Posted on Leave a comment

This Week in Tokusatsu – Week 2, 2019

Kamen Rider Woz debuts! The police have finally begun to suspect the identities of the phantom thieves, and we get a new anime Godzilla movie courtesy of Netflix.

Lupinranger vs Patoranger Episode 46

Picking up right after the Christmas special, Keiichiro believes (correctly) that he has figured out the identities of the Lupinrangers. He takes his findings to his colleagues, and Commander Hilltop, and begins to make his case. Tsukasa, who has been suspicious of them in the past, feels the lightbulb click on, and the pieces fall into place. For her, a lot of suspicious elements of their past escapades suddenly make sense. The Lupinrangers themselves, meanwhile, are trapped in a game show thanks to a piece of the Lupin Collection, and the show becomes a highlight reel of past episodes for both teams.

This episode contains some comedic bits, impersonations of other characters and the male Lupinrangers in drag, but otherwise is mostly light on action and substance. The biggest elements of this episode for the plot overall come at the beginning and end, by which point the Global Police have agreed to begin surveilling the Jurer trio. Keiichiro made his case, it seems, and that will be our setup for the last seven episodes, which will air between now and early March 2019, when Kishiryu Sentai Ryusoulger begins. While the police and thieves fight amongst themselves, though, the Ganglers are preparing their master plan, so it will be interesting to see how all of these different elements come together in time.

Kamen Rider Zi-O Episode 17

It’s new year’s day in… 2022?! Sougo meets a new Rider in the beginning of this episode, Kagura Rentaro, Kamen Rider Shinobi. Shinobi is the Rider from 2022, and also bears the identity of Another Shinobi in 2019. To set up for this episode, the show builds a new version of Woz, and manages to give him unspeakable power without really thinking logically about all of the implications after. This new Woz wears all white, and carries an e-reader like an older Kindle that he can write future predictions into, which are shown to immediately come true. White Woz, as the preview for next week calls him, uses this power to mess with not only Zi-O, but also Uhr as well, showing with devastating effect the potential he could unleash.

This left me with one very important question, though. If White Woz’s book can change the timeline directly, why not simply erase any threat from existence with a phrase written into the book, as he threatens to do to Zi-O? Any character having that level of power deflates the stakes in most situations, so hopefully this power will either have rules that are explained, or be taken away, to give the team some semblance of a struggle. When White Woz does make his first transformation at the end of the episode, he easily defeats Another Shinobi, before using a term in universe that has only been heard up to this point in the marketing.

“You will change history, Geiz Revive.” He says to Geiz, bowing the way “Green” Woz always does for Sougo. The future characters consistently mention a new idea this week, the Day of Oma, in which Sougo becomes Oma Zi-O and erases all other Riders from history . It’s implied, based on Kamen Rider Shinobi being unknown to “Green” Woz, that this day occurs before 2022. Based on the way the idea is explained, it seems White Woz comes from the future that directly follows the early events of the series, but assumes a darker end in which Sougo still succumbs to the power of Oma Zi-O.

This Oma Zi-O is defeated by Geiz’s powered up form, Geiz Revive, and the future is saved, or so Woz claims.

Only time will tell how this arc plays out, but the preview for the next episode sets up Kamen Rider Woz as a direct antagonist to Zi-O, even if he is supporting Geiz. Stay tuned for more.

Godzilla – The Planet Eater

After a brief period between the second and third films in the Godzilla anime trilogy, we’re finally able to watch the conclusion to this series. Like the other two films in the series, Godzilla: The Planet Eater follows the exploits of a tri-species group of humans and two other races, trying to defeat Godzilla and reclaim Earth as their home, 20,000 years after fleeing into space. The films have seemingly gone down in quality with each subsequent release, with the first featuring lots of frenetic action scenes, passable animation, and one of the better designs for Godzilla outside of live action. The second film, City on the Edge of Battle, took a dip in quality but still managed to put an interesting twist on MechaGodzilla, and now The Planet Eater seems to have mostly gone off the rails.

6643E721-EB76-4922-93C6-F0B097F73DF5

During the second film, our heroes stumble on a group of evolved humans, who have adapted to make a Godzilla-controlled Earth habitable, and end up taking refuge with them after the MechaGodzilla City is defeated. This third film picks up seemingly minutes after the end of the second, as people struggle to recover and put themselves back together. One of the races, called the Bilusaludo, is a technophiliac cult, and had offered themselves up as sacrifices to bond to the nanomachines that make up MechaGodzilla City, even going so far as to force humans and Exif, the third race, to join them. But where the first film focused on humans, and the second largely on the Bilusaludo, the Exif become the major players this time around.

The bulk of what plot exists in this movie is focused on the Exif, particularly a priest name Metphies, trying to summon their god via a ritual. Their god, it turns out, is classic Toho monster King Ghidorah. At least, that’s what we’re meant to believe. The film never gives us a proper look at Ghidorah, through its entire runtime. Instead, we’re treated to shadowed silhouettes of Ghidorah’s classic look, and three glowing gold ghost dragons that can only be described as being rip-offs of Shenron, from the Dragon Ball series, right down to where the appear from nothingness against a black background. Many of the themes in the film involve criticism of religion both for the believer and the skeptic, and there are a pair of minute-long sequences where the film becomes a one-frame-per-second slideshow of poorly-animated CG images.

This would be tolerable, if the final scene before the credits roll didn’t completely undo the entire trilogy. Overall, I find it impossible to recommend this film, even as an avid lover of Godzilla and Kaiju in general. If you are on the fence about this one, do not waste your time.

What did you guys think of this week’s shows? Leave a comment and let’s discuss!

Posted on Leave a comment

This Week in Tokusatsu – Week 1, 2019

With the New Year’s holiday this past week, it was a light week for Tokusatsu. We’ll be discussing the finale of Jinga. Spoilers for the series finale of Kami No Kiba: Jinga below.

Lupinranger vs Patoranger and Kamen Rider Zi-O are off this week for New Year’s Day.


spoiler-warning


Kami No Kiba – Jinga Episode 12 (End)

The finale of Jinga picks up in the same scene the previous episode ended on. Jinga’s horror side is able to provide the human Jinga, and the audience, with some insight into how the restoration abilities work within the context of the universe.

Essentially, Jinga has been manipulating time for the affected humans, reverting them to the moment right before the horror takes hold inside them. At a snap of his fingers, Horror Jinga resumes the process and every previously rescued human, including Toma, becomes a horror through a montage of scenes culminating in a confrontation between the Mikage brothers.
The rest of the episode focuses largely on the impact of Jinga’s failures as a Makai Knight, and leaves the franchise very open to continue into the next Garo Series. One thing is for sure, though. Jinga as a villain is here to stay, and the franchise as a whole will seemingly be all the better for it. Leaving off on a somber note, the Horror Jinga has won handily, by season’s end, and the Jinga we saw in the summer Garo movie, Kami No Kiba is back in full force.

As of yet, the 2019 Garo series has not been announced or confirmed, but a reveal will likely not be far behind, now that Jinga has concluded. With every major character from this season dead, apart from the Horror form of Jinga and the Horror Banbi, will we see perspective shift back to Dougai Ryuga? Or would you prefer to focus on another new group of Makai Knights and widen the scope a little more? Leave your thoughts below.

Supaidman in the Spider-Verse Sequel?

A quick hit, a note that came up recently suggests that Sony and film producer Phil Lord have worked out an agreement for the 1970’s era Tokusatsu Spider-Man, Supaidaman to appear in the sequel to Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Verse. While this would be the first appearance of Supaidaman in film or tv in a proper Marvel property, he was a part of 2015’s comics arc Spider-Verse, which saw Spider-people across the whole of the Marvel multiverse come together to battle an enemy hunting Spiders across dimensions.
Supaidaman is famous within tokusatsu circles for being the first tokusatsu hero to use a mecha, The Marveler, which had a combat form called Leopardon. Prior to this series, no toku heroes used Mecha, including the ones who are now arguably the most famous for it, Super Sentai teams of the era such as Battle Fever J, JAKQ, and more.

The deal reportedly hinges on Into the Spider-Verse grossing over $200 million at the global box office. As of this writing, the global box office for Into the Spider-Verse stands at just over half that number, hovering around $110 million.

What did you guys think of this week? Leave a comment and let’s discuss!

Source: The Tokusatsu Network (Supaidaman)
Posted on Leave a comment

This Week in Tokusatsu – Christmas 2018

The police and thieves take a break from the action for a Christmas special, Jinga ramps up to a thrilling conclusion and Zi-O continues the battle against his future self! Let’s dive in, shall we?

Lupinranger vs Patoranger Episode 45

Obligatory Christmas special! There is a major shift in tone this week, as we take a step back from the darker, grittier, almost film-noir action of the previous few episodes to celebrate Christmas with the Rangers. Though the episode does advance the plot, in the beginning and end, not much happens of note in the middle. To start out, Sakuya receives a request from a child to have the Patorangers throw a Christmas party, complete with holiday cake and chicken dinner, both Japanese traditions at Christmas. The bulk of the episode focuses on a Gangler called Sahmon, whose driving purpose is to replace the traditional Christmas chicken dinners with salmon for everyone in Japan.

At worst, this Gangler is a minor inconvenience, even acknowledged by civilians with a few casual phrases such as, “This wouldn’t be so bad if chicken wasn’t a Christmas tradition,” or even by Noel and Sakuya with, “Salmon is my favourite food most of the time, but chicken at Christmas is tradition.”

Over the course of the episode, Sakuya and Noel focus on taking Sahmon down, with eventual help from the thieves, who are the ones to ultimately defeat him. There is no Lupin collection item this week, no larger stakes, save for the knowledge from the police of a string of missing persons cases set about a year earlier. At the end of the episode, having skipped the party to do research into the cases, Keiichiro is finally able to put together the identity of the Lupinrangers.

That’s right. We’re five episodes from the end of the series (six, if you include this one) and one of the police officers has just now confirmed the identity of the thieves. This is a reveal that would have been much better served by coming far earlier, though the next episode promises to expand on this even more.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Kamen Rider Zi-O Episode 16

The 2068 arc of Zi-O continues this week, with the fallout of Sougo meeting his future self. Now knowing fully that he has the potential to become the genocidal tyrant called Oma Zi-O, Sougo resolves himself to give up on his dream of becoming a king, and goes so far as to have Geiz destroy his belt. After this succeeds, Sougo begins to think he is free and the future is safe. There is even a moment where Oma Zi-O begins to fade away, laughing as he awaits Sougo’s ultimate decision. Sougo’s resolve is unshakable, even in the face of an assassination attempt by the Time Jackers.

Sougo refuses to fight, running and protecting a child from a stray attack, even without the power of Zi-O, prompting Geiz and Tsukuyomi to delay their return to 2068 and intervene. The attack, having been set up by Woz, is intended to force Sougo’s hand and get him back on the track that will lead to his future as Overlord. This episode features a lot of character growth for both Sougo and Geiz, with some big moments shared between them as well as an interesting shift in viewpoint for Geiz.

The biggest moments for Sougo come at the tail end of the episode, with renewed resolve and returned power as he remembers his dream. It all comes together in a satisfying way, and the preview for the next episode promises the debut of Kamen Rider Woz.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Kami No Kiba – Jinga Episode 11

Picking up where we left off last week, Jinga struggles against Rozen while Fusa and Toma debate the merits of simply going to the Watchdogs, themselves. Another Makai Priest opens the episode with a brief moment spent trying to prove Jinga’s power is real, but we are not shown the conclusion of the test. Instead, the episode focuses squarely on Jinga and his reluctance to give up against Rozen. Though he begins fighting back using strictly non-lethal measures (his sword never leaves the scabbard and he focuses on dodging), the battle takes a darker turn at the midpoint of the episode.

Through sheer resolve, Toma makes the choice for himself and Fusa to willingly go to the Watchdogs, even as Alva protests to Jinga to give up. When Jinga refuses and keeps fighting, he ends up killing one of the knights in Rozen’s squad, before turning his blade another way. A shocking, sudden death leads to the battle that caps off the episode, and will seemingly be the focus of the series finale, which airs next week.

The Jinga we have followed, the knight, fights hard against the horror within, the Jinga from the summer Garo film, Kami No Kiba. When the series concludes next week, we will see which side prevails, and ultimately the beginning of the future of Garo as a franchise. Personally, I do not want to see Jinga redeemed. He has made for a compelling primary antagonist, both to the other Makai Knights and to himself. This shifting dynamic has proved to be a breath of fresh air for Garo as a franchise, and I hope it will continue.

Stay tuned here after the finale next week for more.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Ultraman R/B (End)

Ultraman R/B has now officially concluded, and thoughts/reviews will be coming once the series is made available with English subtitles past episode 19. Stay tuned for more!

Kishiryu Sentai Ryusoulger Confirmed

On Christmas day, the leaked images of next year’s Super Sentai team, Kishiryu Sentai Ryusoulger were confirmed to be accurate, along with a story synopsis and official romanization of the name, per Toei. This will be the 43rd Super Sentai series, and the fourth to feature a dinosaur theme. The writer, producers, and showrunner have also been revealed, listed below.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Story:

65 million years ago

An era when dinosaurs were everywhere. When attackers sought to take over the world, bringing war, knights were selected to stand against this threat. A meteor falls to the earth and brings the era of the dinosaurs to an end. Those chosen knights then chose to live the rest of their lives quietly on earth. In preparation for the return of this enemy, dinosaurs with great power were made to sleep in a temple.

Now, at the end of the Heisei era, the attackers have returned to Earth, pushing their evil to the limits of the universe. Now, it’s time to grasp the powers of the dinosaurs!

“Knights” x “Dinosaurs”

Now is the time to protect earth’s peace with that power!

(TV Asahi)

65 million years ago, the immensely powerful Druidon Tribe reigned over Earth. The tribe abandoned the planet when a gigantic meteor approached, vowing that they would return as the rulers of the world again as they headed into space.

The Ryusou Tribe who battled against the Druidon Tribe stayed on earth, along with their dinosaur companions, the Kishiryu. The Ryusou Tribe withstood the ice age brought on by the gigantic meteor. They placed their Kishiryu companions into the Ryusouls and sealed them in temples throughout the world.

Time has moved on and the Druidon Tribe has returned after fighting in harsh environments across space, totally increasing their powers. The Ryusou Tribe that kept the Earth safe in the past have selected new knights: the Ryusoulgers. They have been revived by their mission as the battle against the Druidon Tribe begins.

Staff:

  • Kiyoshi Yoshikawa (Iryu Sosa, Cop Seven) Music
  • Takahashi Kazuhiro (Kamen Rider Ghost) – Producer
  • Maruyama Shinya (Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon) – Producer
  • Kazuya Kamihoriuchi (Kamen Rider Ex-Aid, Kamen Rider Build) – Director
  • Junpei Yamaoka (Tsuribaka Nisshi: Shin’nyû Shain Hamasaki Densuke) – Lead Writer

Ryusoulger marks the first entry into Tokusatsu for veteran J-Drama writer Junpei Yamaoka, but with a solid crew bringing his vision to life, only time will tell how Ryusoulger is realised. Kishiryu Sentai Ryusoulger will premiere 17th March, 2019 on TV Asahi, with English subtitles like to follow.

What did you guys think of this week’s shows? Leave a comment and let’s discuss!

Source: Toei/TV Asahi via The Tokusatsu Network (Ryusoulger story and staff)
Posted on Leave a comment

SSSS.Gridman Full Series Review

Anime and tokusatsu collide in a highly satisfying way in SSSS.Gridman. With the series completed, we take a look back.

(Spoilers if you haven’t watched the series yet, obviously)

SSSS.Gridman a faithful love letter to tokusatsu as a genre, full of easter eggs and satisfying design choices that make it feel right at home among its classic contemporaries. Co-produced by respected anime veteran Studio Trigger and Ultraman creators Tsuburaya, every episode feels like an evolution of the types of stories that can be told through the lens of tokusatsu and anime, while remaining faithful to fans of live-action “Guys in rubber suits” action and Trigger’s traditional visually stunning animation at the same time.

1A6B4C06-4C52-409B-91CC-A724E214E43C

This series serves as a modern, anime-based retelling and reimagining of 90s-era tokusatsu series Denkou Choujin Gridman, which was later adapted into the short-lived American tokusatsu series Superhuman Samurai Syber Squad. Presumably, the latter is what the SSSS. stands for in the name of this series as well.

SSSS.Gridman centres on average student Yuta Hibiki, who wakes from a coma to find he has no memories of his life. As he begins putting the pieces together, he is assisted by his friends Rikka Takarada and Sho Utsumi, and the three eventually stumble upon Hyper Agent Gridman, living in an old computer in the back of Rikka’s family’s curio shop. This sets up the first episode of an action-packed series that keeps throwing plot twists at the viewer and evolving, right up to the finale. All throughout, the core team of Yuta, Rikka, and Utsumi learn about each other, and about their other allies, who transform with Yuta to become Gridman’s upgrades and weapons.

0EDA6FBB-954F-4F83-972A-52F3B24535FE

Everything about this series is made to feel as authentic to tokusatsu series, and specifically Ultraman as possible, while also expanding on what can be shown and done through the lens of anime. This includes small nods like the first introduction of each new form for Gridman, and later GridKnight, using the same entrance animation as seen in recent Ultraman shows, with the camera zooming slowly on the head of the hero, making it appear as though he is growing. Kaiju look and move as though they are being rendered in live-action, moving the way people in costumes would move and including parts like long, flopping heads and necks, slow and bulky movements around the city, and more. This even extends to the “scenery” Kaiju, who are always shown in the city skyline but never seem to move.

Another big nod comes in the introduction of the series’ primary antagonist, Akane Shinjo. This “Kaiju girl” is, by her own admission, a fan of Ultra series, as is Utsumi, and builds her Kaiju to go rampaging around the city when she gets bored. Shinjo and her alien companion, Alexis Kerib, repeatedly destroy and reset the city, erasing or killing people Shinjo does not like or finds distasteful along the way. When the source of Shinjo’s power is revealed, it leaves the heroes reeling, trying to figure out what to do, and this arc becomes the late half of the show’s driving force.

Overall, I highly recommend giving this series a watch, if you have the time, and at only 12 episodes, it’s worth every second. All episodes of SSSS.Gridman are available in Japanese, with English subtitles via Crunchyroll/VRV, or with dubbed English audio via Funimation.

03BDB3D4-F4D9-44AC-BA48-21DCE6D13B84

What did you think of SSSS.Gridman overall? Leave a comment and let’s discuss!

Posted on Leave a comment

This Week in Tokusatsu – Week Ending December 23rd, 2018

The police and thieves learn the truth of Noel’s past and Zi-O sees his future for the first time! Let’s dive in, shall we?

Lupinranger vs Patoranger Episode 44

Coming off the heels of last week’s revelation that Noel is not entirely human, we learn a great deal more about his actions and his heritage, as well. The episode focuses largely on Noel and how the teams react to him, now knowing the truth. The thieves catch up with him first, and he is finally able to explain that though he is not human, neither is he a Gangler. Rather, Noel, Kogure, and all the people who work for the Lupin family are members of a third race, which is not explicitly named but is something akin to traditional elves. Having fled to Earth after their own world was taken over by Ganglers, this race blended in with human society, under the seemingly immortal Arsene Lupin.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Noel’s entry point into the story, it is revealed, is at the exact point the Collection is stolen by the Ganglers. During the attack, Arsene Lupin is said to have been killed, and Noel, his apprentice, takes up the search for the items to fulfill the dream of Arsene Lupin. Satoru, still distrusting of Noel, is eventually revealed to be a Status Double Gangler, using two powers to mimic voices and control actions. Through flashbacks, this control ability is used to explain Noel firing on the other Patorangers before, as well as Noel giving Tokageru a piece of the Lupin collection.
The next episode, despite being one of only four or five remaining, appears to be a standalone Christmas special. It will certainly be interesting to see how the writers manage to tie this into the main narrative, if at all.

Kamen Rider Zi-O Episode 15

The 2068 Arc of Zi-O kicks off this week, though with a relatively small amount of the action actually set in that future. What does happen in 2068, though, is a fundamental building block for the development of Sougo as a character, and will likely shape him in grand ways in the episodes to come. The episode begins with an unexpected turn of events. While debating what to do about Decade, Geiz urges Sougo to simply throw away his belt, the Jiku Driver, and cease being a Kamen Rider, in the name of preventing the Demon King Zi-O future. While Sougo begins to debate this option, our heroes are attacked and the city is besieged by war machines from the Demon King’s future, which match the ones Sougo claims to have seen in a dream as a child. This dream gives purpose to Sougo’s life, and makes the life goal of becoming a king seem suddenly much more reasonable.

40E9C9C3-15AF-4A1E-AFF1-97E8B6A2C87A
In the ensuing battle, Decade intervenes and Sougo sees Tsukasa unmasked for the first time. It’s ultimately Decade himself who initiates the time travel to 2068, where Sougo and Tsukuyomi become trapped. The future is bleak, it seems, though we don’t get to see much of it, as all the future scenes seem to take place in the same bare, open field. The emotional moments come mainly in the exchange between Sougo and his future self, the old man who is Oma Zi-O. What begins as Sougo seeing his own future and coming to terms with that quickly turns violent, and the younger Sougo finds himself on the receiving end of a beating. Oma Zi-O reinforces, in a powerful way, Geiz’s earlier idea that the only way to avoid becoming Oma Zi-O is to throw away the power of Riders completely.

951897E3-83C1-4286-A144-11E2EEAE561A
In the next episode, continuing the arc, it’s implied that Zi-O will receive some kind of upgrade, and we are assured to see more of Oma Zi-O as well. Look forward to the next episode when it airs this coming Saturday night (Sunday, JST).

Kami No Kiba – Jinga Episode 10

We’ll be skipping Episode 9 of Jinga, as that episode acts as a recap for the first arc of the series. Episode 10, however, picks up where episode 8 left off, with Grand Master Rozen asking the Watchdogs for permission to bring in Jinga. This is coming off the heels of a fellow Grand Master and his son both having been murdered in the previous episode. Rozen is understandably skeptical of what Jinga claims he can do, as a power like that has never existed before. He claims the power acts in direct contrast to what Makai Knights should be doing, which is killing horrors.

AD3C1BF2-F160-4D6E-9135-5AC85437C3A6
To aid him in learning more, Rozen goes to Fusa, asking if she trusts Jinga, and what kind of person he is. Fusa, through flashbacks and her own expository monologue, explains that she trusts Jinga implicitly, and thinks he is doing the right thing. As things continue on, Jinga and Rozen come into more direct conflict, ending with Jinga captured by Rozen and a squad of Knights at the episode’s end, accused of the murder of Rozen’s apprentice, Shijo.

The next episode promises to continue the conflict, and hints at a more direct showdown between the two.

Ultraman R/B (End)

Ultraman R/B has now officially concluded, and thoughts/reviews will be coming once the series is made available with English subtitles past episode 17. Stay tuned for more!

SSSS. Gridman full series review coming next week!

Hey all, just a quick note here that we’ve not forgotten about SSSS. Gridman! The series is ending with episode 12, airing on 12/28/18, and we’ll be doing a full series recap/review after that episode airs!

What did you guys think of this week’s shows? Leave a comment and let’s discuss!

Posted on Leave a comment

This Week in Tokusatsu – December 14th, 2018

Lupinranger vs Patoranger’s final arc continues this week, with a revelation about a longtime ally. Zi-O’s Ghost Arc closes out and Decade joins the cast. Let’s dive in, shall we?


Lupinranger vs Patoranger Episode 43

A second French operative for GSPO returns to Japan this week, and is revealed to be none other than the previous Patren # 2, the first member of the GSPO tactical unit to wear the green uniform. Satoru is a colleague to Keiichiro and Tsukasa, as shown through flashbacks and their familiar dialogue, but has never met Sakuya before this episode and has an immediate, intense distrust of Noel. His return, and thus the premise of the episode, begins on the foundation that an insider in GSPO is leaking secrets and classified intelligence to Ganglers. The writers waste little time in revealing that this is Noel’s doing, even going so far as to give a Gangler a piece of the Lupin collection. His reasons are not made clear at first.

While the thieves track Noel’s contact, a Gangler named Tokageru (or Tokageil, depending on where you saw the episode), the GSPO Tactical Unit is formally introduced to Satoru. The initial reaction Noel and Satoru have to each other is nothing short of openly antagonistic, but Satoru does have enough trust in Keiichiro to confide that Noel is his suspect. From there, the rest of the episode focuses on Noel’s dealings and how the team comes to terms with the truth, that Noel is the inside man the Ganglers have in GSPO. The double agent Lupin X is now a triple-agent, playing all sides against each other. Gauche is aware of the dealings, but Dogranio reveals via a flash-sideways sequence that he had no idea, and finds the idea entertaining more than threatening.

When the truth comes out, Noel ends up running, hunted and running like Batman at the end of The Dark Knight. He fires a warning shot at his team, to distract long enough to run but not aiming to hit any of them. While Keiichiro hesitates to return fire, Satoru takes Keiichiro’s VS changer and does not think twice. He is shooting to kill and makes this fact plain to the others as they pursue Noel through the city.

Devastated and now unarmed, Keiichiro follows Noel on his own path, separate, and the pair link up again further down the road. The battle that follows leads to the revelation that Noel is something other than human, though he is not specifically named a Gangler. The rangers who hear the news are shocked, though Good Striker seems to have known all along, asking the Lupinrangers how they didn’t notice previously. The Lupinrangers are angry, betrayed, and express this in the way they brutalize Tokageru’s Kaiju form through LupinKaiser.

The next episode promises answers, with the preview clip indicating there is some other, darker truth to be told.


Kamen Rider Zi-O Episode 14

The show begins to kick into gear this week, with even Woz’s opening monologue changing. This time around, he includes the line, “… And yet all goes according to my desires.”

Could this imply something more sinister or selfish behind Woz’s dedicated service to the future overlord of the world? For now, in the context of the show, Woz is nowhere to be found as Geiz, Takeru and Tsukuyomi work to restore Sougo. Coming off the heels of last week, Sougo’s soul has been torn from his body and he remains a ghost, while his body lies unconscious, but alive, in a hospital bed. Distraught, Geiz goes after Another Ghost in the past, only to be met by Decade, now using the Ryuki form. Here we see Decade take on a neo-Heisei form for the first time, using the Kamen Ride – Ghost transformation card. As expected, this is Ghost’s base form, with the exception of the Neo Decadriver which is clearly visible.

The double-ghost encounter is interesting enough, as Decade and Another Ghost absolutely decimate Geiz, before the Ghost Ride Watch is taken by Decade. After the power is drained from it, Geiz is given the Decade Ride Watch, which is capable of acting as a Ride Watch holder as well. With the power drained from the Ride Watch, Takeru and Makoto are restored to their Kamen Rider status, as Ghost and Specter respectively. The two, along with Sougo, travel back in time to prevent the death of the police officer who would become Another Ghost.

Thanks to some interference by Uhr, he becomes Another Ghost anyway, and the Riders are drained of their power once again. After Another Ghost is revived, Woz plays his hand, revealing to Sougo that he has betrayed his overlord. The team, after rediscovering Sougo via a gadget, devises a plan to defeat Another Ghost, but is intercepted in the time stream by the Time Jackers, before making it back to 2015 and getting into action. Decade looks on, with Woz at his back. The highlight of this scene, other than the character development, is seeing Sougo change into Decade Armour for the first time. Woz announces Sougo the way he has with every other form, and Sougo takes no time in figuring out that the Decade armour form allows for a third watch to combine Decade’s abilities with others.

Zi-O Decade Armour

Decade’s rationale in giving over his Watch willingly is that whatever he is doing, conquering the world or destroying it, is far less entertaining if Zi-O can’t put up a decent fight. It’s a very Decade moment that had me muttering Onore dikeido! At my screen more than once as I watched this episode. Inoue Masahiro is, as always, the shining spotlight in the cast and the episode ends on a fittingly dramatic reveal, as Decade tries to dissuade Zi-O from his pursuit of kingship.

The next episode, revealed in the preview, will give us our first jump forward in time, and also features the debut of Ohma Zi-O (presumably Demon King, shortened from Akuma No Oh-sama) as a character in his own right.


Kami No Kiba – Jinga

As promised, this week, we will begin our coverage of Jinga, the latest series in the Garo franchise. This particular series is set in the Dougai Ryuga timeline of Garo, and focuses on Mikage Jinga, the Makai knight called Roze. Jinga, played by Kamen Rider Decade’s Inoue Masahiro, was first introduced in the summer Garo movie, Kami No Kiba as the primary villain. Picking up where that movie ended, Jinga introduces us to a newly-revived Mikage Jinga, an unknown amount of time after the end of the film. Though he looks the same, the dark Makai Knight who became a horror has been revived once more as a good man, with a family and a history all his own in a new life.

Jinga looks much the same as he did in the film, though he has the trademark flowing coat of a Makai knight now as well, and the series opens on Jinga hunting horrors with the Makai priestess Fusa and his little brother, an apprentice named Toma. Through flashbacks, it is revealed that Jinga was forced to kill his father, also a Makai knight, after the older man became a Horror and killed Jinga’s mother. Toma, witnessing all of this, has his memories sealed away, though the seal is eventually broken by a horror. The first nine episodes, numbered 00-08, take us on a wild ride as Jinga hunts horrors and discovers a new ability no other Makai knight has had before: Jinga can destroy horrors without killing the human hosts, and revert those humans to what they were before possession.

The Watchdogs, the Makai Knights’ governing body, are apprehensive, understandably, and the second arc of the series focuses on Jinga coming to understand his power. Eventually, it is revealed that a horror still resides inside of Jinga, and acts as the source of his newfound abilities. The horror inside of Jinga is able to cannibalize other horrors, purging the human host and leaving them undamaged, while gaining power. Regrettably, each time Jinga does this, his darker side seems to grow stronger, to the point where Jinga loses control for a single night, killing another Makai knight named Shijo.

This show has been an excellent new installment in the Garo franchise thus far, and with more to come, it can only get better. Jinga airs weekly, as its counterparts for younger audiences does, and can be seen in many of the same places.


What did you guys think of this week’s shows? Leave a comment and let’s discuss!

Posted on Leave a comment

This Week in Tokusatsu – December 8th, 2018

Lupinranger vs Patoranger’s final arc continues this week, in explosive form! On the Kamen Rider side of things, Kamen Rider Zi-O’s Ghost Arc begins, and Decade returns! Let’s dive in, shall we?


Lupinranger vs Patoranger Episode 42

All seven rangers are forced to come together to battle the Gangler general Destra this week, after being soundly defeated on their own. The battles have weight and consequences, which is always a refreshing touch and a good way to ground the show in a realistic setting, including injured rangers and the city being evacuated. Even the police, minus the Patorangers, are evacuated so Destra can be dealt with. A surprising source of conflict, though, comes in the form of Kogure asking Noel to step down from his duties as Lupin X.

There’s a bit of intrigue here as well, as the preparation for the fight spends a lot of time focusing on how each red ranger thinks he can use the other. Kairi knows Keiichiro will protect people, and Keiichiro, in turn, counts on Kairi’s greed and lust for the collection to guide him. In the end, both men behave as the other predicts, leading to Keiichiro actually saving Kairi’s life.

After forming Good Cool Kaiser X, the rangers are paired up based on their roles, with Noel, Kairi, and Keiichiro making up the “head” or lead section of the machine. Touma and Tsukasa end up on one side, with the remainder going to Sakuya and Umika. It makes for a brief but interesting exchange, and once the moment passes, the rangers get down to business and take on Destra.


Kamen Rider Zi-O Episode 13

This week kicks off the Ghost Arc of Kamen Rider Zi-O, and features some big moments and returning characters. Kicking things off, we first meet Tenkuuji Takeru, Kamen Rider Ghost, and actor Nishime Shun returns to fill the role. Another Ghost appears, and Woz throws his lot in with the Time Jackers?! Though we are not told who he means, Woz tells Swartz, Hora, and Uhr about a man who will alter the course of history in regards to Oma Zi-O’s rise to power. It’s implied, at first, that this is Geiz, coming off the heels of Woz revealing his book can no longer accurately predict the future. It is a history book from a specific timeline, after all.

As Another Ghost continues to attack, Sougo, Takeru, and the others begin to discover a method to its seemingly chaotic attacks, and find that it is targeting people whose actions cause accidents resulting in the injury or death of Innocents. This starts with a factory, then a hot dog cart with a gas leak, and at the factory site, we learn that Another Ghost is, more or less, a zombie. The identity of Another Ghost is revealed in a way that paints it as a tragic figure, the Time Jackers using the man behind the mask for their own means.

When Decade does appear, he is using Agito form and the Neo Decadriver, and takes on Geiz and Sougo before leaving. An interesting point is that Decade is firmly with the Time Jackers here, if only to fill his normal passing-through role. Hora even offers to back any succession to power Decade might want, though he refuses. In the final moments of the episode, we get to see Takeru shine, as Sougo is seemingly killed and Takeru is the only one who can see or communicate with the ghost left behind.

I feel as though this would have been a slightly better way to resolve the “two Sougos” problem caused by the Gaim arc, but this could certainly still lead to some interesting developments. Personally, I am looking forward to seeing more of what Decade will bring to the table in the following weeks.


Garo: Kami No Kiba

This movie has been out for a while, but in the lead up to covering the current Garo series, Jinga, it seems appropriate to start with this movie. The movie focuses on a group of horrors trying to use a dark makai knight to power an ark called the God’s Fang (Kami no Kiba), on which they will build a new world. The movie is set in the Dougai Ryuga universe of Garo, latest in that timeline on its release. I highly recommend this film for anyone interested in watching the new series, but cannot recommend it as an entry point, as a lot of the plot points rely on prior knowledge of previous Garo series, characters, and lore. However, for veterans, this film marks a return to form for the live-action side of Garo.

To set up this ritual, this ark, a Makai priestess named Banbi begins stealing the armours of veteran knights, and this is how we meet the returning characters from the other Ryuga-verse Garo series.

The new Makai Knight, Jinga, is played by Kamen Rider Decade’s Masahiro Inoue, and is at once a madman and a warrior. The contrast, as well as his horror powers and fighting ability, set him up quickly as a threat, with three knights and a priest unable to defeat him at first. Though the end of the film doesn’t directly set up the next tv series, it is fittingly cinematic, with the cgi-heavy armoured combat being well choreographed, if at times a bit too jarringly quick.

Overall, I recommend giving this film a watch, if only to keep up with Garo continuity, and especially if you plan on watching Jinga. The series itself will be covered in This Week in Toku starting next week.


What did you guys think of this week’s shows? Leave a comment and let’s discuss!

Posted on Leave a comment

This Week in Tokusatsu – November 30th, 2018

Greetings, loyal readers! Today marks the beginning of a new weekly series, This Week in Tokusatsu, here at Toku Toy Store! Each week, we will be spotlighting events from Tokusatsu shows and movies, summed up in a more broad way than our older episode reviews. Stay tuned here each week for news, previews, and reviews!

For this first edition, we have a lot of ground to cover with more to come. Lupinranger vs Patoranger has entered its final arc, and though the pacing is inconsistent, the show is going strong! Meanwhile, Kamen Rider Zi-O begins to pick up steam with the Gaim arc coming to a close, and new trailers have debuted for Ultraman and Godzilla: King of the Monsters. Let’s dive in, shall we?


Lupinranger vs Patoranger Episode 41

Our heroes face off against the Gangler general Destra this week, and find themselves trapped in the Gangler world, which is something akin to Britain or France, draped in purple fog and eternal darkness. This is where we start to see the politics within the Gangler organization take shape in a meaningful way, as well as learning the true power that comes with a Status Double Gold designation, for someone like Destra. The episode treats us to some really well-done action pieces, even if the isekai plot thread is resolved a bit too quickly.

Once again, we’re starting to see Tsukasa put the pieces together that maybe the Jurer trio are more than they appear to be, but again the show holds off on the reveal. With just eight or nine episodes left before the end of this series, the reveal is coming up fast, and the final arc appears to be where the teams will have to truly come together. The preview for the next episode shows Tokyo in ruins, and Ganglers rampaging, as the heroes look on. The stakes are high and we won’t have to wait long for the payoff.


Kamen Rider Zi-O Episode 12

This week, Zi-O’s Gaim arc concludes, and we get to see a bit more of the spectacle that comes from having two Sougos, separated by a time interval of three days. It’s mostly played up for laughs in the beginning, but does end up becoming a crucial part of the endgame plot. Along the way, we get new character insights into most of the main cast, but the main bulk of the character growth comes in the form of Geiz’s willingness to trust Sougo with another Ridewatch, and the power of Gaim. It’s a powerful moment, driven by the lecture Geiz gets from returning actor Yutaka Kobayashi (Kamen Rider Baron/Kumon Kaito).

Next up, we will be treated to what appears to be a thoroughly packed arc, including appearances by Ghost, Decade, and Agito, with Decade appearing as a primary villain, if the trailer is meant to be taken at face value. A glimpse of Another Ghost reveals that the next Another Rider is more horror-themed, more demonic in appearance than his contemporary counterpart, and we also see that Sougo’s meeting with Takeru leads to him becoming a ghost as well. Does this mean one of the Sougos will die? Only time will tell.


Ultraman Anime Trailer

Earlier this week, Netflix debuted the first trailer for the long-awaited anime adaptation of the Kodansha manga Ultraman, which serves as a sequel to the original series. The art style has been a bit alarming for some, with much of the 2d/3d CG drawing parallels to the much-maligned Berserk continuation from 2016. The story follows a new Ultraman, the son of the original, and appears to be set in the modern era, rather than the 1960s setting of the original series. Another large detail is that this series will ignore all Ultraman continuity after Ultraman season one.

Look for Ultraman to debut in April 2019 on Netflix.


Godzilla: King of the Monsters International Trailer

The second international trailer for Godzilla: King of the Monsters debuted this week, and gave us our best look yet at the upcoming Kaiju. Rodan, Mothra, and even (through fog) King Ghidorah himself were on display in the new trailer, while the story of the human characters was expanded on a bit further. As hype for this film continues to build, Legendary Pictures’ Monsterverse comes together, with this third film slated to open the floodgates to Western Kaiju fans and casual viewers alike. Who knows what will come next? Maybe a cameo from MechaGodzilla? A crossover with Pacific Rim? Only time will tell, but expectations are high and excitement continues to mount as we approach the 31 May 2019 release of this film.


Looking for Jinga and Ultraman R/B? Check back soon as these shows become available and updated!

What was the highlight of your tokusatsu week? Join the discussion on social media!

Posted on Leave a comment

Kamen Rider Zi-O: New Forms and Rider Revealed

A series of new scans were released today, showing new forms for Kamen Rider Zi-O and Kamen Rider Geiz, seemingly using new gimmick items from the Q2 toy catalogue. In addition, a third Rider has been revealed, Kamen Rider Woz. As the name indicates, this will be the Rider Armor form of Woz, the beautiful Time Jacker who has served as both ally and antagonist up to this point. The forms, seen below, are called Zi-O II (2) and GeizRevive. 

Zi-O II uses the Zi-O RideWatch 2* to transform, and will be given a new item, the Saikyou Grade, which can combine with the Jikan Grade to form Zi-O’s Ultimate Weapon.

GeizRevive will come in the form of the Revive RideWatch, a black hourglass that is usable by Zi-O or Geiz.

received_183344975896082

In addition, Kamen Rider Woz and the DX BeyonDriver have been revealed in the same batch of scans. For his Rider Form, Woz is heavily inspired by Kamen Rider Necrom, right down to the wrist-mounted Driver and green colour scheme. The BeyonDriver fits as the time piece not yet shown in Zi-O’s motif of clocks as gear, being that it is the series’ allegory for the Apple Watch and other smart wearable technology. It has a digital face and buttons, giving it a look that is somewhere between Necrom’s Mega U-Loader and the Buggle Driver II from Ex-Aid.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Kamen Rider Woz will have the following forms:

  • Rider Quiz
  • Rider Kikai
  • Rider Shinobi

Look for all of these power-ups and items, as well as Kamen Rider Woz to debut in the upcoming episodes of Kamen Rider Zi-O over the next few weeks. Be sure to check back with us at Toku Toy Store for more information and scans as well.

What are your thoughts on these developments in the series? Are you excited for Woz to become a proper Kamen Rider? Leave your thoughts and let’s discuss!

*Translation per Matt Hunt (@TheRealMattHunt) via Twitter

Posted on Leave a comment

Kamen Rider Zi-O Episode 2 & 3 Review

Kamen Rider Zi-O is off to a running start so far, cramming character development, lore, and more into just the first episode. Now, following up on that fantastic debut, the show is in full swing with no signs of slowing down.

Episode 2

This second episode focuses heavily on Build, Cross-Z, and the impact of time travel on history. Another Build makes a return, and a new Rider Armour makes a debut. Just like before, this episode is packed, but the emphasis is heavy on action this time around.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

When Another Build returns, this time with a regeneration ability, Sougo and Geiz have a tough time taking it on. Continually absorbing powers, Another Build becomes so strong that it is unbeatable. This takes about a year, beginning in 2017 in Build’s timeline, and after a brief combat encounter, Sougo and Geiz time travel back to 2017 to stop Another Build from gaining that power. Thankfully, the consequences of time travel are at the forefront here, as both Sougo and Geiz end up using powers drawn from Sento and Banjou, in the form of the Build and Cross-Z Ride Watches. One of the biggest questions they end up asking after, though, is how Sougo got the watches in the first place.

This is explained, expertly, in the form of a temporal causality loop, presented as follows:

  • Sougo and Geiz defeat Another Build
  • Another Build’s defeat allows Sougo to obtain two blank Ride Watches
  • Ride Watches are given to Sento for refinement
  • Sento gives Sougo the Ride Watches in the future
  • Sougo  and Geiz travel back in time to defeat Another Build and restart the loop

Overall, this episode is excellently crafted, heavy on well choreographed action scenes, and shows that the series is not afraid to tackle high-concept ideas in science fiction. This keeps the bar set high for the rest of the series, and with the next episode focusing on Ex-Aid, we are off to a strong start that will carry forward for the whole run of Zi-O, in the best case.

Episode 3

Who would have thought the future Demon King of the human race would be bad at video games? Shortly after Geiz and Tsukuyomi rent out the spare room in Sougo’s house, one of Sougo’s friends falls ill while playing an “Unbeatable” game on his GENM-branded game system. The game? Mighty Action X.  Following advice from Woz, Sougo takes his friend to the Seito University hospital, where they meet the genius surgeon, Kagami Hiro, who tells them the symptoms Sougo’s friend has are increasingly common, but the cause is unknown. No mention of Game Syndrome is made, but a link to Mighty Action X is suspected. Based on this, it’s safe to assume Sougo arrives somewhere towards the beginning of the Ex-Aid timeline.

Screenshot_20180920-090536

As they begin to do more and more research, they are finally confronted by Another Ex-Aid, whose design is equal parts lazy, clever, and hilarious. The comparison has been made endlessly, up to this point, but I will include it here. Another Ex-Aid uses elements of Ex-Aid’s level 2 form and his final form, Hyper Muteki, to make something that looks a bit like The Predator, from the film series of the same name. Before they make too much more progress, though, they need more information and return to the hospital.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

It’s here that another of the easter eggs in this episode pops up, as they find the Genius Gamer M’s notes about Mighty Action X on the desk of pediatric doctor Hojo Emu, whom veteran fans will know better as Kamen Rider Ex-Aid. The notes are written in German, instructions for inputs on the game that translate to the Konami Code. When Sougo uses the notes, he clears level one of Mighty Action X, and they end up sucked into the game.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

It’s here we meet Emu, and then the episode ends on a cliffhanger, getting ready for a fight. Overall, this episode is fantastic like the previous ones, but ends rather abruptly after building a great deal of excitement. Episode 4 will continue the Ex-Aid arc, followed by a combined Faiz and Fourze arc for episodes five and six.

What did you think of these episodes? Is Zi-O everything you hoped it would be? Leave your thoughts and let’s discuss!