Saturday, October 25, 2014

Tokusatsu review: Kamen Rider Drive episode 1: Start your Engines!

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Alright, my first review of the first episode of a brand new Kamen Rider series. Now this show, Kamen Rider Drive has quite a bit to live up too. Not only is this the show that allows the Heisei era of Kamen Rider to surpass the Shōwa era, but it is the 16th series of said era; which is following Gaim. The series that many fans of the Toku genre claim to not only be the best written series since Kamen Rider Black; but the best of the Heisei era in general. No pressure right?
Oh suck it up. We open on a rainy night as the narration tells us about how the end of the world can occur in the blink of an eye. When all of a sudden the world starts to slow down as monsters appear out of nowhere. By slow down I mean, it's almost as if the world is lagging, you could still talk but your body can't keep up. The monsters on the other hand can move through the lag with no problem, going at normal speed.
I'm siiiiiiinging in the raiiiiin, just siiiiinging in the raiiiin.
These are the monsters of the series, the Roidmudes. There are three basic models of these guys. The Spider Roidmudes, the Bat Roidmudes and the Cobra Roidmudes. Why those three animals? As an homage to the first three monsters from the original series, Spider Man, Bat Man and Cobra Man. As monsters are want to do they start killing as many people as they can, who have no way to defend themselves, especially since they can barely move. No joke, these things are not playing around, throwing fireballs at shops filled with people, throwing giant ceramic bowling pins ( from a nearby bowling alley) at large, immovable crowds and throwing giant bowling balls, (again from a display from a nearby bowling alley) at buildings and just killing as many people as they can.With enough explosions to make Michael Bay grin like the Joker.
Yes, the Global Freeze which is why it's mostly focused around Japan and the easternmost parts of China judging by this shot, okay.
We then cut to a fight where the Narrator says that that was the day that his time stopped. We see some Detectives fighting some criminals near the docks or an industrial area who I assume are gun runners since we see them firing handguns and shotguns at the Detectives. I say they're gunrunners because Japan's gun control laws are actually worth a shit. The weapons law begins by stating that "No-one shall possess a fire-arm or fire-arms or a sword or swords", and very few exceptions are allowed. However, citizens are permitted to possess firearms for hunting and sport shooting, but only after submitting to a lengthy licensing procedure. And this gun registration and licensing is strict as hell. Of course law officials are allowed to carry firearms so there's that. Anyway the two detectives seem to be holding their own when they start to glitch out. One of the detectives calls out for his partner Hayase as he provides covering fire, however due to the lag he misses and hits a nearby tank of flammable substances which of course explodes sending Hayase falling down a floor. The cop tries to run to Hayase but Hayase gets crushed by some over hanging girders and the detective couldn't make it in time due to the lag.
Red: Do ya think we should help? Green: After they made all those "Need for Speed" movies? I say we get some Marshmallows. Purple: But I want Hotdogs. Red & Green: Shut up!
 We cut to what looks like some Hot Wheels over looking the destruction of the city. They summon a small road so they can attack the Roidmudes. These little boogers are actually pretty strong, the red one can turn into a fireball, the green one can cover itself in razor sharp spikes that can drill right through a Roidmudes torso, and the Purple one can create clones of itself which throw energy Shurikens. The three destroyed Roidmudes turn into giant floating numbers who then retreat. We then cut to what looks like Drive as we cut to our opening sequence. We then cut to half a year later as we see our hero driving a car that looks so sleek it would make Jeremy Clarkson envious.
Some say that he once made a exact scale replica of the Tokyo tower in five minutes, using only chopsticks. Others say that he was once known as a Superhero known as Kamen Rider Drive, all we do know is; he's called The Stig.
Now I have some concerns right away about this series. See, there's this little thing about Japan and particularly it's media that rubs me the wrong way. (Aside from fan service in some anime series, but that's a discussion for another time.) See, some Japanese writers typically love to depict their law enforcement officers in one of three ways, corrupt, incompetent or dogshit useless, usually all three. And from what little we've seen so far of this series and from the opening it looks like it will focus on a cop and members of the MPD to fill out the side-cast. Now this rubs me the wrong way because, its not the best thing in the world to insult the people who are trying to keep your city safe from thieves, rapists, arsonists and murderers, just saying. Now of course I'm not some naive putz that thinks that everyone who puts on a badge is doing it for all the right reasons.
Hell this SOB is one of my favorite examples of that.
The point is, I don't make fun of cops. And for any viewers of mine that does think this way about the majority of cops, go ahead, insult an officer, spit in their face while you're at it, see what happens. Especially when someone breaks into your house and starts killing your family right in front of you, I double dog dare you! My bet is that once they find out your name the phone line might suddenly be disconnected. To balance my fears we did have previous Kamen Riders who were involved in Law-enforcement, G3 and Accel immediately spring to mind. (I don't count W since he's a PI, not a uniformed officer.) Hell the majority of the Metal Heroes are law-enforcement officers, the Space Sheriffs, Winspector, Jiban and Janperson spring to mind. And do I even need to remind you of the Dekarangers A.K.A Power Rangers S.P.D? Maybe this won't be so bad, but just to be sure I'll look for the appropriate clips. Shinnosuke goes on to explain that after the Global Freeze people are paranoid and have special apps to report to the Police if they feel or see the glitching which they call "The Heaviness". Called so due to the lag causing feeling of heaviness on every-point on a humans body which limits their movement.
Well, at least it's not Ebola!
After that no doubt dated and offensive joke we cut to Shinnosuke lazing about on the grass.
Our hero everyone, a frigging laid back sloth.
I think I may have spoke too soon. Thankfully some else on the force has the same attitude that I have about Shinnosuke's lazing about.
The voice of reason on the show, ladies and gentlemen.
Kiriko handcuffs the putz, Shinnosuke tries to run away but Kiriko throws her shoe at his head.
She then shows him how she knew where he was.
She's apparently less his partner and more of his babysitter.
What kills me is the little manga drawings of Shinnosuke in her notes about his schedule. Who drew those? Honestly? And like his babysitter, she drags Shinnosuke back to their precinct the Kuruma Department of Motor-vehicles to do his actual work. Now for us to get established here.

a.a.k.a the crank case room.
This is our team briefing room and general conference area. Now we have a good look time to meet the side cast.
Oh my god scary face!
Aside from having a smile that will haunt my nightmares, Jun here is also a goofy mook who obsesses over his fortune telling lucky colors.
You can just tell this guy was bully chow as a kid.
Kyuu is mostly there to do my job, surf around the net looking for articles and clues on chat rooms, social networks and whatnot that may give information to the SCD and their current cases.
Hello, Nurse.
Rinna is their R&D department who creates various devices to help with Heaviness related cases, who acts like she's a few tacos short of a fiesta. Basically think of her as a live action Zoë Hange from Attack on Titan and you'll get the picture. Now that basic introductions are out of the way Jun explains that they're finally getting put on a real case. Apparently there have been several attempted murders in the last few weeks in a specific area that has been reporting several occurrences of the Heaviness. However apparently someone named Otta will be their go-between, Shinnosuke isn't too thrilled by this since apparently if Otta is their go-between, more people are going to give the SCD the cold shoulder then they do now. Shinnosuke sits in his car and thinks to himself, flashing back to when Hayase was killed.
Apparently Shinnosuke has been driving around in a remodeled KIT from Night Rider
No it's not KIT but close enough, Shinnosuke does know the voice though he doesn't know whose it is. Apparently NOTKIT here was the one who arranged Shinnosuke to be transferred to SCD for easy deployment and was the one who gave him the car. Shinnosuke tells him that he should have picked someone else since he's a lazy fool, no kidding. But at least he's aware of his problem. NOTKIT says that's that he's a superman and that he's just forgotten how to "start his engine" as he puts it. We cut to a skate-park/ basketball court where the Heaviness is occurring. A couple check their Heaviness detection app and confirms it, where a man in a green hood shows up. Shinnosuke checks the car to find the source of the voice and finds it, A belt attached to the dash board of the car. The belt then attaches himself to Shinnosuke.
Dude, stop being so happy that you're near his crotch, you've just met and he might not swing that way!
Kiriko shows up and tells Shinnosuke that there's been another attempted murder attempt. She's already transferred the coordinates to the Car's GPS. The Belt knowing that Shinnosuke doesn't have two brain cells to rub together, decides to drive the car their remotely and straps Shinnosuke to his seat. We cut to the skate-park where we meet the last of our supporting cast.
Does Shinnosuke listen to Rock and Roll? He does?! Arrest him, take his badge and tar and feather him!
We then get a good example of why the SCD team isn't taken seriously.
What? Don't your cops show up at crime scenes wearing props that would have been laughed off the set of Clones of Bruce Lee?
You have some weird cops then. Pft. Otta clearly as embarrassed as I am asks what is up with the Dr Seuss gizmos. Shinnosuke says that they're apparently supposed to detect gravity surge particles. Shinnosuke asks Otta what happened to the corpse, Otta says that he isn't dead but that there have been four other victims with the same condition since last week. Otta also says something so stupid that I'm not even going to comment on it.
Krusty if you don't mind?
And then the smug prick just walks off. You see what I mean about Japan portraying their police officers as incompetent assholes? Shinnosuke then notices something near one of the Evidence markers.
Hang on, I'm pretty sure you don't tamper with a crime scene. Call me crazy.
Judge Doom would not be happy let me tell you. The makeshift P.K.E meter goes off with the belt telling Shinnosuke that the culprit might be near and sure enough the world starts lagging again. Shinnosuke sees the man with the green hood from before and notices that he's walking through the Heaviness just fine. He then transforms into a Roidmude.
029? Is that his assembly number or something?
He then picks up Shinnosuke, commenting on how lively he is. The belt then summons what he calls "Shift Cars" which turn out to be the Hot Wheels from before. They manage to hold him off before he retreats. Back at the ranch, Rinna starts interviewing Otta about his first experience with the Heaviness, Otta still doesn't believe in the Heaviness; even though he experienced it first hand.
Kyuu says that everyone on the Net knows that Gravity Surges are a portent of the Roidmudes' rampages. Otta continues his outright stupidity by saying that unless he sees something he doesn't believe it. Normally I'd agree but you have several witnesses saying the exact same thing, including your colleagues who were standing right next to you, looking behind you that saw the whole thing! Also there was that little rampage six months ago, who do you think caused that, Goblins? Shinnosuke decides to bring the gift of logic and brings a composite of the man in the green hood. He then adjusts his tie, Kiriko comments that Shinnosuke has shifted into gear. Specifically his brain's gear.
I seriously want to know who drew this! They just look adorable.
Apparently Shinnosuke was an Elite in the Special Investigations Department before he transferred to the S.C.D. I'll get into my theories on this later, right now Tomari (I'm calling him that for now since everyone else seems too) is sprinting all over town looking for people who know the person from the composite shot. The man is identified as Masuda Nobuo, who was a regular at a local sports club. The Belt comments that the face is the same but the hair is different. As well as having a completely different Physique from the attack. Masuda follows someone coming out of the sports club to a park where he attacks after transforming into 029. Tomari tries to stop him but 029 causes the heaviness to stop him where he starts turning the man red.
Now we really know what made the Red man red.
Stupid fucking white man
Anyways the belt summons the Red Shift car; Max Flare which lands into a car slot on Tomari's belt which allows him to move through the Heaviness normally. He tries to fight 029 but a Spider and Bat Roidmude show up to back 029 up. Apparently there are various levels of Heaviness since even with one Shift Car Tomari still can't move when the two new Roidmudes activate the Heaviness. The Bat and Spider nearly kill Tomari when the Car shows up to block their laser blasts. Kiriko gets out and starts kicking the Roidmudes asses when Tomari notices she has the green and purple Shift cars on her with the same clip that's on Tomari's belt. She tells him to quit screwing around and fight. Tomari asks why she knows about the belt but she tells him that there's no time to explain. The belt sends the car, called Tridoron to fire at the Roidmudes. Tomari asks Belt (yes that is what he calls the belt) what he should do, Belt says to transform, he then summons a red Shift Car and Tomari's Henshin device called the Shift Brace and instructs him on how to transform. Belt says that Tomari lost something precious in the past, but he can save it now. As long as he has his comrades he can move faster then anyone, even in a gravity surge, as the warrior Drive. Tomari then Transforms and we finally get our first look at Drive.
Kamen Rider Drive Type Speed.
He then proceeds to fight the three Roidmudes. He seems to be holding his own until 029 gets in on the action; Kiriko sends out the other two Shift Cars called Spike and Shadow over to Drive. Thanks to the Shift Cars Drive can change the abilities of the tire on his torso. Drive then swaps Shift Cars to Max Flare, giving him a tire with flame shaped protrusions and fire powers. He uses the Shift Bracer to summon a flaming wheel to launch at 029 creating a flaming vortex when it hits. Of course Bat and Spider aren't done and attack again, Drive changes again to Funky Spike which can launch energy spike projectiles and while he's holding an opponent can spin at super speeds which throws the Spider Roidmude into the air and destroys it leaving behind a floating set of numbers, 042. The Bat Roidmude, 088 and 029 are not amused. Drive changes again to Midnight Shadow which creates giant energy shurikens. He destroys 088 and throws more shurikens to destroy the floating numbers which really gets 029 angry. Belt tells Drive to change back to Speed Tire to finish him. He does so and finishes off 029 with his Rider Kick. The energy number retreats while Drive goes to check on the victim. He's safe but Tomari notices a foil strip next to the victim and takes it. Later that night Kiriko takes Tomari to a secret location underneath the Kuruma station.
OMG Bruce Wayne is Batman!
No this is the Drive Pit, which will act as their base. Kiriko says that nobody knows about this place, not even the S.C.D. Belt congratulates Tomari on his success on his first case. Tomari however thinks that it's not over yet, he questions whether 029 was trying to kill his victims and looks at the two scraps from the crime scenes. We cut to the number of 029 gasping for breath when this guy shows up.
We end the first episode with 029 entering the car Heart is holding, transforming into a ball of light with Heart grinning. So for a first episode it's not too bad. It does exactly what it has to do, set the tone for the series, a general layout of how these episodes will play out, the characters and how they work off each other and establishing our villains. We also get some intrigue about Belt, Tomari and Kiriko. Why is Tomari Drive, what is the connection to Drive and the Roidmudes, what exactly are the Roidmudes up too and so on. Time for me to go into theories on Tomari, based on Kiriko's observations and what we saw during the Global Freeze; Tomari probably used to be a very serious, intelligent officer, but after the incident with Hayase he seems to have mental trauma and survivors guilt, which manifests as this new laid back attitude as a coping mechanism and mental repression. And when he adjusts his tie that could be a temporary break from the trauma. He may have actually been Drive but that knowledge and previous relationship between Kiriko and Belt could have also been repressed. Kiriko does seem to know more about the Drive powers here since she was the one to show Tomari how to use Belt and showed him where the Drive Pit is. Hopefully we will get some answers in the upcoming episodes. Now for the rest of these episode recaps I will switch to V-Logs. If I keep doing every episode like this I'll never be able to get them out in a timely manner. Keep an ear to the ground people.

Please be sure to read, comment, spread the links, re-tweet and follow me on Twitter @OnDavidsBrain! and support me on Patreon.

Kamen Rider is owned by Ishinomori Productions, Toei Productions, and Bandai.
Saturday Night live is  owned by Lorine Michaels, NBC Studios and Broadway Video.
Silent Hill Downpour is owned by Vatra games and Konami Computer Entertainment.
Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery is owned by Capella International, KC Medien, Moving Pictures, Eric's Boy, New Line Cinema, and Alliance Communications.
The Simpsons are owned by Matt Groening, Gracie Films, and 20th Century Fox Television.
Command and Conquer: Red Alert 3 is owned by EA (Electronic Arts)
Peter Pan (1953) is owned by Walt Disney Productions, RKO Radio Pictures, J.M. Barrie and Walt Disney.