Thursday, April 2, 2015

Kamen Rider Drive

The series Kamen Rider Drive did not immediately appeal to me. Cars aren't a big interest for me - and mixing that with a police detective theme felt cumbersome to me. The first episode failed to impress me - as the toy heavy gimmick of "Shift Cars" was front and center, being integral to the plot, rather than a device used in the story. The enemies, also, seemed bland, even though they had a cyber punk rock theme to them.

While it was slow to start, the engine finally came roaring on for me. Once you get past and accept the little Shift Cars, the series made a strange kind of sense to me. It isn't trying to be too serious - the powers, Tire Changes, that Drive utilizes are an example of that - with wacky and weird powers. Underlying it all, though, is a fun adventure/detective show.

The characters really began to grow on me. Shinnosuke really helps sell the interested, but sometimes laid back, Kamen Rider/detective. He's partnered by his talking belt - Krim - a scientist who died, but uploaded himself digitally. He acts as the talking car -- similar to Knight Rider -- giving advice and guiding the hero through the story.

Kiriko acts as Shinnosuke's sounding board - and guide, getting him to shift into gear and really get into a case or investigation. Her stoic no-smiles personality really shines on the screen, and makes breaks in that tough persona really stand out.

Go is Kirko's brother, who interjects himself into the series, as a death-defying stuntman-like Kamen Rider. Kamen Rider Mach -- who always announces that he goes at Mach Speed, brings a fun element to the series - including a slight rivalry between him and Shinnosuke.

The Roidmude enemies utilize a cool effect - called "Heaviness", to slow down reality and gravity. It becomes a calling card for the foes - and something the heroes can track and find the enemy. These robotic androids are a created force that has gone out of control -- and are evolving in different ways as they steal people's identities and memories.

The lead group of the villains hadn't all-together caught my attention -- as they seem somewhat generic at first. Heart is the leader, backing up a fearsome amount of power; Brain provides the intelligence to the group (but is somewhat ignored), and Medic, introduced later, helps round out the dreariness of the cast.

The character that, at first, REALLY annoyed me? Mashin Chaser, also known as the Grim Reaper. He shows up in the 3ed episode, and automatically becomes Kamen Rider Drive's nemesis. No special reason is stated -- he just HATES Kamen Riders -- and gets in the way of the hero over, and over again. I began to be really annoyed -- why does he keep showing up, fighting every episode? His story didn't seem very dramatic --- that is, until Kiriko was dead-center in the line of fire, and Chase choose not to fire on her and kill her. Why? Well, this is where the character got VERY interesting for me: turns out, he's the Proto-type of Drive, a former Kamen Rider himself, who was defeated by the Roidmude and reprogramed to be their ally. Its really amazing -- a complete reversal of a drum, uninteresting character, suddenly became a wonderful ongoing focus for the series.

Anyway -- what do you think of Kamen Rider Drive? I hope the series continues to do well. I've also had a lot of fun collecting getting some of the toys from the series. I can't afford the $300+ S.H. Figuarts version of Tridoron (the car) - but the DX version seems fun, and only cost $55 on Amazon. I also plan on getting the S.H. Figuarts of Drive, Chase, and Mach (and the Type Wild version of Drive). Throw in a good price on Gashapon Shiftcars I found (but probably isn't there anymore), and I feel like I got a good collection from the series going on.

I really didn't expect to enjoy and like the series as much as I do. Like I said before -- it's just a fun series; not trying to be overly serious. So, if you watch the series -- just enjoy the Drive.

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