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Miss Kuroitsu From the Monster Development Department
Episode 9

by Christopher Farris,

How would you rate episode 9 of
Miss Kuroitsu From the Monster Development Department ?
Community score: 4.2

It must be a sign of how thoroughly toku-poisoned my brain is that I didn't even consider the extremely obvious place this week's episode of Miss Kuroitsu was going with all its talk of aquatic aptitude assessments for monsters. Instead, I could only think of the horror stories about how some of those rubber suits have unfortunately reacted when being dunked in water during certain fight scenes (so many toku fans know about the loss of the original Kamen Rider Gills suit to that kind of damage). But of course, Miss Kuroitsu isn't reaching for that level of metatextual awareness (yet, wait until the second half of this episode), and this swimming premise is instead, naturally, about getting everybody into swimsuits for a beach episode.

What was surprising to me about this deployment of an obligatory anime fanservice setup is that it actually ended up being the funniest Miss Kuroitsu has been in a while. The change of scenery and outfits lets the show experiment with some new bits for its established cast. One of my favorites, for instance, was poor Melty having the same kind of troubles any chocolate would in the hot sun, culminating in a key sight gag where she's having to keep shaved ice on hand to consume to consistently cool off. It's simple, there's a progression to it, it's funny. Similarly, you've got the likes of Camula and Arachne tagging along, with a joke being that Arachne's anxious about being outside the fortress she draws her strength from. That tracks – high-level commander villains almost never leave their home sound-stage sets until towards the very end of the series. No wonder she feels like she isn't supposed to be here.

But the main arc of this bit actually revolves around the competitive spirit emerging between Wolf and Cannon, revealed for an adorably amusing reason: both of them are trying to look good for their respective crushes, with Wolf still struggling with his complicated feelings for Kuroitsu, while Cannon's relationship with Hydra has evolved into a rather cute courtship. Not that Miss Kuroitsu can at all qualify as a 'romantic comedy' at this point, but there is plenty of plain ol' comedy being borne out of these blockheaded boys and their attempts to outdo each other. And comparing their powers allows an opportunity for a few side explanations of their other monster-mechanics – like Wolf's implanted virtual-reality memories, or Cannon's internal electrical systems – as they put their cyborg-monster powers to work in such stringent challenges as watermelon smashing. Cannon just shoots his with a gun, in one of the truest laugh-out-loud moments the show has gotten me with thus far.

But beyond just being as genuinely funny as it is, I enjoyed this whole segment for the all-important vibes I think this show works off of. These villainous creators have a real sense of pride and love for their monsters, and getting to see them all goof around at the beach like the extremely weird family they are evokes the same feelings you get with watching any villains doing that sort of thing in 'regular' superhero shows. The culmination of this – with the gang coming together to help a short-circuiting Cannon off of the bottom of the ocean, and Wolf unquestionably commenting on the camaraderie they share even through their competition – is a genuinely sweet payoff. I think a lot of the gags of Miss Kuroitsu work best when they play off us recognizing these characters as 'people' apart from their tropey toku origins, and this reinforces that. See, it's heartening and good for the show's overall sense of humor!

After that bout of traditionally-styled fanservice, Miss Kuroitsu switches over to fanservice of its more personally-expected variety. Kuroitsu winding up in a bar frequented by former hero-show types is really just an excuse for this cartoon to spend nearly ten minutes referencing various tokusatsu shows and tropes even more than it did already. It's a dawning realization both we and the titular character come to, from wondering why a pub would serve something like curry (it's a favorite of Yellow Rangers) to double-taking and going "Wait a minute, is that friggin' Kenji Ohba?!". It's an absolute procession of Leo DiCaprio-pointing moments, featuring everything from more general, oblique references to out-and-out lifts.

Now this could have wound up being a dry exercise in 'spot the reference' for those in the know that conflates simply acknowledging this corner of pop culture with actually making any jokes, but I think it ends up working for a few key reasons. First of all is the spirit of the whole thing, as the idea of a bar where old toku-universe types gather makes for a generally appealing setting alongside Miss Kuroitsu's overall 'world of heroes' type. It's another one of those things I think would work great as a premise for a series on its own, acting as a place for supervillain after-battle complaint sessions, and overseen by the elderly bar matron who's actually a badass retired magical girl. I called that as soon as she showed up, and it was still a rad moment when the reveal happened.

But they also use the presence of the characters in this corner to keep up the world-building and commentary the series has thrived on, like revealing that the original Kamen Rider's famous escape before he could be brainwashed is the reason modern evil organizations take care of that part first. It's a wry example of what this series is about, paying tribute to its genre's past while still knowingly ribbing it. Between that sort of well-considered referential humor, and the surprisingly good times mined from the swimsuit situations earlier, episode 9 is likely to be regarded as one of the best episodes of Miss Kuroitsu, no matter what you're tuning into the show for.


Miss Kuroitsu From the Monster Development Department is currently streaming on Crunchyroll.

Chris is a freelance writer who appreciates anime, action figures, and additional ancillary artistry. He can be found staying up way too late posting screencaps on his Twitter.

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