- "H" stand for both "Himeka" and the real Nightmare Dopant, Hajime Fukushima.
- #29 is titled "The Melancholy of a Sleeping Princess"; #30 is "Who is the Prince".
It's something of a slow business day at Narumi Detective Agency. Akiko's apparently found the time to check out the Jidai Geki
series Kaze no Saheji
, the Panic Revenger
series now available as a DVD boxset. Naturally, Shotaro has far bigger concerns at the moment - like the extremely
frilly lady stepping in their door, covered in wool and lace and carrying a great big alarm clock for some reason.
Meet Himeka Yukimura, a (against all visible evidence) university student going through a self-inflicted case of insomnia. She explains (with illustrations!) that several other students in her study group have fallen prey to a "nightmare demon" that finds them in their dreams, leaving them in a coma with an ominous H mark on their heads. Himeka's only solution is to carry alarm clocks set to go off every half hour to keep herself awake, leaving her with a case of torturous fatigue. With this in mind, Shotaro takes on her case immediately - which actually leads her to throw her arms around him, asking if he could be her "fated prince".
Our story moves to Fuuto University, where we meet Professor Akagi, who's currently researching the concept of lucid dreaming (maintain control over one's dream), which for some reason involves wearing a jungle style loincloth and a stuffed lion hood, while putting his one remaining student Fukushima through the metaphorical grinder. None of this is very helpful at all, as Terui Ryu also shows up with Makura in tow - turns out that the fact that Akagi's study group fell victim to the "H curse", as it were, makes him the prime suspect. Akagi remains indignant, and has no problems letting the police check out the special apparatus he's been using for his experiments - a couple of headsets that allow brainwave data to be sent to Akagi's server, which explains how Himeka even knows about this "nightmare demon" in the first place. Rather than scoff her claims though, Ryu is quite ready to face this demon if need be - which leads to Himeka throwing her arms around him
this time, asking if he could be her "fated prince". There's a pattern forming here...
Not willing to lose out, Shotaro takes up the challenge as well, leading to both Shotaro and Ryu using the headsets come nightfall. Only Shotaro has a little trouble falling asleep, and gets the idea to check out Akiko's Kaze no Saheji
DVDs, while Ryu has a different sort of problem... the only people available to monitor him during the sleep cycle are Jinno and Makura, who kill time with shogi
as Ryu drifts off...
Finding himself in the police station as per normal, with his sister Haruko even bringing over the lunch he forgot about in the morning. Except Ryu remembers (after far too long, though) that Haruko along with his parents are all gone, thanks to one Dr Isaka... and yet Haruko is here announcing her upcoming wedding... to Mikio Jinno?!
No, this is definitely all wrong... and only with a clear mind can Ryu look around and spot the real cause of all this. The "nightmare demon", a new Dopant just as our heroes had figured, who has every intent of keeping Ryu from leaving, ever. Except Ryu can somehow muster enough control to go into Accel right there in the dreamworld
, and battle the monster, even pulling off a Finishing Move
. Unfortunately, this is the creature's home turf, and Ryu had been outgunned the moment he stepped inside...
And Shotaro had been notably no help at all
, not only unable to fall asleep, but getting so engrossed with Kaze no Saheji
that he didn't notice it was daybreak
. With Ryu down with the "H curse" just like the others, there's really nothing to do but wait for Phillip to find some way around the problem.
Meanwhile at the Sonozaki mansion, Dr Isaka may be falling out of Ryuubei's good graces yet again, as whatever the hell
he's been doing with Wakana's Dopant Driver has made her literally Laughing Mad
. Isaka maintains that the Dopant Driver remains a barrier to drawing out the maximum potential of the Dopant Memory, and Wakana's heightened euphoria, putting it nicely, is just proof of increased compatibility with the Claydoll Memory. Except that Ryuubei already knew that increased Dopant Memory activity can generate neurotoxins affecting one's behavior
, and he makes it clear that anything that happens to Wakana will look like a holiday compared to what he'll do to Isaka.
Himeka hasn't been having it any better - she dozed off inadvertently, and wound up seeing the Dopant for herself, but instead of taking her down like the others, he just warns that he'll target anyone else coming after him. Only it'll take a little more than that to make Shotaro back down - and this is all it takes for Himeka to throw her arms around him yet again. At the same time, Phillip finally comes up with his big gameplan - turning into Double before initiating the lucid dreaming sequence should place Phillip inside Shotaro's dreamworld, hopefully giving them an edge via strength in numbers. Without any time to spare, they find a field in some random park to carry out the process. What Phillip doesn't notice is an odd little bird-shaped contraption, flying in the air and discreetly tailing him...
Our story moves into the Tokugawa regime for now, as we learn about the legend of Kaze no Shotaro, the hard-boiled okkapiki
who's currently investigating the strange case of assorted people falling victim to an unusual sleeping affliction, with his trusty understudy Phillipachi and housekeeper/landlady Ooaki in tow... Except it's All Just a Dream
, of course, with Shotaro having somehow pulled Phillip into a Jidai Geki
dreamworld after having Kaze no Saheji
on the brain for far too long (while Akiko is just another projection). But when Ohime (a Jidai Geki
projection based on Himeka) arrives and begs them to help her, they take up the case just to get things moving. True enough, the victim (a Jidai Geki
copy of Santa-chan) comes to just long enough to reveal the truth...
just as he's silenced by a deadly projectile to the neck. Fortunately Phillip spots the culprit right away - the Nightmare Dopant camping on a rooftop, who immediately kidnaps Ohime before making his escape.
It's Rider time - or whatever it's called in this era, since even the Gaia memories have gone Jidai Geki
as well, turning into painted wooden tablets. At least the combined consciousness of Phillip and Shotaro allowed them to manifest as Double in the dreamworld, even getting the Machine HardBoilder to chase down the Dopant to boot. But there's still the homeground advantage to consider, as the Nightmare Dopant can go full-on Reality Warper
here - not just pulling whole buildings
in front of our heroes, but turning the HardBoiler into a bicycle
, and even pulling a Ninja Log
using other people
when they do get him. At least they have the advantage of Phillip, a unique case of being a projection like the rest of the dream while having a mind of his own. And they do find out that it was never Akagi to begin with, since he fell to the "H curse" offscreen
Until Isaka as Weather Dopant actually appears in the park, where Phillip and Shotaro are completely vulnerable. And Isaka's been looking for a little payback after last week. His first lightning barrage causes Phillip to awaken and exit the dreamworld prematurely, leaving Shotaro alone with the creature, and even Fang Memory arriving on the scene won't be enough to deal with Weather at all... but miraculously, Akiko yelling at Shotaro to wake up actually has an effect, as the Ooaki projection inside the dream world does the same thing. Unfortunately it's still no good
- and the only thing that saves Shotaro is the Nightmare Dopant stopping to yell at someone who's not even present (inside the dreamworld, that is...) before blowing off on his own.
It's still too late, as Shotaro wakes up to find that Phillip has already taken a bad hit from Weather's lightning barrage, and he's more than ready to deal another one... until that bird-shaped contraption finally shows itself, shrugging off Weather's attacks and beaming Phillip into itself
before zipping off on its own. There's not much that can be done at this point - Weather's out of the picture, and Shotaro's only got the Double Driver still active to indicate Phillip is at least alive, but now Shotaro has something to go on. A hunch.
They meet up with Himeka again, and she throws her arms around him... but this time he politely pushes her back. For his hunch is pretty much confirmed - Himeka will throw her arms around anyone who's nice to her, and unfortunately, this innocent display has created undue pressure on the one person who's out to live up to her expectations, by removing anyone in the way.
And now they know who - Fukushima, the only remaining student, who's not very cooperative at all, even yelling at the custodian in front of them
, before taking a seat and ignoring them. It's not until Shotaro gets frustrated and grabs him that they realise he's passed out with that H on his forehead, right before their eyes.
Like the proverbial policemen at the station where a suitcase bomb only destroyed the bathrooms, Shotaro and Akiko have nothing to go on. They still have the lucid dreaming headsets, but the Nightmare Dopant isn't going to find Shotaro and risk going through the same scrap twice... which is why Akiko volunteers herself. Meanwhile at the Sonozaki mansion, Dr Isaka brings news of this last outing back, only for Ryuubei to know exactly what he's talking about - the Xtreme Memory, a peculiar self-aware Gaia Memory much like Fang (apart from the whole bird thing) - and more importantly, he already knows who's responsible
And it's her
voice that Phillip hears the moment he regains consciousness, if it can be called that, inside the Xtreme Memory
. Shroud, somehow manifesting inside there alongside Phillip, finally reveals her agenda - to break up Double by forcing Phillip to find a different partner. Because Shotaro will only bring him danger... or so she says.
Meanwhile, Akiko's big plan is underway as she's sound asleep with Akagi's headset already active. Apparently she talks in her sleep, and suspiciously
well, enough for Shotaro to listen in... as she's back in her birthplace of Osaka, running a takoyaki
stall within a stone's throw of the Tsutenkaku
. And her good friends and regular customers, Phillip and Ryu - or at least projections of Phillip and Ryu if they grew up here - pay her a visit, along with an unexpected guest. Someone in a familiar white suit and hat.
Except it's actually Shotaro, yelling at her from the real world to remind her of what they're doing here in the first place. Sure enough, Akiko only has to start paying attention to spot Nightmare Dopant, in plain sight and camped on the Tsutenkaku itself - but this time he's in for a scrap of a different sort. It's Rider time whether Shotaro likes it or not, as Akiko manages to manifest the Double Driver on herself and turn into a Bishojo Kamen... Rider!
Taking the battle to the enemy, Akiko kicks Nightmare's ass from the Tsutenkaku to the Tower of the Sun
as HeatMetal, then sends enough bullets to push him towards the Osaka Castle
as LunaTrigger, before summoning RevolGarry to ram him back into the Tsutenkaku... where all it takes is one in the face to break the illusion. Thanks to home ground advantage, Akiko in the dreamworld had no chance of doing any better than actual Riders
, which inspires Akiko to go to plan B - baiting the Nightmare Dopant with the knowledge that Himeka is not about to choose the one guy who'd resort to Dopant Memory, egging him to spill it. And thanks to her inadvertant live commentary, Shotaro hears it too.
Rather than track down the culprit first, Shotaro elects to find Himeka one last time and tell her everything. She's figured it out by now, of course - the whole "fated prince" thing is a dream she's had all her life, but making the assumption that he could possibly be real has resulted in something much worse, now that someone has gone to unhealthy lengths to live up to that dream. And Shotaro worked out who that someone is... but all it takes is his turning his back for a couple of seconds
for Himeka to fall prey to that someone at last.
Sure she's sleeping soundly, but from the actual dream you'd never believe it... in a misty forest, she's in a dress fit for a princess, and finally looking for her fated prince like she always wanted... but instead she's running in fear from the Nightmare Dopant, his dreamcatcher weapon in hand and ready to take her for his very own...
Until a man in scarlet regalia hurls his shining sword and pins the dreamcatcher to a tree. It sure looks like the fated prince of Himeka... but it's not. Because it didn't take a prince to pull this off... just a certain hardboiled detective named Shotaro Hidari, who's managed to invade the dream on his own terms. Not by yelling at Himeka, but at the real Nightmare Dopant
Fukushima Hajime, who's faked his own "H curse" this whole time.
It's pretty much how Shotaro figured it as well - he was certain he was Himeka's "fated prince" but couldn't stand the way she threw out that title to anyone else, and reacted in a big way. Only having the truth isn't going to help much, as the Nightmare Dopant turns violent on Shotaro, now with Double unavailable
But Shotaro's not going down that easily, even activating the Double Driver when there's no chance it'll activate on its own. Except it technically does, as Phillip reacts from inside the Xtreme Memory; the other Double Driver appears around his waist, giving all the motivation he needs to take Shroud's repeated warnings and throw them in her face.
It's Rider time for real, as the Xtreme memory interrupts Nightmare Dopant and beams Phillip down again, allowing him and Shotaro to go into Double just as they need to. Turns out the Nightmare Dopant's not that effective in real life, as Double goes into LunaJoker to keep him on the ropes, before going into LunaMetal and taking him down with the first ever Metal Illusion
Things end on an iffy note this week - Himeka is not only ready to forgive Fukushima, but she'll be waiting for him as well. Even Ryu has to bring up that he hasn't slept that well in quite a long time, while bringing him in. But Phillip, still bothered by everything Shroud has told him, isn't ready to tell everything yet. All he needs is a reaffirmation, that he and Shotaro and Double will never break up, no matter what. Which is something Shotaro finds redundant anyways... but is it confidence, or complacency?
Oh, and Himeka hasn't learned a damn thing
, remaining just as passionate around the newly-awakened "H curse" victims. But that's another matter.