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Thursday, 9 July 2015

Kamen Rider Drive E36: Where Will The Bullet Guide Justice?

Hey, guys. I have even more Let's Plays up! Here's Dishonored [P3] Inconceivable! and Valkyria Chronicles [P22] Invincible. The title similarity was, er - that wasn't intentional.

Kamen Rider Drive
Episode 36
Where Will The Bullet Guide Justice?

You know, in general, I think this three-parter has been some of the best work that Drive has done. Not always, admittedly: The last episode, the kind of awkward middle part to this trilogy, was certainly not a stellar one, and this most recent episode has its share of problems - but it's all nevertheless very strong when taken as a whole.

Picking up directly from the cliffhanger at the end of episode thirty-five, this episode sees Shinnosuke trapped in the Special Crime Unit's office with an armed and dangerous Nira. Informed by Brain that Yukari, the girl his father saved on the day he died, will die from a deadly neurotoxin in forty minutes, Shinnosuke is left to deal with Nira's needling attempts to make him forget his ideals. Meanwhile, Heart attacks Gou, seeking the return of Professor Banno. 

This episode really makes it clear how much of a dull villain 001 was. Because sure, Brain and Nira may be giggling clowns half the time, and they might gnaw on the scenery constantly (Nira especially, who in this episode is about twenty percent more hammy than he is usually, with the actor apparently deciding that for this episode he was going to mug like no actor has ever mugged before), but that at least makes them memorable, and there's a sense of real malice and malevolence from them. 001, in contrast, I am already forgetting about three episodes after he died, and that's partly because he was always a very workaday villain - we knew he was malevolent because we were told as much, but if you had told me that he was actually a kindly greengrocer going about his daily business or something equally benign and pleasant, there would have been nothing in his performance to convince me that this wasn't the case. He was bland to the extreme.

Their villain partnership summed up.

Brain and Nira are much more interesting villains, though, and perhaps as a consequence of that they feel like a more genuine threat to the heroes. Even at his most clown-y, Nira feels sinister and threatening, not least because in this episode he's always armed with a deadly weapon. Similarly, when Nira is brought down by his own fatal flaw of obsession, it feels like a totally logical route for his character, one that's consistent with everything we've seen of his character so far. I don't imagine that Nira will show up again - this episode seems to quite definitively cap off his storyline - but he's had a good run as one of the better villains in the show.

What this episode could have really used, though, is some sense of actual conflict. Because Shinnosuke's great internal conflict over whether to compromise his ideals isn't actually a conflict: It's not a case of 'shoot Nira in the face or Yukari dies', or even 'shoot Nira and survive', it's a case of 'Yukari's going to die, you are going to die (because if Nira doesn't kill you, Brain will come in with a small mob of Roimyudes or possibly police officers and kill you), and this man is needling you to shoot him entirely by saying mean things.' There's no sense here that Shinnosuke is in an impossible position, because he's not being forced into making any kind of choice, he's just being tempted to do something objectively wrong. 

That would work if they'd built up a 'Shinnosuke going to the dark side' arc over the entire series, and this episode was the culmination of that, but they haven't: We've gotten some lip service paid to Shinnosuke going a little bit wacky when his father's death is involved, but nothing that suggests that it'd actually prompt him to kill a human being, which makes this whole thing feel kind of forced. Which is a shame, because more preparation, more character development, or even just more thought put into the episode's scenario could have mitigated or removed this problem entirely.

(It would also have given Kiriko more to do, since she could have acted as his anchor to morality, thus making her imprisonment more impactful.)

But apart from that, I liked this episode. Seeing more of Banno was nice (I can't decide if he seems sinister or not), and the action scenes we had were short, sweet, and fun to watch. We got a triple henshin in this episode too, which I think everybody has been at least somewhat waiting for since Chase became a rider. It wasn't really worth the wait, to be honest, seeing as it happened with virtually no ceremony, but it was nice to see nevertheless.

C'mon, guys, at least line up.

In the next episode, we're apparently getting three more Roimyude Executives - my presumption is that these are the Roimyude Executives overseeing operations in other countries, since we know that there are Roimyude outside of Japan. They're apparently 004, 006 and 008, which just leaves 005 still to be seen, I think (since Heart and Brain are 002 and 003 respectively, Medic is 009, and Sword was 007). 

Neat. Looking forward to that. 

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