I can honestly say this: Mitsuzane Kureshima is basically Masato Kusaka done right. Even though he’s friends with the main Rider, the audience knows how manipulative and dark he really is.
OKAY SIT DOWN LISTEN UP I AM GOING TO GO INTO DETAIL ABOUT HOW WRONG THIS IS AND HOW I LAUGHED MYSELF ANGRY OVER THIS SHIT.
This post is basically “hey look in a contest of manipulative douchebags, Mitsuzane is the manipulative douchebag that I don’t mind!” CONGRATULATIONS YOU’RE AN EVEN BIGGER BLIGHT ON THE FRANCHISE THAN THE PREVIOUS BLIGHT!
Are you even serious?
You can’t “do right” when creating a manipulative douchebag, so don’t even try.
Everyone for the most part trusted Kusaka, from Mari to Keitaro and even to an extent, Kiba Yuuji. Who didn’t trust Kusaka? Takumi. Why? Because Takumi didn’t trust anyone and had a very hard time establishing relationships that weren’t being tested or strained. Takumi had some severe issues with dealing with people that kept him distant and aloof from everyone, to the point that they were willing to take Kusaka’s words over Takumi’s in any situation - to the point that Takumi got kicked out and driven away.
You think Mitsuzane’s capable of having that happen to Kouta? You think Mitsuzane is capable of convincing Kaito to try and kill Kouta? Sure he can talk his brother into attacking them to stop them, but not outright kill them. Kusaka made it happen. Kusaka had someone who was starting to trust Takumi, starting to believe in Takumi, actively turn their back and try to kill him. He had him unable to stay in their home, unable to face anyone. Mitsuzane, at worst, has made it so Kouta and Kaito still got the information they wanted but through different means entirely. Well done.
Mitsuzane is a sixteen year old who has basically had everything he’s wanted fall into his lap at this point in time.
A driver, so he can fight and
impress Mai protect the Team? Sid gave it to him. Say all you want he played Sid for a fool and got it that way, but Sid didn’t have to do jack shit. He could have laughed his ass off at Mitsuzane’s “it’s good to have me as a friend” threat and walked away, leaving the kid high and dry. You think Mitsuzane could have gone to Takatora and complained that he didn’t get a belt from Sid? Considering he was doing his best to keep his “lives” separate that’s pretty unlikely. Sid also could have at any time told Takatora what was going on. He had the papers, Takatora didn’t look. He could have insisted, and Mitsuzane’s whole deal would be done then and there. Instead Sid played along, getting what he wanted out of it which was a game with both siblings as players.
So how did Kusaka go “wrong” ? In terms of manipulative and dark, how is Mitsuzane better?
Is it because Mitsuzane is able to keep up a friendly facade? Kusaka was able to do that, and more. He won back his childhood friend, slowly pulled her away from someone she was developing a stronger relationship with. He was able to convince Yuuji, who was developing a rather strong camaraderie with Takumi, that Takumi had done a major wrong and needed to be punished for it. Yuuji believed him over Takumi (through granted Takumi didn’t even try to defend himself)
Is it because Mitsuzane is working with the enemy while not telling his “friend” anything? Kusaka did that. Kusaka went to Smart Brain, worked with Smart Brain. No one knew, no one cared. He was being played just as much as Mitsuzane is being played.
Is it because Mitsuzane is in love with Mai/deeply treasures Mai and is willing to do anything for her, no matter the stakes? Kusaka’s obsession with Mari was what drove him to do nearly two-thirds of everything in the series proper. She was his everything and Takumi was in the way. It didn’t matter what happened so long as Mari was okay.
Kusaka lied to Mari about certain events that drastically changed her life, in order to “protect her from the hard truth”. Kusaka slowly drove away people from Mari that she could depend on other than him. He promised her that he’d help them out, care for them, but the wedge was there.
Is it Mitsuzane’s frustration/manipulation with Kouta? Mitsuzane’s idea of dealing with Kouta when he “won’t listen/do as he says” is complain about it to his brother and the Yggdrasil goon squad and see if one of them do something about it. Kusaka outright decided Takumi needed to die and took steps to ensure it happened. Mitsuzane doesn’t want Kouta to die. Kusaka sure as hell did for Takumi.
So how is Mitsuzane “Kusaka done right” ? Is it because he’s young and attractive? Would his behavior be acceptable if he was older and not as good looking? Are we saying he can do this/it’s okay because he’s young and “doesn’t know better?” That’s not anything more than making excuses for him.
There is no “right” when making a character who willing lies to the faces of his “friends” for their “own protection” when in reality everything is self-serving. Mitsuzane stopped caring about Mai and Kouta as people and instead is looking at them as ideas or possessions.
Kusaka did that too. He did that to Mari, to Keitaro, to Yuuji, to Takumi. He did it to anyone and everyone he came across and he didn’t care. He killed innocent people all for the sake of him thinking they were wrong and he was right; he killed innocent people because he could and no one was willing or able to tell him to stop (or actively stop him).
Let’s not forget that Mitsuzane has Takatora. Sure Takatora is (currently) being played like a fiddle by anyone and everyone, but he has his brother’s back and will defend him no matter what. Kusaka had no one to defend his actions to others (except Mari, whom he held in his hand like a toy) and he didn’t care. He didn’t need anyone to validate him.
"Mitsuzane is Kusaka done right?"
Mitsuzane is the character that the fandom wishes could be even a third what Kusaka was, if only so we’d have a delightful bastard that is a joy to hate again.