The first two episodes of the upcoming Fuuto P.I. anime were screened this weekend at Anime Expo.
Caution: The following review contains spoilers for the Fuuto PI anime.
At Anime Expo this past weekend, a room full of lucky fans were given the opportunity to watch an advanced screening of not just the first but two full episodes of the upcoming Studio Kai anime Fuuto PI. Adapted from the manga of the same name from Big Comic Spirits which itself was adapted from the 2009 tokusatsu series Kamen Rider W, the show features a returning cast of characters from both properties and at least two major new characters.
To clarify, the story takes place after the events of Kamen Rider W Returns: Kamen Rider Accel. Episode 1 is adapted solely from the first chapter of the manga whereas Episode 2 adapts from Chapter 2 to the first page of Chapter 6.
The action takes place in the fictionalized city of Fuuto, a town known for its many wind turbines, blustering winds, and strange crimes. Fuuto has been plagued by a rash of crimes by individuals who augment themselves with special USB-like devices called Gaia Memories. When these Gaia Memories are activated, the users gain both monstrous forms and powers. In this monstrous form, the user is then referred to as a Dopant. When the police force of Fuuto is not enough to deal with the crimes these Dopants commit, the task falls on the detective duo from the Narumi Detective Agency. Shotaro Hidari is a private detective who fancies himself a hard boiled leading man out of 1940s noir crime stories but comes up a bit short. His partner Philip is a generally soft-spoken but blunt individual who provides Shotaro with access to a wealth of information to solve just about any case that gets thrown their way. In times of great distress, our two protagonists can also use Gaia Memories to become a singular green-and-black wind-powered hero known as Kamen Rider W. With the assistance of their energetic chief Akiko, her policeman husband who also happens to be a Kamen Rider, and several informants on the street, Shotaro and Philip are the last line of defense for the city against these monstrous threats.
On a windy evening, Shotaro is quickly introduced to the series’ newest character, Tokime. Shown as a visually alluring character, she describes herself as a witch with a mysterious aura. In short order, the Narumi Detective Agency is tasked with locating her and assessing what connection she has to a string of violent crimes around Fuuto recently. When strange powers seem to be involved, Shotaro finds himself in a tough spot.
Episode 2 gives Philip a chance to show off his unique skills in providing invaluable information on the case. Philip questions whether or not Shotaro has his head on straight when it comes to Tokime. In doing so, his unfiltered opinions on the case get under Shotaro’s skin, creating a rift between the two. When the true culprit is revealed, the two set aside their differences to take on the threat.
For viewers unfamiliar with the original source material, the first two episodes provide a highly entertaining mix of crime drama, comedy, and action that is very likely to keep people tuning in for the full 12-episode run. The voice cast all do an excellent job embodying their characters with as much vibrancy as their live-action counterparts. The dialogue is snappy and well-paced while still managing to bring new viewers up to speed on all the unique terminology needed to understand the story. For those fans who have seen the original series within the past 11 years, the show provides a treasure trove of references and Easter eggs that had many fans at the viewing jumping out of their seats.
The first two minutes of Episode 1 provide an extended action scene that fans of the original only wish they could have seen in the first episode back in 2009. The score by Kotaro Nakagawa and Shuhei Naruse is highly evocative of the original score from Kamen Rider W, providing a jazzy, upbeat soundtrack. Sound effects such as Shotaro’s ringtone, Philip’s “search” noise, and other various electronics have been sourced straight from that series as well. Eagle-eyed fans will be able to spot several character cameos from the original series as well as a blink-and-you-miss-it name drop of the original series creator, Shotaro Ishinomori.
In speaking with fans after the screening had concluded, all were adamant about sharing their positive opinions. Some who had never seen Kamen Rider W spoke of throwing watch parties to get their friends interested when these episodes come out next month. When asked if the anime made them want to watch Kamen Rider W, their immediate response was, “Well, now I do!” Longtime fans spoke highly of the tone, the action, and the visual style that made it feel like they were watching a continuation of the original series. When one attendee who was dressed as Shotaro for the event was asked to summarize his thoughts on the show, he simply responded, “It was like the wind…”
Fuuto PI does an excellent job of balancing both satisfying longtime Kamen Rider W fans while also providing an entertaining introduction for brand new fans to this wide and thrilling world. It will be interesting to see what the larger response will be once the series comes out on August 1st on Crunchyroll. I would be willing to bet that many people will want to recreate Shotaro and Philip’s new ending dance for the show on TikTok. I can thankfully report that the only sin that Fuuto PI has to count up is making me wait another month to watch it again.