It’s too literal of an ending for Kagerou, is I think my problem with this episode.

The battle between Daiji and Kagerou… I don’t think I ever wanted it to be one where Daiji, empowered by his growth as a person, defeats and eliminates the darker aspects of himself. I don’t know that Daiji ever completely grappled with the genesis or survival of Kagerou, so I don’t think he’s right to power through his reluctance and give Kagerou the demise he’d been looking for. There’s lip service paid to Daiji hoping for a better outcome, but I don’t know that the show ever made it anything like a priority.

It didn’t help things for me to have Ikki quietly cheering on Daiji’s psychic demise. It’s perhaps asking too much to have Ikki see the humanity in Daiji’s Evil Twin -slash- Fratricidal Parasite, but the certainty that this was what Daiji needed to do to self-actualize? Sour taste in my mouth, honestly. Did not love Ikki – and the climax of this episode – rewarding Daiji’s ability to externalize and obliterate a part of himself that he created and never really interrogated.

Like, I don’t completely hate it; I think there’s narrative value in Daiji destroying the embodiment of his jealousy, resentment, rage, and enjoyment of spicy foods. Daiji’s been a dude wracked by both imposter syndrome and delusions of grandeur, so he needs to address those failings in as thorough a manner as is available to him in tokusatsu. But I just don’t think it’s fun to see Daiji pummel a dying Kagerou? Or for Kagerou to sacrifice himself for Daiji’s self-improvement? There’s a smarter side of this show that asks us to view the totality of ourselves, and find balance between the face we show to the world, and the one we hide away. A version of this show that looks at Kagerou (and potentially Vice and Lovekov) as something to be cleaned up and removed… I just find that disappointingly narrow and thin.

And that’s sort of the whole episode? There’s more backstory for Genta (or whatever his original name was; I just learned “Genta”, I ain’t learning another name) and Buu, but it’s nothing terribly original or necessary. It’s just more info, because that’s what mode this show is in for its series arc. Beyond that, it’s pretty much the Daiji/Kagerou Epi–

Oh! Right! Aguilera and Sakura!

I absolutely love how Aguilera comes out of nowhere to tackle Sakura and demands to know why Sakura’s so cool and strong and special and there’s no subtext to this scene you guys. It ends up sort of rhyming with the Kagerou plot, as Aguilera’s another character whose ability to sharpen a protagonist has left them dulled by comparison, but Sakura’s version of events is just that Aguilera’s never had anything to fight to protect, so she’s never improved. Kagerou could only fade in Daiji’s light, but Aguilera’s a woman who’s never been out of other people's shadow. Interesting argument, but not one the episode is looking to resolve in a single scene. Definitely the sort of plot that has at least a full episode to figure out if Aguilera can find a new path to walk. We’ll have to see if she hears what Sakura’s saying!

Overall, I thought this Daiji/Kagerou episode was the slightly lackluster and straightforward version of a conflict I was very much looking forward to. I’d hoped for something elegant and thoughtful, but the show gave me a blunt and binary battle instead. Not a total miss, but a letdown nonetheless. If it worked better for you, please let me know!

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