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Tuesday, 21 October 2014

Kamen Rider Drive E3: Who Stole Her Smile?

If you're wondering why this is up fairly late, the answer is 'hurricane'.

Kamen Rider Drive
Episode 3
Who Stole Her Smile?

I should do a Kamen Rider bingo for Kamen Rider Drive. That's been fun to fill out for Doctor Who, after all. Okay, aspiration for next week: Kamen Rider Bingo. It's fitting, because in this episode we got a luck-themed giant tire sash.

As this episode begins, we're told immediately that there's a new Roimyude (Roidmude? I saw it romanised as Roimyude first and I'm stubbornly stuck in my ways, but Roidmude, which is what Over-Time uses, is almost certainly the correct way of writing it), and this one kidnaps young girls. How extremely creepy. 

We get a lot of exposition in the few minutes afterwards, some of it unsubtly worked into the story, as Shinnosuke and Kiriko discuss previously discussed plot points like Shinnosuke's medical condition that he should really see a doctor about, and how the Roimyude called him a Kamen Rider, and some of it literally just given to us in lazy voiceover narration, so that's - that's great, guys. You keep on keeping on giving us exposition on what's already happened in the third episode. 

It continues smoothly on to - exposition about what's going on in this episode, as the characters spend two minutes what could have been exposited at us in one. This is an incredibly exposition heavy episode so far (I say, a quarter of it in), and the only real plus is that we get Kyu, their computer guy, being a representative for all of us as he is told to go post his theories on his beloved internet. Fine, then, Lt. Gen. Maybe we will. 

After a quick discussion about how the sparkly white shift car Kiriko reacted poorly to earlier is working a case of relevance to her, we meet an artist, Asaya Kazuhiro. He's flamboyantly dressed, drops French words into his speech, and he commits assault against Kiriko (yes, grabbing and rubbing someone's arm and then pulling them along without their permission is legally assault) within twenty seconds of meeting her. He is obviously the villain of the story arc, even moreso since he has a bunch of paintings of young women.

I have no idea why they don't just literally murder him in the face here. Due process, I suppose.

Or at the very least, arrest him for common assault.

We also meet his assistant, who is also obviously a villain. Once they leave, they're attacked by a Roimyude, who has an ability far scarier than the last one we saw: He causes people to start dissolving into coloured strands. That is genuinely pretty creepy. They did well there. We also find out that Kiriko was attacked by a similar Roimyude. 

To continue being honest, this episode, like last episode, isn't doing much for me. I feel more bored than anything, despite liking the characters. We'll see how it goes, but contrast this episode with a W episode: In W episodes, even the very early ones, Shotaro, Philip and Akiko were always being put in situations which strained them, and encountering colourful characters that produced very strong reactions. It meant that even episodes which aren't plot relevant had a certain energy to them. 

This episode feels like a rather pale imitation of that, despite having the same writer. Shinnosuke and Kiriko should be in a situation which strain them, because Kiriko has a personal connection to it, and they should be encountering colourful characters that produce strong reactions, because Asaya is clearly meant to be that kind of bombastic, rather creepy character. But nothing is happening: Shinnosuke and Kiriko are just drifting through this episode, and Asaya feels like the attempt at a colourful character by someone who has never actually encountered other human beings. It all falls a bit flat.

Anyway, as the episode enters its second half we get a merciful break from those two to see Chase executing a wayward Roimyude. He has a very Rider-ish transformation sequence. Back to Shinnosuke and Kiriko, we get more exposition and then an argument that, again, just falls flat. I want to see more from these characters, and instead everything they're doing in this episode feels very watered down.

We do also get a flashback for Kiriko, though, which is great! It's atmospheric, it shows rather than tells, we get to see an emotional reaction from her that seems sincere and well-acted, and we get a better look at the previous Drive, termed Proto-Drive by Mr. Belt. Specifically, we get to see that he's black and purple, and from the looks of it substantially shorter than Shinnosuke. 

Not that you can tell in this picture.

You all know the theory I'm going to propose, but I'll wait until the end.

Kiriko walks into an obvious trap on her own - and that would feel like a less out of character move if the argument earlier had not been so very lacklustre - and ends up discovering at roughly the same time as Shinnosuke that the women are in the paintings, thus making both of them slower than the entire audience. 

I feel like this location has been used in Kamen Rider befo - what am I saying, of course it has.

The architect of the trap, the artist's assistant, quickly reveals himself to be, predictably, a Roimyude, but Shinnosuke shows up in time to stop him sketchbook-ifying Kiriko. A fight scene ensues that is luckily nowhere near as long as the ones in previous episodes, and include looks at a cement mixer tire and a monster truck tire, before the assistant is killed. While the sketchbooked women are released, the painted ones remain imprisoned, because, you know. The painting Roimyude that you literally saw earlier is still alive. I don't know why Shinnosuke and Kiriko are confused by this one, even if they do get over it after about eleven seconds.

Machine Chaser shows up, and we get a proper look at his extremely Drive-like transformation sequence. Mr. Belt seems to recognise him too.

At this point, I'd say it's stunningly obvious that Chase is meant to be Proto-Drive, brainwashed and possibly cyborg-ised into Machine Chaser. They share a colour scheme, Mr. Belt recognises him, and his powers are Rider-esque in nature. With our second rider, Kamen Rider Mach, coming soon, the big question for me is whether we're going to see Chase regaining his memories and becoming Mach, or whether it'll be somebody completely different (please be Kiriko, please be Kiriko). 

Next week, we apparently have Asaya giving the police the runaround, which should be interesting. 

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