Banno and the Roidmudes begin preparations for a second Global Freeze, while Shinnosuke and Chase have a showdown over their love lives. No, not those Love Lives.
The closer we get to the finale, the more Drive appears to be trying to forcibly bisect itself into two completely different shows – one a wacky, comedy sound effects character piece and the other a somewhat grim tale of betrayal and global apocalypse. When the two brush up against one another it can still cause some friction, but when they operate separately the results are hugely gratifying. Drive pretty much prevents that problem this week by very clearly delineating the two sides of its personality into two spearate plotlines.
What’s clearly intended to the ‘B’ plot is arguably the more entertaining of the two, namely Chase and Shinnosuke’s newly realised romantic rivalry flares with truly hilarious results. Ryoma Takeuchi’s frantic mugging as Shinnosuke is perfectly offset by the flawless poker face of Taiko Katono as Chase, and there’s a wonderful array of whip pans and fast cuts to accentuate the bang-bang nature of the comedy. In fact, the scene is so good they do it again with Gou later, magnificent spit-take and all. What’s really great though is that out of the comedy the writing team manage to wrangle some genuine character development as well. Shinnosuke realising his actually in love with Kiriko is an important step, but to me the best moment we get out of this is his conversation with Mr Belt. There’s an initial acknowledgement of how incredibly stupid it is to ask a belt for love advice, but unlike so many similar situation the scene doesn’t immediately go to farce. Instead, there’s a genuine acknowledgement of the bond between the two that gives us a nice little moment. I’m astonished they’ve actually manged to make a belt into a relatable character, but there you go.
On the seriosu side of the equation we have Banno further embellishing his chops as the true big bad via various sledgehammer-blunt methods. While I’ll agree that he makes a logical choice as the ‘final boss’ villain it’s kind of difficult to really get into him since he’s only been a tangible presence for a limited amount of time. The writers do strike gold (no pun intended) though by making Heart the major brunt of his wrath. The flashback-comparison to his own torture at Banno’s hands is a great reminder of the personal emnity that exists between them. Since Heart has already been established as a complex, sympathetic character he gives the audience an anchor point to be emotionally invested in the Roidmude political struggle while Banno is free just to be a dastardly dick in the most blatant ways possible.
There is of course a slightly unexpected third pillar in this episdoe and that’s the emergence of Roidmude 004 as EVIL Krim Steinbelt. It’s a great twist for sheer shock value, and it certainly plugs a few plot holes, such as how Banno was able to put himslf into a belt. Problem is, I don’t see where it can actually go. had this happened say a dozen episodes earlier it might have been fun to have another evil double running about, but given how close we are to the end it’s difficult to see any other fate for 004 than a swift despatch via Rider Kick. If there’s a bigger plan for this development they need to get it out ASAP.
Despite that slight niggle, it’s difficult to be too churlish about this episode, which provided laughs and thrills all the way through. With next week hinting that danger could be ocming from an unexpected direction, I can’t wait.
- Kyu and Gen’s botched high five might be my favourite scene in the whole of the episode. Not only is it incredibly funny, it’s the kind of marvelous character detail that breathes so much life into supporting cast members.
- Brain’s ‘disguise’ is a thing of beauty, particularly those epic glasses.
- If Brain’s human identity was a famous prodigy who worked in law enforcement, how on earth did he get away with posing as another, completely different law enforcement expert for a big chunk of the series?
- Rinna can apparently defeat Banno’s car-stealing technology by placing them in a disco oven.