While hunting down a stalker, Shinnosuke, Kiriko and Gou find out Chase’s true identity. Who could he possibly be?
Whoa. What a twist. Not in the average lifespan of a medium-sized astral body could I have seen this twist coming. When the Kamen Rider franchise draws its terminal breath, experts will speak in whispered tones about the glory of this twist. More shocking than a bold out of the blue it is, but once you think about it, it will make you reconsider everything we’ve seen of Kamen Rider Drive up until this point. How could we not have realized that the final piece that would make the entire puzzle make sense was right within our grasp? How did we not notice the meta-textual re-appropriation of Nietzsche’s assertion that “he who fights with monsters, must himself be one of the monsters”, a guiding principle harkening back to the Kamen Rider franchise’s metaphysical foundations? How did Taiko Katono fool our expectations by masterfully manipulating his own tone of voice in such a way that his appearance as Proto-Drive in the Episode 0 special went over our lowly heads like divine angels ascending to the heavens?
Nah, I’m just kidding. This episode was pretty good. But y’all should know by now that talking about things I like isn’t exactly my jam, no?
Undoubtedly the big hook that surrounds this episode is the supposedly shocking twist which occurs at the end. Problem is, as Aqua has so helpfully pointed out, that twist is only shocking if you have the brain capacity of a particularly stupid garden gnome, so as a result the climax sort of falls flat on its face. That’s a shame because the rest of the episode is solid and occasionally spectacular, it’s just that it builds to a rather bum note.
Granted, the source material is not the most inspired in the universe. Kamen Rider has a recurring history of ‘creepy stalker monster harasses hot famous woman’, a plotline with so many issues it’s difficult to know where to start. Suffice it to say there are a number of disturbing overtones, which have the possibly intentional effect of adding to the creep factor. Aside from this is a relatively rote ‘whodunnit’ episode which is enlivened by the clever twist that there are actually two different Roidmudes in play, one who stalks and one who protects. Again we see it’s possible for humans to ally with their Roidmude doppelgangers, which leads to this episode’s best turnaround when it’s revealed that creepy pervert actually *can* be in two entirely different places at once. Credit to whoever plays the perv too, since his spectacularly hammy performance is arguably episode stealing and certainly a lot of fun.
On the character side, I continue to really appreciate what Gou brings to the show. So far he’s struck the perfect balance – sarcastic without being a total ass, hammy without being impossible to take seriously, and friendly with Shonnosuke but not so chummy that he’s afraid to mess with him sometimes. Gou carries a lot of this episode and gets great fights, funny moments and the piece de resistance, his own incredibly stupid/AWESOME bike-car hybrid thing. In all seriousness though only a few episodes after his introduction the show immediately feels better balanced, richer in personality and potential character interaction. Let’s hope care continues to be given to growing his character.
Finally, I guess we have to deal with the Chase thing. To be fair, the idea is not entirely bad, and indeed the concept of a guardian angel turned evil executioner is super cool in theory. The problem is that there really hasn’t been enough buildup. Chase has never seemed like some all-conquering badass, nor has Proto-Drive been built up as anything more than some inferior indistinct figure. The net result is apathy, and that’s even leaving aside the fact this twist was super-duper obvious. I’m hoping they don’t immediately bring Chase over to the good guys as it’s way too early for three riders and I feel there’s still need for him as an antagonist figure. If they can buff up his threat level a bit this plotline may have legs.
- The Roidmude attacks Mach during his posing sequence, thus providing a rare example of a smart villain.
- To counter that Mach actually manages to shoot him as he flies away, providing a rare example of a Rider who can aim straight.
- The giant CGI monster this time around appears to be a literal Batmobile.
- We see a lot more of casual Kiriko in this episode and I approve of this direction.
- Sadly we’re also back to very harsh, jump cut heavy fights, which I decidedly do not approve of.