I don't know if it's the existential terror and wounded anger of the Rider Subs thread overflowing in my brain, or if it's just this episode, but I found this one pretty hard to concentrate on. My mind wandered a whole bunch here.

It's an episode full of red herrings and unexplained occurrences (a Gillagoon is hunting Yuri for some reason? And whatever the Fangire was using to track down his victims after they ingested it was flammable for some reason?) that ends with two previously-uninvolved CGI monstrosities battling it out in the air, none of which feels connected even slightly to last episode's Work Mom And Work Dad Are Tearing Wataru Apart story. This one was all antics and shenanigans, nothing I could really care about.

Like, Wataru is active(-ish) in defeating the Fangire, but a passive observer for the rest of the 2008 story. Most of the episode is just him drawing out Nago's backstory, which is legendarily stupid. And I mean that as a compliment! The idea that Nago got his father arrested for a clerical error (and ended up leading to his death!) because All Sins Must Be Punished is... *chef's kiss*. It's that heroic certitude he debuted with, but recast as villainous inflexibility. There's a way to read it as tragic (Nago definitely comes off in the flashback like someone trying to justify a hideous mistake by doubling down on it), but Nago is so insufferable at this point that it's nearly impossible to muster much sympathy for him. As it is, it comes off as riotously funny - a parody of the tortured hero's backstory - which I will gladly accept.

Besides Nago's backstory (and this is another story he's completely absent for the second half of! Does this guy only work odd-numbered episodes or something?), the rest of the 2008 part of this story is some cutely funny scenes with Wataru, Shizuka, and Megumi; a brief fight scene on the docks where Kivat's just like I Don't Know Maybe I Should Fight Too; and then the conclusion, where a Dragon Cathedral and a Dragon Rooftop Windmill team up with Kiva to defeat a Resurrected Chandelier. It's all stuff happening, but it wasn't thematically relevant or vital to the characters. Wataru doesn't resolve the tension between Nago and Megumi, because Nago straight-up leaves the story. There's a sense of Wataru feeling a little more confident in his decision-making, but then he's reduced to a prop that Shizuka and Megumi briefly fight over. Like, last episode made itself really dark, and then this one sort of pretended it never happened. I don't know. Didn't feel like the 2008 stuff went anywhere for me.

1986 fared a little better, but not really. It's a lot of plot machinations, maneuvering Zanki to be less of a cool heroic loner and more of a wolf in helpful clothing. He's up to something, and it's not really clear what it is. There's a bit of a cliffhanger here, where Yuri flirts with Zanki, but it feels disingenuous to me. I can't really buy it as Yuri starting to swoon for her feral protector. She's probably letting him think she's falling for him so she can figure out what he's up to. (Yuri is way too smart to take Zanki at face value.) It's not really as shocking as it maybe was supposed to be, her picking Zanki over Otoya.

It'd help if Yuri seemed to be anything less than horrified at Otoya, though. Otoya is maybe at his most unhelpful in this episode, vacillating between actively making situations worse and almost killing himself to prove his bravery. His least frustrating moments are only when he's debilitated and pathetic. He's still funny in this episode (him jumping that rando in the park was a stitch; I still love how unsubtle he is in his feud with Zanki), but there's almost no way to look at him as anywhere near the league of a suave, decisive, leather-clad werewolf. If I'm supposed to be invested in Otoya's attempts to win over Yuri (and I was just a few episodes ago), episodes like this are the wrong direction to go in.

This whole episode felt wrong to me. Or... not wrong, maybe, but uninspired. It missed out on the complicated emotions of the previous chapter for romantic wackiness and CGI battle scenes. (I don't like CGI battle scenes at the ends of my Kamen Rider episodes!) The Fangire villain (a Prawn?) never really came together, outside of a funny gif. The 2008 stuff gave us Nago's backstory and nothing new for Wataru. The 1986 stuff teased Zanki's duplicity and murderous nature, but mostly shrugged at connecting itself with the other timeline. The whole thing was... adequate. Forgettable, but nothing that made me angry. Not like this Toei fansub news!