"I don't want to sound trite but you were perfect
The way you look could seriously make nature dysmorphic
I wish that you would kiss me 'til the point of paralysis
The way I flail my arms in front of you, it just embarrasses"

-Los Campesinos!, "Heart Swells/Pacific Daylight Time"

I mean, if you're going to do a story about growing up, you're going to have to do a story about young love, right?

And, I don't know, maybe "young love" is putting too much pressure on two kids who are so very cute together. Akira's overly harsh with Asumu, he mopes for a little bit, he apologizes, she forgives him, cue Shounen Yo. It's maybe reading too much into a cute little story.

But, man, these two kids! They got chemistry! And it's all the most adorably awkward interactions, with him all bashful and her all curt. The more this show pivots into non-monster-fighting places, the more engaged I am, and this plot is no exception. The way these two actors keep facades of annoyance and shame at the forefront as clearly raging hormones are causing brand-new synapses to fire in their adolescent brains... I love it. It's, hand-to-god, my favorite thing on this show right now. Akirasumu forever.

One of my favorite things about the Akirasumu stuff in this episode is how it never disrespects Akira's viewpoint, even as it chides here for sort-of being an asshole about the situation. This is an episode about recognizing that this whole world isn't your story, and sometimes you need to take a backseat. Asamu has trudged all over a mountain because he wants to see Hibiki, worrying his mother; putting his life in jeopardy for monster reasons; putting his life in jeopardy for non-monster, being-trapped-on-a-mountain-in-the-dark reasons; and potentially distracting Akira and Ibuki when they're trying to find a monster. He's being a little selfish here.

But as Hibiki puts it, he's not trying to be selfish, which means that he doesn't need to be so down about his screw-up. Like Hibiki's doing by sitting at camp so Ibuki can go fight, Asamu needs to learn when he can do the most good by not being a drain on others. It's good to be aware of when you can support others, and it's okay to address their needs instead of your own. It's that thing on the train again, with Akira in this episode. He was so blinded by what he needed that he never thought about what he was costing others, which is what drove Akira so crazy.

It's nice that the show never really treats Akira's comments as inaccurate, letting the story be more about her losing her temper than her being cruel. Ibuki calls her out for being too forceful in her criticisms, but he never tells her that she's out of place in reprimanding Asumu. Hibiki tells Asumu not to beat himself up for a well-intentioned screw-up, but makes it clear he did screw up. I much prefer a story about two people who are trying to figure out how to talk to each other, rather than some angry person being cruel to some unfortunate soul. Here, Asumu has it coming, but Akira's still too aggressive about it.

They could learn something from Hibiki and Ibuki, who have a harmonious (word play!) partnership on lock. It's another fun subversion of the typical Kamen Rider formula, with Hibiki deferring to Ibuki's expertise (he is the one who's supposed to take out flyers) and hanging back at base camp to drink some tea. It allows for a little bit more world building, as Hibiki clarifies things that have been pretty well hinted at. (Mostly that their group is called Takeshi, there are a bunch of Oni running around Japan fighting Makamou, and a MYSTERIOUS PHOTOGRAPH.) Between that little scene and the one with Ibuki and Asumu, it's a good episode for filling in the blanks of how the Oni work. (It's a lot more helpful than Hinaka's nonsense for last episode!) There's a real egalitarian structure to the organization, where saying things like Primary or Secondary basically misses the point of an episode like this. Ibuki doesn't need to ask Hibiki's permission to go do his job, and Hibiki never feels guilty about not fighting alongside him. The best way Hibiki can support Ibuki is to stay out of his way and let him concentrate on the task at hand. It doesn't need to be about Hibiki.

And, man, not a big couple episodes for Hibiki! He's great in the small scenes he has (the way he immediately clocks the sparks between Akira and Asumu!), but this one especially is just a vehicle for Ibuki awesomeness (like a killer fight and finish that I never even touched on, typical Kamen Rider Die) and Akirasumu shippers. Pretty great on both counts!