Kamen Rider Zero-One Episode 2 Review: Are AIs the Enemy? Allies?
As a direct follow-up to last week, we continue this introductory arc with more focus on A.I.M.S.' resident Edgelord--I mean Captain and Tech Advisor Isamu Fuwa and Yua Yaiba respectively. Meanwhile, Aruto adjusts to his first official day of CEO and comes to grips as to what he just accepted. Also, Jin is still demented. Though not as much as last week. Ok then, all that said and done, let's check out Episode 2: Are AIs the Enemy? Allies?
01. Story So FarClick thumbnail to view full-size
Picking up several days after the events of Episode 1, Aruto arrives at Hiden Intelligence to begin his first day of work as the company's CEO. Initially hesitant to take on the role, Izu assures him that former CEO Renosuke designed HumaGear with the intention to make human life easier to manage and enjoyable--to bring smiles to people. Likewise, Aruto, being a comedian, is somewhat ideal for the position. Trying to enter the building, Aruto meets a security guard HumaGear who confirms his identity and allows him access.
Things quickly turn when members of A.I.M.S. arrive to question Aruto on the events of the HumaGear attack. Yua and Isamu do a good cop/bad cop routine, as they interrogate Aruto and claim that Hiden Intelligence is concealing evidence that links the attacks to the HumaGear. While there was a HumaGear attack, the one who lead the charge was nowhere to be seen (Because as we know, Aruto Rider Kicked it into oblivion). Regardless of the lack of evidence, Yua explains that due to the Special Artificial Intelligence Act (or SAIA as I'll refer it to as), the first rule is as follows: No matter the reason, a HumaGear must not put a human in danger. In the event it does, A.I.M.S. has the authority to investigate it. The interrogation is cut short when a deliveryman HumaGear causes a disturbance in the lobby, following up by transforming into Kuehneo Magia. The security guard does his HumaGear duty of addressing the intruder, the A.I.M.S. duo reveal their aim are about as good as a stormtrooper (Isamu especially) and Isamu decides now's a good time as ever to transform. Only... the Progrise Key is locked.
Yua takes a moment to explains to him that its not gonna open because she didn't authorize it. (We're gonna get back to this dynamic in the character section). Izu meanwhiles tells Aruto to handle the situation, but keep his identity concealed by A.I.M.S. He acknowledges, transforms, and drives the Magia out. It escapes after a brief scuffle, but Aruto immediately has to deal with the A.I.M.S. duo who mistaken him from a HumaGear. Aruto manages to de-transform and throw them off, leaving the pair to figure out how to proceed.
Aruto makes his way back to the building, where Izu, Shester and the security HumaGear are containing the crowd, assuring them and the incoming media, that it was a security drill. Aruto thanks the HumaGear for his heroism, to which it responds that its his natural function. Aruto asks for his name, and he responds as Mamoru. As it turns out, it was Renosuke who named him, making Aruto even more inclined to befriend the bot, covering its wound with a hankerchief. Later, while Shester continues to fend off an increasingly aggressive media crew, Jun Fukuzoe and another employee explain to a nonchalant Aruto that he needs to take responsibility or else resign, causing the latter to do a spitake and exclaim that its only his first day. Isamu returns and pulls Aruto off to the roof to talk.
With Yua not around to say otherwise, Isamu wastes no time slandering Hiden Intelligence, saying that all this time later the company is still covering up the HumaGear threat. Aruto steps in and defends the HumaGears, saying they were designed to make life better for humanity, that they represent that dream. Isamu retorts, asking if it even means repeating the nightmare it brought about, making Aruto hesitate. Isamu looks out towards Daybreak Town, describing at one point the city that was laid desolate thanks to the HumaGear years ago. Aruto gets a flashback to the explosion when he was a kid, knowing full well what the Daybreak Event was. At the same time, Isamu was a Jr. High student, and the sole survivor of his class, where he laid in debris. An army of HumaGear littering the windows bursts through and chased him until he found safety. He claims Hiden Intelligence covered it up but he's convinced otherwise. He seemingly joined A.I.M.S. to expose Hiden Intelligence's hand in the matter.
The Magia comes back and Mamoru, per protocol, addresses the situation. It turns out to be a trap, as Jin slaps a ZetsumeRiser on him and takes him over. Inside, Aruto meets up with Izu and the pair finally meets Jin, who makes it to them. Aruto asks who he is, to which the latter calls himself a "pioneer of the new world." Mamoru then appears and uses a Zetsumerise key to transform into the Ekal Magia. Izu then explains to Aruto the grim truth: Once a HumaGear's initial code is rewritten, then it's permanent. Aruto is then forced to transform to fight Mamoru.
When it comes to the Kuehneo Magia, Yua is holding it off to the best of her abilities, when a familiar bullet shoots past her head. She turns around and Isamu walks up with a belt in his hand, to which he flips it around his waist. Yua again chastises him, but he shrugs it off, saying that he makes his own rules. The two conflicts parallel one another, Aruto explaining that HumaGears, not only saved him, but are the dreams of humanity. Isamu in contrasts, calls HumaGears the enemies of humanity, and that he will destroy every single one. He then breaks the lock on the progrise key through sheer willpower, to the shock of Yua. He then transforms into Kamen Rider Vulcan for the first time. He charges headfirst towards the enemy using an aggressive fighting style, meanwhile Yua hides behind industrial crates, recording the fight, documenting the events verbally. Her choice of words of "it has begun," raises questions to be addressed later it seems.
Aruto and the Ekal HumaGear take their fight to the garage, where the latter hijacks a motorbike and takes off. Izu instructs Aruto how to summon his own bike via RisePhone and soon after he gives chase as well. The two continue the fight through the city before Aruto leads him into a shipyard. Aruto reluctantly finishes him off, utilizing a new attack "Rising Dispatch Slash" whereas Isamu unleashes the "Shooting Impact" finisher on his enemy. The latter's attack so strong it shreds through several layers of crates, revealing the rivals to each other.
In the aftermath of everything, Fukuzoe tries to appease the irritated media, about the recent HumaGear incidents, but Aruto comes in, decked out in a suit, and with Izu they reveal the footage of Mamoru naming MetsubouJinrai.Net, and that Hiden Intelligence is going to prove that HumaGears are in fact the dreams of humanity and not weapons of mass destruction, all of which is said, after noticing Mamoru within the security line-up with a Shoshinsha Mark on his headphones, implying that this "Mamoru" is a replacement model.
02. CharactersClick thumbnail to view full-size
Ok if there was ANYTHING that stood out to me aside from the resident edgelord punching a freaking bullet to transform, it would be the fact that Yua ain't having none of Isamu's crap. I said this last week, that it stuck out to me that Yua, despite being the superior in these situations is continuously ignored by Isamu because he eats sleeps and breathes robotic racism, and he'd be damned if he didn't get his way. So when she bites Isamu back when he tries to pull rank, it shows that by this point she's just tired of him. She's a woman of patience, but even that has a limit. She decides to be the bigger person when she backs off and suggests they split up to find the HumaGear.
Funny enough, 2nd time in two episodes Isamu nearly takes her head off.Click thumbnail to view full-size
I'll say the first time was a total accident, but the 2nd time was out of spite for sure. So not only is Isamu trigger happy, but he's also petty too. But in all seriousness, the writer for this series also wrote Ex-Aid, and one of the riders was killed during Christmas. I'm REALLY hoping that these two moments don't foreshadow anything, specifically a folly on Isamu's part that gets Yua killed. Because as the fandom points out, female riders are rare. They also end up dead eventually. Let's pray the Reiwa Era doesn't continue the trend.
03. ThemesClick thumbnail to view full-size
The Binary trope I mentioned last week strikes again, this time showing the parallels between Aruto and Isamu. Aruto owes his life to the HumaGear who saved him as a child, and is convinced they can do no wrong on their own. Isamu, by comparison, had his whole life stripped by them and sees them as nothing more than machines that are ultimately a detriment. Two ideologies that clash in more ways than few. One sees dreams, the other sees nightmares. One side is liberal, pushing for a progressive outlook where HumaGears can help achieve humanity's dreams, whereas the other is conservative and deems the very HumaGears the key to humanity's destruction.
And maybe I'm looking a little too far in the social commentary of the series after two episodes, but I wonder if I would be wrong to say that HumaGears are basically slaves? Aruto says it more than once that HumaGears are designed to aid humanity. And we see this, as they are programmed to take on small, less meaningful jobs, without any kind of backtalk or objection. And seeing how truly robotic the HumaGears are (Izu and Shester specifically) I imagine the question of if HumaGears can potentially be more like humans on a deeper level will come up as we delve deeper in the series.
04. Final Thoughts, What We Learned, and Questions Going ForwardClick thumbnail to view full-size
What is Isamu's fixation over HumaGear to the point where he deliberately ignores his superior officer? Is the fact that Yua a woman dictating how much respect she's receiving, especially from Isamu?
We learn that Isamu was from Daybreak Town, the ruins of a former city that was destroyed via DayBreak event. This not only includes the mass of rampaging HumaGears, but also the blue-flamed Explosion that took Aruto's father. Secondly, while the possibility of her gender could play a factor, its probably safer to assume that anyone that stands in Isamu's way of destroying the HumaGear is set to being pushed aside. We see that despite Yua's retort, she had to be the one to be the bigger person and back down. Further, he still goes back on her authority because it meant having the ability to kill the HumaGear
Isamu's fixation, has the potential to be a liability if he continues to be reckless. Will this end up being to Yua's detriment? Or does her recording of his fight against the Kuehneo Magia shows evidence that she has her own agenda behind the scenes?
Now that Aruto is taking the mantle, how will things proceed going forward? As we can see, he will have to deal with both A.I.M.S. and MetsubouJinrai.NET. How with the latter two respond to the new CEO of the leading AI company in the world?
A.I.M.S. pays Aruto a visit and tells him that Hiden Intelligence is under investigation because of the attack. MetsubouJinrai.net also pays him a visit, subsequently revealing themselves to the world. While Aruto reveals the threat the latter is, and says he will prove the HumaGear are not a threat to the A,I,M,S, agents, MetsubouJinrai.net's name is out in the world, which now subsequently will fuel fear in the coming future, thanks to Aruto exposing them to the world. And in a world where they can hack HumaGear, it may not matter what Aruto does, seeing that the terrorist can make his own dream a living nightmare
The SAIA articles were first mentioned in this episode, and Izu quotes the first law pertaining to it. Can we expect to see more laws within these articles that will change Aruto's outlook on HumaGears and potentially the family company? Were these articles in response to the DayBreak event, or was it the deliberate breaking of said laws that lead to the event?
Mamoru explains that Renosuke named him personally (and fitting, as Mamoru translate to "To Protect" and he's a security guard) Similarly the HumaGear that's witin Aruto at the time of the explosion is considered his father. Does this imply that Renosuke designed this specific HumaGear to function as a surrogate father for Aruto? And in line with comments from the board who were unaware of Aruto's existence, does this mean that Aruto was adopted and kept secret from the world up until this point?
Episode 2 manages to keep up the momentum and shows the consequences of the previous episodes while giving the A.I.M.S. duo more time to flesh out their characters. Outside of that, there's not much else to say. At the very least, this episode and most likely next weeks' will serve as the 3-part introduction to the series which will establish the overall tone of what to expect during the rest of the year. If anything that would explain why we haven't had a proper opening sequence as of yet (which, is unheard of, but cutting the opening gives the episode a bit more time to drop major plot points so its forgiven)
In short, this episode gets a 4/5 stars. Like last week it did its job, Isamu as a character blends decently with his counterparts, but I personally find his arrogance a bit of a turn-off. Suit's dope tho. And the whole "punching the bullet" thing was a little much, but I digress. So far that's 2 for 2 for Zero One. Let's keep the trend going!
Kamen Rider Zero-One Episode 2 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 8PM EST, so look out for those as well.
Anyway, hope you guys enjoyed the Episode 2 review, and I'll be back next week with Episode 3's review. Until then, you guys, thanks for reading and I'll catch you later.
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