REVIEW: SPACE SQUAD: GAVAN VS DEKARANGER

333Crossovers 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

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REVIEW: GIRLS IN TROUBLE: SPACE SQUAD EPISODE ZERO

GITB-SPSQWhile 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: Kamen Rider × Super Sentai × Space Sheriff: Super Hero Taisen Z

Magic gates appear throughout Japan, causing havoc as people are instantly transported from one place to another. While investigating the situation, Haruto SomaIcon-crosswiki and KoyomiIcon-crosswiki are approached by Geki JumonjiIcon-crosswiki, who suddenly attacks Haruto after confirming his identity. Geki and Haruto fight as Space Sheriff Gavan type-G and Kamen Rider Wizard until Kamen Rider Wizard and Koyomi risk themselves to save a passerby from being hit by collateral damage. After confirming that both are good people, he stays his blade and flees. Meanwhile, Yoko UsamiIcon-crosswiki from the Go-BustersIcon-crosswiki and her BuddyloidIcon-crosswiki Usada LettuceIcon-crosswiki are camping beside a river until an unknown object falls from the sky beside them. They find a small robot at the crash site, which Yoko takes to the Energy Management CenterIcon-crosswiki and fixes it up. The robot introduces itself as PsycholonIcon-crosswiki and she becomes friends with it.

Meanwhile at the Galactic UnionIcon-crosswiki, Geki confronts his superior and the previous Gavan, Retsu IchimonjiIcon-crosswiki, about his orders to eliminate both Kamen Rider Wizard and Kamen Rider Beast, Kosuke NitohIcon-crosswiki, but Retsu insists that both are too dangerous to be allowed to live because of their magical powers. Retsu relieves him from duty, sending the Space Sheriff SharivanIcon-crosswiki to complete the task. Back at the location where Yoko found Psycholon, monsters from the evil organization Space ShockerIcon-crosswiki are confronted by Kamen Rider Wizard until they send him away using a magic gate. Haruto emerges at a stadium where he is encountered by the KyoryugersIcon-crosswiki who mistake him for a Debo MonsterIcon-crosswiki at, then challanged by Kyoruger’s Daigo KiryuIcon-crosswiki to ddetermine how brave Haruto is until Gai IkariIcon-crosswiki from the GokaigersIcon-crosswiki appears to stop their fight as he wants to meet with Haruto about the incident of Space Shocker’s plan of framing Haruto using a same magic power. Geki attempts to stop Sharivan from leaving to Earth to execute Kamen Rider Wizard and Kamen Rider Beast with no success. Yoko is attacked by Space Shocker, who are after Psycholon, but her fellow Go-Busters Hiromu SakuradaIcon-crosswiki and Ryuji IwasakiIcon-crosswiki appear to assist her. When the monsters try to send both Yoko and Psycholon through a portal, Hiromu and Ryuji appear to save her and are sucked in instead, and she is forced to keep fighting by herself.

Gai and Haruto discuss the situation, later joined by Geki and Nito, until Sharivan appears to fight them. To dissuade his fellow Space Sheriff, Geki tries to don his combat suit with no success and his partner ShellyIcon-crosswiki informs him that after he was removed from duty, the Dolgiran’sIcon-crosswiki systems were locked down, preventing her from providing him his weaponry. When monsters from Space Shocker also appear at the scene, Sharivan is forced to stop pursuing the other heroes to fight them until they flee through a portal leading to the Genmu WorldIcon-crosswiki and Geki also dives there by himself to investigate. Past the portal at the Genmu CastleIcon-crosswiki, Geki witnessess Strategist RaiderIcon-crosswiki from the Space Crime Syndicate MadouIcon-crosswiki and Shadow MoonIcon-crosswiki discussing their plan to use Psycholon to gather enough magic energy to revive Madou’s leader Demon King PsychoIcon-crosswiki, learning that they are the ones behind Space Shocker. Soon after, Gai appears to help Geki escape, and back on Earth, they rescue Yoko and Psycholon from Space Shocker troops. Taking refuge at the Antique Shop OmokagedōIcon-crosswiki with the others, Geki reveals that the Galactic Union intends to destroy Earth with the Super Dimensional CannonIcon-crosswiki to prevent Space Shocker from completing their plan, as their scheme threatens the entire universe.

Encouraged by Gai and the others to not give up yet, Geki leaves to confront Space Shocker by himself until as Kai/Sharivan appears to that the evidence of the villains who framed Wizard and Beast of using a same magic power has been informed as the villains is on the moves to revived Madou and inform him that they have one hour until the Galactic Union fires their main weapon to destroy the Earth, then leaves to call Shaider for reinforcement. While Gai seeks help, Geki enters the portal to the Genmu World, accompanied by Yoko, Psycholon, and Nito, and they are attacked by Space Shocker. Separated from the others, Geki is forced to confront the monsters unarmed until Kotoha HanaoriIcon-crosswiki from the ShinkengersIcon-crosswiki appears at the Dolgiran, revealing that she was sent there by Gai. She hacks the ship’s systems to lift the lockdown and allow Geki to transform into Gavan type-G once more. Yoko keeps pushing forward by herself until Reider and Shadow Moon appear to block her path and attempt to take Psycholon from her, and the little robot uses its powers to have her reunited with Hiromu and Ryuji. Just as Kamen Rider Beast and Gavan type-G are about to be defeated, several Kamen Riders and Super Sentai warriors, including another hero’s Sangiman/new Inazuman appear to help them. Gai rejoins his fellow Gokaigers and Gavan type-G provides them with six Metal Hero KeysIcon-crosswiki to assist in the fight.

The Go-Busters have a tough battle against Shadow Moon until the Gokaigers, Gavan, Kamen Rider Beast, Kamen Rider Wizard, Sharivan, Kamen Rider FourzeIcon-crosswiki, and Kamen Rider MeteorIcon-crosswiki appear to assist them, joined by ShaiderIcon-crosswiki, Kamen Rider OOOIcon-crosswiki and the Kyoryugers also join the fight as well. As Shadow Moon and his reinforcements are defeated, the one-hour delay provided by the Galactic Union runs out and a regretful Retsu is forced to fire the Super Dimensional Cannon. The three Space SheriffsIcon-crosswiki then ride their ships and manage to stop the weapon’s blast from hitting the Earth but Reider reveals that it was their intention all along to use its energy to complete the Demon King’s resurrection. The resultant explosion provides enough power for it, before Reider perishes, just to later return as Space Reider, bringing several other monsters to the fight. Psycholon is also overcome by the energy surge and is put under Madou’s control as well. The heroes find themselves in a pinch against their enemies until AkarangerIcon-crosswiki and Kamen Rider 1Icon-crosswiki arrive with reinforcements. Kyoryu GoldIcon-crosswiki appears to assist Kamen Rider Beast against Space Reider and together, they destroy him for good. Yoko calls out for Psycholon and it manages to break free from Psycho’s control but ends up sacrificing itself to protect her from a fatal blast. The enlarged Psycho tries to escape into space, but Gavan type-G, Sharivan, and Shaider, who revealed to be alive appear to stop it, and the monster is ultimately destroyed by a robot formed by the Kyorugers’ KyoryuzinIcon-crosswiki and Kamen Rider Wizard’s WizarDragonIcon-crosswiki combined. After the battle, Usada reveals to Yoko that Psycholon can be fixed, and as the Space Sheriffs return to space, the Kamen RidersIcon-crosswiki and Super Sentai warriorsIcon-crosswiki bid their farewells after they had joined forces to protect Earth once more.

REVIEW: Kaizoku Sentai Gokaiger Vs Gavan The Movie

Gavan came in 1982 and made the Metal Hero franchise starting out with the Space Sheriff trilogy. In 2012 the great hero has been brought back for the 30th anniversary for the Metal Heroes. So the hero is crossed over into Sentai as we get Gokaiger vs Gavan.aGokaiger is mostly known for it’s tributes to the Sentai franchise, but they step out and tribute a different franchise and a great actor. The plot is pretty simple with the pirates being attacked by Gavan. They are being arrested for acts of piracy even though they have already been cleared for that by S.P.D. The fight starts in the air and yes the movie begins with this. The team’s ship is taken down and Gavan reveals himself. The team decide to fight and that was a big mistake, Gavan easily wins and captures the pirates. He brings them back to a meeting area where a leader appears to execute the team. Gavan catches up on this and quickly saves the team. He actually knew what was going on and used the Gokaigers as bait. For who exactly, a Zangyack chief, but he has some connection to Don Horror! The enemy also made an imitation of Gavan. Gai comes to the rescue for the team and escape as Gavan fights on his own. Marvelous notices something though and hesitates, but the team escapes and Gavan is captured. The crew start to talk about Gavan and it seems Marvelous has been saved by him back in the past. Marve wants to rescue him, but how? For some reason Basco appears and tells the team where Gavan is. He is in the Makku Prison which is known for never letting anyone escape. Now the team need to get there and luckily two veterans appear. Shirou (Battle Kenya) and Oume (Denjiblue) appear out of nowhere and the team think they both look along with looking like Gavan. The two tell the team to get into the Makku Prison which is using the keys of Battle Kenya and Denjiblue. Now the team get into the prison and fight to save Gavan.

If you love Gavan and Kenji Ohba, you will probably love this movie. There are great tributes in this movie. We get to see Gavan’s transformation like in the old series and the Gokaigers even get a narrative for their transformation. I like the little connections like Makku Space and the monster being related to Don Horror, these are nice and are used probably so that Gavan doesn’t hog the spotlight. Having Basco actually interacting with the plot was kinda surprising. Usually the other villains just stay out in the movies, but Basco still stays true to himself and uses this to his advantage. Gavan was awesome, first the suit got redesigned and it looks fantastic. It keeps to the original design and gives it more shine like the sliver suit does. Marvelous had a different side of him than usual, but he still acts like himself. The fights were great from Gavan beating down the pirates to them teaming up. Gavan’s song is even used in the background and when I heard that, my heart skipped a beat. Another great fight is when Gavan and Gavan Bootleg fight one on one and trust me I was gleaming with happiness thanks to that fight. The mecha fight is great as welll with the addition of Gavan’s Dolgarin. Not only there are tributes to Gavan as I said if you love Kenji Ohba you will love seeing all three of his roles come to live in this movies. There are Sentai tributes with Battle Fever, Denjiman, and some nice appearances from past villains.

REVIEW: SPACE SHERIFF SHAIDER: THE NEXT GENERATION

After Space Sheriff Gavan revival movie, Toei’s Metal Heroes franchise has returned once again in a pair of V-Cinema (direct to video/DVD) releases breathing new life into the second and third entries in the Space Sheriff trilogy of shows. With SPACE SHERIFF SHARIVAN: THE NEXT GENERATION sowing the seeds for a much bigger case, its time for Shaider to take the reigns in the second part of this new adventure – Space Sheriff Shaider: Next Generation. Like Sharivan, Shaider also has a new face behind the mask that many tokusatsu fans will surely recognise. This time it’s actor Hiroaki Iwanaga, who previously portrayed fan favourite Date Akira/Kamen Rider Birth in Kamen Rider OOO. While this is technically Iwanaga’s third outing as the new Shaider, it’s the first time he’s gotten top billing and a chance to really strut his stuff in the role.

As the mystery surrounding Horror Girl continues, second Shaider Shu Kawasuma arrives on Earth in pursuit of a Fuuma Beast that goes by the name of Pitapita. However for some reason he refuses to let his partner Tammy anywhere near the case, causing a strain on both their professional and personal relationships. Shu’s run in with Pitapita also brings him into contact with Hilda, the kidnapped daughter of Galactic Police commissioner Nicholas Gordon. By taking the case on alone Shu believes he’s protecting Tammy from a secret that could jeopardise her position as a Space Sheriff, but in fact he may be doing more harm than good as she resolves to back her partner up no matter what. Meanwhile Geki Ichimonji/Gavan is still on his own investigation regarding the Makuu, Madou and Fuuma copycats – continuing the case despite the commissioner asking him to stand down out of concern for his daughter. Enlisting Kai Hyuga/Sharivan along the way, the Space Sheriffs chase down  Horror Girl’s trail – leading them to both Shaider and how all these series of events have been connected.

With both films sharing the same writer and director, Shaider: Next Generation has lots in common with Sharivan: Next Generation other than naming conventions and a connected narrative. Once again we jump right in with Shu fully established as the new Shaider, complete with a seemingly long-standing partner (well, enough for them to have established a pretty solid relationship). But after a bout with the serious-faced Sharivan, Shaider is the complete opposite. Often clueless to the things going on around him and just as reliant on Tammy as she is on him, Shu is the more loveable goofball kind of hero that Hiroaki Iwanaga excels at playing. Meanwhile Tammy initially strikes as being incredibly annoying, but quickly proves to be the perfect co-star. With the scope of character relationships far smaller than it was in Sharivan the development is mostly on those two, and again running time doesn’t prove to be a problem in making two completely new characters feel like they have a believable relationship that could have spanned far longer.
It’s a pretty simple plot going in full of the usual cliches (two characters getting bound together? Never seen that one before), but has a few interesting little twists sprinkled into keep things interesting. How Horror Girl plays into things is particularly good, not only bringing out some great moments from otherwise forgettable characters but also showing that sometimes villains don’t need to have grand empires or world domination schemes to be twisted. As a portrayal of Galactic Police, cases like this are what make the Space Sheriffs interesting. It worked in Tokusou Sentai Dekaranger, and it sure works here as well.
Unfortunately due to the tragic loss of original Shaider actor Hiroshi Tsuburaya in 2001 there’s no cameo from Dai Sawamura, however the film still pays its respects to the both the actor and the series he helped bring life to. In his place is a cameo from Annie (played by Naomi Morinaga) – Dai’s girlfriend and partner from the original series. While her role is rather superficial, her fond memories of Dai make a really fitting tribute to both the character and the actor. Viewers familiar with Shaider will know exactly what’s going on as she looks at an old photo of them together, but by never addressing that the character himself has passed on both Hiroshi and Dai’s legacy and story feel never-ending. It’s the perfect kind of posthumous tribute that other shows and franchises could definitely learn a thing or two from. Shaider retains the high level of action in and out of suit the previous film did, swapping out the buckets of fake blood for director Koichi Sakamoto’s other penchant – legs. While Sharivan had it’s fair share of close up skirt twirls revealing legs and/or short shorts, in Shaider Sakamoto really goes into overdrive with it. Whether the quantity of these shots is a good or bad thing is going to vary person to person, but either way they could definitely do with being far less distracting. From pointless slow motion to ridiculous sound effects, a line has to be drawn somewhere and said line is not something Sakamoto seems to have much regard for.
 
With the Horror Girl mystery still lingering from the Sharivan movie, Shaider: Next Generation also gives a much more prominent to Gavan’s investigation. Make no mistake Shaider is still the one getting top billing, but it’s a nice little story that adds an extra dynamic to the more simplistic scenario going down on Earth. On the other hand the film essentially has Geki doing all the legwork when it comes to the mystery element, which takes away a bit of Shu’s thunder even if he’s easily the more charismatic of the two. On the subject of Geki, his personality seems to have had a complete overhaul from his earlier appearances in Gavan: The Movie, Go-Busters and (to a lesser extent) Super Hero Taisen Z. Between this and Sharivan it’s clear that the stern, overly judgemental version of the character is gone – replaced with a cheerier, much more likeable one that still has the sharp mind and skills worthy of the Gavan title.
Of course this all culminates in a flashy finale featuring all three Space Sheriffs, along with CGI models of their respective ships flying through Hyper Makuu Space. Though its mostly style over substance including very little action or purpose that could have been similarly achieved elsewhere, it’s great to see the three heroes together on what feels much more like equal footing. The Space Sheriffs are quite unique amongst Toei’s tokusatsu heroes in that they work brilliantly both individually and as a unit, and with three films dedicated to them individually it’d be quite interesting to see how these three different personalities would work together in a shared feature. pace Sheriff Shaider: Next Generation is another brilliant entry to a new generation of Metal Heroes, and further proof of the Gavan movie’s shortcomings. While other standalone films struggle to get believable and/or relatable characters into a one-time production, the Next Generation films have arguably created the perfect breeding ground for future Metal Heroes instalments. Wildly nostalgia and a whole new chapter all at once, these are revivals well worth your time.

REVIEW SPACE SHERIFF SHARIVAN: THE NEXT GENERATION

When copycat criminals imitating the Makuu, Madou and Fuuma organisations surface across the galaxy, the Space Sheriffs are called into action to put a stop to their previously-defeated foes once and for all. While the Geki Ichimonji (the second Gavan) heads up his own investigation, new Sharivan Kai Hyuga is sent to Earth on a mission to stop a shipment of Hyper-M – a drug that turns its users into violent killers before eventually killing them. But Kai also has also been given a top secret mission – there’s a spy amongst the ranks in the Galactic Police, and it’s his job to confirm the prime suspect.
Teaming up with his childhood friend and fellow Space Sheriff Seigi, Kai must learn there’s more to being Sharivan than simply relying on cold hard logic and calculations. Because not only are they not enough, but traitors are usually the person you’d least expect. Unlike the Gavan movie which introduced its new characters over a slow-burning first half, Sharivan: Next Generation jumps straight in where it’s important. Though we’ve only previously met Kai through two rather brief cameos, this film forgoes a tiresome origin story so we can see the Space Sheriff near the top of his game. The character still has quite a bit of developing to do, but this “on the job” character development makes for a far better film that one that sees him scrambling around for half an hour or so joining the Galactic Police. Here Kai already has the title of Sharivan, but he’s yet to truly earn it.

Kai isn’t the only character who’s practically a blank slate either, with the entire cast of this film being made up of new faces. These include space scientist and partner to Sharivan Sisi, the aforementioned Seigi and his partner Eileen, as well as the rather wonderfully-named Commissioner Gordon. An hour isn’t a whole lot of time to give these characters particularly well-rounded personalities, yet the film manages to do a great job with the limited timeframe it has. Rather than simply tell the audience what each character is like, it’s shown through the narrative itself. Even characters like Sisi who have very few lines feel like actual characters thanks to making the most of what is done with them. Despite none of these characters having any sort of interactions elsewhere, all of their relationships feel natural and established beforehand. Of course it wouldn’t be a proper Sharivan revival without an appearance by original Sharivan Den Iga, which works in the same brilliant way Retsu Ichijoji’s did in the Gavan movie. Enough to satisfy, but not completely stealing the spotlight from the new guys either.The great cast helps ease the pressure off the story itself, which at its core isn’t the most complex of narratives out there. The traitor is obvious right from the start, and Kai’s evolution to “true” Space Sheriff isn’t exactly unfamiliar either. But around this are a lot of other neat little twists that help make the Space Sheriff universe that much richer. Going hand in hand with this are some truly brilliant fight sequences, courtesy of veteran director Koichi Sakamoto. The actual in-suit stuff may be limited to two excellent fights, but the out of stuff suit often proves equally as satisfying. There are even rare moments where the CGI pulls off some pretty great cityscapes, even if other shots remind you just how laughable it can beat times.

 

Sharivan: Next Generation also introduces a brand new Space Sheriff to the Metal Heroes franchise in the form of the golden Estevan. While in execution this may just be a shiny repaint of Kaizoku Sentai Gokaiger vs Gavan villain Gavan Bootleg (which is actually a massive hint about this film in itself), it does represent some interesting possibilities for the future. Like the original version of this suit Estevan may be a one-time deal, but his presence confirms that the Galactic Police aren’t just limited to three Space Sheriffs. If the Metal Heroes franchise were to ever receive a proper relaunch it would mostly likely be focusing on these guys, so could an all-new Space Sheriff be at the forefront of all of that? It’s all wild speculation, but maybe that’s a good way to capitalise on nostalgia and propel the franchise in a comfortable new direction.

REVIEW: Space Sheriff Gavan the Movie

While these days the likes of Kamen Rider and Super Sentai are main-stayers in the world of tokusatsu, there’s one Toei franchise that seemed all but forgotten. However the last few years have proved to be something of a Metal Heroes revival, with the original Space Sheriff Gavan teaming up with the Gokaigers before a whole new Gavan film was announced. To further promote the film, this new Gavan made a guest appearance on Go-Busters, and he (alongside other past Metal Heroes characters) will star in Super Hero Taisen Z alongside both Sentai and Riders later this year. Could this indeed be a new beginning for Metal Heroes? That depends just how well Gavan Type-G’s cinematic debut went down…

When friends Geki Jumonji and Toya Okuma are lost on a space mission to Mars, they leave their third friend Itsuki alone on Earth, the only person who believes the two to still be alive. A year later, Itsuki is attacked by a monster and protected by a silvery hero – the legendary space sheriff Gavan. Revealing himself to be Geki, Itsuki learns of what happened to their spacecraft and the fate of Toya. Geki explains that he has returned to Earth to prevent the mysterious Master Brighton from resurrecting Don Horror and his Maku Space Mafia. When the sinister plot takes an unexpected turn and Itsuki is kidnapped, Geki must rely on help from the original Gavan Retsu Ichijouji to defeat the Maku and save the universe, earning his title as a space sheriff.

With little in the way of fansubs available for Metal Heroes series, a lot of people will probably be going into this film in the dark about the history of Gavan (save the two recent Sentai team ups). Thankfully you won’t need any background knowledge, as while this does continue on somewhat from the original Gavan series it is very much a relaunch. The characters are all brand new save for a few veterans, and the story very much focusses on Geki earning his place as the new Gavan (known as Gavan Type-G). Despite it’s 83 minute run time its a fairly fast paced film, with an extremely predictable plot twist midway in. It’s heavy on character since this is an all-new cast, but unfortunately it results in a sad shortage of the Gavan suit in action. What little there is is fantastic (and there are plenty of untransformed fight sequences too), but for a film named Space Sheriff Gavan, Gavan appears very little outside of the final battle.

The film may be about the arrival of a new Gavan, but it wouldn’t be right without a proper send off the original Gavan, played by legendary tokusatsu actor Kenji Ohba. If Gokaiger vs. Gavan didn’t convince you the this guy still had it when it came to playing Retsu, this film certainly will. But despite very much having the ability to, Kenji doesn’t completely steal the show and only enforces its greatness, making it the perfect in terms of passing the torch from the old to the new.

Though Gavan is the first Metal Hero and seemingly one of the most popular in Japan (Western audiences will be more familiar with Metalder, Spielban and the B-Fighters due to the likes of VR Troopers and Big Bad Beetleborgs), there are in fact three Space Sheriff series. His predecessors Sharivan and Shaider also make an appearance in the film, again played by all new actors. Geki Violet/Gou actor Riku Miura plays the new Sharivan Kai Hyuga while Kamen Rider Birth/Date actor Hiroaki Iwanaga is the new Shaider Shu Karasuma. While this would have been an excellent chance to see all three Space Sheriffs onscreen together for a glorious revival, sadly their role is reduced to little more than a cameo – appearing untransformed near the beginning and then enjoying a brief fight sequence at the movie’s climax. Arguably giving equal focus to all 3 would have made the movie suffer (and after all it is called Space Sheriff Gavan), it would have been nice to see their role be a bit more crucial to the film. One can hope that if a new Metal Heroes series does come of this, we’ll be seeing a lot more of both Sharivan and Shaider.

 

While Space Sheriff Gavan is clearly a pilot for what will hopefully be a new Metal Heroes series, that doesn’t stop it from being a pretty enjoyable standalone movie. Yes the plot twists are predictable and the transformed fight scenes minimal, but this slick retro sci-fi slice of tokusatsu proves a great alternative to the usual Super Sentai and Kamen Rider outings. If Metal Heroes were to make a return to Japanese television screens, I for one would welcome it.