There aren’t may television programmes whose early episode watches I like to revisit in my memory, savouring the feeling of cranking up to the top of the beginning. Agito is one.
In the first episode there are weird, dark murders, a boy in rubber swimming trunks (the small kind), an amnesiac, and the teenage girl who adores him. I want/ed to climb inside the screen and knock Shouichi off his bike – while he lay on the floor all fishblinking I would shout at him DON’T YOU UNDERSTAND? SHE’S AT A DELICATE MOMENT! DON’T YOU UNDERSTAND HOW GIRLS THAT OLD FEEL ABOUT BOYS YOUR AGE? YOU STUPID ASS!! And then I would steal his bike. I’d return it later because it does not aesthetically appeal to me too much.
In my opinion Agito has the strongest opening episode of any Heisei Kamen Rider series; it didn’t make me want to watch the series immediately (Kabuto, Decade, Blade, Kiva) but it stuck around for me and built up a keenness that didn’t abate. It is yet to abate. Perhaps it will when I see Project G4, but I don’t know. That first episode is mysterious as heck but it is the shadiness of mystery that sets it apart from later Heisei Riders – it’s a little bit unsettling, because anthropomorphic leopards who wear ragged cloaks could be silly but when they murder people and deposit their bodies or body parts in trees.. that’s proper horror. Dead people in trees is creepy, for real.
My favourite part of Agito is Operator Ozawa! I don’t remember if she is in the first episode, but like the series itself, she is a grower.
I. Love. Her.
Being a fan is enjoyable because it raises all these emotions in you that have no actual object; there is nothing for you do WITH how you feel, except for re-funnel your enflamed consciousness into creativity and better living. Or squee for a million years on tumblr, but sometimes I guess those things are the same.
Ozawa is “a female character”, which is something that I talk about (especially as regards the Kamen Rider franchise). That doesn’t matter here except for how it heightens my joy in this perfect cowboy because I don’t have to view her from the outside. Things that separate me from Ozawa: she is a genius (of course, I am just an undiscovered genius), she is a policewoman (I could be), she is Japanese (perhaps it is my white privilege, but this does not feel like a barrier to me (must examine further)). Essentially, WE ARE THE SAME. She is my homegirl. I have never said that before.
Ozawa Sumiko is the Operator and creator of the G3 Unit; a mech-suit that is used by her fellow police detective to fight the anthropomorphic animal monsters who have taken to appearing and murdering entire families. She is a bonafide genius; she designs this suit, and an upgrade, and multiple weapons that may only be used by this suit for this purpse, and she later creates a perfect – a perfect – AI. She can read social interactions and navigate both professional and semi-social power plays. She’s not the awkward science girl who can deal with computers but not boyyyys: thank you world! But I keep getting sidetracked; I don’t want to talk about what she isn’t. I want to talk about what she is. I want to reach through the internet and grasp your collar and say very intensely, do you understand that she is the best character?
Something that Ozawa can do exceptionally is stand her ground. You know how Tough Characters* tend to hear something against them and react only with a firming of the chin, a flicker of the eyes?
Ozawa doesn’t do that!
She does NOTHING!
She just continues to look at the person who has spoken in exactly the same pose and I look at the screen like this: *0*
Here are some things that Ozawa impassively weathers, in a feat of non-acting that allows me to view the mental processes involved in putting something away to think about later without losing one single bit of situational control:
+ Getting fired at least once
+ Having her professional judgement questioned by plebes (multiple)
+ Having her personal judgement professionally questioned by AN ASS (multiple)
+ Having said ass be rude to her for no reason other than to ‘win’ the ‘confrontation’
+ Having her university mentor tell her to her face that he hates her, implicitly because she is just too darn clever
+ Something in the series epilogue that I won’t mention for spoilers and also because I JUST DON’T KNOW HOW TO FEEL ABOUT IT.
(Above: she is funny!)
Ozawa is small and thin. I first saw the actress Fujita Touko in her Blade series cameo and I think she stuck in my mind originally – enough that I recognised her from ten minutes a year ago – because the square-cut clothes she wears in both series contrast so much with her spare thinness – they emphasise it, but she does not look delicate. I feel strange and furtive talking about the body width of a woman who is not me. How she looks is a strong component of how I relate to her but: is it fair? She spiritually looks like an iron bar to me – her limbs are small and her touch is light, but I feel like I would be safe having her at my back in a rumble. I don’t know if it’s her acting, her presence, or her written character combined with the physical one. I don’t know if it’s just a completely simple matter of “that is how that body looks to me”! But. The physical casting works. It really works. My joy in this character is not just down to the writing. Ozawa is “well designed”. And I can relate to her bodily, too.
She always stands upright.
There’s family drama in Agito: Mana, the teenager with a crush that I mentioned way up there, is a recent orphan who lives with her uncle and cousin. And Shouichi, the amnesiac Kamen Rider. Mana spends the series discovering her psychic abilities and dealing with the whole “I am a (bereaved) teenager” thing. Shouichi spends the series fighting monsters, along which journey he meets and befriends Hikawa – Hikawa is the detective who wears the G3, under Ozawa’s handling. Hikawa is a quintessential Good Boy; Kaname Jun could totes play Clark Kent. So when Mana’s dealing with things spills over into not dealing with things at all Hikawa wants to help and he asks Ozawa and Omuro** how one should approach helping a seventeen year old girl handle herself. Because Ozawa is wise. And also Ozawa has been there.
She says: something about how at that time, one is like glass. It is so easy to shatter.
It’s not complex or particularly deep, but my heart leapt out of my throat and shouted with its own small mouth, “Ozawa! You understand that ex-me!”
To see your ideal self so reflected is precious. To see her as such a hero with such great surrounding characters is a gift!
I have drawn her twice, lately.
When rattled, she drinks beer in great volume. Multiple great volumes! And then she goes back to the office and programmes said perfect AI, with one single hiccup as evidence of her indulgence.
I have to get offline, now. So I will gush more another time.
*Especially Tough Women. Work with me here, it’s IMPOSSIBLE to talk about a great lady character without talking about bad ones or normal ones or boring ones! Okay??
** The G3 technician, I guess? He gets neglected, poor flower.