There's a moment in this episode, a beautiful, perfect moment in an absolutely batshit episode, that I think I'll remember forever. It's not the funniest, or the most insightful, or the most impressive fight sequence. But goddamn if it's not one of my all-time favorite Kamen Rider things.

Kitaoka's in a rowboat with the (gorgeous) Megumi. They're enjoying a romantic escape from everything, floating alone on a river. He leans in to kiss her, but pauses. Kitaoka senses a Mirror Monster, but has no way to change into Zolda without Megumi learning about it. So he tells her that a kiss needs to happen with her eyes closed. Once she closes her eyes, Kitaoka does a tiny, silent Henshin, where he mouths the word Henshin, and then he disappears into the reflection on the river.

That tiny Henshin, all in silence, wrecked me. Just destroyed me. It's so perfect: for the character, for the episode, for my heart.

This was, in case you've forgotten, another comedy episode. It's not really doing much character-wise, so it's a bit of a step down from last episode. I don't know that we really learn anything in particular about Kitaoka that we didn't already know, and the story's really got no space to develop anyone else. (Goro gets a bit of a look-in, but it's mostly just reiterating his protective feelings toward Kitaoka and the small ways he tries to get him to do the right thing.) There's not a ton going on under the hood of this one.

It's only consistently, insanely funny, so I guess that'll have to do.

Unlike last episode that spread around its gags to a bunch of different characters, the majority of this one is a two-hander with Kitaoka and Megumi. Megumi's actor does a great job of not going too broad with the comedy, grounding in a lot of the same ways Kitaoka does. There's a satirical edge to a lot of their scenes, playing it as romance while everything they're doing is ridiculous. And it's so ridiculous. Megumi's character is both an enormous liar and a total garbage fire of a person, yet I don't think I spent one second irritated by her. Some of it's that terrible things happening to Kitaoka is both funny and karmically warranted, but it's also how she's never malicious in this story. She's not trying to hurt Kitaoka, she's just a complete disaster. They've got great chemistry, comedically and romantically (everyone's gorgeous in this episode, total summer delight), and the whole episode sings because of it.

Shot real well, too. Lot of great weirdo angles for the proposal "flashbacks”, with garishly fake backdrops and flipped axes mid-dialogue. There's an awesome establishing shot, when Shinji goes to meet Megumi for the first time, and it's this super-high crane shot that lays out the whole beach. It doesn't tell a story, per se, but it's real nice to look at. This whole episode, though, it's beautiful, with the clear skies and blue waters. Delightful.

I really love that Masked Rider Ryuki spent an entire episode doing nothing but telling a romantic-comedy story about an asshole lawyer and a manipulative clutz. There's a monster fight, but only barely. (One and a half monster fights, if you count the monster being held at bay by a plate of food that got dumped on its head.) I'd be 100% into a Kamen Rider half-hour comedy with this as a template, and I'm not exaggerating at all. This was so much fun to watch. Completely insane and not even a little serious, but so much fun to watch.

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