A two-parter that showed, at best, incremental movement on a few different storylines, but also a commitment to characterization and some fun choices that kept it enjoyable and entertaining.

It's a weird structure, this one, in that it's incredibly straightforward. It's pretty much just one story, instead of two or three plots of varying tension. The G3/police stuff is working in unison with Shouichi/Mana stuff, trading characters between stories to enhance the momentum. Ozawa meets Shouichi, Mana keeps working with the cops, it's all happening at the same hospital as Not Shouichi (didn't catch his real/"real" name) visits Spooky Man, even Houjou's Trying Way Too Hard To Be Cool With Everything moments are used as links between scenes, only happening when a story beat needs a quick transition. Everything feels like it's pulling in the same direction, since the stakes of the monster plot are, uh, Shouichi's life.

It takes an episode to get there, though. The first half spends a ton of time investigating/rehashing Mana's dad's death, sprinkling in new clues like a "blank" videotape and an inside-out tennis ball, items that don't connect all the dots much but definitely shout out This Dad's Death Is Super Weird. There's a lot of the investigation, coupled with the one Ryou scene (One! Was he busy filming the non-existent Agito/Kuuga movie?), that starts to get all the various mysteries into one Big Mystery. It's about time! It was clear from the start that all of this would be the season plot, the superpowers and mysterious deaths and ancient DNA and boat accidents and amnesia, so it was only a matter of time until it all came together. That time is, uh, still not here! It's cool that there's a focus on big plots that mean something to the whole cast, I'm way more into that than a random Unknown story, but we're still very much in the Asking Questions phase. Not a phase I want to spend a ton of time in, but it's still a necessary phase.

The monster plot, though, really fun. Shouichi's first fight with the Scorpion Unknown ends with a poisoned Shouichi and a ticking clock of 24 hours until he dies, which the show?€? completely ignores? I mean, a few characters bring it up, but Shouichi doesn't really care, and I thought that was an amazing choice for the show to make. It's a great demonstration of Shouichi's?€? mindfulness? Shouichi's a very present-tense character, to the degree that his recent expressed desire was to only ever live in the now. He's a neat thematic foil to characters like Ryou and Nijou, characters whose heads are anywhere but right now. They're investigating mysteries of the past, reconciling what they thought they knew with what secrets have been hidden from them. Shouichi is emphatically not that guy. He's told he'll be dead in a day, and he's like But I Still Have To Bake A Cake. There's a point where Nijou has to remind him he'll be dead in four hours, and he's like But I Need To Weed My Garden. (It most reminded me of my favorite early Ghost bit, where Takeru uses the Eyecons to save Kanon, and everyone is trying to save him except him. He's zen about it, willing to accept the cost of his choice. The second episode of this story had that same feeling, even though the character approaches were slightly different.) It's only when he realizes that his death would mean that Mana would be unprotected that he acknowledges that maybe he should care slightly about the next day. It's an incredibly sweet version of a character, a guy who lives every day like it's his last by treating everything in his day as something to enjoy and celebrate. It's an abdication of the terror of mortality by embracing the enlightenment of usefulness. It's someone who sees every other moment as less important than this moment, right now, and the thing that he's doing. It is, like a lot of Shouichi stuff on this show, a fascinating way to build a main character.

Oh! One last thing!

I was super bored at work today, which led to me being real active on the boards, to maybe an irritating degree. It felt overactive. Sorry if I got a little too post-y today in anyone's threads. I don't want to be a nuisance!