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Episode 3

by Christopher Farris,

How would you rate episode 3 of
Community score: 4.5

The original Kamen Rider W may have been built around two-parters, but FUUTO PI is an anime, and that means it is legally required to abide by the ol' three-episode rule. And so our introductory case gets closed out in this episode, in what turns out to be a strong setup for this week's entry itself, and overall evens out this whole first story arc. Having finally built up to the big suited-up confrontation between our main Rider and the monster-of-the-last-three-weeks, they thankfully don't waste any more of our time and cut straight into the action. And yeah, it really is an absolute joy seeing Shotaro/Philip go to town on the Road Dopant, the fight moving through different phases that let W's different forms get deployed and demonstrated. The whole thing feels like FUUTO PI just showing off, as it should now that it's gotten to this point.

A lot of this is just me being a mark of an established fan, admittedly. The series even plays to that predilection, surprise-dropping a new remix of the original Kamen Rider W theme song as the fight really ramps up—a stunt I surely thought they would wait a little longer to pull, but lord knows I'm not complaining. And there's definitely some cheeky joy at getting to see how the animated format uncouples things from pesky issues like having to film with Japanese traffic restrictions in mind, allowing for some of the most apeshit motorcycle action a Kamen Rider entry has seen in decades. W even does the classic standing-up-on-the-bike trick! They know exactly how to pander on this one. It also means that some more obvious CGI compositing is utilized for the more ambitious parts of the sequence, but I think overall it looks well-integrated compared to something like, say, Kamen Rider Saber's uncanny Unreal Engine dimension.

That's all well and good as fanservice for folks like me, but FUUTO PI also makes this work as a capstone to bringing in those prospective new viewers. W showing off the form changes also makes viewers aware of how those work, and Akiko's along to explain to Tokime (who now finds herself the official audience surrogate for this kind of stuff) some of the remaining bits about what's going on with GaiaMemory, and how Shotaro and Philip need to tape themselves together sometimes to take care of the critters that result from it. It could honestly all pass as the climax of an introduction to a totally new series that just had its own built-in backstory (indeed, Kamen Rider W itself opened with effectively the same beats).

In fact, there's an argument to be made that FUUTO PI might be a little too eager to explain. Yes, a last-minute complication or two followed by a detailed post-solution explanation is a hallmark of detective fiction, but coming off all the action in this one's first half, the explanation of what all was really going on sucks a bit of the life out of that effort. Finding out what Chuuta's actual deal is interesting, don't get me wrong, as is seeing how the deduction resulted from some real effective detective work from Shotaro and Philip. It's one of those classic "Everything makes sense in hindsight" explanations, even as it's a bit overt in setting up everyone's places at this intersection of the story, or taking so much time to detail the exact mechanics of how Tokime's seemingly-magical abilities actually worked.

Which brings us at last to the matter of Tokime herself. The show finally admitting that she's going to be a new main character instead of some motivating mysterious waif does a lot to help her develop more personality and purpose in the narrative now. I think we were already rooting for her, even before finding out that Chuuta was kind of a tool on top of being simply disposable. But still, integrating her into a character dynamic as thoroughly established as the one between the leads of Kamen Rider W is going to be a tricky proposition regardless. It might actually work better for those new viewers, who are coming at this largely on Tokime's own terms, as opposed to those of us who still can't help but regard her as an interloping question mark.

To Tokime's credit, she does fulfill the necessary cast requirement of being able to burn Shotaro's ass to the ground at a moment's notice. The reactions she's already able to provoke from him speak to her ability to draw out new dynamics from the established characters (including setting up a payoff to Akiko's "Nobody told me about this" gag that's been running for over ten years!). And it's worth noting that FUUTO PI is written by original series scribe Riku Sanjō, so this isn't a case of another writer inserting a character for their own sake, but of the original author taking what they see as a natural route for post-original-story progression. That inclines me to have a little more faith in wherever Sanjo might be going with this, even as I also recall that his handling of women in Rider stories can be…uneven (never ask me about his writing of Yuki in his episodes of Kamen Rider Fourze).

Trepidations aside, FUUTO PI closes out its first case on a mostly high note with this third episode. This is the action we knew we came for, and also why we invited newcomers along, and even if it took a while to get there, it ends with the new status quo set up nicely. My only major concern continues to be the pacing, as this one confirms that this really was a result of stretching out a two-episode Kamen Rider W plot to fill a three-episode anime introduction. But honestly, that just makes me even more hopeful going forward, as FUUTO PI now has the freedom to take on stories and cases at any pace the series might prefer.


FUUTO PI is currently streaming on Crunchyroll.

Chris is a freewheeling Fresno-based freelancer with a love for anime and a shelf full of too many Transformers. He can be found spending way too much time on his Twitter, and irregularly updating his blog.

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