Although Inazuman ran for a total of 49 episodes, the structure of the series is quite unique in that it was split into two distinct “seasons”. Whilst the first saw Goro Watari battle against the forces of the Neo-Human Empire, Inazuman F (イナズマンF, also known as Inazuman Flash) started a whole new chapter against much stronger villains. As well as adopting a much darker tone, Inazuman received a new weapon and a spiffy new red scarf to mark the occasion. Unlike the previous season, Inazuman F was not released in Hawaii – meaning many non-Japanese speaking fans were left on a cliffhanger ending.
Still exhausted from his final battle against Emperor Banba, Inazuman is immediately challenged by a brand new threat – the robotic Despar army, led by the evil Führer Geisel. Without any time to heal or prepare, Goro is ambushed Geisel’s general Udespar and the robot fighter Hammer Despar. Facing his toughest challenge yet, Inazuman must turn to new friends in order to win.
While the first season of Inazuman was certainly not averse to moments of seriousness, its overall tone wasn’t one you’d particularly call “dark”. However Inazuman F wastes no time in completely tearing all of that down, as Despar leave a trail of bodies in their hunt for Goro. An innocent couple who simply gave him a lift have their car thrown off a cliff, while a group of construction workers are violently murdered in an airstrike. Suddenly it isn’t just Goro that’s a target – it’s everyone around him. Immediately, Inazuman F has a very different feel to everything that came before it, and Goro as a lone warrior who has to distance himself from humanity is very akin to the early Kamen Riders own reflection on their lives.
The Youth League may be completely out of the picture, but he isn’t completely alone. Goro has a new ally in the form of Makoto Arai – a gunslinging undercover Interpol agent. I’m not really sure how successful an undercover agent can be when their cowboy hat and rifle make them stick out like a sore thumb, but at least he can hold his own in a fight. Though Goro is wary of his new friend at first, by the end of the episode the two make a pretty good team and I look forward to seeing their dynamic develop.
Of course it also goes without saying that the Despar Army really mean business; while Emperor Banba was a cackling caricature, Führer Geisel is the complete opposite – cold, calculating and willing to put his soldiers through just as much torture for failing as he is his enemies. But not only are his forces much stronger, but they’re also far more willing to resort to underhanded tactics to win as well. Inazuman is on the ropes for the entire episode, but when Udespar turns up holding a school bus of children hostage with only minutes left then the tension really amps up. Even though Inazuman is able to save the day, there’s no time for celebration at all. As soon as Hammer Despar explodes we cut back to Geisel’s headquarters as he prepares his next evil scheme. The fight continues.
Though there’s a fair bit of necessary viewing to get out of the way before you can tackle Inazuman F, this first episode presents a rather different version of the show that immediately raises the stakes. English subtitles for this show have been long overdue, so fingers crossed it’s one of the ones on this channel that manages to continue on until its end.
You can now find Inazuman F, as well as many other tokusatsu shows, on the Toei Tokusatsu World Official YouTube channel to watch for free with English subtitles.