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Wednesday, 23 September 2015

Kamen Rider Drive E47: Who Will You Entrust The Future To, My Friend?

Kamen Rider Drive
Episode 47
Who Will You Entrust The Future To, My Friend?

So, here we are at the end of Drive's story. Not the end of the series, as such, there's still one more episode, a Kamen Rider Ghost crossover to get us prepped for the next series, but the end of the actual plotline. 

With Banno defeated and Medic dead, Heart and Shinnosuke fight Sigma once more. Defeating it, Shinnosuke is saved from a brush with death by the intervention of a mysterious Rider, and awakens to find that Heart has saved him, with the intention of fighting him and putting an end to their rivalry.

Like almost every Kamen Rider finale I can think of, this episode is low on action and high on what is essentially an epilogue. The battle with Sigma, while very dramatic, is done and dusted in about three minutes, and the battle with Heart (which is more of an emotional scene than an action one - there's fighting, but it's Kuuga-oid punching in the rain rather than flashy toy advertisement combat) is done and dusted by about the ten minute arc. 

We get a brief fight scene involving Ghost facing off against Gold Freeze, Sword, and Thief, as well, and I have to say that is one of the smoothest crossovers I've seen in Kamen Rider. It fits into the plot, makes at least some sense, doesn't outstay its welcome and has a surprising amount of emotional weight to it, as Shinnosuke is essentially escaping the ghost of people he's - he's ... wait a second, why is Thief there? That's Nira's monster form. Nira's still alive.

In other continuity error news, in literally the shot before this he was twelve feet
away from the edge.

The big moment of this episode, then, is not the action, but rather Krim's teary goodbye scene, as he seals himself and all the Drive technology underground so that humanity can't use the Core Driviars for evil. Usually at this point I'd be saying that this wasn't set up nearly well enough, because lack of set-up is one of those recurring problems that seems to dog Drive at every step, but actually it was: The danger inherent in the Drive tech has been mentioned repeatedly throughout the series, and is after all responsible for not one but two Global Freezes.

It's a sad scene, too, with Krim appearing as a projection of his human form and thanking everybody - and even remembering Kiriko, which is more than can usually be said for the show's own writing staff. While he'll almost certainly be back for the next crossover film, it wouldn't surprise me if we see him seal himself away at the end of that, too.

We got a slightly more uplifting moment later as Shinnosuke and Kiriko encounter the human that Chase copied, a serious and no-nonsense traffic cop, with the slightly strange implication being that now their friendship with Chase can kind of sort of continue in the form of a friendship with his human counterpart? It's a little odd, but lord knows that this is not the first time a series has pulled that particular trope (usually with reincarnation as the go-to-identical-character-creating-tool of choice). 


I must say, for a series that is nowhere near as dark as it thinks it is, Drive has had one of the more tragic endings of any Neo-Heisei series, with possibly only Gaim beating it on that count: Chase, Heart, Brain, and Medic are all dead, Krim is locked away underground, the Special Crimes Unit is disbanded and Gou has departed for destinations unknown. It's all quite emotional, and I did almost feel the beginnings of tears while watching. Almost.

All of it - from Heart's tearful death, to Krim's sealing himself away, to the 'where are they now' segment in the end credits - is cheesy as all get out, but it's a nice kind of cheesy, less cliche and more slightly overdone trope. While it will probably never go down in history, it's a solid capping off point to a solid final act of what has, on the whole, been a pretty poor series.

Going full Kuuga.

That's a shame: While this final act of Drive has been pretty good, bar some obvious problems (everything involving Kiriko and that godawful romance, for a start), it feels like it's too little, too late at the end of a series that has been absolutely riddled with problems. I've seen some people saying that Drive is the best Kamen Rider series to ever air, and that's definitely an opinion, if not, I think, one that's especially easy to defend. For my part, I would have liked it if all or most of the series had been at the level of quality shown in the last dozen or so episodes.

So, bring on Ghost! Could be amazing, could be mediocre, could be absolutely terrible, it is always impossible to tell at this point. I'm perhaps not as excited for it as I could be, but then some of my favourite series of Kamen Rider have turned out to be ones that I didn't think I'd much enjoy. 

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