STAR DRIVER: Kagayaki no Takuto – 23
It’s been built up for some time now and the episode title was a dead giveaway, so it shouldn’t come as too much of a surprise that the vacant First Division in Kiraboshi is finally filled by “King”. Sugata’s revealing outfit was probably the real shocker, given how low it plunges down in front. The real question is why Sugata finally decided to take his reserved spot as the leader of the very secret organization that he’s been opposing all this time. This is after he had Takuto fire him off as an “Eccentric Tau Missile” to completely annihilate the Vanishing Star trio of Sword Star (Kaji Yuuki), Stick Star (Suzumura Kenichi), and Camel Star (Kimura Ryouhei) that decided to gang up on Tauburn too.
If the end of the last episode and this one are any indication, Sugata learning that Keito is the east maiden and a member of Kiraboshi probably had a big part in it. I suspect that’s only what tipped him over to their side though, seeing as Sugata seems to have been preparing Takuto both mentality and physically to fight him. The start of this episode made it even more apparent that he’s hardening Takuto’s resolve should they wind up on opposing ends, which suggests to me that Sugata’s anticipated he wouldn’t be able to avoid his fate as the driver of the King of Cybodies. Not once has Sugata given the impression that he wants to betray Takuto and Wako, so I’m inclined to believe he foresaw joining Kiraboshi to be inevitable — perhaps due to something in his family history that we haven’t been told about. All the while, he’s been getting Takuto ready to stop him by building up his desire to protect Wako. In retrospect, Sugata’s decision to suddenly ask Wako on a date after receiving a painting from Reiji appeared to be his way of getting Takuto even more riled up.
The other possibility is that it’s all for Keito’s sake, which I feel is unlikely since Sugata only recently found out that she’s a member. I can’t see him going undercover to sabotage their efforts either, as it would be a repeat of what Marino did for Mizuno. There are also only two episodes remaining, so all that foreshadowing about Samekh being the “final boss” of the series has to start coming into play. I gather it’s no coincidence that Columna in the play they performed mirrors Sugata’s own situation, especially when Sarina was the one who wrote it. Based on what happened to Columna, it could very well be something as straightforward as being tempted by the power of Samekh. I suspect there’s more to it than that, but I’m pretty fixated on how it has something to do with the King of Cybodies that we, nor the rest of Kiraboshi, really knows about.
Overshadowed by all the attention on Sugata was Takuto’s long-awaited reunion with his father, whom he didn’t hesitate to punch in the face just like he said he would. Surprisingly, Takuto recognized him in a heartbeat and didn’t even question how he hasn’t aged at all, whereas “Tokio” seemed to be aware that Takuto’s his son. At least, that’s what one would conclude from his reluctance over having to bring Takuto down by force (as if they weren’t doing that already). I’m not quite convinced Reiji knows though, as it looked like he was simply trying to convince Takuto to join them, much like he tried to do with Sugata. In any case, it’ll be interesting if that particular subplot gets some more attention leading up to the finale. I hope it does and that Reiji finally gives up on his Cybody ambitions.
* Kei and Madoka were nowhere to be seen, but Ryousuke decided to make an appearance in Zero Time.