I will say even though this is a follow up episode and it does that well since it continues where we left off as we get more scenes in the forest, in some ways it also cripples the episode. Mostly what I am saying is that not much happens in the idea of progression. I was fine with the first three episodes being Kouta getting used to his new powers and then having a rival face him showing that there will be more armored riders in the future. I would have liked to see more of Gaim fighting Baron to finish their duel, but at least they were smart to stop while they are somewhere that they don't even know about. Other than what happens in the forest, there isn't much else except for a reveal at the end. In ways I feel like the whole episode should have been revolving around the reveal of the next rider.
If I was writing for this episode I would have changed the focus towards Micchi since with the two riders gone it would have been better to focus on another character. Then we could have still gotten the scenes after the forest and have the dialogue describe what happened in the forest. They are pretty easy to just talk about as Kouta gets attacked by another rider and Kaito gathers more Lock Seeds. Since Micchi became more of a character I feel that it would have been better to focus on his reveal. The beginning easily would have been both team Gaim and Baron wondering what happened while they have a conflict in the middle of this. Baron gets to be more dominant again as Kouta isn't around making Micchi having to take his place for the time being. This is where he gets a Lock Seed at first and tries to take Baron on, he would lose and starts to have second thoughts of trying to be the hero. Then we would have Kouta and Kaito return and the episode would play out like the original just with more focus on Ryugen's first fight. Now the same amount of progression wouldn't have been made, but it would at least focus on a character who is going to be important to the series and that can be a good way to replace progression, character development.
Now even though I heard great things from Gaim, I did hear the first episodes can be a hurdle. The first three episodes were pretty well made to me as episode two got an A-. With this episode it is easily the first "meh" episode as time just felt wasted here. Again having focus on scenes that easily could have been explained in other scenes would have been great to have. Now even with the overall episode feeling boring I will say there are character moments that I can like and dislike. I will start with the negative first which was how fast Kouta became afraid of using the belt. Before someone says "Well it was a near death moment for Kouta." That guy had two previous fights where he could have easily died. There was the first episode where he found that he can protect people with that power and in episode two where he defends people from an even bigger monster. Kouta is in shock all of a sudden from meeting a person taking a fight seriously. Kouta even admits he was just playing the Inves Games.... YOU WERE DEFENDING PEOPLE! If there is a rider who is serious about taking peoples' lives in battle I would think a man who has shown his hero personality wants to stand up to that man. Kouta decides to be a coward though.
As for Kaito he instantly knew what he needed to do. In was in the forest where the Lock Seeds came from, so what does he do? Kaito starts taking some Lock Seeds for himself and made sure to get the powerful ones. Kaito knows these seeds are getting a lot of attention and with him being a rider who can use these seeds he can increase his ability to fight. Maybe he could find a sword seed since it seems he really wants a sword and not a spear or lance... He carries many lock seeds with him as he even discovered how to get back out which is the same way he got in, the bike. With his new seeds he starts to recruit new members for Baron as he gets the two members of Team Invitto to join him because he has the seeds. So not only is he giving himself new powers, but he is also increasing the amount of members in his team, genius! This is why I am enjoying this character extremely. Kaito is not an idiot and takes whatever he can get from events in his life expected or not. He just became a rider and even though his team was losing previously he already starts to make his comeback.
As for Mai she has the same problem as last time which is how she feels about Kouta is doing. She does worry about him getting hurt and now that has happened. Even though it was one fight she thinks the best thing to do is to take the belt and seeds from him, it's not like someone tried to kill him he easily could have come after Kouta. Mai just took the only way to defend himself, luckily the white rider doesn't go on killing sprees. Then she goes on the same rant that Kouta is not a part of Team Gaim even though he was before and was willing to help again. Kouta was having fun while doing something right at the same time. Yet she still goes on how he is putting himself in danger for others and that's bad? Again she has good intentions; it's just how she is saying these things makes her feel wrong. Mostly with how she keeps saying Kouta is saving her and that's how it always is. Makes it sound like she wants to be the one doing the saving doesn't it? Luckily someone says exactly what I was thinking.
Micchi feels that Mai is wrong with what she is saying and even asks her why is it bad to be helping others. Micchi sees that Kouta is right in what he was doing and wonders if he was so happy with what he is doing now, why would he quit now. With what he said right there I can tell he finds inspiration of what Kouta was doing and with that inspiration he wants to become a hero and help his team and Kouta. He is willingly to fight even though he just saw Kouta cowering in the corner, literally. It's because Micchi sees all the overall good Kouta has been doing and my goodness why couldn't the whole episode focus around him? There is so much that could have been explored for his first big episode and yet he gets the last couple of minutes. Even his fight just gets glanced over at the end. I will say though I did love how he got the belt. He talks with Cid and at first Cid wasn't going to give one to Micchi because he knows his brother. Micchi starts making claims though that in the future he will be bigger than his brother and would easily make Cid's life a paradise if he helps him. It was a very clever way of convincing the man who does have close connections to his own brother. Then having him take the stage while telling himself what he has to do for his team and Kouta was strong.
Another factor of the show that was a negative was the action as I was hoping there at least would have been some good action to entertain me, sadly there wasn't. Baron ends up fighting some little Inves that are even evolved. I have to question his fighting again though as he is clearly using that spear or lance as a sword. Now he does have some stabs here and there, but his overall performance is full of slashing which shouldn't work for a weapon like that. As for Kouta, he gets a quick fight with an evolved Inves and quickly uses Pine which still looks ugly, but he uses it well and ends that fight quickly. The finisher was pretty standard, but what made it awesome was how he came up with the idea so quickly. Orange wasn't working out well, so he uses Pine, wraps the monster around with the chains, and slashes it to death. Then we get to Zangetsu giving Kouta one hell of a beating and for some reason this is making me think Tales of Symphonia for some reason. I think it's probably because the character Kratos ends up fighting the heroes at certain points and is clearly stronger than them; he even has a sword and shield, and the two men fight similarly. Overall the action was just boring as the only big highlight was Zangetsu fighting Gaim. Again why couldn't Ryugen get a bigger fight?
Episode four still has things to like in it, but overall it feels like a waste of time since nothing big pushes the story and yet it could have. The least they could have done is have some clever hints with Zangetsu saying important key terms and have Kouta confused about those. Also I see that Micchi should have had a bigger focus in the episode as he easily shined the most in this episode. With some boring action and with how this episode made me feel lazier than before, I give it a C-
Next Time: There is a new Ichigo in town.