I like Tendou. He's an interesting protagonist (I'm assuming!) so far. His introduction is all about his zen nature, his clarity of purpose, his ability to focus on his own responsibility rather than the actions of others. It's a neat idea, him being all about the achievement of personal excellence as an inherent good for society.

I like it mostly because we see a couple shadings of it here that don't... he doesn't come across as The Best Dude always, and I think that's fun to develop? There's a kindness to him (the scene with his sister), an aloofness to him (the scene with Kagami), and even a judgmental aspect to him (snapping at the vendors for not doing their job, basically his whole Henshin). There's a complexity there that feels like a nice counter to Hibiki's more straight-forward personality. Tendou feels like a character I'm barely scratching the surface of, while still feeling like I'm rooting for him. Pretty good first appearance!


It helps that this episode just looks gorgeous. There's a great use of light through Tendou's various scenes, keeping him illuminated to a degree that I don't really doubt his divinity. He's frequently bathed in light: the living room of his house has windows everywhere; the garage might as well be on the surface of the sun; and that Henshin scene is him practically enveloped in sunlight.

The camera tricks deployed to sell the Worms' Clock Up abilities are always always fun. It's nothing that needs CG, which is why I adore it. It's just body doubles and edits, but characters suddenly appearing in new places is... I'm just a fan of it? It's such a great Oh Shit technique, and I never get tired of it. Some guy is halfway down a block, the camera pans around, and now he's behind the POV character? That's the sort of stuff I love to see, how a show can create atmosphere and tension through practical effects.

The rest of the episode looks like a million bucks, too. Not a very showy set of camera moves or anything, but coherent edits and perfect angles and great blocking and solid tracking and and and. Incredibly professional work that may not match the lyrical quality of Hibiki's opening, but has a technical precision that feels like a leap forward.


Which is good, because the action in this episode is of a much larger scale than Hibiki's One Guy Versus Two Guys thing. There are dozens of Zectroopers (with their Riderman gauntlets!) and multiple Worms (who turn into spiders, because Kamen Rider Premiere), and that's before you even get to the Kamen Rider showing up at the end. The first fight reminded me a lot of the Amazons premiere, where the tactical nature gets full focus, setting up the organization that'll support/contrast with the more singular nature of the title hero. It's a neat way to set up the stakes, to see a well-armed, well-trained crew of elite killers just get demolished by the lowest-level monsters. The Zectroopers aren't chumps, but they sure get chumped out in a hurry.

But that's a) still fun to watch, and b) super helpful to make Kabuto's somewhat brief fight at the end still deliver. He's in a Husky Kabuto suit, so he's clearly not even at full strength/speed yet, but he beats the Worm with clever actions rather than brute force. The trick of bouncing his targeting lasers (?) off of mirror shards to locate the Worm, man. Man! I love it. I love it because it undercuts some of the Chosen One stuff I'd normally dislike by showcasing how prepared Tendou is to be Kabuto. He's someone whose entire existence has been about this role, and that dedication pays off. It's not a huge fight, but it's a smart fight, and I maybe prefer that?


Overall, just a smart episode with how it's telling its story. The opening has an otherworldly sadness to it, full of pain and portent. Then you move into a nightmarish sequence of being killed and replaced by a doppelganger. Then there's a paramilitary raid. Then a moment of danger, resolved with bizarre humor and nonchalance. Then familial warmth. Then training, then action, then heroism. Every scene flows into the next with focus, with care. Nothing feels unnecessary, or irrelevant, even as you're certain that some small touches will take on greater importance later. It's a very watchable premiere.


Although it could stand to be more fun? There's only one scene that even vaguely approaches Funny, and that's the Tendou introduction. Even that's, like... I didn't laugh at it, you know? I admired the playfulness of it, but that's the most I felt. Everything else is very dour, very serious. It's cool if that's the direction the production team wanted to go in, but I'm not sure I'm going to love that. I definitely want my Kamen Rider to be more bonkers, more wacky, and that doesn't feel like what Kabuto is? I don't know. Maybe there'll be more lightness, more comedy down the line. This one was a very dark premiere, and those aren't going to be my favorite.


As a whole episode... I don't think it does anything wrong, and any complaints I'd have are going to be of the It's Not What I Ordered But I'll Still Eat It variety, but this wasn't a blast to watch. It's technically proficient, and solidly written, but all of the ZECT stuff is not what I watch Kamen Rider for. I can get through it, and it doesn't ruin the show for me, but Organizational Kamen Rider is not really my favorite template. Personal preference, for sure, but that's not where my enjoyment lies.


Hoping to spur some direct discussion off of these episodes, so we're going to try some episode-specific questions for y'all. Kicking things off, how do we feel about not seeing the full Rider suit in the first episode? Feels chancy to me, and slightly misguided. I think the bare minimum a Rider show should deliver is the Rider's base suit in Episode 1. At a minimum! (I'd actually prefer it if the suit showed up before the final scene, but I get that that's maybe asking a lot.) Are you okay with only getting Husky Kabuto in this one?