1. This was a messy one! It's not a bad one, though. I really enjoyed it, probably in ways/levels that I wasn't supposed to, but it's pretty much just an overflowing bag of an episode. There's a loose Takumi/Mari runner, a check-in with Yuuji and Live Action Hatsune Miku, an underground school that was abandoned in 1995, the hilarious suffering of Yuka, and Keitaro, the world's most impossibly dedicated dry cleaner. All that plus Faiz playing around with his cellphone to figure out how to shoot monsters with it, an unbelievably irritating high-pitched whine of an Exceed Charge, and god knows what else I already forgot. It was a lot! This one was a lot!

2. That Mari/Takumi runner, though, it keeps this thing on whatever rails it manages to stay on. I like how formless their story is right now, how it's all character-driven decision-making and, like, hanging out. (I can't decide if my favorite thing in the episode is Mari faking an Orphnoch wrist injury to get Takumi to stick around, only to actually get her wrist injured by an Orphnoch at the end, or her telling Takumi that the right amount of distance for him to sleep around her is 30cm less than Too Far Away. They're both perfect. I can't choose!) It's only midway through the episode that Mari's like Hey Why Don't We Both Go To Tokyo And Get To The Bottom Of This Monster And Belt Stuff, to which Takumi could not care less. I love it. I love how adamant the ostensible star of the show is to not doing anything as Kamen Rider Faiz. Even when Mari tosses him the belt late in the episode, you can practically hear his rolling eyes louder than you can hear his dialogue. (Holy shit, Kurona just posted about SO-DO Double getting a Hardboiler, very exciting, I lost my train of thought now.) It's maybe a turn-off for some people, the way Takumi is trying to avoid the premise and run away from the action, but, like, come on. Fate keeps throwing the two of them into the path of motorcycle-riding monsters, so we're going to get our big sci-fi story whether Takumi wants it or not. And, like, I really love that he hates being in this story. It's an endlessly funny take on a toku hero, where reluctance just, like, magnifies into a complete frustration with the genre of the show. Super funny, the ways the show pushes these two characters along the path without them both wanting it.

3. The Yuka stuff was also incredibly funny, and I'm 99% sure that's not supposed to be my takeaway. Yuka's pining for Keitaro, a very sweet boy who wants to make everyone smile and will probably kill himself if you don't get the clothes you needed laundered. (So great that the Kamen Rider show about selfish misanthropes found a way to do The Kamen Rider Theme in the most funny, satirical way possible.) Other than that small bright spot of hope, everything in her life is trying to destroy her. Yuka's story is basically an unending torment, as she's belittled by her parents (Or, "parents"? Michiko mentions that Yuka's not really her sister at one point?), bullied by her sister and the other girls at school (right by Yui and Shiro's childhood home of abuse, for added trauma), and eventually just collapses dead on some snowy stairs. It's?€? it's not a story that does a great job of sketching out a sympathetic character. Yuka's a victim of the world's hostility, but we don't really get a sense of who she is. She's meek, and gets abused. Beyond that, the only look we get into her thoughts are that she'd very much like to be literally anywhere on Earth that isn't the place where she's being abused. Which, that's a very universal wish, but it lacks the specificity that would make you want to see her situation change. As it is, the endless amounts of pain and belittlement she suffers is actually just stupidly funny? It doesn't feel grounded enough to feel relatable, and Yuka doesn't have a characteristic beyond Abused and Would Like To Stop Being Abused to make her feel like a real person. Even her death ("death”, she got them Orphnoch Optics now) is pointless, her just suddenly falling over dead. I get that Inoue had to maybe shortcut to get her story into one episode, but what's here is so over-the-top as to be almost completely ineffective. Unless you count it as parody? In which case, super effective.

4. The rest of the episode is some neat little quick bites of stories. Teases of that abandoned school are intriguing. Live Action Hatsune Miku as Yuuji's Orphnoch life coach should end up paying dividends, as even the moment when LAHM tells a questioning Yuuji to just go with the flow adds a nice sense of menace to what's otherwise an upbeat reassurance. I could not believe how absurdly dedicated to delivering dry cleaning Keitaro was, and it never got old for me. That whole part of the episode felt like Mari was trapped in an RPG, where Keitaro always needed help with just one more thing. And the final fight with the Orphnoch was great, if only for Faiz just punching in things on his phone while he lounged against a rock, taking the time in the middle of his third-ever fight to be like Hey I Wonder What This Button Does. It's that Takumi attitude of just completely not caring about the monsters or the belt or whatever, but as a fighting style. Disinterested Style? Is that a martial arts spin-off from Drunken Style? Can it be?

5. Structurally, this episode was all over the place. A whole bunch of plots were just setting up other things, and it didn't really come together at the end. (There's, like, at least four plots that do not intersect in just this one episode) But! The funny stuff is really funny, and the serious stuff was also really funny. I don't know if I got out of it what I was supposed to, but this thing was a riot. Great work, Inoue!