Nothing about Terui’s debut should work.

He arrives as the coolest cat. He knows everything about the cast, and belittles them constantly. He’s hard-boiled in exactly the ways Shotaro pretends to be. He’s a leather-clad badass that everyone in the supporting cast swoons over, and the show never stops giving him opportunities to be awesome, mostly at the expense of Double.

And yet!

And yet, this is such a relentlessly fun debut for one of the best Rival Secondaries in all of Kamen Rider. Terui’s consistent highlighting of Team Double’s many, many failings ends up just making them more endearing. (Philip picked a perfect time to wear a Saint Bernard onesie, and I can understand Shotaro’s frustration.) He’s a perfect foil for Shotaro, in a way that Kirihiko maybe never could be. Kirihiko was, at heart, an incredibly earnest dork that had no sense of morality; he’s sappy and sentimental, just like Shotaro. Meanwhile, Terui is grim and focused, with a psychotic aversion to being questioned and a bloodthirsty vendetta to pursue. He’s there to understand Team Double, and harness them into a weapon that he alone can and should wield. Terui is Not Here To Make Friends, and he is amazing at it.

It’s an episode that’s almost entirely about seeing how Terui fits into the dynamic – mostly by being an unhinged, spiteful lunatic, but in a good way – but it still manages to craft an intriguing mystery. It’s one that leans heavy on assumptions and circumstantial evidence, which is sort of the perfect case to run alongside Terui’s debut. Team Double gets judged unfairly by Terui, and Terui is afforded an amount of leeway due to his presence and credentials that turn out, by the end, to be a huge miscalculation. Y’know, what with him about to murder a normal human being.

Before that, though, we get the requisite Showcase Battle for a new Rider or Form, and Accel’s is pretty great. Terui has one of my franchise favorite pronunciations of Henshin (“Hen…” he gives himself a hernia “...shin!”), and Accel’s design is absolutely gorgeous. The “A” on the helmet does a lot to tie his design into Double’s, even if Motorcycle Man is not the natural visual partner to Half-and-Half Crimefighter. (Even the Acceldriver misses the letter template of the Lost Driver and Double Driver! It’s just a handlebar!) I love the glossy red of that suit, and Accel has one of the most relentlessly badass victory catchphrases imaginable. (I’ve seen it parsed a bunch of different ways from a variety of subbing groups, but OZC-Live has it as “Despair is waiting for you on the other side of the finish line.”) The whole sequence of him becoming Accel and demolishing the Dopant is as good as it should be, considering the hype to get to it.

This whole episode is a colossally fun payoff to the Accel hype train. Terui both negs the hell out of this series, and manages to show us why he’s only the secondary. He’s the thing that Shotaro pretends to be, and even wants to be, but Shotaro’s inherent empathy and kindness are why we’re following his story of justice and protection, instead of Terui’s story of isolation and vengeance. Terui's incredibly cool, but he’s not our guys.



DIE-A MEMORIES



-I’m pretty sure I had the opposite reaction to Terui’s debut originally. I’m fairly confident I found his wall-to-wall negativity and stern rebukes of having fun to be an eye-rolling buzzkill, much like Shotaro and Philip do. Now, I don’t know… I think he’s got a point? Like, Team Double are a joke, and he doesn’t find it particularly funny. I’m now a fan of the this new dynamic!

-Terui is the one guy so far where I wasn’t like They Were All So Young Once. He kind of looks the same in Revice as he looks here, which is unreal. Dude has to share his skincare regimen!

-Hey, Shroud makes her first appearance. I’m… really hoping I like Shroud better on a rewatch.

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