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Friday, February 13, 2015

Kamen Rider Drive Episode 1 Review: Drive The Kamen Rider!

Well with Gaim over and I know that Toqger will be ending soon, it's time to just move foward with both franchises. I got to kick start my reviewing again as it's time to look at Drive!
I will easily have to say that this series grabbed me in even before the show started. First we got Riku Sanjo and many other members from Double's team back. This series is easily working with themes Double had before as even the main rider of this series has a automobile theme and is red... so will this be the Accel series I have been waiting for? I remember people making jokes about how Drive was going to be a repeat of Double and in this first episode I can already say that is false in the important parts. Drive feels more like a successor to Double, but who knows I can easily change my mind when going into this series. I do have some fears for this show since this is Sanjo again and his last work was Kyoryuger which was a mixed bag and I do think he could need a break, but maybe he's all better now (I hope)? Also I love the opening theme right now as we got Kamen Rider Eternal singing it! So I will say I got hope for this show as Kamen Rider hasn't been on my bad side like the recent Sentai series have been.

So on with the review as I have to say this episode starts off strong with its first minutes. Drive brings up a major concept of its world by showing the Global Freeze. This is when time slows down for some reason, but the people can still see what is happening. The first occurrence of this is brought up with the idea of the end of the world and I can agree with that use of words. The show starts off with a good death count already as time slows down and the monsters of this series come out to play. These creatures can move around freely with ease and they wreak havoc in the city and in other areas. What's cool about this is that we get the idea of what the villains are going to be like already as they can be faster than a normal human thanks to this ability they have. We also get to see our main hero in the middle of a fight with some thugs as he accidently fires his gun and almost kills his partner, even though I think no one would actually survive that. Then we get to see Drive himself as he is using his little cars to defeat the monsters. This already shows what a little toy gimmick will be as I like how these cars can fight without Drive. Overall, this was a catching opening as we got to see how bad things can get right off the bat.

Now this episode gets away from the dark tone quickly as the city is back to being safe and people having gotten used to this phenomena as it is called the "Heaviness." Also our main hero does say that he is afraid of it striking again and yet we see him just relaxing in the park eating candy. Shinnosuke seems to be hiding his problems and has turned out to be more of a slouch as he just wants to relax and not bother with work. Sadly there is someone who won't let him be as Kiriko the police lady catches him. We already get the sense of humor for this show as it is quite physical at the moment. Kirko handcuffs the poor man and when he tried to run he gets a boot to the head. When he gets back to his work place at the Special Case Department we get to see more lively characters. Now Kiriko is a serious worker as she doesn't smile, she just does her job and it seems her daily job is to get Shinnosuke back to work. Then we got two other ones who I won't mention as of now, but I will talk about Jun. This guy would have been perfect for a role in Double as he is a good physical actor. His voice tells me that he is a comedic character and those facial experisions are priceless. I really can't wait to get more of this guy!
The Special Case Department finally has a case and it's a string of murders that could be connected to the "Heaviness" or the "Gravity Surge" whatever you want to call it! Well our main hero doesn't want to worry about it as he still has flashbacks of what happened half a year ago. Sadly, there is another person who wants him to do more with himself. Shinnosuke deals with this man every time he is in the car as some man is talking to him. The man tells Shin that he assigned him to the Special Cases Department and even gave him the car he drives now. Shin finds the voice coming from a belt and then it latches onto the man as this belt wants him to start his engine again. While going to the scene we find out that these have been attmepted murders as the people are still alive and yet cannot move and their skin color turns pink for some strange reason. Then a monster appears causing the slow down and he has a human disguise as well. The belt decides to summon the Shift Cars as we see the three little cars from the opening scene. Again I do love how these cars alone can fight some of the monsters, it does make me want to buy them a bit.

Right after that incident we do get more of another characters that Shin calls Gen. Gen is clearly a man on a higher level as the Special Cases Department and for some reason he doesn't believe in the "Heaviness" even though he literally experienced it himself. The man keeps on trying to refuse it and I do find it a bit funny when he was being questioned about it, he pouts and crosses his arm like a small child. He also gets hit over the head by an object falling on him then, some good visual humor right there. Shin comes out though and has shifted his gears as he makes a visual on the culprit and heads off again to find him. Shin even is doing things by himself as he knows the belt can control the car so he decides to run on his two feet. He finds a connection of the attempted murder and even though there are many differences between him and an older picture, he still finds the man outside of a gym. This is where we learn that Shin did come from a high branch of the police force and it seems that his passion came back as the Chief never seen the man like this before. So our main hero was dealing with a crippling fear and he is now getting around it. Now it has been six months by now, but for us in the first episode the main hero is getting stronger by himself.
The man or I should say monster clearly says he is hunting humans as this happens when his next victim thought he was the former friend he knew. Shin comes flaring into the scene though as he tries to stop things himself, but the slow down occurs again. The belt summons one of the Shift Cars to help him though he is equips to him causing him to move normally now. Things get worse though as two more monsters appear, but Shin still keeps on fighting. Shin does start to lose hope when his is slown down again. Kriko comes to save the day as she has Shift Cars on her as well and then tells Shin to use the belt already. We got two characters already that are risking their lives and take in credit that Shin is dealing with a major mental handicap at this time. Now I would have to question the belt here though as the cars alone could take on one monster so why let Shin fights it by himself without becoming Drive yet? The scene would have played out a little better if the cars took on the monster alone and then get ambushed by the two others as Kriko appears and the cars latch back onto to her. Anyways we get to see Drive in action after this and I like it for the most part.
For the beginning of the fight it was really well done as Drive fights three monsters by himself as there was a good sense of direction here. Drive jumps into the fight hitting one away as the other one gets knocked back later. One monster returns as Drive takes his arm in a hold and then proceeds to punch him in the chest. He even gets a hold of a monster's foot and then still gets a hit on the one behind him and then throws the other one to the ground. Then we get to see how silly things can get with Drive as when he speeds up, he literally drifts on the road and sweep kicks the two monsters. Drive then pulls out his Fists of the North Star reference which was had a nice little effect and it shows what Type Speed, the default form can do, but I can deal without the drifting part.

The fight moves onto the toy gimmicks as they are fine in my opinion so far, but again we only have four shift cars as of now. Drive can change his tires and each tire gives a new ability. Their nice weapons as Max Flare gives him the Heat Memory pretty much, but being able to kick fire and causing to become a fire tornado is sweet! Funky Spike is a more defensive tire as it does have a ranged attack, but when a foe gets too close he has the tire spin around and kills the monster, so it's like Gigan's buzz saw, that's cool. My favorite so far though has to be Midnight Shadow as that name sounds perfect for a car in the 80's. Drive can use projectiles with this tire as it summons energy shurikens. I then do love when the tires change they can still attack then, this really gives the rider a good move pool as I hope his forms can work well with the Shift Cars he has now. The finisher I have to say though was awesome as the car itself helps out by making a barrier around the two. Drive then bounces off the barrier to keep kicking the monster at high speeds. Even the effects for the barrier and the red waves around it were well done as sometimes red can be a bad color to look at in regards to effects. There was also nice shading on Drive because it was a CGI module of him, but it didn't look that bad, but again the first episodes can be impressive with these and then just drop midway in the series. Overall, the action seems to be good for the most parts as there is a good selection of weapons and great moves with them, but again Drive literally drifted his whole body and I know the silliness continues.
This episode ends with Kiriko showing Shin their base and the man feels like the case isn't over yet as we see the past monster being brought back to life by a man in red. For a first episode this was pretty cool in many regards to Kamen Rider. There is some good humor with this show so far and the action seems good at this moment. There is no character that bothers me as of yet and the main hero himself does have some intelligence with him. The whole slow down concept is being used well and the monsters do interest me as the man in red really stands out. This episode gets an A- as I don't have many things to say that was really wrong other for some directional tidbits.
Next Time: The case continues!


  1. New series review! At long last.

    Before the series premiered, I was bit anxious and worried... a lot.
    This series already had TWO big strikes against when production team was announced.
    First, the series will be written by Riku Sanjo, who was responsible for Kyoryuger, which IMO is one of the worst super sentai series (if not the worst tokusatsu series) ever made.
    I did enjoy Double, even though it was cluttered, but Kyoryuger was still fresh in my mind, and I was really worried when I saw that name.
    Second, the series will be produced by Takahito Omori, who was also responsible for Kyoryuger.
    He was responsible for completely omitting "yellow" ranger, because he thought that color was too "girly" (no joke!), which I thought it was VERY insulting. According to the rumor, Kyoryuger originally meant to have 1 female throughout the entire run, where Female Violet and Cyan (who appeared at the end), wasn't originally planned, where it was included because of the complaints from audience. Talk about "Mr. Sexist". lol

    Overall, Kyoryuger team was united and my expectation was very, VERY, low.
    At the same time however, I was somewhat optimistic, since this was first Rider since Black RX, where Rider drives a car (even though Black RX rode Acrobatter for most run).
    The ads and hype of the series was REALLY huge, where it keep stating that "Rider that Drives", "Kamen Rider Knight Rider", "Kamen DRIVER", etc.

    Despite those optimism, I kept my expectation very low and hoping it won't be another Kyoryuger.
    However, that actually helped a lot, because it turned out that I didn't hate the premiere of Drive.
    In fact, I thought it was pretty good, which was surprising and shocking at the same time.

    The story was nicely structured and character was written very well.
    Although I found Shinnosuke to be very stiff, but that's a minor nitpick.
    Talking Belt was a nice touch, with very dazzling voice ("Start Your Engine!" never sounds so awesome!).
    The action was very interesting, where it's very refreshing to see Rider driving car.
    Shift Car was pretty cute IMO.

    Overall, I enjoyed the premiere for what it was.
    It especially helped since I had almost no expectation.
    It does have a lot of Double's vibe, especially with writer and intro song by Eternal!
    It felt like spiritual sequel to Double in lot of sense.

    Hopefully, it would live up to its hype.

    Take care.

  2. the beginning was the best part of Drive