So, there are three main parts to Kuuga episodes so far: there's the investigative part, the Kuuga part, and the emotional part. I don't think I've seen a Kuuga story yet that nails all three, but they're getting there.

As always, the investigative part is the strongest element. Ichijou and the task force are tracking down the Grongi hideout, after nearly 300 people have died. THREE. HUNDRED. PEOPLE. HAVE. DIED. And this is a kids' show, right? And, I mean, this episode is pretty gruesome. A couple schoolgirls just get straight-up exploded in the first main monster attack, and an escaping Grongi kills Mikado the Crime-Fighting Dog. They killed the dog, you guys. That is, no. No, you don't do that. In no culture is that appropriate, even for non-human lifeforms that haven't existed in millenia. No. Too monstrous.

The Kuuga part takes more of a spotlight this story, with a couple cool fights, a whole lot of charming Godai, and a new form. (Titan Form, thanks to the wiki. Man, I like the modern-day shows where the driver is constantly shouting out form changes, so I don't have to think of these things as Purple Kuuga or whatever.) I, you know, I don't think I've talked much about the Kuuga suits. I really like them! There's a cleanliness to the design, with a dominant single color to each suit, mixed with some regal gold edging. It looks powerful, ancient, and not altogether human. Modern suits can get incredibly busy, so it's nice to see what this franchise was like before that maximal aesthetic.

But, yeah, the Kuuga part was really solid, the investigative part was solid, it's the emotional part for me that kind-of fell apart in the end.

The thing that made the other two parts work was attention to detail, sometimes to the detriment of pacing. Every step of the investigation is laid out, from the very dry police meeting, to the scenes with Police Science Doctor having to have a reason to be at the waterfront to get the mystery ash, to the raid on the hideout thanks to Mikado the Crime-Fighting Dog. The Kuuga story has the same step-by-step process, where Godai has to go see Sakurako to find out about Kuuga's sword, to losing to Spitting Grongi, to training with Ichijou, to beating Spitting Grongi. It's all very clearly delineated.

Then there's the emotional part, that spends so long telling us about Minori's fears that her brother is changing into someone she doesn't recognize, someone who's living too dangerously for her to handle, and then, like, blinks at the end. Minori confesses her fears to Godai, Godai says he's doing what he has to do (?) just like she does with her teaching (??) and she is beaming. She's so excited for him to walk in front of an explosive-spitting murder-fish-clown! The end of the story is leaning so goddamn hard on the idea of Minori's confidence in her brother and her lack of fear for his safety, and I do not get it. She's got real, legitimate concerns (his example is making kids fight each other!) and he's like, Responsibility, and she's like, . Like the previous story, they spend so much time building to a resolution and then it just stops. Easily a third of the story is wasted thanks to them just ducking any emotional consequences to the characters' decisions, and, worse, it makes Minori look like an idiot. She spent two episodes slowly falling apart thanks to Godai's actions, and then she's just, Naw, We Good. I really, really don't get it.

Of the three parts to Kuuga stories, Investigation/Kuuga/Emotion, I'm a little shocked that the last two stories whiffed the hardest on the emotional part. That's the one you don't need suits and effects work for! That's the basis of storytelling for thousands of years! That is the easy one!