This is an episode full of action (Nago!) and drama (that moment when you figure out your parents are human), but, like, Otoya.

He's so exquisitely awful that I honestly can't hate him. I should, probably. Okay, definitely. He's grotesque, with his debauchery and dismissiveness. He's horrible for virtually every single second of this episode. There's not a single redeeming thing he does in this part of the story.

But, like, I was dying. He is so ridiculous that I can't begrudge him his absence of morality. Everything he gets up to in this episode is so over-the-top, so cartoonish, that it's hard to find fault. Getting mad at Otoya for fleecing rubes or stealing hearts is like getting mad at the weather. It is doing the thing it was created to do, and any lives that get wrecked in the process... well, we live in an imperfect world. Much like Jean-Ralphio's predictably deplorable life choices on "Parks and Recreation", Otoya wins me over by being so jaw-droppingly, enthusiastically terrible, that I end up applauding him for it. He is a bad person, and I am a bad person for enjoying it this much.

Of course, that's just me, and I ain't his kid. Getting Wataru involved in a story where he has to accept the reality of his dad's past (the scene where Wataru, beaming, describes his dad as some pillar among men, was so adorably wrong that it made me root for that kid) is a nicely relatable story. No matter how great your upbringing was, there's a point in growing up where you have to see your parents as real people with real flaws, and that's tough. It's disillusioning, having to accept that someone can be both a good parent and a not-great person. In this one, Wataru isn't just confronted with the idea of his dad maybe tipping poorly at a restaurant, or cheating at a board game. Wataru is presented with massive binders of his dad's malfeasance, and gets to hear first-hand accounts of the lives his dad ruined. It is more than disillusioning; it's completely demoralizing.

I've said before that Kiva has echoes of Ghost for me, with Wataru trying to follow in his father's footsteps and feeling inadequate to the task. The way Wataru completely falls apart here brought that similarity back to my mind. Takeru, for better or worse, could completely lose his cool in the early-going of Ghost, becoming bratty and selfish in the face of adversity. It was always a learning experience, something he'd have to fix in himself in order to meet the challenge, but we'd end up with a few scenes of him being pretty worthless to the assignment. Wataru gets at that here, where he can't even finish a fight against the Moth Fangire because he's so haunted by his father's actions.

(Also, just going to assume that the Moth Fangire is the lawyer who brought all of this information to Wataru.)

It's deserved, for sure. Wataru's flaw is that he ties too much of himself up in his father's memory; he's chained to that past. So finding out that his father has binders full of destroyed lives to answer for, it's going to wreck him. But, like, I don't know how much of it I believe? We know that Otoya is awful, sure, but this awful? It's probably/absolutely irredeemable, to the point where he's an ill-fit for a tokusatsu show. There's enough cover in these stories about him to not judge him too harshly, maybe (most of what we hear are that people threw their lives away on stupid things he said; he didn't rob anybody or anything), and that's if we even believe all of what the lawyer is saying. Like, the idea that all of these people who lost everything because of Otoya would forgive him two decades later if he could be proved to have done one selfless act... that is one of the least believable things on a show that includes a Dinosaur Cathedral. It's a completely ludicrous story, which both works in its favor (hard to not find Otoya hilarious) and renders it a little toothless (I don't buy what the lawyer is selling). It's a tricky story, and one I'm curious how it'll resolve.

Most of the rest of this one is given over to Megumi's lack of satisfaction with her job, and that was a blast to watch. Her getting surly at Mal d'Amour (thank you, subtitles, because I could not figure out why Maid'Amour didn't have a single maid) (also, naming the cafe in the gothic tokusatsu show "Heartbreak”... INOUE FOREVER!) at Wataru and Shizuka was nicely unnecessary, her just taking her frustration out on these two awkward children.

I really like how adversarial Megumi and Shizuka are? It's one of my favorite beats, Megumi feeling pleased with herself for dunking on a child and then immediately feeling like a jerk for dunking on a child. Any time so far that this show has put Megumi in the same room as Wataru and/or Shizuka, it's magic to me. I love that energy! I like how perfect that trinity of Wataru/Megumi/Shizuka is so far. Most of the scene is to set up Otoya's history with W.A.K.E.U.P.*, the organization that employs Yuri and is trying to stop the Fangires (did not check the wiki), but there's still enough cuteness and warmth to make the exposition and shifty-eyed This Is A Mystery stuff go down smooth.

Speaking of smooth! Nago! As comically heroic as Otoya is comically awful, and I love it just as much. He's a one-man wrecking crew who believes in redemption and donates his half-million dollar bounty to underprivileged youths! I get why Wataru calls him Dad! I want him to be my dad, too! Seeing him take trophies and deliver uplifting threats... I love it. I love this dude being exactly the type of square-jawed hero Inoue would never write in a million years, so I can't wait to see what the hell is actually going on with him. He's either going to be horribly murdered, revealed as a monster, or slowly dissolved into a complete joke of a person. I am good with any of those!

This one worked pretty well for me. The Moth Fangire is sort of nowhere in the story (just randomly appears and leaves), so that part is maybe not great, but all of the Otoya awfulness, the Wataru despair, the Megumi antagonism, and the Nago virtuousness... yes. Oh god, yes.

*Weapons/Actions/Knowledge Enforcing Unilateral Protection
*We Are Kiva's Expendable, Underdeveloped Persons