Kamen Rider Zero-One Episode 14 Review: We are the Astronaut Brothers!
As stated in the summary, the final battle with Lil' Assassin ends with Zero-One's first major upgrade, the penultimate antagonist of the first major story arc beaten and the prelude to major revelations revealed. So that being said, I'm gonna stop talking and just jump right into things.
01. Story So FarClick thumbnail to view full-size
The episode opens with two Hiden-affiliated Astronauts guiding the giant Risephone back into the slot on Sattelite Zea, only for a late Aruto to immediately call it right back to Earth. Because of this, one of them, Raiden, gets so annoyed that he takes it upon himself to tell Aruto off personally. Removing his helmet in space, reveals that he's not just a HumaGear, but an older model, just like Wazu and Aruto's father. The other astronaut, a modern HumaGear advises the other that taking his helmet off will cause potential interference, possibly with cosmic rays and all that. Regardless, the pair make their way back down to Earth.
At A.I.M.S., Yua holds a lecture with their squad, going over what they know thus far of MetsubouJinrai.NET, including the Magia they created and the fact the members are all named after a Kanji in their organization's title. Notably Metsu/Ruin for Horobi, whose Kanji takes on an alternate pronunciation, and Jin/Speed, for our lovable psychopath. This prompts Isamu to get up and ask about the other two Kanji, wondering if there are two other members who are named similarly, to which Yua says there's no telling. Either way, the point is that MetsubouJinrai has a method of finding HumaGear that reach Singularity, which hints at the prospect of a spy within Hiden Intelligence. Speaking of, Horobi, claiming that the Magia Project is now finished, tells Jin to go get someone as well as the Progrise Keys, hinting at their plans reaching the final stage.
Aruto just barely makes it to work on time, only to find Fukuzoe and his group awaiting him. They demand that Aruto addresses the subject of the Company's reputation which has yet to be addressed and Izu explains that once they get the Dodo key, everything will be good. Raiden, and his brother Subaru however, step in right at this time, Raiden angrily snapping back at Fukuzoe when the latter asks why he's there. Subaru asks Aruto if he used the Bike during off hours, to which Aruto doesn't realize he's not supposed to. Raiden barks at Aruto, the latter apologizing for his negligence, and Subaru accepts the apology. Raiden however isn't satisfied yet, deciding to drag Aruto to where they work at, while Izu grins, humored by this.
The four of them end up at the Space Development center, where its explained that Sattellite Zea monitors all HumaGear activity on Earth, and that Raiden and Subaru were designed to maintain it. It's very clear that Raiden takes great pride in his job and encourages Subaru to think similarly. Before going in, Isamu and Yua pop up to ask the brothers question regarding whether or not Zea can detect Singularity. Subaru more or less confirms this, but Raiden threatens them with "calling down thunder" on them, making Isamu think back to the meeting. As it turns out, "Rai" meaning thunder, also can be read as "kaminari", same meaning. This prompts the two to butt heads for a minute before Jin breaks it up.
The four of them transform, Jin hacks some nearby HumaGears, and the fighting ensues. Shining Hopper proves to be more than Jin can handle, so he turns to hack Subaru and Raiden for added back up. Raiden pushes Subaru out of the way, and somehow resists Jin's hacking, ripping the appendages out of his back. Jin makes a comment about Raiden's resillience makes sense, considering that he survived the Daybreak incident, before running off.
Yua is the first to bring up this sudden revelation, to which Raiden confirms. Subaru further explains that Raiden was created 12 years ago to oversee the launch of the original Satellite, but because of the Daybreak Incident, the launch failed and he was shutdown. Afterward, Hiden launched Zea and he was brought back online. This time around though, he is to train more modern models like Subaru to maintain the satellite in his stead. Brief back and forth between the two indicates how brotherly they see one another, but Isamu can careless, his biases coming out for the first time in a while. Hung up on his conspiracy theory that Raiden is a spy, Again, he and Raiden are broken up, Aruto attempts to difuse the situation with a bad joke, but Isamu isn't having it. Raiden offers to take them to Daybreak if this will get A.I.M.S. off his back. While that's happening, Izu is pulled into Zea's mainframe, while back at the lab, the 3D Printer gets to work. Raiden, Aruto and Isamu arrive, and as the former two take point, Isamu gets flashbacks of the attack. Back at ZAIA, Yua shows concern about Isamu being there, yet Gai claims that they have to take a back seat as the Ark desires to let things play out, for this is the prelude to a new "mythology" of the Kamen Riders...
In the underground, Jin suddenly appears before them, and calls Raiden "Ikazuchi" Raiden hears this and suddenly, his headset flashes red and he grits his teeth. Isamu and Aruto turn back and see him in distress, making Isamu jump the gun and accuse him all over. As it turns out, Raiden was a MetsubouJinrai.NET mole without realizing it, programmed to send data to them. And the attempted "hack" was a code to make him lure them to their hideout. Jin, while adopting him as his big brother, slaps a Forceriser on him, completing the hack, as well as handing him a repaired Dodo key. With them, he transforms into Kamen Rider Ikazuchi. Isamu and Aruto transform, and despite their efforts, they're both repelled by Ikazuchi, who swipes all of the Progrise Keys they have on hand. Jin throws his and Horobi's as well, and all of them are inserted in this holsters on Ikazuchi's belt.
The sudden overload causes a massive energy wave to shoot into space and collide with Zea, which vomits out all of the materialized Progrise Key Data onto Earth. The animals then jump into the water and enter the Ark at the bottom of the lake. Horobi gleefully walks up to a hole caused by the ensuing earthquake and sees old laser printers come down and begin printing a Progrise Key: the Assault Wolf. Watching this, Horobi exclaims that the Ark has finally been resurrected.
Outside, Isamu and Aruto realize something major happened, and Ikazuchi says that they used Zea's power to revive the Ark. Aruto stands up, and uses Shining Hopper, and completely flips the tables on Ikazuchi. But, due to how its designed, the backfire happens after a few seconds, causing him to stagger from the whiplash. Ikazuchi blows him back, with another attack, and as he's down, Izu slides in and hands Aruto the new Authorize Buster from Zea's response. One shot is enough to blast Ikazuchi back and all the Progrise keys with it. Izu quickly gathers them all but Flying Falcon and Stinging Scorpion. Horobi walks up and tosses Jin the new key, but Aruto shoots it out of his hands before his transformation cancels out. It falls over to Isamu and he grabs it. Isamu claims that it's his by default since it has a wolf on it, and when Horobi tells him that he can't use it, it sets him off. Like all the other keys, he uses his pent-up anger to break the lock on it, and transform into Kamen Rider Vulcan: Assault Wolf. Ikazuchi challenges him but Isamu completely wipes the floor with him, forcing Ikazuchi to use Extinction Utopia to finish Isamu. The latter, acquiring the Buster, loads Punching Kong into it and uses the Buster Dust finisher to destroy Ikazuchi. Afterward, the strain becomes unbearable and the transformation cancels, making Isamu cough up blood afterward.
Jin picks up the key and wonders to himself what this feeling is in his chest is coming from, to which Horobi explains that Jin is approaching Singularity. Jin looks on visibly heartbroken by the sudden events, as Isamu stumbles, barely able to keep straight. Despite his weak state from the key, he vows to crush MetsubouJinrai, clearly willing to kill himself over it...
02. CharactersClick thumbnail to view full-size
Raiden, being an older HumaGear, like Wazu before him, shows a lot of emotion and character compared to Subaru. The pair of them together is an interesting dynamic, with Raiden being the outspoken brash one, and Subaru being the quiet straight man. They balanced one another out, and I like how loving Raiden is with Subaru, acting like a real older brother/mentor, towards the younger HumaGear, who by comparison hasn't reached singularity, and thus comes off as more robotic and logical in his reasoning and decision making.
Isamu on the other hand, kind of annoyed me. Because his outbursts, especially leading up to his transformation seemed out of place. In the first half, where he'd butt heads with Raiden, it was because he assumed he was a spy for MetsubouJinrai.NET and that made sense. Up to this point, Isamu's clearly softened on his approach to HumaGears, or at least up until this point it seems like that. Arguably we can make the case that being in Daybreak filled him with anxiety and some PTSD moments, as we did see, his sudden bipolar heel turn when he ran from Aruto's Joke to keep from laughing to suddenly being pissed off, to when he went from "screw off this is my key!" towards MetsubouJinrai, and subsequent outrage speech when Horobi told him he wasn't authorized, felt really sudden and forced, especially since it carried towards the rest of the episode. If he didn't give that speech I think it wouldn't be so jarring and it would've been easier to enjoy the moment rather than be like "Ok bro you're overreacting, chill for a second."
And just really quick, Jin adopting Ikazuchi has his big brother and feeling legitimate heartbreak all within less than 10 minutes also felt...forced. Like I get the implications but Jin barely knew Ikazuchi technically to have any emotional connection that would push him to Singularity. But I digress.
03. ThemesClick thumbnail to view full-size
I more or less highlighted my binary theme while talking about Raiden and his brother, being complete opposites but showing that their opposites highlight their relationship.
Other things include MetsubouJinrai.NET's theming about how its implied that there's four members and in this episode we got "Metsu" "Jin" and "Rai" in Horobi, Jin and Ikazuchi. All that's missing is "Bou" which I presume is going to be a running mystery, one of which I imagine people are going to speculate on. Being one whose currently learning Japanese personally, I'm definitely one of these people. That said, I don't have any theories yet but I intend to throw my hat into the ring and see what I can come up with.
04. Final Thoughts, What We Learned, and Questions Going ForwardClick thumbnail to view full-size
Episode 1-13 Questions
What We Learned
Questions Going Forward
What does Horobi intend to do with the key, now that it's acquired all of this data, including information on Shining Hopper? (Episode 12)
We see the Dodo Key be used in the creation of Kamen Rider Ikazuchi by using a hacked Raiden. The data collected by Lil' Assassin may have been used in order to re-create the key for this purpose, or its collected data was used as a component to revive the Arc
Are we going to see Ikazuchi, now that we confirm that he is the "Rai" in the quartet? If not a re-created Ikazuchi, another user entirely?
Yua raises the question that Gai knew that she would run into a ZetsumeiRise Key that day. Does Gai know about MetsubouJinrai's inner workings in ways that Yua is unaware of? Or is ZAIA secretly aiding them for a mysterious purpose? (Episode 11)
Gai implies he has some relations to them, saying that their decision to allow Isamu to return to Daybreak was under the Ark's desire, meaning that whatever Gai's intentions are, the Ark is the one influcencing it
Is it the Ark's will to create this mythology of the Kamen Riders, or is this a part of Gai's plans?
Does the BS-Zea Satellite have the same functionality as the Ark? This raises questions of the relationship between the two and what they really are. Are they just satellites or is there an AI within each of them that act as parallels in terms of governing the HumaGears? Could it be that ZA and Ark are the original programs that opened the door for HumaGears themselves, sort of like deity-like figures? (Episode 9)
This question has more than one answer. We can confirm that both the Ark and Zea are the same. Ark seems to be the original Satellite that Raiden was to manage, but due to Daybreak the launch failed and the Ark presumably sunk into the lake. Afterward Zea was launched into space. We also know that Zea monitors and controls all active HumaGear, including those with Singularity. What we learn about these two however, remains to be seen
Despite being presumed Human until Episode 6, Jin has yet to reach Singularity, furthering the mystery of what truly is the trigger. Being heartbroken after the loss of Ikazuchi, it prompts Horobi to highlight that Jin is close. And thinking back, Waz's interaction and eventual sacrifice has pushed Izu to show more emotion as well
What if it takes a massive emotional event, such as emotional trauma to trigger Singularity? The most defining trait of being Human is raw emotion. Could it be that Singularity triggers when a HumaGear experiences the defining trait that makes them "human?"
While this episode wasn't terrible by any stretch, It's not perfect by a longshot. Isamu's emotional outbursts really ruined it for me if I had to point out one defining flaw in this episode, not because he had them (this is Isamu we're talking about) but because there was little build up for them. The first half of the episode as I said had him suspcious, but calm headed to some extent. But then in the latter half, he was getting triggered by being told "no" by Horobi. It was like he was getting mad because the story called for him to suddenly be rage-filled. Where was this rage when he saw Horobi and Jin last episode? If this rage subtly carried itself up to this point, rather than it being a reminder to the audience that Isamu has PTSD and is incredibly racist towards robots, then it could've been executed better in my opinion. Outside of that, the episode was alright. Therefore, 3.5/5. Possibly the lowest score I gave any episode at this point. Without these glaring moments, I probably would've gave it a 4 or 4.5, because of it being a relatively chill episode (especially in comparison to 15 and 16) but Isamu's spontaneous outburst kinda ruined it for me personally.
As always, Kamen Rider Zero-One Episode 14 has fansubs in English, being done by Ridertime Subs, Over-Time Subs and TVNihon throughout the week of its airing (Between Sunday-Thursday depending on the group). Meanwhile, Kamen Rider Zero-One airs every Sunday at 9AM JST/ Saturday 7PM EST, so look out for those as well.
And that does it for this one. Look forward to Episode 15's review in a little while. Until then, thanks for reading and I'll catch you guys later on!
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
© 2019 Nolan Johnson