「バニシングエージ」 (Banishingu Eeji)
Ask and you shall receive, as included this week was a new maiden song by Keito, “Aki-iro no Aria”, to kick off the next arc. With Koshimizu Ami singing, it’ll probably only take another episode for the song to establish itself as the new Zero Time theme too. Combined with the obligatory beach episode where Takuto was the “oil boy prize” of a volleyball match, the only things that made this episode even better were the radical changes within Kiraboshi.
Much like the episode title suggests, Head quickly made Vanishing Age the only division that matters anymore, after he destroyed the cyber casket, revealed that only Star Drivers with a real mark can pilot Cybodies in the third phase, and added Takashi, Kei Madoka (Yukana), and Atari Kou (Saiga Mitsuki) from Otogi Bank to his group because they fulfill that requirement. It was a drastic turn of events, yet not entirely unexpected given that Head’s been seen conspiring with Keito already. It was only a matter of time before one division tried to capitalize and take over the entire brigade, even though Head downplayed what the other members perceived as a coup d’etat. The question is, will everyone who was left out sit idly from the sidelines or will they band together against the power hungry Vanishing Age? At this point, I’m inclined to believe they’ll do something about it, if the updated ending sequence with all those left out is any indication of things to come. The one exception is Takashi, but I can picture him leaving Vanishing Age for Simone’s sake.
For now, that remains some early speculation of mine as more questions surrounding Head himself are raised. This includes the person in a coma he visited, plus how he told all the Kiraboshi members that he knows who the last maiden is but won’t reveal her identity. In the latter case, his explanation was that the “Higanishi” (east) maiden’s seal must be broken when Wako’s is due to the risk of a Star Driver getting trapped in Zero Time if they can’t cancel their apprivoiser, though I wonder if that was only a pretense to make everyone stop searching for Keito. It’s definitely a possibility considering how cunning Head’s been. The only person who seems to know as much as him about what’s going on is Kanako’s husband Leon, who’s been keeping close tabs on all of Kiraboshi’s activities with Mylene’s help and even knows Head’s real name — Miyabi Reiji. (I guess that explains the “R” initial seen on all his paintings.)
On the Zero Time side of things, it feels like we’re back to the usual affair in a slightly revamped form. Madoka’s (Window Star) fight with Takuto made the newly-acquired third phase look like it was all that it’s been made out to be, until learning that Takuto was holding back so he wouldn’t hurt her quickly suggested otherwise. The one notable difference is that Sugata’s King’s Pillar has been rendered ineffective, while Tauburn’s been upgraded accordingly and Takuto keeps pulling new attacks out of nowhere to make up for it. The Tau Missile was one of his flashier abilities though — launching Takuto as a “radiant meteor” — and seemed to impress Madoka to a certain degree after she was plucked out of her Cybody. I gather the real test will be if Head gets another go at Takuto, if he’s willing to take the 50/50 odds on getting his Cybody repaired for a rematch.
The ending sequence was updated slightly, with the most notable changes being Keito replacing Mizuno/Marino and the group shot at the very end.