This is something that’s been on my mind a couple days now and I just wanted to get it written down while it was still there. A couple weeks ago the first episode of Kamen Rider Drive aired and I, like several Kamen Rider fans, was a bit skeptical about the whole car theme as opposed to a more usual motorcycle, but after watching the first few episodes I think I realize where the underlying theme behind it all is. As usual it’s hidden between puns and special effects.
Riku Sanjou, the main writer on Kamen Rider Drive, has written two other series in the past that I have watched fully: Kamen Rider W and Zyuuden Sentai Kyouryyger. In the former the meaning was quite obvious. W was a play on how the English letter W is pronounced in Japanese, that being Daburu which is also the word Double. There are plenty of other double meanings to point to as far as Kamen Rider titles go, such as OOO, pronounced Ouzu, meaning King as a callback to the power’s origin, or even Fourze meaning 4-0 for the number 40, of which he had that many numbered switches for powerups, but you get the point it happens.
Now, on the subject of Kyouryuuger, a lot of that series is based around the concept of Bravery, or as it tended to be on that show, BUREIBU! *Snap*. Without getting too in to details, Bravery was what humanity has that allows them to fight against other-emotion fueled Extinction-wanting villains.
While these seem rather simple, a pun here and a core focus there, it’s still what led me to the meaning of Drive. Why Drive? If this were just a car theme they could have gone with something different. Then it hit me. It’s a double meaning pun too. First off, Drive is meant less as “The thing that cars do” but more as “The gear that a car must be put in for forward motion. It’s less “Kamen Rider Car Driving” and more “Kamen Rider Forward Movement.” And this is where the double meaning comes in to play. Shinnosuke Tomari, the person that becomes Kamen Rider Drive, is depicted as being lazy. The first real scene with him, save for some flashback exposition, shows him basically ditching his job to laze about, but it’s shown that he can become serious when he needs to, fixing his tie to show this change.
This is usually accompanied with the statement that he’s “shifted into gear” and that’s the last piece of the puzzle. The other half of Drive.
Drive is not just a car’s gear that allows it to move forward, but the thing that allows us to move forward. Our Drive. It’s been stated that not just anyone can become Kamen Rider Drive and I think this may be part of that reason. The drive that Shinnosuke has is to make sure something bad doesn’t happen to other people since his old partner got injured in an explosion he accidentally set off during the bad guy’s strange Time Gravity Quake thing. He has something motivating him. He has Drive, and that’s what I think the theme of this series will be: The Motivation to Move Forward.
So yeah, that’s that. It was just a thought I’d had and I wanted to get it out there even if it were wrong in the end, I’d like to hope it’s right. Oh, and I’ve not watched Episode 3 yet so if any of this was either already explained or proven wrong already I don’t know.