"I'm wondering if I've already heard all the songs that'll mean something
And I'm wondering if I've already met all the people that'll mean something
But I find myself daydreaming of the places where we used to stay
We used to brush them away
St Kilda, Coolangatta, Bondi Beach and Coogee Bay
I like the sound of their names
And I wonder if you would wanna go there with me
When I'm finished over here
If you're not finished with me"

-Allo Darlin', "Tallulah"


There's an idea in this one that's such a perfect way to end the series that it made me cry.

It's about five minutes in, as we're catching up to how the whole cast has kept themselves busy in the year after the Oni suppressed Orochi. Asumu's been training to be a doctor, and he hasn't really spoken to Hibiki. And then, out of nowhere, Hibiki shows up outside the clinic that Asumu is volunteering at. He's all casual to Asumu, super-friendly, like a minute hasn't passed. He puts his arm around Asumu and is about to drag him out to eat, so they can catch up, and Asumu stops him. He's working right now. He can't leave with Hibiki. He's got a life, and it doesn't stop and start on Hibiki's schedule. He's grown up, and his life doesn't revolve around Hibiki.

And there's this hurt on Hibiki's face that flashes in an instant, and gets covered by his charming grin. He's like an imaginary friend that a child's outgrown. He had value, was loved, and now he's something to be left behind. Asumu can draw strength from the lessons Hibiki taught him, but it's time for Asumu to live without Hibiki. It's so bittersweet, so perfect.

Because that's Hibiki the man and Hibiki the character. This show is over. It's a show that was always about making the subtext text, and what better way to do that than to have Asumu put Hibiki away? To honor their friendship, cherish their time together... but for that time to be over.

There is something tragic and beautiful and necessary in that idea. A final lesson for children that, eventually, childhood ends. You will inevitably learn everything you can from these superheroes, and it's okay to let them go. (And then eventually rediscover them as an adult who is willing to dissect stories designed to sell toys to children.) Stories end. We grow up. It's natural. It's okay.

It's brave, y'know? To spend the final episode of a Kamen Rider series telling children that eventually they won't need Kamen Riders to show them how to be good people. I really love that, as a final statement from this series.

Literally everything else in this episode was an unmitigated failure.

Like, the last scene takes us back to a beach that's similar to the iconic one from the first Hibiki story. (I think it's a different one? It's shot super-similar, but I can't imagine Hibiki dragged an unconscious Asumu on a ferry ride just for nostalgia's sake. Although, this episode does a ton of other stupid things, so...) It's a hamfisted way of creating a bookend to Asumu and Hibiki's story, a sentimentality that this episode really doesn't earn. And the speech Asumu gives... I love that Asumu gets the final word, and I love everything he's saying... but then Hibiki's like I'll Be In Your Life Forever and now this episode is about nothing. They had a touching ending, and then they blinked. It's not an ending at all. It's just a final episode. And, god, on that level...

So much of the beginning is just poorly-written exposition. Characters are constantly telling each other things they should know by now. (I literally cannot believe that there's a line in the first two minutes where Todoroki has to mention that it's been a year since they stopped Orochi to four people who were all dealing with that problem in the previous year. It's the laziest writing.) No one's really doing anything weird, or interesting. There's nothing with Todoroki and Hinaka's relationship, which is baffling considering how much time their story got in the second phase of this series. Everything's just... whatever. Folks are living their lives, fighting monsters, nbd.

And then Hitomi gets kidnapped by a catman and this thing goes jaw-droppingly off the rails.

It's the stupidest plot I've maybe ever seen in Kamen Rider. It makes almost zero sense. Hitomi gets plucked out of the clear blue sky by Fancy-Dress Douji and Hime, something that smacks of so much narrative contrivance that it's insulting. She's going to get turned into a new servant, something that they've previously not needed to kidnap people for, and so they dump her in Garren's Tank Of Bad Decisions from Blade, along with tiny eels (?) and then she gets rescued and Kiriya can henshin now and there are fancier-dressed Douji and Hime and Asumu runs into an explosion. It's stupid. It is so stupid.

Like, not to call out one thing in that sequence as being dumber than the rest, they're all equally braindead, but Asumu runs to see Hibiki as Hibiki is detonating a monster. Why? Why is he running into an active battle? Why is he shouting out to Hibiki just as Hibiki is letting loose a wave of destructive energy? I mean, the answer is So He Can Wake Up In The Next Scene, which is a lazy-ass answer. It's emblematic of everything wrong in this episode, where stupid things occur so that they can set up the next stupid thing.

I always wondered what about the final Hibiki episode could've been so bad that the guy who played Hibiki resented the show for years. (Forever?) Quality-wise, it's a goddamn disaster. If I was the face of this episode, I'd never let them use my face again, either. Story-wise... god, there's that one perfect scene, and then an episode that can't honor it. Disappointing way to end this show.

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