First episode with the Kabuto suit, and I think it's a winner. I wasn't crazy about the beetle horn (or whatever) on the helmet when I'd see it in pictures, or on figures. Not a bug guy! But in motion, with all of the bells and whistles, I think it really works.

The process of moving from Husky Kabuto to Kabuto, the CHANGE BEETLE stuff, it's fun to watch. Moreover, it's this nice thematic link to the molting of the Worms, this concept of something more powerful bursting out of its casing. What was a slow and bulky fighter is now lithe and speedy.

And it really is a slim suit. I'm sure it's not any smaller than the older suits (and the dude inside probably didn't get any smaller from the first few Heisei shows), but there's an... elongated nature to it that I think helps the illusion of slimness. That beetle horn makes the helmet more of an oval, and the physicality of the character is more closed-in, creating a thinner silhouette: arms at the sides, legs together. A pillar to heaven.


Okay, I talked about the suit, I hope you're all happy, now it's time to talk about what I cared most about from this episode... the depressed teenage girl!

I'm a sucker for melodrama, so you know that I loved that scene of Hiyori sketching a world of comfort and connection while peering out over the destruction of Shibuya. It's shot beautifully, with these tight close-ups on Hiyori as she tries to lose herself in the fantasy she's created. It's a great introduction to her character.

She's someone who has a wound that's become her whole world. She's her trauma, all the time. Seeing someone like that try to find their way back to happiness... I love those stories? I love how Tendou is blunt with her, telling her that her greatness isn't something to diminish or excuse. That story, yeah, it's the one I most want to see explored on this show.


It's just, she's currently a pretty minor character compared to Kagami, who I'm realizing now I maybe didn't talk that much about last time?

He's a terrific foil/partner to Tendou. Tendou is all confidence, directness, judgement. But Kagami... he's sort of lame? He's frustrated, confused, desperate to prove himself. He has a nervous, excitable energy to him. It's not the barely disguised self-loathing we've seen in other would-be Riders, it's something more... it's like the opposite to Tendou's story in the first episode. Tendou knew he was destined for greatness, but he didn't know what. With Kagami, he knows what he wants but he doesn't feel like the universe is acknowledging that.

It's a tough role, but I think the actor does a great job with it. It never veers too far into Kagami being a jerk or a clown. He's not great at his job right now, but he wants to get better. He believes in the mission of an organization that may not believe in him. Easy dude to care about.


I like that opening song! Lyrically, it's tough for me to follow, but the beat is fantastic. It's the right mixture of propulsive and rhythmic. Plenty catchy, and absolutely suited for a show about speed.


I love the scenes set there, and I like what it brings out of the characters, but... holy shit, another restaurant?! I know, it's a Kamen Rider staple, but it feels so random to have it appear in this episode. The show already has the massive ZECT org to deal with, and the various machinations therein, so suddenly having this little French bistro where folks can hang out... I don't know, it feels like it's dropped in from a different show? It feels like it's from a version of Kabuto where ZECT doesn't exist.

And Kagami having this as a part-time job? He needs a part-time job at a bistro while he's working for a highly-militarized secret organization devoted to eradicating monstrous doppelgangers who defy the laws of physics? I... what?! It feels so forced, and unrealistic. Yes, I am suggesting that the only unrealistic part of the show about speed monsters from space and the superheroes who fight them is that the secret agent works part-time at a bistro, but that's where I'm at with this. I can get on board with every other aspect, but this shoehorned restaurant thing... too far!

And I like the scenes in the restaurant! They are great! But the version of the show set up in Episode 1 just can't make the restaurant stuff in Episode 2 feel cohesive.


It doesn't help that there are so many characters and plots to service?

Or, maybe it's not so many (it's really just Tendou, ZECT, and the restaurant), but that each of them feels so bloated, so full of ingredients. ZECT's got a half-dozen unique characters in it, Tendou's got scenes with just his sister, and the restaurant has two or three characters of its own. Unlike last episode's efficiency, this one feels crammed with too much to focus on, and it leads to an episode that I liked in parts without feeling too thrilled by the whole.

It just doesn't come together in a way that worked for me. It felt like a checklist of scenes and characters, rather than a clear, singular story.


And, y'know, still not super into ZECT! It's a mysterious organization of nebulous authority (Kagami's like Wait Do We Get To Kill People and Misaki's like Shrug Emoji), and the only part of it I'm really invested in is Kagami. (The bit where he's only excited about recruiting Tendou so that he can boss someone around!) His role, his belief, that's fun to watch and think about. The machinery of ZECT, what they're really up to... ehhhhhh. I'm hopeful that the reveal will be entertaining, but I haven't spent a single second being curious about them. It's very boilerplate right now, and there's nothing that feels weird or intriguing. Dudes in shadows making threatening proclamations, troubling moral ambiguity in the name of safety, a group of monsters that have a grudge against humanity's protectors, etc etc etc. It's fine. It's stock. But, I don't watch shows about superheroes for Stock and Fine, you know?


Kabuto's suit! His full CHANGE BEETLE Henshin! I dug it. How do you feel about the debut of Kabuto's base suit? Is that beetle crest too much? (I like how it comes up out of the chest and locks in.) Color work for you? (I think the red carapace as chest armor really pops.) What do you think is the best part of the Henshin, and why is it the alarm klaxon that goes off just before Tendou inserts the Zecter?