Shinnosuke has figured out the truth behind the mysterious robberies, but the Special Unit’s efforts to investigate further are being blocked from higher up.
An episode that highlights both Drive‘s very best and very worst aspects, this week’s Kamen Rider Drive didn’t exactly start off on a promising note. The deus ex machina arrival of Mad Doctor is a blatant showing of plot points being written to introduce toys, rather than the other way around, and the whole neurotoxin debacle is never mentioned again. By the way, how the heck did the lorry driver manage to find Shinnosuke wearing Drive’s belt and not figure out that he is the Kamen Rider he so idolizes? Anyway, upon returning to the office, Shinnosuke and crew violate about every possible law enforcement rule within a span of five minutes, questioning a man in their office without formally arresting him, assaulting said man and then digging up personal data on the superior officer reprimanding them for it, yet as soon as the truth turns out, the episode picks up significantly. The revelation that Kirihara was abusing his power to cover up an acquaintance’s crimes could’ve done with a bit more foreshadowing and a lot more context, but Rinna’s coming out as a double agent was a surprising, and welcome turn indeed.
As soon as Shinnosuke heads out to finish the job, the writing gets significantly better. The scene with him and the chief on the roof is proof that Drive can still do character development well if it wants to, and Drive’s subsequent beatdown of Chase is as satisfying as power-up fight scenes can get. A fight between a transforming dune buggy and a giant CGI snake is exactly the kind of dumb CGI onslaught I can get behind, though it’s especially the ending of this episode that has me convinced Drive is set out to improve. Recruiting Rinna to the inner circle will undoubtedly give her a bit more screen time and character development, and while she had a surprising lack of screen time in an arc that was supposed to be about her, I’d love to see all the other members of the Unit be recruited in a similar way, like Fourze did. The dynamic between melancholy, quippy Shinnosuke and comically serious Kiriko has always been Drive‘s strongest point, and adding fun-loving Rinna to the mix should only shake up the formula to all-new heights. Sadly, Drive hasn’t been too keen on slowing down its pacing and focusing on character interactions the way W did, so here’s hoping that including the other Unit members in the Kamen Rider shenanigans will change that.
- We’ve already seen the phantom thief-themed villainous Rider who will be appearing in this year’s crossover movie with Kamen Rider Gaim, though the return on Professor Ryouma as a cyborg is new and positively fascinating. They’re not going to make this whole thing where he was Hakaider canon, right?
- Kiriko remains the best thing in this series. Funny, suitably developed and kicking ass? Yes please.
- Being a huge asshole and engineering genius, Mr. Belt is basically begging to be compared to Marvel
Disk Wars‘s Tony Stark. I can’t wait for his alcoholism side-plot.
- Actually, it’s about ethics in law enforcement.