sento most likely was aware of her double-cross and made counter-countermeasures of his own.
It’d be no surprise to see Sento pull a victory in the next episode, but there are a few points which are more interesting to speculate on. What side will Sawa fall on when the dust clears? What else does the President have up his sleeve to ensure he still benefits from Seito’s inevitable defeat in this tournament? What position will Touto take after Seito and Hokuto’s clout have both been routed in proxy battles?
Amidst all these questions, Build is still providing interesting scenarios by framing its plot against some of the oldest questions of the human condition. Can any of us change who we are? Does free will exist? I certainly can’t answer any of these questions, but it’ll be interesting to see how Build continues to address them.