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Episode 8

by Christopher Farris,

How would you rate episode 8 of
Community score: 4.3

That momentum from last week's episode of FUUTO PI just keeps right on carrying this one. There's relatively little time for fake-outs or red herrings in the resolution of the mystery in this plot. Part of that's because of how many more people are involved in it this go-around, as more characters on our heroes' side converge on this murdery mansion which itself has its own generous group of plot participants (well, slightly less than it started out with, you know, on account of the murders). And those interactions afford more integration with the overall story in play here, bringing in new ideas for this series along with some callbacks to the original Kamen Rider W. That means there's plenty happening, but in a way that satisfyingly fills out the episode, rather than feeling crowded or overstuffed.

The actual character work is probably the least involved part of this episode. Bar their establishing spat way back at the beginning of the season, Shotaro and Philip have comfortably settled into their ability to work together as a developed duo. Even Philip becoming aware of the romantic potential of his feelings for Shotaro doesn't seem to have upended their dynamic in any way yet, and that's a good thing for keeping this particular mystery-solving story rolling. Instead, we simply get some appreciative affirmations from both of them about how happy they are to be able to work together and depend on each other like this. It's an extension of the way last episode showed off differences in their deductive dynamics; Shotaro and Philip each have their own strengths and weaknesses when it comes to what clues they can notice and the contexts they can trace from those, but they're also aware of those in themselves and comfortable letting the other cover for them when necessary. Illustrations like this also indicate I was so frustrated by that first arc's manufactured conflict: The Shotaro and Philip in this episode are the ones who, to me, actually come off like they spent forty-nine episodes and a movie learning how well they could synchronize and work together.

With the pair's powers firing on all cylinders, it's therefore easy to buy how rapidly they resolve the main mystery of the story in this episode. Okay, we actually haven't yet uncovered the true culprit behind using the Alcohol Memory to experiment on the bridal candidates by this episode's end, obscured in a golden glow as they are when Shotaro and Philip confront them on a cliffhanger. But come on, we can make the obvious guess that it's Kagamino, or his grandma, or maybe that oddly-extraneous butler character if they're feeling the need for a friskier last-minute twist. The important part is all the structure that comes to be understood in the run-up to it. Sometimes a murder mystery isn't one person in a closed space taking out others, it's a group of people being manipulated by a higher, greedier power into being pitted against each other.

Said structure makes for an interesting use of FUUTO PI's always-relevant medium and intended audience from its live-action predecessor. GaiaMemory always carried allegorical undertones of drug use and addiction, but predicating the powers of the one in this story on literal alcohol lets them just bluntly run with all the messier effects of that aspect. So you get ambitious people at a party effectively having their efforts 'spiked' by the Alcohol Memory, going out of control and/or winding up dying as their potential to use the powers is dictated by their actual alcohol tolerance levels. Truly, this is the kind of story you could only get by making a Kamen Rider cartoon for grown-ups. And yeah, I can make wry remarks about that, but it does feel like truly special adaptational circumstances where we can get up to that kind of action in the same show where a police detective uses a toy belt that looks like handlebars to transform into a motorcycle.

That's kind of the secret sauce in shows like Kamen Rider, that when you get the fundamental stuff about your mysteries and the writing of the characters solving them down, all the wilder excesses just become gravy. The horde of inhuman mooks that pop up for our heroes to mow down towards the end of this episode aren't much but foreshadowing for that overarching plot plus some callbacks to the Museum evil organization from the old series, but they do their job and let us finally see Terui go to town as Kamen Rider Accel. On the other side of the antics spectrum, Shotaro and Philip being on the same wavelength in how to go about solving this mystery results in yet another instance of seeing Philip cross-dressing, which he remarks on his recurring tendency to do, while stressing that he definitely, certainly, isn't personally interested in it and only does so out of utility. Surely. This is all the fun stuff we get to frame the murderous shake-ups around alcoholic conspiracies.

Some of it is kind of clunky, to be sure. If this was always going to be the debut showcase for Kamen Rider Accel as well as an opportunity for Tokime to integrate into the efforts more with her GaiaMemory-sensing powers, it might have been smoother to include those characters a bit more at the start. Especially as Shotaro and Philip's driving character interactions were enjoyable, but not especially dynamic. I don't dislike Tokime, but I feel FUUTO PI is still struggling a bit to commit to integrating her into the crew. But we've got her here for next week's episode, so we can see how that goes then. I've got some faith in the series after what they've pulled off with this story so far, a setup that by all rights should be a wild, overstuffed mess, but instead feels as brisk and engaging as this show ever has.


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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