Kamen Rider Drive
Who Will Win The Dead Heat?
You know, I've warmed to the Episode 16 a little in the time between writing the review for it and writing this one. Most of what I said still stands, I think, but it does have a really interesting Roimyude design, and several visually striking moments (especially between the villains), which bumps it up a little in my estimation. Not that I didn't enjoy it even at the time, to be fair.
Anyway, let's take a glance at the bingo as it stood last week:
This episode concludes the arc, as the team attempt to track down the woman-controlling Roimyude Voice, who seems to have brainwashed Rinna by appearing as somebody from her past. Meanwhile, Professor Harley, Krim's mentor, has arrived from America to tune the Dead Heat shift car; and the tensions between the Roimyude leaders continue to build.
I did actually really enjoy this episode. It reminded me a lot of some of the episodes in W, where they shifted focus off the main characters and onto one of the wider cast, establishing details about their lives and usually giving them a chance to show off a particular skill of theirs. Rinna's treated a lot better in this episode than she was in the last, managing to give the team the slip in order to pursue her own agenda of affirming the safety of and freeing an ex-boyfriend, and through careful planning and gumption does manage to almost succeed.
('Almost', in this instance, meaning 'would have if she hadn't been betrayed'.)
Kiriko, too, gets to have moments in the spotlight, knocking Gou out of his Dead Heat berserker state and fending off Voice. It's not a lot, but I'll take what I can get at this point, since the show so chronically under-uses her.
|You okay there, Shinnosuke?|
This definitely isn't the strongest arc-conclusion I've seen: The plot twist near the end can be seen coming a mile off, just to start, to the point where I wasn't even sure it was meant to be a plot twist at first. Voice is a genuinely scary villain, though - he doesn't quite manage to match Volt for sheer personal creepiness, but his tendency to use women as human shields (and, at one point, suicide bombers, which was a fairly dark moment even if none of them managed it) means that his actual actions might be the most reprehensible and scary of any Roimyude in the series so far. As mentioned before, he also has a very nice design. Which helps.
(Apart from Voice, the villain side of the storyline is a little strange this week. Heart and Chase's interactions were very good, and we got some exposition about Chase from Medic, but Brain's brief appearance was very bizarre. He's always had a tendency to throw tantrums - it's on the bingo and already crossed off for a reason - but this episode pushed it into strange, comedic territories, and that felt like the wrong move for him.)
|Are you okay there, Brain?|
There wasn't as much of the police investigation stuff this week, with more of a focus being on Kamen Rider-ing, but I'm actually okay with that. There was enough investigation to keep me satisfied, and by and large, the Rider-ing was pretty fun. The action scenes didn't wear out their welcome like they sometimes do, we got a nice double henshin, and Mach Dead Heat was actually very cool to watch. Oh, and we got to see a Rider Kick from Chase. That was nice. I approved of that.
Probably the oddest part of this episode, though, was Professor Harley. We've heard about him before, but his arrival wasn't really foreshadowed at all: This very large, loud biker dude just arrives in the Pit, and then at the end of the episode he suddenly saves the day while dramatically yelling out phrases in two different languages. And then he's gone. He leaves at the end of the episode, quite possibly never to return, after having about five minutes of screen time, leaving me just blinking at the screen and going 'What just ... happened ...'
|Who ... are ...|
It would be different if the show gave his arrival any kind of ceremony, but it doesn't. He's just there, and then he isn't, and the show acts like this is entirely normal and you should just roll with it. He's certainly a fun character, and his bombast was much appreciated, but I found myself confused and alarmed by the whole thing.
Okay, let's look at the updated bingo:
Filling up fast.
Next week, we're seemingly getting the start of Gen's focus arc, as he pursues an old foe who has set up a website where people can pay for revenge attacks on those who wronged them. Intriguing. I'm hoping will lead to him finding out that Shinnosuke is Drive, and then joining the team. That's kind of where the whole secret identity thing is heading, I think: Everyone in the unit eventually discovering the truth.
I like Gen, so I'll be looking forward to that particular arc. Hopefully they'll do something a little more interesting with Chase, too.