So, this was more what I was hoping for.

For one, it's a hilarious episode. Shooting to the top of my mental list of Favorite Kabuto Gags has to be Juka and Hiyori racing to the hospital to see how badly wounded Tendou is, only for him to be examining the doctor, diagnosing her ailments. (Her awestruck swooning, with a lean-in for a closed-eyed kiss? Perfection.) it's just the most ridiculous gag, taking all of the previous drama and tension and cashing it in for a punchline, and that's the smartest trade a show can make. Because that move, it's a surprise. It's taking the huge stakes of the Tendou/Yaguruma feud and going Why Did You Think Tendou Was Ever In Any Danger You Dummy. It's an episode that lets Tendou be more of a bemused observer, so the story can drill further into Yaguruma and, a little surprisingly, Kagami.

I mean, it shouldn't be a surprise, really. Kagami is one of the stars of the show, and certainly the best non-Hiyori character we've got. (Quick shout-out to Hiyori's reaction to Juka's compliments, where Hiyori bad-mouths her own art, as the most Every Artist I've Ever Met reaction.) I just wasn't expecting the show to pivot so well towards Kagami's conflict.

Kagami's really caught in this one. He respects and admires Yaguruma. Yaguruma's a good leader, a kind man, and self-made. (Tendou is... maybe one of those things on a good day. I'm also pretty sure he's a Worm, but we'll put a pin in that for now.) The problem for Kagami is that Yaguruma is also inflexible, and maybe a hypocrite. Kagami's witnessed Yaguruma in the throes of his own battered ego, and the ugliness of that has him questioning the intelligence of throwing in with Shadow. If Tendou is willing to risk himself to save Kagami, while Yaguruma is willing to sacrifice an ally to achieve victory... I mean, what has he pitched in with?

The short answer is that he's hitched his wagon to Frank Grimes.

One of the best Simpsons episodes, easy, and one that I couldn't stop thinking about after the last episode of Kabuto. Yaguruma is trying so hard to be a success, but when he sees the way reality seems to warp itself to Tendou's desires, he starts losing his mind. Yaguruma says he's dedicated to his mission, dedicated to his men, dedicated to defeating the Worm. But watching Tendou win, constantly, effortlessly, it's all he can think about. He can't focus on anything other than defeating Tendou, and it destroys him.

(It actually made me think of a different Simpsons thing, as well. It's from the episode where the power plant employees need to climb a snowy mountain for a team-building exercise. Lenny and Carl end up making it to the finish line, and when Lenny dedicates their victory to teamwork, Carl goes, "Yeah, my teamwork.” I feel like that's also Yaguruma? I feel like he's a guy that's all about team victories, as long as he's the leader of that team. I think he's the sort of leader that plays at We're All Pulling In The Same Direction, but requires the sort of sycophancy that his team provides. He's kidding himself, basically.)

But that destruction of Yaguruma leads to growth from Kagami. He's friends with Tendou, he'll protect Tendou... but he can't relate to Tendou, and Tendou doesn't seem able to relate to him. They both regard the other as some alien lifeform (possibly with cause!), and while there's some trust and affection there, it's not about shared experiences.

For Kagami, his shared experience... it's not even with Yaguruma, who he's been idolizing this whole story. It's with Kageyama, the injured fanboy from Shadow. He's been that kid, desperately trying to contribute, to prove himself. He's been a grunt. Guys like that, he gets them, supports them, fears for them. When he shows back up, after Tendou teases him for being a Working Man in a world of monsters and superheroes, he's not doing it to impress Yaguruma. He's not doing it for fame, or for vengeance. He's doing it because maybe he can help, can keep his team safe. It's something that Yaguruma preaches, but doesn't live. Kagami wants to keep people safe, and will risk his life to do it.

Maybe that's why he deserves to be a Kamen Rider?


I just... I cannot stop laughing at that scene with Tendou diagnosing the doctor as she falls in love with him. Just such a perfect comedic scene. (That look on Kagami's face right before, where you think he's grieving but he's just so pissed at Tendou!) It continues on with Tendou teasing Kagami, Juka asking Tendou to please stop teasing Kagami, and then everyone trying to figure out what curry to make. I thought this was going to be for a redo of their party, but it turned out it was another Big Tendou Moment, him providing food for everyone in the hospital.

So, if it had been for a curry party with those four, would you want to attend? I mean, you've got Tendou (not a guy who always is the best in social situations), Kagami (and his Very Strong Feelings, which can be a lot to deal with), Juka (who is only good at talking about food and Tendou), and Hiyori (which, I love her, but: a party with Hiyori). That doesn't feel like a blast to attend, but what do you think?