Category Archives: Kaizoku Sentai Gokaiger

Kamen Rider x Super Sentai: Super Hero Taisen

The event of a lifetime. The movie that settles the forty year old debate. Two sides clashing to decide the ultimate heroes. There can be only one victor. But no matter who wins… we get the team-up movie of the decade.

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Kamen Rider x Super Sentai: Super Hero Taisen

Get it? Decade? Because it stars Kamen Rider Decade? Well, okay, no, you probably wouldn’t get it. Because I haven’t actually told you anything about this movie yet. Well, I did, a little bit here: shameless promoting of other posts. Where I stated my reasons for not covering this Kamen Rider Fourze movie while reviewing other Kamen Rider Fourze stuff. See him up there on the poster? All white and front and center and stuff?

Well, joke’s on us ’cause he ain’t in this movie! Okay, he is, it’s not total false advertising, just pretty damn close. And so are the Go-Busters though I know virtually nothing about them at this point since I’ve seen nothing from their show. But if  you go into this movie, expecting it to actually be a crossover between these two, you’re going to be disappointed. Because this movie has a theme.

And that’s “anniversary”.

For this is a crossover between Gokaiger and Decade, the two series in their respective franchises that went out of their way to celebrate the many years and teams that came before them. Was it ultimately necessary? Well, we’ll get to that eventually.

Enjoying a quiet day on the moon, Gentaro, Yuki and Miu are shocked when the entire Zangyack fleet suddenly materialize in Earth’s orbit. Rushing back to school, they find it besieged by Zangyack soldiers and it doesn’t take long for Fourze to come face to face with their leader: Kaizoku Sentai Gokaiger’s very own Captain Marvelous who swears he will kill every single Kamen Rider in existence. Elsewhere, the Go-Busters rush to the aid of several civilians who have come under attack by strange monsters they’ve never seen before. And they too soon come face to face with the leader behind this sudden attack: Kamen Rider Decade, Tsukasa Kadoya, who swears he will wipe all Super Sentai from existence. Only one side can survive and it’s a fight to the death.

A crossover movie between Kamen Rider and Super Sentai is something some people have wanted for a long time and others have dreaded. Personally, I’ve never seen the appeal since even the regular crossovers within their own franchises tend to muddy the water plenty enough. It’s difficult enough to imagine there’s a yearly crop of villains stupid enough when there’s about forty years of villains before them that failed. Imagine then if there’s double that? Continue like this and there won’t be room on Earth for us regular people.

Kamen Rider has it easier in this department since their struggles tend to be a lot more confined. It’s normally a single person going up against an organization that tends to work fairly locally but every other Super Sentai ends with the world hanging by a thread and a huge climactic battle. Now you’re telling me they all take place in the same universe? And at times, the same city? Ehhh?

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My reaction.

Alright, so practicing some “suspension of disbelief”, Kamen Riders are heroes that work in secret to protect the people of Earth whereas Super Sentai tend to be the ones that fight more openly for peace and all that. You’d think after twenty odd masked heroes on motorcycles, they’d be a little more than a myth but ignoring that, how come not all Kamen Riders know Super Sentai? Tokyo being attacked by a fleet of spaceships is the sort of thing that makes the news, even in Japan.

Ahhh, suspension of disbelief! When does it kick in?

The simple premise of the movie is that only one of the franchises can survive, sort of embodying the struggle between fans of Kamen Rider and their rival fans of Super Sentai. It adds a lot to the plot if you know of the rivalry between the series and it’s humorous to see the characters in the movie confused when someone else starts discussing the rivalry, saying it’s all because they lost their “slot”. This is a reference that dates back almost forty years, to 1975, when Himitsu Sentai Gorenger began airing and was given Kamen Rider‘s TV slot. Yes, the rivalry is that old.

Of course, and I hope I don’t spoil too much here, the ultimate lesson of the movie, one which it hammers in with the subtlety of… well, an elephant in a china shop, is that they can and should co-exist because it’s silly to think one needs to go away. The main characters continue to debate the question of why they must fight rather than just get along and while the sentiment in itself can get a bit tiring after a while, the actors really do bring their a-game in portraying the conflict they feel.

Another big surprise to me was that it’s not really Marvelous or Tsukasa that are the main characters. Instead that role has been given to Joe Gibken and Don Dogoier from Gokaiger, Daiki Kaito from Decade and Hina Izumi from Kamen Rider OOO. It’s surprising because, not to be too cruel, they’re b-listers. Joe and Don were Blue and Green respectively and when talking about Super Sentai, the red members are normally the ones you talk about. Daiki Kaito was the second Rider of Decade and Hina wasn’t even a Rider. The group are at odds with their former comrades who have chosen to go alone on this extermination quest and struggle to figure why they’re doing it and what lead to this happening since both Marvelous and Tsukasa tell different stories.

kamen-rider-x-super-sentai-super-hero-taisen-mkv_snapshot_00-57-39_2014-06-16_12-44-02The real star of the movie is Joe Gibken, again portrayed by Yuki Yamada, who is given far more screen time than anyone else. He’s the one who feels the most conflicted outwardly as he both wants to stop Marvelous while at the same time fiercely loyal to his former captain. Yamada really brings forth a much more emotional side of Joe than seen before.
After him, Daiki is really the one given the most space, partly because he remains a very popular Rider to this day but also because he was the most interesting character in Decade. His role as a loner thief and outsider gave him an air of mystery and he was slowly explored as a character whereas Tsukasa was more or less given his mysterious past on a silver platter. Daiki was further explored as a character in the Cho Den-O movie Episode Yellow which cemented him as a character that outlived his series in terms of popularity.

The conflict is again embodied in Joe and Daiki who repeatedly clash over the issue, Joe almost ready to kill Daiki from wanting to believe there’s a point to what Marvelous is doing and seeing his friends killed by Tsukasa in front of his very eyes. Don and Hina are mostly there to act as a voice of reason and ask the questions pertinent to the plot such as “Why? Who? When?”

And this is where I’ll be entering spoiler territory so if you want to go into this movie unspoiled, skip the lines of text between the lines:

 


 

Towards the end of the movie, it’s revealed that the big war was just an act put on by Marvelous and Tsukasa to root out the plans of the joint forces of both Super Sentai and Kamen Rider villains. The apparent deaths of their friends were nothing more than illusion while they hid them in a pocket dimension. Once the villains reveal their true plan, they summon forth all the Super Sentai and Kamen Riders believed dead for one big climactic battle.

However, my big problem with this is that the plan was stupid. While it was ultimately supposed to lead to something good, a lot of things could’ve gone wrong. For instance, what if Joe had actually killed Daiki? Imagine acting on the belief that you’re saving everything you know only to have it turned around and find out you in fact killed someone for no good reason at all.
How could Marvelous and Tsukasa expect the others heroes to just sit idly by and hope they didn’t do something stupid? Sure, you could try to sweep the question under the rug by saying heroes wouldn’t really kill anyone but… not all Kamen Riders were all that fair and good. Some would revel in the opportunity to fight and kill Super Sentai, I’m sure. And they’re working with villains who really DO want to murder every single person who they see as good. How do they make sure they don’t kill in the process? And for God’s sake, Marvelous invades a school and has his minions attack and harass students! Did he give them a specific “Don’t kill innocents!”-order? ‘Cause that would sort of give him away.

The movie sort of points this flaw out on its own as the joint forces of Kamen Rider and Super Sentai defeat the villains and foil their plans only for Daiki to appear, call Tsukasa out on his assholish behavior and that he betrayed what friendship they had. He then completes the villains’ plan and goes on a rampage to punish Tsukasa.

And you know what? I’m with Daiki on this. Maybe I wouldn’t go on a potentially murderous rampage but at the same time, I think he’s justified. Joe, on the other hand, seems to completely forget about the fact that Marvelous almost made him kill someone however indirectly. We’re talking straight up murder.

super-hero-taisen-joe-vs-kaitoIt’s kind of a big flaw in their plan and they were betting a lot of money on any other Rider unable to best them. That’s some serious hubris! What would’ve happened if Tsukasa and Marvelous were both killed? A bunch of heroes trapped in an alternate dimension and the rest fighting it out to the death. NOT a good plan. It was honestly enough to bring down my enjoyment of the movie quite a bit and it really shows how poorly the writers thought this through. Add to that that the giant robot piloted by Daiki isn’t even defeated by Decade or Gokaiger but instead the combined might of Fourze and Go-Busters? Sure, that makes sense since they were the two series airing at the time but more on this after the spoiler-line!

 


 

For the record, if you didn’t read the spoilers, from now on I’ll call those lines “Spoiler-Lines” so if you see one, chances are I’m talking sensitive plot information.

Now, if I were to ignore my problems with the plot then I still have some pretty damning complaints about this movie. For one, it’s sold as a Fourze/Go-Busters crossover which it is most certainly not. Fourze and the Go-Busters only figure into the plot a little in the beginning (and honestly, they could be replaced by anyone at this point) and at the end when they combine their powers to bring down the big bad. Other than that, it’s all Joe, Don, Hina and Daiki with Marvelous and Tsukasa occasionally trying to explain themselves. And it makes it feel very disjointed, it treats itself like a vehicle for the current (then, not at the moment of writing) tokusatsu heroes but probably couldn’t pry the cast away from their busy shooting schedule to feature in an additional movie outside of what they normally do so they had to rope previous actors into returning and sort of settled on who they could get.

Don’t get me wrong, seeing them back in action was a welcome sight but it still gives the movie a very rushed feel. Doubly so when the characters we’ve been following don’t even factor into the ultimate final battle. In part I feel lied to and it was a wholly unnecessary lie since I would’ve gladly watched this movie even without Fourze and Go-Busters. Hell, that’s something Toei definitely needs to look into more, bringing back old actors to feature in the occasional movie while their series are in full gear.

My other complaint is that the fights are sort of dull. First off, the twist is super obvious from the go. Partly because of the effects used but mostly because it’s a movie for kids! Even if you haven’t read the spoilers, I sincerely doubt it’s much of a twist. Secondly, you know their hands were tied and no one side could be seen as too powerful. If the Kamen Riders dominated, Super Sentai fans would be upset and vice versa. Realistically, Super Sentai would have an upper hand since in general they have five times as many members and I don’t care how good a fighter you are, that’s some pretty staggering odds. So you know from the start that no side is going to “win”. They also had to seriously reduce the number of Super Sentai members brought back or you’d have a hard time seeing the Riders in their midst. Even saying that, there’s still a very big focus on Super Sentai which to me is sort of boring since I do prefer Kamen Rider most of the time.

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Look at that picture then keep in mind that only the front TWO rows… of the LEFT side (from our perspective) are Kamen Riders. Two HALF rows. The rest are Super Sentai. Can you imagine if they did a role call for all of them? We’d be here all day!

But even ignoring the fact that no true winner can ever be appointed, the fights are still dull because there’s very little energy to them. Fights are first off very brief because there’s a lot to go through so there’s no real focus on anyone for very long outside of Decade and Gokaiger. Most heroes/teams get one real display of awesomeness before it’s on to the next one. For what it’s worth, the writers and director did try to pair them up as creatively as they could, either thematically or because they aired at the same time. But that’s a bone for the idle enthusiast and while I appreciate it, it’s not enough to salvage it. Secondly, they make these movies on a budget not much bigger than an episode and that’s exactly how the movie feels: like a longer, slightly prettier episode. It’s the same quarries, streets and warehouses that you see in any of Toei’s tokusatsu shows and it’s boring. You expect more from a movie, use some of that budget to get some new sets, dammit!

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There’s a joke in tokusatsu circles: you’re never more than an explosion away from a warehouse filled with empty boxes. But you’d think in movies they’d at least TRY to change it up.

And that really leads me to my biggest problem with this movie: it’s too cluttered. Even if you scaled it down to, say, one representative of each show, that’s still twentytwo Riders (I think that’s if you don’t count the movies) and 36 Super Sentai members for a joint cast of 58 characters. It’s obviously too much and the movie needed to be scaled down even further. Perhaps focus on a group of eight with four from each side and then Tsukasa and Marvelous as the villains (if you absolutely have to keep that damn plot). Then give each hero a villain from their own era to fight then change it up at the end, have Riders fight Sentai villains and of course the other way around. I get the appeal of having all of them on screen, it makes for a wicked ad but if the Gokaiger movies proved anything it’s that it doesn’t friggin’ work. What’s the point of having all of this nostalgia if you’re not ACTUALLY going to do something with it? It’s wasted money. The Fourze movies before have handled it far better, having only the seven original Kamen Riders showing up instead of all of them and it gives it a much heavier impact.

And for the love of Pete, try to bring back OLDER actors. I know it’s hard but I’m sure you could scrounge up some of the older Rangers and Riders. Don’t even have to be main ones, just from that series. But whatever you do, don’t have a different actor voice the character in the suit to pretend the character is back because we REALLY can tell, especially with the new ones.

Overall then, I found the movie to be seriously lacking. While great fun at times and great joy in seeing some of the old actors back in their roles, it squanders its potential almost entirely. It has no lasting impact and how can a crossover between two of the biggest tokusatsu franchises of all times NOT have a lasting impact? And I’m not alone in this, from what I read most people found the movie to be somewhat disappointing. Some people liked it, of course, and some people outright hated it but from what I’ve seen, most people place somewhere in the middle. And for good reason.

So it’s really just for the fans, I think.

Next time I’ll be wrapping up Fourze so look forward to that!

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Kaizoku Sentai Gokaiger – Final Thoughts

So, final thoughts on Kaizoku Sentai Gokaiger. I promised it was coming so here it is. Quite simple, no? Actually, you’d be surprised at how difficult it can sometimes be to specify words to go with your thoughts. ‘Cause let me tell you, it’s a mess in here, some many thoughts at once.

But enough excuse making, my immediate opinion of Gokaiger is… well, that it was quite good. And not just for a Super Sentai, there are series that are okay for Super Sentai and then there are downright good ones and this is a case of the latter. It’s not perfect but it’s probably one of the most enjoyable Super Sentai I have seen in a very long time. It doesn’t quite nudge out Dairanger from first spot (and to be fair, my nostalgia and fanboyism for that series makes sure it will never be dethroned) but it’s definitely in my top three and I’m having a bit of a problem deciding between it and Gekiranger for second and third.

If you haven’t already read my previous posts, I highly recommend reading them first if you want a more in depth look at the series before coming back. Here’s the first post. Second post. And third post. (Plug it harder!)

What was it that I liked about Gokaiger? Well, first off, I love the fact that it’s an anniversary series. So was Boukenger but it did a much poorer job at it than Gokaiger did. While it was relegated to minor things and a little bit at the end of every episode of Boukenger, in Gokaiger they went the whole extra mile and even made it part of the story. That deserves crazy cred if you ask me.
But if you read my previous posts, you also know I wasn’t entirely happy with that aspect either. While it did fairly well, at times it felt rushed in this department and they didn’t do as much with it as they could. The plot is that they have to go around meeting all the old teams and get their powers but some are given to them in very lazy fashions and some team never get a chance to chance in the slightest. And it’s a double edged sword. Because there were 34 teams before Gokaiger and assuming there’s an actor left from all series still in any shape to act, with only 51 episodes, there’s no way they could’ve given all teams a fair shake, even with the movies, and in the same time build each of the Gokaiger into an actual character so some sacrifices were inevitable.

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That’s a lot of history!

But the opportunities are wasted. Why is Carranger  featured whereas Gorenger, the very first Super Sentai of all times, gets mostly a glorified cameo? I was really looking forward to that and though I understand that maybe the actors from the original series weren’t up for it, since it’s almost forty years old at this point, something Gorenger-centric would’ve been nice in a friggin’ anniversary series. I get that you can skip things like Maskman or Dynaman but Gorenger? The original? Good lord!

Of course, when they do focus on a team, they tend to do very well. The Hurricaneger episodes were great, fantastic fun, and the thing they did with Kenji Ohba was also pretty damn neat. Though the big joke happened in one of the movies, the build up and subsequent payoff did not disappoint. The Go-Onger double episode was also a real treat and seeing the Dekarangers back in action was fantastic fun, especially for me since that was the first Super Sentai I saw from beginning to end.

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Banban in my heart! Forever!

Not gonna lie, it was quite emotional.

And that’s another thing that greatly surprised me about this series. The weight and seriousness it brought to its stories. There’s something serious about all five original members of Gokaigers, whether it’s something in their past or about them as a person, that greatly afflict the series as a whole. Joe must avenge his mentor and friend, Luka lost her little sister, Ahim saw her family murdered before her, Marvelous was betrayed by his close friend and Doc is a coward and hates himself for it. And all this development actually went somewhere for once, their flaws and darkness was not just for show or for the sake of being gritty, they were integral parts of who the characters were and why they did what they did.

But there are episodes not tied specifically to any ranger that also managed to twang effectively on the heart strings, such as the Jetman episode or the Timeranger episode. And this is riding on the coattail of Goseiger which feared darkness and serious themes like they were the plague. Not saying all Super Sentai need to be ultra serious but it’s an interesting 180 that quite frankly took me by surprise.

My only other real complaint was the ending. It felt entirely too stock for this series and it was very formulaic, to the point where I could’ve sworn it was just lifted straight from another Super Sentai. And it gave me serious flashbacks of Power Rangers in Space, believe it or not. But I guess there’s only so many ways you can end a series on a yearly basis and not reuse stuff. It isn’t terrible but I couldn’t help but to feel that the series really ended a few episodes earlier with the demise of Basco and that this was just a matter of formalities.

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I just can’t get enough of this guy!

You also know my opinion of the bad guys and I stick by it still. Outside of Basco, no other villain gets too much development and when they do get around to it, it just shows how much better it could’ve been. Only Barizorg gets any kind of development, really, and they start scraping on the surface of Warz Gill. But in hindsight that was really the final signal that the end was coming. Displaying more of Warz Gill’s insecurities and ambition to impress his dad could’ve made for something way more interesting but it’s simply too late. You barely have time to utter “Oh, that’s interesting.” before he’s dead.

Despite all of that, I still heartily recommend this series though I’m not entirely sure who to. If you don’t watch tokusatsu then you’re probably not gonna change your mind and if you do watch tokusatsu then chances are you’ve already seen it. So maybe this is to others like me, people who are still catching up and were thinking “I’ll get into you another day…” Well, hear me, Gokaiger is worth it!It has a big, big heart and it’s in the right place. There’s laughs to be had, tears to be shed and for the most part the action is really good, they’ve really upped the budget for their wire stunts. You get to know the crew like they’re your friends and you can’t help but to feel that it would be an awesome adventure to go with these guys. So, despite the flaws, it’s a really good series.

And though I’m actually somewhat hyped to watch Go-Busters, I’m already almost half-way into Kamen Rider Fourze so expect to see my thoughts on that very soon. Seriously, I don’t know how I could’ve gotten this far already, the episodes are just flying by. Not sure if that’s good or bad yet.

Kaizoku Sentai Gokaiger – Part 3 (Episode 34 – 51 + Gokaiger vs Gavan)

We’re back only to say “sayonara”. Gokaigers is over, at least as a thing of its own and I can’t help but to feel just a tad bit sad about that. I got to know the characters well, I shared their laughter and I shared their pain, I shed my fair share of tears and I cheered when they stood tall against adversity. Honestly, it was a hell of a ride and I’ll miss them like crazy.

But before we get into the nit and grit of my feelings of this show, there’s two things I want to cover. One, the enemies and then the robots themselves. I’ll only touch upon each briefly this time because, for one, there’s not a lot to say and secondly, I really don’t want this page to become a mile long like the previous ones. So, let’s start with the main baddie of the show.

gokai-vi-gil.jpgWarz Gill serves as the main bad guy for most of the show. Unlike Goseigers that had a tendency to switch its bad guys rather quickly, Gokaigers stuck to its gun for much longer but that can easily be attributed to its format. The plot is about an invasion which means that Wars Gill gets to sit back and command from a safe distance rather than get entangled in hand to hand combat. As such, for the majority of the show, he’s never seen directly interacting with the Rangers and it’s more his commanders that do the actual warring against the Rangers. Despite all of that, I still enjoyed him as a villain. Although it takes a long time for him to get any actual character development other than “whiny son of the emperor”, when it does come around you can’t help but to feel a bit sorry for the guy. Not enough to want him to survive but when you realize he knows of the mockery he suffers behind his back, you can understand why he’s so driven to accomplish something that make others respect him.

04SpecialDutyOfficerBarizorgHe only has one intimate connection with someone else and that’s with his bodyguard, Barizorg. Barizorg is by far the darkest of the villain, having a past that intersects with one of the Gokaigers, Joe Gibken. Barizorg is in fact Joe’s long lost friend and mentor Sid Bamick who was captured after his defection from the empire and turned into Barizorg, stripping him of everything but his raw skills and combat prowess. Fiercely loyal Warz Gill, he continuously clash with Joe, ignoring his pleads to come back. In fact, he is unable to return to how he was before, regardless of whether he wants to or not and ultimately sacrifices his life in the line of duty. Barizorg’s death hits Warz Gill hard and it’s a sad moment when you realize the pampered son has lost the only one he could consider a friend.

There are other villains along the way, Warz Gill eventually beats the dust as sons of villains tend to do in these show but his father isn’t all that interesting and isn’t around long enough to make any sort of impression, his commanders even less. Warz Gill’s other commanders, Damarasu and Insarn, are never truly explored as characters and while Damarasu eventually clashes with the Gokaigers impressively, Insarn has even less than that. Her final showing is weak in comparison to the others and feels more like an afterthought than any sort of finish. Even in her role as science advisor, she never does much more than enlarge the bad guys once they die, a process that even the show itself can’t help but to mock at times.

I really like the design of Warz Gill, except for the thing on his chest. Mostly because it turned out to be nothing despite its immediate similarities with Gokai Silver’s powered up mode, Gold Mode. I figured it would finally come into play when he got his hands dirty but no such showing came. Instead it just looks kind of silly where it sits, drawing attention for no real reason. I imagine one of the main sources of inspiration behind this design, other than Napoleon, is a bird of some sort, possibly a swan, so the thing on his chest could be seen as feathers, I suppose. On the other hand, I’m not fond of Barizorg’s design even though there’s nothing specific to draw your eyes or anything wrong with it. It’s a very busy design, lots of pipes and metals and pistons and what not. It sets him apart from the other designs in the show and he feels like a left over from Go-Onger. It just sort of looks out of place but I don’t necessarily think that’s a bad thing. He’s much more visually interesting than Damarasu or Insarn.

However, there is an additional villain that bears talking about and that’s Basco Ta Jolokia.

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Basco, you brilliant bastard you. With the introduction of Basco, the show gained some much needed momentum and really started moving in an interesting direction. For two reasons.

Nr. 1! Basco stands in direct opposition to the Gokaigers. To reach the Greatest Treasure in the Universe, the pirates need to collect the 34 Grand Powers. In simpler words, they need to be given the approval of the Super Sentai teams that preceeded them. Usually this would lead to some new attack though there are a few odd ball ones that… serve no purpose what so ever. While others serve more than one purpose. However, Basco is also looking for the treasure and can take the powers by force so it becomes more of a race. Whereas the Gokaigers could take it in their own pace before, with the introduction of Basco there’s a certain sense of urgency which really helped the pace of the show.

The second reason is his connection with Marvelous. They both served together under Aka Red before Basco betrayed them to take the treasure all to himself. Before this, Marvelous and Basco were practically brothers. From his introduction to his finale, Basco lends the show some serious intensity as he continuously clashes with Marvelous. Though he at first fights using a number of Ranger keys that he can give physical form with Rapparatta, a device that looks like a trumpet, the Gokaigers eventually manage to take the keys back which forces Basco to reveal his true appearance.

At his side at all times his monkey Sally. And she’s exactly that, a monkey that’s proficient at fighting with cymbals. It’s not really possible to talk about her much without spoiling one of the best two-parter completely so I’ll just say that she ends up being far more important to the plot than one might expect. Basco stores a number of giant monsters in a safe on her stomach called Pseudo-Lifeforms. They’re really not all that interesting, each embody a certain thing such as gold or water but their fights tend to be pretty one-sided in favor of the Gokaigers and are really just there to justify ending the episode in big mode.

I only have one gripe about Basco and that’s that they seemed to be building him up to something much more than he really was. Always scheming and plotting, you never quite knew where you had Basco. He quite clearly still cared for Marvelous as he had numerous opportunities to finish him off and at times he even straight up helped the pirates. He was a fascinating villain and a part of me sort of wanted him to survive the whole ordeal and come out on top, perhaps even joining the Gokaigers in some manner. If there had been a seventh Ranger, Basco was more than qualified to take the position as far as I’m concerned. He’d make a fabulous anti-hero and I would’ve loved to see his and Marvelous relationship begin to develop again as there was quite clearly a lot of affection going both ways at one point.

Crazy cred go out to Kei Hosogai, the actor who portrayed Basco so well.

 

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Gokaioh

But enough talk of the villains, what about the giant robots this time around. Well, we really only have two to talk about which compared to some Super Sentai shows is… downright paltry. And I like it. Yeah, not everyone agrees about this, some like it when Super Sentai have ridiculous amounts of robots but I prefer a smaller number that can do more things. The main robot, the Gokaigers’ Gokaioh, eventually receives various equipment upgrades and the ability to combine together with Goujyujin and Machalcon, the Go-Onger’s Grand Power, to form the Kanzen Gokaioh but I don’t really see that as an additional robot. So what we get is the Gokaioh and the Goujyujin, Silver Gokai’s own robot, and between them, Goujyujin is the clear winner.

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Goujyurex

Why? Because it’s a huge ass drill machine that turns into a t-rex that turns into a giant robot with a drill for an arm! That’s why. Each form is taken straight out of the series where Gokai Silver gets his initial three powers: TimeRanger, ZyuRanger and AbaRanger. And it is glorious, doubly so if you get what they’re doing. As a bonus, the t-rex form gets a decent amount of screen-time for a mid-tier transformation but I’m most certainly not complaining.

The only thing in this show that I don’t particularly like design wise are the monsters of the week. They’re just very forgettable, bordering on completely unremarkable. Many Super Sentai shows have very specific design ideas in mind; animals given humanoid forms, animals crossed with machines, everyday objects given life, animals with spiral themes and so on, so on. But if there is such a theme present in Gokaiger, I didn’t see it. That’s not to say there was no though behind them, some monsters were clearly intended as throwbacks to older monsters and more than once did I go “Oh, that reminds me of that monster from the episode of that show.” and I refuse to believe that wasn’t at least somewhat intentional. Other monsters are specifically said to come from older Super Sentai shows so I’m guessing that was the running theme throughout the entire series, I just didn’t pick up on it with most of them.

But I’m not entirely sure if that’s enough. And even if it is, the designs still weren’t all that good. I don’t really remember most of the monsters except for those that played bigger parts but even then I’m drawing partial blanks. I know there were two monsters in the Hurricaneger two-parter but I only remember one of them. And that’s not the only example.

But before I wrap this up with a final thoughts sort of thing, let’s talk a little about Gokaiger vs Gavan, the third and final movie of the Gokaiger series.

Gokaiger_vs._GavanKaizoku Sentai Gokaiger vs. Space Sheriff Gavan: The Movie

There’s… not too much to say about this movie other than “I liked it!”? Well, perhaps not with a ! at the end but I definitely came away from the movie smiling like a kid. And it’s hard to explain why, I’ve never seen Gavan myself so it’s not nostalgic in that sense. But I am very much aware of Gavan’s existence, the first of the Metal Hero series, a tokusatsu series I very much intend to get into one day. That’s right, I’ve never seen any of the Metal Hero series and sadly, that’s unlikely to change in the immediate future. They’re not as popular as either Super Sentai or Kamen Rider or Ultraman for that matter, a series that despite its legacy can’t really keep up with the two bigger ones today. In other words, there’s not a whole lot of fansubbing going on with these shows and I can only hope that once more of the old Kamen Rider and Super Sentai are done, groups will take a more dedicated look on them.

However, you don’t need to have seen the series to understand the movie. Space Sheriff Gavan isn’t a difficult character to wrap your head around, it’s pretty much right there in the name. He’s come to Earth to apprehend the space pirates Gokaigers. But all is not well in the Galactic Union Police and the Gokaigers find themselves knee deep in trouble once again as it’s soon revealed that the GUP is under Zangyack control and Gavan is slated to be replaced. But to Marvelous it’s much more than a fun adventure, it’s repaying a very old debt to the hero that saved his life as a kid.

From what I’ve gathered, the movie takes place after the original Gavan series but that never really plays a part. And unless you consider a thing like “the hero lives at the end and saves the day” a major spoiler, watching this before Gavan probably isn’t going to ruin the series for you.

It’s worth noting that this movie serves as part of Toei’s 30th anniversary of the Metal Hero series, together with Space Sheriff Gavan: The Movie. And it stars the original actor that played Gavan: Kenji Ohba. There’s a particularly delicious treat waiting for fans of the old Super Sentai as Gavan meets both Battle Kenya from Battle Fever J and Denji Blue from Denshi Sentai Denjiman. It might not seem like much of a treat if not for the fact that Kenji Ohba played all three roles in the past and does so again in the movie, creating much confusion for the Gokaigers.

OhbainGavanIt’s a special moment, especially for oldschool fans. You don’t even need to have seen this series, it’s great fun either way.

Overall, the movie isn’t all that impressive. It clearly got a bit of a boost to the budget and the one hour run time allows it to make something more of itself than “The Flying Ghost Ship” did.  And it’s a fun look into Marvelous past and what he possibly sees as a father figure. And I can’t help but to think that maybe, just maybe, this will give Toei the traction they need to make more Metal Hero series. Because we need it. You can never have too much tokusatsu… unless it’s made by Toho but that’s a story for another time. But Gavan and Kenji Ohba is really the only thing that keeps this movie interesting to the end and just highlights why we need more middle aged men in our tokusatsu. Don’t get me wrong, we have plenty of room for pretty, young guys too but I would kill to see a revived Gavan with Kenji Ohba in the lead. He definitely seems fit and eager enough for such a project so why not? I mean, he’s not even sixty yet, the guy has decades of acting left in him.

There’s plenty of action throughout the movie and you get to see some villains from Super Sentai past make an appearance however unsatisfying and short a cameo it is. The final battle, especially between Gavan and his impostor, is a lot of fun though I would’ve liked much more cooperation between Gavan and the Gokaigers. Oh, and the Super Sentai set to replace Gokaigers, the Go-Busters, makes a cameo much like how the Gokaigers made a cameo in the Goseiger/Shinkenger cross over movie.

But now it’s time to wrap this up. And I’ll wrap this up… next time. You see, when I start writing this I don’t actually know how long each post is going to be. I said I wasn’t going to talk too much about villains and I ended up doing exactly that. And that’s sort of the point of blogs, I think, that you write your thoughts down and what comes out, comes out. So what I’m getting at is… well, what was meant to be three parts will end up being four parts. But I’ll probably call the fourth part “Finale!” or something like that.

So see you in a day or two again.

Kaizoku Sentai Gokaiger – Part 2 (Episode 17 – 33 + The Flying Ghost Ship)

When I left you last time I was right between episode 16 and 17, having just seen the team-up movie with the Goseigers and since then a lot of things have happened. Both in the show and when it comes to my opinion of the Gokaigers. First up, the sixth member of the Gokaigers has joined the team and a new series baddie was introduced in the same go but I’ll probably talk more about that in my final post on the show. So that leaves my opinion on the show itself and in what way that has changed.

Fear not for it is for the better.

I intentionally skipped doing any sort of lengthy character introduction/analysis last time because I felt it would’ve dragged the post out for too long if I had. And I worried I might not have had much to write about this time if I’d spent all that delicious talk of characters back then. So this time around, we’ll be talking a bit more of the individual characters themselves.

I’ve already mentioned how varied the characters are, especially if compared to previous incarnations of Super Sentai, such as the Goseigers, who were more or less just a bunch of Mary Sue’s. Ironically, they reminded me a great deal of the very first Power Rangers, the Mighty Morphin’ gang, in how each episode had a serious issue to deal with such as bullying, environment, healthy eating and so on. These things tend to vary significantly in Super Sentai, with some series going for some seriously kid friendly stuff while others go somewhat darker. My favorite Super Sentai to date, Dairanger, is the latter with Goseiger fitting in nicely in the former category. Gokaiger falls much closer to the darker end of the spectrum, most evident in the characters.

Gokai Red - Captain Marvelous
Pirate Captain Marvelous

First up, and always most prominent, is Captain Marvelous, played by Ryota Ozawa. If you can’t guess from his marvelous coat, he plays Gokai Red, the leader of space pirates and in some ways the main character of the show. He’s the first Gokaiger who gathered the others to go hunt for the “Greatest Treasure”. As such he’s also the one with the most fleshed out backstory, mostly revolving around the Red Pirates, the pirate crew that started gathering the Ranger Keys, led by legendary Aka Red. But when they had gathered all the keys, they were betrayed and Marvelous was the only one to get away.

In many ways, Marvelous has the least interesting story but he makes up for it by simply being great fun to watch. He has a very cavalier attitude to life, seeking adventure where ever he may find it and yet beneath his tough exterior hides a serious, smart man. Anyone who offers to make his day a little more interesting is someone he likes. He’s fiercely loyal to his friends and willing to support them through thick and thin though he also strongly believes that people, young and old alike, must stand up for themselves and be ready to reach out and grab what they want rather than wait for it to be delivered to them. He wants to be given nothing.

Gokai Blue - Joe Gibken
First Mate Joe Gibken

In some ways, he’s the very opposite of his first mate, Joe Gibken, the first addtion to Marvelous’ Gokaigers. Joe carries one of the darker pasts in the crew, having been part of Zangyack’s special forces in the past though he defected when asked to kill defenseless children. It was only through a chance meeting with Marvelous that he found a new purpose in life, defying Zangyack to his last breath. His story is further complicated when he finds out that his friend and mentor was turned, against his will, into one of the fiercest warriors in the Zangyack Empire and bodyguard of the Emperor’s own son. Though he struggles for a while, he eventually comes to terms with the situation and swears to set his friend’s soul free. He’s played by Yuki Yamada and yes, he’s Gokai Blue.

Joe is a very serious guy, often hiding his true feelings and nature under a stoic facade. Much like Marvelous, he strongly believes a person must be willing to fight for themselves first. Extremely skilled with a sword or two, he’s often considered the group’s finest fighter and one of the most skilled swordsmen in the universe.

Outside of the sixth member, he’s probably one of the most passionate Gokaigers though he’ll never admit it. Trained to be a soldier in the Zangyack empire, he’s learned to hide and mask his emotions, making it a right treat when they finally do break through. His past offers a really dark twist to the series, one I didn’t really see coming, and gives him a very solid reason to want to fight the Zangyack empire other than the obvious ones such as oppression and tyranny and death.

Gokai Yellow - Luka Millfy
Lookout Luka Millfy

Third member of the crew, Luka Millfy, also has a very dark past having grown up on the streets of a planet invaded by the Zangyack. There she helped care for many of the city’s orphans but when her little sister died from an illness, she vowed to acquire enough money to come back and save the orphans from their current life. It was during one of her thefts that she came across Marvelous and Joe who invited her into the crew upon seeing her skills.

She’s played by Mao Ichimichi and do I even need to point out she’s Gokai Yellow?

Personally, I don’t like Luka much. She’s very pushy and at times borders on being a bully. She’s completely obsessed with money and jewels and isn’t afraid to show it. Like Joe and Marvelous, though, she too hides a very deep rooted sense of justice and she hates seeing people being pushed around. And it’s hard not to feel sympathy for her when her past with her sister is revealed, twanging away on those heart strings expertly. She’s only second to Joe in terms of fighting prowess, also favoring swords but having a few other tricks up her sleeves, relying more on her agility than strength.

In some ways she’s one of the more realized characters but at times her flaws are just so overpowering. At times she’s incredibly inconsiderate of other’s feelings and this rubbed me the wrong way. I can’t hate her, though, but she’s probably my least enjoyed character on the show.

Gokai Green - Don Dogoier
Mechanic Don Dogoier

Yes, when everyone else gets a little profile picture to the side, Don Dogoier, aka Gokai Green, gets a banner picture because dammit, I love this character something fierce. He’s probably the biggest reason this series is going to remain in my heart for a very long time and why it jumped up quite a few placements on my Super Sentai ranking list. He’s played by Kazuki Shimizu

Don Dogoier, or Doc, is anything but a pirate. His actual backstory hasn’t really been revealed this far into the series but it’s not difficult to surmise from his personality that he didn’t join the crew because he wanted adventure. He’s an engineer and quite a good one at that, being in charge of their home base’s technical aspects and making sure everything is up and running. He’s also the cook, having devised a dinner plan that takes all members’ nutritional needs into consideration. Acting as a bit of a mother hen around the base, he also pleads with the other to keep their living space clean.
And he can’t really fight either, having had no actual formal training of any kind. He favors ranger combat and relies more on trickery than any sort of fighting art, using his inexperience in his favor. He’ll often utilize the environment he’s in to defeat the enemies, reminding me a great deal of Jackie Chan as he vaults over objects and uses even his fumbles as a way to gain the upper hand.

Overall, I just really enjoy seeing him fight which is rare for a Super Sentai but then again, this series choreography is rad, totally up the walls, good.

However, my interest in this character reaches far further than that. He’s by far the most cowardly Ranger I have ever seen, often opting to run away rather than fight. Not only that but he also suffers from massive bouts of doubt in himself, lacking any sort of confidence in himself despite the evidence of the contrary and the support of the others. When the sixth Ranger was introduced, Doc was so distraught seeing his skills he was close to leaving the team. He can’t hide his feelings at all, easily being the most emotional of the Gokaigers. Despite all that, deep down he’s a very courageous young man, something that often only shows when his friends are in serious danger.

All that combined makes for a character easy to relate to. He’s kind, sort of shy and very clumsy and outside of being good with machines, doesn’t really display anything that no normal person couldn’t do themselves whereas most other members are grander than life itself. He also displays the most evolution as a character, at least so far, with him slowly becoming more and more comfortable in his role as a hero.

Gokai Pink - Ahim de Famille
Ambassador Ahim de Famille

Fifth, and last of the original members, is Ahim de Famille, probably the most out of place character on the pirate ship. Once a princess before Zangyack invaded and killed her parents, she’s now taken up the mantle of Gokai Pink and is the last recruit to the crew before coming to Earth. Much like Doc, she has no real training to speak of in combat, but her desire to save the world and get revenge on the Zangyack empire forces her to learn and become much more capable.

As a character, she takes on the role of the Pink Ranger, meaning she’s cute, a bit ditzy and avid believer in peaceful solutions.  She’s in some ways the conscience of the crew and acts in such a capacity here as well. Though she does start out this way, she soon starts displaying actual combat prowess, easily surpassing Doc in this area and she’s not the delicate little flower many think her to be. Luka sort of adopted her new little sisters unconsciously, something Ahim doesn’t care a great deal for and eventually tells her off, asking to be taken just as seriously as the rest of the crew. Later she singlehandedly takes on a monster and saves the day and before that, when dealing with the Hurricanegers promises them that if they do not return the Ranger keys, they will take them back by force.

Though she always carries her past a princess with her, still concerned about her appearance and reputation, more than anyone else on the crew she desires the Empire’s head on a plate. In other words, he cute and adorable outwards appearance hides a true warrior underneath.

Gokai Silver - Gai Ikari
Trainee Gai Ikari

The final-final member of the Gokaiger was introduced in Episode 17 after an extremely brief cameo at the end of the first movie. His name is Gai Ikari, played by Junya Ikeda, and he’s an extremely enthusiastic Super Sentai fan who is given the ability to transform into Gokai Silver.

When he first appeared, I pretty much immediately hated him. He was excitable, energetic and quite loud. And he’s an utter Super Sentai fanboy so perhaps it just hit a bit too close to home. However, not only has my opinion of him changed, he also turned out to be a much needed member of the crew that I didn’t even realize was missing.

His inclusion in the series is no doubt intended to give fan a taste of what they want: how it would be like to actually become a Super Sentai hero. He states more than once that it was his lifelong dream to be a hero like the heroes he idolized and that also become a huge part of his character arc. At more than one point he loses the ability to transform into Gokai Silver and you can tell, thanks a great deal to the life Ikeda brings to the character, that it crushes him to know his adventures could be over and he needs to be reminded that he was a hero before he became Gokai Silver.

And it’s difficult to tell where they want to take the character. Since the main goal of this series is to revisit old teams and gain their powers, Gai’s knowledge of all previous teams streamlines the process considerably where before his inclusion they were fumbling around in the dark. And he’s also there for the fans to latch on to because he very much IS them.

But there’s more to the character than meets the eye or at least there could be. For one, he didn’t receive his powers like the other Gokaigers did. It was given to him by the dead Rangers of the past after rescuing a little girl and getting injured in the process, nearly dying. Or did he die? Fan speculation was rife for a while but I’ve made sure to stay away from any spoilers in this regards because to me it’s an exciting mystery.

Which ties into what I’m going to say next: the anniversary aspect has gotten better. And much of this is thanks to Gai and I finally figured out why they rolled out the most recent teams first: young viewers were more likely to know who they were without needing a great deal of exposition. But Dairanger is too old to casually introduce with a “they did this thing twenty years ago” so they needed Gai to introduce them in show. And it works. Really well.

In these past episodes we’ve seen OhRangers, Hurricanegers, Jetman and Dairangers… yes, Dairangers got to show off and it… was… AWESOME! I’m not even joking, I was quite literally jumping up and down like a five year old when Keiichi Wada stepped up and delivered an ass kicking unlike anything previously seen in the show… obviously, without transforming.

Old school ass kicking

I’m not even joking when I say this made me squeal like a little girl seeing Justin Bieber in real life. He’s still ridiculously fit and I don’t think it’s a stretch to assume the guy trains martial arts off camera as well.

And before I go too fanboyish, Hurricanegers revisit was a two-parter and a really fun one at that. And Jetman’s? It revolved around the ghost of a former Jetman member scolding the Gokaigers for being weak and needing to step it up a bit. Chilling yet strangely respectful. And I think it was where people first started thinking seriously about Ikari Gai being dead or having been spared from that fate by Rangers who died in the past since he couldn’t see the dead Jetman.

Finally, I’m gonna talk about the movie:

Kaizoku Sentai Gokaiger the Movie: The Flying Ghost ShipKaizoku Sentai Gokaiger the Movie: The Flying Ghost Ship

There’s not much to say here. It’s less of a movie than 199 Hero, clocking in at just over 30 minutes, making it more of a glorified episode than a movie. Each modern Super Sentai gets one movie for themselves but the thing is that it usually goes hand in hand with a Kamen Rider movie and it’s easy to see who’s the dominant one in this relationship. They’re usually shown back to back in theaters so expecting them both to be full fledged movies is of course unrealistic, you can’t expect kids to sit still for three hours or more, especially not surrounded by other kids.

And when it comes to divvying up the run time, Super Sentai usually takes the backseat since they are often less serious in nature whereas Kamen Rider tends to deal with more serious, adult themes needing the time.

The plot this time is that a ghost ship appears in the sky, fabled to carry a wish-granting item that could seriously expedite the Gokaigers search for the Greatest Treasure. However, once inside the ghost ship they find themselves forced for their lives against the revived souls of previous enemies of Super Sentai.

It tried to pay homage to the series of old but the limited run time seriously hampers their ability to tell a respectful story and it’s instead reduced to a flustercluck of brief cameos that aren’t satisfying in the end. The point where they have to fight revived incarnations of footsoldiers from the past had me seriously excited but it was over far too quick and they never did anything clever with it which is a shame.

Overall, it’s just another episode made for the big screen with slightly better effects but not a whole lot. The ongoing series is unaffected by anything in the movie and they didn’t even have the decency to give them a Grand Power for their efforts. The last movie gave them 11!

Check back next time for my final opinion on Gokaiger and I’ll talk more about the villains and monsters.

Kaizoku Sentai Gokaiger – Part 1 (Episode 1-16 + 199 Heroes)

I’ve been trying to write a review for DC’s take on the Shadow from the eighties but I keep getting stuck on the “review” part because there’s only so many ways you can say “I like it but it’s not perfect.” When it comes to comics, I’m not much of a reviewer. Movies I know how to review, games as well but despite reading tons of comics, I’ve never really invested myself enough to “know” comics. I can’t really talk about art other than to say “I like it!” or “I don’t like it.” What I’m trying to say, I guess, is that I’m no Linkara. I can talk about comics but ultimately I’m just a casual fan of the medium but I honestly wouldn’t care enough if it went away tomorrow and I could never read a comic again.

Not so when it comes to Japan. If you’ve read previous posts, you’ll know I have a bit of a hard on for that particular country. What can I say, the culture excites and confounds me. I’ve talked quite a bit about Kamen Rider before, mostly the movies, but not so much about Super Sentai so I figured it was time to even the score a bit.

Beware, however, this post will contain spoilers for the show itself as it’s not a review per say. You see, I haven’t actually finished anything Super Sentai lately so this is more my thought about the first couple of episodes of 2011’s Kaizoku Sentai Gokaiger.

PS. I highly recommend reading my post on Goseiger as I will have to talk about them again.

Kaizoku Sentai Gokaiger was Toei’s Super Sentai series for 2011, meaning it ended in 2012 in case you suck at math. It reached 51 episodes and I’ve currently seen 16 of them.

So again, this is spoiler territory. Here there be monsters.

If you’re mildly perceptive, you might have guessed that this year’s theme is that of pirates and you’d be right. “Kaizoku” in fact translates as “pirates” so it’s even right there in the title. But that’s not all that’s special about this series. It’s also the 35th Super Sentai series which of course warrants a special kind of series.

The Zangyack Empire has long had its eyes on Earth but their previous invasion was repelled by the combined might of 34 Super Sentais. While it cost them their power to transform, it saved Earth. A few years later, a group of space pirates arrive on Earth to search for the “Greatest Treasure in the Universe”. Unfortunately for them, Zangyack has returned to take Earth for themselves and the pirates must defend Earth if only to save their precious treasure. But the pirates have a trick up their sleeve: they come armed with all the previous Super Sentais powers, transforming into the heroes of old at the turn of a key. They now stand between Zangyack and the Earth and only by seeking out the heroes old can they learn more about their powers and beat back Zangyack once and for all.

First up, I need to talk about the design and theme here: I love it. Pirates will always be cool, especially space pirates. Everything from their clothes to their weapons to the robots scream pirate which coupled with the vibrant colors make for a tremendously memorable design. But, and this might come off as a bit weird… well, weirder than normal, I LOVE the helmets. They just stand out compared to many other Super Sentai helmets that tend to be just that, helmets with more stickers or stuff added to them. But here they’ve gone out of their way to reshape the helmets and I love it. It brings back fond memories of the Gekiranger and Abaranger designs and I want to see more of that stuff.

That and the popped collars and jackets just look great in action and like I said, makes for a much more memorable design. Simply put, it just works.

There’s other little bits of the design that I like as well. Such as their standard weapons, the sabre and gun. And while I like the designs of the weapons themselves, it’s also how they use them. First of all, they all dual wield. I love dual wielding, it looks fantastic and makes for great choreography. Secondly, while they all get the same loadout, Green and Pink prefer dual wielding guns and Blue and Yellow prefer wielding swords so they switch in the middle of the fight, making the fights that much more dynamic.

And the pirate theme also brings with it certain other requirement such as a completely different attitude. Gone are the angels with sound morals and ethics and in are the scoundrel pirates who are ultimately after treasure, not to be heroes. Of course, they have hearts of gold or it wouldn’t be much of a show but it still makes for a much more interesting group than the usual do-gooders of Super Sentai. They’re motivated equally to do good and to come out on top, often trying to find some kind of middle ground where they walk away with the treasure AND saving the day in an exhilarating adventure.

I’ll get into each character in more detail later ’cause I’m still only getting to know them but at the moment the group dynamic feels fantastic, each of them with their own specific traits and they manage to work off each other. And they all feel useful to the group’s purpose. Even Pink, who at first seem to be the group’s weak girl, the kind you see in all Super Sentai, is quite competent in combat even if she’s not quite on the level of Red or Blue and Yellow. And their powers aren’t restricted to just their transformed forms either.

They quite regularly get into fights out of “uniform” and the stunt work here is quite good, it’s a very energetic style and it’s obvious the actors themselves had to undergo some training to be able to participate. I’m not so naive as to think they do it all themselves but there are definite shots where you can tell it’s them and they do it well.

Overall, I found the combat to be much improved from Goseiger, their over reliance on the magical cards brought a lot of the combat to a screeching halt but here’s there’s a definite emphasis on physical combat and like previously stated, dual wielding is very much at the forefront. There’s also a distinct difference between the characters’ fighting styles. Other than the dual wielding that is, their characters shine through even here.

sentai1280So with that said, is there anything I don’t like about Gokaiger? Yes. And it has to do with the anniversary aspects of the show. In the series itself, it’s okay but I feel that they’re letting great opportunities of story telling go to waste. Much like Kamen Rider Decade did.

The notion of revisiting old series is one that appeals a great deal to me and I was quite looking forward to that. But so far, sixteen episodes in, I’ve been somewhat underwhelmed. I know there’s quite a lot of the show to go so plenty of time to change that but my current opinion of the anniversary aspect is: why didn’t they go further?

Basically, the idea is that the pirates have to visit the old teams and find out what made their power work or what’s special about them, often gaining some new power in the process. But as the series starts out, it’s mostly a revisit of the very latest series: Magiranger, Dekaranger, Gekiranger and so forth. They aired 2005, 2004 and 2007 respectively. Basically, series that I’ve been present for and I’ve not been watching Super Sentai that long. Don’t get me wrong, of course they were gonna show up at some point but the fact that they brought them out first sort of worries me. But, in fairness, one of the more recent episodes brought back Carrangers, a series that aired in 1996 so the revisits are getting longer in the tooth.

But, again, that brings me to my next point which is this:

199_Hero_Great_Battle

Gokaiger Goseiger Super Sentai 199 Hero Great Battle

All Super Sentai series of today get their own movies, usually starting with a cross over movie with the previous team, in this case Goseiger. But it’s also an anniversary movie so there’s a whole lot of teams waiting to get into battle again.

The movie continues the story from the series itself while at the same time acting as a bit of a prequel, showing the climactic battle between the 34 Super Sentais and the first Zangyack invasion fleet and how they gave up their powers. The present story revolves around a revived Black Cross Fuhrer, now calling himself Black Cross King, and his grudge against all Super Sentais who ever stood between evil and the conquering of Earth. In his quest to destroy Super Sentai once and for all, he revives enemies from the past. Only the Gokaigers and Goseigers stand in their way and together they must call upon the power of all Super Sentai.

This movie is a perfect example of how the series squanders its anniversary status. While I understand that many heroes of old, such as the Gorengers, JAKQ and Dynaman are now old and many no doubt dead, it would be difficult to bring them all back for an acting gig. But the way they solve this is unforgivable, having them appear only as talking heads. The thing that bugs me is that they obviously could get the actors back so why not expand their roles? The movie bills itself as a 35 year anniversary yet all the story reveals around the Goseigers and Gokaigers. Oh, they tease you by having members from Denjiman, Dekaranger and, my favorite series of all times, Dairanger actually do some acting, making it look like they might play some kind of important part.

But no, they’re just there, talking to some random dude about never giving up and they more or less disappear before the end where they all collectively nod at the Gokaigers as a sign of “Sure, you can use our powers!” thing.

I realize Toei has toys to sell but don’t bill this as an anniversary movie if you’re not going to do something with it. Why not have the Gokaigers incapacitated and have the old heroes regain their powers so they can save the Gokaigers before a grand climactic battle? Instead we just get more Goseigers! And I don’t want more Goseigers.

The best part of this movie is the final battle where you get to see a lot of old footage from older series, making me more or less instantly orgasm in my pants. Seeing the old robots slash and bash their way through the final wave of enemies was glorious and I wish there was more of that. I realize most kids probably didn’t like that too much on account of being stupid, I mean, young but then again, don’t bill it as an anniversary movie if you’re not gonna try to pay the respect they deserve. All it made me want to do was actually watch the old series and since I don’t know Japanese, I’m limited to what has been fansubbed. So that’s evil and totally their fault.

The most anniversarish they get is using Black Cross King, the revived villain from the first Super Sentai: Gorangers.

KurojuujiouBut why the redesign? He’s barely recognizable. He used to look like this:

Black_Cross_Führer

One of those looks like monster of the week and the other like a god damned… well, fuhrer. The modern one has lots of details and pointy bits for no real reason while the old is ugly by today’s standards but it has a simple design with something that immediately catches your eye. Not to mention the white sheet and name conjure up images of hate and destruction. Everything a proper villain should. Sure, using “Fuhrer” today probably would’ve gotten them sued into non-existence but still…

What I’m trying to say is, it’s a horrible anniversary movie and I wish they’d gone about it differently. More like what OOO, Den-O, All Riders: Let’s Go and less… well, what Super Sentai normally does, act like a commercial for new toys. Which reminds me, I need to talk about that movie some day.

Before I go on and rant even more about how this show sucks, I feel like I need to stop and the movie is a perfect place to do so because it bridges episode 16 and 17. And I end by saying that I don’t dislike Gokaiger at all, I just have reservations this far into the series. I don’t like the movie, I think that much is clear, but the series itself is energetic, exciting and fun without ever getting too deep into Goseiger territory of beating you over the head with the message. And to its credit, like some anniversary projects, it doesn’t demand you know everything beforehand but rather invites you to enjoy if you want.

I will return with future opinions in another 16 episodes or so and perhaps I’ve completely changed my opinion, perhaps I like or dislike it even more. Time will tell.