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Monday, 19 January 2015

Kamen Rider Drive E14: Who Is The Black Shadow Chasing Her?

Kamen Rider Drive
Episode 14
Who Is The Black Shadow Chasing Her?

I'm not sure how to start this one, so let's head straight to a look at the bingo as it stood at the end of last week's bingotastic episode:

Doing good.

In this episode, Chase begins to have some manner of nervous breakdown, pursuing Kiriko while hearing voices, much to the alarm of Gou. Meanwhile, an actress has found herself being stalked by a Roimyude, requiring that Shinnosuke and the Special Unit guard her and root out the stalker.

I actually really enjoyed this episode. It's weird, this is the second episode in a row that I've really liked. It's not Gaim quality, but it would have certainly served as a very solid episode of Wizard, or an okay-ish episode of OOO, Double or Fourze. I realise that might not be a sterling recommendation, but when you consider that despite my best efforts to muster enthusiasm for this series, I have found myself consistently bored stiff, this does represent a pretty marked increase in quality.

(The plot in this episode is very reminiscent of Double or Fourze, too, involving a bait-and-switch-confused-identities situation in which a hunt for one Roimyude turns out to be a hunt for two: One stalking the victim-of-the-fortnight and one protecting her, who she seemingly recognises. Obviously, the latter is meant to parallel Kiriko's dynamic with Chase, as he's both her enemy and somewhat her protector, and I'm okay with that. Everyone loves some good parallels.)

People also love symbolism.

One thing I would call the episode out on, though, are the rather odd mood shifts in the opening few minutes. The episode starts with quite a dark, brooding mood, managing to quite effectively establish the threat of both the stalker Roimyude and Chase. It then switches very suddenly to comedy, and the change is a more than a touch jarring, especially as that ominous mood never really returns.

I do appreciate that this episode is somewhat more comedic than previous episodes, though. I know a few people weren't keen, finding the humour over-the-top and clunky, but I hold that Drive does comedy better than it does action or drama, and there's naught wrong with a more comedic Kamen Rider series. 

I especially enjoyed Gou in this episode. Having played him fairly straight (mostly) in his first two episode, the show is now eagerly satirising him, having his lengthy roll call be interrupted, used as an opening for a Roimyude to get away, and skipped altogether. 

I'm also liking Medic, although I want to see something more from her. At the moment, she's kind of sinister but ineffectual - this episode showed some hints of her as a manipulator, using Brain, Chase and Heart to achieve what she personally wants, but it's a mystery as to whether the show will build on that at all. I really hope they do, but I'm also extremely aware that this is from the team that gave us 'We don't want more than one female Kyoryuger because it would be unrealistic for more than one woman to beat up a dinosaur/because this is aimed at boys and we want it to be a macho series', so I'm not optimistic.

Ah, well, here's Shinnosuke.

Speaking of things I'm not usually optimistic about, the action sequences in this episode are good, for the most part. They're not amazing - we're not talking Shinkenger level fight choreography here - but they're enjoyable to watch, even if one of them does involve a battle between a terrible CGI bat-car and an equally terrible CGI combining-motorbike-buggy. I don't generally find Kamen Rider's short CGI sequences all that obnoxious, but I'm not going to pretend they're particularly well done, either.

The PS1 called.

The plot twist towards the end is - not really a plot twist, I think literally everyone watching knew that that was coming, but it was very dramatically pulled off, and I'm very glad they finally got around to doing it. While this stage in Chase's character arc feels rather poorly paced, as he hasn't shown any signs of hearing voices, suffering headaches, et cetera, in the last two episodes (seriously, all it would have taken is a thirty second scene), I am just very relieved that they're finally moving towards him not constantly fighting Shinnosuke anymore. It got wearying and same-y weeks ago. 

I'm looking forward to the next episode, especially since the concluding episode of an arc is always better than the one that starts it. It looks like we'll be seeing a few more of Brain and Medic's powers, including brainwashing Chase, something which I can't imagine Heart will approve of. 

In the meantime, though, here's the updated bingo:

If you're wondering why I filled in that last space, it's that with this episode's plot twist it is revealed that it probably should have been filled in months ago: After all, Kiriko has seen Chase in his human form many times now without recognising that he's Proto-Drive. 

Also, stick a fork in this bingo, because it's done. Time for me to make a new one. With a bonus section.

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