I don’t know if this one all the way works as anything other than a proof of concept. It ends up trading in last episode’s quirky character work for an overly-long action sequence with some We Are Only A Couple Years Removed From Castle Doran-level computer graphics. It’s still a neat (if limited) exploration of the central trio, and their dynamic, but I don’t know that it was especially good or memorable.

Like, the mystery here is… I don’t know that it plays fair with the audience? Marina ends up being the T-Rex Dopant due more to the conservation of cast -slash- noir femme fatale tropes, than due to anything we learned in the previous episode. We only find out that she was another former Windscale employee after Shotaro figures out she’s the T-Rex Dopant, which feels sort of crucial to guessing she’s the culprit? And her whole plan depends on knowing that Shotaro is Double, which is definitely not common knowledge at this point in the show? It’s a mystery where the only other named character is the killer, and for reasons that are all but invented for the finale. It sort of works, because Shotaro’s reaction sells the effect, but it’s not a great puzzle to solve.

The reveal doesn’t even really land for me, because there’s not much to her after she goes Full CG Monster. She’s a raving lunatic, and then she completely disappears from the story so a CG Double can grapple with a CG dinosaur. The T-Rex Dopant suit is not going to be in any monster hall of fame – it looks like an upscaled hand-puppet, which is the nicest way I can describe it – but at least it allows for a physical confrontation. The big ol’ metal monster version is… I just can’t ever care about that type of fight scene. Too… I don’t know, too sterile? It’s clean in the exact way that I want toku action to be messy. Not a fan!

The character work is still strong, though, which helps the episode manage to be an overall enjoyable watch. (Not a success, exactly, but not a drag to get through.) There’s Philip and Shotaro fighting about Shotaro’s inability to embrace his empathy and weakness, which is – if memory serves – going to be something of a recurring bit in this series. It’s a neat other half to Akiko’s frustration with Shotaro, where his need to be seen as someone else risks missing what’s worthwhile about himself. He’s a guy that wants to be seen as tough, but his softness is why both Akiko and Philip rush to his aid.

The punch he throws at Philip, though… kinda not sure on that one? Philip literally shrugs it off, and the show treats it as A Manly Disagreement, but it’s still sort of a big deal that the show’s not really willing to confront. Philip isn’t being a dick to Shotaro – Philip is psychologically unable to see the world the same way Shotaro does, and is trying to navigate their friendship the best way he can. (Dude even shows up at the end to make things right after getting punched in the face!) It’s a cruel thing Shotaro does, not just an impetuous or ill-considered thing. I’d certainly love to see the show treat Philip’s condition more sensitively, but I also remembered that I’m watching a Toei superhero show from 2009, so I’ll try to keep some perspective.

I mean, at least that part’s worth talking about? Otherwise, the mystery underwhelmed, and the action was too phony for me to care about. There’s a couple good Akiko gags in the chase scene (her on the loudspeaker, “Jump!” *nods* “How?!”), but I zoned out for a bunch of it. It– it’s an okay finale to a better debut. Not upset, just a little let down.



DIE-A MEMORIES



-Oh, right, this is the Naked Wedding one or whatever! Man, the Sonozaki family at this point… like, I get it, we need to learn about the crime family in a mystery show (plus Other Reasons), but every visit with them is a bizarre momentum killer. I’d maybe argue that they could’ve been saved for a little later in the first act?

-Show is super-duper into all of Double’s toyetic gadgets! It’ll be a constant presence through the first half of Heisei Phase 2, and it never did anything for me. (Fourze… not looking forward to those Happy Meal toys!) I find it a little cluttered, as an aesthetic. There’s the superhero, and the toy accessories, and the multi-change bike… I don’t know, feels a little busy for one episode.

-First appearance of Watcherman! I like all of the informants and street team stuff. It’s old-school Holmesian mystery stuff, and it just always works. It adds to that feeling that Fuuto as a whole is part of Double’s success.

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