Shinnosuke undertakes his final mission for the Special Unit – an investigation into the terrorist cell he was pursuing a year ago.
Toei seem to have gotten into a weird habit with the Kamen Rider series. More specifically, they’ve gotten into the habit of adding ‘bonus’ episodes that obviously take place after the story of the show has concluded. I’ve got no idea why they started doing this, but the results haven’t been good – Wizard‘s two-part multi-Rider crossover was a horribly cheap, tossed off wreck, and Gaim‘s pointless and clumsy epilogue wasn’t that much better. Good news – Drive‘s official sign off is way better than both of those. Bad news – it’s still not great.
The major issue with this episode is the same as it was in those previous examples. There’s simply no sense of progression or stakes, considering the narrative is already effectively done. That said, it works better because it’s much more willing to take into account the events of that finale than the other two were. So it’s not really super jarring to see Shinnosuke and Kiriko back in action and doing police work because, well, that’s what we assumed they would carry on doing anyway. It’s nice as well that they attempt to come full circle by linking the events of this last episode to the first episode, even if it’s largely in name only. Honestly, I could have done without any battle scenes at all, but considering we had to have one it’s a strong decision to make it a flashback. It gives us one more taste of Chase and Gou without needing to involve them in the story in any way. This way we keep the plot relatively simple, focused on our core characters and free of Rider based shenanigans, thus not cheapening the ending of the previous episode. On that same note, huge kudos to the writers for teasing the magic return of Mr Belt but then pulling back. Again, it doesn’t cheapen the story resolution and it makes it a much more cathartic ending for Shinnosuke.
The other big aspect of this episode is of course our first proper look at Ghost and while we only get to spend a limited amount of time with him, it’s a positive initial impression. The suit looks great and sassy miniature hand-puppet ghost voiced by Madoka (Aoi Yūki) is already a show-stealer. I’m still opposed in principal to the next Rider showing up in these final episodes since it makes them feel more like an advert than an actual story, but at least Ghost is integrated smoothly and largely stays out of the way once he’s done.
Overall, this episode is hardly essential, but at the very least it’s not offensively awful and does give us a few nice character moments.It’s something of an underwhelming way to end the saga of Drive, but I’ll take that over something utterly terrible. We’ll wrap up the series as a whole in our final impressions piece coming sometime in the next few days.
- There’s some pretty great ‘being beaten up by invisible people’ acting in this episode.
- Disappointing that they have to go back to the ‘Kiriko gets kidnapped’ well one more time to round out the show.
- On the same note, it’s kind of disappointing the main bullet point Kiriko gets in her summary is that she marries Shinnosuke.
- The final montage is impeccably chosen to be as full of trollfaces as humanly possible. Long live Nira.