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Wednesday, 29 April 2015

Kamen Rider Drive E27: What is Gou Shijima's Reason To Fight?

Kamen Rider Drive
Episode 27
What is Gou Shijima's Reason To Fight?

Maybe it's because I'm exhausted and struggling to focus, but this episode didn't make nearly as much of an impression as it probably should have, so this might be a slightly shorter review than usual.

In this episode, a Roimyude begins experimenting on members of newly built neighbourhoods, amplifying their negative emotions. Appealed to by the sister of a missing man and bitter over the group's acceptance of Chase, Gou investigates. Meanwhile, Chase enlists Kiriko's help in restoring his memories, and Shinnosuke is suspended from duty after attacking the police force's new specialist consultant - Brain.

A not insignificant part of this episode functions as a toy advertisement for the new RideBoosters, with both Gou and Chase using them in battle this week. Which is fine by me: The toyetic elements of Kamen Rider have never been incredibly subtle, but Toei executives have to put food on the table somehow, one supposes. 

They have families to feed with Bandai's money.

(It adds a little spice to the fight sequences, too, which are actually pretty fun in this episode, and don't feel too long. It helps that there's only one real fight sequence instead of the usual two - Brain vs Shinnosuke is too short and too dialogue heavy to really count - with a lot more time being focused on plot.)

There's a heavy focus on Gou's hatred of Chase, and his mounting bitterness at everyone around him, and I can't help but wonder if the show is setting him up to become a villain, at least temporarily. The show seems to be piling on reasons why he might go off the rails, so to speak, including bitterness over Shinnosuke getting all the upgrades, a feeling of being abandoned and unwanted, and mounting resentment over Chase. There's a scene in this episode that throws up all kinds of villain flags, where Gou attacks Chase while completely ignoring the Roimyude he actually came to defeat, the one who's actually causing harm, and that - doesn't say good things about either Gou's current state of mind or his remaining part of the heroes.

(Also a massive warning sign: Attempting to attack an untransformed Chase.)

I'm just going to come out and say it: If Gou does turn evil, it will be Shinnosuke, Kiriko, and Krim's fault. The show might never acknowledge that, but the fact that it took them this long for any of them to show an interest in why Gou is acting the way he does, and that Kiriko still doesn't seem to give two hoots about him (I'm not referring to her slapping him in this episode, I think that given that Gou was getting very physically aggressive with her, she was well within her rights - but I am talking about how she immediately goes and starts helping Chase out instead), is absolutely damning, and it feels very much like it puts the lie to the idea of our heroes being caring, attentive people.

I didn't photoshop this, by the way.

The answer to why Gou is so dead set on destroying every Roimyude is, apparently, to do with the fact that his father is Professor Banno, Krim's old friend and the creator of the Roimyudes. Judging by Gou's rather vague flashbacks, Banno is pure dark nasty evil rather than just having accidentally created murderous AIs, and Gou makes reference to 'running out of time'. The way I see it, there are three options here: Gou is turning into a Roimyude because of something Banno did to him, which would tie in with the idea of humans fusing with Roimyudes; Banno is turning into a Roimyude; or either Gou or Banno or both are dying.

This also raises the question of whether Kiriko knows, and whether she and Gou share a father, or actually have different fathers - or different biological parents entirely, as Gou might well be adopted. As the title helpfully reminds us, 'Banno' is not Kiriko or Gou's surname, after all, and Kiriko has never hinted that she's even remotely aware of any kind of connection to Banno.

Ah, well, at least Brain is happy.

It's certainly a plot twist I didn't expect, but that doesn't necessarily mean it's a good one. Foreshadowed better it might have been, but there has been nothing to suggest that Gou had ever met Professor Banno, let alone that they share any relation, and that seems like poor writing.

From the looks of it, we'll be getting more information next episode, including a flashback to what Gou was doing during the Global Freeze. I am looking forward to that, and of the two big plot twists that we've got lately - both father-related, I see what you're doing there - I think this one is the better of the two by a long shot.

But god, am I getting weary of Gou. I used to like him, but it feels like he's become more and more intolerable as time goes on.

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