Pretty much an across-the-board success, largely because the show decided to finally pick a lane.

We’re fully in the Kagerou/Evil storyline this episode, and it’s maybe the best installment this show has had since the premiere. The full cast is here, the action feels grounded in character, and there’s an overall sense of stakes that most previous episodes were lacking in. It’s an episode with real tension, real consequences, and real changes to the status quo. Kagerou’s going to destroy the thing Daiji loves most, and he’s going to use Daiji’s face when he does it.

It’s a plan that, on the one hand, is laughably minor. Kagerou isn’t subtly manipulating the Igarashi family until they’re defenseless against his machinations; he basically waits until they’re all smiling and then punches Ikki in the face. It’s not… like, this isn’t an Evol(t)-esque long game. Evil’s a Rider that is a sneering opportunist more than he’s a hardworking villain, which is fun to think about more than it’s fun to watch in action. Despite enjoying what came out of Kagerou’s strategy (it’s always really funny when a non-Henshined Rider decks another non-Henshined Rider, the actors just go for it), it’s hard to say the plot of this episode is leaps and bounds better than the laughably thin Stamp Stories of the last few episodes. We’re still in a one-off story realm of not really having the space for multiple twists, so it’s really just half of the episode waiting for Evil to act, and then the other half where he’s acted. Not exactly gonna need a flowchart to follow this plot, no.

But it all works, thanks to keeping the focus on the absolute best thing this show has to offer: the Igarashi family unit. I love that this episode let the first half sprawl some with the family; all these little scenes of them enjoying each other’s company, or goofing on one another, or feeling like an actual family. My appreciation of a Revice episode tends to coincide with how much of Mom and Dad Igarashi we get, so multiple scenes of them being excitable, flirty weirdos was enough to win me over. (I genuinely love how much it seems like the two of them have an active romantic life? They are both still young enough that, despite three grown-ish kids, I 100% believe they still bone on the regular.) The only way the Kagerou stuff in the back half works is if the thing he’s destroying has value to the viewer, and the show was right to center things less on Ikki’s happiness (a thing Ikki says that he doesn’t actively pursue, which is a nicely bittersweet character detail) and more on the entire family’s bond. Thanks to some deft acting and general warmth, there’s a real loss when Kagerou tears it all down.

Good work from the non-Igarashi cast as well, which is a nice bonus. All of the Giffamilia stuff, where they’re barely incognito at the resort, was cute. It’s not, like, villainous, which is an interesting choice. It’s cartoony, and I liked it well enough. Vice’s role as the only one who saw what they were up to got a couple legit laughs out of me, which is maybe the best Vice has worked for me thus far. I liked the episode using him as the frustrated and ignored voice of reason, because it totally makes sense that a) he’d catch on that Deadmans are around, and b) Ikki is so sick of Vice’s constant interruptions and nonsense that he’d completely ignore the devil. All that, and we even get Hiromi and George around the edges, being alternately stern executors of military responsibility, and someone to explain the new DX toy to the audience. Everyone has an important role in the story!

This was a lot of fun. If it misses out on the various familial themes and views on parenthood, it replaces them with coherent plotting and character-driven drama. I’m sort of okay with that trade-off right now?