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Tuesday, 14 October 2014

Kamen Rider Drive E2: What's a Kamen Rider?

Kamen Rider Drive
Episode 2
What's a Kamen Rider? 

Before we start: I'm interested to know your opinions on Drive! Yes, yours! If you have an opinion on Drive, send it to me at, and I'll post a selection up at - some point. If I get enough.

Last episode, we were introduced to - a lot, so let's roll on with this episode, where we're apparently going to be seeing a little more of our villains. 

We open this episode on Mister Belt having a flashback, to a time when he wasn't a belt and also was murdered by a particularly flamboyantly dressed man. It's looking likely that he's the Roimyude's creator, and he says something about how 'they', presumably not meaning the Roimyude as he's talking to one, are still out there.

In the present, after some bondage hijinks between Shinnosuke and Kiriko, we get to see Heart engaged in his evil deeds of - grand theft auto? That's fairly criminal, I guess, but I wouldn't call it diabolically evil. 

Shinnosuke, meanwhile, has figured out the Golden Rule of Kamen Riders before realising that he is one: Namely, that Rider powers come from the same sources as their villains. It's a pretty solid theme that's been there in one form or another since the very first series, but I can't recall any series that just came out and said it. Shinnosuke leaves, much to the protestation of Kiriko, because he has something he needs to do.

We get to see some of the police unit again, and will their wacky personalities ever get old? Yes. Yes, I imagine they will. Quite quickly, even. 

The villains are what's really interesting about this episode, though, and we get to see another one as Heart meets up with his boyfriend comrade, Brain. They take the time to establish what each other's defining character traits are in awkward 'as you well know' style conversations that are really only lightened up by both the opportunity to marvel at Brain's overwhelmingly inefficient way of getting information - seriously, why hijack someone else's tablet, you're a cyborg monster, just steal a tablet - and the fact that Heart and Brain look at each other like they just stepped out of a BL film called Love in the Density Shift. 

This isn't a particularly romantic cafe, but all of the other patrons we
see there are couples.

After a heartwarming speech with his former partner - who isn't dead, it turns out, just injured - Shinnosuke realises something: The moment where he does is a little weird, because while it's clearly just meant to be a 'detective putting things together' visual, it makes it look like he's some kind of Mycroft Holmes living supercomputer. Maybe he's meant to be, but if he is, that's not really been adequately demonstrated so far, because while we've seen him make some logical inductions from evidence, it's not quite 'I get computer-y effects and floating pictures of evidence when I think about things' level of induction. If that makes sense.

What he's realised, we learn as he tells the other police officers, is that the 'victims' are really people who Roimyude 029 was going to steal the physical features of, but passed over because they're not in peak physical health, and that the red colour was just a mark of that. In which case, why bother marking them? Is it so other Roimyude won't try to steal their physical features? Why bother turning them completely red - and we know 029 is obsessed with doing so, because he even summoned distraction mooks to try to keep Shinnosuke busy until he was done - when you could just mark their faces? 

Anyway, after a montage 029 is tracked to an abandoned amusement park, where his victims who weren't enreddened are tied up. 029 doesn't really care about them, he's already gotten what he needed, and to prove it, he now has a new monster form, too ... because ... Hang on, why? This hasn't been explained at all. 

Also, a new female form that s/he seems very proud of.

Heart and Brain apparently take this as their cue to transform too, with Brain taking my advice and just stealing a tablet. Again, why? It's apparently to say hello to 029, but that seems a bit flimsy. You could do that any time, guys, you don't need to be monsters for it. 

We get a car chase that is far, far too long, and a fight scene that's a bit more tolerable. I do like Shinnosuke's pre-fight remarks on how 029 is clearly an uncultured rube who doesn't know how to talk to women, though. It's all very Spiderman. Anyway, we get to see a new if rather uninspiring tire-sash form (this time with a weapon) before 029 meets his demise. 

- I have literally just realised that Heart and Brain's monster forms are designed after the body parts they're named after. They're disappointed at 029's death, and are joined by Chase, who's clearly going to be a fan favourite just from these ten seconds. 

Kouta Kazuraba levels of aggressively tiny.

Also, a woman has accidentally stepped into an episode of Garo. As is wont to happen.

I didn't enjoy this episode as much as the first one, to be honest. It felt slower to the point where it almost felt like the epitome of the 'slavish devotion to a format' problem that plagued OOO and Wizard, and I was left wondering not just whether this storyline could have been compressed into one episode, but as to whether anything that happened in this episode, bar maybe Shinnosuke's visit to his partner, was really necessary at all.

Next week, we look to get a proper look at Chase, which should be good. I like Shinnosuke and Kiriko, but it already seems very likely that this is going to be a show where the villains are more fun to watch than the heroes. 

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