I realized, watching this episode, that I don't spend much time at all talking about the superhero action on this sci-fi superhero action show. Not cool, Kamen Rider Die!

Some of it's that there's not a ton of it to talk about. The Phase 2 Heisei shows, it seems like (in my memory) the action was all over the place, every other scene was a henshin and a monster fight. With Kuuga, and now Agito, it's entirely at the ends of episodes. A few seconds as an episode starts, a few minutes as an episode ends, that's all you get. I know it's down to different storytelling objectives (serialized drama VS to sell toys), but it means that there's a lot of non-action for me to talk about and think about, but not much action to touch on.

But, uh, I mostly entirely didn't care about the story in this one, save for a couple minor things.

First, there's a neat moment where Ryou and Shouichi have the nowadays-standard Rider debate of optimism versus pragmatism, aka "the world is beautiful and so is everyone in it" versus "uh, my life has been a neverending shitshow, so, agree to disagree". It's baked into the multiple-Rider formula now, but here it feels very fresh and welcome. It's doesn't feel reductive or didactic, it feels like two people with very specific views and life experiences looking at the same thing completely different. It's a debate that spins around how Shouichi views his amnesia as a freedom from pain and sadness (that thing from a couple episodes ago where he wishes he could have new amnesia every day, super unhealthy but very sweet), while Ryou views adversity as something to overcome, not ignore. It's an exchange that only lasts a minute, if that, but it was super strong.

Second, obviously, all of the stuff where Houjou throws absolutely everyone under the bus to make himself feel like he isn't a coward and a failure. That stuff is gold-plated brilliance. (I also love the low-key burn of Nijou making Houjou the getaway driver when the Zebra Unknown attacks. If there's one thing Houjou's good at, it's running away! Oh, and he screws that up, too.)

Other than those two things, a big shrug of a story for me. The Unknown attacks feel totally disengaged from whatever is happening with the heroes, a distraction from the episode's plot rather than an integral part. Most of the victims have no story, and no sense of stakes. It's a monster, the heroes eventually stop it, okay. And the other main element from this story, with someone who knows more than she lets on about Shouichi's past and Agito and the mysterious boating accident of six months prior but oh whoops she dies before she can reveal anything, lame. Very lame! It's not clever, it's just frustrating. I'm not at the edge of my seat, I'm flipping off my monitor.

So, the action. The camerawork is pretty uneven this time out. Some well-designed shots (that fight on top of the cop car was amazing) just a few minutes after nausea-inducing bouncing shots (the first scene where Shouichi runs to the lake to save Saeko, I honestly had to look away to keep from getting sick). The thing I like best, the thing I think is working the best for Agito's action, is how stoic Agito is. The very calm walk into and out of fights, the smoothness and simplicity of his attacks, it's a kind-of minimalist, sure, but it contrasts really well with Gills' viciousness (so much Amazons) and G3's, uh, ineptitude. Agito comes in, punches hard, kicks fast, Rider Kick, explosion, hero pose. It's a strong contrast, not just with the other Riders, but with Shouichi's normal self.

Does anyone watch New Japan Pro-Wrestling? One of my favorite wrestlers is Kota Ibushi. His moveset is fantastic, his athleticism is off the charts, and he comes across as a very fun, upbeat performer. Recently, they've been doing a thing where, as matches go on and he can't put his opponent away, he enters this, like, fugue state. In that state, he gets this blank look and starts brutalizing his opponents: punches are way stiffer, kicks are continuous and gruesome, it's all in service of hurting someone, not defeating them. It's unnerving, since it's cruelty dispensed by a sweet person. (Honestly, it's like he's using Hazard Trigger, but let's assume it's got a couple different Kamen Rider comparisons in it.) Agito has that feel to me, where I can't see what Agito does as what Shouichi does, because I can't see that violence in him. It's confident physical dominance from a wacky, sweet housekeeper. I think that juxtaposition is clever and intriguing. The action on this series is so specific and solid, the ways it's built around characters, and it's something I'm really interested in the show exploring further.