"I was gonna write a song for you
Gonna sing it out loud
Gonna sing it at such decibels that
All you'll hear is sound and
All you'll feel is sound and
All you'll be is sound"

-Sylvan Esso, "Sound"

What a lovely first episode.

It's that opening, isn't it? So joyful. So broad and full and rich. An opening that tells you that this is a show that you're going to feel.

Writing about music... it's not really my skill-set. (I have terrible taste in music, as you'll be seeing from the song lyrics that start each episode post.) So much of talking about music is talking about how so many small choices made you feel something, how there's a primal connection you felt to the song. Quoting lyrics, sharing guitar tabs, it's not really the song, you know? It's deeper than that. Something like this episode, and maybe even this series, it feels like there's less to say about the plot and dialogue, and maybe more to say about how it felt to live in this world for twenty-odd minutes.

And, man, felt pretty good!

Hibiki's a great lead. More at the periphery of this one, but so fascinating and weird that you know he's your Kamen Rider from the second Asumu hears him singing. He's got swagger. He has this easy confidence, this charming serenity. When he saves that kid from falling off of the boat, there's no hesitation or doubt. He just throws himself off after the kid, and puts him back on the deck with a ruffle of his hair. It's effortlessly cool, a moment of Did You See That heroism that's downplayed with a crisp salute and a song about dolphins.

And, almost baffling in the amount of information that's thrown at the viewer, there's his phone call back to the temple, and the two sisters. (Kasumi and... ugh, I can't remember the other one's name. Hair Pick. That's what she wanted, right?) It's maybe 80% of the dialogue in the episode. It's whipsmart banter, less about the mechanics of what's happening/going to happen (something about disc animals?) and more about the camaraderie of these three characters, how Hibiki is a point man that takes direction. They don't really share a scene together (it's him on a pay phone and them at the temple), but it's edited to be quick and clever. Just delightful, seeing them be so goofy.

The whole episode's pretty goofy, if I'm being honest. The end is... a separate paragraph, but everything up to it is just nature, sounds, emotions. Broad, you know? Everything feels amplified. It's boisterous, in a way that I don't think I've ever seen a Kamen Rider reach for in a first episode. Asumu is a boy with a dream, Hibiki is a charming man of mystery, Asumu's cousin is a partner-in-crime... it's just fun to see them running around, enjoying life.

Even the ending, it's not so serious? There's a fight against the two Oni (?), who are of course spiders because Kamen Rider Premiere, but it never really feels too dark, too deadly. The action is all swinging and speed, with Hibiki and Black Spider dueling among the treetops. It's tough to get much of a read on it, but it has more of an acrobatic feeling, less of a monstrous terror. The fight isn't really the point, I guess. Hibiki disentangles himself from a trap using a disc animal, and then GROWS A MOUTH TO SPIT PURPLE FLAMES AT BLACK SPIDER (!!!), but it's such a disorienting fight that it never feels too perilous.

(Some weird-ass visual choices in that first fight sequence. First, no Henshin? I'll allow it, since much of the fight is about Asumu's perspective, but, man, a little bit of a bummer. Second, what was up with all of the TikTok filter-esque flares of light coming off of Hibiki's suit? It wasn't just one or two little glints, he was 95% washed out by it. I get that they maybe wanted it to be obscured, for mystery's sake, but this was like staring into the sun. Was maybe not the way to show off the suit for the first time!)

But, hey, how did it all feel, watching this first episode of Hibiki?

It felt so good to watch. The episode's constructed out of rhythm, out of silence, out of tense percussion and uplifting woodwinds. It's dialogue that's reduced to accompaniment, so all you can focus on is the joy of Asumu biking to school, the staccato sneezes of a ferry ride, the sing-song lullaby of the Oni, the cacophony of family fading out to nothing, the portent of drums, the chase of hammers hitting blocks of wood, the warmth of that closing song over the credits.

It's all sound, in my memories. This episode was a song that I loved listening to. I'm excited for the rest of the album.