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Thursday, 6 August 2015

Kamen Rider Drive E40: Why Did The Two Genius Researchers Clash?


Kamen Rider Drive
Episode 40
Why Did The Two Genius Researchers Clash?



Okay, bear with me, everyone, it's been a day or two since I watched this episode with subs. If it were a less memorable episode, this would no doubt lead to this review consisting entirely of 'I liked the part with the things and also the stuff'', but as it happened, this actually was a pretty memorable episode, and one which did really hammer in that we're entering the final stretch.

In the wake of Banno's betrayal, Gou and Shinnosuke hear from Heart how Banno tortured him as petty revenge on a man who had slighted him, and how his spite led to the evil nature of the Roimyude, who were programmed with only negative emotions. Meanwhile, Tornado is chased by Chase, having kidnapped Kiriko for the purposes of achieving his ultimate evolution. In Banno's hideout, he and 004 prepare to copy Krim's belt.

So, the A-plot of this episode wasn't great, I'll say that: I mentioned last week that Tornado isn't a very compelling villain, and that holds true again this week. But you know what? It's fine. I'm not bothered. He served his purpose - being a silly, over-the-top villain in a ridiculous cowboy hat, with an absurd marriage scheme that comes straight out of a bad dime novel, whose only purpose in life is to be the monster that explodes at the end of the arc, because Kamen Rider must always have a monster exploding at the end of an arc, its writers will literally die if they don't.

Acting.

The real plot for this episode is about Banno and his evil schemes, and Banno is actually a very effective villain. The revelation of his pettiness and sheer spite makes him one of the least likable villains of the franchise - I mean, Micchy is more likable than this guy, because say what you will about the little toerag, if you gave him the opportunity to torture a robot with Kouta's face on it he would probably tell you that you're pathetic and leave you to die in Helheim. Banno has less self-respect and impulse control than Kureshima Mitsuzane. 

Which I like! I love villains with depth and their own system of ethics, but I do also like villains which you can just hate, and Banno is just so easy to hate. He doesn't do much in this arc - he makes himself a belt, because anything Krim can do he can do better - but what we learn about him in flashbacks cements his role as the most greasiest loser-oid villain. It doesn't put Krim in a brilliant light either, to be entirely honest, but we get him yelling in English, and that's always fun.

This episode also reveals that the theme of this series is 'family', which came as something of a surprise to me. I don't want to say that it's out of the blue - we've had themes of family since Gou appeared, we had the plotline surrounding Shinnosuke's family, and the Roimyude have always been displayed as a kind of dysfunctional family - but the theme hasn't really been used to its full potential, so I didn't realise until this episode that that's what they are aiming for.

It took me ages to realise that Banno's face is a negative space image there.

(Chase discovering the value of family does not bode well for his surviving past the end of the series. It seems increasingly likely that he's going to pull a Philip-Ankh-Kengo-Koyomi-Mai and die, at least temporarily.)

It's also nice to see Gou stop being a brooding angry angerbot, because he has been like that for a while (although we saw him start to ease up on that last episode) and it got old quite some time ago. I deeply, truly prefer snuggly tiny-brother-thing Gou who hugs people and is fawned over and - apparently sometimes just nuzzles his head against Shinnosuke's chest. Sure, why not.

(Look, I'm fine with a family theme, I am, but nothing about how Gou and Shinnosuke are written or acted screams brothers to me so much as it screams 'Gou wants a quick tumble in the Tridoron, scarring Krim for life'. I'd read that fic.)

Mawwiage. Mawwiage is why we are here today. That bwessed union.

The episode also sees some big plot developments with the Roimyudes, as apparently we have 00WhoKnows going after Banno next week (which is apparently the key to his ultimate evolution) and Medic apparently deciding to ... get married? Presumably to Heart? Who doesn't strike me as the type to be honest, but hey, you go Medic. Taking a page from Tornado's playbook, I see. That should all be interesting to see - and we also get Banno!Drive (presumably a transformed 004) next week, which is lovely. His design is horrible. So lovely.


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