Hiroki Iijima (Holiday Love)
Toshiki Seto (Kaiji: Final Game)
Ukyo Matsumoto (Ultraman X)
Tetsuya Iwanaga (One Piece Film: Z)
Ruka Matsuda (Scarlet)
Hayato Onozuka (Dear Sister)
Shouma Kai (You Shine in the Moonlit Night)
Shouma Machii (Tokuso 9)
Reina Kurosaki (The World’s Longest Photograph)
Shohei Uno (The Real Thing)
Shinya Kote (Hibi Rock)
Hiroyuki Takami (Gimmick Zone)
Hanamaru Hakata (Shi ni zokonai no Ao)


Recurring / Notable Guest Cast

Sanae Hitomi (Travelers: Dimension Police)
Natsuko Nagaike (Ultraman Taiga)
Megumi Mizoguchi (Summer of Angels)
Tetsu Inada (Tokusou Sentai Dekaranger)
Takuya Negishi (Ultraman Ginga)
Runa Natsui (Samurai Sentai Shinkenger)
Kana Nakagawa (First Class)
Mami Kamura (Saki)
Ayako Yoshitani (Grand Maison Tokyo)
Kenji Shio (Kamen Rider Amazons)
Hitomi Miwa (Kamen Rider Kabuto)
Kohki Okada (Kamen Rider×Super Sentai×Space Sheriff: Super Hero Taisen Z)
Nozomi Yagi (Surely Someday)
Taro Suwa (Kamen Rider Agito)
Takumi Kizu (Uchu Sentai Kyuranger)
Miku Ōno (Chikyû bôei mibôjin)
Misato Kawauchi (Ultrman Taiga)
Shota Taniguchi (Shin Godzilla)
Ryoko Takizawa (Kamen Rider Agito)
Ryotaro Sakaguchi (Kamen Rider Fourze)
Miyuu Sawai (Kamen Rider Amazons)
Atsuhiro Inukai (Kamen Rider Build)


Kamen Rider is a franchise that genuinely sticks to tradition, but every so often there comes a series that just seems to completely break away from the norm be it visually or thematically. With the titular Rider’s neon pink bodysuit, moulded hair helmet and anime-like eyes, it was immediately clear that Kamen Rider Ex-Aid was going to be one of those shows. Written by Lupin III Part 4’s Yuya Takahashi (who previously worked on Drive’s Type Tokujo specials) and directed by Toei veteran Shojiro Nakazawa (head director for Kamen Rider Wizard as well as numerous Sentai series), Ex-Aid brings video games and medicine together as it celebrates 45 years of the long-running franchise.Kamen-Rider-Ex-Aid-Lvl-2After having his life saved from an illness as a child, Emu Hojo’s life went in two new directions. He was inspired to practice medicine and become an intern at Seito University Hospital, and the WonderSwan console he was given by his doctor ignited an interest in video games – leading him to become the genius video gamer “M”. One day Emu discovers the game illness – a virus that infects humans and spawns creatures from the games known as Bugsters. Patients infected by the game illness are treated in secret by the CR (Cyberbrain Room), whilst the Bugsters are defeated by doctors using Gamer Drivers and Gashat cartridges to become Kamen Riders.Kamen-Rider-Ex-AidEmu joins CR, using the Mighty Action X Gashat to become Kamen Rider Ex-Aid. Also fighting against the Bugsters are the skilled surgeon Hiiro Kagami (Kamen Rider Brave), unlicensed radiologist Taiga Hanaya (Kamen Rider Snipe) and medical examiner Kiriya Kujo (Kamen Rider Lazer). Though sometimes at odds with each other, the four work together to collect the Gashats and prevent further spread of the Bugster virus. However at the centre of all this is games developer Genm Corporation and its president Kuroto Dan – creator of both the Gamer Driver and Gashats. As Rider and Bugster clash, the ultimate game draws ever closer to completion – Kamen Rider Chronicle.Kamen-Rider-Ex-Aid-KiriyaIf an argument ever needed to be made as to why a year-long show shouldn’t be judged solely on its first few episodes, you needn’t look much further than Kamen Rider Ex-Aid. This was a show that constantly evolved as it went on, neatly flowing into distinct arcs as the stakes were raised. The quirky antics of chibi level one Riders bouncing off of poorly realised CGI monsters seems pretty far detached from the MMOPRG madness of Kamen Rider Chronicle – where the general public are the players and one life is all you’ve got. And though the difference may not be quite as drastic, Chronicle in turn feels different to the arcs sandwiched between it in which the Dan family take their turn at having their respective god complex go off the deep end. Just as video games evolve the further you progress into them, Ex-Aid shifts as the characters gain more experience, beat the mid-tier bosses and learn of much bigger threats.c74nyj-vmaap8qp_origJust how much of this story was planned out from the get-go is another matter entirely though, it widely speculated that Ex-Aid went through several changes as time went on. Expectations were flipped in terms of production just as much as they were onscreen, as the long-standing tradition of an actor receiving their bouquet of flowers suddenly didn’t mean that their time on the show was definitely over and done. Just as lives and death are inconsequential in video games, Ex-Aid resurrects a number of fan favourites as its video game side clashes with the idea of mortality brought about by its medical side. Kamen-Rider-Ex-Aid-CronusEx-Aid makes has some some great character development throughout the series. With both the medicine and gaming elements of the show raising strong debates on life and death, there’s plenty of room for the characters to really shine. The show takes care to bring an element of humanity to the Bugsters, not just brushing them off as bits of data but instead properly acknowledging them as living beings in their own right. Just as a good doctor will treat a patient regardless of their life choices villains aren’t considered completely reprehensible, prompting some surprising redemption arcs as the show pushes forward.ex-aid-28On the subject of casts, Ex-Aid’s is quite easily among the most enjoyable and well-developed Kamen Rider has ever produced. Ryuki, Gaim and several other entries may have toyed around with larger casts, but Ex-Aid does a much better job of striking a balance between having a sizeable number of Riders and making sure each of them feels suitably fleshed out. Placing Emu as a medical intern works because it allows for the character to grow in experience both in and out of the suit, while at the same time giving him a youthful edge as a gamer. As the somewhat naïve intern he embodies the compassion and nobility a doctor should have, yet as a gamer maintains a somewhat cocky edge in battle (which in turn is actually a pretty important plot point).Kamen-Rider-Ex-Aid-Brave-SnipeIn contrast to Emu’s positivity are Hiiro, Taiga and Kiyira – all experienced Riders with their own personal demons and traumas from the initial Bugster outbreak five years prior. Hiiro maintains the composure of a no-nonsense surgeon detached from the emotional wellbeing of the patient, but behind that façade is a man emotionally broken over the loss of his girlfriend. Hiiro’s growth as a character starts off subtly, but culminates into something that’s both emotional and relatable to anyone who’s suffered a similar loss of a loved one. Meanwhile Taiga comes across as a jerk obsessed with collecting the Gashats for himself, but that in turn masks both his past guilt and a desire to shoulder all the responsibility himself. untitledThe introduction of Nico begins to bring out the best in him and the two together make a fantastic partnership. Finally Kiriya also blames himself for causing the death of a friend, manifesting in him keeping secrets and hiding the truth at the cost of getting close to others. It isn’t until they meet Emu that all three Riders are able to properly let go of these issues, in regaining both their passion and in some ways their humanity as well. Even when Toei are being Toei are severely under-using the only two female Riders the show has, both would still be excellent characters even if they’d never transformed in the first place. [Kissasian]_Kamen_Rider_Ex-Aid_28_Beyond_Your_Identity(10)Benevolent rhythm game Bugster Poppy Pipopapo might seem like a loud, colourful comedy character on face value, but is a exceedingly competent supporting character . Similarly Nico doesn’t in any way get the dues she deserves as a Ride Player, but quickly proves herself to be one of the strongest characters in the show – not only fighting alongside the main Riders despite the significant level difference but also fending off game illness infection on multiple occasions.Kamen-Rider-Ex-Aid-ParadoThe villains also shape up to be pretty great too. Kuroto Dan particularly as he’s more than just a character – he’s an experience. Actor Tetsuya Iwanaga hams up the role in a way that just has to be seen to be fully appreciated, cementing his meme-like status in the Kamen Rider fandom across the world. While an argument could be made for the character suffering from the law of diminishing returns, Kuroto is a pleasure to watch wherever his allegiance may lie. “Lead” Bugster Parado is another great villain produced by the show – a petulant gamer whose need to be recognised by Emu leads to a sadistic streak. Even lesser developed villains such as Graphite come off extremely well, offering an alternative viewpoint where a Bugster recognises and embraces their role as a video game villain.Kamen-Rider-Ex-Aid-CastFinally it also comes down to the core themes of the show, which is another element Ex-Aid seems to get spot-on. This review has already made several references to the conflicting concepts of mortality when it comes to both medicine and video games, but the blending of these two radically different elements works beyond that as well. While the stylised suits aren’t going to be to everyone’s tastes and the level one suits certainly take some getting used to, they definitely capture the aesthetic of video game Ex-Aid has in mind. Silly as some of them may seem, each suit and power-up represents a different genre or style of video game with powers befitting of it. While the games used within the series itself are all fictional (the Genm Hyper Battle Video however features some classic Namco Bandai titles), the catchy names and Gashat jingles really help give them a life of their own. Of course it also doesn’t stop inspiration and homages to real-life games cropping up every now and again, some of which are far from subtle. It also helps that the Gashats themselves are some of the better collectible trinkets to come out in some time, not only working thematically with the show but also tapping into the nostalgia of gamers from the cartridge-based days. Something like that won’t mean as much to the target audience of the show, but for older viewers it’s a nice throwback to their youth.Kamen-Rider-Ex-Aid-EmuKamen Rider Ex-Aid is an absolute joy. Rarely does a Kamen Rider series so brilliantly combine its differing themes into such a perfect package, with one of the most loveable casts in recent years. The series may end on a satisfying note but with further endings offered by both the summer movie and a trilogy of forthcoming V-cinema releases, there is still plenty of Ex-Aid action to still be excited about. After all, the game is forever.





Tori Matsuzaka (Idaten)
Hiroki Aiba (The Prince of Tennis)
Rin Takanashi (Goth)
Shogo Suzuki (Kamen Rider Decade)
Suzuka Morita (Space Sheriff Gavan: The Movie)
Keisuke Sohma (Bad Boys J)
Goro Ibuki (Nichiren)
Runa Natsui (Kamen Rider Ex-Aid)
Kazuyuki Matsuzawa (Kitaro)
Mitsuru Karahashi (Ultraman X)
Rintarō Nishi (Cowboy Bebop)


Recurring / Notable Guest Cast

Kanji Tsuda (Sonatine)
Ryo Kamon (Kamen Rider Fourze)
Yoshiaki Miyagi (Fish Story)
Reika Shigehiro (Doubutsu Sentai Zyuohger)
Gotaro Tsunashima (Japanese Story)
Kayoko Shibata (Ju-On: The Grudge)
Rika Nakamura (Kotoko)
Kimito Totani (Kamen Rider Decade)
Kenichiro Kikuchi (Kinyoubi no shokutaku)
Masahiro Inoue (Kamen Rider × Super Sentai: Super Hero Taisen)
Kanna Moriya (Dear Sister)
Renji Ishibashi (Audiion)
Masashi Goda (Chouriki Sentai Ohranger)
Tetsu Inada (Tokusou Sentai Dekaranger)
Kazue Itoh (Juken Sentai Gekiranger)
Masaya Matsukaze (Denji Sentai Megaranger)

Shinkenger_-_Cast_Poster_Crop_(583_x_557)The 33rd entry in Toei’s Super Sentai franchise. For eighteen generations, the Shiba household have protected the world from the evil forces of the Gedoushu – monsters that enter our world through cracks and plan to flood the world with water from the Sanzu river (which is essential to their survival). In present day, their leader Doukoku Chimatsuri is freed from his seal and intends to continue this ambition. Takeru Shiba, the youngest head of the Shiba clan and ShinkenRed, must gather together his four vassals (servants from other households) to fight the forces of the Gedoushu. Initially Takeru maintains aloof and detached from his vassals, preferring to fight alone. But as the story progresses and Takeru’s childhood friend Genta joins the Shinkengers as ShinkenGold, Takeru becomes far more comfortable around people, beginning to treat them as friends. But Takeru is different from the lords that have preceded him, and the vassals slowly learn that his dark secret may be the reason for the way he has acted.

Before I begin dissecting the plot, I have to say that Samurai Sentai Shinkenger is one of the most visually pleasing series I’ve watched in a while. I’m a huge fan of the costumes themselves – which give off a nice Samurai flavour without being too heavy or over the top,  and each have an unique symbol for the visor. Each are very distinct from each other, but maintain a very nice sense of uniform. The origami mecha are also very well done, despite being restricted by the shapes each of them need to be able to transform into. Their combination, Shinken-Oh, has quickly become one of my favourite Super Sentai mecha. It’s a lot less universal than perhaps other series are, but one of its strengths lie in how uniquely Japanese it is. Aside from a few jokes which I found difficult to follow as a Westerner (Ebi Origami) it was still completely enjoyable and understandable, while teaching me a lot of new things about Japan and Samurai culture.

The plot itself is relatively serious, but is not opposed to diverging into moments of comedy relief now and again (Genta’s arrival really brings a new light to the series, and this firmly placed him as easily my favourite Shinkenger). The Shinkengers display a wide variety of character types, Ryunosuke (ShinkenBlue) as a loyal servant to his lord, competitive Chiaki (ShinkenGreen), big-sister Mako (ShinkenPink) and the clumsy but good-hearted Kotoha (ShinkenYellow). A few members of the Gedoushu even receive an ample amount of development – particularly Juzo, who is far more than a generic monster villain.

Because of the length of the series, its only natural that quite of the few of the episodes just come across as filler. However each of these episodes neatly manages to focus on one or two members of the main cast, and so none go without providing some form of character insight or development.

Another issue I found with the series was Doukoku, who in comparison to some of the other Gedoushu (particularly Juzo and Dayu, but later also Shitari and Akumaro) seems rather undeveloped. For the majority of the series he seems to do very little other than drink sake, shout a lot and occasionally moan about a hangover. When he suddenly appears on Earth for the first time toward the end of the series we finally get a look at how powerful he really is, but this is quickly dampened by him disappearing for several episodes so that Akumaro can take centre stage. Only in Shinkenger’s final acts does Doukoku really come into his own and seem like a true threat. While head monsters often don’t seem to do very much until the final episodes, atleast they’re usually calling the shots.

Shinkenger is  an excellent series that any fans of the genre should check out.

REVIEW: Tensou Sentai Goseiger vs. Shinkenger Epic on Ginmaku



Yudai Chiba (No Longer Human)
Rika Sato (Gokaiger Goseiger Super Sentai 199 Hero Great Battle)
Kyousuke Hamao (Frame17)
Mikiho Niwa (Cheerfu11y)
Kento Ono (Q.E.D.)
Katsuyuki Konishi (Hikonin Sentai Akibaranger)
Sakuya Nakamura (Little DJ)
Ikuya Sawaki (Kaitou Sentai Lupinranger VS Keisatsu Sentai Patranger)
Louis Yamada LIII (Tensou Sentai Goseiger vs. Shinkenger: Epic on Ginmaku)
Tori Matsuzaka (Idaten)
Hiroki Aiba (The Boy Inside)
Rin Takanashi (My Hawaiian Discovery)
Shogo Suzuki (Samurai Sentai Shinkenger)
Suzuka Morita (Mutant Girls Squad)
Keisuke Sohma (Bad Boys J)
Runa Natsui (Kamen Rider Fourze)
Goro Ibuki (The Magic Hour)
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)

avatar_user3029116_1580410161While heading to the store to pick up things for his fellow Gosei Angels and Nozomu, Alata finds himself fighting Nanashi and the Ayakashi Madakodama before he receives aid from Shinken Red. However, the fight is witnessed by a mysterious figure as Madakodama falls back. Thinking that Dokoku Chimatsuri has somehow returned, Takeru leaves to recall his vassals while accepting the Gosei Angels’ help. Setting up base in the Amachi Institute against his wishes, Takeru introduces Hikoma Kusakabe to the Gosei Angels as the others as they learn of the Gedoushu as Ryunosuke Ikenami is the first to arrive before the Gedoushu resume their attack. Using Bibi Soldiers to hold off the two Shinkengers, Madakodama attacks the Goseigers as Shinken Green arrives. However, the leader of the Gedoushu arrives, revealing himself not to be Dokoku but Buredoran. Now known as Buredoran of Chimatsuri, calling himself “Dokoku’s heir”. He battles Super Shinken Red before sticking his Bibi Bugs on the samurai and spiriting him away.
As Alata tries to convince Ryunosuke and Chiaki to help them, Eri and Agri pick up Mako while Hyde and Moune meet with Kotoha before the reunion is interrupted by Takeru. Although initially happy to see their lord, they are shocked when he transforms into Gedou Shinken Red (wearing a black version of his Super Shinken Red jacket), having been brainwashed by Buredoran, and attacks the Goseigers to his vassals’ shock. Takeru then turns his attention to the Shinkengers, who are too stunned to do anything, and prepares to attack them. However, Gosei Red takes the deathblow meant for them before Gosei Knight and Shinken Gold arrive to cover their escape.
With Alata’s wounds tended to as Gosei Knight suggests augmenting their Tensou Techniques to fight Madakodama, the vassals and Genta agree to fight alongside the Goseigers. The next day, the teams learn to combine their Tensou Technique and Mojikara abilities and manage to succeed as Alata comes to and assures Ryunosuke that everything would work out, as Kaoru Shiba arrives to take Alata away in order to work on a solution to the crisis. By then, as Buredoran’s plan to drown the Gosei World with the Sanzu River’s waters is revealed to Shitari’s shock, the two teams arrive to stop it only to be forced to fight Gedou Shinken Red in order to hold him until Gosei Red arrives and uses a Mojikara-powered Flametornado Card provided by Kaoru to free Shinken Red from Buredoran’s hold. The two teams proceed to fight their way through the Bibis and Nanashi.bunny_hat_rawgoseiger_movie_189872f8-mkv_snapshot_18-44_2013-01-03_15-08-19

First appearance of the Gokaigers

As the others use their Tensou Technique/Mojikara combos to overpower Madakodama, Super Gosei Red and Hyper Shinken Red manage to defeat phantoms of Buredoran’s Warstar and Yuumajuu guises before regrouping with the others to finish the fight with the Super Shinkengers and a Miracle Gosei/Knight Dynamic combo. As this occurred, sent ahead of the others and getting lost, DaiGoyou witnesses the platoon of Gedoushu that Shitari gathered to reclaim the river. However they are confronted by a group of pirates called the Kaizoku Sentai Gokaiger who wipe out Shitari’s troops quickly. They then transform into past Red heroes and Gokai Red uses the Go-On Red powers to summon the Kankan Mantan Gun with which Shitari is finally destroyed for good. The Gokaigers then spot DaiGoyou watching them and ask him to keep their presence a secret before leaving.

In order to allow them to defeat Buredoran and Madakodama, the Goseigers use a special card to provide Takeru’s vassals each with the power to transform into their Super mode (including Genta for the first time) and combining their powers the two are beaten, however Buredoran sends Sanzu River heading towards the portal to Gosei World. Takeru suggests to his vassals that they use the sealing character to push back the Sanzu waters, confident that they are strong enough together to use it. The Goseigers then use their defence cards to close the portal, and by combining their efforts, Gosei World is saved. However at this point Buredoran enlarges with the Bibi Bugs while Madakodama assumes his second life. The assembled teams battle in Ground Gosei Great and Daikai ShinkenOh with DaiGoyou and Datas Hyper providing backup. Though Madakodama is destroyed, Buredoran survived and attempts to destroy the robots with his signature attack. With the Shinkengers’ encouragement, the Goseigers form Ground Hyper Gosei Great and manage to take down Buredoran with the Mojikara Headder Strike.sentai1498Later, the Shinkengers and Hikoma bid a final farewell to the Goseigers and Datas before leaving. The Goseigers remark on how close a samurai’s bond is, and Alata suggests they all become samurai. However the others don’t like the idea of Alata being their lord, so the idea is quickly dropped and the friends head back to the Amachi Institute.

REVIEW: Tokumei Sentai Go-Busters vs. Kaizoku Sentai Gokaiger: The Movie




Katsuhiro Suzuki (Kamen Rider Zi-O)
Ryōma Baba (An Assassin)
Arisa Komiya (Ultraman Ginga S The Movie)
Hiroya Matsumoto (Boys Love)
Ryota Ozawa (Fasuto Kurasu)
Yuki Yamada (Juken no Cinderella)
Mao Ichimichi (009-1: The End of the Beginning)
Kazuki Shimizu (Tenshi ni I’m Fine)
Yui Koike (Daily Lives of High School Boys)
Junya Ikeda (Shinjuku Swan)
Hideo Sakaki (Godzilla: Final Wars)
Naoto Takahashi (Ultraman Orb)
Fuuka Nishihira (Shrobe Edge)
Syo Jinnai (The Gift From Heaven)
Ayame Misaki (Attack on Titan)
Kei Hosogai (Hana Oni)
Runa Natsui (School Days)
Ryo Ryusei (Toritsu Mizusho!)
Syuusuke Saito (Kamen Rider Zi-O: Over Quartzer)
Yamato Kinjo (Yu-Gi-Oh! ARC-V)
Akihisa Shiono (Does the Flower Bloom?)
Ayuri Konno (Strobe Edge)

rewrewrwerwerewrAfter the beautiful film that is Tokumei Sentai Go-Busters Returns vs. Dōbutsu Sentai Go-Busters, I finally go to watch Go-Busters vs Gokaiger movie. And while it was completely satisfying. Now Sentai VS. movies and Power Rangers team-ups all follow a standard formula. Last year’s team pops up in this year’s team’s world and they fight the remnants of last year’s villains who may or may not have teamed up with this year’s villains. So going into the movie, you have a pretty good idea of what to expect.The most interesting thing about this VS. movie though is that it feels a lot more like a Go-Busters movie with the Gokaigers merely guest starring. That’s not a bad thing and certainly not unique to this team-up, but for a team as well loved as the Gokaigers, it might feel like a disappointment. Indeed, while it was great to see the Gokaigers one last time as a team, their screentime was pretty limited as well as their real interactions with the Go-Busters. Save for Hiromu and Marvelous’ couple of scenes, the other Gokaigers and Go-Busters were only featured in very brief instances.Utilizing time and universe traveling and seeing that familiar Edo period set is to be expected on a Toei tokusatsu production. But it would’ve been nice to see a little more here, especially with Yoko, Gai and J getting plopped into the Edo period with an all too-short cameo by Jeloushitto. Not to mention a complete waste of fun English costumes on Doc, Jin and Ahim. But the biggest reason this felt more like a Go-Busters movie was how the bond between the Go-Busters and their Buddyroids took center stage. Fans can complain about many things about Go-Busters, but they cannot pick on how well the friendship and bond between the Go-Busters and the Buddyroids (and Kuroki, Morishita and Nakamura) was established and developed. Already having that connection, but getting highlighted here made the scenes of the Buddyroids shutting down and then coming back to life all the more powerful. That scene also proves just how amazing the original Go-Busters theme song is. As soon as you hear it kick in during a dramatic scene, you know you’re about to have tears start rolling down your cheek. The Gokaigers watching Hiromu, Ryuji and Yoko breakdown almost made them look like random bystanders who happen to stumble upon the scene instead of fellow comrades who know all too well the toll being a Sentai team can take on bonds and friendships.  The Gokaigers’ appearance and using the “evil Gokaigers” plot device even for a just a third of the movie made their participation feel hollow. Especially since Super Hero Taisen centered on the same exact plot point; Gokaigers/Marvelous pretending to be evil for a greater plan. UntitledSo it was great seeing the Gokaigers again and great to have them finally dancing, but it almost felt like they were wasted. As were the 30 second appearances of Escape and Basco as avatars. The nostalgia points with the Buddyroid keys, the old mecha keys, curry and chicken, a random cameo by Kaoru and Jin making that “I feel really at home in this…” comment about being in the Magiranger mecha were nice pluses. And the action sequences seemed to be much bigger and more slick here than they have been in recent movies, both the mecha battles and the henshined fights. But again, it was all about that emotional bond between the Go-Busters and the Buddyroids. And for a series that was all about heart and bonds, this movie fit right in with the rest of Go-Busters. Overall, it was a nice action-packed and emotional hour and change. It would’ve been nice to have given the Gokaigers a better epilogue for their final appearance, but it was still a more than enjoyable movie.