Is it really better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all?

If you've ever been in a break-up with someone you loved, you've asked yourself that question. In the heat of that destruction, as You And The Person You Love disintegrates into you and a person you loved, you'd give anything to stop feeling that way. It's like a death. It's a version of yourself that's gone forever. Less than the need to have that person back in your life, for things to have worked out better, there's the need to be who you were when you were with them. Having to bury that person and become someone new... it's hard. It's one of the hardest things we ever have to do as people, maybe.

Eventually, the hurt goes away. Maybe in a few weeks. Maybe in a few months. Maybe it takes years, decades. Figuring out how to process that change, how to gain the perspective to understand why it all happened how it did... that's a skill not everyone learns. It's easier to focus on the pain, to make it into armor. You were wronged. That other person was to blame. You'd be better off never having met them, never caring about them. If you could forget what you had together, you'd be happier. Forgetting is the way to go.

But it isn't, obviously. Pushing out all the good along with the bad misses the point. Who you were when you were with that other person, that part of you doesn't have to be gone forever. You can be happy, caring, vulnerable. You can even be that with your ex, sometimes. Who we are as people... it's not always a straight line? We move forward and backwards, hopefully getting a little better with each repetition. We know more about how things fell apart, and we work harder to keep them stable. We use our pain to better appreciate our happiness. The pain, the joy, all of the memories... that's how we know we're working towards our goals, reaching our potential, being ready for our lucky stars to find us.

And we don't do that with last-minute superhero saves and time-travel adventures. We can't fix ourselves with the intervention of imagination monsters from the end of time. Help isn't coming in the form of a tokusatsu hero. We save ourselves from ourselves through time, real actual time. We do it with the kindness of strangers, with hard work and careful examination. There's no trick to the reunion of Tomoya and Yuumi. Ryotato goes into the past to retrieve Tomoya's necklace, but it's unnecessary. It's not up to Kamen Rider Den-O to save him or save Yuumi. They can save themselves, if they really want to. Rebuilding themselves into not just who they were, but who they were and who they had to become and so much more. The effort of that, of fixing yourself... it's the most beautiful thing in the world. It's why I started crying at the end of this episode. It's a story that probably could've been told entirely without a superhero, but I'm so glad a superhero show told this story.



THE BAGGAGE CAR

-Super great episode for Airi, even without the cryptic mention of her lost/repressed memories. (That bit was nice for bringing parity to her relationship with Ryotaro, where he's clearly taking care of her as much as she's taking care of him.) In the same way normal-guy Ryotaro is reaching out to Yuumi, Airi's helping Tomoya figure out how to calm down and deal with his feelings. The relaxing tranquility of those Milk Dipper scenes... probably good for my anxiety! I get why this set is in the show, now!

-There're some interesting parallels between the Yuumi/Tomoya plot and the Ura/Momo feud, but the story only really commits to it 75% of the way. Ura and Momo are fighting constantly, until eventually Ryotaro uses them together tactically in the fight against the Crow Imagin. (A really great fight, incidentally!) It's not really a thing where Ura and Momo have an understanding or anything, which is why it's only 75% of the way to a good plotline, but it's nice to see them get a co-op win. If I really stretched, I could make a point about how Ura and Momo similarly figured out how to move forward instead of being mired in pointless antagonism and recriminations, but: it would be a stretch.

-Another hilarious episode for physical comedy. There was that gif I posted earlier, that starts with Ryotaro getting run over by another tricycle, but there's also that whole train car brawl between Ura and Momo. Naomi's enthusiasm for their violence was matched by mine, I assure you.
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