Kamen Rider Drive
Where is the Truth About The Goddess?
I do sometimes wonder if writing these reviews has made me too harsh on Drive, if without the weekly ritual of splurging out eight-hundred words about it, I would have looked upon it more favourably. The answer is that I probably would have, because while I would never have been one of the people proclaiming that it's 'so good', let alone 'the best Kamen Rider series ever', I would have no doubt been more than able to quietly enjoy it for what it was, which is twenty minutes of often quite fun dross every week.
Even in that hypothetical situation, though, I would still have been annoyed by the show's treatment of Medic as a character. We don't, incidentally, find out why she was in a coma this week, which almost certainly means that we never will (there are, after all, only four to six episodes left, depending on if the rumours of the last two episodes being crossover-y specials are true), and that really does annoy me.
Still, never mind. This week's episode sees the Special Crimes Unit working to wake up Medic's host, a ballet dancer with an adorable dog, despite the fact that doing so might well lead to Medic achieving her super evolution. Meanwhile, Brain convinces Medic to let Banno modify her, in order to help her towards her evolution - a decision he regrets in short order when Banno turns out to have sinister designs.
(C'mon, Brain, it's Banno. He always has sinister designs.)
I was glad we got a relatively satisfactory explanation for the whole Medic-was-really-nice-and-then-she-became-evil-and-now-she's-becoming-really-nice thing (which I still hold shouldn't have been necessary), in that Medic absorbs some of the emotions of everyone she heals. It ties in with earlier plot developments (like 'Banno programmed all the Roimyudes with negative emotions') pretty well, so I'm more or less okay with that explanation. I think having it show up in whether clothing is white or black is hammy as all get out, but this is not a franchise known for its subtlety. I'll live.
In general, these two episodes haven't been terrible focus episodes for Medic. It's actually felt like she's had something of a character arc in them, and she hasn't had the spotlight stolen from her by Banno too much. The pacing has been good, it's had some very fun action scenes, and while the plot twists have been very broadly telegraphed (I wasn't even aware that 'Shou is the dog' was even meant to be a plot twist until it happened and the episode started throwing 'what a twist' reactions at me), they did at least not come barreling out of the left field.
Well, mostly. Shinnosuke drops a line towards the end about how all the coma victims were dog lovers, which I don't think was ever shown to the audience at any point. Rinna would be the prime example of this, I suppose, but I don't think we got any indication - in these episodes or any other - that she loves dogs, so this deduction on Shinnosuke's part feels bizarre and random. That's a minor quibble, but there you go.
(Speaking of the dog, there's an actually quite difficult to watch scene part way through the episode where the dog is injured. It's not at all graphic, and the dog is healed pretty quickly, but it's quite a disturbing scene, for much the same reasons that I said that Nira holding a gun was more dramatic and disturbing than most of the violence in the series - Kamen Rider is built on fantasy violence that has very little connection to real life, and it can be quite unpleasant when it delves into forms of violence that actually do happen in real life.
I had to skip that scene on my second watching of this episode, actually. Mostly because it was a dog, and I get very nervous over dogs getting hurt.)
That really just leaves us with this episode's C-plot - that is to say, Chase suddenly realising he has romantic feelings for Kiriko. I was surprised, to be honest: Tokusatsu in general tends not to be that direct with its romantic subplots. It hints and suggests and generally kind of circles around them rather than making them explicit, so it's odd to see Chase out-and-out saying he has romantic feelings for Kiriko.
I'm actually not sure where this subplot is going, which is - interesting to me, I guess? I'm fascinated to see how it turns out, but at the same time it just makes me even more aware that the show's treatment of Kiriko is probably worse than its treatment of Medic, and that this is just the latest part of a long string of 'let's reduce Kiriko to an object for the male characters to angst over' moves.
(That's another thing that would annoy me even if I wasn't writing these reviews.)
Next week, we'll apparently be seeing more of that subplot (yay, I guess?) as well as Brain trying to evade Banno and Medic, the former of which has decided to bring about a second Global Freeze as part of his master plan. That should be interesting.