Kamen Rider Drive Episode 26

drive26_2

“Where Is Chaser Heading Towards?”

Simulcast pending

Now that Drive’s secret identity has become public, Shinnosuke is being harassed from all sides. The trouble his superiors are giving the Special Unit, coupled with the mysterious emergence of Roidmude 001 leads him to a shocking revelation. Meanwhile, Kiriko makes a final attempt to bring Chase over to her side, but Heart will not let his comrade leave so easily.

Aqua’s thoughts

Last week’s episode showed Kamen Rider Drive ditching its most hare-brained story thread and shifted the show into top gear, and this episode succeeded at delivering on all its promises. Rife with Drive‘s strongest pointsand hints to its most interesting storylines — Shinnosuke’s melancholic side, Kiriko kicking butt, Gou’s gradual descent into darkness and Heart’s cameradrie with his species — it managed to juggle several impactful storylines at once. If this is the Drive we’ll be getting from now on, it might be one of those Rider shows worth catching up with in a few years’ time after all.

Obviously, Chase’s grand debut as Kamen Rider Chaser (+500 originality points there, Kiriko) was the main event, and while his face turn was surprisingly quick given the agonizing buildup, Taiko Katono remains an intimidating presence even as a good guy. Suit actor Yasuhiko Imai impeccably translates Katono’s brusque, mechanical mannerisms into Kamen Rider form, resulting in a cinematic, high-octane fight sequence noticeably devoid of the usual levity the main Riders bring to their fights. In a somewhat remarkable callback to his stint as the original Drive, the heroic Chase invokes the classic Rider, the unshakable cool guy who saves the girl and beats the monster to a pulp without a word, rather than the quippy, whimsical everyman the Neo-Heisei era has become known for.

drive26_1

It’s the girl we have to thank for Chase’s glorious re-awakening, however. Though Kiriko gets a somewhat cheesy damsel in distress moment after showing off those sweet power boots she got, she ultimately has no one else but herself to thank for Chase saving her. After all, it’s her everlasting faith in him that brought him over to the good side, and I’m intrigued to see where their relationship goes next. As usual, Rio Uchida puts forward a wonderful performance that elevates a somewhat trite crush on her ‘knight in shining armour’ to something more than merely superficial.

However Shinnosuke will take the rather obvious thing his favourite colleague has for his former archnemesis remains to be seen, but Gou seems to miffed to say the least. Why exactly he despises the Roidmudes far more than his sister, who actually lived through the trauma of their initial assault, is still unknown, but his gradual evolution from slightly dickish clown to spiteful bigot is terrifying to say the least. The one-man intervention he staged for his sister brought to mind the manipulations and guilt trips of a certain backstabbing wannabe with terrible taste in sweaters, and judging form next week’s preview, it’s only getting worse. Team Drive might be losing an ally despite just gaining one.

drive26_4

Heart, on the other hand, is growing ever more sympathetic. As opposed to the delightfully coldhearted Medic and the irresponsibly overachieving Brain, Heart legitimately believes he is fighting for a just cause. The show has never really tapped into the potential of his passionate, charismatic care for the other Roidmudes like it should have, but with the introduction of 001 and Chase’s betrayal of his friendship, the charm of his character is really starting to shine. Heart is not a ruthless megalomaniac like so many other Kamen Rider villains, he is more than willing to wage a fair war against mankind and seems genuinely affected by his friend choosing to take the other side without letting it shake his resolve. It’s a surprisingly human turn to take for a franchise where most conflicts between villains are based around who is a bigger douche than the other, and one I hope the series will continue to explore for all it is worth.

For everything it got right, however, this episode remained underwhelming in the visual department. Drive has been struggling to find a visual style and atmosphere of its own, with various unsuccessful attempts at creative directing in a row. While the action was more than acceptable this time around, the directing during key scenes left a bit to be desired. Especially the climactic confrontation between Shinnosuke, Chase and Heart in the forest looked like an underwhelming stage rehearsal, with characters standing around awkwardly waiting for their turn to say something. It’s a small blight on an otherwise excellent episode, however. With excellent performances and a newfound direction, Drive has never been better. Let’s hope it can keep up with itself.

drive26_3

Random observations

  • Good news is you prefer Zigg’s succinct wit over my pseudo-intellectual rambling, as he’ll be back next week. Unless he’s gotten stabbed in Glasgow.
  • Kudos to Ryouma Takeuchi and his bloodcurling screams. Chase breaking Shinnosuke’s arm didn’t look as painful as it should have, but it sure sounded that way.
  • Kamen Rider Chaser’s suit looks smart. I appreciate they went for simplistic and functional, rather than bogging a serious character like Chase down with silly gimmicks and toys. The Signal Axe, on the other hand, is just ever so slightly on the right side of tolerable. Really, attributing its… ‘unconventional’ design to Rinna’s whimsey is what saves it from becoming the new AxCalibur. Yeah, remember that thing? Ugh.
Advertisements

10 thoughts on “Kamen Rider Drive Episode 26

  1. I’m becoing a fan of Heart.. I hope heart does not die in the end.. He and medic should just give up and retire elsewhere. The character of Heart is really awesome for a villain, i think theres more depth to heart than our bitch friend Gou (Mach).

    But yeah, i agree if Drive keeps up with their story development, this will be easily one of the best heisei riders in terms of story.

    • I wouldn’t get my hopes up… Kamen Rider does not spare villains unless they were sort of harmless and explicitly redeem themselves to fight alongside the heroes against a bigger threat. Heart might turn face in the end, but Medic is deader than dead. There’s a very distinct line from which you can tell a toku villain is beyond redemption no matter what, and she’s crossed it. This line was very obvious with Aigaron in Kyoryuger, for instance. He became kind of a good guy in the end, but he still had to die because he killed Ian’s friend. Same for Saeko and Kirihiko in W. Both written by the same guy as Drive, by the way.

      • oh same writer? damn, shit is going down. i weeped a little for aigaron too when he died T__T ..

        will be nice to see Heart fighting with Chaser in the end that is before heart dies.. The whole friendship/nakama thing can only be pulled off by Heart and his charms.

  2. Oh I nearly missed this review, because I always search on the tokusatsu tag!

    I have *really* been enjoying the last few episodes, I feel like the writer has taken a leaf out of his own character’s book and adjusted his necktie somewhat, lately. I have a bad feeling about Gou chiefly because the Kamen Rider seasons I have watched seem to have an underlying subtext of “balance” and now that Chase has crossed to the light side, it may mean that Gou has to become a sacrifice in the opposite direction.

    I agree that Heart is unlikely to end well, much as I find him interesting and charismatic. Though at least we know this writer is able to offer redemption even in death for some of his characters, so there is that.

    I enjoy both yours and Zigg’s take on Kamen Rider, by the way. I miss the tag team reviews 🙂

  3. Will you be writing about the Type High Speed special and the crossover with the Ninninger as well? The type High Speed special was actually surprisingly amusing. Also, Heart’s emotion in this episode really got to me. Props to the actor; I can really feel that Heart’s losing a very dear friend to him.

    • Oh, we had no idea Type High Speed was out already. We watched the Ninningers crossover a few weeks ago (Iro’s glorious introduction to the wacky world of Kamen Rider) so I don’t think we’ll be covering it anymore.

      • How great of a welcome is it to the world of colorful, themed grasshoppers of various kinds? We had vampire grasshoppers, train grasshoppers, beetle grasshoppers, grasshopper grasshoppers, and now…a car grasshopper!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s