"You try to figure out and laugh yourself to the showers
Burn yourself alive and join the monster squad
They say in this place you can reinvent yourself"

-The National, "You've Done It Again, Virginia"

Hey, I got a late start on this one (GO BEARS) and I've got to get up early tomorrow to go in for some computer stuff (GO TRANSFERRING A DATABASE FROM RMS TO RMH), so this one's going to maybe be a quicker one that y'all'll have to help pick up the slack on.

First off, a couple corrections, based on what I gleaned from this (really great!) episode. So, before, I said that Hibiki was calling back to "the temple", when he's really been calling back to "a restaurant". I was thinking of Phase 2 Heisei shows, where there might be a variety of places that acted as the team's meeting place, instead of Phase 1 Heisei, where it is Always Restaurants. (The exception of course is Inoue, because he's always the exception. I expect Team Hibiki Bar And Grill to explode into splinters in Episode 30.) The other thing is that the Makamou is only the giant monster, not the two set-up monsters. They're the Douji and Hime, but I honestly barely care about that. I literally care more about the restaurant, since that's more interesting to watch and talk about.

Yeah, boy, not sure if the non-monster stuff is that good (possible!), or the monster stuff is that dull (more possible!), but the end of these Hibiki episodes is the point where I'm not that engaged. I'm not, like, distracted or anything. I'm not checking my phone. But it's definitely something I... not suffer through, it's not that bad, but it's something I grudgingly accept. The poorly-aged CGI doesn't help things, but it's not even that. It's just, there's nothing to the fights? In this one, it's way more time spent trying to track the Makamou down, which is great, and then just a couple minutes of goofy CGI until Drum Solo, exploded monster. There's nothing to it, you know? It feels perfunctory, so it's hard to get too invested. It's like being anxious if the credits are going to roll.

But! As usual, I don't really care about the monster stuff because everything else is great. Literally everything! There's a crosscut thing they do in the beginning, with Hibiki running through the woods to these big drums, and Asumu getting ready for school to these tiny drums. It's a nothing scene and it's perfect. If they wanted to cut the monster fights entirely to give me two more minutes of Ichiro buying hijiki (hilarious) or Asumu investing too much in the significance of a compass or Hibiki painting a drum stick, fine. I would take that trade in a heartbeat. I honest-to-god wouldn't care if the whole show was just Asumu worrying about his future.

And, I don't know if this is a criticism or not, but I kind-of wish the whole show was just from Asumu's perspective? There's something to be said for the value in keeping things as locked in as possible to him, since that's the most unique thing the show has going for it. The more it lets his storyline lead the plot, the more impressive the episodes are. The more they tilt back to Hibiki's mission... it's not bad, it's just ever-so-slightly less interesting.

It does have some merit in splitting the focus, though. The highlight of the episode is the crosscutting of Hibiki and Asumu's chases. This heroic Hibiki race to find a monster before it kills again, mixed with two teenagers unable to catch a middle-aged man? Hysterical. (Shot of the episode was when the music drops over a static shot of two men playing chess. Ichiro races from right to left, beat, another beat, the two kids are winded as shit as they race from right to left after him. So great. Killed me dead.) It's also the thing I can easily point to as the show maybe not needing to split its focus, though, since the monster stuff wasn't nearly as fun as the Ichiro stuff. That dude seems pretty neat!

And, yes, of course he's Kasumi and Hinaka's father, but I assume we all knew that when he saved that kid in front of the book store. (I do love that it's the Low Rent version of Hibiki's ferry save. I really hope we get progressively lower-stakes versions of that save, until Asumu is diving in to save a duckling from being hit by an out-of-control goose on rollerskates.) When they started mentioning their out-of-town dad last week, you knew he had to be showing up soon. It's literally the only reason anyone on a Kamen Rider show ever mentions their parents. But I'm glad he's here! He's great! He's very fun, and seems like the sort of guy that probably was a mentor to Hibiki, since they share a kind goofiness that is equal parts charming and an invitation to take part in something life-threatening. They're role models for people who want to be amazing or die trying.

Either way, super into this episode of people going camping, studying for tests, and chasing middle-aged men who have outstanding cardio. (Do Japanese middle-schoolers not have gym class?) Not as into the actual Fighting A Monster part, still, but this is an episode where both Ichiro and Kasumi do Hibiki's salute back to him, so A+++.