Let's work back to front on this one, so I can start with the part that didn't land for me.

I honestly don't know what the show is trying to say about the relationship of Tendou and Kagami in this one. The ending is a statement from Kagami that he won't be TheBee if it means abandoning his friendship with Tendou, just after his attempted murder of Tendou earned Tendou's respect.

It... there is a lot going on there, and it's all pretty unusual for a protagonist combo. I can unpack individual parts of that climax (and I will!), but taken as a whole, it... I don't think it comes together how the show wants?

Like, Tendou is aggressively judgmental with Kagami here, and I can sort of see where he's coming from. As we're reminded, obliquely, in two different scenes, the biggest crime in Tendou's eyes is unrealized potential. That drives him crazy, and it's the thing that makes him get correctional with people.

The serious version is in the beginning, with Yaguruma attempting to swallow his ego and live with his failure. He unconvincingly tries to be a booster for Kagami's role as TheBee. He makes Tendou that tofu dish that's, like, his only move. (It is adorable how he tries to smooth over every problem with this one tofu dish.) But this time he makes it Tendou's way, an acknowledgement that Tendou was right and he was wrong. It's Yaguruma admitting, in one signature dish, that he doesn't know how to live his life, so he'll live it the way Tendou told him.

Except, that's not what Tendou wants. He doesn't want this dude, who has so much potential, to just slouch his shoulders and follow someone else's path. He wants Yaguruma to stop worrying about other people and excel for the sake of excellence. Yaguruma's tofu dish isn't the way Tendou would make it, but it's Yaguruma's tofu dish. Stop worrying about how you measure up to others and just be great.

The joke version is how Tendou says loudly, constantly, that Kagami should be fired for doing his restaurant job poorly. And, he's not joking! Kagami half-assing his job is offensive to Tendou. Tendou genuinely cares for Kagami, and it hurts his feelings to see Kagami be so sloppy and inattentive. It's super funny that the hero of the show is telling people that his friend should definitely lose his job for being a slacker, but it's a joke that's both completely true to Tendou's personal philosophy, and sort of key to the main Kagami/Tendou plot of this episode.

The thing is, Tendou really doesn't give a shit if Kagami has been ordered by ZECT to eliminate Kabuto. He cannot muster up even a second of trepidation to make Kagami feel qualified as TheBee. It's both a little frustrating (I'm not sure Perfect And Unflappable Hero is the best way to construct your series, but time will tell) and sort of liberating, since the show doesn't have to make the conflict some fraught battle. We know that Kagami doesn't have a chance of defeating (let alone killing) Tendou, but that's not the question. The question is, what is Kagami going to do?

Because, man, dude is living his dream for the first half of this episode, give or take a disturbing TheBee brand on his chest. (??? Feels like this will be important later!) He's a Kamen Rider, he's a full-time ZECT employee, he's got a team supporting him, and he's aware enough of Yaguruma's failings to not let it go to his head. He's just so happy.

It's not a story about Kagami becoming a different person, which was a nice surprise. It's not about him becoming egotistical, or cruel, or awful to his friends. It's not even about him being shit at his job, although he sort of is. (Luckily, Kageyama is there to pick up the slack. That kid has a future in this militarized organization of nebulous authority!) It's that he has to decide between being TheBee, or being Tendou's friend. And he won't choose.

Kagami tries, briefly, to have Tendou choose for him. He tells Tendou that he's his friend, and fishes for Tendou to reciprocate. If Tendou declared his own feelings for Kagami, then Kagami could use that to ditch TheBee. But that'd be Kagami using Tendou as an excuse, so Tendou keeps his mouth shut. Then Kagami tells Tendou to never show up as Kabuto, to spare Kagami having to fight him. But that's still Kagami trying to avoid making a decision, so Tendou tells him Oh Hell No, and is absolutely at Shadow's next deployment.

The fight between Kagami and Tendou, it's great... because it's between Kagami and Tendou. The show quickly abandons the superhero suits so we can see how much Tendou is pushing Kagami to make up his mind, and how much Kagami is trying to avoid that. Tendou doesn't even care if the decision Kagami makes it that he'll try to kill Tendou, because then at least Kagami would be making a choice, walking his path. Seeing Kagami avoid who he is and what he wants, it's the same as Yaguruma giving up at the beginning of the episode. It's people who want to have it both ways, who won't risk failure and would rather try to please everyone. That's an unforgivable sin, in Tendou's eyes. Better to be honest and flawed than perfect and a liar.

So we get that ending, where Tendou is thrilled at Kagami's willingness to try to kill him, and Kagami quits after realizing how much of a friend Tendou is, to believe in Kagami enough to take that injury. It's an ending where I can absolutely see what each character is going through, and why they made their decisions, but it's maybe not an ending that works onscreen, in the moment.

Like, I've just spent forty minutes trying to take this thing apart to see how it works, but I don't know if anyone should have to? Because what's onscreen is Tendou sort of forcing Kagami to give up being a hero?

I mean, it's not, that's not what the show's saying, but what it is saying could maybe have been said clearer. It's difficult to pull out all the threads, and it makes Tendou seem a little callous, while Kagami seems a little indecisive. (The opposite of what's really happening!) Tendou's cruelty and antagonism is all about him forcing Kagami to be honest and make a choice; and Kagami's turn at the end is him admitting that he doesn't want to be a Kamen Rider if it means having to fight his friends. It's just, man, that is a complicated ending, and they tried to execute it a little too quickly?

It's an episode that I like two or three times as much now, after writing about it, as I did when I watched it. But that shouldn't be something I have to do to enjoy it? It's a good one, but, man, needed some work on that climax. Could've nailed down some of those ideas a little better.


When Yaguruma is happy, he makes mabou tofu. When he needs to apologize, he makes mabou tofu. I assume he makes mabou tofu when he's cleaning up after making mabou tofu. He's clearly proud of his mabou tofu, a thing I will never get tired of typing. I am nothing close to a cook, however. I can, at best, reheat a piece of pizza in a style many have called Barely Edible. But what about you? Do you have a signature dish that you like to prepare?