There's your average, garden-variety bravery; and then there's the kind of heroism it takes to stand up and say Actually, Agito Is As Good As Kuuga. Those sorts of heroes are hard to find, but we're lucky enough to have one here on the boards. Folks, say hello to our Agito fan for these episodes - SWITCHBLADE!


KAMEN RIDER DIE: Switchblade! Thank you so much for volunteering to work on this crazy-ass project. We're going to watch a little bit of Agito-tinged Decade shortly, but I wanted to spend some time getting your backstory. I mean, I'm hoping your backstory hasn't been washed away as the result of an ill-advised boat trip. Assuming that's not the case, where did you come from, tokusatsu-wise? How did you first encounter this genre?

SWITCHBLADE: I came into Rider from two places. The first was Power Rangers, which a friend had gotten me back into during Dino Thunder/the return of Tommy Oliver. Then Disney basically cancelled Power Rangers and I had a spandex hero-shaped hole in my life. The other was Transformers, specifically two of my favorite video reviewers/podcasters who were also big Rider nerds. They were the ones that got me curious enough to try out the show and I decided to check out the first episode of the current show at the time: Decade.

KAMEN RIDER DIE: Lemme drill into some of that. You said a friend got you "back into" Power Rangers. I'm guessing it was something you had some experience with when you were younger?

SWITCHBLADE: Yeah. It started airing when I was in... 5th grade? Maybe 6th? Old enough for it to definitely not be cool to watch.

KAMEN RIDER DIE: But I'm inferring that you did anyway?

SWITCHBLADE: Up through Zeo, yeah. Then again for In Space and Lost Galaxy. That is why I never got into the merch side of it, though.

KAMEN RIDER DIE: Why? I am like an enthusiastic puppy when it comes to Power Rangers: I have no idea what it is, but I know people like it, and that makes me happy. Why didn't you get into the merch?

SWITCHBLADE: I was of the age where it was just not socially acceptable to be into toys anymore. I was all about video games and comic books instead. You know, cool people things.

KAMEN RIDER DIE: Very mature for your age, got it.

SWITCHBLADE: I did grow out of that eventually, but by the time I did I had put Power Rangers behind me.

KAMEN RIDER DIE: And you got sucked back in by the siren call of Jason David Frank shouting KI-YAAHHH?

SWITCHBLADE: Pretty much. I was a huge Green Ranger fan back in the day. He's the primary reason I originally grew my hair out.

KAMEN RIDER DIE: At least you weren't influenced by another character, leading to a failed run as a juice bar entrepreneur. But then Power Rangers slipped away again. You had Transformers to keep you company, though? Tell me about that. Were you into the toys? The comics? The cartoons? All of the above?

SWITCHBLADE: Actually, that had fallen away, too. I'm an 80s kid. He-Man, Transformers, GI Joe, TMNT, and so forth were all big parts of my youth.

KAMEN RIDER DIE: Same here! I am an old. When people on the boards talk about high school and college as present-tense concerns, I want to jump into a coffin and disappear into dust.

SWITCHBLADE: I got back into Transformers due to a combination of finding some old toys in a box and seeing the cool new toys on the shelf (this was ~2000-01, so we're talking the Robots in Disguise era).

KAMEN RIDER DIE: RID sounds like the thing that's going to call out to G1 kids. Were you just dabbling at that point, or did RID get you back to collecting?

SWITCHBLADE: To my longterm financial chagrin, I got back into collecting. Not the first time, either. I'd gone really heavy on the new Star Wars toys a few years earlier. Gotta recapture that childhood nostalgia.

KAMEN RIDER DIE: To be fair, multi-trillion dollar companies have turned Weaponized Nostalgia into a pervasive, consumer-bankrupting business model. You were just doing your patriotic duty by buying things you liked as a child.

SWITCHBLADE: That is a way to spin it.

KAMEN RIDER DIE: I mean, the alternative is that we all make poor financial decisions based on unsolvable psychological flaws, and that doesn't sound right.

SWITCHBLADE: Oh no, it's definitely more the latter. I find that the self-awareness helps maintain some semblance of responsibility. There are reasons I don't drink or gamble.

KAMEN RIDER DIE: Incorrect! We are blameless victims, and that is this thread's official position.
Back to robot toys! I am also a person who moved from transforming-toy collecting into tokusatsu, and it's an incredibly daunting financial/cultural burden. Both Transformers and Kamen Rider have a narrative and commercial output that is almost a full-time job, and juggling both of them as hobbies... oof. It's some Hard Mode shit! In short: why did you do this to yourself? Who in the world of podcasting convinced you to start watching Decade?

SWITCHBLADE: Mainly Vangelus but most directly TJ Omega. TJ did a review of the Decadriver and the whole "turn into other heroes" gimmick really intrigued me.

KAMEN RIDER DIE: A subplot of these various chats is me freaking out when people say they started a franchise with an anniversary season. It's more common than I'd've thought, but I still find it completely insane. Why did you want to watch a season celebrating shows and heroes you didn't know anything about? Explain this to me, if you remember the reasons.

SWITCHBLADE: Okay, so here's the thing: I started with the first episode of Decade, but I didn't continue watching it. I watched Decade purely as a "let's see what these guys are talking about" thing. I did not commit to continuing at first. But I had two immediate reactions: This is awesome and I do not understand any of these references. And this is why I relate so much to what you've been doing these last two years to get context for Zi-O, because I did the same thing with Decade. I watched one episode, loved it, then decided that the only thing to do was watch the other nine shows first.

KAMEN RIDER DIE: I love it! It's the only sensible way to approach the problem, for Weird Fan values of "sensible" and "problem". The idea of watching Zi-O without watching all of Heisei made me both nauseous and viscerally angry.

SWITCHBLADE: And you had at least seen Phase 2.

KAMEN RIDER DIE: Yeah, but then there was this random Phase 1 Guy Guest-Stars In Zi-O headline on TokuNation, and I was like Welp.
So, in the present, what sort of toku fan do you consider yourself? Only Kamen Rider, or do you check out the other franchises?

SWITCHBLADE: (also I should point out that the plan hit an immediate roadblock in that it was 2009 and no one had subbed Kuuga past episode 4)
Anyway, today I'm still into Kamen Rider, but I've added other shows to my world. I'm not that into Super Sentai. I'd tried it before Rider and it didn't click. I've seen a few shows, but they are very hit or miss for me. I absolutely love Garo, when it's around. More than anything now, though, I've really gotten hardcore into Ultraman. I'm watching Trigger, rewatching Orb, and sometimes tossing on a 70s episode for fun.

KAMEN RIDER DIE: I can see why you'd be hanging out on TokuNation, then! How'd that come about, actually? How'd you land on these boards?

SWITCHBLADE: I've been here from day one. I was really active in the older Rider Kick thread on TFW2005, so when Tokunation was spun off I followed over. I spent some time at Henshin Justice Unlimited, but never felt like I really fit in there.

KAMEN RIDER DIE: Well, as someone very very late to the game, let me thank you for making this collection of threads into a home. It's a nice site, with nice people. Good folks, the lot of 'em.
Where do you find yourself spending most of your TokuNation time, thread-wise? Any particular favorites?

SWITCHBLADE: I mostly hang out in the show discussions, these days. Sometimes the news forums. I've never been much of a general discussion user, even at boards that predate this one.

KAMEN RIDER DIE: Merch threads? Do you collect any Rider/Ultra/Garo merch?

SWITCHBLADE: Not anymore, outside of blu-rays/dvds. I used to collect Figuarts and the small SIC figures, but I had a year where my income really dropped and I fell behind. It was either pay hundreds to catch up on stuff I missed or just call it a day. And then the mini SIC line died unfinished, which helped me make up my mind.

KAMEN RIDER DIE: They realized it was pointless to go on without you.

SWITCHBLADE: I was still there for those. They just made everything a web store exclusive and then just stopped making stuff. Even then, they never completed any line-ups. I still have the Faiz and Kaixa on display with no Delta to slot in beside them. It's a pity, they were a nice 4" scale with really cool and/or questionable stylized designs.

KAMEN RIDER DIE: That's my fear for any non-SHF/SODO thing I like from Rider merch, that they'll do two or three random characters and then pack it in. I feel like it shouldn't matter - it is okay to only get a few suits! - but it 100% does.

SWITCHBLADE: I don't know how bad Bandai is about this now, but it was a recurring issue during the '10s. Do not bring up Sentai Figuarts if you don't want to cause some PTSD.

KAMEN RIDER DIE: I would never! I've picked up enough Sentai knowledge to know to call that one Dekaranger. But we aren't talking Sentai, we're talking Kamen Rider! Specifically, Agito. Why was Agito on your shortlist of Phase 1 shows?

SWITCHBLADE: Because like I said, I decided to go back and watch all the pre-Decade shows before I really dove into Decade. Kuuga wasn't available yet so I moved on to Agito, which became the first show I watched all the way through. I think it was also the first one I watched a second time.

KAMEN RIDER DIE: Well, it's basically Better Kuuga, so that makes it a good show to start with. (I KID! So many people just got mad at that line.)

SWITCHBLADE: Whenever I rank Rider shows, I always put Kuuga and Agito at an essential tie.

KAMEN RIDER DIE: Agito was a revelation for me, because it mostly wasn't even on my (admittedly limited) radar before I watched it? I remembered the Is Agito A Sequel To Kuuga section from the wiki, and that was about it. I never really remembered folks bringing it up in other threads. Actually watching it, I was immediately hooked. Was that your experience? Were you into it from the start?

SWITCHBLADE: Oh yeah, absolutely. I went into most of these shows completely blind. But I'd had some experience with Power Rangers, of course, and that had given me a basic idea of what Japanese superhero shows were probably like. Agito was absolutely nothing like I expected and it absolutely blew me away. It was a supernatural mystery with a lot of cop stuff and the superhero usually only appeared at the very end of the episode. And there was a ton of cop stuff and a mopey swimmer. (I just realized I listed cop stuff twice, but dear lord did I not expect that part)

KAMEN RIDER DIE: And the superhero's just this super sweet guy? That's the part that really sticks with me, a million shows later. Shouichi. Such a great primary Rider.

SWITCHBLADE: Definitely, but the real standout for me was Hikawa.

KAMEN RIDER DIE: I mean, yeah, obviously! Her and Houjou are endgame for me. Whoops!

SWITCHBLADE: I was going to say. But yes, also great characters.

KAMEN RIDER DIE: I am thinking of Ozawa, because I'm ALWAYS thinking of Ozawa.

SWITCHBLADE: Entirely understandable. And for me, Hojo will always be the best of Inoue's jerkass drama boys.

KAMEN RIDER DIE: But, yeah, talk about Hikawa. I had a huge swing on my opinion of that dude.

SWITCHBLADE: I remember that.

KAMEN RIDER DIE: Why was Hikawa your guy?

SWITCHBLADE: I had only seen two episodes of Kuuga, though, so I didn't have Ichijou as a strong counterpoint. I think what I loved most about Hikawa is that, god bless him, he's really bad at all of this. He's a questionable detective, a useless Kamen Rider, and often the show's designated butt monkey. And none of that ever stops him. He's this normal dude with an Iron Man suit that was made for last year's monsters and I'm so impressed with how he just keeps on going in spite of all that.

KAMEN RIDER DIE: Yeah, his main flaw as a character is his intense and unwavering awareness of his own limitations. He is ready to hand G3 over to nearly anyone who is confident enough to ask for it. His whole arc is basically trusting other people that he can be more than he thinks.

SWITCHBLADE: There's an earnestness about him that I really respect. He's so committed to doing the right thing by other people, even when it makes his own life harder.

KAMEN RIDER DIE: One of my favorite Hikawa bits is when he loses G3 (I honestly can't remember which time), and Hojo goes to rub it in his face, and Hikawa, like, wishes Houjou luck? And offers his assistance, should Houjou need it? He's so certain he deserves to fail that he can't see why you wouldn't be a good sport when you fail. It's adorable.

SWITCHBLADE: He has such a bad read on so many people. I will never not love that he is the last character on the show to realize Shouichi is Agito.

KAMEN RIDER DIE: MY ALL-TIME FAVORITE AGITO EPISODE! (Well, that or Double Surgeries. With an Inoue season, I'm spoiled for choice.) The way everyone else tries to get him to realize Shouichi is Agito, and he keeps getting it hilariously wrong... it's only topped by Hikawa acting like a bashful child around Shouichi afterwards.

SWITCHBLADE: Because, of course, he now has another person to feel inferior to.

KAMEN RIDER DIE: Everyone's better than Hikawa, and he's very happy for them! Just like I'm happy to watch these Agito-themed episodes of Decade with you! SWITCHBLADE! Count to zero, because it's almost time to watch DECADE!


Team Decade arrives in the World of Agito! G3-X, a shiny new Kamen Rider substitute, battles the Unidentified Lifeforms, but only Onodera can help… wait, didn't I write something incredibly similar for the Kuuga episodes? Weird. Either way, Onodera sees a woman with his dead crush/mentor/sister(?)'s face, and it sets him on the path to become a new hero for the World of Agito! With Kaitou also gunning for the position, and a grizzled Shouichi Ashikawa refusing to help, how will Tsukasa save the day? And-- wait, how will TSUKASA save the day?! Huh?!

Tsukasa's true plan comes to light: he's trying to help his good friend Onodera by trying to help Onodera's crush Yashiro. But Yashiro's not Yashiro, despite the Inoue trope, and Onodera realizes he needs to let go of his past and change for the future. With our thematic motivation nailed down, it's time for Tsukasa, Onodera, and a newly-mutated Kamen Rider Agito to save the day. All without Kaitou's help, because - Kaitou!


KAMEN RIDER DIE: Look at her! Look at our shiny new Ozawa!
Of all of the things I assumed an Agito-focused Decade story was going to elevate... in my wildest dreams, I didn't think it'd be Ozawa.

SWITCHBLADE: Considering how far so many of these worlds have drifted from the source material, it's kind of nice to see someone taking on such a familiar role.
Especially coming hot on the heels of Faiz.

KAMEN RIDER DIE: And the actor NAILS it. She's a good three to four feet taller than Ozawa, but Yashirozawa gets at all of the anger and frustration and certainty and vulnerability that I remember from Agito.

SWITCHBLADE: There are some moments where it almost feels like they got the original actress.

KAMEN RIDER DIE: Like, it's funny how everything that's not Ozawa that gets carried over from Agito The Series feels like an afterthought. It's this weird testament to how iconic that character and/or actor was. Sheer undeniable charisma, from either performer.
As likely less of an Ozawa fan than me, how did this story's focus on Yashirozawa work for you?

SWITCHBLADE: That is a very high bar, to be fair.
But I loved it.
There's a lot about this arc that I really enjoy, but one of the high points is not only taking the idea that Agito was originally a sequel to Kuuga and running with it, but finding a way to do it that also ties into Onodera's character.
And Yashiro Ozawa here instead of Yashiro Ichijou is a really cool part of that.

KAMEN RIDER DIE: Yeah, it's maybe my favorite homage this series has done yet, despite the fact that the Legend Rider only shows up in the last fight scene. The idea that the one thing they really wanted to pull out of Agito was how incredibly difficult it is for Ozawa to take care of Hikawa, and then looping that into Onodera needing to care for Yashiro, and then straightening that knot out with the realization that sometimes you need to let people take care of themselves... just a super smart way of doing this story, utilizing all of those different elements to their utmost.
The main thing I remember from Agito was all of the Team G3 stuff, and this story got that. I love it.

SWITCHBLADE: It does show that sitting around the photo shop doing very little has been a big learning point for Onodera.
Hikawa's story was my main initial draw into Agito, so it is really nice to see the G3 focus, yeah.

KAMEN RIDER DIE: It's a great way to utilize the Ozawa character, because it sort of dissects and interrogates the paternalistic qualities of our heroes. Yashiro is desperate to protect Shouichi/Hikawa in the same way that Shouichi/Hikawa is desperate to protect Yashiro in the same way Onodera is desperate to protect Yashiro, and it's all so unsustainable and destructive. I like that it's a story about how overbearing it can be to put someone up on a pedestal like that, to presume they can't take care of themselves. Ozawa was always a character that couldn't do nothing about Hikawa's tendency to self-sabotage - dude couldn't miss a bus without cheerfully giving up on himself - but she also needed to let him do the work on his own shortcomings.

SWITCHBLADE: She really is an interesting character to base this arc around. There's this undercurrent of tragedy to her, but also the frustration at others failing to live up to her standards that was very Ozawa at times.

KAMEN RIDER DIE: She gets so (justifiably?) mad at the early-story G3-X operator!

SWITCHBLADE: But there's also all of the stuff with Shouichi and wanting to both protect him while having faith that he could take care of himself at the same time.

KAMEN RIDER DIE: All of the meatiest scenes in this story are given to Yashirozawa. She's got to seem like absolutely the last woman you'd ever let down, but also someone who is maybe impossible to work with.
Ozawa is one of the most She Gets Results Dammit supporting cast members of all time, and this story zeroed in on that.

SWITCHBLADE: I love the bit where she completely ignores the fact that Onodera is standing right up in her face for several minutes because she's in the middle of a conversation.

KAMEN RIDER DIE: Her indignant response to a press corps that is wondering if G3-X has to detonate quite so much private property while fighting the Grongi! That temper! Yashiro brings it all out of the Ozawa character!

SWITCHBLADE: The actress must have watched some old Agito episodes because there is so much Touko Fujita in her performance.

KAMEN RIDER DIE: She does that stone-faced Ozawa Rage perfectly.
As for the rest of our Agito The Series characters...

KAMEN RIDER DIE: The Decade creative team decided to shovel all three of the non-Houjou male heroes into one character for this Decade story, creating Shouichi Ashikawa, a man who is 80% Hikawa, 15% Ryou, and 5% Shouichi. Thoughts on this guy?

SWITCHBLADE: One other quick note: Yashiro's actress, Hiroko Sakata, would go on after this to appear on the third season of Garo as... a cop who gets caught up with monster fighting.

KAMEN RIDER DIE: It's what she's best at!

SWITCHBLADE: The insane chimera of Agito's three main characters is probably the single best idea that Decade had for an alternate Rider.
It is genius.

KAMEN RIDER DIE: Also, holy shit, I just got that his name is AsHIKAWA. Brilliant.

It is, isn't it?

KAMEN RIDER DIE: And Ryou's last name was Ashihara. Goddamn!
The three-in-one Rider name!

SWITCHBLADE: That is some clever wordplay. I am all for that.

KAMEN RIDER DIE: How did you feel about this guy's role in the story, though?

SWITCHBLADE: I will argue with your math, though. I think Ashikawa is more Ryou than Hikawa or Shouichi.

KAMEN RIDER DIE: I feel like Yashirozawa's history with him elevates the Hikawa elements, as does his history as G3 Disappointment.

SWITCHBLADE: His powers are mutating out of control, he's living on the run, and his primary motivating factor is the fear that his girlfriend is going to get murdered because of him.
Either way, he's definitely way more Ryou and Hikawa than Shouichi. But it works for me.

KAMEN RIDER DIE: Yeah, that was a thing that threw me for the first few Shouichi scenes: he's totally not Shouichi for the entirety of this story. He's Ryou's isolation from humanity with Hikawa's self-sabotaging earnestness. But Shouichi? I'm just not seeing any of that character in this one, besides an eventual form change.

SWITCHBLADE: I kind of feel like Onodera is the character that fills the Shouichi role in the story. He's the one that brings the optimism and commitment to doing the right thing to help people to the story.

KAMEN RIDER DIE: Yeah, just like Kaitou is the Houjou for this one.

SWITCHBLADE: It's hard to know what Shouichi was originally like since we only get to know him secondhand, but he's not in a tennis-with-a-frying-pan place right now.

KAMEN RIDER DIE: The little bit we see of his pre-mutant days paints him in a thoroughly Hikawa light. He just seems like some cop/crimefighter, nothing more.

SWITCHBLADE: Right. And even that is filtered through Yashiro's perspective of him.

KAMEN RIDER DIE: True. His house doesn't really give a ton of clues, since it's either demolished or abandoned.

SWITCHBLADE: I'm willing to say that he's a Hikawa who's just been going through a lot of Ryou lately.

KAMEN RIDER DIE: He's a bit of a cipher in this one, getting through the narrative largely off of Yashirozawa's concern and the Exceed Gills suit.
Which, man, Exceed Gills: not my favorite suit from Agito!

SWITCHBLADE: So the suit thing.
The show used Exceed because the original Gills suit fell apart in storage.
It was water damage and/or mold.

KAMEN RIDER DIE: Interesting! I had no idea. That explains things!
That's what they get for flinging Gills into the river so many times.

SWITCHBLADE: Another Agito was rumored to have the same fate, but it was either replaced or restored for that Ex-Aid thing.
Something I've noticed watching the show in higher definition is that some of the older suits are definitely wearing down. One of the Orphnochs had visible foam peeling.

KAMEN RIDER DIE: Huh! Not something I'd picked up on, but I guess it's to be expected. I'm sure none of those early suits were expected to ever be needed for close-ups after the series ended. Background shots for movies, sure, but I don't think the suits being needed for speaking roles was a consideration, mechanically.
I'd assume that with Phase 2 suits, more care was taken for inevitable anniversary stories.

SWITCHBLADE: I hope so. I don't want to see Fourze showing up in a few years looking like a Jetfire that got left in direct sunlight for too long.
Or another golden Blade head.

KAMEN RIDER DIE: Yeah, the important thing for these shows is to plan ahead. To put in the time and effort so that when you need something later, it's ready to go.
On that note!

KAMEN RIDER DIE: A big turn in this story is that, while everyone's worried about Tsukasa's uncharacteristic vow to protect a total stranger, it's all for a heroic reason: Tsukasa is protecting his good friend Onodera's dream by protecting Shouichi for Yashirozawa.
Of all the things I loved about this Decade two-parter, Tsukasa Loves His Good Friend Onodera was a thousand percent not one of them. This deep and abiding friendship comes completely out of nowhere, considering Tsukasa and Onodera have shared about four lines of dialogue in the last four episodes. I didn't buy this development at all. Did you?

SWITCHBLADE: First of all, I honestly think this was one of Tsukasa's better showings as the protagonist.
Probably because he was isolated from the main plot and just hanging out with Natsuki and Tentacle Hobo.
Second, no. Not for a second.

KAMEN RIDER DIE: He's very heroic in this story, to a degree that Natsumi hilariously lampshades (it's very un-THE HERO OF THE SERIES to protect people without getting something out of it!), but the eventual admission that he was doing it all for Onodera's benefit... like, they don't really even share any scenes in this story! This story that's partially about their strengthening bond!

SWITCHBLADE: Tsukasa is a really frustrating character sometimes.
I think that part of it is that he feels like a guy who watched Kabuto and decided that Tendou was what a Kamen Rider is like, but had no handle on any of his nuances.
But a lot of it is just that his goals and motivations tend to lack much consistency from episode to episode.

KAMEN RIDER DIE: Him getting closer to Onodera, despite ignoring him for the last month's worth of episodes, reads a bit like a reaction to Diend's introduction. It feels like the production noticed how similar Decade and Diend came off in the Faiz episodes - they are each more or less solo acts, and happier for it - so this story has a plotline where Tsukasa is a more team-oriented guy, a friendlier hero.
It's not completely unwarranted, as character growth goes. We'd already had a couple stories about working with people, and about believing in other viewpoints. I get Tsukasa respecting Onodera, and maybe feeling a little abandoned by Onodera's imminent departure. But Tsukasa's whole Of Course I Care About Onodera thing just feels like something entirely different happened in the last two episodes, instead of Onodera staying home and sometimes getting knocked out.

SWITCHBLADE: It feels a lot like the show wants to do a Kagami/Tendou or Ren/Shinji thing with the characters but doesn't have the patience to work it out naturally.
In the show's defense, they are working with a reduced episode count, but that doesn't really fix it.

KAMEN RIDER DIE: I mean, show's half over! Not a lot of episodes left to be patient with!

SWITCHBLADE: At least W's second wave of toys will coincide with Christmas.

KAMEN RIDER DIE: I wonder if maybe it'd've been better to introduce Diend after this development, rather than before? He certainly doesn't have much to contribute to this one.

SWITCHBLADE: Kaitou is so weird in these episodes.

KAMEN RIDER DIE: He's just here to find some irrelevant MacGuffin.
That Yashirozawa destroys anyway.

SWITCHBLADE: I get what he's trying to do, but the method is so needlessly complicated for a guy with a literal Invisibile card.
(Loved that moment with the G4 chip - both a "fuck you" to Kaitou and a statement of faith that Shouichi doesn't even need it)

KAMEN RIDER DIE: Also, this is the second time he falls for the whole The Real Treasure Is Something Else thing, and it's still not a physical thing he can steal! Kaitou doesn't understand metaphors!

SWITCHBLADE: And then that bit at the end where he just randomly gloms onto the word "precious" just to find out it's a person is almost a parody of himself and it's only his fourth episode.

KAMEN RIDER DIE: I keep waiting for him to end up helping our heroes due to the dazzling allure of Hostess Fruit Pies or something. He's not very discerning, for a treasure hunter. That said, he Nopes out of the final fight when it's clear there's nothing to take, and that was a fun character beat.

SWITCHBLADE: It's hard to see a metaphor when you're wearing a barcode on your face.
I don't like Kaitou on the series. My favorite version of him is as Tsukasa's clingy bipolar ex from Super-Hero Taisen.

KAMEN RIDER DIE: That's where I first met him, and it's hard to forget that version here. Definitely coloring my appreciation of his antics.
But this wasn't much of a Diend story, really. It was an Agito story.

KAMEN RIDER DIE: How do you think it did as an Agito story? I nearly lost it at the story getting that Inoue Tautology in.

SWITCHBLADE: It feels a little weird if you're going in expecting Shouichi Classic and his upbeat, slightly goofy optimism.
As an episode of Kamen Rider G3 or Kamen Rider Gills, though, it's fantastic.

KAMEN RIDER DIE: I think it did a decent job of landing some big Agito themes by the end. Using the Unknown to take out the Grongi, but framing it as Protection vs Keeping People From Achieving Their Full Potential, and then having the Shouichi/Yashirozawa/Onodera story run alongside that... it's muddled at points, but I think it gets at the messiness of what Inoue was after with that series. Agito was about change being unpredictable but necessary, and these two episodes honored those themes, I thought.

SWITCHBLADE: What I always come back to with Agito's theming is that so much of the show is about evolution and these episodes really nailed that for me.
It's a big part of why I love how they handled the three Riders: Shouichi starts as G3, goes into Gills as a sort of pupal state, then emerges as Agito.
Onodera definitely wants to go back to the relationship he had with his Yashiro but realizes he can't and decides to do what he can to help her get what she wants instead.
Tsukasa is... also there.
It's a good literal and metaphorical take on the concept.

KAMEN RIDER DIE: True! Despite this one being a tougher pill to swallow in some aesthetic ways (Agito mostly isn't in the Agito story!), I think it's one of the most successful tribute stories Decade's done yet.
I think that covers the stuff that jumped out to me. Was there anything else from this story you wanted to touch on? At the very least, we need to talk about how perfect it is that the debut of G3-X in this two-parter is a humiliating fiasco.

SWITCHBLADE: I do love how incredibly clunky the G3-X suit comes across here. I love that costume, but it feels like such a relic.
But I do have two more things I want to make sure not to let slip by.


SWITCHBLADE: First of all, I think this was the first episode to do silly things with Tsukasa's hair.
There may have been some of this before, but it's going to get noticeably more prominent as we go on.

KAMEN RIDER DIE: Oh, man, yeah.
I didn't mention it in the Faiz story, 'cause I figured it was just a high school thing.
I mean, I think it looks good, but it comes out of nowhere.

SWITCHBLADE: Later phases of Decade are very much a combination of "how is this world doing its Kamen Riders" and "what the hell avant garde stylist did Tsukasa go to this time?"
But that was the cute thing. The other thing is that this arc was the final one written by the show's original head writer, Sho Aikawa.

KAMEN RIDER DIE: I had read about this! This was the portion written by Second-Half Blade guy, and we're about to see the return of Kabuto guy for the remainder of the run. I think?

I heard recently that Aikawa had a falling out with the producer over some of the plans for later episodes (the inclusion of Showa stuff, for one). I have no idea how accurate that is.
But while it's not another Hibiki, there are definitely some issues that come up with the writer switch.
Not all bad things, but some frustrating ones if you were really into the deep lore of Decade.

KAMEN RIDER DIE: Well, I look forward to grappling with those changes (Agito!) as we move to the World of Den-O next! Our team has to deal with the normal insanity of the Imagin, and the additional insanity of what looks to be every single cast member getting possessed by a member of Team Den-O! It's going to be a wild ride as we continue our Journey through Decade!