Pretty good two-parter! Nothing earth-shattering, but I'm really starting to get a handle on what Kuuga is as a show. I joked about it being "a quaint show about a police detective who watches a motorcycle man fight monsters", but, uh, that's almost exactly what it is?

It's still weird how unintegral Godai feels to the show. (Less the monster fights, obviously.) I was a little frustrated at first at how reactive he was, and how much that reminded me of the dynamic on Wizard, where the well-adjusted, upbeat hero mostly sat around and waited for monsters to attack. But now, after six episodes, I'm not getting as much of a Wizard vibe. I mean, I am, but not nearly as much as I'm getting an Amazons vibe.

Amazons had a primary Rider, Haruka, who felt way more like a background player than a series lead. Most of the story was driven by Jin, or by the Nozama Peston Service. Haruka was great in a fight, but most of the rest of the story happened around him, not because of him.

Kuuga has that same feel, where Ichijou spends most of this story tracking down clues, talking to information sources, putting together the mystery, and Sakurako is the one who not only changes and grows as a result of the story, but who cracks the language barrier and tells Godai how to defeat This Story's Monster. Godai spends the majority of this story in Kuuga form, or sleeping. It's... y'know, it's definitely a story choice! Not one I'd make, necessarily, but it's the one that Kuuga made.

That said, absolute honesty, I'm not sure how upset I am at it.

With this story, I started to look at it as, not Masked Rider Kuuga, but Guest-Starring Masked Rider Kuuga. It's not a story about heroic Godai, defending the city against evil monsters. It's a story about street-smart Ichijou and book-smart Sakurako, getting to the bottom of an ancient mystery. And, sometimes, when things get too intense, that wacky Godai transforms into Masked Rider Kuuga to take care of the monsters. He's not what the story's about though. It's about a detective and a scholar, putting aside their fears and skepticism to protect the world. (Also there is sometimes a motorcycle man who explodes monsters.) When I look at it that way, where Masked Rider Kuuga is the bonus in an X-Files-ish Japanese procedural, I kind-of like it a lot more? It's like, I'm recalibrating my expectations for what this show is actually doing. It's not, uh, what I would prefer they do, but I'm liking this Guest-Starring Masked Rider Kuuga version a bit more now.