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Tuesday, 26 May 2015

Kamen Rider Drive E31: Why Did The Precious Memories Disappear?

Kamen Rider Drive
Episode 31
Why Did The Precious Memories Disappear?

So, the title of the next Kamen Rider series has just come to light, and much to our chagrin it's not anything to do with fashion, despite a hoax earlier in the week suggesting it was. Instead, it's Kamen Rider Ghost, which could suggest any number of things: A horror theme (although Kiva wasn't that long ago), a ninja theme (very unlikely, given Ninniger), a spy theme (also not likely), or any one of a dozen other options. It's a fairly generic name.

(There's still hope, though: Maybe it's a fashionable ghost.) 

News of the next series has brightened my day, because gosh, I'm exhausted with Drive. Part of that may well be that it's the longest ongoing series of reviews I've ever done - and seems highly likely to remain that way in the future - but a lot of that is just because I think Drive might be the worst Kamen Rider series we've had since before W. 

There's also been some news about the film,depicting a Dark Drive fighting Type Tridoron and Mach; and some news about the series future showing all three riders working together against Brain, which makes me hopeful that we'll soon have the rapidly-getting-boring Evil Gou plot done and dusted. Oh god please let that be so.


Anyway, in this episode, Shinnosuke and the team help out a young man, Tooru, whose father is missing and, worse still, seems to have been entirely forgotten about by Tooru's family, friends and acquaintances. As the case brings Shinnosuke closer to 001, Krim grows more and more distant. 

I said earlier that, in my opinion, Drive is a pretty poor series, and while I stand by that, this episode actually isn't that bad. It's not great, but there's a lot to like about it. 

001, to start, is actually coming into his own as a genuinely creepy villain, with his memory-alteration powers portrayed as truly formidable in a fairly visceral way that they kind of haven't been before. 

Admittedly, the episode kind of shoots this in the foot a little by having Shinnosuke be immune to 001's powers, something which is never really explained bar some guff about a strong will. It would've been a lot more interesting if Shinnosuke emphatically wasn't immune to 001's powers, and the fact that he is kind of saps the fear from the whole situation. 

We also get to see 001's evolved form, an icy goblin type deal who can wield blizzards in battle, something that proves very effective against Shinnosuke. 001 isn't quite shown as the threat in combat that I would have liked him to be - as has always been the case with Heart, he suffers from the show always kind of struggling to write and choreograph truly uneven fight scenes - but he does at least have the honour of being the first monster on the show to defeat Type Formula (I initially wrote that as Type Tridoron, that would've been a mistake), so there is that.

And it looks cool, I guess?

Rather wearying is that this episode has yet another Gou vs Chase fight scene. I don't understand this: Did the writers just see how Gaim's heavy focus on rider battles was well-received, and go 'Let's have that, only with literally a tenth of the riders so that there's no variety at all,' ? It's a baffling choice, and between Gou vs Chase and Shinnosuke vs Chase, we've had this repetitiveness since almost the first episode. It's just so tired by now.

The fight scenes were short and (mostly) fun to watch, though, and we had quite a lot of untransformed action from Shinnosuke, which is nice. There was also a surprising amount of emotional weight both to Krim's hesitation, Shinnosuke's relentless pursuit of 001 (which involves him doing very little detective work, instead having evidence sent to him by a mysterious Mr. X - place your bets now on who that is. My personal bet is on it being 001 himself, Gou, or Brain, although given how eager Brain was to murder Shinnosuke, I think that last is a fairly outside chance), and Tooru's plight of, well, everyone he knows having forgotten his father.

I thought it was interesting that all the Roimyude executives were given emotions associated with them in that episode - Heart with joy, Medic with adoration, Brain with envy, and 001, surprisingly, with humiliation. That's not an emotion you particularly often see associated with villains, at least not in such clear terms.

Nice looking  villain scene, though.

All in all, a good but very far from amazing episode, which is a sentence I find I'm saying a lot about Drive. Enough so that other people have remarked upon it, at least. Next week, we seemingly get 001 achieving the 'Ultimate Evolution' and Shinnosuke dying, which almost certainly means that we're going to get Type Tridoron either next episode or the episode after, because I don't think anybody is labouring under the delusion that Drive is going to permanently kill off its main character thirty-two episodes in.

Ergh. Roughly seventeen more episodes to go, I guess.

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