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Monday, 2 February 2015

Kamen Rider Drive E16: Why Is Rinna Sawagami Fidgeting?

Kamen Rider Drive 
Episode 16: 
Why Is Rinna Sawagami Fidgeting?

Ugh, I did not get enough sleep to be coherently rambling about car-people and robots and police officers. Let me go swallow a mug of tea, and in the meantime, here's the bingo as it stood last week:

Okay, I'm back.

So, the big question for this episode was whether I'd actually continue my streak of enjoying Drive. I wasn't overly pleased with Chase being re-brainwashed last episode, and the preview did not exactly do a sterling job of selling me on this episode. It looked interesting, especially the focus on Rinna, who I think is sorely under-utilised, but not necessarily exciting fare.

This episode sees our intrepid band of police officers tracking a Roimyude con-man who has been draining women's bank accounts, taking out loans in their names, and then leaving them comatose. It isn't long before they discover that he's using his matchmaking venue to do this, and set out to trap him and make him reveal his true colours. Meanwhile, Chase and Heart have teamed up to take down Shinnosuke, much to Brain's concern and alarm.

I did actually really enjoy this episode, although it left a slightly sour taste in my mouth. The whole 'heh heh women all want to get married, amirite? And because of it, they get taken control of by a monster and give him all their money!' vibe that underscored the plot made me distinctly uncomfortable, and it wasn't helped by the fact that we also had Shinnosuke and Gou pointing out that Kiriko isn't a Kamen Rider (because I'm still bitter over that), and Gou bragging that Kiriko wasn't easily tricked because she was a Kamen Rider's sister (although I'll give that one a pass, because making someone else's achievements all about himself is exactly the kind of thing Gou would do). 

I wasn't gigantically keen on the Chase and Heart subplot, either. I'm bored of Chase at this point - deeply, truly bored, and the return of the We're Going To Keep Telling You That Heart Is Strong But Keep Having Shinnosuke On A Roughly Equal Footing With Him Thing wasn't really to my taste either. 

In other news, everyone looks very stylish in this episode.

(In general, having their villains be threatening is something the Drive staff seem to struggle with, and there's a moment in this episode that perfectly sums that up: After the last episode went to great lengths to show re-brainwashed!Chase as a brutal, unstoppable juggernaut, this episode has him laid low by Deco Traveller making his surroundings colourful and decorative. It was a funny-ish joke, to be sure, but it feels kind of at odds with us taking him seriously as a threat.)

But there was a lot I liked about this episode. I always like when Drive has a heavy focus on police work, and this episode might have had the heaviest emphasis on police work and investigation of any episode so far, even if a lot of it did seem like an excuse to get the characters into formal wear (which is a noble enough goal, one supposes, and everyone looks very good in their formal attire). Shinnosuke's character in particular is at his most engaging when he's getting to be police-officer-y at a suitably smug suspect, and Takeuchi Ryoma is very good at using slight shifts in body language and expression to make Shinnosuke seem suitably intimidating. It's very engaging to watch.

And yet, when not in motion he just looks like a sad puppy.

I also liked that the show is taking steps to keep Kiriko useful, giving her special ammunition and boots to allow her to fight Roimyudes. They're put to good use in this episode, with her having a fight scene against the Roimyude of the week, but I'm a shade worried that they'll forget about this equipment after this episode. We'll have to see, I suppose.

The action was surprisingly strong, too, with the dubious exception of how Chase was taken out (and the less dubious exception of him being involved in a fight at all). As I've noted before, I'm usually not at all keen on Drive's action scenes usually, but they were fine in this episode. I liked them. They felt well-paced and well-choreographed. 

I also do really like Dead Heat's design. I know a lot of people hate it, but I think the colours work really well together.


While I was excited about a Rinna focused episode, we didn't really get much focus on her. That's not necessarily a problem - she'll most likely have more attention put on her in next week's episode, when this arc will be concluding - but it does have a slight whiff of 'we had too many plots for this episode', and a few more minutes spent exploring Rinna's anxiety might have been appreciated. That's a minor quibble, though, if I'm being entirely honest. Certainly, it didn't hugely detract from the episode.

So all in all, I enjoyed this episode. It's a weird feeling, having enjoyed so many episodes in a row. Anyway, here's the updated bingo:

I crossed out an extra square in last week's colour, as I didn't realise that not one but two previous toku actors had appeared in guest roles.

Next week, we'll be getting the thrilling conclusion to this plot line, and discovering who the mysterious man from Rinna's past is. Early betting: He died during the Global Freeze. Oh, and we'll get Mach Dead Heat, too, who is identical to Drive Dead Heat. 

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