Okay, so.

There's a level at which I really loved this episode. The absurdity and specificity of all of the Daisuke and Gon stuff, yeah, 1000%. Him never remembering his pick-up lines so she has to finish them for him, yes. Him not wanting to save a dude, but leaping into action to save a lady, yes. Her clearly and canonically being the brains of the outfit, yes. The first scene of the episode being the two of them making a dying woman look better instead of actually providing any real help to her? So much yes. Their dynamic is exactly the sort of overheated nonsense that I've missed in my life. Inoue provides me essential, life-sustaining nutrients, and I've missed them from my diet. A delightful episode, from insane beginning to ridiculous ending. (Daisuke is maybe more horrified at his make-up artistry being destroyed than the fact that he's about to be monster murdered! And he's so put out by the Zecter!)

(If it seems like I'm not really digging into Daisuke and Gon: you're right! What's here is a collection of quirks, and very little in the way of coherent storytelling. Daisuke has weird feelings about women! Gon is his partner and I guess ward! They were randomly in the ruins of Shibuya! They fight crime to save women and also do emergency makeup! Daisuke likes a nice breeze! It's all very fun in the moment, but the Why of it all is nowhere to be found, so me talking about it would be total conjecture. Like all conjecture, I'd prefer to wait until the show wants to tell me something than guess at what it might be.)

But then there's the deeper level, with the actual story of Kabuto, and... man, real hard to see how this one comes together, and what it's trying to say.

Like, the runner for this episode is that Kagami wants to take his friendship with Tendou to the next level, and Tendou is being incredibly clear that he's not interested in that. (He also keeps hinting that there's something Kagami's forgotten, but I'm as clueless as Kagami, so that analysis will need to wait for the next episode, probably.) I'm super into the idea of Kagami and Tendou having different concepts of friendship, and that Kagami has maybe misconstrued the ending of the previous episode. (It's a tough one, Kagami! You are not alone!) So, spending some time exploring what Tendou and Kagami each want out of a friendship is valid narrative territory for the show.

It's just, boy, neither character comes off super great in this one. I can make allowances for each of them (Kagami has Very Big Feelings and definitely wants to be glued to Tendou's side now; Tendou finds the idea of having to full-time address Kagami's Very Big Feelings to be something akin to psychological torture, also all of the stuff I posted a little earlier today about Tendou being able to be friends with someone and still be super unsupportive and judgmental if they suck at something), but this is not an episode where it's easy to let them off the hook. Tendou is a relentless jerk, and Kagami is a pathetic simp. The dynamic is massively, hilariously, troublingly toxic.

The problem is that, normally, the show is a lot more nuanced in how it approaches these two characters. Tendou can be cold, but it's tempered with an inner warmth and desire to see others succeed. Kagami can be needy and brash, but it's tempered with an innate decency and confidence. Here, everything's turned up to INOUE and it's all extremes. Tendou is all cruel indifference, and Kagami is all clingy desperation. It's not that the characters are written wrong, it's that the calibration is all off. The little details that make the relationship between these two men seem, if nothing else, respectful... boy, that's all sandblasted into nothingness, a smooth surface of two guys who are varying amounts of awful to each other, pretty much non-stop.

But, other than that, I thought this episode ruled.

I'm really not sure what it's trying to say just yet, but the inclusion of a healthy partnership like Daisuke and Gon's, just as Tendou and Kagami are at their most insufferable, that is probably not a coincidence! (Daisuke's belief that women should be treated gently may also be a comment on Tendou's treatment of Kagami here, but a) delving into that is maybe dicier than I feel comfortable; and b) I'm not sure the show has nailed down enough of Daisuke's character to make statements contrasting him with Tendou.) It certainly feels like the show is getting into a story about how partnerships should work, but this is very much the throat-clearing part of that thesis. As it is, there's just a bunch of possibilities, and I'll see where it goes.

Which, fun to do, since all of that Daisuke and Gon stuff was delightful. The newest Rider gets to touch up a rich woman's makeup to contrast Kabuto's mid-episode fight scene! He even says Make Up instead of Clock Up! It's all very weird, and very fun. I don't feel like I know these two characters yet, but I loved getting to spend some time with them.

I wish I could've said the same about the show's regular duo!

A QUESTION

While this episode was maybe not his best fill-in work (Ryuki 29 and 30, by a mile, maybe my favorite Ryuki episodes full-stop), it's still terrifically funny and occasionally confounding, so I'm okay saying Inoue Forever. My deep and abiding love for the work of Toshiki Inoue (save a Kuuga story that was probably more the fault of my then-uncultured palate) is well established at this point, and probably not likely to abate any time soon. I can't imagine anyone else is going to so readily fly the flag for that guy, but what about other artists? Is there any artist (toku or otherwise) that has a blank check from you? Anyone whose work you can't imagine ever feeling disappointed with?

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