Review of Kamen Rider Zero-One (3rd Quarter)
TokuNet writer Malunis takes a look at 11 episodes of Kamen Rider Zero-One, the show’s turn towards a new story arc, and the hiatus material brought on by the ongoing pandemic.
I don’t even need to tell you that things are still a little rough out there. The show has definitely taken somewhat of a hit from it, as filming was put on hold for a whole month. In order to fill the time in this unprecedented hiatus, there were several flavors of recap broadcast in place of episodes.
Even though my reviews for this show are quarterly, there’s only a couple things in June relating to this hiatus material, so I think it’ll be fine to cover those here as well, make it so we can jump into that 4th quarter with the show proper.
With that, let’s jump right into it.
Episode 25: “I Will Save the Humagears”
An attempt is made by an unknown party to jam the signal to ZEA, but Humagear scientist Hakasebot figures out the situation, also explaining the origins of MetsubouJinrai. With Horobi’s escape, the gang heads to Daybreak Town only to discover that Jin has been rebuilt, now using a more subtle device in place of the Humagear module, and a new powerful form called Burning Falcon. Although he is responsible for helping Horobi return to Daybreak, it seems that he doesn’t intend to stay with MetsubouJinrai…
What an intriguing turn of events! I knew that Jin was back, but the new “module” is a surprise, as well as his apparent ability to control the other Humagear. The Burning Falcon form is also very cool, using the Vulcan aesthetic with the new knife belt. And above all else, the twist that he isn’t working with Horobi anymore certainly threw me off considering they seemed to be working together here.
Not much else to say, solid episode, albeit slowly paced since this is the main point of intrigue.
Episode 26: “We are the Blazing Fire Brigade”
The next competition between Hiden and ZAIA is decided: A human firefighter VS a Humagear firefighter, using a simulated rescue scenario – whoever rescues more victims wins. However, things get unexpectedly dire as an unknown Raider intervines, causing an actual fire. Aruto has reservations about continuing the competition when lives are on the line, but his Humagear employee urges him to continue.
We’re back on this train, and it’s another unique premise so I’m into it. As of writing/watching, I’ve been watching more of My Hero Academia, which has plenty of these kind of simulated scenarios, so it was fun to see that in the world of toku. The firefighter Humagear is also a fairly different kind of character than what we’ve had so far, much more quiet and reserved in an awkward kind of way. I like him.
The way they conflict is also different for once, because this firefighter isn’t a terrible human being – he recognizes that Humagears put too much value into statistics, rather than just attempting to save a life against all odds. It’s a valid concern, which Gai does a good job of milking for his own selfish reasons.
Episode 27: “I Will Not Give Up on a Life”
The only people left to rescue are Hiden’s employees, and the competing firefighters come to the same conclusion: There is no safe way to rescue them. However, because Humagears can handle fire better than humans, he creates an opening and sacrifices himself so that the people can be rescued. It would seem as though Gai wins the contest, but the human firefighter speaks in favor of that Humagear for doing what he couldn’t.
Not only that, but Fuwa has uncovered the identity of the Raider that attempted to ruin their competition: An employee of ZAIA. In order to remove proof of interference and keep his good name, Gai destroys the ZAIA Spec used by the employee. Jin arrives soon after, giving Thouser a run for his money in battle, and retrieves Horobi’s Progrise Key from him.
What a packed episode – the competition ends pretty much by the halfway point, making me suddenly wonder about the validity of having these be multi-part arcs. That being said, it was a very good conclusion, and exactly the kind of victory I wanted to see for Hiden. However, it does balance this out by having Gai get away with being a despicable person, so there’s that…
Episode 28: “My Rap Will Change the World!”
It’s time for the final competition – there is talk of rebuilding Daybreak Town as a place for Humagears to thrive, and the people must vote for whether they are for or against such a development. While Gai has a human politician picked out, Humagears aren’t actually allowed in the world of politics, so they must instead rely on the popularity of Humagear rapper MC Check-It-Out.
Gai manages to anger the rapper and get him to turn into a Magia so that Yua can demonstrate ZAIA’s Raidriser to the world as a defense against rogue Humagears, ultimately creating a bad name for Hiden and boosting the popularity of ZAIA. Meanwhile, Fuwa confronts Jin about whether he was the one who helped Horobi escape imprisonment, only to be dealt the most confusing reveal: Fuwa was the one to set him free.
This was… a bit of a rocky one, which is kind of fun but also kind of rushed. I do like the concept that they had to seek a creative way to handle this since Humagear aren’t involved in politics, though it feels like they managed too easily to turn the tides in Gai’s favor.
Side note, I haven’t really been using the names of the Raiders since they aren’t particularly relevant to the plot, but Yua transforms into the Fighting Jackal Raider, which is my favorite Raider design. I hope it doesn’t serve as her strongest form, however, as I wanna see VALKYRIE get stronger.
And then we have Fuwa… Oh man, the upcoming twist. If I watched this as it was coming out, there would be SO many questions. Instead these were among episodes I was marathoning.
Episode 29: “Our Dreams Will Not Be Broken”
Fuwa comes to Gai for answers, and discovers the truth: In order to transform into Vulcan, a chip was planted into his and Yua’s heads. Gai has created a powerful new Progrise Key and aims to force Fuwa to test it, using the chip to mind control him. Try as he might, Aruto can’t reason with Gai when he aims to claim Hiden Intelligence in the buyout, and a fight breaks out as he attempts to kill Izu as his first step towards wiping out Humagear.
However, Fuwa manages to break free of Gai’s mind control, using the new key to transform into Rampage Vulcan, giving Yua a strong beating. With Gai taking over Hiden, Aruto has stepped away from the company, but he vows that he will continue his dream to make a world where humans and Humagear can coexist.
This is what the show considers the end of one chapter, and the start of another – it really does feel that way, with the contest ultimately ending the way Gai wanted. But the main star of this one is Fuwa, what with his oddities explained.
It’d been established that Fuwa shouldn’t have been able to transform, and he had to literally rip open his Progrise Key in spite of that – the chip explains that. It also explains the fact that he was able to use the Assault Wolf key, which was made for MetsubouJinrai, though I’m still here questioning why it was wolf-themed…
Back to the point, I had been wondering for a while if Fuwa’s ironic twist was that he himself was some advanced Humagear without the modules, and the show gives me a pretty reasonable twist I didn’t see coming at all, especially since Fuwa had a chip implanted in his head and didn’t know about it! Also, as we learn, Fuwa’s chip is at least LINKED to a Humagear called Naki, which is why he’s been acting as this mysterious hooded figure – Jin has probably been active for a lil bit now I guess, controlling Fuwa.
Rampage Vulcan is also pretty rad, I guess stealing the protagonist’s usual final form motif of combining everything, and it works well on him. The fight with Yua is also pretty dope.
Like a good chapter end should, it leaves you with plenty of revelations, and plenty of reasons to come back.
Episode 30: “After All, I am the President, and a Kamen Rider”
Gai’s decision as president of Hiden is to discontinue Humagears, having them actively shut down, or hunted if need be – meanwhile, Aruto wishes to keep striving for a future where they and humans can coexist, and speaks with Jin who wanted to liberate them. While everyone is distracted, Jin rescues Izu from Hiden, with Aruto using her Humagear Progrise Key to bring back her data – Jin insists that he brought her back to offer her the chance to be free, and Aruto believes it’s for the best.
However, Gai arrives, planning to erase all Humagear data and end this once and for all. To his surprise, the Humagear data is no longer with ZEA, it is with Aruto since he has all of the Humagear Progrise Keys on him. While Aruto should not be able to transform now that he isn’t president, it is revealed that ZEA gives him authorization because Izu created a new company for him to run, allowing him to transform and take on Thouser once more. Since Aruto inherited the Humagears and Zero-One gear from his grandfather, he is allowed access to them despite Gai owning Hiden Intelligence, leaving him in a better situation than before. Under the name Hiden Manufacturing, Aruto aims to help Humagear thrive.
This was a satisfying turn of events. I liked getting some further interactions with Aruto and Jin to clear up their motivations with one another, and give this hint that Jin might have more respect for him now than he did before, though he’s playing it as “He’s not my friend.”
Also, very smooth work on Izu’s part, creating a new company so that Aruto is technically still a president of a company. And it’s a great loophole to say that he specifically inherited these things from his grandfather, not just the company it’s all attached to. With how much we’re meant to hate Gai, it’s so very satisfying when he fails.
Last thing of note? There’s a new mass-produced Raider, and it looks pretty dope, just like all of them.
Episode 31: “Take Off, Toward Your Dream!”
Using his new company, Hiden Manufacturing, Aruto wants to treat the Humagear as individuals, having them choose what they do with their lives, starting with G-Pen. However, it becomes quickly apparent that without ZEA, Humagears may struggle to think for themselves. Gai sends Yua to kill off the resurrected Humagear, but when she sees that he has a dream to create his own manga, and hears Aruto refer to him as more than a tool, it resonates with her and causes her to allow him to go free. Gai is furious and attempts to fight Zero-One, only to be stopped by Jin – he has come to realize that if he wants Humagears to reach singularity and take that step towards liberation, Aruto’s attempts to give them something to strive for are an important first step.
I can see we’re entering a new form of annoyance with Gai, where he plans to attack any and all Humagears he finds out about, which I’m not super fond of. But what I am fond of is this new step with the Humagears themselves; Not only are we getting more returning characters, we also get new plots for them? Nice!
More importantly, the plot thickens as our different factions gain more crossover. Horobi seems to be convinced that if Humagears want freedom, they may just need Ark to give them that, which conflicts with what Jin wants. Meanwhile, Jin begrudgingly acknowledges that Aruto’s dream is a factor in that freedom as well.
Episode 32: “My Pride! The Runway of Dreams”
Aruto is requested to revive a Humagear model, which is seen as a great opportunity to put Humagears back into the public eye – Gai sees this as a threat and demands she be eliminated at all costs. When Naki’s consciousness takes full control of Fuwa, they catch the talk that Humagears are capable of having their own dreams, and realizes that they should allow Aruto to pursue that goal.
With Fuwa back in control, Gai is thwarted once again. Even though the model got injured during all this, Aruto and Izu both take the runway and put in a good word, proudly proclaiming that he aims to bring Humagear back and make sure they aren’t at risk of being hacked again.
This was a fun one-off romp, giving us another new Humagear in the form of Delmo. She has already reached singularity, so she has an energetic personality and confidence in who she is – I like her.
We’ve been dealing with these constant hints that Yua’s got something going on, as she continues to be conflicted by the notion of being considered a tool, and having to rely on others. It would seem we’re about to reach the peak of that…
Episode 33: “Are Dreams Really That Important?”
Aruto restores a tennis coach Humagear, whose student tossed him out of fear, but later turned out to have tossed him out due to how intense his coaching was. All the talk of dreams has gotten to Yua, as Gai gives her one last chance to do her job. He reveals that all of Fuwa’s memories of being traumatized by Humagear were fabricated when the chip was implanted into his head, further proving how much Fuwa is a tool to him.
This brings Yua to her breaking point, having had enough of Gai treating them like they’re less than human. She and Fuwa give him a thorough beating, with her managing to resist his mind control as she gives one last punch to the jaw as her note of resignation to ZAIA. As the episode ends, she is approached by Horobi and Jin, who wish for her to bring Naki back…
This… was the episode Yua needed. She’s spent so much of the show now, quietly listening to every order Gai gives, even if she shows visible disgust with his morals. It’s later explained she has the chip implant, so it makes sense she would sit back, but all the talk of dreams seems to have finally caused her to take action. And I’m all for it.
That said, not the strongest episode beyond that satisfaction? The tennis coach thing was very similar to our basketball coach episode, where the Humagear there was seemingly too intense for the students – I could’ve gone for a different type of teacher character.
That, and I feel as though Yua’s not fully fleshed out, which I feel bad for saying. The arc is good, having her finally break free and all, but I feel like they have not yet explained properly what her deal is and why she went along with it. Probably denial? But the way she speaks of things being more complicated than Fuwa gets, it felt to me like there was a backstory between her and Gai that we had yet to receive. I mean, I guess we do have the Blu-Ray spinoff for Thouser, so maybe there’s some context being held back.
In the end, a fun episode, just rough around the edges.
Episode 34: “This is Horobi’s Way of Life”
Horobi holds captive a Humagear running a greenhouse, and presents an ultimatum: Lose another Humagear life, or hand him the data of Ikazuchi. As Horobi chooses to exterminate her regardless of the deal, a fight breaks loose, but is stopped by two major revelations: Naki has been revived, and has hacked into ZAIA’s system, causing all ZAIA Spec users to go berserk.
This was an episode that kept escalating! We first got Horobi, but then also more about Fuwa; Yua seems to suggest that Fuwa’s real memories were lost before the fake memories were implanted, and that Naki may be the key to getting his old life back. Though whether that’s true or just a scheme, we find out next episode.
And then there’s Naki! As the show makes clear, MetsubouJinrai is close to having its full team, Ikazuchi included. Naki proved to be an interesting oddity, and it’s nice getting that confirmation they are the last one we’d yet to see. I’ve only just learned about Naki’s deal, played by an agender model with the character themselves being classified as genderless. Nice to see something that progressive in my toku.
Plus we have the irony of the ZAIA Spec turning people against each other. I had briefly considered this was somehow part of Gai’s plan since he was aiming to get the Raidriser in production, but he is just as surprised as we are – which is both wonderful and terrifying!
Episode 35: “What do Humagears Dream of?”
Zero-One takes on Jin until Horobi steps in, feeling an unexpected determination to protect him. With the threat of the ZAIA Spec users, Gai announces that new security protocols arei n place, with an announcement that he aims to take down the remnants of MetsubouJinrai. It’s Horobi VS Thouser, until Zero-One steps in – Thouser has an army of Battle Raiders, as well as the Gigers from before, but it turns out that Naki is capable of turning it all against him.
In the end, Aruto goes separate ways from Horobi and the others, with the faintest understanding that Aruto’s dream to unite humans and Humagears might be a possibility… Meanwhile though, the MetsubouJinrai gang is finally back together, now that Ikazuchi has been restored.
The last episode before the hiatus… it’s a pretty decent one to end on, at least, not a bad kind of cliffhanger.
I really liked finally getting some more depth to Horobi. He was established as a former caretaker, and it seems like there are remnants of that programming. I look forward to this coming up again.
With Naki restored, we also learn that Fuwa’s backstory actually isn’t important, legitimately, because nothing particularly noteworthy came up – I love that as a comedic wrapup for him. There’s no need for a mystery there when there’s so much going on, and so much coming up.
That said, not too much else we need to cover here, so it’s time to move onto recaps!
Aruto is connected to ZEA, where he’s greeted by a glitching hologram of Izu, who talks a bit strangely. She claims that all of the data for Zero-One has been lost, and must be relearned to restore it. As such, Aruto must recount his journey, going through the various forms he obtained along the way, as well as his motivations as a hero. Strangely, Izu remembers well the moments with MetsubouJinrai, and even wonders how Jin was restored after his defeat. Aruto sees a strange silhouette he doesn’t recognize, and a familiar aura of malice starts to attack him…
… but he snaps out of it, and is returned to ZEA. He talks about the competition between Hiden and ZAIA, and how he tamed the MetalCluster Hopper form using the bond between humans and Humagears. Izu is revealed to not actually be Izu, but instead a representative of the Ark. Aruto doesn’t care, because he feels this bond is important. We recount the various ways Thouser has been thwarted, and the latest interaction with Horobi. However, an unfamiliar deep voice steps in, telling him that he’ll have to wait and see what happens now that MetsubouJinrai’s crew is back together. Izu, turns out, is just fine.
This was an alright way to do a recap – were it not for the current situation… well, I guess we wouldn’t be doing a recap at all, but ideally it would’ve been just one episode. The second half of this is recapping the Hiden VS ZAIA arc, which is not particularly interesting to recap at length, especially since it’s more recent. That being said, it makes sense to fill the month with hiatus material one way or another.
I also like the meta of doing a recap where plot DOES happen, in narration form, as Aruto realizes Izu isn’t who she says she is.
After learning that his past isn’t all that interesting, Fuwa has been brooding. Yua decides to help him regain his confidence by reminding him of his glory as a Rider… by knocking him out, taking him to Daybreak Town, strapping him down, and plugging him into a computer to replay his memories. This recap goes through Fuwa’s character arc, and how the motivations that once fueled him turned out to be a fabrication by Gai. In the end, he’s not sure if he can handle being Aruto’s security, so Aruto wants to help him job searching.
So… this was a weird one compared to the previous recap. The previous recap reused footage of Aruto in ZEA, cleverly, with a tease of what’s to come also spliced into existing footage. Here, the whole bit about Yua strapping Fuwa down is all from when she took him to Daybreak Town to extract Naki’s data, but dubbed over (fairly obviously) with new dialogue. What makes it unintentionally hilarious is that Jin is there for no given reason. And the end conclusion is… wow.
I gotta say, this kept my attention for the fact that it’s so absurd. But as recaps go, I like the idea of doing a character arc in recap form – Fuwa is also a character with plenty of development to work with. And there’s several nice bits of interaction in the narration.
Super Job Wars
Following the previous episode, Fuwa has the gang figure out what job he’s best suited for, based on what jobs we’ve seen the Humagears take on during the course of the show. At each one, we only have one conclusion: Fuwa is not suited for anything due to his selfish attitude. In the end, Fuwa wakes up in a hospital bed, realizing this job search was just a dream, and feels determined to once again be Aruto’s security.
This was a bit of a nice specific form of recap since we get to look at the Humagears we’ve met along the way, but it’s by far the most optional of the recaps since it’s basically just a followup to the semi-plot of the Shooting Special.
Now, we move onto the last one on the list, which is… partially recap material. We’ll count it on this list.
Episode 35.5: “What Created MetsubouJinrai?”
The representative of the Ark has shown herself to MetsubouJinrai, and she looks to be a long-haired version of Izu, named Azu. She’s come to find out what event caused each of these members to reach their singularity, giving us a reason for another recap. Horobi is a fatherly Humagear, and it seemed like his singularity had to do with being protective of Jin. Ikazuchi acts brotherly towards his fellow astronaut, and seems to still care about him even now. Lastly, Naki’s singularity stemmed from wanting to make Humagears’ dreams come true.
It’s Jin that Azu isn’t totally sure about since not much is known about his past, but he seems to satiate her curiosity by declaring Horobi as his reason. With that, Azu has obtained data from all four members, which will lead to the Ark’s next move. Interestingly, Jin communicates with an unknown person, revealing he may be working for someone else…
This was a bit mixed as far as episodes go – it’s another recap, with new footage in between, and said footage is rough. The social distancing is strong here as there are barely any shots with more than one actor in the room, with a lot of Azu’s contributions being from a first-person perspective.
That said, I do appreciate what foreshadowing I see! It seems as though when the singularity data is taken from each member, they recite the same dialogue praising Ark, but Jin noticeably acts his usual self. So, some kind of deeper plot is going on there… I’m super intrigued.
We’ve talked about a lot of episodes… time for predictions! As a reminder, I know of vague design-related spoilers, not plot spoilers. I literally stopped watching at episode 24 last time. Now, here are things I predicted in the 2nd quarter review, and how close I got:
Prediction 1. The contest results: I guessed that the show would build tension and have ZAIA win the competition between Humagears and humans, and hey, that happened. I couldn’t have imagined where they would go with it, and it’s proven to be interesting.
Prediction 2. Jin’s Return: I made the prediction that Jin’s revival involved ZAIA since the Premium Bandai release of the Slashriser specifically called it the ZAIA Slashriser. Regardless of my prediction as to his involvement, it turns out we got NO explanation for how he came back, or why he has the Slashriser. So that’s odd. Early spoiler, perhaps?
Prediction 3. Yua’s Loyalty: My assumption was that Yua would stray from Gai as a result of the hooded person (Naki), which is why she becomes the Fighting Jackal Raider, buuut that didn’t happen. Instead she became a Raider for him, and her departure was by her own hands because she was sick of being a tool. You’re valid, Yua.
Prediction 4. What is Fuwa?: I’ve been super unsure of Fuwa’s origins for a while, and the then-unnamed Naki connection had me thinking if maybe he was a Humagear and didn’t know it – so very close, but I prefer what we got with the chip. And Rampage Vulcan did have a major character moment with it. Glad there’s no more questions about him.
Definitely got one very big prediction spot on, but I missed most of these, so that’s a shame. Let’s see what we can do going forward… this is the big one, predicting how the show pans out as it heads towards the end!
Also, for context, I know we’ve got a new Zero-One form, and a new villain Rider. I don’t think I need to predict how the former comes into play since the origins seem obvious. Let’s carry on.
1. Jin’s Actual Origins: Episode 35.5 taught us that Jin’s origins are a mystery even to the Ark, and I bet there’s a reason for that. Gai may have predicted that the Ark would get this far, and would have wanted this singularity data, so he intentionally had Jin set aside as a future tool. A Humagear with no purpose other than to give Ark-Zero some kind of vulnerability for Gai to abuse so that he can take the Ark’s power for himself.
2. The Ark isn’t What We Think: I know it sounds silly, but what if the motivations are different? Maybe Ark-Zero has more than human extinction on its mind. Maybe, just maybe, it doesn’t even want Humagears on this planet after all is said and done? Maybe the Humagears worshiping it are just as disposable as anyone else. Maybe the entire planet is doomed! The members of MetsubouJinrai may just have to team up with the humans to take down this threat together!
3. Who Will Die?: I think regardless of who they fight alongside, the MetsubouJinrai Humagears are gonna die, so they aren’t in consideration. Instead, I think that there’s a possibility that Gai will die at the hands of Ark-Zero. I feel like Aruto, Fuwa and Yua all have the right kind of motivations to stay alive, but Fuwa or Yua might sacrifice themselves – it’d be a surprise if they do, but I kinda expect that’ll be undone somehow.
4. This is How it Ends: The show’s message has been chasing your dreams. I think that we’ll likely see the fall of Gai as president of Hiden, with Aruto taking his rightful place. In this role, he brings us back to the status quo of Humagears and humans in society. Whether by choice or because they were rebooted, I think we could even see the MetsubouJinrai crew going on to live normal lives in society. Maybe Fuwa and Yua could even play a part in Hiden? It’d be a sweet ending to have. I’m not sure I should hope for that much closure, but it’s a nice dream to chase.
Regardless, I’m pumped and ready for what comes next!