I've watched Kamen Rider Ryuki, a show that was explicitly about Riders trying to kill each other. I've watched Kamen Rider Blade, a show that was about overcoming failure, headlined by some of the most self-sabotaging Riders in the franchise. I've watched Kamen Rider Ghost, where every new Rider needed to pass through the emotional catharsis of trying to kill Kamen Rider Ghost. I started with Kamen Rider Ex-Aid, a show about four men fighting to jump on the same grenade.

Is this the most dysfunctional cast in the franchise, though?

They really are pretty hopeless in this one. It ain't exactly a Final Boss-level adversary they're up against, but thanks to our cast firing on absolutely no cylinders, the team is doing pretty awful. Between Kintaros barging in every time he overhears something that even rhymes with the word Cry and Kasumi trying to grow up way too fast, we've got a Den-O episode that's largely about getting in your own way.

And I'm good with that! For a series that's mostly about how we balance the various parts of ourselves in order to be the best versions of ourselves, characters like Kintaros need to be out of whack. We need to see the heroes as barely functional in the early going, if their journey to Can Exist In Society is to mean anything. I'm definitely okay with them having an adventure that is built around them screwing it up for themselves, especially when the stakes are so low-rent.

I mean, I know there's a 12-year old girl in some sort of danger, but the haplessness of our heroes just makes it all seem pretty pathetic. Like, one of the things was a girl shoots a squirtgun full of ink at Kasumi's outfit? It's some light shenanigans, and it fits the tone of Kintaros overenthusiasm, but it keeps the stakes from ever feeling that weighty. Like, I sort of don't care about this little girl and her weird problems with a prankster/imagination monster from the end of time?

Even the stuff with her dad... there's just not much to go on? Saving all of the parts of Kasumi's story that explain her as a person for the second part, it just makes her so uncompelling of a guest star. She's not sweet enough to be charming, and she's not mean enough to be funny. She's just this bland girl who is crying on the inside, and there's not enough specificity to her performance (or the writing or direction) to make that pop. It's fine, as far as setting a story in motion, but it's nothing to really dig into.

The Kintaros stuff was really great, though. Him constantly jumping in and screwing things up, Momo's inability to vent enough of his rage at Kintaros'... everything (he even hates how Kintaros sleeps!), it's all pretty fun to watch. Seeing how Kintaros fits into the group as poorly as everyone else does, it just makes it clear how much this group of disaster-prone misfits need each other. For an episode that's wall-to-wall Team Den-O Is Real Bad At This, it was the most I've maybe ever rooted for these dopes to pull out a victory? I love an underdog, and this cast are the biggest underdogs I've ever seen in Kamen Rider.


-Still, it is practically criminal that an episode about the world of modeling didn't once comment on how absolutely gorgeous Hana is. How was that not a way into this narrative? Why are we telling this story through Ryotaro's incredibly terrible bodyguarding (like, why keep him on staff after he gets trampled by preteen girls?!) when Hana is there, looking that good? Bonkers.

-I've mentioned it before, but I love how excited Momotaros gets when he's able to fight a monster. It's always fun to watch people nerd out about their passions, and the unrestrained glee Momo gets when he's brawling in Sword Form is some real hashtag goals stuff.

-What was up with the bizarrely long The Premise Of The Show opening on this one? It's nice that it's done by Momo, but I felt like someone stitched an HBV on the front of this episode. It goes on forever. Not a great way to begin a story!