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Friday, 4 September 2015

Kamen Rider Drive E44: Who Loved Heart The Most?

Kamen Rider Drive
Episode 44
Who Loved Heart The Most?

Can you believe that today, in the Year of Our Lord 2015, there are people who don't just admit that there are meant to be romantic overtones to Heart and Brain's relationship? I know, it's a shock. I almost didn't believe it myself.

It's especially shocking when the Medic-Heart-Brain love triangle is such a major part of the plot, although I could probably write an entire post alone on how Heart probably didn't realise there was even a love triangle, because while the love Medic and Brain feel for Heart is eros and pragma, the love Heart feels for them is philia, and it extends to all Roimyudes, not just those two.

Anyway. In this week's episode, Brain willingly joins Banno, meaning that he now has his four ultimate evolutions with which to begin the second Global Freeze. As the four, along with 004, head to a lake with a device of 004's creation, the police force moves to counter them, creating a mass-produced Rider system and smaller Blinky Gizmos. Meanwhile, Chase visits Kiriko at hospital to find out if she has feelings for Shinnosuke.

So, there was more of the absurd Shinnosuke/Kiriko subplot this week, and it's just a distasteful to me as it was last week - although props to Taiko Katoono for keeping a straight face during his scene with Kiriko, because Rio Uchida is actually a good comic actress and that scene was actually quite funny. 

This scene, less so.

I get the feeling that we're meant to be comparing and contrasting the Shinnosuke-Kiriko-Chase love triangle with Medic-Heart-Brain, but it doesn't really work. For starters, the Roimyude love triangle was actually set up early on, and has actually been a regular feature in the show's storyline so far. Secondly, everyone involved in that love triangle is an active participant in it, an agent with control over their own destinies, whereas this triangle has one character, Kiriko, who you could very easily replace with a delightful shiny car without changing the writing at all, because she's essentially being treated as a shiny bauble.

Remember, this is the first episode that anyone has asked Kiriko's opinion about this love triangle, and her reaction is - a carbon copy of Shinnosuke's? I mean, good god, Sanjo, even when you're giving me what I want (Kiriko actually being involved in her own romance subplot) you're managing to do it in a way that just hammers in how Kiriko isn't her own character with her own personality and motivations and agendas. Well done. 

Apart from that (and thankfully it only takes up a tiny part of the episode), this actually is a good episode. Brain's plan was pretty obvious right from the start, but it played out well and at a good pace, and his death is one of the most tragic points of the series. The Roimyude have always been kind of the emotional heart of this show, and more interesting characters than the heroes, so for one of them to die is pretty gut-wrenching. I think everybody was hoping for Heart, Medic, and Brain to all live happily ever after once all this was done with.


We also see 004 snuff it, only an episode after his human form was revealed. That was a bit of a shock, I think a lot of people had him pegged as a potential final villain, backstabbing Banno in time for the finale. Instead, it looks like he really was exactly as he appeared to be, and Banno really is going to be our final villain. Which is fine by me, actually: Banno is delightfully petty and unhinged, and that marks him out from most of the villains we've had these past few years, and that's interesting to watch. This episode really hammered in how unhinged he is, too, with him just standing and laughing as the Riders come after him, and needing to be saved by 004. 

(How many Roimyude are left, incidentally? At the start of episode 43 it was twenty-two - in 43, three Roimyude died, and in this episode, eight (including Brain and 004) died, so they should have eleven left. Heart, Medic, and then nine more, which may or may not include Banno himself depending on whether he's being counted as 006 or not.)

I do have questions about this whole process.

So, I did like this episode, and I've liked most of this final act of Drive. The next two episodes should see us to the end of the story, since 47 and 48 are apparently crossover episodes, so I'm looking forward to seeing how this will all turn out. Will Chase really die? I kind of doubt it, to be honest, but if it means Kiriko becoming the new Kamen Rider Chase I am totally down for that. 

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