Thursday, November 06, 2014

Kamen Rider Drive

I gotta admit, friends, I'm not so sure about Kamen Rider Drive.  Emily´╗┐ and I watched the first two episodes and...they're ok.  Just OK.  There is a weird tonal dissonance in the series.  It wants to be a serious show about a town in crisis, about a police officer who is tortured by the memories of a failed arrest and a partner he left crippled, about a secret conspiracy of monsters who want to take the world by force.  That is some old school Kamen Rider shit right there. 

...ON THE OTHER HAND, it has sentient Micro-Machine cars who produce their own tracks, a talking Driver belt who is basically KITT's more sarcastic cousin, and the running gag that the main character is very lazy, so one of his fellow officers MAKES A POINT OF ARRESTING HIM every episode just to make him go to work.  Also "drive" and car puns.  EVERYWHERE.  *EVERY GODDAMN WHERE*. 

The Drive outfit also just isn't doing it for me.  The giant tire in the middle of his chest was OK as a giant tire in the middle of his chest, but when it gets paired with super powers like "Funky Spike" (...I think these are supposed to be car or tire brands...I would NOT invest in a brand called "Funky Spike") it just looks ridiculous.  And yes, I know, I'm the man who loves Fourze, who at one point ran around in a gold foil suit wielding a club made of electrical sockets.  But my point stands.  Drive looks RIDICULOUS...and he doesn't *FEEL* like a Kamen Rider.

And I don't just mean because Kamen Riders rider motorcycles (their name literally meaning "Mask[ed] Rider").  But the show's overall tone has more in common with Sentai series like Ressha Sentai ToQger, Engine Sentai GoOnger (which was adapted into the FAR more serious and far more AWESOME Power Rangers RPM), and, god help me, Gekisou Sentai Carranger (which saved Sentai, but as Power Rangers Turbo almost DOOMED Power Rangers). 

See, here's the thing: You can have light hearted Kamen Rider a point.  Kamen Rider Den-O was pretty light hearted.  Fourze could be light-hearted, but could also turn very serious at a moment's notice, tackling themes like depression, PTSD, duty vs. friendship, and addiction.  OH BOY HOWDY did Fourze tackle the subject of addiction.  Its also notable that Fourze was made lighter following the tsunami, as its creator wanted to make a show that children could feel GOOD by watching, after living through such a national tragedy.  And, to be fair, the recently ended Kamen Rider Gaim was HELLA DARK in its latter half.  But...somehow Drive's many components just do not feel like Kamen Rider.  It feels more like a truncated Sentai, like Drive will eventually team up with four other "Kamen Riders" with car themes and together they'll create Drive King, a giant robot made of cars.

...also, "The Heaviness".  One of the main pieces of the show is a series of gravitic anomalies that fuck with the progression of time.  It turns out these are caused by monsters, because it slows down their prey for easy hunting.  But the slowed-time effects are jerky and problematic, and call back to the far more enjoyable, and far more interesting Kamen Rider Kabuto, where the monsters and Riders would "clock up" to move at superhuman speeds.  In fact, I kind of just want a dude in a kimono and clogs to step out in front of Drive during a fight, raise his hand in the air, and state that he is "Walking the path of Heaven, the Man who will rule over all"...and then pull his crazy red alien robo-beetle out of the sky and transform.

I am not enjoying Drive.  Which is rare.  I enjoy most Rider series.  But Drive just ain't getting me into gear.