REVIEW: SPACE SQUAD: GAVAN VS DEKARANGER

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Starring

Yuma Ishigaki (Gokusen)
Ryuji Sainei (Kamen Rider Wizard in Magic Land)
Tsuyoshi Hayashi (Tsubaki Sanjuro)
Yousuke Ito (The Ghost Photo Club)
Ayumi Kinoshita (Travelers: Dimension Police)
Mika Kikuchi (My-Otome)
Tomokazu Yoshida (Delicious Gakuin)
Suzuka Morita (Samurai Sentai Shinkenger)
Mako Ishino (I’m Your Destiny)
Kenji Ohba (Denshi Sentai Denjiman)
Tetsu Inada (Kobato)
Junichi Haruta (Dai Sentai Goggle-V)
Mikie Hara (Cutie Honey: The Live)
Ryoko Yuui (Code Blue)
Hiromi Sakimoto (Kasouken no Onna)
Tomokazu Seki (Weiß Kreuz)
Yuto Uemura (Kamigami no Asobi)
Michi Nishijima (Bakuryū Sentai Abaranger)

 

maxresdefaultCrossovers can be a strange thing. Sometimes they can pair up the most unexpected of things and others are such perfect match ups that you can’t believe they didn’t happen sooner. The pairing of Tokusou Sentai Dekaranger and Space Sheriff Gavan definitely counts as the latter. After the roaring success of their 10 Years After special, the space-cop Super Sentai team are back once again and teaming up with the new Gavan, Geki Jumonji – who took on the mantle in the 2012 Gavan movie and subsequently appeared in Super Hero Taisen Z as well as the Next Generation Sharivan and Shaider movies. Space Squad: Gavan vs. Dekaranger isn’t just a match made in heaven, it’s one with its sights set on the wider Sentai and Metal Heroes universes as well.Girls-In-Trouble-Episode-Zero-HellviraWhile chasing down an intergalactic arms deal, Geki and his partner Shelly are lured into a trap by Juspion’s resurrected foe Mad Gallant – now leading a branch of the mysterious Genmakuu Syndicate. Not only is the new Gavan humiliated in battle, but Shelly is shot and taken by a mysterious assailant. Removed from the case due to his thirst for vengeance, Geki goes rogue and turns to the Dekarangers for help.Together the two branches of space police investigate Mad Gallant’s scheme, taking them from a diaper factory all the way to another dimension where a long fallen evil is about to rise again. Can the combined forces of the Dekarangers and Gavan defeat the Genmakuu? And will Gavan be able to best Mad Gallant’s sword skills?Girls-In-Trouble-Episode-Zero-Shelly-BirdieOne of the biggest advantages to Dekaranger’s more episodic storytelling was that while the show was still able to end with a higher stakes battle, there was no finite ending to it. Whereas most Super Sentai series end with the team defeating the evil they came together to defend against in the first place, this was just a particularly bad day for the Dekarangers. Characters were promoted and the team dynamic shifted, but as 10 Years After proved there are still plenty of stories to tell. It’s a shame that Ban’s new position doesn’t properly integrate him back into the team until the very end, but for the other Dekarangers it really seems that the more things change the more they stay the same. Picking up where 10 Years After left off the relationship between Umeko and Sen plays a big part in the story, and we get to see the two characters finally tie the knot. All of the show’s main players are back, with both Tetsu and Doggie getting in on the action in-suit as wellSpace-Squad-CastBut with the Dekarangers as the veterans of this story, it’s Geki’s character development that’s central to this story. Even though it’s been five years since his debut the new Gavan can still be quite a difficult character to get on with at times in terms of personality. His brash, impulsive nature is a lot more bearable in Sentai reds because at least there they’re playing off characters, but Gavan is more of a solo player. So having him rely on a team is a big step towards humbling him, preparing him to be the Space Sheriff Retsu knew he always could be as well as something bigger. You don’t need the characters constantly reminding you to know that Geki is essentially what Ban was like at the beginning of Dekaranger, so to now see Ban in a position of authority mentoring someone else is a fantastic evolution of his character. Just as Ban was brought to position where he can now competently lead the Fire Squad, here Geki not only becomes the Space Sheriff Retsu knew he could become but also the leader of something bigger – the Space Squad. Retsu himself isn’t quite done yet either, and though not as prominent as he used to be continues to be a big part of Geki’s growth while being just as badass as ever. Kenji Ohba truly is a tokusatsu treasure.Space-Squad-DekarangersWith the villains also comes a second Metal Heroes element – incorporating Juspion antagonists Mad Gallant and Satan Goth into the mix as well. Even without any prior knowledge of the show (which isn’t in any way essential viewing to follow Space Squad), Mad Gallant immediately oozes the kind of presence you know doesn’t come from an all-new character. Not once but twice is he able to completely overcome Gavan, and it’s a testament to just how striking the suit design that it remains barely unchanged from his original appearance back in 1985. Even when the villain is needlessly unmasked, the two distinctly different personas work together to create something really memorable. Working alongside Mad Gallant are the “Space Kunoichi” Benikiba (a villain from yet another Metal Heroes show – Sekai Ninja Sen Jiraiya), as well as alien assassin Cronen – who in a wonderfully Dekaranger-esque bit of name play hails from the planet Berg. Whereas Cronen is more or less just a glorified Alienizer for the film, Benikiba is a little more interesting. Though slightly updated visually she’s still a perfect throwback to the Showa era villains of the 70s/80s, and character-wise the film leaves her shrouded in mystery. Her sense of honour makes her more than just a cliche villain, while her unwavering dedication to the “Prophet Fumein” makes her perhaps the most dedicated of the three. Though we don’t ever get an answer to who or what Fumein is, it’s clear that Benikiba could continue to be a major player in the story yet to come.Space-Squad-Dekaranger-SWATThe genius of Space Squad as a concept though isn’t just that it’s a perfect Dekaranger/Gavan crossover, it also has the potential to expand into so much more. Incorporating elements from Juspion were just a sign of things to come, with potential future Space Squad instalments teasing the likes of the B-Fighters, Janperson, the Megarangers, Gingaman and more from both Super Sentai and Metal Heroes. The fact that the film even finds a way to slip in an Akibaranger reference of all things just shows how ambitious this series could become should it continue to go on. In interviews director Koichi Sakamoto has directly compared Space Squad to the Marvel Cinematic Universe, going as far to even call it the first step in creating his tokusatsu equivalent of The Avengers. Since usually these sort of multi-franchise crossovers seem to come with very little internal logic to them, the thought of Toei moving into something that isn’t immediately rushed into is a very exciting concept indeedSpace-Squad-GekiSakamoto thankfully also puts aside his love for fanservice to properly focus on the other element that earned him his reputation – fantastic action sequences. Whether it’s in-suit or untransformed fights, there’s a certain slickness to Space Squad that elevates it above the norm and emphasises its cinematic qualities. While the stylised lens flare is undoubtedly overkill, there is a nice juxtaposition between the inviting natural light of its Earth/planet-based scenes and the overpowering, artificial light of the spaceship/station sequences. Similarly the gun-toting Dekarangers offer a different kind of action to Gavan’s swordplay, so the film has plenty of variety on offer to keep things exciting.Space-Squad-RetsuToei may have produced an abundance of crossovers across their various tokusatsu properties, but you can count on one hand the number of truly spectacular ones. Space Squad: Gavan vs Dekaranger can happily be counted among them. 13 years on the Dekarangers are just as fantastic as ever while the Gavan cast continue to prove that they’re being wasted on just the occasional movie and tie-in episode (seriously, just make a combined Space Sheriff show already Toei). This isn’t a crossover that just works, it’s one that’s come together to suggest something even bigger. If Toei can now deliver what they tease at the end of the movie, this could be their first step in creating a shared universe that their previous crossovers have always lacked – coherency.Space-Squad-Benikiba-Mad-Gallant

REVIEW: GIRLS IN TROUBLE: SPACE SQUAD EPISODE ZERO

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Starring

Ayumi Kinoshita (Travelers: Dimension Police)
Mika Kikuchi (My-Otome)
Suzuka Morita (Samurai Sentai Shinkenger)
Misaki Momose (Girl’s Blood)
Mayu Kawamoto (High Kick Angels)
Minami Tsukui (Kamen Rider Gaim)
Sanae Hitomi (Kamen Rider W Returns)
Mikie Hara (Cutie Honey: The Live)
Ryoko Yuui (Code Blue)
Michie Tomizawa (Saint Tail)
Mami Kingetsu (Princess Nine)
Tetsu Inada (Kobato)
Junichi Haruta (Dai Sentai Goggle-V)

girlssquad-space-squad_origWhile Toei tokusatsu hero crossovers have become fairly commonplace these days thanks to the annual Super Hero Taisen movies, every so often one rolls around that promises something really special. The Tokusou Sentai Dekaranger  and Space Sheriff Gavan crossover Space Squad: Gavan vs. Dekaranger is undoubtedly one of the most anticipated events in sometime – bringing together these space-faring heroes in a crossover that not only sounds good on paper but also makes perfect sense continuity-wise as well. But before we get onto the main action there’s also Girls in Trouble: Space Squad Episode Zero – a prologue V-cinema release starring Jasmine/Deka Yellow and Umeko/Deka Pink as well as the new Space Sheriff assistants Shelly, Sisi and Tammy.Girls-In-Trouble-Space-Squad-Episode-ZeroWaking up in a strange place, Jasmine, Umeko, Shelly and Tammy are being hunted by a feral alien. No matter what they do every outcome leads to the same eventuality – their deaths. However each death leads to them waking up in the same place once again, repeating events over and over until they can defeat the monster and break the time loop. Meanwhile the Galactic Police are putting together a team for a special mission to rescue their President, who has been captured by the reformed Genmakuu.Girls-In-Trouble-Episode-Zero-DeathIf the recent Kamen Rider Brave special has taught us anything, it’s that children’s tokusatsu can get a lot more violent when detached from its usual Sunday morning television slot. Whether that violence is warranted however is a different matter entirely. Girls in Trouble opens less like the sci-fi space cop special it is and more like a J-Horror survival film, as we watch the leads run around cramped corridors – dripping in sweat and wearing the shortest shorts possible as they’re repeatedly killed. The means of death aren’t especially gruesome, but the Kamen Rider Amazons-esque blood spurting is enough to remind you this is no picnic. The obvious fetishisation of the whole sequence should come as no surprise when you see the director is none other than Koichi Sakamoto – a man whose talents for great action sequences are unquestionable.Girls-In-Trouble-Episode-Zero-Space-Sheriff-GirlsBut in spite of the somewhat sleaziness of this first section, the film does a lot of good with its characters and setting – going as far as to even play up some of the viewers’ expectations based on previous films. We expect the Horusian alien with the creepy laugh in the darkened room to be the villain based on a similar villain appearing in the Next Generation Sharivan/Shaider movies, but then the film goes and subverts that by revealing that Birdie is just adverse to light and her “evil laugh” is her species equivalent of hiccups. Genius, even if the costume is just as ridiculous here as it was there. While it’s a pity Sisi isn’t more directly involved with the action (although there is a good reason for that), the characters immediately work together brilliantly – to the point where it doesn’t even feel like this is only their first meeting.Girls-In-Trouble-Episode-Zero-CastJasmine and Umeko are both on top form, and after 13 years it feels like the pair have just kept getting better and better over time. Umeko especially, who between this and Dekaranger: 10 Years After has established herself far beyond the cutesy, bath-loving persona she’s usually lumped with. Meanwhile Shelly, Sisi and Tammy all a decent amount of focus in their respective films but the chance to see them without the action focused on the Space Sheriffs shows not only shows just how brilliant all three of these characters are, but also how perfect they would be for a full Metal Heroes television revival. Toei has lined up an absolutely brilliant cast for the new generation Space Sheriffs, yet for the most part have barely been used.Girls-In-Trouble-Episode-Zero-DekarangersThe most commendable thing about Girls in Trouble is it’s proper dedication to keeping an all-female cast. While surprise cameos from the likes of Doggie Kruger and Juspion’s Mad Gallant are always welcome, the story completely revolves around the shows respective female casts and not once do the males ever gatecrash the party. Even the plot comfortably removes this unwanted and unneeded element from the film, cliche as it may beGirls-In-Trouble-Episode-Zero-HellviraGirls in Trouble: Space Squad Episode Zero is a wonderful enjoyable film that not only highlights two of Dekaranger’s best characters but also gives the Space Sheriff girls to shine away from their metal-clad partners.

 

REVIEW: SUICIDE CLUB (AKA Suicide Circle)

CAST

Ryo Ishibashi (The Grudge)
Masatoshi Nagase (Original Sin)
Akaji Maro (Kill Bill Volume 1)
Tamao Satō (Choriki Sentai Ohranger)
Kimiko Yo (Tokyo Tower)
Mika Kikuchi (Tokusou Sentai Dekaranger0

The film takes place over six days, with footage from a fictional pop group “Dessart” opening and closing the film. In Tokyo on May 27, 54 teenage schoolgirls commit mass suicide by throwing themselves in front of an oncoming train. Shortly after, at a hospital, two nurses commit suicide by jumping out of a window. At both locations rolls of flesh are found, with the missing skin matching removed flesh on corpses. Three detectives — Kuroda (Ryô Ishibashi), Shibusawa (Masatoshi Nagase), and Murata (Akaji Maro) — are notified by a hacker named Kiyoko (Yoko Kamon) of a link between the suicides and a website that shows the number of suicides as red and white circles.On May 28, at a high school, a group of students jump off the roof during lunch, sending the city in search of a “Suicide Club”. On May 29, the suicide boom has spread all over Japan. Mitsuko (Saya Hagiwara) is on her way home when she gets hit by her boyfriend, Masa, who has thrown himself off a roof. Mitsuko is taken to the police station for questioning, where the police strip-search Mitsuko and discover that she has a butterfly tattoo. On May 30, the police receive a call from a boy who warns that on that evening at 7:30, another mass suicide will take place at the same platform. The detectives organize a stake-out in order to prevent the event, but there is no suicide. Meanwhile, individual and smaller-scale group suicides continue all over Japan, claiming many lives, including Kuroda’s entire family. Kuroda receives a call from the boy who warned them about the second suicide wave, and upon the conversation’s conclusion Kuroda shoots himself.Meanwhile, Kiyoko is caught by a group led by a costumed man named Genesis whose hideout is a small subterranean bowling alley, where he resides with four glam-rock cohorts. During her capture, Genesis performs a song while a girl in a white sack is brutally raped and killed by one of the henchmen right in front of them. At Genesis’ lair, Kiyoko e-mails the authorities information about her whereabouts. The police arrest him, and it is assumed the “Suicide Club” is caught. On June 1, Mitsuko goes to her boyfriend’s home to return his helmet, where she notices the Dessart posters on the wall and recognizes a pattern which corresponds to the letters on a Telephone keypad and spells the word “suicide”. Soon, the boy from earlier calls her to tell her there is no “Suicide Club” and to invite her to a secret concert. On June 2, Mitsuko sneaks into the backstage area, where she wanders onto a stage. She sees a group of children in the audience, who ask her a series of questions. Mitsuko impresses the children, so they take her to a room where a strip from her skin is shaved off, where the butterfly tattoo is.A new roll of skin ends up with the police, and detective Shibusawa recognizes the strip from Mitsuko’s tattoo. That evening he sees Mitsuko as she is standing at the train station and grabs her hand but she pulls away. She stares at Shibusawa as the train pulls into the station and once she boards the train. As the train pulls out of the station the ending credits segment begins, in which Dessart announce their group’s disbandment and offer appreciation toward their fans’ loyal support, before performing their final song.This is a rare film that might be difficult to enjoy without a taste for this kind of deeper analysis, but there are plenty of visceral and surreal delights for horror fans. Those with weaker constitutions may have difficulty stomaching this material, but Suicide Club is an absolutely brilliant film–all of the technical and artistic aspects are exemplary. This is one of the best films of the 2000s.

 

REVIEW: Kamen Rider Heisei Generations: Dr. Pac-Man vs. Ex-Aid & Ghost with Legend Riders

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Starring

Hiroki Iijima (Holiday Love)
Toshiki Seto (Strayer’s Chronicle)
Ukyo Matsumoto (Ultrman X)
Tetsuya Iwanaga (One Piece Film: Z)
Ruka Matsuda (Scarlet)
Hayato Onozuka (Dear Sister)
Shouma Kai (My Name is Yours)
Hironobu Nomura (School Ghost Stores)
Hironobu Kageyama (Garo)
Shun Nishime (Kamen Rider Drive: Surprise Future)
Hikaru Ohsawa (Tokyo Slaves)
Ryosuke Yamamoto (Perfect Son)
Takayuki Yanagi (Amanogawa)
Hayato Isomura (Hiyokko)
Takuya Mizoguchi (Dream Festival!)
Reo Kansyuji (Kamen Rider Ghost)
Mio Kudo (Mashin Sentai Kiramager)
Tomokazu Seki (Psycho-Pass Movie)
Shunya Shiraishi (Good Morning Call)
Ryoma Takeuchi (Detective Pikachu)
Chris Peppler (Kamen Rider Drive)
Shiro Sano (Violent Cop)
Suzunosuke (Crows Zero)
Chihiro Yamamoto (Ultraman Greed)
Mika Kikuchi (Tokusou Sentai Dekaranger)
Yu Saotome (We Are)

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Kamen Rider is a franchise where the weird and wonderful is commonplace, but when Toei revealed that Kamen Rider Ex-Aid and Kamen Rider Ghost would be facing off against Pac-Man in their annual crossover movie it was clear this was going to be something really special. Ex-Aid is a video game-themed series after all, so they’d be fools not to make use of their links to Bandai Namco properties! Kamen Rider Heisei Generations: Dr. Pac-Man vs. Ex-Aid & Ghost with Legend Riders is a 45th anniversary Kamen Rider project, dropping the usual “Movie Wars” title but falling under the same banner as those films. As well as reuniting Ex-Aid and Ghost following the latter’s final episode, the film also features Kamen Riders Drive, Wizard and Gaim to celebrate the last five years of Kamen Rider history.Kamen-Rider-Heisei-Generations-Dr-Pac-ManLegendary gaming icon Pac-Man has escaped cyberspace and is attacking Japan, corrupted by a mysterious terrorist known as “Dr. Pac-Man”. Arriving at the scene of Pac-Man’s attack, Emu is reunited with Takeru Tenkuji – who has since returned to school and is continuing life as normal. But as Takeru goes to become Kamen Rider Ghost Pac-Man attacks, stripping Takeru of his powers. Undeterred, Takeru and Emu work together to battle against the Pac-Man virus with Ghost’s powers key to returning Pac-Man to his senses. Meanwhile Dr. Pac-Man kidnaps Togo, a young gaming prodigy who has developed the popular game Hatesate Puzzle. He also reveals himself as Michihiko Zaizen, a surgeon who disappeared six years ago after being infected by the Bugster virus. What are his plans for Togo, and how was he instrumental in giving Emu the power to become Ex-Aid? Legend Riders Drive, Wizard and Gaim arrive to lend a hand as Ex-Aid and Ghost face one of their biggest battles yet.Kamen-Rider-Heisei-Generations-Michihiko-ZaizenHeisei Generations is another film that abandons the multiple parts format, instead telling a complete story where Ex-Aid and Ghost crossover throughout. With the Pac-Man element ultimately dealt with by the halfway point it still feels like a two part story structurally, but the two halves certainly mesh together well enough for it to work. While perhaps not essential viewing to fully understand Ex-Aid, it’s still a significant piece of context as well as a nice little epilogue to Ghost. Kamen-Rider-Heisei-Generations-Ghost-TenkatoitsuIncorporating such an iconic gaming character into Ex-Aid properly was a genius move on Toei’s part, and second only to the fact they then go a make a point of him being weak against Kamen Rider Ghost in a wonderful bit of theme association. Beyond that the film shares the fairly basic “patient of the week” set-up as early Ex-Aid episodes did. Zaizen feels like a much grander villain than any MOTW Bugster though, and together with his Proto-Gashat-powered underlings feel very reminiscent of Eternal and his Dopant henchmen in The Gaia Memories of Fate. Everything comes together well, and even moments like Takeru’s obligatory “has to happen at least once per Ghost appearance” death sequence actually feels like it has a proper place. Both shows’ supporting Riders aren’t especially well implemented into film (Makoto and Alain literally just show up, and at this point in Ex-Aid’s story Hiiro and Taiga are still standoffish jerks), but this isn’t really to its detriment as Heisei Generations is already juggling a lot of characters. They show up, they work together well and Kiriya gets to make a cool entrance – it’s pretty much all you can want from them in this kind of limited role.Kamen-Rider-Heisei-Generations-Emu-TakeruYou can always rely on director Koichi Sakamoto to provide some incredible action sequences, and thanks to its lack of his usual brand of fanservice Heisei Generations comes out on top as one of the most photogenic Rider films in recent memory. Every fight is slick, colourful and worthy of about a hundred screenshots, methodically covering as many forms and unique abilities as they possibly can. While there’s an obvious formula to the “attack, form change, attack, form change” pattern the later Legend Rider fights take, each one shows off that Rider’s style perfectly and together with their respective theme songs perfectly capture the magic of each show. Kamen-Rider-Heisei-Generations-All-RidersOf course being the stars Ex-Aid and Ghost also get some nice new power-ups with that Ex-Aid Eyecon Takeru got at the end of his series finally coming into play. Also making its debut is Ghost’s new Tenkatoitsu Damashii, a rather clever mix of great unifiers Oda Nobunaga, Totoyomi Hideyoshi and Tokugawa Ieyasu. It’s a shame this form is coming so late in the game for Ghost that it isn’t a bit more unique, but still leaves a lasting impression as one of Ghost’s more notable entries. With Ghost borrows the power Ex-Aid Emu follows suite with the Ghost Legend Rider Gashat, while also getting a nice little sneak preview of (at the time forthcoming) the Mighty Action Bros XX. With most non-Japanese fans not catching the film until after its show debut some of the initial impact is lost, but it’s still a very nice teaser akin to the movie-preview appearances of OOO’s Tajador combo or Wizard’s All Dragon Style.Kamen-Rider-Heisei-Generations-Ghost-Ex-Aid But what really sets this film apart from the usual Movie Wars fare is the appearance of “Legend” Riders Drive, Gaim and Wizard, giving these five Riders the same shared universe appeal Fourze, OOO and W previously had in Movie Wars Megamax. Shinnosuke’s role in the film is particularly significant – no longer acting as a Rider physically but still very much one in spirit. Police presence is something often sorely lacking from Kamen Rider and in Shinnosuke the franchise has finally found its perfect liaison, giving Shinnosuke a great reason to keep coming back providing Ryoma Takeuchi is free. It also shows off just how fantastic a character (and more importantly, hero) he is, teaming up with Riders sporting far more significant power sets than him and kicking just as much ass. Haruto’s appearance doesn’t come quite as naturally, but again proves that free from the problems of his own show Wizard can be a really great character.Kamen-Rider-Heisei-Generations Unfortunately Gako Sano was unable to reprise his role as Kouta for the film, with Gaim only every appearing transformed other than a momentary back-shot during the credits. Thankfully Toei did at least use voice clips for Sano’s lines which is far better than a soundalike, but it’s definitely noticeable that these aren’t newly recorded bits. It’s a shame, but if it had to happen to any of these Riders Gaim was probably the best case scenario. As a space god having him randomly drop in works, and provides a reasonably explanation for Krim to come out of storage too. Either way the nicest thing about seeing all these Riders together is the fact they’re all already somewhat acquainted with each other – Ex-Aid and Ghost have met, Ghost knows Drive while Gaim has met both him and Wizard. Little moments like Emu and Takeru remembering each other just from their Drivers or Drive introducing Gaim to everyone are real highlights, making each series feel far less detached from each other and more like the big shared universe the Showa Riders enjoyed. wSQalnWFSMIoKtPBW6CDdRrb1aeKamen Rider Heisei Generations: Dr. Pac-Man vs. Ex-Aid & Ghost with Legend Riders is just as absurd as its name suggests, but has far more appeal beyond the appearance of Namco’s legendary mascot. Sano’s absence could have had a really adverse effect on a five-Rider crossover but the strength of the other four is enough to pull it together, prompting a Rider reunion that really does feel like something special. As a strong farewell to Kamen Rider Ghost and a strong supplement to Ex-Aid, Heisei Generations is an action-packed feature that really does embody what it means to be a Kamen Rider.

REVIEW: TOKUSOU SENTAI DEKARANGER: 10 YEARS AFTER

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Starring

Ryuji Sainei (Kamen Rider Wizard in Magic Land)
Tsuyoshi Hayashi (Tsubaki Sanjuro)
Yosuke Ito (The Setting Sun)
Ayumi Kinoshita (Travelers)
Mika Kikuchi (One Missed Call)
Tomokazu Yoshida (Light Will Shine)
Mako Ishino (Gunshi Kanbei)
Tetsu Inada (The Demon Girl Next Door)
Rakuto Tochihara (Kamen Rider Hibiki)
Mizuho Hata (Tokumei Sentai Go-Busters)
Yuto Uemura (Cyborg 009)
Rino Kobayashi (Kamen Rider Ghost)
Takumi Tsutsui (Sekai Ninja Sen Jiraiya)

Pooka-10There are few Super Sentai series that can say they were so popular that they supposedly almost got a second series. In fact, Tokusou Sentai Dekaranger may in fact be the only one that can. After a handful of the cast made a brief return for a cameo appearance in Kaizoku Sentai Gokaiger, the alien-busting police themed Sentai celebrate their 10th anniversary with a one-off V-cinema release. In the same vein as the Ninpuu Sentai Hurricaneger: 10 Years After special released back in 2013, Tokusou Sentai Dekaranger: 10 Years After reunites the cast of the beloved show for a brand new case. Roll back the clocks and pretend for a moment it’s still 2005, because it’s judgement time once again.

Just as the title of the movie suggests, the film picks up ten years after the Dekarangers defeated Agent Abrella and Ban left the team to join the Fire Squad. A lot has happened in those ten years, and now most of the team seem to have gone their separate ways. Jasmine has gotten married and had a child, Hoji seems to have become a shell of his former professional self while Tetsu has become acting commander of SPD’s Earth branch in Doggie Kruger’s absence. Sen and Umeko continue on in their roles as Deka Green and Pink, as newcomers Assam Asimov and Mugi Grafton join them as Neo Deka Red and Neo Deka Yellow respectively. When an alien named Carrie is rescued by the Dekarangers, they discover she is actually a witness to a Space Mafia crime in which Doggie was seen to murder witnesses before being shot and hospitalised (remaining in a coma since). As Carrie refuses to discuss the events with anyone other than the Space Public Prosecutor’s Office, Ban rejoins the team once more as they rush to discover the truth behind Doggie’s supposed crimes.
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Although technically this is a movie that could easily be enjoyed by those unfamiliar with Dekaranger, it probably goes without saying that it’s production mainly aimed at those who have already seen the series. There isn’t a whole lot here that will confuse newcomers (in fact the narration will bring you up to speed pretty quickly if you REALLY don’t care about show spoilers), but not only is 10 Years After a continuation – it also features some nice nods to previous events and payoff on things that were always there but never quite blossomed. One quick example being that Jasmine’s husband is Hikaru Hiwatari, they ESPer that appeared in episode seven of the series. However despite the large time jump the film doesn’t make any reference to events that happened post-Dekaranger (such as their appearances in Vs. Magiranger or involvement in the Legend War), so if you were hoping for any hints that might tie the world of Super Sentai closer together you may end up a little disappointed. But hey – there’s nothing here to suggest that they didn’t happen either.

One of the best things about Dekaranger is just how big it felt. Though a lot of the action stayed on the planet Earth, the fact it featured so many different alien species, no singular threat and some moments of planet hopping made it feel much bigger in scale than your average Super Sentai series. 10 Years After keeps that momentum going with a story that takes place on multiple planets – even if most of them naturally bare an extremely close similarity to Earth. There are also other nice tidbits that expand the universe, such as a further look at Ban’s Fire Squad Deka Red uniform with its recoloured license and modded SWAT team vest. They may only be little things, but they help keep the idea that things have changed over time while also feeling nostalgic and familiar. Despite some of a few of them being away from the roles for ten whole years the cast have slipped back into their roles with ease, also bringing some new-found maturity to the characters as well.Image result for TOKUSOU SENTAI DEKARANGER: 10 YEARS AFTERWhile ultimately short-lived due to the role they play in the film, the characters of Assam and Mugi are also a welcome addition to the Dekaranger fold. Corruption within the SPD itself was one of the few things that the original series didn’t tackle in any great detail, so getting it finally here makes for a more unique viewing experience. Certainly some will be out there arguing that this is just Dekaranger borrowing from its Power Rangers SPD adaptation once again and that certainly is possible. After all, they did it in Magiranger vs. Dekaranger once before and having Neo Deka Red/Yellow stay in SWAT modes is somewhat reminiscent of SPD’s A Squad. On the other hand, such a storyline is hardly a unique concept – the recent Sharivan movie did a similar thing and Dekaranger features plenty of homages to the Space Sheriff trilogy. Whichever way you want to slice it – it’s a great story and features some rare ranger on ranger fighting that doesn’t end in some sort of team up. 10 Years After like any good Super Sentai story features some mecha action, however this is actually the area the movie suffers the most. Deka Robo’s inclusion is horribly shoehorned in, battling a rather out of place Abrella clone who seems to serve little purpose other than to be a pointless cameo and opponent for the robot to fight. What’s worst of all though is that Toei opted to use stock footage from the Dekaranger series for all of the CGI sequences, and when said CGI is ten years old and being pasted into a shiny new HD film the end result isn’t especially attractive. Thankfully the sequence is short so the pain doesn’t last too long, and while a focus on the characters is far more important it is a shame that one of the more popular Sentai robos couldn’t have gotten treatment more befitting of it.Tokusou Sentai Dekaranger: 10 Years After offers pretty much everything you could want from a reunion special. The show’s more episodic format allows the cast to slip back into their roles with ease, and the end result is another Dekaranger case that feels just as fresh and exhilarating as they did ten years ago. With Dekaranger being one of the few Super Sentai series to enjoy the rare benefit of not having a definitive ending, this just proves that the team are just as enjoyable as they were back then and that any future returns would be just as welcomed as this. However if this is the last time we see the Dekarangers outside of some cameos here and there, this was a pretty damn good note to go out on.

REVIEW: Goseiger Gokaiger Super Sentai 199

 

Starring

Ryota Ozawa (Nozokime)
Yūki Yamada (Holiday Love)
Mao Ichimichi (Uchu Sentai Kyuranger)
Kazuki Shimizu (A Day of One Herb)
Yui Koike (Daily Lives of High School Boys)
Yudai Chiba (No Longer Human)
Rika Sato (Voice)
Kyousuke Hamao (Gokusen 3)
Mikiho Niwa (Tensou Sentai Goseiger)
Kento Ono (Ultraman Max)
Shogo Suzuki (Samurai Sentai Shinkenger)
Keisuke Sohma (Bad Boys J)
Rina Aizawa (Tenchijin)
Mitsuomi Takahashi (GoGo Sentai Boukenger)
Keiichi Wada (Gosei Sentai Dairanger)
Mika Kikuchi (Tokusou Sentai Dekaranger)
Kenta Satou (Kousoku Sentai Turboranger)
Ryosuke Sakamoto (Choudenshi Bioman)
Sayoko Hagiwara (Kagaku Sentai Dynaman)
Junichi Haruta (Dai Sentai Goggle V)
Kenji Ohba (J.A.K.Q. Dengekitai)
Hiroshi Miyauchi (Kamen Rider The First)
Naoya Makoto (Himitsu Sentai Gorenger)
Teruaki Ogawa (Ninja Sentai Kakuranger)
Hōchū Ōtsuka (Gekisou Sentai Carranger)
Tetsu Inada (Tokusou Sentai Dekaranger)
Tsutomu Isobe (Mahou Sentai Magiranger)

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The movie starts with the Legends War that was mentioned in episode one of Gokaiger as we see the Goseigers having issues with their fight. They try to retreat to rest for a while, but more of the Zangyack appear, but Akaranger and Big One appear! The two tell the Goseigers about the other sentai members giving up their lives to end the Zangyack as the Goseigers will join them. More troops appear though, but luckily the Extra Heroes appear so that the team could get to the final battle. There we see every sentai warrior excluding the Gokaigers fight the Zangyack and some scenes are from episode one, but they did insert some other scenes along with voice acting from the original actors.

Then it comes as every team tries to get rid of the Zangyack with one big blast as the Extra Heroes join as well as their powers explode and destroy the fleet. Luckily everyone survived, but now their powers have scattered into space as we see more veteran heroes talk to the Goseigers and we see Akared in space. Now time has passed as we see the Gokaigers fight the Barizorg and Insarn and this takes place after their first encounter with Basco. Of course the team take down the troops, but when they take out the Goseiger keys the original members come out and take them as they get their powers back. Insarn and Barizorg soon retreat as Alata tries to talk to the other team about GoseiKnight’s key. With no knowledge of past sentai teams they don’t know who Knight is. Also the Gokaigers don’t want any more keys taken from them as they soon fight. Everything ends at a draw when the two finishers collide and explode as both teams are blasted away. Meanwhile with the Zangyack Gill complaining again about his plans being ruined. Soon though a dark figure appears before them as it is Kuro Jujigun Soutou! He has come back from the dead for revenge on the Super Sentai and the people who believed in them as he will kill them off and has no attentions for Earth. The Zangyack agree with his terms as they make a pact.

I love how each member interacted with each other, but the best was Luka and Moune as they are very similar and it added some nice comedy to the movie. The fights were great as the higher budget does help with that as it can look a little nicer to see. Seeing veterans is always a plus even if they have short scenes as seeing past actors act as their roles once more brings iconic value and tons of nostalgia. This movie is over the top in a good way though as the fights are done well and have amazing moments like the all mecha fight!

This is a movie that is simply freaking amazing if you’re a Sentai fan as there are many references and past methods used in this movie. The fights are amazing with great choreography and many iconic things like past actors and even villains.