Tangent Knights 2: Tempest Tossed annotations

This document explains background, scientific concepts, allusions, in-jokes, and the like in Tangent Knights 2: Tempest Tossed. Be aware that this document contains spoilers for the whole of the audio novel. I would strongly recommend not reading it until one has completed the novel, since many of the notes contain spoilers for things not revealed until later.

For general reference about Japanese tokusatsu series, I recommend:

Kamen Rider Wiki: https://kamenrider.fandom.com/wiki/Kamen_Rider_Wiki

RangerWiki (Super Sentai/Power Rangers): https://powerrangers.fandom.com/wiki/RangerWiki

Metal Heroes Wiki: https://metalheroes.fandom.com/wiki/Metal_Heroes_Wiki

Ultraman Wiki: https://ultra.fandom.com/wiki/Ultraman_Wiki

Numerous tokusatsu series are in official US release with English subtitles at the following sites:

ShoutFactory TokuSHOUTsu:

Series: https://www.shoutfactorytv.com/tv/tokushoutsu

Films: https://www.shoutfactorytv.com/film/tokushoutsu

Toei Tokusatsu World Official (only some episodes subtitled): https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC7pddu3yyzkzFEiXfQLex3w

Ultraman Official by Tsuburaya Productions: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC5PBnSG7C0WXp5gjd4bzKtw


The title is a reference to the line from Emma Lazarus’s “The New Colossus,” the poem inscribed on the Statue of Liberty: “Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me, /
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!” “Tempest-tossed” is a phrase meaning battered or overwhelmed by adversities, as if by a storm. The title refers both to Daniel/Tempest’s inner turmoil in the novel, and to Cory’s status as a refugee in the multiverse.


The cover depicts Tempest and a Cysquatch during the concrete yard battle early in the novel. It’s a pretty close rendering of Tempest Rising Mode, although I envisioned some form of rigid lower torso armor over the hex-mail undersuit, rather than just a belt, and a breathing grille over the nose and mouth. I also envisioned the vajra symbol as more rounded, and my thinking was that the visor would be shaped like a wider oval version of the emblem, though putting the emblem above the visor makes it clearer.



0:42: With the recap, I wanted to emulate the style of episode-opening recaps at the start of Kamen Rider episodes, particularly shows like Kamen Rider Build where the lead character does the recap in the first person.

Thorsen interviews Cory

3:30: Since my approach in Tangent Knights was to homage tokusatsu tropes while grounding them in a more plausible world, I thought it would be fun to open with a KR-style recap and then reveal that it was Cory diegetically telling her story to someone else.

I’ve used the name Thorsen before, for the Troubleshooter Ranulf “Tor” Thorsen in Only Superhuman. This is because I cannibalized character names from a bunch of the old, unused comics ideas I developed in the ‘90s, and in this case I forgot that I’d already cannibalized the name Thorsen for Tor.

3:50: The Eclipse compound is based on the historic underground quarry at the Oya History Museum, a location frequently used in tokusatsu shows to represent underground complexes and caverns, ancient temples, and the like. In episode 42 of Ultraman 80, the Oya caves even appear as themselves, and their exterior is recreated in miniature.

6:29: Realm Forty-Five is numbered in honor of the age of the Super Sentai franchise at the time of the book’s writing in 2021. Realm Seventy-One, Cory’s realm, is in honor of the premiere year of Kamen Rider, 1971. I didn’t need to come up with these designations in Book 1, since it took place almost entirely on a single realm.

7:05: Albert Einstein, like many Jewish citizens of Germany, was driven out of the country by the Nazis. So the mention of Einstein still working in Germany in 1954 is enough to tell Cory that the Nazis and World War II didn’t happen on Realm Forty-Five. I paired Einstein with Werner Heisenberg because Heisenberg was more pivotal in the development of quantum physics, the basis of tangent technology. Presumably in this realm, Einstein overcame his objections to quantum theory. (1954, of course, is the year Godzilla came out, and thus the year tokusatsu was born.)

7:15: I couldn’t resist a riff on the old joke: “Do you like Kipling?” “I don’t know, you naughty boy, I’ve never kippled!”

9:20: The berets and goggles of the Eclipse foot soldiers are reminiscent of the Warfare Agents of G.O.D. (Government of Darkness), the evil organization in Kamen Rider X. This was not intentional; I needed them to have concealing eyewear and headgear for the sake of Cory’s disguise later on, and the visor sunglasses fit with the “Eclipse” theme. Plus I wanted something that suggested the uniform facelessness of Sentai/Rider sentou-in (foot soldiers/grunts) in a more plausible way.

10:57: “Let me say this up front: I’m pretty strong.”: Cory is quoting (loosely translated) the catchphrase of Kamen Rider Zeronos from Kamen Rider Den-O.

Matrix searches for Cory

13:02: Spirited Away is the English title for one of Hayao Miyazaki’s most acclaimed animated movies.

14:25: I initially planned to have Erika pursue a brief fling with Cory before deciding that Cory was too dilettantish, only interested in satisfying her curiosity about same-sex partnerships, and then pursuing a relationship with Malika. When my setup for this was cut out of Book 1 for space reasons, and when I was asked to bring in the latter two books at a tighter word count, I dropped the subplot. It made Cory a bit unsympathetic anyway, and the idea that she was only now trying to experiment with female partners conflicted with Nalah’s line early in Book 1 that Cory had never been afraid to experiment.

15:28: “Wouldn’t she have been in midair over the Atlantic?”: In the original trilogy concept I adapted into Tangent Knights, the protagonist always arrived at the corresponding location on whatever Earth she phased to. Since I chose to set TK on an artificial arcology island in the Atlantic, that was no longer viable. Luckily, I was able to use the non-locality of quantum entanglement to justify it.

Cory learns Eclipse’s purpose

23:50: As I mentioned in my Book 1 annotations, I’ve embraced the tokusatsu practice of giving characters names with appropriate meanings. Doctor Hauer’s name is German for “butcher.” His goatee is inspired by General Hedorah (or Hedrer) from Denshi Sentai Denziman, the series I was watching while I wrote this part. Hedorah was an impressive, dignified villain, amusingly enough played by the same actor, Shinji Tōdō, who had played the hero in the Japanese Spider-Man series from Toei, the studio that also did Sentai and Kamen Rider.

I described Hauer in the script directions as having “a Mid-Atlantic accent and the calculating menace you’d expect from a goateed Mengele type.” They went for more of a German mad scientist accent instead.

24:59: Hauer’s use of the word “remodeling” is a nod to the usual translation of kaizou ningen, the word used in early Kamen Rider for surgically “remodeled” humans, aka cyborgs.

26:00: “I need what little I’ve got”: A rare non-Japanese reference from Cory, to the Bugs Bunny cartoon “Water, Water Every Hare.

27:04: “You actually are an evil criminal organization making monsters to take over the world!”: Cory is quoting herself from Book 1, when she proposed this as the source of the Intersect creatures attacking New Avalon.

In my script, Corey followed up that line with “Total Shocker!” – a reference to Shocker, the original Kamen Rider villains and the ur-example of all Shōwa-period (pre-1989) evil organizations in KR. (Indeed, all the evil organizations in the first seven KR series were retroactively revealed to have been created by the same Great Leader.) Unfortunately, it didn’t survive the editing process. Maybe it was too obscure for a general audience.

But there is a subtler wordplay here. I chose the name Eclipse as a pun on Shocker, since the Japanese word for eclipse is shoku (literally “eating”). I had to search through a lot of Japanese words with similar sounds before I found one whose English translation made a good name.

28:59: Montes’s name comes from gato montes (mountain cat), Spanish for cougar. Gart is from el lagarto (the lizard), the original Spanish phrase that evolved into the word “alligator.”

29:06: “Tangent King Robo”: You may recall from Book 1’s annotations that I wrote a deleted dream sequence in which Caprice battled a giant Intersect in the Sentai-style giant robot DaiKishi Tangent King. I wanted to salvage some trace of that lost sequence, so I came up with Tangent King Robo as a throwaway. (I had to change the name to make it clearer out of context.) It ended up turning into somewhat more than that later on.

29:48: “Toh!!” is a kiai (focusing vocalization in martial arts) often used by early Sentai teams when they undertook super-leaps. I didn’t see most of the early Sentai seasons until after I wrote Book 1, so I didn’t use it there. Cory’s new actress, Sura Siu, delivers the “Toh!!” more curtly than the Sentai characters I was evoking. But I suppose that’s more realistic for someone saving their breath for exertion.

31:25: “Time for Operation: Quick-Change!”: Quick-change episodes were once a staple of Super Sentai — episodes in which one or more characters, usually a female Ranger, would take on multiple disguises in quick succession to confound an opponent. The trope apparently exists more widely in Japanese film and TV, but in Sentai it goes all the way back to the original Pink Ranger, Momorenger in Himitsu Sentai Gorenger, in episode 57. (The RangerWiki used to have a category page for all of them, but it’s been deleted for some reason.) The Japanese term for the trope is Shichi-Henge, literally “Seven Changes,” the traditional amount (though the actual number varies). It’s normally a fantasy trope with the costume changes being impossibly swift, and usually has a tinge of sexy roleplay when performed by female characters, but I couldn’t resist trying to have Cory pull it off in a more realistic way, since I knew she couldn’t resist it either.

In Japanese, the line “Time for Operation: Quick-Change!” would be “Shichi-Henge Sakusen da!” I’ve noticed that in Japanese fiction (and perhaps in reality?), there’s a lot of importance ascribed to giving a name to a military or strategic operation (sakusen) before undertaking it.

Operation Quick-Change

31:50: Montes’s weak sense of smell (and the ventilation in the medical wing) was a necessary fudge to enable Cory’s disguises to fool him.

32:20: Ecliptics and other Eclipse members are conditioned through brain surgery in the same way as the monsters and foot soldiers of Shocker and other evil KR organizations. Basically, after making Book 1 an homage to 21st-century (Heisei and Reiwa era) tokusatsu, I wanted Realm Forty-Five to play more as an homage to the original wave of shows from the 20th century/Shōwa era.

34:55: Cory’s salute and shrill “Eee!” are emulating the famous, oft-lampooned cries of Shocker Combatmen, as seen in the first clip at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3j7ENrtSL7A. They seem silly, but I’ve found that when a large number of Combatmen are crying “Eee!” all at once as they attack, it’s actually kind of menacing, like Hitchcock’s The Birds.

38:00: Ideally, to complete the shichi-henge trope, Cory should’ve finished by recapping all her disguises for the benefit of the audience. So I’ll do it for her:

  • Layer 1: Radiation suit
  • Layer 2: Lab coat and surgical mask/cap
  • Layer 3: Goggle Guard uniform (black beret and visor hidden under lab coat until she switched disguises)
  • Layer 4: Menial worker polishing windows
  • Layer 5: Stolen jacket and clipboard
  • Layer 6: Radiation suit helmet (in car)

Eclipse surgical bay

42:12: The “Cougar-Man” and “Gator-Man” epithets Cory uses for Montes and Gart reflect monster names in the original Kamen Rider (as translated into English).

43:25: Cory’s move to escape the choke hold was suggested by my karate consultant Keith R.A. DeCandido.

Thorsen orders self-destruct

45:15: Maria Yukawa is named in honor of Yukie Kagawa, who played the impressive villainess Amazon Killer in Taiyou Sentai Sun Vulcan, after having previously played the similar character Amazoness in Toei’s Spider-Man. I couldn’t call her Kagawa, since that sounded too much like Kagami.

45:55: “We can always make more”: Presumably Eclipse abducts innocents from the flying cities and other settlements to brainwash into its followers, or perhaps it has hidden settlements of its own with a subordinate class it harvests for soldiers as needed.

Daniel and Erika get truck data

49:25: I hadn’t expected Cory to be off New Avalon for so much of Book 2 (though at this point in the story she’s only been gone 8 hours), but it was a good opportunity for building character and relationships among the rest of the team. This scene lays groundwork for a lot of what follows.

50:25: In the first draft, I had Erika explain that she’d learned her hacking tricks from a girlfriend who worked in the Catchfire IT department. I cut it for time.

Fireforce lab

59:05: Chispa”: Spanish for Spark.

1:00:04: In Homer’s The Odyssey, Odysseus spent seven years held captive on the island of Ogygia by the nymph Calypso, who desired him for herself.

1:00:33: Spark’s “Doctor H” nickname for Morgan is a loose nod on my part to Doctor K (Olivia Tennet) from the superb Power Rangers RPM, possibly the most compelling and tragic character in the entire Power Rangers franchise. If anything, though, Doctor K had more in common with Spark herself than with Morgan. I hesitated to call Morgan Herrera “Doctor H” when the H is silent in the Spanish pronunciation, but the GraphicAudio people chose to Anglicize it consistently here, in contrast to Book 1 where it depended on the speaker.

1:05:45: Dar-Su is the Neanderthal Intersect who appeared in the climax of Book 1. He was never named there, because we only saw him from Cory and Matrix’s points of view. The name “Dar-Su” is a nod to Yoshi Sudarso, who played the caveman Blue Ranger Koda in Power Rangers Dino Charge.


Orion rescues Cory

4:33: Andele as an interjection is Spanish for “Come on!” or “Move it!” (literally “Walk!”). Hayaku is Japanese for “quickly,” used in the same way.

7:10: I’ve mentioned before how Cory/Caprice is based on a character from an old comics premise of mine about a Power Rangers-like team of four transforming armored “Knights,” with Tempest and Gemini being loosely based on two of the other team members (Paladin and Sage) with their names and appearances changed. The fourth member of that team was Riley Hunter/Orion. He was a redhead of Irish extraction there, but I decided that there hadn’t been enough Asian characters in Book 1, so I changed him to the bishonen (“pretty boy”) type that’s common in male leads in tokusatsu. I kept his name unchanged to reflect the greater cultural blending on Realm Forty-Five, or maybe just out of laziness. His brooding, stoic warrior personality is one of the common character types in Japanese fiction, along with other stock types such as the goofy eccentric hero (Cory) or the full-boil hothead (Daniel).

8:42: “Take me to your Laputa!”: Cory is referencing Hayao Miyazaki’s Laputa: Castle in the Sky, which in turn references the flying kingdom Laputa from Jonathan Swift’s Gulliver’s Travels. I’ve referenced Miyazaki’s Laputa before (using the alternate transliteration Rapyuta) as the name of an Asteroid Belt habitat in Only Superhuman. Sura Siu chose to go with a more Spanish-style pronunciation, la-pooh-ta, rather than the Japanese pronunciation. I suppose that makes sense given that Cory was raised more by her Latina mother than her Japanese father.

Cory and Orion in aircar

10:59: “I’m one of four”: I initially planned to show at least one or two of the other Nimbus armor operators and have Cory coin Tangent Knight names for them, but there just wasn’t room in the novel. It’s not unprecedented for Kamen Rider or Super Sentai series to imply the existence of additional Riders or Rangers who don’t appear in the story. For instance, Kamen Rider Hibiki’s Oni Riders were members of a larger organization going back centuries, while Tokusou Sentai Dekaranger’s Special Police Dekaranger was a large interstellar organization.

11:38: “You dream of the day the battle will end and peace will return to the world.”: Cory is paraphrasing a sentiment commonly expressed by the narrators in the closing lines of Shōwa-period (1970s-80s) Sentai or Rider episodes.

Nimbus City and the Aerie

12:05: Nimbus City would’ve been the setting of another of my unused comics premises, AERIE, which would’ve stood for Airborne Emergency Response Independent Enterprise and centered on a team of winged superheroes in a floating city.

12:32: Ionic wind propulsion is discussed here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ion-propelled_aircraft

14:00: The pyramidal Aerie base is inspired by Sky Camp from Choujin Sentai Jetman, one of the most acclaimed Sentai series, and by the headquarters of various Ultraman monster-fighting teams such as Ultraman Tiga’s Dive Hangar. The Condor vehicles evoke the fancy aircraft of Ultraman teams, as well as the carrier aircraft in the earliest Sentai shows.

14:45: Commander Athena Ying is based on Jetman’s Commander Aya Odagiri and Ultraman Tiga’s Captain Megumi Iruma, two of my favorite commander characters in tokusatsu. Her uniform design is a blend of elements from both characters’ uniforms. In keeping with the avian theme of the original AERIE concept, Ying (鹰) is Chinese for eagle, and Athena was a goddess whose symbol was an owl.

16:18: The vast, glassy atrium is based on another frequent filming location in tokusatsu, though unlike most of the places I homage in these books, I haven’t been able to track down where the real location is. It’s often been used as an interior for various advanced organizations, such as the SPD headquarters in Dekaranger and Treasure Base in Ultraman Cosmos, if I recall correctly.

16:54: More meaningful names: Vivek(a) is Hindi for discernment and is symbolized by the swan mount of Saraswati, the Hindu goddess of knowledge, while a pen is a female swan. The character is an homage to Dekaranger’s science advisor Swan Shiratori (the counterpart of Kat Manx in Power Rangers S.P.D.), and was originally intended as female before I decided it might be confusing to the listener if Ying and Penn, two new characters introduced back to back, were both women. I considered changing his surname to Cobb, as a cob is a male swan, but “COBB:” and “CORY:” looked too similar in the script.

Dr. Penn’s laid-back, slightly stoner-ish personality was influenced by Kelson Henderson’s Mick Kanic from Power Rangers Ninja Steel (and a guest appearance in Power Rangers Dino Fury shortly before I wrote this), though the most stoner-ish Power Rangers mentor would be R.J. from Jungle Fury.

Matrix plans the raid

21:05: New Avalon is in the Atlantic Time Zone, an hour later than Eastern Time. I assume the arcology is maybe a few hundred miles north-northeast of Bermuda.

Tour of Nimbus City

24:30: Cory’s psych paper on consciousness was a detail I backfilled to set up her insights into the subject at the climax of the novel.

26:00ff: The locations on this tour are all based on tokusatsu filming locations. The tiled plaza and the steps seen later are both based on the Harumi Passenger Terminal, which I gather has now been closed and slated for demolition. The terminal has been seen in many productions, but it was regularly used in Ultraman Max to represent the exterior and lower levels of Base Titan, the headquarters of that show’s defense team.

26:25: “The city of wind” is the translation of the name of Fuuto, the fictional, heavily windmill-adorned city that’s the setting of Kamen Rider W and its manga/anime sequel Fuuto PI.

28:18: “Don’t ask me questions” is another Kamen Rider W in-joke, the catchphrase of Kamen Rider Accel.

28:33: The mirrored columns are a location I can’t specifically identify, but I’ve seen them highlighted in a couple of tokusatsu episodes directed by Ryuta Tasaki, one of the artiest directors in the franchise.

Cory’s reaction to the mirrored columns is denoted in the script as “CORY: gasps and oohs of art appreciation.”

29:12: The pedestrian bridge is based on one of my favorite toku locations, the Omiya Hokosugi Bridge in Saitama. It’s adjacent to the Saitama Super Arena, whose iconic steps I homaged in the stadium fight in Book 1.

Concrete yard battle

33:10: The concrete yard is a common tokusatsu location used frequently in Shōwa-era series. Unlike many of these, it was used as often in Ultraman as in the Toei shows.

In the script, I did some experimenting with the new tricks that audio script format provided me. I described the background sound of the construction robots drawing subliminally nearer over the course of the scene. I wouldn’t have been able to specify that in a prose story told from a character’s viewpoint, since it had to be something the viewpoint characters were unaware of. However, I don’t think it came across in the final audio mix, since there were so many other sounds competing.

Cory summoned home

47:20: Cory’s reaction to Ying’s message is another case where I took the opportunity to tell the story with sound effects alone rather than narration or dialogue. While I was writing these, I was listening to a number of Doctor Who audio serials from Big Finish Productions, quite a few of which are available for free on the Hoopla online library, as long as one has a card with a participating library. The Big Finish audios are usually written to mimic the format of a television story, so they have no narration at all and tell their stories exclusively through dialogue and sound effects, which is often needlessly confusing. I prefer the GraphicAudio approach of combining novelistic narration with the dramatic audio play format, but the BF audios did help me learn how to use sound effects and natural expository dialogue as an alternative to prose-style narration.


51:30: As Cory notes, the use of backward filming effects to show superpowered leaps out of the water were a staple of 20th-century toku shows, so I had to find a way for Caprice to do such a move.

53:00: Cherry blossoms (sakura) have a lot of symbolic importance in Japanese culture. They tend to bloom in the spring, so they’re in season here; this scene takes place around 2 AM on Wednesday, April 18, 2046.

53:55: Kelson Road homages Kelson Henderson, a character actor who’s played regular, guest, and voice roles in multiple Power Rangers series over more than a decade and a half. McIver Square homages Rose McIver, who starred in Power Rangers RPM before gaining greater fame.

Caprice turns the tide

56:55: Caprice’s performance on the catwalk emulates Sentai team roll calls going back to the earliest series; see https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d9tQkcUNjXg. Tempest ruining the roll call by not playing along is somewhat reminiscent of the parody Unofficial Sentai Akibaranger, whose Sentai-fanboy lead always did his roll call properly but struggled to get his teammates to embrace the ritual.

58:23: When we’re talking about iconic fight locations, a quarry would be the obvious one. In the early days of Sentai, KR, and other such shows, almost every fight scene ended up in a quarry, a rocky coastline, or some other isolated locale (even if the characters were in the middle of the city seconds before), so that pyrotechnics and stunts could be employed without danger to bystanders or buildings. The modern shows are able to use a wider variety of urban locations due to using video or digital effects to simulate explosions, though they still use quarries frequently, including the historic Oya Caves discussed above, and the the striking Mt. Iwafune, which I saved for Book 3.

58:45: “I finally get to fight giant robots!”: This sequence turned out to be far more fun and epic than I expected. My outline simply said that Caprice “arrives in time to save Tempest and Dragonfly and drive Fireforce off.” But after the giant robot dream sequence in Book 1 was deleted, I was eager for another chance to work in giant robots somehow. And I was heavily immersed in watching early Sentai shows as I wrote this, so their tropes and formulas had a major influence on the sequence.

1:00:44: My scripted line was “The Horrorbeak fell limp, wheezing in pain.” I wanted to make it clear that it was still alive. I hope it’s clear enough that the truck only crushed its arm.

1:02:57: Hasshin!”: Japanese for “launch” or “deploy.”

1:03:35: “I’ll be your opponent” is a translation of a standard Japanese challenge phrase, “Ore ga aite da.”

1:04:10: Ganbatte is Japanese for, basically, “keep striving” or “work your hardest.” It’s often translated as “Good luck,” because it’s a similar wish for success, but it means the opposite, a wish for success through hard work and perseverence instead of, or in spite of, external chance. The form ganbare, an imperative, would be more emphatic and perhaps more appropriate, but Cory’s Japanese isn’t fluent.

1:04:44: “Summon Steel Saber!”: Caprice is emulating the sword-based finisher moves of Sentai giant robots. The sword is often summoned out of thin air, or launched from a carrier vehicle.

1:07:50: “You had a true warrior spirit”: Sentai shows often treat their giant robots as more than just vehicles, as animist cultures often ascribe spirits to inanimate objects when they’re sufficiently valued or cared for. In many series, the giant vehicles/robots are actually sentient, and occasionally even divine.


Morgan and Tseng review aftermath

0:48: I have to admit to an inconsistency. Here, I portray Cory’s first two Tangent Crosses as having detectable energy signatures that Eclipse, Matrix, and Catchfire can track, but later on I have Morgan unaware of most of Cory’s Crosses. I handwaved it to myself as Cory gaining greater control and broadcasting less waste energy, but I never found room to justify it in the text.

Cory examined in Matrix lab

8:30ff: This scene has a lot of conceptual clean-up, as I concoct scientific excuses for some questions that didn’t occur to me until after Book 1, such as whether Cory would shed phase metal in her hair, and why it would shift with her if she didn’t. Fortunately, explaining why she didn’t leave her stomach contents and such behind when she Tangent Crossed let me lay the seeds for her later ability to bring clothes and other people with her.

I don’t believe that Cory would bring anything from the surface of her skin with her if it wasn’t attached, so in addition to leaving behind her clothes and jewelry, she’d also probably leave behind any dirt, sweat, hair and skin mites, microbes, or loose flakes of dead skin. So she’d be very clean when she reached the other side. She’d also lose any makeup she was wearing. I suppose her eyes would also dry out, unless she closed her eyes befor crossing.

Plaza and Grounds Table

15:30: “ally of justice”: Cory is literally translating seigi no mikata, the usual Japanese translation for “superhero.”

15:33ff: In Book 1, I assumed that The Grounds Table just had a sidewalk and street outside, like a lot of the similar shops near campus in my neighborhood. That was made explicit in one of the deleted scenes, but it’s fortunate that it didn’t make the final cut, since I realized here that I could use another of my favorite tokusatsu sites, the Tsukuba Center Square in Tsukuba, Japan, which has been a perennial location for action scenes going back at least as far as the first episode of Choudenshi Bioman in 1984.

19:30: When I wrote the script, it seemed to me that Cory got Nalah’s muffin and tea ready really quickly, but the pacing of the scene had to take precedence over realism. But in the final audio, it ends up taking about a minute and a half, which I suppose is doable.

I also didn’t address how Nalah paid for her order, but I’d guess that in 2046 they have some kind of smartphone app where payments are charged and paid automatically.

Malika and Erika spar in gym

22:32: I’m not entirely sure why I decided Malika would be extraordinarily beautiful, since I originally had no plans for it to be a relevant character trait. I didn’t even have her romance with Erika in mind when I wrote most of Book 1. It’s probably because, as I mentioned in the Book 1 notes, one of my influences in creating her was Jasmine/DekaYellow from Dekaranger, whom I consider one of the most beautiful female Rangers of all time, Japanese or American.

However, I realized well after the fact that in my haste to develop Tangent Knights on a deadline, I’d unconsciously and absent-mindedly copied a number of Malika’s character traits from Ekundayo DeMarais, a character in my Troubleshooter story “Conventional Powers” (and another story I hadn’t yet sold), who was described as a stunning beauty. Luckily the two characters are distinct in enough ways to balance out their unintended similarities.

Morgan consults Akuma

27:32: At the end of Book 1, in a scene from Branton Tseng’s point of view, I referred to Akuma’s limbs as “tentacles” in the narration. By the time I wrote Book 2, I’d remembered that that was in error; a cephalopod’s eight primary limbs are technically arms, not tentacles, though squids do have two longer, skinnier feeding tentacles. Apparently the difference is that arms have suckers all along their length, while tentacles only have them at the end, if at all.

Training montage and birthday

31:35: At this point, we have the first big time jump in the trilogy, which up until now has covered only 17 days since the start of Book 1, from the night of April 3 to the afternoon of April 20. I needed a time jump here both to give Spark time to carry out her plan and to give Cory time for training and recovery, and for another reason I’ll explain later.

34:08: Incomplete form” is a term from Kamen Rider usage, generally referring to the undersuits that often materialize before the outer armor layers, or sometimes to less powerful prototype forms. I’m often impressed at the elaborate transformation animations they use on KR, not just a single cut or dissolve but a multi-stage process with different parts of the armor appearing one by one. These days it’s easy to do with CGI, but in earlier years, it often must have involved several intermediate stages filmed separately with precisely choreographed dissolves between them hidden by animation.

34:14: I chose May 1 as Cory’s birthday because it’s the anniversary of the dawn of the current Reiwa era of the Japanese calendar. That’s not a wildly important or relevant thing for Cory, just the one meaningful date I could find within the span of the time jump.

34:35: For more on Malika’s birthday gift, see: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Book_of_Five_Rings

Miyamoto Musashii was one of the Damashii (spirits) of historical figures summoned by Kamen Rider Ghost to give him various alternate powers.

34:55: The rooftop party is a nod to the frequent use in tokusatsu of rooftop scenes. Apparently it’s common in Tokyo for apartment buildings, schools, hospitals, and offices to have rooftop patios surrounded by railings, I guess because they don’t have the space for a lot of ground-level yards. I won’t link to a single example, since they use a variety of different rooftops.

Reports of Horrorbeak attacks

37:35: Now we’re up to May 10, so the time jump here is greater than the entire span of the preceding story.

38:26: “Prometheus will bring the fire”: Morgan is alluding to the Titan Prometheus and his role in Greek mythology as the giver of fire to humanity. I originally planned for Dar-Su’s code name to be Primal, but I realized that sounded condescending. Prometheus is a better, more dignified way to convey the idea of a predecessor species to humanity, because the Titans were the predecessors of the Olympian gods (Zeus, Hera, etc.).

Park and courtyard fight

40:05: “The waxing crescent Moon in the western sky”: As far as I could determine, this is accurate for Friday, May 11, 2046 at around 9 PM (give or take) in the approximate latitude of New Avalon, assuming it’s about the same as Buenos Aires.

41:17: “I think I read that trilogy”: Erika is referring to the Neanderthal Parallax trilogy by Robert J. Sawyer, about a parallel timeline where Neanderthals became civilized instead of our subspecies of humanity.

42:00: North Island Park and Cultural Center are based on Tokorozawa Aviation Memorial Park and the adjoining Tokorozawa Civic Cultural Center Muse. Both the open-air stage in the park and the Cultural Center’s courtyard are frequent tokusatsu locations, and this Google Maps street view was enormously helpful in plotting the scene (though it has its directions reversed compared to the main map). My description of the wider park layout, the ball field, and the spatial relationship between the locations is based on the real park, and I was surprised to discover these two locations were so close together.

43:40:“The light of the crescent Moon”: Part of the reason for the nearly 3-week time jump was so I could set this scene on a date with a crescent Moon, a symbol of the goddess Chandika. That kind of on-the-nose symbolic coincidence is the kind of thing I normally avoid in my fiction, but it’s perfect for tokusatsu.

43:55: Resurrections of dead or believed-dead characters are a common trope in Sentai and KR’s rather soapy storytelling. Notable examples include Jetman’s Maria, Zyuranger’s Burai (the basis of the original Green Power Ranger Tommy), and the mysterious Future Man from Kamen Rider Den-O. I hadn’t originally planned to bring Chandika back, but when I was plotting Book 2, knowing I wanted it to focus on Tempest, I realized it was appropriate, and would make her less of a “fridged” character (vernacular for a female character killed off to motivate a male character and denied narrative agency of her own).

44:10: More on Chandika’s weapons: tekpi, rantai, gada, katar. These are a mix of weapons associated with Chandika in mythology and weapons more generally from South and Southeast Asian cultures.

51:42: Different categories of villain in this trilogy are based on different types of monsters from tokusatsu. The Intersects such as the Horrorbeaks represent alien or extradimensional monsters, naturally occurring inhuman creatures such as those frequently seen in Sentai. The Ecliptics represent kaizou ningen/cyborgs such as those featured in Shōwa-era Kamen Rider. Catchforms like Chandika represents robotic monsters such as those in the first two Sentai series Gorenger and JAKQ, or like the Roidmudes in Kamen Rider Drive and the Magear in Kamen Rider Zero-One.

Repairs and Rising Thunder

1:00:37: “It can be stabilized with a third crystal as a regulator, but it inhibits the available power”: This implicitly explains why Orion has three belt crystals, while justifying Tempest Rising Thunder being more powerful than Orion.

Fireforce in Tseng’s office

1:02:55: I wrote this scene so that I could finally develop Dar-Su’s personality a bit, as well as furthering Chandika’s development. The more I wrote Dar-Su, the more interesting he got.

Cory in Penn’s lab

1:07:35: Vimana are flying palaces in Sanskrit and Hindu mythology.

1:07:55: “We’re counting on you”: The usual translation of a common Japanese expression, tanomu, which literally means “please” but is routinely used to request assistance or to charge someone with a responsibility.

Vimana Ecliptic battle

1:08:07: Varg’s name is from the Old Norse for “wolf.” As Cory notes, his plan is based on a fairly common plot trope from early Sentai or KR. All the Eclipse plots Cory takes on in this stage of the novel are meant to evoke the kind of evil plots the monsters-of-the-week employed in that era.

1:08:50: “came under drone attack”: A brief homage to a standard action beat from early Sentai seasons. In the first two series, instead of a giant robot, the team had an advanced combat aircraft that would routinely get into stock-footage dogfights with the enemy’s much smaller fighter craft. The early giant robots were delivered by carrier aircraft that would often do aerial battle with enemy fighters in the same way, though this was de-emphasized over time until the carriers were eventually abandoned.

1:09:10: The “wide pedestrian bridge” is based on the Yume-no-ohashi Bridge at the Tokyo International Exhibition Center. It’s near the Ariake Water Reclamation Center, whose iconic domed building was used as the exterior facade of the KCB television network in Ultraman Gaia.

1:11:08: “Lupin the Furred” is a reference to the manga/anime character Lupin the Third, whose name means “wolf.”

1:11:30: The glass-walled escalators are based on the Nerima Livin Oz shopping center right across the street from Toei Studios, and were notably used to represent the entrance ramp to Bioman’s spaceship base. The cylindrical skywalk is based on a completely different location, Yokohama Port Symbol Tower, which among other things was occasionally used to represent the exteriors of the Dive Hangar in Ultraman Tiga and Treasure Base in Ultraman Cosmos.

1:14:42: “I can’t believe that trick really works”: In tokusatsu, whatever harmful or strange effect a monster’s powers have on people or the environment will usually be negated when the monster is killed, conveniently restoring everything to normal.


Tempest confronts Chandika

6:00: Throughout this book, I was hoping to work in one of the most classic tokusatsu locations: the Oomori Hill, a curving, shrub-lined driveway on the Toei Studios lot. It seems nondescript, but it’s one of the most ubiquitous and recognizable settings in Toei productions, a backdrop for everything from routine dialogue scenes to action and thriller scenes to some of the most poignant dramatic moments in the franchise, including major character deaths. Initially I was planning on just giving it a quick cameo in a minor dialogue scene, but when I cut that scene for length, I needed to find somewhere else to use the drive, and I finally realized its onscreen history made it the perfect setting for the marquee fight between Tempest and Chandika, and for the flashback to Meera’s death.

6:30: The flashback is rainy both to distinguish it in audio from the present-day scene and to embrace the melodrama of tokusatsu, in this case the “pathetic fallacy” that it always rains at tragic events like death scenes or funerals. When I wrote Book 1, I imagined Meera’s death as happening indoors, but fortunately nothing in the text precluded setting it outside.

13:15: Rising Thunder’s ablative, self-replacing hex plates don’t have any specific precedent in tokusatsu, aside from the occasional indestructible, self-regenerating monster here and there. They just struck me as a feasible application of the phase armor technology as previously established in the books.

16:18: A whole paragraph of the scripted fight was cut for time here:

Chandika spun into a leg sweep, knocking Tempest’s right leg aside and unbalancing him. He grabbed at one of her wrists—there were plenty to choose from—and dragged her down with him. They rolled down the slope together, grappling and trading punches. Chandika used her extra arms to wrestle free. Tempest rolled further before he caught himself and clambered to his feet at the base of the drive. Further up, the impostor recombined her arms and held out her right hand. The chakram flew back into it.

16:20: Historical accounts say that ancient Indian warriors would twirl chakrams around their fingers before throwing them. There’s some skepticism over whether that could really have worked, but I found a video demonstrating that it can work with sufficient skill, and giving a broader overview of how chakrams are used: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=klImSddcwfk

17:55: As always, Tangent Knight power-ups are symbolic of character development beats. Rising Thunder Mode is symbolic of Daniel’s vengeful rage and hatred toward Chandika. Thus, it functions as a Berserker Form, a common plot device in Kamen Rider (pretty much obligatory these days) where an armor upgrade goes wrong and drives the Rider berserk, turns them evil, or suppresses their consciousness and acts ruthlessly on its own. This is frequently an imperfect stage of a more impressive power-up mode later on, as we’ll see.

This is why I needed to have a neural control chip installed in Daniel. My original thought was simply that the armor’s runaway power would nearly kill Daniel until Caprice saved him, but I realized that it needed to send him violently out of control, both to fit the berserker trope and to properly symbolize the emotional and character themes.

20:15: Having the two main armored heroes fight in earnest at some point is also a standard trope, as is one hero needing to defeat another in combat in order to save them from whatever’s turned them antagonistic. (It’s not unknown in America either; see Star Trek: “This Side of Paradise.”) Here, having Tempest fight Caprice Unbound to a draw showcases how powerful his upgrade form is.

21:19: “No fair getting your second power-up before me!”: Caprice has enough metatextual awareness to recognize that she’s functionally the title character of the tokusatsu series she’s living in, and thus by all rights, she should get her second power-up first. But since Rising Thunder is a flawed berserker form, it arguably doesn’t count.

Cory and Daniel in infirmary

24:20: I experimented with sound-effects writing again at this point in the script. Having established Chandika’s ominously unhurried footsteps as a trademark, I described them fading into the medical monitor bleeping with the same cadence. Unfortunately, the effect didn’t really come off in the final mix. Perhaps it was unrealistic to give them both the same cadence. Also, it seems to be GA convention to fade to brief silence between scenes rather than “dissolve” from one to the other.

26:45: I love Cory’s insight allowing her to look at someone as angry and forbidding as Daniel and realize that everything about him is driven by love.

Spark confirms realm-jumping

32:10: I went back and added this scene when I realized I needed to address how Cauldron would remain unaware of Caprice’s realm-jumping when there’s regular communication between realms. I also took the opportunity to clarify that Morgan is using reverse psychology in the next scene to make Nalah want to keep it secret.

As the first line suggests, this originally followed another scene with Morgan and Akuma discussing whether Caprice could be realm-jumping, as a way to remind the listener that Akuma existed. But I needed to rein in my word count, and the scene added nothing new, so I had to settle for a passing reference to Akuma.

Morgan at The Grounds Table

34:32: “to rescue a scientist kidnapped by Eclipse”: Another Shōwa-type scheme-of-the-week. Basically, Caprice is living out an unseen Shōwa-era adventure series on Realm Forty-Five while the regular, 21st-century-style adventure is unfolding on New Avalon.

37:45: Morgan’s assistant Kimberly was established in Book 1, and her description is consistent with her namesake, the Mighty Morphin Pink Ranger Kimberly Hart (Amy Jo Johnson). The bodyguard is named for Daisuke Arashi, the tough-guy team member in the original Ultraman.

Protest rally and aftermath

41:40: I would have liked to give Colonel Yukawa more business, but again, I had to settle for a passing reminder of her existence due to the limited time available.

43:15: Another thing I wish I’d handled better was Caprice’s public image. The story required the public taking her side as a celebrity hero, but she’s barely done anything public in New Avalon since the end of Book 1. Yet even this plot hole is an homage of sorts, since the Shōwa-era series often blurred the fourth wall and had children in-universe be fans of the heroes even when they had little reason to be familiar with their exploits or know their code names. Children in Ultraman series were even shown to mimic Ultraman’s henshin pose even though nobody in-universe (except other aliens) was aware that Ultraman was a transformed human or had ever seen him perform the pose. Not to mention the episodes where kids in-story would sing the show’s theme song, never mind that the lyrics gave away Ultraman’s secret identity.

43:56: Nalah’s mention of police tactics to discredit peaceful protestors refers to what’s really been going on in the early 2020s with racial justice protests in Seattle and elsewhere. While I assumed in Book 1 that Realm Seventy-One diverged from our history sometime prior to 2015, and had a somewhat more positive history than the way things have gone in reality since then, I felt it was appropriate to comment on what’s going on in the real world rather than shy away from it.

Errant Mode prototype

45:30: Greaves are armor pieces worn around the shins.

45:45: “Ultraman chest protector”: These are actually just called protectors, but that was unclear out of context. See: https://ultra.fandom.com/wiki/Protectors

49:00: Echo’s critiques of tokusatsu reflect my own ambivalence about the genre. If I was going to celebrate and homage tokusatsu in this series, I wanted to address its shortcomings as well. However, the scene is also important as groundwork for certain arcs and themes that will develop going forward.

49:30: “kabuki theater with fireworks”: Back in the ‘90s, when Power Rangers was controversial for its supposed “violence,” I formulated the counterargument (though I don’t think I ever actually found occasion to use it) that its action was too fanciful to be considered violence, but was merely “interpretive dance with fireworks.” I did use that phrase in my Sentai parody story “Growth Industry” on my Patreon. I was planning to have Cory use it here too, but I realized that she would think more in terms of a Japanese reference like kabuki, and that that was actually a far more accurate description of its artistic antecedents. There are a lot of kabuki elements in tokusatsu, sometime featured quite blatantly, like in the Hurricanegers’ roll call sequence.

53:19: “Like a horse balking”: Morgan, being super-rich, probably took Cory on vacations to the mainland where she had the opportunity to ride horses. For that matter, New Avalon is large enough that it could have its own horse park or something.

Morgan with Mayor Travis

55:38: Mayor Walter Travis is named for Walter Emanuel Jones, Zack from Mighty Morphin Power Rangers, and Rorrie D. Travis, Devon from Power Rangers Beast Morphers. Not for any particular reason; I just grabbed names that sounded appropriate for the character.

1:02:15: I considered establishing that Morgan and Tseng were having an affair, and in a story for a more adult target audience, I would probably have gone for it. But it suits Tseng’s character better to have him be fanatically loyal to his wife even after more than two decades.

Matrix prepares for town hall

1:05:25: For more on yubikiri/pinky swears, see: https://english.stackexchange.com/questions/125205/what-is-the-origin-of-the-phrase-pinky-promise


Town hall

0:25: More discoveries about audio writing: I wrote a whole block of filler text for Mayor Travis to drone through in the background under the narration and dialogue before the attack, something that wouldn’t have been necessary in prose. Here’s the entire passage I wrote:

TRAVIS: The recent upheavals suffered by Fireforce have created questions in many people’s minds. Rest assured that this council and the mayor’s office take the corruption charges and the ongoing federal investigations quite seriously. However, Morgan Herrera herself has personally assured me that the corrupt elements within Catchfire Industries have been purged. I consider Morgan a good friend and a great benefactor to this city, but I understand that the general public may need more convincing. That’s only fair. It’s a bedrock principle of this great nation of ours that the powerful must always be held accountable. Which is why I welcome this open forum as an opportunity for the people of New Avalon to present Catchfire’s representatives with their questions and concerns, so that we may hopefully come to a mutual understanding. We have also invited the leaders of Douse the Fire, the youth activist group leading the opposition to the Fireforce policing proposal, to take advantage of this public forum to present their side of the question in the spirit of peaceful and open dissent…

Since I didn’t know exactly how long it would take before the attack started, I tried to write more than would be needed. In the final edit, the speech only gets about as far as “questions and concerns” before it breaks off. I’m pleased with how it worked out.

1:40: Gemini’s perceptual overclocking is similar to the “clock up” ability of the Riders in Kamen Rider Kabuto, though she doesn’t accelerate to anywhere near the same degree.

3:42: I wrote a nice bit of character business that got cut for time:

The mayor and councillors bolted first, crowding into the doorway in their panicked haste, blocking the protestors’ retreat.

MALIKA: (Gemini) Nalah, try to calm them down! We need an orderly evacuation!

NALAH: You gonna be okay, Gemini?

MALIKA: (Gemini) They need you more!

Nalah’s hand patted her shoulder in thanks and acknowledgment, and Malika smiled inside her helmet.

Dam battle

5:20: I don’t know the exact location, so I don’t have a photo link, but quite a few tokusatsu action scenes in the 1970s-80s were filmed at a large hydroelectric dam. When I decided I needed to have a fight with Eclipse there, I realized it would be perfect for their primary base, and that I needed to have a climactic battle, when I’d originally intended to save that for Book 3. (More on this later.) A secret base within a dam was featured in 2004’s Ultraman Nexus, an unsuccessful attempt at a darker take on the franchise where the defense team fought monsters in secret, but I didn’t see that series until after I’d written the trilogy, and it doesn’t fit the Shōwa-era theme.

5:27: “Hell Valley” is another Shōwa-era in-joke. Back then, practically every time a monster challenged a Rider or a Sentai team to face them in a duel or rescue hostages, the chosen location was Jigokudani, Hell Valley. (Jigoku literally means “underground prison,” but is used to translate “Hell.”) I think the trope even showed up in Ultraman as well as the Toei shows. Thus, I was determined to call the final battle site Hell Valley, but it wasn’t easy to come up with an excuse for it. (There is a real Jigokudani in Japan, named for its hotsprings, but it looks nothing like the quarry location generally used in the shows.)

10:45: Mysterious leaders who went unseen until the final episode were another staple of Shōwa-era evil organizations. Cory is specifically referring to the Great Leader of Shocker, the mastermind behind the organization in the original Kamen Rider, eventually retconned to have been the leaders behind every evil organization in the first decade of the franchise.

12:10: It breaks with tokusatsu tradition to have Montes fall to his death rather than blowing up, but it was an explosion that caused his death, at least.

13:48: Fakeout deaths and miraculous escapes were a pretty common trick of vintage Kamen Riders as well. The most egregious example is one of the two theatrical movies (the second, I think) based on the original KR series. Twice in the movie, the Double Riders appeared to be killed in a deathtrap, then turned up alive moments later with absolutely no explanation for their escape. Cory’s unseen escape here is sort of an homage to that, but of course I did explain it.

Caprice masters Errant Mode

20:38: Sailor Moon wears a V-shaped headband with a crystal at the center, though I chose the V shape to conform to the vaguely heart-shaped design of Caprice’s visor.

Errant Mode is more of an attachment form, like Cauldron’s disruptor harness in Book 1, than a full-on new armor form. It’s also the kind of attachment form that can potentially be used by more than one Knight, like a number of Super Ranger forms from Sentai/PR. Caprice’s power-up in Book 2 is more modest because this is Tempest’s focus novel, so the primary upgrade is his.

24:30: The character milestone associated with Errant Mode is Cory’s determination to push past all limits to save her friends. This is a continuation of the drive she expressed at the end of the Book 1 stadium battle to gain as much power as it took to end the fighting. This particular milestone, though, is not so much a payoff to previous character growth as a setup for what lies ahead. Now she’s free of all limits, and that breakthrough provokes what happens at the end of the novel.

So this is a case where the armor upgrade serves as a plot milestone as much as a character milestone. Either way, it was important to me that every power-up served a meaningful purpose rather than just being a new toy for its own sake.

Caprice brings Orion to New Avalon

29:30: Peacekeeper Mode is the most modest Tangent Knight power-up yet, aside from Cauldron Mark II. It’s a nod to the various budget-saving alternate forms in toku that are nothing more than repaints of existing costumes, e.g. Kamen Rider Dark Kabuto being just Kabuto’s armor painted black.

The character beat symbolized by Peacekeeper Mode is Riley’s readiness to move beyond combat and pursue more positive goals alongside Cory. As with the Matrix Rising Modes, it symbolizes the forming of a personal bond with Cory, a willingness to let her in and be reshaped by her influence.

32:55: Cory’s fondness for curry is a nod to Daita/Kirenger from Gorenger, a heavy eater who was obsessed with curry rice. That style of curry rice is a Japanese dish rather than Indian, though.

Warehouse battle begins

37:00: It’s pure coincidence that the climax happens on Memorial Day weekend, but it’s convenient for explaining the emptiness of the warehouse facility. Memorial Day 2046 is on Monday, May 28; the climax occurs on Sunday the 27th.

The warehouse district is loosely inspired by the pressure control water tank at the Metropolitan Area Outer Underground Discharge Channel in Saitama, Japan, the world’s largest facility for flood water diversion. This striking, monumental location has been used in numerous memorable tokusatsu battles. It was a major location in the 2004 ULTRAMAN reboot movie (aka Ultraman the Next), both for real and recreated in miniature for the giant battle, although it was asserted there to be directly beneath the Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building in Shinjuku, 40 kilometers south of its actual location. Tokumei Sentai Go-Busters (and its adaptation Power Rangers Beast Morphers) used it to represent the depths of the alternate dimension where the villains resided, and even staged a battle between giant robots there, making the columns seem even more monumental in proportion. (It’s one of only two instances I can think of where a Sentai giant robot battle was filmed in an indoor non-soundstage location, the other being in a house representing an evil dollhouse that the giant robot was shrunk down to occupy.)

The location in the story isn’t exactly like the Discharge Channel, as the columns in the warehouse district are rounder and more widely spaced, and the ceiling isn’t quite as high. Still, I made it close enough for homage.

40:45: Simultaneous or group henshins are a frequent trope in modern Kamen Rider and Ultraman, and obviously in Sentai/Rangers. Generally the actual transformations are simultaneous even when their henshin calls are staggered, for the ease of the visual-effects transition.

41:20: Team roll calls are a Sentai tradition, one that Caprice tried to emulate in the concrete yard and pulls off more successfully here. Normally they occur before a battle, with the enemy politely waiting for them to finish, but in some cases, particularly big, climactic battles in season finales or movies, a roll call is performed mid-battle with an army of enemy grunts. It’s ridiculous, of course, since the trademark posing and catchphrase utterances would distract the Rangers from the battle and leave them vulnerable, but it’s a lot of fun to watch the ritual play out.

It’s not entirely fanciful having it happen here, though, because battle cries and invocations can be valuable for team-building. I tried to convey that the Knights were using the roll call for its psychological value, to mesh as a team, build their confidence, and psych out the opposition. And I tried to highlight the four Knights’ distinct personalities through the way they delivered their roll calls.

My stage direction in the script, which I was aware was probably too ambitious, was: (Audio note: If possible, make this sound like a continuous steadicam shot circling the Knights 360 degrees as they fight the horde of M-BERs, moving past them as they call their names one by one and finishing back on Caprice.)

41:45: The smashing of the M-BERs after “Tangent Knights… together!” is my equivalent of the big fireball explosions that punctuate most Sentai roll calls.

41:50: And naturally, the villains just stand and watch the henshin, as per tradition. Well… most modern Kamen Rider shows, starting with Blade, have shown the transforming Rider surrounded by an energy field or apparatus that repels enemy fire for the duration of the henshin, or in some cases is even able to strike at the enemy during the henshin, as the animations have only gotten more ornate and elaborate over the years. In the case of Matrix Tangent Knights, the transphasic field would probably have a protective effect if they were fired upon mid-henshin. Cory’s silver glow might have the same effect, but I never had occasion to put it to the test.

43:20: Orion’s “Don’t call me ‘Blue Boy’” is a nod to DekaBlue from Dekaranger, a cool, stoic type who constantly told DekaRed, “Don’t call me ‘partner.’” At least until the season finale when he finally caved in and called DekaRed ‘partner’ (aibo) at a critical moment.

45:30: “You fished that out of the ocean?” Normally a Knight can summon any weapon entangled with their phase armor, no matter where it is in the multiverse, as we saw with Caprice summoning her Phase Staff on Nimbus. But Cauldron’s Phase Axe was entangled with his Mark I armor, which Caprice disintegrated, and its phase crystal, which Caprice wiped clean and recovered. So Morgan would’ve had to search the ocean to retrieve the axe physically, then re-entangle it with Cauldron Mark II. This was seeded in Morgan and Tseng’s discussion after the concrete yard fight, when Morgan said Caprice had arrived in the wrong part of the ocean to retrieve the axe — a hint that she knew roughly what the right part was, because she was already tracking it down.

46:58: Tres, dos, uno”: Caprice counting down in Spanish, like her subsequent “Vamonos,” is a reminder that Malika Ramos comes from a Latin heritage as well.

Realmship hangar/Prometheus

49:45: “Dar-Su of the No-San clan”: I mentioned before that “Dar-Su” is a nod to Yoshi Sudarso, who played the caveman Koda, aka the Dino Charge Blue Ranger. “No-San” is a nod to Koda’s Sentai counterpart from Kyoryuger, Nobuharu Udo, a 32-year-old Ranger who was nicknamed “Nossan” (short for “Nobuharu-san”) by his younger teammates.

50:00: I mentioned in my Book 1 annotations that it’s not as important for villains to earn their power-ups through character milestones as it is for heroes, as their main purpose is to create obstacles for the heroes. I needed to introduce Tangent Knight Prometheus in the climactic battle as an obstacle to counterbalance Caprice’s acquisition of Errant Mode. But in a way, Dar-Su’s Tangent Knight status is the payoff of his character arc in the background of the novel, starting in Book 1 as a nameless Intersect introduced as an afterthought, then proving himself in battle and growing in importance within Fireforce, so that he earns Knight status through his prior actions.

53:30: Another thing I strove for, inspired by the writing in Kamen Rider Build, was to ensure that every battle was a clash of characters’ values and priorities rather than just action for its own sake. Exploring why the characters fight is a central element of the best tokusatsu series, and the best fight scenes are debates between characters as much as clashes of fists or weapons. So here we have Dar-Su justifying his reasons for fighting while the others try to change his mind, and outside we have Daniel and Chandika clashing on a very personal level.

58:15: Caprice Errant’s ability to disappear and reappear at will homages a ninja-like ability of numerous tokusatsu villains, and at least one hero, Kanpei Kuroda/GoggleBlack, whose Black Shadow technique was very much like Caprice’s tactic here.

59:00: Raccoon intelligence is impressive enough that it’s conceivable their relatives could have evolved sapience on another realm. See: https://www.apa.org/monitor/2010/11/raccoon “Rocket,” of course, is a nod to Marvel Comics’ Rocket Raccoon, featured in the Guardians of the Galaxy movies — another rare reference to non-Japanese fiction from Caprice. The GraphicAudio people added the raccoon saying “Oh, crap” in a very Rocket-like voice, which is taking the reference farther than I did in the script.

59:15: “Earth’s gravity still leaks through”: String theory suggests that gravitons are not bound to the fabric of spacetime the way other particles are, and thus could theoretically leak across between parallel universes. This concept is pivotal to my short story “What Slender Threads,” available on my Patreon page. This is the story I discussed on the main Tangent Knights overview page, the prologue to the tentative trilogy idea that I ended up reworking into TK.

1:00:35: “Let’s make this showy!” is the catchphrase of Captain Marvelous (yes, really), the leader of the pirate-themed Kaizoku Sentai Gokaiger.

Realmship returns

1:03:12: “Caprice spread her hands high like a circus performer”: Cory is homaging Daigoro Oume/DenziBlue of Denziman, a circus acrobat played by fan-favorite actor Kenji Ohba (who also played Space Sheriff Gavan, alluded to in Book 1). Daigoro’s trademark was to punctuate an impressive move by spreading his arms and yelling “Hey!” (or actually “Hei!”), but most of the audience wouldn’t have understood that reference, so I decided to go with a more basic “Ta-daa!”


Mount Fuji

5:00: Though Mount Fuji is plenty famous in its own right, it’s also a frequent tokusatsu location, as one would expect given its proximity to Tokyo and its striking visual impact. The bases of the defense teams in several Ultraman series including Ultraseven, Ultraman Ace, and the anime The☆Ultraman were located adjacent to Fuji-san (as they call it in Japan), and it was common for early Sentai shows to film action scenes and roll calls against the background of Mt. Fuji. I chose it here because I needed a location that Tseng would immediately recognize.

5:20: Realm Thirty-Three is named for Samurai Sentai Shinkenger, the 33rd Super Sentai series, whose theme lyrics include the line “The morning sun rises by Mount Fuji.” Shinkenger is also one of the Sentai seasons most strongly focused on traditional Japanese culture and concepts, and Mt. Fuji is a national symbol of Japan, so it seemed appropriate.

“As late as Memorial Day”: It’s still the Sunday before Memorial Day back in New Avalon, but the time zone difference (13 hours ahead) means it’s early Monday morning in Japan.

Squid Drone attack

10:20: I wanted to make the climactic battle of Book 2 distinct from that of Book 1, so I didn’t want it to be just another fight against Intersects. Hence, I gave the Knights and Intersects a common, scarier enemy.

Non-humanoid threats like the Squid Drones are not typical in Sentai or KR, but there are various CGI giant monsters in KR that would qualify, such as many of the Mirror Monsters in Ryuki or the kaiju-like Makamou in Hibiki (the only KR series whose monsters were usually non-humanoid, as it wasn’t intended as a KR season until late in development). Ultraman monsters and giant aliens are usually stuntmen in suits, but there have been some more exotic, nonhumanoid ones from time to time, for instance in the closing arc of Ultraman Leo and much of Ultraman Gaia, and naturally in the anime series.

When I got around to writing this scene, it belatedly occurred to me that the Squid Drones were reminiscent of the Sentinels from the film The Matrix. Since I had my own group coincidentally named Matrix herein, I didn’t want to play up that similarity, so I rethought my original idea of having them levitate and had them crawl instead.

I mentioned before that squids mostly have arms, not tentacles, but since these are just squidlike robots, “tentacle” is a clearer word.

Caprice and Cauldron jump realms

12:50: The ruined city is based on the Takahagi Paper Mill ruins in Ibaraki. This location is used whenever a ruined urban site or dystopian hellscape needs to be shown. The live-action Attack on Titan movie also filmed there.

14:00: The rocky coastline is based on Miyagawa Bay, a perennial filming location since the earliest days of Ultraman, KR, and Sentai. I’m really glad I chose to set the climax of Cory and Tseng’s confrontation here, since the surf in the background underlines the emotion of the scene nicely.

15:50: I was concerned that I might be writing Cory as self-absorbed here, and in her earlier scene with Daniel after the Rising Thunder battle, in that she turned conversations about the others’ feelings to the subject of her own issues about her father. But I decided that wasn’t the case, because she’s offering the example of her own experiences to try to help the others see things in a new way. So she’s not really making it about herself, though I love the way her own feelings resonate with the others’ and help her empathize with them.

I loved the power of this scene, taking these two intractable enemies and having them finally find common ground. I always knew that Cauldron would come around at the climax of Book 2; it’s typical in KR series to have different adversaries come around to the Main Rider’s side at different times, some fairly early (like Tempest and Gemini), others late in the season after a long period as a fierce, relentless enemy. Cauldron was most directly inspired by Kamen Rider Rogue, who was Kamen Rider Build’s primary antagonist for much of the series before going through a good deal of turmoil and loss and eventually joining the heroes’ side.

Warehouse battle climax

19:00: There’s an inconsistency here. In Book 1, Morgan told Cory that only a percentage of the Intersects were awake at any one time, while the rest slept in the realmship’s cryotubes. Yet here, Dar-Su and the other Intersects are horrified at the prospect of being put back into the tubes. I suppose the difference is one of consent. Normally, they agree, however grudgingly, to go back into hibernation, trusting Morgan’s word that they will be revived again. Here, with the Squid Drones recapturing them, not only are they reliving the trauma of their original abductions, but they’re afraid that this time it will be permanent, that they won’t be allowed to revive again. (The real explanation, though, is that I’d forgotten that detail from Book 1 when I wrote this part, and didn’t realize the inconsistency until well after I’d already turned in Book 2.)

19:35: I love how readily Daniel switches from seeing Prometheus as an opponent to calling him “buddy” and coming to his rescue. It underlines that his furious vendettas toward Morgan, Tseng, and Chandika were specific to his grudges against them and not part of his general nature.

24:55: Cory’s words about the nature of consciousness are based somewhat on the attention schema theory, the idea that the conscious mind is basically the brain’s model of its own activity, used to feed back and direct its attention to where it’s needed. It also draws on the ideas of consciousness as an emergent property emerging from the interaction of lower levels of processing, as discussed in Douglas R. Hofstadter’s classic book Gödel, Escher, Bach: An Eternal Golden Braid, though I don’t know whether that model is still considered valid today. But mainly I just needed an excuse to tie Chandika’s rescue to Daniel’s climactic armor upgrade.

31:30: Just as Rising Thunder Mode was a flawed upgrade symbolizing the destructive impact of Daniel’s rage and hatred toward Chandika, Avatar Mode is the payoff of Daniel rejecting hate in favor of love, accepting and embracing Chandika and allowing them to gain more power together than they had alone.

An avatar is an embodiment of a deity in Hindu mythology. Chandika earlier referred to herself as an avatar of justice. Now Avatar Mode is her new embodiment, after a fashion.

The idea of putting Chandika’s mind into Tempest’s armor was inspired by Kamen Rider Drive, whose henshin belt contains an AI copy of its murdered inventor’s mind. This was one of several influences on Malika and Echo, as I discussed in the Book 1 annotations, but it’s a more primary influence here.

Note that Daniel isn’t angry and bitter anymore. Accepting his sister back has healed him, and now he’s confident and happy to embrace the stuff he grumbled about before, like Knight names and heroic catchphrases.

33:15: “Indra’s Thunderbolt”: This attack is partially inspired by the Indrastra, the divine weapon of Indra in Hindu mythology, which brings down a shower of many arrows from the sky. I decided against calling it “Indrastra” since that’s a bit of a tongue-twister and its meaning wouldn’t be clear to most of the audience.

Aftermath and Morgan’s arrest

35:00: The newsreader likening Morgan to Thomas Edison is ironic, given that Edison himself may have stolen most of “his” inventions from others like Nikola Tesla. I tried to work an acknowledgment of that into the newsreader’s lines, but it proved too cumbersome.

37:28: Nunca fue para mí”: “It was never for me.” “Entiendo”: “I understand.”

38:20: It occurred to me too late that the name Alejandra is too similar to Alexander (as in Alex Reading). But I liked the sound of it in context.

Matrix wrap-up

40:10: I initially planned to have Chandika limited to text communication for at least the remainder of Book 2, but I realized that would be too awkward in an audiobook.

44:40: “More than a decade had passed”: Whoops. I said it was nearly a decade in Book 1. Maybe Tseng is misremembering.

50:05: I initially intended to reveal that Eiji had been on Nimbus all along, but I realized it would’ve been too coincidental for him to end up there in the initial experiment, and maybe too cruel for Ying and the others to hide his presence from her for so long. Realm Sixty-Three is named in an oblique way after Kamen Rider OOO, since I named Eiji Kagami in honor of its protagonist Eiji Hino. It was the 21st KR series, and its hero got his power from three coin-like Core Medals, hence the “OOO” title. And 21 x 3 = 63.

I mentioned before that characters coming back from the dead is a standard tokusatsu trope. Sometimes this is an actual resurrection, but often, it’s a character’s death turning out to have been greatly exaggerated.

Lord Erebos

52:30: In my outlines, the battle with Eclipse wasn’t brought to a close until early in Book 3. I later realized that if I really wanted to be true to Shōwa-era Kamen Rider villain organizations, I needed to have a “mid-season” defeat of the evil organization, which would then be succeeded by a different evil organization, or a new branch of the old one. This would also work better structurally, since it would let me give the Eclipse arc closure within Book 2 while setting up a new stage of it for Book 3.

The ultimate leaders in early KR and Sentai villain groups almost always turned out to be aliens. Some of them were tentacled. So that led me naturally to the idea of having Eclipse answer to a Cefal. This wasn’t my original intention at all, so as I went into Book 3, I had to figure out how the revelation fit into the larger narrative.

The name Erebos came from one of my unused comics ideas from the ‘90s, where a character named Erebus (the Latinized spelling) was a mastermind of a secretive alien group. I’d say more, but that would spoil things from Book 3. Anyway, it was a lucky coincidence that Erebos is the primordial Greek deity of darkness, fitting well with Eclipse.

The only case I can think of where a mid-season villain turnover in KR had a subordinate villain in the first organization rise to a leading position in the second is General Shadow in Kamen Rider Stronger, who started out as an ambiguous free agent (the kind of warrior who just wants to fight the Rider as a worthy opponent with no other agenda or loyalty) and was later revealed to be secretly an advance operative of the second organization. In this case, though, I had Yukawa get upgraded purely because I’d failed to do enough with her in Book 2 and wanted to give her a bigger role in Book 3.

Eiji’s hospital room

53:58: I debated whether Cory would address her father as tou-san, which is more polite, or tou-chan, which is more of an affectionate diminutive. It’s similar to the distinction between “Dad” and “Daddy,” I suppose. While Cory does feel a lot of affection toward Eiji, I think maybe she’s too old to use the diminutive, and the more polite form reflects her respect for him, and perhaps a certain distance given how long they’ve been apart.

I admit that part of the reason I had Cory raised by her mother and not as fluent in Japanese as she could be was to excuse any linguistic or cultural mistakes I might make.

54:55: Cory transforming to Caprice without a henshin pose, driven purely by strong emotion, is something Riders are sometimes capable of when driven by intense enough feeling or need. But it also reflects Caprice’s increasingly unfettered power, laying groundwork for what happens in the next scene and then in Book 3.

Knights in Akuma’s habitat

55:40: “He was large”: I stayed vague about how large Akuma is, but he’s in the range of a mid-sized giant squid. His body, not counting his arms, is maybe about 7-8 feet long. He has to be able to fit inside a cryopod meant for a human, but cephalopods, being invertebrates, are good at squeezing themselves into tight spaces.

57:20: The business with Akuma bringing his translator was an excuse to continue using the same synthesized voice for Akuma in Book 3. Although GA ended up using the same voice treatment for Erebos, even though I imagined his synth voice coming from a different source.

59:40: “Echo override Z-D-B”: This is a very deep cut. One possible translation of “Echo” into Japanese is Hibiki, “resounding,” the name of Kamen Rider Hibiki, as well as Captain Hibiki in Ultraman Dyna. In Kamen Rider Kuuga, the Gurongi language was created through a syllabic cipher, substituting different initial consonants for the syllables in Japanese words. In the Gurongi cipher, hibiki becomes zidibi, which sounds like Z-D-B.

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