REVIEW: Kishiryu Sentai Ryusoulger the Movie: Time Slip! Dinosaur Panic!!

KSR_TM_Poster

Starring

Hayate Ichinose (Kishiryu Sentai Ryusoulger)
Keito Tsuna (Bungaku Shojo)
Ichika Osaki (Kamen Rider Zi-O)
Yuito Obara (Over Drive)
Tatsuya Kishida (Kamen Rider Wizard)
Katsumi Hyodo (5 Million Dollar Life)
Mana Kinjo (Tokyo City Girl 2016)
Sora Tamaki (Crescent Moon)
Mitsuru Fukikoshi (A Girl Missing)
Shiro Sano (Kaizoku Sentai Gokaiger vs. Space Sheriff Gavan)
Rie Kitahara (Rise of The Machine Girls)
Tetsu Inada (Tokusou Sentai Dekaranger)

Ryusoulger-Max-Ryusoul-Red65 million years ago, the battle between the Druidons and the Ryusoul Tribe wages on as a meteorite of apocalyptic proportions approaches Earth. In the present day, a trip to the museum proves especially eventful when a fossil cracks open and leads to the resurrection of Yuno – a member of the Ryusoul Tribe from all those years ago.Ryusoulger-Movie-LocationAs a Minosaur attack thrusts them back in time, the Ryusoulgers clash with Valma – an inventor and Yuno’s father who has become convinced that the only way to save their tribe is survival of the strongest. While Koh faces off against the creator of the Gaisoulg armour, the other dino knights unlock the power Kishiryuzin to prevent the Earth from certain destruction.Ryusoulger-Movie-Yuno Time Slip! Dinosaur Panic!!  it’s blessed with almost the perfect setting, and the film’s brief introduction certainly shows a lot of promise. A large scale conflict between human and Druidon, taking place on both the ground level and with mecha.  The Druidon aspect is almost immediately cast aside other than the appearance of a plot-convenience Minosaur, and instead the film’s main villain comes from within the Ryusoul Tribe itself. From the very beginning in Super Sentai Strongest Battle Gaisoulg was cemented as a fan-favourite part of Ryusoulger, and here the movie is bringing in the armour’s creator as the bad guy. Sadly the placement of the movie in the series’ timeline means the two appearances of Gaisoulg have next to no bearing on each other, but more time spent with that great suit design is never a bad thing. Valma’s mentality for his tribe’s preservation is also an interesting element to explore, creating friction within the Ryusoul tribe and giving them more depth than just being the heroes of the story.Ryusoulger-Movie-ValmaWhile the series may have done a reasonably good job of not constantly making Koh the central focus, when it comes to Ryusoulger’s movie outing there’s no question of who the real hero of the story is. While other four Ryusoulger’s are off trying to stop the asteroid, Koh is still down on the Earth having a one on one fight with Valma. There are elements to like about this – not only does actor Hayate Ichinose do a brilliant job in the role but the time-twisting aspect of Koh introducing to the Ryusoul Tribe the very values he was taught himself is a nice touch of causality. Ryusoulger-TransformedBut if there’s anything that’s going to save this film from being simply untapped potential, it’s the fact that it’s easily one of the best-looking summer movies the franchise has ever put out. Kazuya Kamihourichi’s visuals were immediately one of Ryusoulger’s biggest selling points, but on the big screen the director is really able to go wild and make this movie feel like so much more than just a slightly longer episode. For the sections taking place in the past Time Slip! Dinosaur Panic!! features a huge amount of unique scenery and location work, immediately creating a sense of uniqueness to set it apart from the primarily city-dwelling show. On top of stunning backdrops that show off just how diverse Japan’s natural beauty is, most of these outdoor sequences feature wide open spaces to depict large scale battles with panning camera shots.Ryusoulger-Movie-GaisoulgA Great Summer Sentai, Great Story and great visuals, wish it was longer than 30 minutes, but still a great addition to the sentai world.

 

 

REVIEW: KISHIRYU SENTAI RYUSOULGER

Ryusoulger_Poster

Starring

Hayate Ichinose (Kishiryu Sentai Ryusoulger The Movie)
Keito Tsuna (Bungaku Shojo)
Ichika Osaki (Kamen Rider Zi-O)
Yuito Obara (Over Drive)
Tatsuya Kishida (Kamen Rider Wizard)
Katsumi Hyodo (5 Million Dollar Life)
Mana Kinjo (Tokyo City Girl 2016)
Sora Tamaki (Crescent Moon)
Mitsuru Fukikoshi (A Girl Missing)

screenshot_99_1514727

Recurring / Notable Guest Cast

Masaya Kikawada (Kamen Rider: The FIrst)
Jouji Shibue (Zyuden Sentai Kyoryuger)
Miyuu Sawai (Kamen Rider Amazons)
Jiro Dan (Ninpu Sentai Hurricaneger)
Reina Tanaka (Sūgaku Joshi Gakuen)
Rei Kobayashi
Tadashi Mizuno (Kaitou Sentai Lupinranger VS Keisatsu Sentai Patranger)
Oshiro Maeda (I Wish)
Noriko Nakagoshi (The Lone Scalpel)
Yoshiyasu Iwao (Kyukyu Sentai GoGoFive)
Tetsu Inada (Tokusou Sentai Dekaranger)
Wakano Tsukada (Kyukyu Sentai GoGoFive)
Yukari Taki (Kamen Rider Build)
Megumi Kobashi (University of Laughs)
Seiya Osada (Doubutsu Sentai Zyuohger)
Mao Ichimichi (Kaizoku Sentai Gokaiger)
Hikaru Yamamoto (Kamen Rider W)
Nao Nagasawa (Ninpu Sentai Hurricaneger)
Rei Yoshii (Kamen Rider Drive)
Rie Kitahara (Rise of The Machine Girls)
Ayaka Komatsu (One Missed Call)
Rikako Sakata (Kamen Rider Fourze)

Ryusoulger-GaisoulgKishiryu Sentai Ryusoulger is the 43rd entry in the Super Sentai franchise, with the dinosaur theme having last been used back in 2013 with Zyuden Sentai Kyoryuger. The production side of things also saw a something of a shake-up too, with plenty of faces new to Sentai brought on board to give it a fresh new feel. This series marks the tokusatsu debut of J-drama writer Junpei Yamaoka, and was directed by Kazuya Kamihoriuchi – a man who particularly caught the attention of viewers for his work on Kamen Rider Build.MV5BMzc4MzIwNzc4MV5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTYwOTM0MTc3._V1_65 million years ago, the Ryusoul Tribe waged war against the evil Druidon Tribe – with the conflict eventually ended by the meteor that ended the age of the dinosaurs. As the Druidons fled into space, the Ryusoul Tribe prepared for the eventuality that they may one day return – sealing away the power of the Kishiryu as the mantle of the Ryusoulgers was passed down through the generations. When the Druidons return to reclaim the Earth, the chosen knights must come together to defeat them once and for all. Able to call upon a wide variety of powers from mystical RyuSouls as well as the guardian Kishiryu, the Ryusoulgers fight back against the Druidons and their army of Minosaurs – creatures created from and powered by the negative emotions of human hosts.Ryusoulger-DruidonsFirst episodes are very rarely representative of a Super Sentai series as a whole, but with all the stops Toei pulled out for the Ryusoulger premiere it was hard not to be excited for the “similar but different” approach they seemed to be taking. The opening episode was steeped in Gingaman-esque lore about the Ryusoul knights, the fights were flashy and the mecha introduction burst with an fast-paced energy that’s seldom seen in the franchise. It seemed like the direction that Super Sentai needed to be heading it, and the focus on human despair (even branching down into darker topics like suicide) gave the stories an additional weight that kept things interesting for older fans as well. The heavier themes often counteracted with some of the show’s sillier elements, but arguably Super Sentai is at its best when it at least tries to balance these two elements. Ryusoulger had scope and it had ideas, and given the move away from the usual production staff many hoped this would lead to a more standout, less predictable show.Ryusoulger-CanaloRed-centricity is often considered a major issue for Super Sentai, but ultimately the red ranger is generally considered to be the main character so there’s also going to be some bias toward him no matter what. It’s only those times where it comes at the expense of the entire team and the Red Ranger is seemingly relied on for everything that it’s a real problem. Ryusoulger does a pretty good job of bypassing this, so while it may show some preference toward Koh and having him directly lead the team as Ryusoul Red the series still feels like a team effort that gives everyone a distinct place. Koh is basically placed as the everyman – the happy go lucky but highly skilled warrior that can be innocent and cheery one minute but still give a hot-blooded speech about the values of truth and justice when the time is right. He gets the most power ups and is the centre of the biggest storylines, but most of the times these are the parts of Ryusoulger that are actually worth remembering.Ryusoulger-Max-Ryusoul-RedBacking him up directly are Melto/Ryusoul Blue and Asuna/Ryusoul Pink, who as the first three introduced in the series definitely feel like the core unit of the show. Melto gets the short end of the stick when it comes to specific arcs the wider development of the whole team, but as their resident smart guy he’s a core component that’s almost always called upon for the strategy that ends up saving the day. Asuna meanwhile is much more balanced, though her role as the unconventional strong one of the team does get a little muddied as time goes on. Asuna is another character that gets some great personal moments along the way though, and another one that delivers the more memorable speeches that reinforce the Super Sentai mantra.Ryusoulger-KishiryuOhOne of the more interesting elements of how Ryusoulger handled its team was that despite eventually bringing six knights together, they were still broken down into three groups that would go off and do their own thing. Towa/Ryusoul Green and Banba/Ryusoul Black aren’t properly introduced until the third episode of the show (despite being technically the first to appear due to their cameo in Super Sentai Strongest Battle) and they’re very different to the core three – almost coming off as hostile in their early appearances. Towa treats their battle against the Druidons almost like a game, while the older Banba is both stoic and pragmatic – content with sacrificing one person in the fight against the Minosaurs in order to save thousands. Really they aren’t very likeable at all when they first come into the show, which is a pretty bold move to take on two of your core characters. But in usual Super Sentai fashion they do quickly adapt to being team players – Banba being much more hesitant than Towa, but under that cool guy exterior is a big ol’ softy and the times the audience is reminded of that tend to be his better moments.Ryusoul_14Finally we get the obligatory sixth member in the form of Canalo/Ryusoul Gold – a descendant from the underwater-dwelling Sea Ryusoul Tribe that has distanced itself from the land tribe. While his general schtick of searching for a wife to help “repopulate the tribe” can get a little tiresome, it does also provide some genuine laughs. Canalo coming into the conflict differently to the others also gives him a different outlook, which makes him a particularly interesting character in the penultimate episode. What these three characters all have in common though is that while the Ryusoulgers do come together, they aren’t always in each others pockets and before the Druidons attack are usually off doing their own thing. It’s by no means an idea original to Ryusoulger, but it does make it a little more varied.GaisorgSSMoving forward the Nada/Gaisorg arc has the hallmarks of the classic “evil Ranger” trope, which may not be all that original by now but never feels out of place in a dinosaur Sentai. Because Gaisorg is detached from the Druidon side of things it’s a much tighter and focused story, with Nada’s charisma cementing the quality even further. Though the arc isn’t as long as it should be, it gives Ryusoulger a much needed boost of energy and a reminder that it still had untapped potential. But the biggest turnaround of all came right at the end of the show, which  is definitely a reward for those who manage to stick with it. Wiserue’s main involvement in the story concludes with a fittingly showy episode that cements him as the one of the show’s standout characters, from there launching into a string of finale episodes that just deliver action, drama and all those revelations viewers had been waiting for. While waiting for reveals like the Druidons’ leader and their overall purpose may have been to the detriment of the show, condensing it all into a handful of episodes ensures that at the very least it is able to stick its landing. The penultimate episode deserves far more credit than it’s ever going to be get for being one of the best modern Super Sentai episodes in a long time, and the ending itself doesn’t fall too short from that either.Ryusoulger-TransformedAt its very best Kishiryu Sentai Ryusoulger has some of the best mini-arcs and singular episodes that Super Sentai has produced in years. It’s a must see for anyone who is a fan of Super Sentai Especially Dinosaur themed ones.

REVIEW: KAMEN RIDER GHOST

Image result for KAMEN RIDER GHOST

Starring

Shun Nishime (Liar! Uncover the Truth)
Hikaru Ohsawa (Death Note)
Ryosuke Yamamoto (Samulife)
Takayuki Yanagi (Ikenie no Dilemma)
Yoshiyuki Morishita (Naotora: The Lady Warlord)
Hayato Isomura (Hiyokko)
Sotaro Yasuda (Juken Sentai Gekiranger)
Akihiro Mayama (Carved 2: The Scissors Massacre)
Mio Kudo (Mashin Sentai Kiramager)
Takuya Mizoguchi (Kamen Rider Decade)
Reo Kanshuji (Blue Demon ver.2.0 )
Yasuomi Sano (Moonlight Mask)
Naoto Takenaka (Garo: Makai Senki)
Aoi Yuki (Kamen Rider 555)
Kazuhiko Nishimura (Choujuu Sentai Liveman)

Ghost_50

Recurring / Notable Guest Cast

Yukari Taki (Kamen Rider Build)
Shunsaku Yajima (Kamen Rider W)
Hitomi Nabatame (School Rumble)
Tetsu Inada (Tokusou Sentai Dekaranger)
Tomokazu Seki (Kamen Rider 1)
Rie Tsuneyoshi (CSI: Crime Scene Talks Drama Special)
Masaki Nakao ( Doubutsu Sentai Zyuohger)
Arisa Komiya (Tokumei Sentai Go-Busters)
Kaya Hioki (Haguregumi vs Ninja)
Makoto Okunaka (Kamen Rider Wizard)
Rin Honoka (Kamne Rider Fourze)
Takumi Tsutsui (Sekai Ninja Sen Jiraiya)
Reon Kadena (The Pinkle)
Hiroki Iijima (Kamen Rider Ex-Aid)

Kamen Rider Ghost Ore DamashiiAfter the sheer insanity/genius of giving a Kamen Rider a car instead of a bike, it’s almost as if Toei went motif crazy in order to make the 2015-16 Rider seem just as innovative. Eyeball collectibles, hoodies, historical figures, a pirate ship that can transform into a giant iguana – these are just some of the facets that make up Kamen Rider Ghost. Spanning a total of 50 episodes, including a crossover with currently airing Super Sentai series Doubutsu Sentai Zyuohger, the 17th Heisei era Kamen Rider series (and 26th in total) marks Takuro Fukuda’s debut as lead writer and stars Shun Nishime as the titular character.Image result for KAMEN RIDER GHOSTOn his 16th birthday Takeru Tenkuji, the son of a ghost hunter who died ten years prior, is killed by a monster known as a Ganma while trying to protect his friends from its attack. Resurrected by a mysterious hermit and bestowed with a device known as the Ghost Driver, Takeru gains the ability to transform into Kamen Rider Ghost using orb shaped trinkets known as Eyecons. However Takeru now only has 99 days to gather 15 additional Eyecons contain the souls of historical figures, which when brought together will grant him one wish – to be brought back to life.Image result for KAMEN RIDER GHOSTOn his journey Takeru re-encounters his childhood friend Makoto Fukami, who along with his sister was sucked into the Ganma world ten years ago and has now taken the guise of Kamen Rider Specter. Though initially clashing, the two Riders also face off against the Ganma forces who are devoted to invading our world and reshaping it in their image of perfection. Enemies include the Ganma prince Alain (later becoming Kamen Rider Necrom) and his brother Adel – who also allies himself with the Ganmeizers, 15 deities that defend the Ganma world.Image result for KAMEN RIDER GHOST CASTThe series opens with Takeru on his 99-day quest to collect the 15 Dragon Balls Eyecons and wish for his mortality back from the Eternal Dragon Great Eye, during which he encounters past historical figures and gains new power ups along the way. Each Eyecon grants a new form, which means there are a total of 15 forms on offer before the series is even halfway through. Takeru himself doesn’t receive all of these initially, but even with that in mind it’s still a case of him receiving a new form almost every episode. Even the first episode pulls no punches about how quickly they’re sped through, as Ghost receives the first of his Heroic Eyecons (Musashi) before the audience has even properly gotten to grips with his base form. The speed they’re gone through not only means that many of them don’t really get a decent amount of exposure.12522977_1188615781165919_904208118060116510_nHowever this initial premise only lasts a mere 11 episodes, as Takeru sacrifices his wish to bring Makoto’s sister Kanon back to life instead. Rewarded with a reset countdown and an upgraded base form, the Eyecon gathering starts anew as the Ganma threat becomes properly realised. This is where the show becomes a little more interesting as Alain’s character development takes centre stage, with the Ganma’s argument that humans don’t deserve their world providing that dash of morality that makes Kamen Rider villains so interesting. From there the show moves into yet another arc as it introduces Adel and the Ganmeizers, returning to the “victim of the week” format as this time the cast connect with the Heroic Eyecons rather than finding them. This is the point the show decides to go big on themes (“humanities potential is infinite” etc.)Image result for KAMEN RIDER GHOST CASTKamen Rider Ghost is a great addition to the Kamen Rider family, Thou not as good as Kamen Rider Drive it still holds its own and the last episode gives us a tease of Kamen Rider Ex-Aid which looks to be very intresting.

REVIEW: TOKUSOU SENTAI DEKARANGER: 10 YEARS AFTER

dekaranger10years

Starring

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

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

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

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

REVIEW: SAMURAI SENTAI SHINKENGER

61gH9h30U7L._SX355_

Starring

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)

Shinkenger_-_Cast_Poster_Crop_(583_x_557)

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: Ressha Sentai ToQger Vs. Kamen Rider Gaim Spring Vacation Combining Special

 

maxresdefault

 

Starring

Jun Shison (Survival Family)
Jin Hiramaki (Ressha Sentai ToQger)
Riria (Zero: Black Blood)
Ryusei Yokohama (Rainbow Days)
Ai Moritaka (Beginners)
Tsutomu Sekine (Toxic Avenger – Part II)
Yui Horie (Love Hina)
Gaku Sano (Kamen Rider Gaim)
Yuumi Shida (Saki)
Yutaka Kobayashi (Kamen Rider Gaim)
Mahiro Takasugi (Rainbow Days)
Yuki Kubota (Uchu Sentai Kyuranger)
Tomohisa Yuge (Kamen Rider Ryuki)
Tatsuhito Okuda (Kamen Rider Decade)
Tetsu Inada (Tokusou Sentai Dekaranger)

ToQ_1_&_Gaim
The Rainbow Line arrives at a station in Zawame City and with no Shadow Creeps in the area, the ToQgers decide to make a stop to enjoy the local attractions. While exploring the city, Right and the others watch a dance performance from Team Gaim when Moguraroid  of the Badan Empire appears to cause a ruckus. Kouta Kazuraba appears to help his friend Mai Takatsukasa and both Armored Rider Gaim and the ToQgers transform to fight the enemy. After being briefly surprised by each other’s powers, the heroes confront Moguraroid who digs a hole in the ground to call for reinforcements, but opens a Crack instead from which a Lion Inves appears. Armored Rider Gaim and ToQ 1gou pursue the Inves through the Crack while the other ToQgers drive Moguraroid away, assisted by Mitsuzane Kureshima who transforms into Armored Rider Ryugen. On the other side of the Crack, Right is about to eat a fruit when Kouta stops him from doing so, warning him of the dangers of the Helheim Forest.
Once reunited at Drupers, Kouta, Mitsuzane, Mai, and the ToQgers become friends and while Mai, Kagura, and Mio decide to hang out together, Right invites Kouta to show him the Ressha while Mitsuzane consults with his brother Takatora, head of the Yggdrasill Corporation about the Badan Empire. Despite Kouta having enough Imagination to see the Rainbow Line, he lacks a pass to enter it, until a man introducing himself as Narutaki appears and lends him one before leaving without further explanation about an outcome Rider War between each Riders from two different eras. Once inside the Ressha, Right learns from Kouta about his fight to stop the Helheim Forest from spreading into Zawame City and offers his help, but Kouta refuses, claiming that the ToQgers are already busy with their search for their hometown while confronting the Shadow Line. Meanwhile, Mai, Mio, and Kagura have another encounter with Moguraroid who once again attempts to bring reinforcements, but draws out the Lion Inves instead, again, and both Gaim and the other ToQgers arrive to help them. During the fight, the Lion Inves eats some Helheim Fruits from a nearby Crack and enlarges itself into a gigantic size. The ToQgers then form ToQ-Oh Car Carrier Tank and manage to destroy the Inves. With the Rainbow Line about to depart from Zawame City, Kouta makes a request to Right, and using the Rainbow Pass he earned from Narutaki, he asks him to take Mai with them in order to keep her safe.
At Kouta’s request, the ToQgers take Mai with them for her own safety, and make plans to keep her entertained. But WagonI ends up revealing the truth about the events to her and she sneaks out of the Ressha when it stops in another station in Zawame City. She is found and captured by Moguraroid who uses her as a hostage against the ToQgers. Upon learning about the situation, Kouta blames himself for abandoning Mai while Mitsuzane manages to pinpoint Moguraroid’s location with help from his brother. Meanwhile, Moguraroid digs another hole and finally succeeds with his plan to call for reinforcements. Outside the building, Kouta and Mitsuzane make plans to rescue Mai when Kaito appears to help them. Armored Riders Baron and Ryugen create a commotion to draw Moguraroid’s attention while Kouta and Right sneak inside the building to save her. However the two come across another Moguraroid, revealing that the first had summoned his own twin to assist him. Nevertheless, Kouta and Right succeed in rescuing Mai, and while the Armored Riders confront one of the monsters, the ToQgers face the other.
Just as the ToQgers fight, another warrior introducing himself as Kamen Rider Fifteen appears and confronts them. Overpowered by their new foe, the ToQgers are saved with the sudden arrival of Kamen Riders 1, 2 and V3, who confront Fifteen while they finish the Moguraroid with the Renketsu Bazooka. As Fifteen flees, the Showa Riders also leave without assisting Gaim and the others, claiming that they do not intend to involve themselves with the Heisei Riders. After transforming into Mango and Kiwi Arms respectively, Baron and Ryugen defeat the Badan Empire soldiers while Gaim transforms into Kachidoki Arms and finishes the other Moguraroid with the Hinawa Daidai Musou Zan attack, performed by combining the DJ Gun with the Musou Saber. The first Moguraroid’s last words are that Badan’s plan was just the beginning before the Mole kaijin exploded. As the ToQgers bid farewell to Kouta and the others as they leave the city, Kamen Rider Fifteen appears elsewhere, claiming that the time for the world to be conquered by the Badan Empire is at hand.
These team-up specials are always fun joining two of japans favorite shows. It also serves as a  precursor to Heisei vs Showa movie for Kamen Rider. another great crossover movie.

REVIEW: ZYUDEN SENTAI KYORYUGER

Starring

Ryo Ryusei (Hiyokko)
Syuusuke Saito (Kamen Rider Zi-O the Movie: Over Quartzer)
Yamato Kinjo (We’re a Bounty Hunter Team)
Akihisa Shiono (Prince of Legend)
Ayuri Konno (Another)
Atsushi Maruyama (Fūma no Kojirō)
Toshiyuki Morikawa (Maruto Shippuden)

1066711-0-q80
Recurring / Notable Guest Cast

Shinji Yamashita (Fugo Keiji)
Kentarō Shimazu (Uchu Sentai Kyuranger: Episode of Stinger.)
Ayumi Kinoshita (Tokusou Sentai Dekaranger)
Jyunichi Haruta (Kamen Rider Blade)
Kenji Ebisawa (Engine Sentai Go-Onger)
Daijiro Kawaoka (Kamen Rider Decade)
Reika Fujisawa (The Replay Girls)
Jouji Shibue (Kamen Rider Hibiki)
Robert Baldwin (Chousei Kantai Sazer-X)
Masayuki Deai (GoGo Sentai Boukenger)
Riku Sawada (Samurai Sentai Shinkenger)
Shigeru Chiba (Bleach)
Marie Iitoyo (Stare)
Nami Iwasaki (Detective Kurokawa Suzuki)
Tetsu Inada (Tokusou Sentai Dekaranger)
Shizuka Nakamura (Tomica Hero Rescue Fire)
Sayoko Hagiwara (Kagaku Sentai Dynaman)

maxresdefaultDinosaurs plus humans! After millions of years, the strongest and bravest team in history assembles to protect the Earth! Hear our roar! Series writer Riku Sanjo actually writes every episode, a rare feat in tokusatsu. Because of Sanjo’s full involvement, Kyoryuger manages to keep the episodes very coherent and consistent with the story. This includes even the filler type episodes, which, aside from having wacky and odd plots, contain elements integral to advancing the story, as well as developing the cast.The main team and villains get plenty of characterization that, by the end, makes them all become standout character. Music is a recurring motif that I never thought would be a big factor in the show. Not only does the series have a huge collection of songs, the story and its characters are ultimately connected through melody. I never would’ve guessed that all the dancing and samba music actually meant something outside of the fabulously wacky presentation, but no, it’s that important. In the movie and sprinkled throughout some episodes, there are background information that pretty much confirms this.The cast starts out small, but it’s actually ridiculously huge. With a total of 10 Kyoryugers in the end (or more depending on how you count them), and not to mention the allies and the villains. Our fearless Red, Daigo aka King, is what many have referred to as a Marty Sue/Gary Stu-type. He’s the macho, always-friendly, always-reliable, perfect kind of guy who’s following his dad’s path. Much of the show revolves around him, and because Daigo is usually just “perfect,” this can be annoying to a lot of others because he has nothing that makes him remarkable. Honestly, even if Daigo stole much of the frames, I do like him because of his positive, energetic outlook. There is a two-parter that does touch on Daigo’s “perfectness” being his weakness, which I thought was an interesting turn of events, though it didn’t really seem to change Daigo all too much, but it was still something.. The beginning episodes started out with the other members only wanting to work together when they had to, for their own different reasons. It was mainly thanks to Daigo that everyone is now really learning about teamwork, which is another key theme in the show. Dantetsu was a pretty cool character himself, though not much else I can say about him other than he did a good job following his plan. I still think Torin makes the better Silver, but to be fair, Dantetsu only became Silver near the end.MV5BMTUxOTE4NDYwMF5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwNDA0NzE5NzE@._V1_SY1000_SX1500_AL_Ian has changed a lot, especially after his score with Aigaron was settled. I think Ian never liked having to look after others, which is why he struggled to become a leader while Daigo was going crazy. I imagine that losing his best friend made him not wanna be comfortable with others because he didn’t wanna lose someone close to him again. Obviously that changed after meeting Daigo, but it’s not until the penultimate episode when he’s changed the most, finally acknowledging Souji as his equal rather than just a “Boy” that he was often looking over. Souji is still my least favorite, but he stands out a lot more now. His parental issues worked as an obstacle for him since he is the youngest of the group and he was learning to carve his own path to become adult. Now that he wields Torin’s Feather Edge, his badass level has gone up.MV5BOTQ0YTY3YWItNjc5NS00OTA4LWIxMzItZTBhYWRkYzMxZGQ3XkEyXkFqcGdeQXVyNjczMDkzOTA@._V1_Nossan remains my favorite because of his old man puns. The uncle figure, the clumsy one, the strong one, the devoted brother and uncle. I like that he’s a family man because these days it’s always the young ones become superheroes. Having a family meant he was putting more dedication into his work and fighting in order to keep his family safe and well. His episodes turned out to be some of my favorites, and it’s not just because his sister is played by Kinoshita Ayumi or that he has this fling with Canderrilla who is played/voiced by Tomatsu Haruka. Those are pluses! I think because Nossan was the eldest, he had the episodes that were more fun, more serious, and was just overall genuine. I go back to episode 40 where his scenes with Canderrilla are just some of the best to come out of Kyoryuger.  Not much I can say about Yuko since she was minor, but she was awesome and kicked butt as Cyan. Hey, the blue siblings!
Amy was the closest to Daigo from the start. She wasn’t that into the idea of only working with the team when needed (thus, revealing herself with Nossan in the second episode) and was the one who connected with the other Kyoryugers like Utsusemimaru and Ramirez. I like how Amy is feisty, which may be because she lived in America, but she was just as much a sweetheart as she was a royal buttkicker. Honestly, she didn’t even seem like a rich snob, even with Gentle by her side. Heck, she did waitressing as a part-time job. Her affection for Daigo is one of more real ones; it’s not cheesy, head-over-heels because she’s never felt that way before and she just doesn’t know how to react to it.Moving on, her convincing Lucky to see the good in the world turned out to be a really good angle for the eventual departing of the Deboth members.hqdefaultUtsusemimaru ’s debut being early was a great choice because it meant that he would have more time to spend with the rest. For a lot of the show, he felt like a regular member because he was usually always there, which is amazing. I do wish more of his period clash played out a bit more. There’s nothing like a Warrior States samurai trying to adjust to modern day Japan. His relationship with Dogold was one of the better dynamics I’ve seen, mainly because the two once shared a body. Definitely enjoyed his rivalry with Dogold up until the end when he finally helped him regain his will to fight for his own. Torin was as wise as he was great. I enjoyed his mentor role through the season and was glad that he eventually became Silver. I know he got stoned twice, but both times I felt really sad because he felt like an actual father figure to everyone, including to Daigo, whose father was anything but a good father figure. And c’mon, he rocked out on his Giga Gaburevolver. Don’t mess with the bird. I was certainly surprised when it was revealed he was a part of Deboth but defected. That explained why he knew about the history of the dinosaurs and everything and how he was involved in creating the Kyoryuger arsenal.

Of course, you can’t talk about arsenal without Doctor Ulshade, the mad scientist and zany narrator of the show. This guy was crazy awesome. Then there’s Yayoi. Sweet, little Yayoi. Besides her hard crush for Daigo, I really liked that the team had a human support who also got to become a Ranger, the first female Violet, at that. A personal favorite and thank goodness there was another female on the team. I love that her weapon of choice was usually always the Gaburicannon in bayonet mode. Finally, the Spirit Rangers Ramirez and Tessai were a cool duo. The two were from way different places and times, but I liked the idea of dead warriors still fighting before passing on their powers to successors and then moving on to the afterlife. These two really kept things interesting in the show thanks to their personalities and fighting prowess. There’s also not much to say about Tessai’s descendant Shinya, other than that I hope Luckyuro finds out he’s the mangaka of his favorite romance manga Love Touch.

On the villain side Deboth had a colorful group. Chaos, who looked liked an evil Statue of Liberty, was pretty calm and calculating, but it’s a shame that he was still like a pawn in comparison to the short-lived Lord Deboth. At least their deaths weren’t as bad as Icerondo and Killbolero. Those two are not very memorable outside their final fights. The generals were a colorful bunch and I really enjoyed each one for being unique. That, and the Wizard of Oz theme each one had gave me a greater appreciation for their designs and their fates. Dogold’s armor dilemma was a cool concept. Endorf’s entry was a good way of spicing up the story and served as a good obstacle in Dogold’s character arc. Aigaron was such a great character on his own. The Tin Man who had a heart in the end, if only because of Canderrilla, who along with Luckyuro, were the fan-favorites and it would not have been right if the two ended up killing people and got killed. A lot of the fun episodes are because of these two, really.The Monsters of the Week were very fun in design and personality. There was a lot to like about many of them that naming them all would make this entry longer than it needs to be. Kyoryuger had insane production values. Let’s start with having 10+ Kyoryuger suits, all of which were detailed and busy-looking. I’m guessing because of all these awesome suits, Toei had to cut back on the MotWs, but that was okay because they made each MotW memorable. Plus, the arc where they had to fight dead monsters was great because we got to see these monsters again. The miniature models for the Zyudenryu were also incredibly well done, almost like the toys. They used CGI still, but the transformations were mostly models, which have really awesome sequences.The staff and crew also deserve a lot of credit. Sakamoto’s overall direction for the series was nothing short of phenomenal. His experience in Power Rangers shows in a dozen of these episodes where there are a lot of unmorphed and morphed choreographed fights, handicam shots, dutch angles, and explosions everywhere. Another big hand to the stunties for doing some awesome new stuff every year. Kyoryuger is absolutely fun and exciting. There’s a lot of ridiculousness like the samba dancing, but they are justified through the storytelling, which is pretty good in itself. 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.