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Wednesday, 26 August 2015

Kamen Rider Drive E43: When Will The Second Global Freeze Start?

Kamen Rider Drive
Episode 43
When Will The Second Global Freeze Start?

Sigh. I actually quite enjoy when an episode airs and I don't have anything to complain about. I don't, after all, enjoy complaining about Drive. 

Before this series started airing, I was already quite nervous about the writer-and-producer combo - Riku Sanjo and Takahito Omori respectively, the same pair that had worked on Zyuden Sentai Kyoryuger, it of the abrupt and out of the blue romances and casual yet pervasive misogyny. How lucky we are that we can now see that anxiety be proven corre - okay, let's be honest there, that anxiety actually became entirely justified quite early on, around the time that Kiriko stopped actually being an active participant in the plot and started to be an afterthought, but this episode takes Drive's Kiriko-related problems to new heights, with an extremely Kyoryuger-esque romance.

In this week's episode, Banno has his Roimyudes out hunting for a location to start his second Global Freeze from - a Freeze that will be much larger than the first. Brain attempts to hide from Banno, but is pursued by him, Medic, and 004. Meanwhile, Shinnosuke, Chase, and Gou are thrown into an awkward situation by Chase's announcement that he loves Kiriko.

Gou being - well, being Gou, to be quite honest with you.

Right, so, that romance. Here's a fun exercise: Watch the episode, and in place of Kiriko, imagine a fetching lamp (maybe some kind of very large lava lamp) in her place. Does anything about these scenes change? I can't actually think of any way in which they would. In an utterly bizarre quirk of writing, Kiriko, who should be the most important person in this plotline, is barely a participant in it at all - she is a totally passive figure around who three or four male characters are having conflict and conversations, and she doesn't even get to venture an opinion on any of it, either overtly by actually stating it or more subtly and unintentionally (before anyone points out that she doesn't know about this love triangle) by suggesting it through her interactions with the various characters, because she barely even has any interactions with any of them.

The closest we get is Krim venturing an opinion about the opinion that Kiriko might venture, which is some of the most tortured writing I've seen in a long time. 

Compare and contrast with the love triangle between Brain, Heart, and Medic. Every character involved in that is an active agent: Brain and Medic both play a back-and-forth game of 'who can please Heart more', and Heart - although he doesn't seem to really understand that that's what's going on - responds accordingly by granting favour to one or the other. It's not the best written romantic subplot ever, but it is, at least, one where you couldn't quite adequately replace any of the parties with an object.

Brain's host, who is a lot more like Brain than any of the other Roimyudes' hosts.

Compare and contrast Brain, Heart, and Medic with Shinnosuke, Kiriko, and Chase again in that the former has been established since early on in the series. Any romantic interest between Kiriko and Chase has been very firmly established, but Shinnosuke and Kiriko? Well, it was vaguely hinted at once or twice, but for the most part, there's been nothing to suggest that it was even on the table. Note that this is identical to Kyoryuger, in which the idea of a Daigo/Amy relationship was hinted at once or twice about halfway through the series, then completely forgotten about until the last two episodes, when they were suddenly deeply and madly in love with each other. It's identical.

(It's also worth noting that Drive has only three female characters in a fairly large cast, and all of them now have romance as a major feature of their characters. Just saying.)

It dragged down the whole episode for me, which is a shame, because otherwise I liked this episode. I liked Brain's realisation that most of his personality is just copied from somebody else - I thought it was a very deftly handled moment and emotional moment that sets us up well for him seemingly betraying Heart in the next episode. I liked Banno, and I'm glad that his pettiness and spite haven't been forgotten about, because those are the elements of his character that make him stand out as a villain in a franchise where the villains are very often motivated by a higher ideal. I thought that this episode had some great scenes for Heart.

(I was a little confused by Medic suddenly switching from robotic and seemingly in a trance, to quipping and mocking Brain, then back to robotic - that was some pretty shoddy, jarring writing. But that's kind of my only non-romance-related issue.)

Most of all, I really liked the reveal that 004 had copied Krim. It fits Banno's character perfectly to have 004 do that, and it just further solidifies his position as the wild card of the villains: A character who might very well end up betraying Banno and becoming the main villain. Chris Peppler put on an extremely hammy but very fun performance as 004, and I am looking forward to seeing more of him in the episodes to come (including an evolved form, maybe? I'd like that.)

"YEESSS" - 004, August 2015.

The action scenes were good, the episode was well-paced, this could have been one of the best episodes of the series, if not for that damned romance plot, which is legitimately terrible.


Anyway, next week we have Banno and the other gold Roimyudes starting their second Global Freeze, what appears to be a Gou vs 004 fight, Brain betraying Heart, and Honganji transforming into one of the mass-produced Machs. I frankly would have preferred it to be Kiriko, if I'm being honest.

Still, I am looking forward to that. Golly, we're very nearly at the end.

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