Oh, man, this dude. This dude! Probably my favorite Kamen Rider actor, full stop. I don’t think I’d’ve cared about the Kento storyline in Saber half as much if his dad hadn’t been played by Kaido. He’s just always fun to watch, to see how he imbues even the smallest role with weird affectations and compelling strangeness. I like any story he’s in more than I probably should.

…Which is maybe another way of saying that this initial episode of The Mystery is sort of dull? It’s heavy on setup, to the detriment of a tangible hook. The mystery is just There Are Monsters, and that’s not– it’s not exactly a million miles away from your standard Kamen Rider premise. The twists here are threefold: first, we’ve in a locked-room mystery, where the suspects are trapped for a duration of time, while the killer (or killers) whittles down the cast; second, there are both a Deadman and a Roidmude, as well as possibly an Orphnoch or Imagin; finally, we are in Special Guest Star Project territory, with all the ways that mandate warps the narrative.

Still, Otta! Kaido! Terui! The shitty boss from Kiva as the groundskeeper! It’s a mess of familiar faces in the first episode alone, with at least Terui and Otta requiring whole scenes dedicated to their arrival. They’re, frankly, the only reasons to be excited about a fairly innocuous bit of tie-in content, so it’s hard to say the episode made the wrong decision in stretching out their intros. (Nice to see that Terui still takes meetings at the one cafe from his Zi-O appearance, I think!) The whole point of this thing is Look Who Came Back, so why not give them room to breathe?

The rest of it is, again, a lot of setup. None of the lodge’s guests make much of an impression, and one of them is bumped off a few minutes after we meet him. Ikki and Hiromi are both smitten with the innkeeper, which is… a choice. (I like that Ikki is canonically the horniest modern-day Rider; I dislike Hiromi getting easily distracted by a damsel in distress.) There’s some fun in providing a mystery for Ikki and Vice, since Ikki tends to be unobservant, and Vice is quick to notice things but bad at processing which details are important. They’re not exactly Philip and Shotaro, you know? It’s a nice change of pace to put these two at the helm of a murder mystery, mostly for how badly they’re equipped for it.

Didn’t think this first episode was much to talk about, beyond citing the Special Guest Stars, but that’s not nothing. Really hoping that the story picks up in Episode 2!