“Why Has the Battle Changed Like This?”
Shinnosuke has to deal with a Roidmude who has fused with its human host and is out for revenge on his former partner, Hayase. Meanwhile, the first division has run out of patience with the special unit’s shenanigans and orders Otta and co. to take the Roidmude down without Kamen Rider’s help.
Zigg’s gone into exile to the home of haggis, so I make my glorious return right in time for Kamen Rider Drive to shake up the status quo. Last week’s preview had us annoyed more than anything at the prospect of Shinnosuke finally revealing the world’s worst-kept secret identity since Hannah Montana, but the resulting episode was satisfying in a multitude of ways. Not only do we get to see Hayase again, we also learn a bit more about Shinnosuke’s past and his final transformation in front of his friends revealed some complex emotions we haven’t really seen from this show before. While superheroes often claim that they need to keep their identities a secret to protect their loved ones, Shinnosuke’s dilemma at the episode’s climax showed that the only one who truly benefits from a secret identity is the hero himself.
It’s the first division threatening to close down the special unit that makes Shinnosuke realize it’s not exactly fair for him to steal their credit, but it’s Otta who really seals the deal. While Drive hasn’t always done a very good job at showing Shinnosuke’s cropped-up guilt, Otta’s fatherly hand on his shoulder is a nice reminder of the psychological nuance underneath the show’s usual lighthearted tone. It’s only fair towards Otta and the other members of the unit that Shinnosuke reveals his secret identity. It’s not only literally the only way for him to save his friends as they are under attack from a monstrous sociopath, but just as much the only way of ascertaining the special unit’s survival.
On the Roidmude front, Brain and Medic’s little feud reaches a truce as neither of them know where the mysterious Roidmude comes from. I had a bit of a hunch the long-awaited Roidmude 001 would be the one behind it, and a brief cameo at the end confirmed my suspicions — if not adding a whole new mystery in the question of why the hell they’ve not evolved yet and whether they are the elusive ‘Promised Number’. Sadly, the introduction of yet another type of evolution for the Roidmudes isn’t doing their already incomprehensible nature any good. It’s a problem that has been haunting Drive since day one: It is not obvious enough what the Roidmudes want and how they work. Hopefully, this new type of Roidmude will create some consistency in the Monsters of the Week, though I wouldn’t put my money on it.
As Shinnosuke realizes he can’t just blow up a monster who is still human, the resulting discussion serves as another nice reminder of Gou’s increasingly more antiheroic tendencies. Of course, the conflict doesn’t last for very long. As always, a power-up brings the solution, though I have to wonder why the writers didn’t choose to save Type Formula until this episode. A new type of seemingly unbeatable enemy, a personal catharsis, an important change in the status quo: all the elements for a strong power-up episode were here, but for some reason, they thought it was a better idea to have Type Formula show up as a last-minute deus ex machina a few episodes ago. Ironically, it’s the guy on the receiving end of Drive‘s last power-up who helped him get this one, though if that means Chase is forever on the side of the angels now is a whole other question. After all, Shinnosuke and Gou aren’t exactly known for their willingness to fight alongside Roidmudes…
- In one final incomprehensible moment of silliness before revealing his secret identity, Shinnosuke takes Otta for a ride in his talking car and uses its built-in missiles to shoot a Roidmude. Otta, being the competent detective he is, does not question this. At all.
- Despite being a rather serious affair, this episode was in fact jam-packed with enjoyable jokes, from Rinna’s sadistic ‘operation’ on Mister Belt to Kyu and the chief cosplaying the Kamen Riders for no good reason whatsoever.
- Next week, a third Rider joins the fray! Kind of disappointing Drive is deviating from the formula and then still not giving Kiriko her own belt, though. Speaking of Kiriko, I wonder if we’ll get to see her struggling to choose sides between her Roidmude crush and her Roidmude-hating brother.
- Next week: Kamen Rider W makes his reappearance! … Or not.