Determined to get rid of Drive once and for all, Medic powers up Chase to maximum and sends him on a destructive rampage. Shinnosuke’s only hope is a powerup of his own.
There’s the seed of an excellent two parter here, but it’s completely destroyed by haphazard pacing and that most serious of toku crimes, allowing your toy shilling to get in the way of actually telling your story. OK, that actually happens all the time, but it does cause a bizarre disconnect here which is especially noticeable. As a result there are some great individual scenes in this chunk of the story, but the two episodes don’t really gel together very well.
Without a doubt the big issue here is the need to build up episode 21 to a climactic conclusion involving Chase and a completely redundant teaser for Type Formula, one which is almost immediately rendered null and void. It’s completely baffling from a narrative point of view to unveil your big new powerup only to snatch it away again with a minimum of footage onscreen. The only reason I can think of is that it was done to act as a compelling hook to lure viewers in for the next week, but why go to such lengths? Isn’t it enough to have Chase threatening the heroes’ lives, or to show it off in the teaser trailer? The net result is the entire opening part of episode 22 feels like a major copout, a feeling which takes a little while to fade.
The other narrative issue this causes is a lot of backpedalling and stalling for time. Dramatically it would make much more sense for Chase to have his breakdown early on in episode 21, then have his new ruthless attitude and unstoppable power be a growing threat throughout the arc until it culminates in his ‘final’ battle. But instead we have this odd structure where he’s powerful, then vulnerable, then powerful again. Taikou Katono does a good job of selling the shifts, exuding menace as brainwashed Chase but convincingly showing us the character under the evil as well. Still, calling it disjointed is only fair. It’s also a little disappointing that the intriguing subplot about the five simultaneous murders is ultimately brushed off as nothing more than a red herring. The idea of using such zombies as stealth infiltrators is really effective, and I wish they had made more use of it.
With all that said, there’s still a lot of fun stuff here. Firstly, yes, I like Type Formula. It’s far enough across the stupid line that it just becomes really funny and at least it looks really special as opposed to a number of somewhat underwhelming powerups that have been seen down the years. The trailer cannon is also a pretty good stupid toy thing that looks fun. Beyond just the obvious dumb stuff though there’s some interesting character work which may have lasting consequences. There’s the obvious friction between Medic and Brain, which boils over most effectively this time round. My major complaint is that Brain has gone from slick mastermind to gibbering cowed idiot with basically no in-between step, but it’s still fun to have two villains so obviously on different levels. The other interesting hint at future developments is Gou’s anguish at Shinnosuke taking over his role hunting down Chase. Is there something we’re not being told about the state of his powers or his own personal motivations for going through with this caper? Food for thought either way.
Overall then, a rather up and down two parter, but one which is more good than bad. The fights are great, the villains eminently booable and the suits sillier than ever. Good, solid entertainment.
- Chase making the Shift Cars EVIL by gluing tiny symbols to them is one of the most unbelievably cheap things ever.
- Speaking of cheap, the total freeze effect is cool in the few shots they manage to apply it properly but inevitably becomes less impressive when they’re unable to keep up the effects.
- Formula’s decals are all adverts for previously named Shift Cars, a nice touch.
- The ‘zombies’ exploding into flames when killed is SUPER COOL.