“We pierce through the galaxy with legendary blades.” is the theme of Seijuu Sentai Gingaman. This was the first work that Yasuko Kobayashi had done as a Super Sentai headwriter. This series may have come out as one of the best series in the 1990s.The story of Gingaman begins with the inauguration of the would be 133rd Gingaman team by lineage. Although Hyuga would have beent he 133rd Ginga Red but fate soon made his younger brother Ryoma as the show’s main protagonist instead. The other Gingamen are Hayate (Ginga Green), Gouki (Ginga Blue), Hikaru (Ginga Yellow) and Saya (Ginga Pink). Later on, Hyuga returns and becomes the sixth ranger inheriting the anti-hero Bullblack’s powers after the latter’s heroic sacrifice.The Gingamen as warriors are imbued with this “Earth Power” that allows them to harness power from nature. Ryoma uses fire, Hayate uses wind, Gouki uses water, Hikaru uses lightning and Saya uses petals. The heroes had lost their home the Ginga Forest to the Balban and are forced to live with the “normal world” where they must learn to adjust. The plot kind of feels like it was taken from Flashman’s rangers where they must try to adjust to a new environment. The heroes must defend the Earth from the Balban Pirates before the Earth becomes their next target for destruction. To guide them in the city, they were assisted by the talking tree Moak and the acorn fairy Bokku. They live in a ranch where Harukiko and his son Yuuta accommodate them and knew of their identity as the 133rd Gingamen.The Balban are a group of intergalactic pirates who for some reason could breathe even in the vacuum of space. Captain Zahab and his pirate crew have been plundering and then destroying planets turning them into jewels. Whatever reasons Captain Zahab had, it felt like he was trying to achieve immortality and/or possibly godhood. The Earth becomes the only planet standing in his way as he was defeated by the first Gingamen. These space pirates were sealed off for centuries but were awakened by an earthquake in the modern day. They seek to get whatever energy they could to revive their giant monster Daitanic so they can proceed to destroy Earth.The main villain crew of Captain Zahab has Shelinda as his steerwoman, Pucrates as his advisor and the four generals. The four generals are Sanbash the leader of the insect-like humanoid monsters, Budo leads a samurai-themed gang of monsters. Illies is an Egyptian themed sorceress who uses magically themed monsters. Batbas is a viking themed general with mechanical robotic beasts who cause havoc. Like the generals in Goranger, the generals only replaced each other when the previous one got destroyed in the conflict though they all appeared in the beginning. The reason was because Captain Zahab wanted to make sure they prevented any sabotaging done towards each other though it proved useless. Later, Dark Merchant Biznella came in later in the series to assist Balban.While my first exposure to Yasuko Kobayashi as a writer was Samurai Sentai Shinkenger, Gingaman was where I soon knew of how she started off as a headwriter right after she was an important secondary writer a year before with Denji Sentai Megaranger. She started out pretty good and she had a lot of good assistance from Naruhisa Arakawa and Junki Takegami as major secondary writers together with Shigenori Takatera as the head producer. Like during the time Toshiki Inoue was the head writer of Chojin Sentai Jetman – the series tried to blend in a lot of stuff from Hirohisa Soda’s era and became a successful series. This was just a preview of what we might expect from Kobayashi’s style as a head writer. This was also where Arakawa was also getting more of an idea on how he wanted to write Tokusatsu his style after he wrote Megaranger’s finale.As I watched through this series and having seen more 90s Super Sentai, I really felt that it was a nice series though I wonder why was it really named Gingaman? After seeing Zyuohger’s premiere episodes, I felt like maybe Gingaman should have been named as Zyuohman or Seijuuman instead because it felt like it was too attached to the forest? I even thought that maybe its U.S. adaptation Power Rangers Lost Galaxy should have been named as Power Rangers Star Beasts instead of the official title it got. The show had some really good writing and production styles involved making it memorable. I felt that like Jetman, it should’ve gotten a post-series TV special (ex. a Hero Encyclopedia) but maybe it was hard to beat Jetman’s record. Instead, we had Timeranger get a post-TV series special where the Timerangers explained about the 23 previous Super Sentai series prior to them. Overall, it’s been an enjoyable series to watch.
Even though it wasn’t released until December, 2017 was a year that was surrounded by Star Wars Episode VIII: The Last Jedi hype. So much so that the film even unexpectedly showed up as a sponsor of Uchu Sentai Kyuranger as the release date drew closer. However that wasn’t the only link that could be drawn between the film franchise and the 41st Super Sentai series either, with Kyuranger giving it a few obvious nods in its summer movie – Uchu Sentai Kyuranger the Movie: The Geth Indaver’s Counterattack. In typical fashion the movie was released alongside Kamen Rider Ex-Aid the Movie: True Ending in cinemas, taking place roughly between episodes 22 and 23 of the series itself.As the planet-sized Geth Star battle station approaches Earth with the intent of destroying it, the Kyurangers suffer their biggest loss yet as Shou Ronpo is shot and seemingly killed by its creator Geth Indaver. The team has no time for mourning though, as Indaver plans to destroy the Earth in 72 hours – harnessing the power of the legendary destroyer Kerberos. It’s a race against time as the Kyurangers split up to find the three fragments of the stone needed to summon Kerberos, with Indaver’s unit not far behind them. Can they succeed before time runs out? And who is behind the mask of Geth Indaver and what is his history with Shou Ronpo?Similar to how Zyuohger’s movie The Heart-Pounding Circus Panic! kicked things off in media res, The Geth Indaver’s Counterattack throws the audience straight into the action with little to no information about both the Geth Star and its mysterious creator, using the apparent of Shou Ronpo as the launching point of the movie rather than as an emotional turning point midway through. It certainly works in giving the film some immediate punch.The movie does what Kyuranger arguably does best – split the team up and engage in some cool sequences. Sadly as usual Raptor/Washi Pink gets the short end of the stick and stays onboard the ship until the climactic fight featuring the whole team. The lack of Ryu Commander, Koguma SkyBlue and Houou Soldier are forgivable since they begin to fall into “extra” ranger territory, but having Raptor just standing on the sidelines really does spoil it. Speaking of Koguma SkyBlue and Houou Soldier, both characters are in the movie – just not for very long. Kotaro’s there for the final fight, while Tsurugi just kind of shows up to help out at the very end. Watching this back at a point where Tsurugi hadn’t fully aligned himself with the Kyurangers would probably make more sense, because in hindsight it does feel a little disjointed.That isn’t to say there aren’t other cool things going on in this movie though! Lucky riding Garu transformed into a motorcycle, Champ fighting a cage fight! Kyuranger has always done well at mixing its space theme with all kinds of wacky scenarios and power ups, and the film is definitely no exception. All of the segments could easily be replaced with something else and the outcome of the film would be exactly the same, but it’s the kind of big dumb fun you can really get behind – especially when thought of as something being watched on the big screen. That’s what makes this movie shine, because despite the rushed nature and other flaws it still feels like it’s trying to be something bigger in terms of spectacle. Whether it truly succeeds at that is a different thing entirely, but the effort to make the Kyuranger movie feel like a movie (or at least a pre-movie special) shows.On the villain side of things Geth Indaver works to mixed results. Both conceptually and visually he’s excellent, but the actual execution of his back story falls a little short. Given how quickly the introduction breezes by there’s barely any time for his history with Shou to resonate, and his joining with Jark Matter and eventual plan don’t really match up with his initial motivation in the past. If his original plan was to defeat Jark Matter using Kerberos powers, why then go and immediately work for Jark Matter just for revenge? Maybe it’s that Kyuranger is insistent on showing how deep Jark Matter’s influence runs throughout the galaxy, but Indaver would have worked just as well (if not better) had he just been a neutral third party looking to wipe out both sides in the fight. His relation to Jark Matter is pretty tenuous anyway, as at this point in the story there weren’t any regular series generals to speak of so he pretty much just goes about his own devices.This year’s movie-exclusive mecha is of course the Kerberos Voyager, which despite seeming like a big part of the story feels somewhat overshadowed by everything else going on around it. Ultimately the Geth Star is the main threat, so the “legendary beast” is tamed by the Kyurangers fairly quickly to simply play a role that could have feasibly been filled by KyurenOh. The most memorable movie mecha are always the ones that feel properly intertwined into the story (and in special cases then go on to later appear in the show itself), and Kerberios just doesn’t have that same lasting impact as something like Tobaspino or Safari Gaoh.The movie offers an enjoyable one-off space adventure that puts more focus on spectacle and set-pieces then it does on shilling summer 2017’s latest toy. It’s good to see Kyuranger making the most of what it has.
The Christmas Witness
Azarudo feels like he’s already won the Blood Game of Earth now that Cubaru is gone. But Ginis reminds him that the winner is the one who amuses him most. And Cubaru’s rebellion was very amusing. At the treehouse, everyone is happy to see Misao out of the hospital. He also has a Christmas present for Uncle Mario, a whetstone to help sharpen his chisels. Tusk asks Yamato what Christmas is and he explains. Uncle Mario thinks it’s weird the Zyuman have no idea what Christmas is about. To keep Uncle Mario from asking more questions, Yamato suggests they have a party tonight to celebrate both Christmas and Micchan’s recovery. The Zyuman head out to buy a present for Uncle Mario as well. They decide on a sweater, but they don’t have enough money. Even worse, their tails go hard as Azarudo’s Gakkarize terrorizes the plaza.Gakkarize paints drawings that become real like masks on people’s faces or a giant Buddha. While the Zyman fight off the drawings come to life, Uncle Mario and Yamato work on decorating the Christmas tree back home. Uncle Mario remembers he and Yamato haven’t celebrated Christmas at the treehouse since Yamato started getting into girls in elementary school. He also asks if the others will be going home for Christmas and New Year’s. Yamato says it’s complicated. Uncle Mario suggests they are like Yamato, but Yamato says while he chooses not to go home, the others can’t go home. Uncle Mario reminds Yamato that he can always talk to him. The Zyuman pass by a cake shop that’s been painted over by Gakkarize. They offer to help sell the cakes outside where people can actually see. When sales are slow, the Zyuman decide to go full-on Zyuman to drum up more interest. And it works as even the local news are reporting on them.Micchan hurries to the treehouse to show Yamato what’s going on. Uncle Mario gets a call and he says he must now fly to Canada to buy wood that’s on sale so them kids should just have the party themselves. Micchan is a little sad, but he and Yamato must hurry out to get the others to stop messing around. Seeing the kids happy with the big animal people, Yamato realizes there’s a special connection between humans and Zyumans. The Zyuman sell all the cakes and the shop owner gives them their pay. They hurry back to the store to buy the sweater, but they forgot about tax so they don’t have enough. Yamato and Misao arrive and Yamato offers to pay the difference. They object, but Yamato says he also owes his uncle for many things and for far longer than them. Yamato tells them Uncle Mario is leaving the country for Christmas. They hurry as they want to give him his present before he leaves. But Gakkarize stops them. Yamato and Micchan say to leave Gakkarize to them while the Zyuman go find Uncle Mario. Azarudo stops them.On the way to the airport, Uncle Mario sees the explosions and commotion. He finds Yamato and the others after they’ve just been forced to demorph. Seeing they’re in trouble, he tries to find a weapon to fight off the Deathgaliens. The Zyuman mock Gakkarize for his fake art, so Azarudo calls them out on their fake life forms living as humans. The Zyuman4 decide to show their true forms just as Uncle Mario comes back with a fire extinguisher. The Zyuohgers morph once again and do a roll call to complete Uncle Mario’s surprise. They Zyuohgers defeat Gakkarize and all the painting things disappear. Naria pops in to Continue Gakkarize who starts painting an army of Moebas who begin decimating the city. As Yamato goes Whale to fight Azarudo, the others hop into Wild Tousai King. The others are in trouble so Yamato summons Cube Whale to help. But when Cube Whale sees Azarudo, it attacks. Azarudo retreats. Cube Whale gets rid of all the Moebas allowing the Zyuohgers to go Wild Tousai Dodeka King to finish off Gakkarize for good. Back at the treehouse, the Zyuman are sad they couldn’t give Uncle Mario his present. But Misao says to just give it to him when he gets back. Not a big deal.It was a pretty basic Christmas episode. At least they didn’t kill off a cool character or something like that. (Looking at you Ex-Aid.) The most important part of the episode was Uncle Mario finally finding out about the Zyumans and the Zyuohgers. On one hand, I’m sad Uncle Mario didn’t know the whole time. But at the same time, it’s refreshing to have that “It was them the whole time?!” moment. The other interesting thing from the episode was of course the mystery over Azarudo’s possible true nature. Overall, an okay Christmas episode worth a watch for any Sentai fan.
A DANGEROUS! SANTA CLAUS
Kasumi is always developing new Karakuri technology. This time she tries her hand at a device that can call upon Yokai. However, the device only summons Jukkarage. Is Kasumi in a slump? The cause of her apparent haste is her recent loss against Mangetsu Kibaoni. Meanwhile, a mysterious Santa is giving rings to everyone. After 1 hour, all those with rings become ragged. Takaharu, who picked up a ring during battle, suffers the same fate. There is no Yokai to be seen and the victims will not say anything. Kasumi then decides to use her newly invented lie detector and discovers that the mysterious Santa was in reality the Yokai Binbogami!Ninninger is another great Sentai series with a great cast and also merits some great guest stars from previous Sentai series, A worthy entry in the Super Sentai Franchise.This festive episode is fun and a great way to spend the holidays.
STATION 39: THE BEGINNING OF THE END
With Christmas approaching, the Shadow Line becomes less active due to the increasing amount of Imagination everywhere, giving the ToQgers a chance to rest and celebrate the holiday themselves. Meanwhile, General Schwarz appears before Akira and urges him to fulfill his part of the bargain they previously made and join his side to launch an attack on the weakened Castle Terminal. At the castle, Emperor Z is also feeling the symptoms of the lack of Darkness and Madame Noir intends to take the opportunity to rescue her daughter.
Wishing to have Akira celebrate Christmas with them, Right and the others pay a visit to the Build Ressha, but they find that he has left the Drill Ressha behind as well as instructions on how to detect Shadow Towns with it. Although they are worried by the sudden disappearance of their friend, the ToQgers are suddenly called to action when the Shadow Creeps they have previously defeated start appearing again, but far weaker than when they last fought them. They are unaware that they are just copies created by Boseki Shadow, who was imprisoned for his power of absorbing Darkness being dangerous to the Shadow Line.
Marchioness Mork asks Boseki Shadow how he has escaped and learns that he was released by Madame Noir, confirming that she intends to turn against the Emperor once again, as the ToQgers battle the copied Shadow Creeps. Boseki Shadow is then destroyed by the ToQgers’ Hyper 5 Connection Crash and enlarges itself, thus the team forms ToQ-Oh and Diesel-Oh to fight him. However, they are distracted by their worries about Akira, affecting the battle, until they decide to focus and form Cho-Cho-ToQ-Dai-Oh combined with the Police Ressha to bring Boseki Shadow down for good. Soon after, the ToQgers are informed that General Schwarz’s Kuliner is nearby and they decide to confront him, but much to their surprise, Akira appears before them, stating that he is now working under General Schwarz and transforms into ToQ 6gou to fight them.
STATION 40: WHO IS HE? HE IS WHOM?
After transforming into ToQ 6gou, Akira fights the ToQgers when they refuse to leave without him. Though the ToQgers try to reason with him, Zaram assumes his true form as General Schwarz comes to him to carry out their plan. Zaram, after reminding Tokatti of their promise, accompanies Schwarz on his darkness reserve-powered Kurainer to raid Castle Terminal. With the Ressha giving chase, the ToQgers talk about Akira’s words while Right intends to get their friend back. At Castle Terminal, Barone Nero and Madame Noir are confounded to find Miss Glitta having took over Emperor Z’s body. Certain that it is the opportunity she has been waiting for, Noir knocks out Barone and attempts to free her daughter. But Glitta tells her mother she cannot leave Emperor Z’s body before he regains his body and blasts Noir out of the castle. By then, Schwarz’s Kurainer arrives as he and Zaram fight their way to throne room. It is then that Schwarz reveals he recruited Zaram to have him kill Emperor Z, weakened by the Darkness Decline, as ToQ 6gou. But Emperor Z uses much of his remaining power to defeat ToQ 6gou and abduct him on the Imperial Kurainer. Just as the ToQgers are about to enter the Shadow Line on the Drill Ressha, they see ToQ 6gou falling from the Imperial Kurainer with Schwarz’s Kurainer in pursuit. But once they bring ToQ 6gou to the Ressha as Schwarz enters the Imperial Kurainer, the ToQgers learn that Emperor Z stole the AppliChanger from Zaram to seek refuge in the Ressha. But as the ToQgers discuss the turn of events, they see Miss Glitta manifesting as she requests them to stop Schwarz from saving her as she feels her separation from Emperor Z would only result in a catastrophe for everyone. Meanwhile, returning to find Castle Terminal having tremors, Marchioness Mork learns about the situation as she tells Nero that they must find Emperor Z. The ToQgers find Schwarz and Zaram, but are unable to give the former Glitta’s message as they and the rouge Shadow Line members fight Nero and the Close as Hyper ToQ 1gou battle Marchioness Mork’s Kurainer in Hyper Reshha Tei-Oh. Schwarz and Zaram eventually escape in the chaos, finding a wounded Noir as she pleas their help with Glitta. But as Marchioness Mork’s Kurainer Robo is defeated, the unsettled Castle Terminal manifest with the ToQgers realizing it has been situated where their hometown Subarugahama used to be upon recognizing the tree where they used to play as kids next to the fortress.
STATION 41: THE CHRISTMAS BATTLE
Subarugahama is discovered to be the foundation of Castle Terminal and the ToQgers are saved from the erupting darkness by the Ressha. They form a plan to reach the Shadow Line’s terminal in order to free their hometown. However, they are stopped by General Schwarz’s Cryner as they emerge to attempt to reason with him and Zaram to stop for Miss Glitta’s sake. General Schwarz refuses to listen and a fight ensues with Barone Nero and Marchioness Mork using the opportunity to go after Miss Glitta and extinguish her to restore Castle Terminal and enable Emperor Z to use his full potential. Unfortunately, Emperor Z regains control of his body and overpowers his servants before overpowering Zaram as ToQ 6gou. However, he and Hyper ToQ 1gou cancel their transformations with Right taking the AppliChanger back. From there, General Schwarz holds off Emperor Z long enough for Madame Noir to make her move to free Miss Glitta. Unfortunately, as Miss Glitta feared would happen while watching her mother die by his hand, an enraged Emperor Z explodes into a vast darkness that consolidates into his true form: Z-Shin. After General Schwarz sends Miss Glitta away on his Cryner, he is killed by Z-Shin while proclaiming that he found his light in his final words. After mercilessly attacking Marchioness Mork and Barone Nero, Z-Shin unleashes another torrent of darkness that drags Castle Terminal back into the Shadow Line while Zaram attempts to stop him. After the ToQgers awake, they find Akira alive but upset that he could not save their town. The ToQgers hug him, surprising him, and tell him how much he means to them. Suddenly, a fleet of Cryners appear and attack, and Akira agrees to remain with the ToQgers to help them get their town back, as they use the various Ressha combinations to destroy the enemy Cryners. Later, as the ToQgers welcome Akira into their Christmas party, Miss Glitta visits General Schwarz’s gravesite, built by Akira, and Emperor Z notes how Castle Terminal has gotten darker.
Ressha Sentai ToQger is a series that rarely broke the mould for Super Sentai, but did everything you’d expect a children’s show about colorful superheroes powered by trains and imagination to do and more. Despite its flaws ToQger is a show that fully embraces its motifs, gimmicks and absurdity in every way possible – through the aesthetic, the story and perhaps most importantly the characters. The look and how it often comes dangerously close to being too silly for it’s own good may deter some, but give the show the chance it deserves and you’ll no doubt find it a rewarding watch. These Christmas episodes highlight some o the best episodes and are worth watching over the holiday season.
BRAVE 41: YANASANTA! DEBOTH’S WORLD WAR
On Christmas Eve, Daigo helps Nobuharu and an excited Utsusemimaru with decorating a shopping center. He later meets up with Souji as he trains with Torin, who tells them that Earth has a melody of its own while noticing a light shining from the land near by. Before Torin can explain about the land’s light, the Kyoryugers see Deboth appearing and are barely able to destroy him with Bakuretsu Kyoryuzin this time around. The Kyoryugers later learn that the Deboth they fought is actually a clone created by lame toys that respond to angry children. At the Frozen Castle, after showing concern for Chaos’s health, Dogold tells Chaos that he and his creation Debo Yantasanta will begin the next phase of their plan. As Christmas Eve begins in Japan, more Clone Deboth appear in Tokyo, Beijing, London, New York, and Hawaii.The Kyoryugers sortie out: Kyoryu Red takes Spinodai-Oh to Tokyo; Kyoryu Gold, Kyoryu Black, and Kyoryu Green head to Beijing in Pteraiden-Oh Western; Kyoryu Blue and Kyoryu Pink head to London in Kyoryuzin; Kyoryu Violet, assisted by Kyoryu Cyan and Kyoryu Gray, takes Plezu-Oh to New York; and Kyoryu Silver heads on his own in Gigant Bragi-Oh to Hawaii. Once Spinodai-Oh destroys the Clone Deboth attacking Tokyo, Kyoryu Red sees Debo Yantasanta and chases after him. Debo Yantasanta admits that he stole letters from Santa Claus and reveals that he is one of five other Debo Yanasanta as he and his brother, the Debo Yantasanta from London combine to overpower Kyoryu Red. In China, while Kyoryu Green and Kyoryu Black continue to pilot Pteraiden-Oh Western, Kyoryu Gold sees Dogold absorbing some the emotional energy from the Clone Deboth, who reveals the attack to be a divide and conquer scheme to get Kyoryu Red on his own. Noticing something off with Dogold, Utusemimaru follows after him and fakes his rage to free Daigo while telling his nemesis that he is no longer himself. Once they transform, Kyoryu Red and Kyoryu Gold exchange their personal Zyudenchi to defeat Yantasanta ×12. With Daigo barely able to stand, Dogold attempts to kill him when Dantestu intervenes as he and the Kyoryugers get to safety. After recognizing Dantetsu, Dogold decides to take over the human’s body and tells Luckyuro to summon the other Debo Yantasantas back to Japan.
BRAVE 42: WONDERFUL! CHRISTMAS OF JUSTICE
As the other Kyoryugers deal with the Clone Deboth with aid from Ankydon, Bunpachy, and Tobaspino, Utsusemimaru tends to Daigo’s wounds with Dantetsu. However, the three are ambushed by the surviving Debo Yanasanta brothers as they merge into Debo Yanasanta ×345 while going after Dantetsu. Covering Daigo and Dantetsu’s escape, Utsusemimaru finds his Gaburi Changer frozen by Yanasanta just as Dogold arrives, sending Aigallon to support Debo Yanasanta before the other Kyoryugers arrive to save the others. Elsewhere, Dogold finds himself unable to possess Dantestu. Torin arrives and reveals that Dantetsu was bathed in the light of the land and became able to hear the planet’s melody as King of Humanity. After transforming into Kyoryu Red Carnival, Daigo battles Dogold while Dantetsu tells Torin that he is able to enact the final part of his mission.With Debo Yantasanta knocked into him, Dogold sees the ten Kyoryugers assembled as his Debo Monster suddenly puts him in the way of the Ten Zyudenryu Maximum Victory Finish. With the other knight arriving, Dogold’s body explodes, with Endolf emerging from within him, picking up Dogold’s face mask and telling him that he manipulated Dogold’s plan from the start. He attempts to crush him before Canderrilla and Aigallon convince him to let their ally go. Though Debo Yanasanta is enlarged, he is destroyed by Gigant Kyoryuzin, Pteraiden-Oh Ankydon, and Plezu-Oh Bunpachy using the All Gigant Full Blaster. At the Frozen Castle, Chaos reveals that he knew of Dogold’s treachery and that the anger quota required for the resurrection of Deboss has been met. The deposed Raging Knight takes over a Cambrima while venting his rage over lacking a body. At the Spirit Base, the Kyoryugers are upset that they have not managed to fix the Deboth Army’s plans, when Daigo gets an idea. He and the other Kyoryugers don Christmas attire to give presents to the children all over the world, as Dantestu watches from afar.There’s a lot of enjoyment you can get out of this by the sheer number of heroes and unique combinations of finishers or mecha that they pump out almost every episode to keep things fresh and cool. It definitely deserves to be the bravest. These Christmas episodes are excellent and worth watching around the holiday season.