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Tuesday, 14 April 2015

Kamen Rider Drive E25: Why Has A New Battle Begun?

Kamen Rider Drive
Episode 25
Why Has A New Battle Begun?

Guys, guys, guys. Good news: I liked this episode. It wasn't perfect, by any means, but I genuinely enjoyed it and I think it had plot developments that could blossom into some really interesting stuff.

But first, the bingo as it stood at the end of last week:

In this episode, a Roimyude utilises a new form of evolution, fusing with a violent criminal to become a powerful and volatile evolved Roimyude. As Shinnosuke becomes increasingly disenfranchised with his secret identity, and the Special Crimes Unit comes under pressure from their superiors, he must deal with the new Sword Roimyude's vendetta against his old partner, Hayase. Meanwhile, Kiriko is distracted by thoughts of Chase and his escape. 

My biggest gripe with this episode is that, much like Gou's dissatisfaction in the last two episodes, Shinnosuke's desire to tell the others his secret has come from nowhere. We've never seen so much as a hint before that Shinnosuke wants to tell people that he's Drive, and while the 'the police force thinks the Special Crimes Unit is ridiculous' subplot has been simmering in the background for a while, it's never been Shinnosuke's plot: It's always been Gen's, and while he gets a little bit of payoff in this episode, he's by and large not a major figure in this plotline.

It's odd, too, because there have been opportunities to show Shinnosuke wanting to tell his fellow officers, and feeling increasingly distanced and isolated because he can't. During the Gen-Judge arc, a comparison could have easily been drawn, in conversation with Krim or Kiriko, or even between Shin and Gen regarding the Kamen Riders, between Shinnosuke's vigilante justice, Gen's old school policing, and Judge's vigilantism - we could even have had Shinnosuke openly consider telling Gen, only to decide not to because he felt that Drive was incompatible with Gen's policing style. During the Kyu arc, we could easily have had Shinnosuke remark on how he wants to tell Kyu, and how he thinks Kyu would understand - only to then decide not to because Kyu's Roimyude wanted him to say that Drive had killed him.

Chase, what are you even doing.

Not to mention that with Kiriko having had her mind on other things lately, and Gou dealing with his own problems, it would have been a prime opportunity for Shinnosuke to start feeling increasingly isolated, as his avenues for people to talk to start to close up.

But instead, Shinnosuke's feelings are dropped in out of nowhere. And that's not great.

(I don't actually feel the same about the reveal that the Chief was in on the secret all along. That also wasn't foreshadowed, but I don't think it really needed to be: The Chief has always been a rather odd, enigmatic character, and we don't spend nearly as much time with him as we do with Shinnosuke, so I'm actually fine with that reveal not having been signposted before this.)

Sword has a nice design, actually.

Apart from that, though? I was pretty psyched by this episode. Between Chase having pretty much entirely become good now, the Special Crimes Unit and the entire world now knowing that Shinnosuke is Drive, and Roimyude 001 having entered the fray, this feels like an episode on which the plot turns and heads off in a new direction, and that's something that I think Drive direly needs. 

Not to mention that it was just a fun episode: Sword makes a much more convincing villain than a lot of the Roimyudes-of-the-fortnight, with our sub-villain in the form of an Evil Police Bureaucrat being delightfully irritating; seeing Hayase again is nice; and the action scenes were well-paced, not too long and fun to watch.

Hello there, probable final boss.

There was also an interesting moment where Krim makes a remark about whether or not they can trust the sample Kiriko brought them - that might just be meant as a nod to them not knowing its origin, but given how suspicious Kiriko has been acting, it came off as Krim not trusting her any more, and I think that has potential as far as character conflict goes: How will Krim react when Chase's survival is revealed to the rest of the cast? We can bet that Gou won't react well, but Krim is a bit more difficult to figure out.

Anyway, since there's actually been some movement on the bingo, let's have a glance over at the updated version:

Well, I can tell you now that the next episode will see that last square crossed off, since it's apparently about Chase, and will see him utilising the spare Mach Driver to become Kamen Rider Chaser. While I am looking forward to that, I'm still moderately bitter that Kiriko and Hayase (especially Kiriko) aren't riders, and at this point I think what I'm really hoping for is that this series just has all the riders, and has Kiriko become one later in the series.

I'm not holding out too much hope, though, because frankly the series' treatment of Kiriko has been dire. 

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