Tomica Hyper Rescue Drive Head Kidou Kyuukyuu Keisatsu (or Drive Head for short) is a mecha anime series co-produced by OLM Incorporated and Xebec.* The first season began airing April 15, 2017, and ran for 37 episodes. It was followed up by an 8-episode web series in January 2018, with one episode released on the third Saturday of each month, as well as an hour-long theatrical movie in August of the same year.
Drive Head also had a live-action tie-in show known as Drive Head News Channel, which streamed on Youtube. While the show was largely a vessel to advertise the movie, it was also known for annihilating the fourth wall and providing nonsensical answers to fan questions, submitted via twitter, letters, or phone calls.
Drive Head is a Merchandise-Driven series, made to promote Takara Tomy's "Tomica" line of miniature toy cars (in particular, the rescue-themed Tomica Hyper Series sub-line). This is the first anime series based on the line, although there were two Toku series, Tomica Hero Rescue Force and Tomica Hero Rescue Fire, which predate it, as well as a few CG-animated web shorts.
The story is set in the not-too-distant future. In order to deal with an increased amount of disasters and crimes beyond human comprehension, the Mobile Rescue Police developed Drive Head robots, which can do police, firefighting, and ambulance work. The Drive Heads actually consist of small cars called Vipers, which combine with metalic frames to take their robotic "Walker Vehicle" form. Then, the Drive Heads can perform Synchro Fusions with various support vehicles, to unlock additional abilities.The Drive Heads are driven by 4 elementary school students, Gou Kurumada, Taiga Yagura, Jin Ishino and Mikoto Ishino. However, the fact that they're drivers must be kept a secret from the public, in order for the kids to continue living normal lives.
This show provides examples of:
- Adults Are Useless: Subverted. Although the four main drivers are all children, the adult characters play useful support roles, and some join in on the action by piloting support vehicles eventually. One of the Drive Head drivers introduced later on is actually an adult.
- Advertised Extra: Months before the Drive Head movie was released, promotional material put an emphasis on the Crossover with Shinkalion. The E5 Hayabusa was shown on the movie's key visual and a special trailer was released focusing exclusively on the crossover. The actual amount of screentime in the movie given to Hayato and the E5 is minimal.
- Badass Adorable: All four of the main Drive Head drivers. They get plenty of moments of awesome, and they're cute. They're still grade schoolers.
- Badass Crew: The Mobile Rescue Police as a whole. They all have their moments.
- Beach Episode: Episode 16 is one, where Munakata and Shinmon bring the kids to an island for summer vacation. It's just a silly filler episode.
- Book-Ends: In the first episode, Gou rescues a dog. In the last, he rescues a cat.
- Breaking the Fourth Wall: The Drive Head Line sequences at the end of the episodes do this regularly, as they involve Sasagawa playing with the real-life Drive Head toys and sometimes directly engaging the audience. The 8th episode of the web series is entirely composed of this, having her comment on the movie, including portions that she couldn't have possibly seen in the actual film, like the scene involving the Shinkalion E5 Hayabusa which happened in virtual reality.
- Taken up to even larger extremes in the live-action News Channel series, where audience questions are directly answered by alleged Mobile Rescue Police staff members, and the movie, toys and other real-life events are also discussed despite the series being set in-universe.
- Calling Your Attacks: The Drive Head drivers always do this.
- Color-Coded Characters: For the drivers. Gou is blue, Taiga is red, Jin and Mikoto are white. Kuroeda is black.
- Combining Mecha: All the Drive Heads can combine with various Support Vehicles.
- Cool Car: The series runs on this trope, with the heroes all driving different cars, which can become Humongous Mecha.
- Also, Karigari has a Flying Car.
- Cool Plane: The Blitz Jet Fighter, one of the support vehicles. The web series introduces another, the Brave Jet Fighter, which is designed for fire-fighting.
- Evil Knockoff: Near the end of the first series, the Evil AI uses stolen data to develop copies of the original generation Drive Heads. With some enhancements to make them even stronger, of course.
- Humongous Mecha: All the Walker Vehicles.
- Kid Hero: The drivers of the Drive Heads are all 5th graders. Kuroeda aside.
- Last-Name Basis: Baiscally all the adult characters go by one, while the kids go by a first name basis.
- Lighter and Softer: The manga adaptation, which is gag-based, drawn in a super-deformed style, and the Drive Heads are actual characters.
- Meaningful Name: Aside from some of the character names, the school that the kids attend is also one. Takatomi Elementary is a reference to Takara Tomy, the toy company behind the show.
- Additionally, the name of Akasaka TV is taken from the location of the real TBS Broadcasting Center, the Akasaka Sacas. TBS being the network which broadcasts the anime.
- The web-series introduces a location called Tomikawa Castle, which is a play on "Tomica".
- Merchandise-Driven: There's no denying the show is a commercial for the toys.
- Mid-Season Upgrade: All the Drive Heads get updated to Mk-II versions. Some of the Support Vehicles also get upgrades.
- Monster of the Week: The show usually follows a disaster-of-the-week format.
- It's revealed later on that while some of those disasters were isolated incidents, many of them were actually caused by the Evil AI, the series' Big Bad.
- Never Trust a Trailer: The preview for episode 30 excited the fanbase, stating that the Mobile Rescue Police would get a new member. This was a lie, and episode 30 was simply a recap episode. (It does involve filming a video which would be shown to new members, but the discussed new member certainly doesn't exist.)
- Officially Shortened Title: Drive Head is used not just by the fans but even in official sources, given that the full title is quite a mouthful.
- Only the Pure of Heart: The reason the Drive Heads can only be piloted by children is because they're pure. The Drive Gear was programmed to only react to someone with a pure heart.
- Recap Episode: Two of them (episodes 12 and 30). The first involves Saionji appearing on a TV program with Sasagawa to discuss Drive Head. The other is about Isurugi and Izawa filming a video to present to potential new members of the Mobile Rescue Police.
- Taken to frustrating extremes in the 2018 follow-up web series. The first two episodes, as well as the firth, are recaps, and even much of the "new" scenes are just the seiyuu dubbing new lines over old footage. This is likely because the series was just a vehicle to promote the movie, but that still isn't much of an excuse, when they had a separate live-action show designed for promoting the movie.
- Recurring Extra: Sasagawa's cameraman, who has no name and never speaks, but appears in nearly every episode. May double as an Unlucky Extra, since he's ended up in peril along with her a couple times.
- Secret Identity: All the Drive Head drivers have to keep their identities a secret from the public. There's Sala Manda as well, an Idol Singer who hides her true face.
- Shout-Out: Several.
- The actor/director Harrisen Ford is clearly a reference to Harrison Ford. He even dresses like Indiana Jones.
- Karigari's name is a reference to the title character in the German horror film, The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari.
- The title of episode 16, "Legend of the Galactic Kong" is likely a reference to Legend of Galactic Heroes. From the same episode, the movie "Galactic Kong Only Lives Twice" is in reference to the James Bond movie, You Only Live Twice.
- The title of episode 33, "Fushigi no Kichi no Kasumi" is a reference to a common Japanese translation of the title of Alice in Wonderland, "Fushigi na Kuni no Arisu".
- Spiritual Successor: Often considered one to the Brave Series, due to both being robot anime based on Takara Tomy toys. It is also this to the two aforementioned Tomica Hero Rescue duology, albeit minus the henshin suits.
- Drive Head in turn has Shinkansen Henkei Robo Shinkalion as its own spiritual successor.
- Stock Footage: All the time, to the point where you can tell this series doesn't have a great budget. Almost every episode uses the same drawn-out launch sequnce for the Drive Heads, and Sasagawa is often a victim of stock footage.
- Super Cop: All of the main characters are this, being members of the Mobile Rescue Police. But most police forces aren't armed with giant transforming mecha.