It’s just… it’s such a weird ending.

The last scene alone points out the absurdity and cruelty of what’s happening. The voiceover says that Asuka will inevitably be told, despite literally nothing in the story to date pointing in that direction. (Certainly her mother never seems like she’s just waiting for the right moment.) The implication is clear – it is unconscionable for this girl to be lied to indefinitely.

And yet!

And yet, after a series of well-meaning evasions and obfuscations, the solution that Kamen Rider Double comes up with is to let this little girl think that her father is a) still alive, b) protecting the city in lieu of spending any time with her ever again, and c) STILL ALIVE. All of this is horrible, considering that this little girl has been lied to for over a year, with no off-ramp to this deception in sight. But the show treats it like she’s being let down easy – a gentle deception to save a kid from pain – and then is just like Someday It All Works Somehow ROLL CREDITS.

It’s… man, it’s cowardly. I don’t wanna play the Kuuga Woulda Done This Better card, but there are shows that understand that kids need to confront hardship sometimes if they’re ever going to become healthy and emotionally-secure adults, and then there’s whatever this was. Multiple opportunities for Shotaro or the kid’s mom to come clean and make this a teachable moment about honesty and taking solace from grief in the people around you, but they just gaslight this kid into thinking her dad simply doesn’t want to come home. Worse! So much worse!

Like, I was genuinely hoping that the final moment between Asuka and Double was going to be Asuka telling Double that she knows he isn’t her dad, but it’s nice to pretend or something. Some way for the show to feel less like it’s traumatizing this kid In A Nice Way. But it never does, and just goes all in on it being a heroic idea to lie to a child about their dead dad. That’s it, that’s the lesson – it is okay to spare kids from reality by lying to them indefinitely and assuming it’ll all work out in the future for some reason. Jesus.

If it weren’t for that nightmare of an emotional resolution, this was actually an okay episode!

It’s not a great Double episode – the mystery is sort of nowhere in this one, honestly – but it’s a decent Kamen Rider adventure. The fight between Nazca and Double is an episode highlight, with some intriguing character development for both characters. Nazca’s boundless ego runs up against Shotaro’s unpredictability, to explosive effect. It’s a neat look into how Kirihiko has some nobility to him, and how he’s also fighting for Fuuto… sort of, in a Mine All Mine way. The fight itself feels a little more dangerous and calculated than the various Dopant battles of the last few stories, which is a plus.

Beyond that awesome fight, we get a few check-ins with a variety of characters (the ramen cart scene!), but it’s pretty much just a Shotaro story. Akiko’s barely in it, and Philip plays the role of rueful sidekick, without ever really interacting with anyone else in the story. Fun segments, but it never feels like anything more than a break in Shotaro’s narrative. Not… not my favorite thing for an ensemble show to do this early in the run? None of the scenes are bad, mind, but they don’t… they all feel very vestigial. You could cut just about any of them and the core Shotaro/Asuka story would still work, for better or worse.

Worse for me, I guess, because of that ending. Can’t believe I forgot an ending I hated as much as this one. Yikes!



DIE-A MEMORIES



-The little doll that Asuka has looks like an HBV suit for Kamen Rider Knight that Ren used a wish on to make everyone forget about.

-Nazca… I don’t remember how I felt about this guy on the first go around. Not my favorite Sonozaki character, if I recall. He was okay, and the Nazca suit was great, but I’m sure I appreciated everyone else more, for reasons of, uh, story impact. This time around, I definitely like his smarmy nonsense quite a bit. He’s a guy that has smirked and flattered his way to power, but it’s power he only gained by proximity and seduction; he’s a useful idiot, rather than a brilliant mastermind. (I mean, he’s not an idiot idiot, but he definitely doesn’t have the undying respect of his in-laws.) And I like his ascot or whatever!

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