“Why are they imprisoned?”
Nira and the newly-evolved Brain use their power within the police to discredit the Special Crimes Unit and accuse Shinnosuke of being the Roidmude leader. When Shinnosuke escapes arrest and attempts to clear his name, things quickly go from bad to worse.
Kamen Rider Drive for the last few weeks has felt like a roller-coaster ride of solid endgame material. It’s as if the writers came up with a dozen different thrilling finales for the show and couldn’t settle on which one they’d use, so they ended up using all of them. As a result, the stakes have constantly been high, from Gou’s dramatic heel turn over the Ultimate Evolution of 001 to the mystery of Shinnosuke’s father’s death; albeit at the expense of consistency and pacing. In all the chaos, some plot lines and characters have been left to simmer indefinitely to the point where looking at the show as a whole, it’s hard not to notice the rather obvious and numerous retools that have been taking place behind the scenes. The sudden case of Shinnosuke’s father, the abrupt demise of 001 and Medic’s fast degradation from by far the most threatening of the Roidmude generals to lowest rank in the pecking order are just a few examples of recent developments that don’t exactly gel well with the way Drive used to be before its noticeable increase in quality.
Nevertheless, these flaws do not take away from the fact that Drive is currently a stronger show than it has ever been. The introduction of the special emotions which trigger the Roidmude’s Ultimate Evolution has allowed the show to finally give this season’s villains a unique feature of their own and highlight what makes Heart, Brain and Medic such endearing characters. Like the Greeed in OOO, Shota Matsushima (Brain), Tomoya Warabino (Heart) and Fumika Baba (Medic) play the Roidmudes like actual characters on par with the Riders, who have distinct relationships and conflicts with one another, or even engage in some hilarious overacting at times. With Brain’s demise imminent, the question remains who will become the next big threat for Shinnosuke and co. to tackle. Will Heart find the ultimate joy he craves — perhaps in seeing sneaky, dishonest Brain get pummeled by Drive? — and reclaim his throne, or will Medic live up to her wild card role after all? By the way, has anyone else noticed how the writers have deliberately kept Chase’s special emotion under wraps? Does he lack one because of his special status as a prototype, or will it become an important plot point in the future? Also, how likely are the odds of it being love?
For all the praise the Roidmudes deserve, however, the true star of the episode was obviously Mr. Troll himself, Mitsuhide Nira. Even upon his promotion from annoying bully to actual villain, the guys hasn’t lost any of his ridiculous antics, giggling, cackling and jumping around like there is no tomorrow and basically having the time of his life. For how hilarious he is, however, Nira remains a highly threatening villain. Not only did he wisely use the Riders’ sloppiness in keeping their identities a secret against them in some sort of bizarre meta-commentary on the much hated idiot plot before the reveal of Drive’s civilian identity, he also refused to revel in this easy victory, in stead strengthening the grip he has on Shinnosuke by cornering him again at the end of the episode and putting even more proverbial distance between himself and our hero. With the show being rewritten pretty much on the fly, realizing the character’s potential and allowing Kisuke Iida to show off even more of his ridiculous overacting was a stroke of genius, and he will be sorely missed when Nida meets his inevitable demise next episode.
With the episode being such a villain festival, there was surprisingly little thunder on the side of the angels. Being ever up for all the female characters kicking ass I can get, I was a bit bummed Kiriko got taken in along with the rest of the Special Crimes Unit, in stead of getting to help Shinnosuke out of the biggest crisis of his career, but I figure it won’t be long before the Unit is reinstated or — which would arguably more interesting — forced to go underground. Some sage advice from the Chief and an admittedly pretty solid fight between Drive, Chase and Nida get the job done fulfilling the heroism quota in an episode stuffed with villainous shenanigans, though what little there is could prove significant in the long fun. Most noticeably, Gou and Chase have explicitly traded places now, with the latter having become Shinnosuke’s faithful right-hand man and the former reduced to a brooding vagabond who only shows up when his allies are in need of some extra muscle. The fact that Gou is still kind of a douche makes me believe his character arc is far from over. With around a dozen episodes left, there’s no guessing what Kamen Rider Drive will come up with next. I’ve already mentioned several plot lines I feel will — or rather, should — be picked up again as we enter the series’ final quarter, though knowing this show, the actual tricks it still has up its sleeve will likely leave anyone guessing.
- In an interview, Brain’s actor Souta Matsushima revealed that his character’s feelings for Heart are at least partially romantic, which I suppose makes him the third LGBT Kamen Rider character in an equal number of years. Kudos to Toei, though maybe next year they can try coming up with one who isn’t a villain and/or a campy comic relief?
- Mr. Belt’s ‘Devastator Mode’ is by far the most ridiculous toy to have come out of a show that already gave us the Signal Axe and those go-cart attachments for the Tridoron.
- Chase volunteering to escort Yukari gave us another glorious opportunity for the ‘Chase tries to interact with normal humans’ jokes I have been longing for ever since he became a good guy. Sadly enough, my pleas were once again not heard.
- It’d be great if Gou got an ultimate form and took back his rightful place as the second Rider, if only so we won’t have to see that ridiculous Type Dead Heat ever again.
- Oddly enough, the opening credits are still being spared the movie advertisements. As for the movie itself, it basically looks like the plot of this arc again. Riku Sanjo can write a mean standalone movie if he tries, however, so her’s hoping Surprise Future can live up to the high standards set by Drive’s movie debut, which we reviewed last week.