There's a very sweet scene in the middle of this episode that managed to showcase everything I love about Wataru, along with everything I hate about him right now.

He's in the bath, and he's had a rough day. It's been non-stop bickering between Megumi and Nago, with Wataru caught in the middle, frequently literally. (In case you're unclear on the Work Dad and Work Mom metaphor here, Wataru's flashback to the restaurant fight is shot from his perspective as he crouched on the floor, making his Work Parents look gigantic and powerful and terrifying.) He doesn't understand why people argue. He doesn't understand why the world can't be a kinder, gentler place.

It's such a beautiful moment. He's so personally affected by people not getting along. He's more wounded by seeing the people he respects argue than he is getting mauled by a Fangire. He's a sensitive soul; maybe the most sensitive soul one of these Kamen Rider shows has ever had. To see him take it on the chin when his Work Mom and Work Dad argue over him... I care so much about that kid.

Which is why I also want to grab him by the shoulders and scream in his face PEOPLE CAN'T GET ALONG BECAUSE NAGO IS A CONTROLLING ASSHOLE WHO IS USING THE PSYCHOLOGY OF AN ABUSER TO ISOLATE YOU FROM ANYONE WHO WOULD LESSEN HIS GRIP ON YOU, WHILE SIMULTANEOUSLY WORKING TO DIMINISH MEGUMI'S CAREER OPPORTUNITIES BECAUSE HE CAN'T WIN UNLESS SOMEONE ELSE LOSES. It's a story that is so colossally one-sided in portraying Nago as Maybe The Actual Devil that it is frustrating to see Wataru even briefly try to Both Sides it.

And, you know, I get it. I get that we're still in a period where Wataru is trying to fill the Otoya-shaped void in his life, so he's going to be easily manipulated by Work Dads and skeptical of Work Moms. This is a story about how partnerships that are destructive can cause problems for more than just the people in them, so it's fair for Wataru to be the kid who just wants Work Mom and Work Dad to get along. Wataru isn't really doing anything unexpected here, and the metaphorical weight of this story is going to make certain demands of him, narratively.

It's just, Nago is so relentlessly callous and controlling here that it is heartbreaking to watch Wataru get so spun around. When Nago is screaming at Wataru to ignore anyone who would contradict him; that only Nago will ever tell Wataru the truth... DARK! Very dark stuff, and it's honestly hard to deal with Wataru getting so manipulated.

It's a problem with this story, maybe. It's a story that has some real-world emotional weight to it. This is something that children of divorce will potentially deal with: having your parents fight over you, having them try to poison you against each other. It's an intensely dramatic story that Wataru is in. It just... I don't know. It's subject matter that I respect the show for grappling with, even if the act of watching it is frustrating and anxiety-inducing. Wataru as a helpless child is both adorable and aggravating. Never dull, though.

Besides the gut-churning scenes of Nago psychologically abusing Wataru, it was actually a pretty enjoyable episode of Kiva. Some great comedic beats in the first half (there's this duck quacking that they put on the soundtrack when Wataru is nodding at Nago?!?!), the middle fight against Count Fangire was exhilarating (all those quick punches to start, and then Kiva vaulting off of Nago's shoulder to escape confrontation), all wrapped up with a cliffhanger that had Zanki maybe eating a person? Dynamically shot episode with a lot of dazzling meat on the visual bones.

I had a bit of a tough time with this one. It definitely got me emotionally involved, but maybe to a degree where it was hard to watch. It took a story that looked like it was just going to be about Odd Couple partnerships, and then switched it up into a story about children torn between two parents. I love the concept, even if I spent a few scenes wanting to both save Wataru and shake some goddamn sense into him. He's a sweet boy! I don't like to see him get used like this!