Jesus Christ, what even is normalcy anymore? We've got a pandemic putting the globe on lockdown, I've got no idea if I'm going to have a business next month, you can watch tons of old toku shows on streaming services, I'm thinking about turning on my Switch for the first time in a year (Animal Crossing!), we've spent the last few days of this Ryuki thread talking about Ex-Aid and sequel movies... it's insane out here. Hard to keep up.

So, hey, let's talk about an episode of Ryuki again, like old times.

I, uh... I wish it wasn't this episode we were talking about, though!

I mean, ignoring how much of this episode is clearly setup for the next episode, there's just so little here that kept my attention. Like, being the first episode in a while without Kitaoka, that's going to start you at a deficit. But, man, almost nothing worked for me with this one.

The big plot is that Ren has TV Show Amnesia, where he's conveniently forgotten that he's a superhero, and he's gruff(er than usual) with the other characters. It's all a way to explore Ren's backstory, which would normally be difficult/impossible with a brooding, taciturn hero. Here, he's going to retrace steps we've never seen, filling in blanks that should hopefully get us to care more about Ren, about his journey, about his goals.

It's just really dull to me in the moment. First, Yui gets dumped from this storyline pretty fast, despite her having one of the closest connections to Ren, so we don't at all get to see how this is affecting her. Second, Ren's not even really funny mean to Shinji, he's just a dick. Even in the first episode he was funny mean to Shinji. Here, their schtick, it feels hollow and dull. He doesn't even care enough about Shinji to belittle him, which, then why am I even watching this show. Finally, Ren's plan of, I guess, Wander Around Japan Until His Brain Works Right is so hard to get on board with. He should not be operating a motorcycle! That's stupid! Very, very stupid! And, I don't know, it's so vague of a plan that I couldn't really track it. He's literally just wandering around side streets for an episode. That's it. There's info we get from his neverending aneurysm (I assume), but it's at the very end of the episode. It's just generally not very fun to watch. Not an awesome way to pad out a two-parter.

That said, there is one legit solid gag in a very humor-light episode of Ryuki. (Holy shit, do I miss Kitaoka and Goro!) The idea of Ren having, like, forty nemeses in one neighborhood that he doesn't remember, that's good. That's a funny concept, and I'd've loved an episode built around that. Instead, it's two scenes and one laugh. Not... not worth all of that boredom.

Reiko and Yui's stories don't fare much better. It's all setup, all to link together Yui's brother, Ren's girlfriend (probably), and the mysterious survivor of the monster attack that Reiko's investigating. This whole episode, it's just table-setting. It's investigation, but in a way that only finishes asking a question. Not a lot here to get excited about.

(Also, what the hell is up with the insanely high body-count for this episode? Monster attacks on Ryuki are usually single victims, spaced out over days. Here, what, dozens of people at once? Multiple times a day? And, man, it's starting to bug how the monsters are once again just random attacks, showing up out of nowhere, then getting blown up. It's so boring, the monsters on this show! Not at all what's fun about watching Ryuki!)

A bummer, this one. The best you can say about it, besides one good Ren Makes A Lot Of Enemies gag, is that it doesn't destroy the concept of Masked Rider Ryuki. It's not good, and I've got to imagine anything we learned in this episode is going to get restated and expended upon in the next one, rendering this episode redundant, but it doesn't wreck the show. It's just, like, a bad episode of Ryuki. Not the end of the world, which, these days? I'll take it.