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Monday, 2 March 2015

Kamen Rider Drive E20: When Did Kyu Saijo Become A Roimyude?

Kamen Rider Drive
Episode 20
When Did Kyu Saijo Become a Roimyude?

I'm a pretty big fan of supporting cast focus episodes, especially in shows like Drive, where you have quite a large supporting cast and a formula that can be easily adapted to place the focus on them. It was something that Double, despite not having nearly as significant a supporting cast, did quite often, and something Fourze could have used more of. So I've been enjoying these past few arcs, as we've focused on Rinna and Gen in turn.

Now it's Kyu's turn and - well, it wasn't my favourite. I didn't hate it, but nor did it particularly hold my attention. 

Let's take a glance at the bingo as it stood last week, and then I'll tell you why:

This episode sees the team tracking down a Roimyude who they swiftly discover is a copy of Kyu Saijo, their computer expert. As they question the two, they realise both that Kyu is protecting the Roimyude, and that the Roimyude has exactly zero interest in harming humans. Meanwhile, Medic has positioned herself as the new 'reaper', working with a pair of half-evolved Roimyudes with intent to purge all but a chosen few.

I think a large part of the issue I had with this episode is that it's pretty much all Kyu, all the time, and while I've been more or less ambivalent about him before, when the spotlight is put on him he's really, really obnoxious. It doesn't help that this isn't an episode focusing on what he provides to the team, or showing a new side to him: Rinna's focus episode told us more about her past, and framed her as someone who's very brave and cunning (they didn't make as much of that as they could have, but there was the attempt) and Gen's focus episode told us more about his past, and framed him as an old-school police officer, embodying an ideal of justice. Kyu's focus episode, meanwhile, is mostly about him being an otaku, and not only did we already know that, it's not really his contribution to the team dynamic.

I'd say I'd just had a nightmare about this, but actually my most recent nightmare
involved hundreds of people drinking whiskey in my house and demanding to know
of any recent travel plans I'd made.

Loathe as I am to say it, this is a story that could have done being spread over two episodes: Having the first establish this relationship between Kyu and his Roimyude, and end with Medic destroying said Roimyude, but preserving his number to be reset, and then the second have the Roimyude show up again, reset and brainwashed, as one of her half-evolved reaper units, and have Kyu reluctantly but determinedly use his computer skills to track it and help the team bring it down - and maybe have him do the whole 'running onto the battlefield and talking to the Roimyude to make it remember its past' schtick.

It's a bit of a cliche plotline, but it would have showed off Kyu's skills, and more importantly, it would have driven in the point that I think this episode was trying and not quite managing to make: That Kyu is a sweet, gentle person who will happily befriend a cyborg monster that would usually try to kill him. It would also give Medic context for her 'purge all but the chosen' plan, because it would show the audience and her that resetting a Roimyude is ineffective, whereas we've never seen that to be the case bar with Chase's first reset, and Medic has never expressed this sentiment before.

I also think that this episode could have used more Kiriko: She's our deuteragonist, after all, and Kyu is just as much her co-worker as he is Shinnosuke's. We get the briefest hint of what Kiriko and Kyu's interactions are like when Kyu laments that she 'never plays along', but then it's never expanded upon or brought up again, and I think that's a shame. They could probably also have done with cutting Gen's 'show up with a fake gun' scene. It added nothing, especially placed in an already very comic relief heavy episode.

Shinnosuke once again confuses 'good cop' and 'slightly tipsy guy hitting on
someone at a bar.'

Apart from that, the episode was fine. Despite from the looks of it being kitbashes ('despite', I absolutely adore kitbash suits on Kamen Rider) made from the unevolved Roimyude suits plus a few extra parts left lying around from previous episodes and series, the two reaper units made surprisingly cool villains, and we got to see Medic's Roimyude form, which appears to be some kind of harlequin type deal. Feel free to tell me I'm an uncultured dolt if I got that one wrong. 

Looks pretty harlequinoid to me, though.

The action scenes were short and sweet, and very fun to watch. I don't have all that many complaints with this episode, it just felt a little lacklustre.

Anyway, let's look at the updated bingo:

Not many spaces to go.

Next week, we apparently are taking a break from supporting cast focused episodes to have a Chase and Medic related plot episode, including Shinnosuke receiving a new form, Type Formula. It's hideous, but it would hardly be the first Kamen Rider upgrade to be ugly as all get out. 

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