Super Hero Taisen Z

Yeah, I know you’re all sitting there, waiting excitedly for another HOPA review or my next post about Kamen Rider Wizard. But I had completely forgotten this movie even existed and it’s a movie I’ve actually wanted to see for a very, very long time. So you can have your Avengers as long as I get my Super Hero Taisen movies!

Back in the days of, I dunno, cavemen days or something, I reviewed a movie called Kamen Rider x Super Sentai: Super Hero Taisen and readers of my blog will remember I had some pretty significant issues with the whole thing. It was bloated, poorly written and made little to no sense if you so much at glanced at the plot for more than five seconds. All in all, I wasn’t sold on the idea and questioned how such a thing could ever reasonably work.

Well, little did I know that the people making the movies would take that challenge personally because pretty much exactly one year later they released this:

Super Hero Taisen Z CoverKamen Rider x Super Sentai x Space Sheriffs: Super Hero Taisen Z

In the year blahdeeblah, magic portals suddenly appear everywhere in the known universe and if one enters such a portal, either willingly or by accident, that person is transported instantly to somewhere seemingly random. Haruto Souma, Kamen Rider Wizard, quickly realizes that evil magic is afoot but before he has an opportunity to stop whatever is going on, Space Sheriff Gavan appears before him, swearing that he will kill all magic users, starting with Wizard. Elsewhere, Youko Usami is preparing for her big reunion with her friends, Hiromu and Ryuji whom she doesn’t get to see very often since graduating from the Go-Busters, when a strange, mechanical creature crashes nearby. Compelled to help it, she soon finds herself in the middle of a war that threatens not just the Earth but all of space as well.

One of the biggest draws for me when it comes to these movies is the revival of old characters, heroes and villains alike. Either exactly as they were or giving them a more modern design to reflect how the suit making has changed. Kamen Rider in particular has been going on with this for quite a while now, starting back with Decade and slowly refining the process of bringing them back to life. Let’s Go Kamen Riders featured a whole slew of villains revived including General Black and General Shadow lead by Great Leader of original Kamen Rider fame while Super Hero Taisen revived Doktor G and friggin’ Bio Hunter Silva but Super Sentai wasn’t to be left behind as they revived Black Cross Füh- I mean, Black Cross King for their anniversary movie, 199 Heroes.

Super Hero Taisen Z Ishinomori HeroesAnd I love this. It may not be the same as watching the old series, which I so much want to, but it’s a glimpse into the past and makes me Google a lot of stuff and become all the wiser for it. Adding other stuff like Inazuman and a teaser for the Kikaider reboot is just icing on the friggin’ cake.

PS. That picture is actually from Let’s Go Kamen Riders but… dammit, it’s just so cool!

Now, as you might have assumed from the movie poster, the movie stars Kamen Rider Wizard and a bunch of other people, primarily the Kyoryuger and some guy named Space Sheriff Gavan. And you’d be wrong… well, roughly 66% wrong… if we count the Kyoryuger’s as a single entity which we do. Because Super Sentai works that way.

Much like Super Hero Taisen that teased a Kamen Rider Fourze and Go-Busters crossover, you’re in for something completely different. Though Kamen Rider Wizard definitely features heavily in the movie, the leading man is actually Gavan, once again played by Yuma Ishigaki, from the Space Sheriff Gavan movie, most recently seen in Go-Busters before this. The next real leading man is, in fact, not a man but rather a lady in the form of Youko Usami, from the previous Super Sentai Go-Busters, played again by Arisa Komiya. Backing those two up we have Gai Ikari from Gokaigers, played by returning Junya Ikeda, though his role is mostly limited to introducing the various characters to each other thanks to his role as a walking tokusatsu encyclopedia.

In some ways it’s more honest to describe this as a crossover between Super Sentai and the Metal Heroes as Wizard doesn’t really do much except throw a few punches and save the day. Beyond that the Kamen Riders are strangely unimportant in the plot which is kind of strange to me. Especially since Ikari could’ve been replaced by a Kamen Rider like Decade or Fourze, Riders who could arguably fill the same purpose, and very little would’ve changed in the movie. There’s also a lot of characters returning but only in voice, I suppose that’s simply cheaper which is totally fair. It adds just a little bit extra but more in the “Oh, they got that guy back to do the voices, that’s cool!” and not just stuffing seemingly random people into the plot like they did previously.

As such, this movie is way more streamlined than before, not overindulging in the amount of characters it introduces and even restricts how many different teams they show in suit only, like they did with the first movie. And even though we get some more fanservice for the Metal Hero franchise, it’s never more than a cute little gesture for the fans. Which is how I like it but mileage may vary.

Super Hero Taisen Z InazumanBut more than anything this seems to be a continued move to revive interest in the Metal Hero franchise which is strange to me because they’ve been doing it for a while now and a series have yet to spawn. We’ve got a Gavan movie, two special for Shaider and Sharivan, a bunch of special appearances in other tokusatsu series and even a key role in crossover movies like this and yet no TV series. So I’m a bit confused. I’m not complaining it’s just that after reviving not just Gavan but also Inazuman AND Kikaider, I was hoping for more of a push towards series as that’s where I think they’re the best. Inazuman’s revival makes little sense to me either, not sure where they were going with that but oh well!

Also, that thong on Inazuman? Just… no. I mean, oh God, that’s pretty bad. AH! I can’t stop looking at it! WHY WOULD YOU DRAW MY EYES TO HIS CROTCH! You’re evil designers, evil! What was wrong with the original design there!?

Unlike the previous movie, which was written with such a massive hole in the plot I just could not get over it, this movie takes a far simpler approach to this whole crossover thing. Which is a good thing. The previous movie’s eagerness to be “clever” only ended up hurting its potential and squandering the whole reason why we all saw it.

Still, I’m a bit disappointed that we got the actors that we did. While it, again, is nice to see some of the old characters back in action, I fail to see why even older actors can’t come back. If you can get Kenji Ohba back for a Gavan movie then why not others? Hell, even Fourze appeared in suit only which annoyed the crap out of me, especially since they had the actor do the voice.

Super Hero Taisen Z Metal Hero

Seeing the old heroes back on the screen is crazy fun but it’d be even more fun to see them actually revived as characters, especially with some of the old actors reprising their roles, much like how they did with Space Sheriff Gavan. And sure, it might be difficult to get 60 year old actors into an action movie but since it is a tokusatsu, meaning any action scene is primarily done in suits, I don’t think it’s THAT much of a problem. We’ve already established that kids grow into adults when they put on the suit and other, similar, outright silly things so I don’t see why retirees suddenly couldn’t kick ass in one of the suits.

The mix between Kamen Rider and Super Sentai beyond that is much, much better than it was in the first movie. though there’s still an overwhelming amount of of Super Sentai, they’ve tried to keep a 1:1 ration if you, again, count Super Sentai teams as just one. And there’s a good mix of old and new on the Super Sentai side as well, rather than just new ones. For every relatively new Super Sentai there’s an old one to weigh it up so that’s nice.

Though I do realize I have to figure out some kind of limit for when a series is old, it’s just a vague definition I have in my head. For some reason TimeRanger feels old to me but GaoRanger doesn’t despite only being a year later… weird.

Despite that the final fight feels a bit cramped because even if there’s a 1:1 ratio between Kamen Rider and Super Sentai teams, there’s still an overwhelming amount of Super Sentai to go around. This could’ve been balanced out by a bit more participation from the Metal Heroes beyond the Space Sheriffs but Janperson, the B-Fighters and Jiban only show up for a single attack. And for a movie starring the new Gavan, it feels like they should’ve been slightly more centered.

Super Hero Taisen Z Space Sheriffs

Yeah, I know, I go on and on about this but dammit, I’ve wanted to see the Metal Hero series for so long that just teasing me with this stuff is… unfair, at best.

Beyond that, the movie is great. The battles are great, the directing is good, it might drag a bit and can feel a bit patronizing with some of its story arcs but overall I really liked this one. Even if it’s not really a crossover between Wizard and the Kyoryugers, Wizard at least plays a bigger part than Fourze did in the last one so it feels less like a lie and more like a scheduling issue. The simpler story makes for a more enjoyable viewing experience compared to the previous one and allows it to work much better as a crossover.

Is it everything I want it to be? No, but it’s getting there. I’m glad they’ve continued this tradition so it’ll be interesting to see what the next one does. Oh, it’s a Kamen Rider vs Kamen Rider? Well… I feel like I’ve seen this before. It’s not like they have an annual movie about it or anything!

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