Shotaro… not great with kids!

It’s nice to get a Double story that allows (one of) our Rider(s) to help out some precocious moppet. It’s the heart of Kamen Rider as a franchise, making sure kids don’t cry. (Unless it’s Christmastime, and you are a Lazer fan.) Some of the best Kamen Rider stories are the ones where a hero has to be there for a kid in distress, and the ways the hero reacts to a kid help illustrate the dimensions of the show. Like, Hibiki’s great with Asumu on first meeting, but Takumi will generally yell at a child that’s bothering him. It’s fast characterization, on top of being entertaining drama.

So we get a mostly flustered Shotaro in this episode, who basically takes the case on Asuka’s behalf (assuming Akiko would’ve given him a choice not to take the case) while still not really knowing how to deal with a charming child who is convinced that Double is secretly her father. Said father is, naturally, dead – ALL DADS ARE DEAD – and her mother has been hiding this fact for like a year, which is completely normal and not a weird, potentially abusive thing to do to your child. It makes Asuka’s emotional state the most precarious thing in an episode field with aquatic snipers and Sonozaki scheming, which is exactly what I want out of Kamen Rider mystery this early in a show.

Like, I don’t care about Fuuto’s second wind tower (it’s neat-looking, though) and I don’t really care what happens to Asuka’s mom (she’s a cutthroat politician who is maybe trying to honor her dead husband, if we take her at her word), but I ONE THOUSAND PERCENT don’t want that kid to cry. The monster peril in this episode is almost beside the point to me – the real tension is in trying to get this kid to understand that Double ain’t her dad, and her dad is never coming home. The stakes of that… it’s good, man. Those are good stakes.

They aren’t, sadly, stakes that the episode is super concerned about, though? It’s not an episode that really gives Asuka and Shotaro a lot of time together, despite it being the most intriguing hook in the episode. We spend a lot of time with Shotaro on bodyguard duty, as well as the various factions at play in the development of the wind tower. Arguably too much! It makes this episode feel a little padded out, in that it’s trying to flesh out a thing that is both of huge importance to the city of Fuuto, but also a thing that’s only relevant in the abstract. Nothing wrong with wanting to dot i’s and cross t’s when it comes to creating an immersive experience for the viewer, but it’s not really where I’d want to see the show spend its time.

But the Shotaro and Asuka stuff, what little there is of it? I like that. I like Shotaro reflexively wanting to shield a child from harm – both physical and emotional – while not being able to carry on a conversation with her, or even coherently express his interest in protecting her from harm. He just, like, doesn’t want this kid to cry! But kids are hard to have a conversation with, because kids are all weird! I get that!


-I resent them having an Anomalocaris Dopant, because I will never ever ever remember how to spell that, so I need to have a screenshot of Philip saying it so that I can reference it when writing. THANKS, TOEI.

-Zero recollection of this one, so I’m not playing coy about what Asuka’s mom may or may not be up to. I don’t remember anything about this one! Probably– probably not a great sign for its quality, now that I think about it…