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Monday, 8 December 2014

Kamen Rider Drive E9: How Can I Use The Cool Body?

Kamen Rider Drive
Episode 9: How Can I Use The Cool Body?

Right. A new week, a new episode for me to try to be positive over. I think it's important to note, at least, that despite my criticising Drive a fair bit, I don't hate it. It's not Go-Busters, which I literally could not watch because it made me feel like a shrivelling up from the inside out and dying. It's not Ryukendo. I enjoy it, but I do so while realising that there's a bit of a stench of missed potential.

Anyway, here's last week's bingo:

Onto today's episode! 

This is a rare beast in neo-heisei Kamen Rider: A standalone episode. Not part of a two episode arc like in most series, not a cog in an extended serial format like Gaim, just an episode that, apart from a plot hook at the end, mostly exists on its own.

For the most part, that works out pretty well. Pacing has been a big issue in Drive, but this episode is paced pretty well, even if it probably could use with shorter fight scenes and more focus on the Shinnosuke-wants-to-be-cool B-plot, because that's where most of the best moments come in this episode.

Oh, and we get a necktire form.

In this episode, Shinnosuke has received a shift car for a new body type, Type Technic. However, while Type Wild required him to passionate, Type Technic requires him to be in a clear, cool state of mind. After several failed attempts to be cool, Shinnosuke buys a book to help him learn. Meanwhile, Volt, a Roimyude scientist, has been starting fires as a side effect of building a strange machine to manipulate electricity within the city.

Let's start on the A-plot. It is a perfectly serviceable plot that fits well within a single episode and wouldn't have needed to be two episodes. Volt actually gets a scene where he comes across as the most sinister villain in Drive so far, as he threatens a child in a scrapyard, with the actor putting on an excellent performance that is both manic and strangely calm. We get detective work, we get Shinnosuke being adorable with a child, we get a good villain that had plenty of personality. Type Technic's debut was atmospheric (if not really earned - we'll get to that) and handled very well.

This week's Drive includes Doc Brown on meth.

The only real issue with the A-plot is the length of the fight scenes. This is a recurring problem in Drive, and just in general they need to make their fight scenes a lot, lot shorter. But that was really my only issue with it. The Bad CGI portion of the battle was brief and fun to watch, and the rest of it had a good pace and some interplay of interesting abilities, like Volt's electricity generation. The Door Gun is falling a little flat as a weapon to me, because the CGI/special effects involved fail to give it any sense of force, but that's a minor quibble.

(We did get some out of suit fighting, though, from both Shinnosuke and Kiriko, and that's always good to have.)

It's the B-plot that becomes a bit of an issue, mostly because of how much time is given to it, which is not a lot. It's actually a really fun B-plot, and the idea of Shinnosuke attempting to be cool, especially by following a set of tips in a hack book, is ripe with comedic potential. However, we only get about two short scenes focusing on it, and that feels like a massive waste. It also makes Type Technic's debut feel like it wasn't really earned: Shinnosuke didn't go through any kind of arc where he learned to accept his own natural coolness (because he is a really cool guy), he just gets angry, and that clears his head, and suddenly he can use Type Technic without difficulty. It makes the B-plot feel like cheap, throwaway scenes, and they had the potential to be much more than that.

Shinnosuke confuses 'cool' with 'flirty.'

So as a whole, while it's all good, and while I definitely approve of the use of a standalone episode, there's some wasted potential here. I would have had Type Technic's debut be utilised in a two-parter, with a slightly more complicated A-plot and a much heavier focus on the episode's B-plot of 'Shinnosuke is an awkward puppy and needs to be cool'. Either that, or a two-parter in which each episode's A-plot functionally works like a standalone episode, with each having different monsters of the week, with the B-plot being carried between the two episodes. 

Still, I enjoyed this episode, and the next one looks like it'll be interesting, with Heart engaging Shinnosuke in battle for the first time, and some revelations about Kiriko and Mr. Belt. I'm looking forward to that.

Now, for this week's updated bingo.

Filling up nicely, I see. 

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