Uh, wow. Wow. This is my favorite Ryuki episode so far. Exceptionally funny, great character-based storytelling, and an evolution of the show's dynamic. It's basically the perfect episode.

That said, if I have to find a flaw (and, uh, apparently I do), it's the monumental tonal whiplash from the precredit stuff about the Rider Battles, and Kamen Rider Boss, and Yui's reaction to the devastating news that man who lives in mirrors and doles out mystical objects might be dead, to everything after the credits, which is both a hilarious lark and deep examination of the way bonds can develop between adversaries. Like, it took a minute to get into this story because it's a total 180 from how this episode starts. Also, it's so untethered from how things were left. Kamen Rider Boss is all Keep Fighting and the next scene after the credits is everyone having gone their separate ways. Did.. did they not keep fighting? Were they just, like, Screw you, Boss? I assume that's what happened, that the command to keep fighting is in more of a There Needs To Be A Winner Someday sense, not that they needed to kill each other right then and there, but it's weird how it's totally unremarked upon. Just, the whole story moved on into another tone and no one mentions the previous cliffhanger.

Which, man, I'm more than okay with. This episode was across-the-board great, and (currently) the episode I'd recommend to anyone who wants to enjoy Ryuki. Just everything good about this show is in this episode, and every scene after the credits delivers. No bum notes. All killer, no filler.

Which is ironic, because this is pretty much a filler episode, from an arc or plot perspective. There are no revelations, no new Riders, and the whole story is a quick done-in-one that's entirely about Ore Journal. It's maybe not what a lot of folks would call out for a definitive Ryuki episode, you know?

But it is. It is definitive. The play between the characters is the entire story, the ways Shimada and Reiko and Yui and Shinji and Ren and Kitaoka (and Goro!) all bounce off of each other, how all of their various disagreements and rivalries coalesce into teamwork and friendship. There's a lot of time spent on the friction between characters, their hilarious grudges and resentments, specifically so they can overcome those things and work together for the greater good. It's an episode that gains strength from letting its heroes be jerks to each other just long enough, so that their ability to cooperate feels hard-fought and earned. It's a new level of storytelling for the heroes of Ryuki.

It's also relentlessly funny. I could spend a ton more time just calling out great gag after great gag, but I'll have to put the MVP nod towards Yui, of all people, for getting some of the episode's biggest laughs. (I also really liked her anger at all of Shinji's notes from the end of 28, so GIVE YUI MORE JOKES, SHOW.) Her tearing apart the Red Herring's apartment, looking for Shimada and Reiko, it was outstanding physical comedy. Looking behind curtains, knocking over bookshelves ("Wasn't me!"), screaming into blankets, trying to be coy with the neighbor?€? it's all great. It's all great. My favorite gag, though, in a great scene from an episode full of great scenes, is the bit where she opens the bathroom door, shouts "Reiko?", sees the bathroom is empty, closes the door, comes back, reopens the door, and goes inside the bathroom to use the toilet. It is a perfectly constructed visual gag. A thing of beauty.

This whole thing was great. Really really good, at a time where a) Ryuki was bumming me out more than I'd like, and b) *gestures at the world*. This was an antidote to both of those things, and it probably made my day. I'm not trying to tell anyone how to self-care, but you could do worse than fire up this episode if things are getting to be too much.




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