Our Heisei Rider tour is nearly at an end, and in the misty forests of the World of Hibiki, we discover a wild Dreamcastegirl!


KAMEN RIDER DIE: Dreamcastegirl! Thank you so much for offering to be a part of this insane Decade project. We'll be delving into some Hibiki-themed Decade episodes shortly, but before that, I wanted to chat about your tokusatsu backstory, how you got to this point as a fan. To start off, tell me a little about how you discovered tokusatsu as a genre. What was your first toku show?

DREAMCASTEGIRL: I sort of grew up watching a lot of nonsense, I guess. People don't get that excited about monster movies nowadays, it seems, but I grew up watching a lot of monster movies. I famously cried at the end of Jaws II because I thought the shark was the good guy. My dad used to watch a lot of Godzilla movies so I guess that was what I started with?

KAMEN RIDER DIE: As a Faiz fan, let me assure you that the shark is always the good guy. So with that normalized atmosphere of rubber-suited action, how'd you make the jump to the superhero parts of the genre? Was it a Kamen Rider show, or something else?

DREAMCASTEGIRL: It was seeing clips of Gingaman on "the old internet." That and, like, little synopses of episodes of Jetman. I'm not a huge fan of Jetman, but I suspect that the aesthetic got my attention because of how closely it resembled Battle of the Planets, which I had adored as a child. I remember about the same time there were a series of NTT commercials with the members of SMAP dressed up as Gatchaman/Battle of the Planets characters and I played the adverts to death.

KAMEN RIDER DIE: Was there a particular series that really locked-in your interest? One that you remember really being addicted to?

DREAMCASTEGIRL: Hurricanger was probably the one. So... I really like idols, lol, and I started watching Gaoranger and Hurricanger around the same time, as Hurricanger was airing, and I was like, "Oh shit, idols are in these shows now." So, I sort of started following it out of curiosity, and then I got really emotional about it and really attached, and now I literally have a cabinet full of Nagasawa Nao and Yamamoto Azusa merchandise and there is no one to blame but myself.

KAMEN RIDER DIE: Incorrect! You were callously manipulated by an industry that is dedicated to monetizing your emotions. We are blameless victims, and that is this thread's official position.
Has your toku interest generally been more tangential, then, to other Japanese-entertainment passions?

DREAMCASTEGIRL: HAH! And here I was thinking these guys were the heroes!
Yeah, I mean, idols. I think it was around the time of really, really early Morning Musume releases that I sort of become really invested in this stuff, and that just bled over into tokusatsu... I would probably have watched anything if there was an idol I was supporting in it; I used to watch like Pinch Runner with Cantonese subs that I could barely read like once a week. But... at the same time, it was a very strange time, and I really, really wanted to believe in people, I wanted to believe people were better than what I felt they were, and that people could be heroic, and that they could overcome insurmountable odds, and I think I read a lot of what I needed to see into those shows at the time.
Pinch Runner, by the way, was like a film about high school baseball featuring a lot of then-current Morning Musume members.

KAMEN RIDER DIE: I hear you, about trying to find something resonant in these shows. There's a thing in the final episode of Ryuki where it's just a woman in a restaurant straightening cutlery, but I've made it into something that encapsulates the beauty of human connection and the necessary, impossible effort of empathy. The best parts of these shows are when we can find something personal in them, regardless of what the creators intended.

DREAMCASTEGIRL: Oh, that's lovely. I mean, also, absolutely, this is why I'm so like Death of the Author! Death of the Author! at every turn. I don't really want to know about the creators, about their intentions because I know what these things mean to me. There's nothing worse than hearing someone explain the meaning of a song you have misheard and realising it is a thousand times less interesting than you believed.
I think you learn this when following idols too, even when the gimmick, as with early AKB48 of "idols you can meet." You sort of learn that yes, you can have this relationship, but it's a relationship with the character, the persona, and that to think of it beyond that... that's not good. That's why all these dating scandals get so much press, and it's because people want to be outraged at the sudden discovery that people aren't the fictional constructs they had previously believed to be, and it's like... of course, you know? Like what are the standards you are holding 17 year old girls to, dude?
idol tangent sorry. Lol.

KAMEN RIDER DIE: No, I think it's plenty relevant! Like, Inoue's a writer I frequently describe as Accidentally Progressive, because... like, there are so many things that go into making a tokusatsu series, so many hands, and the alchemy of that can add so many layers to a story that it's like trying to discern an architect's intentions from a room's furniture. It's a different thing! It gets to be judged by different criteria, and it's best to disassociate a creator from that process as much as you can. It's okay to have opinions, but it's maybe not helpful to have certainty, if that makes any sense.

DREAMCASTEGIRL: That absolutely makes sense. I typed out a whole comment here about burning Inoue's house down, but I'll save that for when we're actually talking about Hibiki, haha. I think I agree though, and this is what I kept coming back to in those moments when I, against my better judgement, recommended Kiva for the way in which it paints relationships between women despite knowing that there's.... a lot of other stuff going on there.

KAMEN RIDER DIE: It's not easy to support Inoue! I would never suggest otherwise!

DREAMCASTEGIRL: It's testament to your character.

KAMEN RIDER DIE: Since we're talking about Rider shows, is that something that's been steady for you? Following Rider series? Or have you dipped in and out over the years?

DREAMCASTEGIRL: Ah, no, you know I hate them. Lol. I don't really, but I used to be a lot more dedicated. I guess, somewhat suitably, Decade was probably the last show I was really invested in for a while. I would watch episodes of shows now and again, but I was okay with Decade being the last real show I watched. It felt like a suitable end, and whilst I didn't dislike the shows that followed, I didn't really pay much attention to them.
I think, like supporting idols, you have to make peace with the fact that this is not aimed at you as the primary audience.

KAMEN RIDER DIE: I think that's the best attitude to have. So many fandoms are full of people who are angry that they aren't connecting with a franchise that they once cared about deeply, and they blame it on the franchise entirely. Like, maybe it's not the franchise that changed! Maybe it's you! It's okay if it's you!

DREAMCASTEGIRL: I think you're absolutely right. I think a lot of people forget what the source material was like and are very invested in trying to create a narrative where they don't have to deal with the nuance of looking at those memories.

KAMEN RIDER DIE: So, for someone who doesn't seem too fired up about modern toku, how'd you find your way to TokuNation? What was it about that site that captured your interest?

DREAMCASTEGIRL: You know, I'm pretty fired up about Buster in Kamen Rider Saber, lol. I was on TokuNation like a million years ago, like when I was really taking it seriously, but I didn't really talk much. I can't even remember what name I used, I assume whatever it was it was tied to a dead email address now. Anyway, the plague happened, and I'd been sort of on and off watching new stuff over the year beforehand with Zi-o, which I quite enjoyed, so I thought I'd try making being approachable and engage with others who also enjoyed these shows.

KAMEN RIDER DIE: Your pandemic hobby was Friendship? I love it.

DREAMCASTEGIRL: Hahaha, I came down from the mountains just for this.

KAMEN RIDER DIE: How has that hobby gone for you so far? Are you enjoying your rediscovered public persona?

DREAMCASTEGIRL: Ah, it's been lovely. It's been really nice to talk to people about this stuff again. I super worry that I say the wrong thing sometimes, but it's been really nice getting to share thoughts and ideas with others.

KAMEN RIDER DIE: They're a good group, overall. I like those kids.
Where do you find yourself on the boards? Any particular threads you go back to more frequently than others?

DREAMCASTEGIRL: It's the creative sub-forum I think I have the most affection for. I have a real fondness for toku fanfiction, and I secretly wish for it to be like 2006 on fanfiction.net when everyone was getting super involved in DJ Diddy Dog's Tournament Kamen Rider series.
I feel self-conscious mentioning this stuff, as I think that fanfiction was never cool, but I've always loved it, and I've always taken it terribly seriously.

KAMEN RIDER DIE: Well, hopefully this won't make you feel too exposed, but: Please explain what fanfiction means to you. It's honestly something that's never really intersected with any of my fandoms. I know it exists, but I genuinely don't understand how that... community (?) works, or what it's about. I realize that's maybe an impossibly open-ended question ("Explain movies to me!"), but I'm curious what, the, like, deal is with fanfiction.

DREAMCASTEGIRL: I think this is dangerously close to veering into Evangelion territory: what is the human experience? Lol. I feel that a lot of my first response to anything is to write about it, that's just how I'm made up, I love language, I love words, I love stories. I mean, for me personally, I don't distinguish between writing fanfiction and writing original fiction, and there is a whole conversation we could have about the tradition of exchanging stories and building on them, and why copyright and the idea of stories as "products" is harmful, but maybe that's not the question. I think for a lot of young people creating Kamen Rider OCs helps them express that same value of needing to find something heroic, something inspiring that we touched on when we spoke of Hurricanger, I see a lot of that, and it's not really what I like to write, but I always respect how personal and fascinating such material is.
I guess I come from a very DIY background so I've always been very comfortable with making fanzines, and writing fanfiction, regardless of the legality of such things.

KAMEN RIDER DIE: Yeah, I mean, as someone who has spent the last couple years experiencing Kamen Rider publicly, I totally get the desire to take these feelings about characters and express them somehow. To connect with other fans through a shared love of fiction, to argue for interpretations of art... yeah, that all tracks! I guess, for me, the disconnect (not a judgment, just a leap my brain can't make) is the desire to add to the narrative. Do you find your writing is more about unexplored corners of a franchise, or about continuing threads from a show?

DREAMCASTEGIRL: I mean it's just because it's my really first response: it's easier for me to write prose to demonstrate an opinion than it is to write a post. 

KAMEN RIDER DIE: Fair! Expressing opinions through art is pretty much what art is there for! And, since we're talking about art and opinions, let's talk a little about Hibiki. When we were discussing shows from Heisei Phase 1 that you had opinions about, and would maybe want to talk about publicly in a Decade thread, you mentioned Hibiki. My assumption was that it was so you could sing the praises of Kiriya, the first and only character people think of when it comes to Hibiki. How close am I on that prediction? Total bullseye?

DREAMCASTEGIRL: Oh, is this where my burning down Inoue's house diatribe goes? I think that, since Hibiki aired, the way in which Toei have addressed Kiriya is very interesting, I think that's worth talking about, but I think that maybe needs to wait for a Phase 2 discussion also.
I feel like I have spent a lifetime banging my fist on desks and shouting about the Showa era, and yet Hibiki, a series which never really was meant to be a Kamen Rider show, feels like the most heartfelt tribute to the Showa era than anything else of recent years.

KAMEN RIDER DIE: They for sure rehabilitated the Kiriya name by making Lazer the best character from Ex-Aid.

DREAMCASTEGIRL: whispers I've never seen Ex-Aid. 
But I will take your word for it

KAMEN RIDER DIE: whispers I've never seen Showa 
But I will take your word for it.
Is that why Hibiki ranks so highly for you? How much it evokes Showa, rather than Heisei?

DREAMCASTEGIRL: I think... I don't want to just blurt out "I LIKE DADS!" or anything, but I think what appealed to me about Hibiki is that it presented an older man who was trying to do the right thing, and that meant a lot to me when I saw the show. I feel like Hibiki is a very surprisingly tender depiction of masculinity that you don't see depicted on television much. Because of his age, because he wasn't a young man trying to find his way in life, because we're introduced to him when he's already been doing what he does for a while, I felt that Hibiki was a character who had a gentleness to him in that he was already very certain of himself, he didn't need to prove anything, and that thoughtfulness appeals to me, I guess.
There's a sort of Murakami protagonist quality in his thinking, his reasoning, the way in which he's just a man who has learnt to accept impossible things.
And yet he still has a very moral code, something that I think evokes the more stern Showa Riders, even though the way in which he expresses his decision making process is far gentler.

KAMEN RIDER DIE: I think I once jokingly called Hibiki "Kamen Rider Oops All Dads", so you're not wrong to key in on that detail. Hibiki himself is the one most ambivalent about being a dad, which I think still gives him that Hero Arc we're used to in Heisei Riders. He's a dude that is complete unto himself, by design, so his arc isn't the usual Believe In Yourself or Overcome Failure or whatever the typical pretty-boy-protagonists have to deal with. His arc is about deciding to pass his knowledge onto another generation, to figure out what it means to be someone's template of masculinity and adulthood. Like a lot of things in Hibiki, there's a self-awareness to it on a meta level, where the Rider is like What Am I Teaching The Children Of Japan.

DREAMCASTEGIRL: Very, very much this! The idea of passing on knowledge and the consideration of what example you give people younger than you is super present in the series and it really resonates through those original episodes in a way that... I don't think Kamen Rider as a franchise has ever bested. It's very bittersweet, it's a show that makes me nostalgic for its fiction and I think that it is an amazing triumph of its storytelling.
And I think I felt a lot of sympathy for Asumu too, in the same way as I felt sympathy for Shinji in Evangelion. It's easy to feel a connexion with a character facing uncertainty, and I think Hibiki does a very good job of portraying that.

KAMEN RIDER DIE: Yeah, I like all of the teenagers in the series, even Kiriya. I like that they're all exploring this, like, maze of young adulthood; where they've got a million options on where they can go, and they sort of have to figure out what path to take on their own. No one's going to decide it for them, no matter how much the audience might wish otherwise.

DREAMCASTEGIRL: It's interesting contrasting that with characters like Akira too, who suffers the same doubt, but it's expressed in a much quieter way. We're sort of introduced to her, again, Evangelion, like Rei, as a character who is in control of the situation, and then, as we see her more, we realise she has he same doubts, the same concerns.

KAMEN RIDER DIE: I was talking with another fan recently, about how much I appreciated that Akira's resignation as an Oni - while Not A Great Look on the show, to have the only female candidate quit - wasn't anything more than, like, her heart wasn't in it anymore. I liked the reality of that. I love Tillie Walden's graphic novel memoir Spinning, about her adolescence. She was a competitive figure skater, until one day she didn't want to be. Sometimes that happens to kids, where a path they started isn't where they want to go as an adult. I like how that was allowed to be Akira's story.

DREAMCASTEGIRL: I can appreciate it, though in terms of the specifics, I sort of view everything after... episode #30?... to be a vague area, like something happened but we don't know what. I'm not angry about it, but I think I was for a while. I do think there's a lot to be said for having the strength to change path though. I'm not familiar with figure skating, or with Tillie Walden, but it feels like so often children are asked to make decisions about the rest of their lives and whilst I absolutely believe you can do this, sometimes... you shouldn't have to.

KAMEN RIDER DIE: Well, Hibiki is a show that very prominently features an end credits sequence about walking a path and following in footsteps, so that's all pretty appropriate.
On that note! (No pun intended!) DREAMCASTEGIRL! Please help me keep the beat as we watch these episodes of Decade!


Our heroes arrive in the World of Hibiki to find an abandoned apprentice and warring schools! As Kaitou uses the conflict to his advantage, Tsukasa mostly soaks up unearned adulation and respect. Will Kaitou’s scheme to steal the secrets of the Slaying Sounds destroy the Oni, or is the real threat closer to home?

With a monsterfied Hibiki on the loose, it’s up to the next generation of Oni to band together and save the day. As Asumu rallies the Oni, Kaitou discovers that the treasure he’s after is something that can only be used if he works with others. It’s a lesson in teamwork and a new side of Kaitou as… our heroes finish their journey?!


KAMEN RIDER DIE: Look at them! Look at our shiny new generation of heroes!
I was super leery of what Decade was going to do with Hibiki, but I want to say they nailed more of it than I thought they would?

DREAMCASTEGIRL: It's adorable, the focus on this element of the story. I know that this is the overarching theme of the series, but I feel there's also an element of apology in how they approach it in these two episodes.
I was very anxious. I was equally anxious when Zi-o covered the series later as well, but on both occasions, I can't really find fault. I think they did a good job.
It's still obviously a DCD story, and a lot lighter in tone but I also think it manages to conjure up that wistfulness of the source material.

KAMEN RIDER DIE: Yeah, this set of episodes really wanted to talk about the bigger themes of Hibiki: what it means to be a mentor, when an apprentice needs to go their own way, how ambivalent it can feel to teach someone to be like you, the value of trying different things until something resonates with you... it's all here, and in some very interesting ways.

DREAMCASTEGIRL: Agreed, and in that there was such scope to mess it up, but I genuinely feel the staff were aware of that. There's a lot of awkward shuffling of feet in this, as if to say, "Okay, we get it now, we understand what you wanted from this, what you were responding to in this, and we're sorry for the decisions we made in the last half."

KAMEN RIDER DIE: To my disappointment and everyone else's delight, they did not bring back Kiriya, so I think you've got a point.

DREAMCASTEGIRL: Not that they're not still making those sorts of decisions on Rider shows, that's just the way it goes, but it feels like they were called out on it in Hibiki in a way they weren't prepared for, and thus a sense of apology was warranted.
But his shadow is long over this I think; even without appearing, the story is kind of the end result of the direction they took him and the reason Asumu is in that horrible kit-bashed silver suit.
I don't want to keep bringing up Zi-o in contrast, but I think those episodes show that the issue of Kiriya weighs heavily on everyone's minds.

KAMEN RIDER DIE: This is maybe the story everyone hoped Hibiki would end with. The older generation steps aside, the younger generation steps up, and everyone becomes a superhero.

DREAMCASTEGIRL: Yeah, absolutely. I think that moment in the end when Asumu overcomes Gyuuki, I wish that had been developed over a mini-series, I wish we'd had more than two episodes.
And yet they do an amazing job of evoking those feelings in the time they have, and gosh, even though Ito David has some big shoes to fill, I think he is an interesting glimpse of a different sort of take on the Hibiki character.

KAMEN RIDER DIE: The whole thing is a slightly off take on Hibiki's tone (since it also has to incorporate Decade's tone), but there's all this weird melancholy and subjectivity to everything, which I find to be very Hibiki. It's a two-parter that wants to drill into the ways mentors can lose focus and start to deify their role in the process of educating children, which is a fun thing for a Lessons-oriented TV show to spend time on.
It's as though Decade The Series is trying to figure out how to square the circle of teaching children how to think for themselves.

DREAMCASTEGIRL: Agreed. I think that wistfulness and melancholy is what makes it for me. It's still playful, it's still everything you would want from a crossover - Momotaros vs Oni! - but there's a weight to it that speaks directly to the original audience, the original staff of Hibiki.
I think DCD was very good at presenting that kind of conflict whilst still being a story about boys dressing up in armour and hitting each other. I think the Agito arc and Yuusuke's role in that are worthy mentions here too.
One of the things I always liked about was that it didn't seem to talk down to its audience. As a kid I would definitely have responded to that.
I feel, in that sense, it managed to occupy two worlds quite comfortable; a drama for an older, returning fanbase, and a show for kids with lots of flashing lights and showy fights.

KAMEN RIDER DIE: And these episodes in particular, with the whole generational aspect, the passing on knowledge and dying off... it made me realize that, for Heisei shows at least, Hibiki is the most generational show, not Kiva?
Controversial thought, maybe. Kiva is explicitly about different generations, but the links are less obvious or present. They're fears about what Wataru might've missed growing up, or hopes that Otoya might have for his son, but that's mostly the level that show works at. Hopes, fears, and how we honor legacies.
With Hibiki, it's more constant and nuanced. It's about raising children, about preparing them to be adults, about helping them discover the right path, about building a new world amidst the old one.

DREAMCASTEGIRL: I think you're right. Kiva is about relationships with parents, but... Hibiki is about the example you set, the things you leave behind, showing them that path as you say. Amusing that the worst ever Otoya appearance followed directly after it. 
I really like the whole "rival schools" theme in this as an aside.

KAMEN RIDER DIE: Not as an aside! I really want to talk about that decision, to make this about warring schools.
Like, a lot of this story is about how mentors can put themselves above students, rather than recognizing that the student's growth is what gives the mentor value.
It's about how systems calcify and stop working right, and how children can suffer for that inflexibility.

DREAMCASTEGIRL: Hahah. I grew up watching a lot of dumb movies, so this stuff really is my cup of tea; I mean, it's not, like, Shaolin vs Lama, but the language is the same.
That's definitely there in how set in their ways Ibuki and Zanki have become, despite how delightful their roles are in this. I liked that we saw a lighter side of them in this, I thought it was a good way of talking about the source material they were referencing but also seemingly having fun telling this new story.

KAMEN RIDER DIE: Yeah, the tone of this one is way more Seven Zenki than the first half of the TV show. It's playful, and part of me wonders if Zanki's actor has spent so long playing Jirou that he can't figure out how to play Zanki anymore.
But the world they've created here... like, even Tsukasa as a Grand Master is about how creating stratas of authority can keep mentors from connecting with their students, or over-value status. Just a bunch of neat ideas in the world-building for this one.

DREAMCASTEGIRL: I think you might be right! But I will forgive it because I think there's also the theme of everyone in this world being faintly aware of the absurdity of their situation and taking two different approaches to it; the masters being all like, yeah, totally Tsukasa is the Grand Master, all of them holding this up in order to avoid taking responsibility, and their students struggling to make sense of a non-sensical and contradictory system and yearning for genuine change - which is like the first thing you learn in any office job, really.

KAMEN RIDER DIE: The Oni in this story are not great mentors. But, hey, do you know who is?

KAMEN RIDER DIE: Kaitou! Best Kaitou story to date! Not much competition for that claim, but this one is the easy winner for me.

DREAMCASTEGIRL: This is really the beginning of the DiEnd has a heart of gold arc.
I love him in this, but I think it's clear they didn't know what kind of a person he was going to be until his actions sort of made him into the person we see in these episodes.

KAMEN RIDER DIE: Yeah, this is a whole new side to him, and even Team Decade splits the difference between He Was Secretly Sweet and He's A Big Fat Liar.
I really liked his story here, though, where he's accidentally this really sweet mentor to Asumu.

DREAMCASTEGIRL: Yeah absolutely, they all do a bit of fawning over him, and I like the suggestion that secretly they've all wanted to believe the best of him despite his bad boy act. I think this really stands out in the story, and it really highlights both Asumu's frustration whilst enabling the narrative to be economical with Hibiki's on-screen time which actually works in its favour.

KAMEN RIDER DIE: They made Kaitou the Hibiki of this story, which instantly made me adore it.

DREAMCASTEGIRL: These episodes are such meta commentary on the series and it seems like there was this consensus that Hibiki should only be used in certain moments, which I like.
Absolutely. It's a bit of growing up for our boyish rogue told in a manner that really does echo, no pun intended, the meaning of the original.

KAMEN RIDER DIE: It's my favorite arc for an anti-hero, where Kaitou is just playing all these sides against each other to get what he wants, but he's playing them by a) actually improving their lives, and b) exposing his own psychology. The things he says to Asumu... I mean, they are good lessons that Kaitou learned the hard way, and you can tell how much he means them. There's even that bit at the end, with Decade, where it frustrates Kaitou to know that the universe has ceded the hero role to Tsukasa. The idea that Kaitou sees Asumu's desire to be more than he's allowed, and that Asumu's dedication is called into question, and then Kaitou seriously invests in this kid... god, so good. Such smart writing for Kaitou in these episodes. It really ties together a bunch of contradictory/unwritten storylines.

DREAMCASTEGIRL: I really hope people think of me in this way when I'm gone, haha.
Yeah, you're absolutely right, there is a real resonance in Kaitou's actions in regards to Asumu that speaks so much of his character, it clues you in to what he's been through, the life he has lived without dumping the details in your lap, and I super like that. I think it's a really powerful and positive portrayal of the impact adults can have on the young.

KAMEN RIDER DIE: And it gets at those big Hibiki themes of not teaching children to be just like you, but giving them the information/tools to live a better version of your life; to exceed your achievements and avoid your mistakes.

DREAMCASTEGIRL: one hundred per cent this - and also there is that melancholy in these actions, having learnt the hard way, as you say, and the desire to save others the pain of that, which is genuinely sweet.

KAMEN RIDER DIE: And Kaitou's a nicely ambiguous way of exploring those ideas. Like, the moment when Tsukasa's like He Was Playing You and Asumu's like No We're Friends and Kaitou's immediately like I Was Playing You. It's a dude who only in the aftermath of his actions realizes that he cares.

DREAMCASTEGIRL: Yeah, he's totally lying to himself. It's interesting how he becomes the main character during the second half of the story. Tsukasa doesn't really do anything, he's just sort of there, but it's the rival schools and Kaitou who push the story to its conclusion.
Without wishing to unfairly characterise Yuusuke as weak or infantile, I think there's a justified comparison to be made between him and Asumu during these episodes.

KAMEN RIDER DIE: Tsukasa is very caught up in the Rival Schools plot. His vanity is his weak point, and he is INCREDIBLY vain in this story.
I'm interested to hear about your Asumu/Onodera comparison! I thought Onodera's role in the story was mostly just to turn into Kuuga so we could have a brief Kuuga/Kuuga But A Dad action sequence.

DREAMCASTEGIRL: I'm trying to type this with a cat on my hands, so apologies if I don't make myself clear, and there's also the danger I'm being informed by later characterisation, but, to me, Yuusuke seems to express the same doubt, the same fear of not being good enough, and is also a character who lost his mentor and his direction.
I'm sure it's just that there's only so much time and only so many characters you can spotlight in that time, but it comes across as Yuusuke being frozen by the implications of acting in certain moments here. The fanfic writer in me maybe reads too heavily into this but, to me, it seems like Yuusuke can see the same things that Kaitou does but, because it's so close to home, he doesn't know how to deal with it.
Meanwhile, I think Tsukasa has a reading of the situation but is too busy trying to pretend that he's clever.

KAMEN RIDER DIE: I really liked that Kaitou wanted the two schools to fight so he could steal the scrolls, and Tsukasa wanted the two schools to fight because it seemed like it'd be fun. OUR HERO!
But, yeah, I'm not sure I'm seeing all that in Onodera. I like the thought, but the show has so minimized Onodera's contributions that it's difficult to see much of a post-Agito arc for him. I like your read, though! Definitely more generous than I'd've been.

DREAMCASTEGIRL: Perhaps it's because he can't relate that he underestimates the situation? He sees the same information but it's very clear, very black and white, and he's also expecting Kaitou to try and trip him up because these boys are idiots.
Good old chaotic Tsukasa.
Let's chalk this up as me having my fanfic glasses on. Stay tuned for that one, lol.

KAMEN RIDER DIE: I will, as always, be keeping my eyes open.
I'm especially glad I kept my eyes open this time, because look what I saw!

KAMEN RIDER DIE: Holy shit! Everyone's back!

DREAMCASTEGIRL: Ibuki's actor is in disgrace right now, isn't he?

KAMEN RIDER DIE: Oh, is he? I never know anything about these actors.

DREAMCASTEGIRL: Akiyama Eri is amazing, I adore her. I brought her single when she had a brief blink-and-you'll-miss-it idol career.
I think so. I think it was an affair, which Japan seems really harsh about.
But also: Todoroki! He's like the glue of post-Hibiki Hibiki stories

KAMEN RIDER DIE: I knew Zanki would be back, since that actor apparently lives at the studio, but Ibuki! Todoroki! AKIRA!

DREAMCASTEGIRL: I wouldn't complain if Zanki's actor was in every successive Rider show, he's great fun to watch.

KAMEN RIDER DIE: He's the best.
And, yeah, good ol' Tryhard Todoroki.

DREAMCASTEGIRL: I wonder how he feels about his bum being an early meme of livejournal Rider fandom.

KAMEN RIDER DIE: The image of him standing next to two actual children for the New Generation shot, and him looking the least qualified... so great. That dude.

DREAMCASTEGIRL: Todoroki is a great character, and I think in a lot of ways, he's sort of grown into the audience character.

KAMEN RIDER DIE: Does Todoroki have a nice butt? I've never noticed.

DREAMCASTEGIRL: He's hilarious. You just want to mother him.
Oh sorry I was talking about Zanki.

KAMEN RIDER DIE: Does Zanki have a nice butt?

But also, it's clearly visible during the end of his character's time in Hibiki
So, you know, I guess that's the internet for you.

KAMEN RIDER DIE: The first I'm hearing about the internet's prurient side, and I am SHOCKED. Nearly as shocked as I was to see so many returning actors for this story. It's not the usual Decade thing, you know? To get almost an entire supporting cast to reprise their roles? I love it, and I think it worked great, but it's still more than I thought they'd do.

DREAMCASTEGIRL: I'm sorry to break the news to you, hahah. Yeah, I think the returning actors was a part of that apology to Hibiki.
I sometimes wonder if the entire genesis of DCD's story was simply that Odagiri Joe didn't want to play ball.

KAMEN RIDER DIE: Like, this one has four returning actors. The Den-O episodes have a bunch of guest stars, but that's mostly to promote the movie. Wataru shows up in the premiere as The Story Of Wataru. Was there anything else I'm forgetting? Actual human actors reprising their roles? Because it feels very minor, right up until these episodes. I wonder why they were able/willing to get so many people back this time. It's a lot of work!
I mean, if they'd only gotten Akira back I'd've been thrilled.

DREAMCASTEGIRL: I think some voice actors returned?
But I can't remember. I'm sure Androzani would know.

KAMEN RIDER DIE: Yeah, but that's a lot easier. This was humans! In human clothes!
All in one place!

DREAMCASTEGIRL: Yeah, it was an amazing achievement. But again, like them saving this for the last real DCD 9 worlds arc, I think a lot of that must have been Toei knowing they had to make something of this after the fuss around Hibiki "Season 2".

KAMEN RIDER DIE: For sure. They got the band back together, basically. Speaking of!

DREAMCASTEGIRL: This is the silliest moment of the story, but I'm also so glad it's in here. Take that Toei executives who said these giant monsters were "too expensive."
Also, I really like crabs, i think they're cool. And slightly creepy.

KAMEN RIDER DIE: From when I was watching Hibiki Episode 22:
"The gimmick is that they’re synchronizing their attacks to defeat the monster, playing together as a band. Hibiki specifically uses the phrase 'harmonize'. But then they… just play their normal solos? It doesn’t sound harmonic at all, it sounds like three people that have completely different rhythms. I was hoping they’d make some song out of their attack, but it’s just them doing what they’d normally do while two other guys did the same. Feels like a missed opportunity for something really special."
And then this episode does EXACTLY THAT.

DREAMCASTEGIRL: Yeah, I think they were probably aware that this is what they always should have been doing.

KAMEN RIDER DIE: It's the best ending to a Hibiki story.

DREAMCASTEGIRL: But also, honourable mention: we have Asakura with a big drum stick to thank for that giant crab.

KAMEN RIDER DIE: I hope his eventual Seihou comes with that.

DREAMCASTEGIRL: On a serious note, it absolutely highlights the message of the story, of Hibiki as a series.
With all this teamwork, you'd think this was a sentai show.

KAMEN RIDER DIE: The teamwork part... I don't know if that's something I took away from Hibiki? The way everyone's example helped shape Asumu, sure, but the Oni were largely treated as coworkers, not teammates. It's a real lesson here, that we're Stronger Together, but it's not what I recall being a dominant theme from the series. Is that not your experience?

DREAMCASTEGIRL: I think I'm maybe being too general with words like teamwork.
I think there is that uniquely Japanese sense of society that runs through both this and the original show, the sense that you should be considerate, that you pick others up when they fall, that you be supportive, all of which are important and valuable lessons.

KAMEN RIDER DIE: Sure, that's a real Kamen Rider theme, but I guess I don't think of it as a Hibiki theme? Hibiki's take on it was more individual, less collective. Being there for A person, you know? Here, the story is very much that people need to work together to be their best selves, and that's not specifically a Hibiki theme to me.

DREAMCASTEGIRL: My impression has always been of it as a family drama. I think I'm biased there though.

KAMEN RIDER DIE: No, it is, but it's... it's not a big nuclear family, it's a bunch of overlapping small families.

DREAMCASTEGIRL: I sort of like found family stories, so I might be reading and interpreting it in that light.

KAMEN RIDER DIE: Your view definitely lines up more with the makers of Decade, so I don't think you're off-base.

DREAMCASTEGIRL: I don't know if that's a good thing considering what came after this arc!

KAMEN RIDER DIE: Oh no! Before we reach that point, was there anything you wanted to discuss from these episodes? How much A.R. Hibiki looked like the 7th Doctor, maybe?

DREAMCASTEGIRL: HAHAH! Don't do that to me! The 7th Doctor is one of my favourite characters and I will bend over backwards to start joining the dots here.

KAMEN RIDER DIE: Hibiki's a bit Sylvester McCoy in this.

DREAMCASTEGIRL: Which I like a lot. if you look at the characters I like in stories, they're really only two categories - Gabranth, Vader, &c. - failed villains consumed with regret, or growly old men acting tough but with inner conflict - Buster, Jecht, &c. - and I think the 7th Doctor and Ito David's ambiguous, consumed-by-an-oni Hibiki are definitely the former.
Well, to be fair, Hibiki here could fit into either category.

KAMEN RIDER DIE: True! He seems like he's too cool for Oni school, but it's really because his excellence has become a tomb and he doesn't want to doom Asumu.

DREAMCASTEGIRL: Ah, that's such a lovely but heartbreaking way of putting it.
There's a lot of keeping people at arm's length in this and the exploration of what that leads to.

KAMEN RIDER DIE: I liked the Hibiki/Asumu relationship here. It felt very right, all of Hibiki's weird reluctance that's coming from a good place while still being sort of mean.

DREAMCASTEGIRL: Yeah, it definitely resonated with me. I think we all have that person in our lives or have been that person who wanted to protect someone but sort made it worse by building a wall around them. Tsukasa does this as well so it's a good contrast.
it fascinates me how many young men identified with DCD in fanfiction circles.
I still see a lot of OC!DCDs, because I think that defensive character type and misunderstood destroyer archetype is how a lot of young men see themselves positioned in society, so they project a lot onto a character like Tsukasa.

KAMEN RIDER DIE: Oh no! That's bad!

DREAMCASTEGIRL: But maybe it's cathartic for them?


DREAMCASTEGIRL: Maybe it's a way of exploring their responsibilities?
Either that or there's going to be like a generation of tokusatsu themed Unabombers.


DREAMCASTEGIRL: So I hope it's cathartic too, lol.

KAMEN RIDER DIE: But, seriously, I think it's okay to see yourself in someone like Tsukasa. It's sad, since he's someone who is destined to never fit in, never feel understood, but that's a very universal adolescent trouble.

DREAMCASTEGIRL: yeah. I mean, I've been a teenager for several decades now and I can totally understand how people can look at Tsukasa and relate to his conflict. 

KAMEN RIDER DIE: He's a guy who learned all of his life lessons from Kamen Rider - he is very relatable.

DREAMCASTEGIRL: Hahah, absolutely. Maybe the real lesson is we're all a little Tsukasa?

KAMEN RIDER DIE: Maybe! Anything else you wanted to talk about from this story?

DREAMCASTEGIRL: Umm, just to say that for this rewatch I picked the Hong Kong English language dubs to add some spice, and they are as charming as ever to watch again and I think it's sad that this was the last Rider show that was dubbed like this?

KAMEN RIDER DIE: Spicy Decade! A bold choice, with a happy outcome.
Much like the happy outcome Team Decade discovers in our next episodes! Their voyage across the nine Heisei worlds is at an end, and they're ready to relax. But considering this is the world of the Dark Riders, I'm guessing that relaxation will be short-lived. We'll find out if I'm right when we continue our Journey through Decade!