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Toku Review Round-Up! (July 4th, 2020)

Hello, and welcome to the first ever ‘Toku Review Round-Up!’ on the Toku Toy Store! I’m Adam – you may remember me from some other things I’ve written recently for this site, such as my ‘What makes a great Kamen Rider villain?’ piece and my recaps of the currently airing Super Hero Time Shows Machine Sentai Kiramager and Kamen Rider Zero One. Although I had tremendous fun writing those, I didn’t get much space to express my personal thoughts, criticisms and appraisals on what’s happening right now in the current, exciting moment of Tokusatsu. That’s about to change, however, as right now I have the extraordinary pleasure of reviewing the latest episodes of major tokusatsu shows for the Toku Toy Store, including Mashin Sentai Kiramager, Kamen Rider Zero-One and Ultraman Z. Every two weeks, I’ll be bringing you my ‘sparkling’ takes on the last two episodes of each show!

When this regular column was originally pitched, we lived in a more hopeful world where Covid-19 hadn’t destroyed everything yet. At the time I was first given the opportunity to write regular episode reviews, Super Hero Time hadn’t yet been delayed, and GARO Versus Road was still airing, which I very much wanted to include as part of this, but at the time of writing it finished last week, and this column is all about the currently airing shows. Sorry GARO, but you didn’t make it in, but thankfully Ultraman Z began and Super Hero Time returned at an opportune moment to form the three pillars of this regular review column (I liked GARO VR a lot, for the record!).

I’ll be reviewing the individual episodes of each of these major toku shows in groups of two, until the shows end, or I die (whichever comes first!). I’ll be trying to consider each episode on its own merits, but of course factoring in how the series has handled things throughout its run. I think it will be particularly interesting to compare the three shows at three different points in their life cycle, with Ultraman Z having only just debuted, Kiramager still in its early game and Zero-One approaching its end. I think there’s a lot to say about each show so far, but to really condense these reviews down to the most basic assessment, I’ve pioneered a ‘revolutionary’ five-star system for each episode, which you’ll see in action below!

Kamen Rider Zero-One – Episodes 35.5 & 36

Episode 35.5 of Kamen Rider Zero One is a bit of a weird one to start with because it feels like a partial recap episode, yet it still seems somewhat important for the continuity of the story. This episode in particular mostly focuses on our villain team of Metsubouijinrai, who are introduced to ‘Azu’, the evil counterpart of ‘Izu’ who appears to have been created as an emissary of the Ark satellite, which is now awake and ready to enact its will on the world.

Although there was a lot of recycled footage in this episode, I did enjoy how it introduced Azu, with Izu’s actress showing a different dimension in the form of a more malicious Humagear assistant. I also enjoyed the minor hesitations each member of Metsuboujinrai had in telling the story of how they gained their ‘singularity’. In particular, I appreciated how the minor changes Jin’s character has gone through thus far enabled him to carefully obscure his true intentions to avoid being inflicted with the ‘Malice learning ability’. This comes to fruition in the next episode, and upon reflection, they did quite a good job of establishing it here.

Outside of these minor details, there wasn’t a lot of new stuff in 35.5 to enjoy, probably due to its nature as an intermediary episode. There wasn’t even much Aruto outside of a small cameo. It was nice to be caught up again on the current thoughts and feelings of the Metsuboujinrai, but it felt more like a reminder than anything else. With that being said, this is the episode that introduces us to the Ark’s physical presence, which seems like it will be an important thing going forwards – it puts this episode in a weird limbo between being important and being just another recap. It’s somewhere between skippable and not skippable. On the Zero-One scale, it gets 2.5 ‘Burning Falcons’ out of 5. The charming performances elevate it a bit for me, but overall it felt quite forgettable as an episode.

Episode 36, however, was a lot stronger, and contained quite a few aspects that I liked, including Jin and Yua’s team up as a pay off to the last few episodes. I quite enjoyed the choreography in all of the fights against Ark-Zero, and it was interesting to see some kind of gambit in play against the new villain. The plan doesn’t really work though, and a lot of this episode consists of the existing players getting owned by the new bad guy.

I do like where Zero-One is currently headed but I think it’s been caught up in some problems along the way that may have prevented it from being even better. The extended pacing of the previous Arc has made it felt like we’re now rushing towards a new enemy and the way in which the last few episodes have played out have been frustrating in the way that characters seem to keep switching alliances. Side-switching is a Kamen Rider staple of course, so it’s partly to be expected, but I’m never really certain at the moment what certain characters are motivated by and I’m confused why more time wasn’t dedicated to establishing the threat of Ark-Zero, rather than ZAIA, who have faded into the background a bit at this stage.

Overall, though, episode 36 at least felt like there were a lot of moving parts to it compared to the previous ‘half’ episode. The use of Fuwa (and to some extent, Naki) continues to be the best part of the show – and at this point I’m enjoying where his character is at the most after his ‘reset’, and the emotional moment that they give him this episode was one of the stronger elements of this episode overall; seeing Fuwa laugh so much was a strange sight, but at least his character is moving forwards.

As Zero-One barrels towards its conclusion, it remains to be seen if it can wrap things up in a truly satisfying way. Aspects of it give me hope for the final block of episodes, though, and I give Episode 36 a solid 3.5 ‘Ark Drivers’ out of 5. 

Ultraman Z – Episodes 1 and 2

Tsuburaya productions have been kind enough to simulcast all the episodes of their latest show Ultraman Z via YouTube, with full english subtitling, which makes this one a really convenient watch for fans and newcomers to the world of Ultraman alike. The tone and continuity of the first episodes of Ultraman Z are also indicative of a show designed to draw in new people whilst also paying a kind reverence to Ultraman’s history. The first episode is a great introduction, and a fun look at the new Ultraman hero and the supporting cast.

I’m a big fan of how Ultraman brings its kaiju and mecha to life with the use of scaled model shots and CGI in a fantastic harmony. It doesn’t always look perfect but the first episodes of Ultraman Z make it clear that the show is confident in its own style. We’re immediately introduced to the man-made mecha of the series, Sevenger, which is really charming in its clunky appearance. Throughout the episode, the rest of the earth’s defense force – STORAGE – are also imbued with a lot of personality. Charming is definitely the key word for this first episode because I kept seeing stuff that made me smile or laugh.

Even the new Ultra hero, Z, is full of good vibes. Once they make their way to Earth to combat the threat of a ‘ferocious space shark’ Genegarg, they find themselves having to fuse with the earthling Haruki, who was piloting Sevenger. Z and Haruki have difficulty communicating with each other, and there’s even some humour to be found in the way Z asks Haruki to ‘chant [his] name!’ with more spirit in order to complete their mutual transformation. It’s clear from the beginning that Ultraman Z is going to be a really fun series, with a lot of soul at the core of its character writing.

Overall, the first episode was just a great time, and I’m not sure how else to explain it beyond how I have already – it just works! I give it 4 and half Ultra Medals out of 5!

The second episode was filled with a similar quality and involves Haruki getting used to his new responsibilities as someone merged with Ultraman Z, as well as his troubles with a new invisible kaiju. Everything that was great about the first episode is great again here, there’s more kaiju crushing action that has a very tangible look to it, and once again the characters have a lot of dynamic personality. More is shown about the inner workings of the defense group STORAGE, highlighting the hierarchy between the core members that form the show’s supporting cast.

We’re also given a general insight into what motivates Haruki – he’s striving to be better – in life, in his practice of Karate, and as part of the global defense force, STORAGE. He feels very responsible for his own failures, wishing to build upon himself. In an intense sparring practice, Haruki is told to ‘not just rely on his eyes’. This comes back later on in the episode, as Haruki uses this as inspiration to defeat the invisible Kaiju by ‘sensing’ it after merging with Z once more. It’s a neat conclusion to another neat episode and also showcases the STORAGE team working together nicely throughout. Although it’s not quite as strong as the opener, it’s still a succinct and smart episode – I give it 4 Zestium Beams out of five, and I’m really excited to see where Ultraman Z goes from here.

Mashin Sentai Kiramager –  Episodes 11 + 12

If you read my recap of Kiramager thus far, you’ll know that I’ve enjoyed it quite a bit in its first 10 episodes. It’s playing it quite safe for a Sentai series show but that’s definitely not a bad thing by any means. Even when Kiramager feels formulaic, it’s still managing to look pretty stylish while doing it.

Episode 11 kicks off with intense gameplay of Tekken, with our e-sports hero Tametomo taking the lead. After the match his hair is stolen by his competitor, who says something weird about using it as fuel for his ‘curse’. It’s a weird series of events, and soon after encountering a menacing Marrskman with the rest of the Kiramager team, Tametomo is sent back in time to re-experience their day all over again, starting with the weird encounter they had after their Tekken match.

It’s a funny and interesting premise for an episode, and it uses its twenty minute runtime effectively to do quite a lot with the concept, despite utilising a lot of cliches from other ‘time loop’ media. Tametomo has been one of the most fleshed-out members of the team so far, and this episode does a pretty decent job at continuing to show why, who manages to keep a good humour and competence despite the continual resets, figuring out what’s going on pretty quickly, but succumbing to feelings of isolation when he realises that he’s the only one experiencing the full extent of the time reset. It’s nice that Tametomo is given a more existential struggle in this episode, rather than just a physical one.

Tametomo eventually figures out what he needs to do after being inspired by others, resolving to repeatedly defeat the ‘reset button’ Marrskman over and over again until he yields his ability to reset time. If I’m being honest, I think it would have been more thematically appropriate if the episode would wrap up around here, but we have to stick to Sentai formula and have at least one battle on a larger scale. Despite this minor gripe, though, this episode is a really interesting solo adventure for Tametomo. I give it 3.5 out of 5 ‘Reset Buttons’.

Episode 12 gives us what many Sentai fans have been looking forward to for a while now – the debut of Kiramai Silver. This episode serves as a pretty excellent introduction to Kiramai Silver, with Kiramai Pink, Sayo, used as the point-of-view character. The adventure that ensues is pretty interesting – Sayo gets trapped on a mountain, with no way of escape, until an unusual man in a silver jacket appears!

The episode shows us a lot of back and forth between Sayo and this mysterious new figure, who shows a lot of excitement about things that make very little sense and expresses a lot of skepticism about fully saving Sayo from her peril due to a prophecy that we also hear Mabusheena quote at the beginning of the episode. Regardless, the two work together to find a treasure, which actually ends up being a ‘monstone’. What I like about this portion of the episode is the new character’s innate heroism, which shows through in everything they do – they’re laser focused on their goal, and as soon as the ‘monstone’ appears, he resolves to defeat it. 

Eventually, all of the Kiramagers end up in the same spot, fighting the same enemy, and the new guy’s name is revealed to be… Crystalia Takamichi. We then get our first transformation of Kiramai silver, which features an incredibly cool transformation jingle. The next five minutes of the episode are essentially dedicated to showing that Takamichi is the coolest guy, at least until it’s revealed that he’s Mabusheena’s brother, and abandoned Crystalia when they needed him the most.

It’s important to establish this kind of thing early on, and it puts Takamichi in an interesting place from the outset. It’s a cool storytelling move to make him appear to be the coolest guy and then have him revealed to be the worst guy soon after – it definitely creates some intrigue on where his character will go next to redeem themselves. 

Overall, it was a pretty cool and flashy introduction for the new hero, which also manages to raise some questions. It’s unfortunate that most of the main team were sidelined in this episode as a means to introduce Silver, but that’s just how it has to go sometimes. It’s another enjoyable outing for Kiramager – I give it 4 out of 5 ‘Shiny Breakers’.

That’s all for this edition of Toku Review Round-up, and this year’s tokusatsu continues to be an enjoyable escape from the tough conditions of the world. I’m excited to see where Ultraman Z goes from its strong start, I’m looking forward to getting more of Takamichi and I’m holding out hope for a suitably explosive final arc for Zero-One! See you next time as we found out what each of these shows has in store!

Toku Review Round-up is a fortnighty column. Join Adam again for more in two weeks!

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SODO Sundays – June 28th, 2020

Hello, tokusatsu community! It’s Joshua Perry here to talk about SODO figures on my fortnightly series, SODO Sundays. Today actual Zero-One news once again! Zi-O is over!

Kamen Rider Zero-One

AI-09 has revealed the rest of its figures! First up is the final form for Zero-One: Kamen Rider Zero-Two! This figure will come with the Progrise Hopper Blade that Metal Cluster Hopper but will also come with a special version of the Attache Caliber with a peg at the bottom for the hand to hold both swords and recreate the combined version from the show.

Next up is the final figure to finish the Kamen Rider Zi-O figures with Kamen Rider Tsukuyomi! After a nearly year wait she is going to be released in AI-09. She comes with her Faiz Phone X that she used throughout the show but never in her Rider form except for in a stageshow as well as a swappable hand to recreate her Luminous Fractor weapon she used to backstab Another Decade in the finale of Zi-O.

AI-09 isn’t done yet as the new villain for Zero-One will be here as well: Kamen Rider Arc-Zero. This figure will have painted eyes as most recent figures have had but will include the option for stickers for the eyes to have more detail on them.

In a surprise reveal the final figure for AI-09 will be a Dodo Magia. More information on him will be in the next update.

Kamen Rider Ikazuchi from AI-08 has also finally been shown off after a long wait.

SODO’s commitment to making every on screen form has been something they have been keeping up since Ex-Aid and this has always included the forms seen in Hyper Battle DVDs. Zero-One had one earlier this year but the form from the special seemed to be overlooked, until now. In the September issue of the TV-Kun magazine, a SODO figure for the Hopping Kangaroo Zero-One form will be released.

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Kiramager YUDO

A Japanese retailer put up pre-orders for the second set of YUDO figures for Kiramager and with them a list of contents. No pictures yet as the figures haven’t been revealed yet but the set will include: Kiramei Silver, Garza, the grunts of the season: the Bechats, and an accessory set. This set will be out in October.

UDO

You can watch the latest SODO Sundays video over on the Toku Toy Store Facebook page.

That’s it for this edition of SODO Sundays Season 3! Stay tuned for the next edition on both Toku Toy Store and the Toku Toy Store Facebook page.

 

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Machine Sentai Kiramager: The Story So Far!

It’s been a while, but it looks like Super Hero Time is finally returning to broadcast on June 21st, bringing Tokusatsu titans Kamen Rider Zero-One and Machine Sentai Kiramager back to our screens! Despite this necessary break in programming, I think it’s fair to say that Super Hero Time returning is pretty exciting, in part due to the continuation of Machine Sentai Kiramager, which had really only just begun before Super Hero Time went on hiatus. Kiramager has had a pretty excellent showing so far in its first 10 episodes, but if you haven’t watched the re-cap special or Kiramager itself during its time off, you may have forgotten a few details – don’t worry, because we’re here to give you a ‘sparkling’ refresher course on everything that’s happened in Machine Sentai Kiramager so far!

Things began in a fairly standard way for contemporary Super Sentai first episodes – we were sweepingly introduced to our core team of heroes: KiramaYellow, Sentai’s first ever e-sports champion, KiramaGreen, a running athlete, KiramaBlue, a popular actor, and KiramaPink, a young surgeon. This group is introduced to us in classic Sentai fashion as an incomplete unit, using the powers lended to them by the ‘crystalians’ to fight threats on earth as the Kiramagers. The Kiramagers are chosen for their ‘Kiramentality’ –  a clever portmanteau combining the Japanese onomatopoeia for sparkling/shiny (‘kira kira’) and ‘mentality’ to represent a ‘shining’ way of thinking. The Kiramagers draw their power from sentient gemstones which latch onto those with a high level of ‘kiramentality’ forming a symbiotic relationship with them. As a team they’re looking for their fifth member – KiramaRed.

Of course, KiramaRed is found almost immediately in the form of our point-of-view character, Juru Atsuta, who is spending their time drifting off into imagination during school. This changes pretty quickly once the Yodonheim army attacks earth, immediately drawing the attention of the Kiramagers to respond to the threat, whilst Juru is initially too busy drawing to notice, but eventually catches on.

If you’ve seen a Super Sentai series before, then this first episode unfolds in the way you’d expect. Juru meets the team and is chosen by the crystal to become KiramaRed, but is initially unsure of how they’ll be useful to the team, despite the fact they’ve already been elected as the leader. This leads Juru to think about how they can use their existing skills to be a Kiramager, culminating in the first use of Juru’s signature ‘kiramaking’ power to bring his inspired drawings to reality, using the power of crystals. Juru does this to create the vehicle ‘machines’ that will become a mainstay in this series, and the five crystals work together as a fire engine, jet, helicopter, digger and sports car to save Tokyo from this kaiju threat. A bond is formed, and our team is created.

After this introduction, we then get several episodes dedicated to showing us members of the team learning to work together. There’s an episode focused on KiramaGreen, Sena, and her struggle over having to dedicate time to her career as an athlete against her responsibilities as a Kiramager. Red goes through the typical struggles of a Sentai Red ranger, caught between asserting himself as a leader and understanding Sena’s struggle as a friend. This ultimately leads to them using their inspirational powers to create a crystal that allows the user to create a clone of themselves. Neat! That’s something that will definitely come in handy later on, both in this episode when they use it to foil the villain, and the series as a whole where it will no doubt continue to be used.

We’re then treated to an episode about KiramaBlue, Shiguru Oshikiri, who in the opening fight of this episode fall’s victim to the enemy’s vice grip, which plants a literal giant vice onto his head, causing immense difficulties in his daily life as TV actor, as well as putting him on the proverbial bench for the Kiramagers. Oshikiri’s usual stoicism and arrogance is turned up to maximum as he attempts to deflect any assumptions that this new vice on his head bothers him in any way. Shiguru continues to attempt to act in their TV shoot and fight alongside the Kiramagers, but quickly finds that it’s quite difficult to keep up such a facade with a vice on your head. Ultimately, Shiguru learns to be a bit more trusting and open up to his team, choosing to let them support him in the final confrontation against the Vice Marsskman.  Another important teamwork lesson! 

The next episodes focus on the group’s Crystalian leader Mabusheena. With Mabusheena’s episode, we get the first steps towards developing a villain and our series arc. Mabusheena’s uncle Garza arrives on earth (in a pretty cool looking phantom train of some sort), and we learn that it was Garza who assassinated Mabusheena’s father, King Oradin, after being turned by the evil forces of Yodonheim. Despite this, Garza claims that King Oradin is alive! Of course, this is merely a deception by Garza, but the arc of the episode involves the Kiramager team uncovering Garza’s sinister intentions whilst Mabusheena is manipulated by him through her belief in her father’s life – it’s a sad tale, but a compelling one for sure. Mabusheena soon realises the truth, thankfully, KiramaRed is around to protect them from Garza in a pretty cool solo fight.

We then get an interesting episode about KiramaYellow, Tametomo, in an episode which briefly explores the dynamic between the sentient crystals and the Kiramager team. The crystals appear to have plenty of banter behind the scenes – the yellow crystal Shovellow asserting that Tametomo should be the leader of the group rather than Juru, and sets out on a mission to prove it. This is all occurring whilst we see Tametomo themselves in their element as the leader of their e-sports team. After Tametomo’s e-sports match, Sena talks to Tametomo, revealing an intricate backstory where his grandfather tragically died after a heart attack, after a less-than-positive interaction with young Tametomo who yells at him for buying the wrong video game. Tametomo deeply regrets his spoiled behaviour towards his grandfather, and asserts that his crystal Shovellow reminds him of his grandfather in some strange way. Shovellow is intent to make Tametomo leader, so searches for the new crystals on earth in order to create the ‘Shovellow corp’ (despite warnings from the other crystals to not do this). Shovellow ultimately succeeds in finding the other crystal machines, and jokes about creating a new super Sentai show with Tametomo as the leader and the sole member. 

Ultimately, the final fight with this episode’s villain involves Juru becoming frozen, briefly entrusting Tametomo and gemini clone to lead the counterattack in an elaborate performance designed to convince Shovellow of Juru’s power. It’s a nice moment that shows a slight evolution in the dynamic, and after the fight is wrapped up, we see Tametomo resolve to continue working with the slightly difficult crystal Shovellow, stating ‘he knew what I really wanted, deep down, after all’ in what could be described as a touching moment.

The next episode is all about KiramaPink, Sayo. It kicks off with a camera type Marsskman that has the ability to capture people with its photography powers – Sena and Shiguru are quickly captured in a photograph, which in turn transports them to a strange prison which drains their energy. Sayo on the other hand receives a head trauma, which transforms her into an amnesiac with no memories beyond age five of her life. This obviously puts the team in a difficult position, so Juru and Tametomo set out to cure Sayo’s amnesia by taking her to visit her old Aikido teacher. They learn of a pivotal event in Sayo’s young life (rescuing the adorable dog, Kotetsu!)  that established a pattern of working hard to save lives under pressure. Reminding her of this doesn’t do much,  but once the other Kiramagers are captured by the camera, the pressure forces Sayo to change back into their Kiramager form and then rescue the others with Helico, the pink crystal machine, before combining with the rest of the machines for one more showdown. Sayo’s memories are soon after restored by another head trauma induced by a playful Mabusheena, and the status quo remains!

Episode 7 begins with the team deciding that Juru can be a better leader and inducting him into an intense training regime – he’s forced to run with Sena, do Kendo with Shiguru, Aikido with Sayo and a shootout test with Tametomo. Juru is pretty exhausted by these tests, but feels ultimately that they are in his best interests to continue with. Things escalate, however, as the group begins to argue about which method of training is the most effective for Juru. This is quickly cut short by the appearance of two new Marsskmen, a fridge type and an oven type, who argue between themselves, mirroring the arguments of the Kiramager team. After their initial battle, we cut to Juru’s next training regime, which is even more intense than before, showing juru starting to hallucinate. This episode culminates in a battle against Garza, with Juru nearly passing out at the wheel of the combined crystal machines, until he notices a new hallucination – a shining white mech which is protecting the Kiramagers!

Episode 8 begins where the previous episode left off, and the other members of the Kiramager team can’t see the ‘shining giant’ that Juru is apparently hallucinating.  When Juru faints, the shining mecha vanishes, allowing the Kiramagers to escape. Juru falls into a coma-like state from exhaustion, and the red crystal blames Juru’s team for pushing him too hard with the training regime. Mabusheena tells the Kiramagers that they neglected his artistic skills, which is what gives his ‘Kiramentality’ life and is an essential ability within the group. Whilst comatose, Juru dreams of the Crystalian King Oradin, Mabusheena’s deceased father, creating a sketch under his guidance. When he wakes up, he realises that his dream was at least partially real, as he has drawn the image of a secret warehouse, which houses the white crystal Mabushina came to Earth in. Garza discovers Juru looking for the crister and attempts to destroy it, only for Juru to transform the crystal into a new crystal machine – the Mashin Express, which he uses to outrun Garza. The rest of the group apologises for their excessive training methods, and Juru then puts the rest of the team through an art class, restoring balance in a satisfying and humorous way.

We are then treated to two episodes that feel slightly more filler-y that the preceding two-parter. In episode 9, Sena encounters a rival from her past, Makino, who treats her with disregard and  who we eventually learn used to beat Sena regularly in the traditional Japanese card game Karuta. After a Karuta-themed Marsskman appears, Sena is forced to confront her past in failing against Makino in Karuta, as Makino witnesses Sena’s weakness when duelling against the Karuta Marsskman. Ultimately, the two are able to resolve their differences after saving Makino from the villain of the weak, and the two gain a mutual respect for each other. Episode 10 on the other hand sees our heroes buying into an internet urban legend about an idol who rises from the grave every night to sing. After watching a performance online, some members of the group get put to sleep through the insidious end to the idol’s performance, which launches a ticket into their hearts. Shiguru recognises the idol as a fan of his, Iyo, leading Sayo to attempt to fix the problem by forcing Shiguru to confront Iyo. It’s revealed that Iyo is being manipulated by a Yodonheim Marsskman, and also that Shiguru previously led them on through ambiguous responses to her affections. As more and more people become brainwashed by the Iyo’s broadcasts, Sayo is able to intercept the signal and restore her friends to health, while Shiguru confronts the situation by saving Iyo and defeating the Marsskman in one precisely controlled cut.

That’s (almost) everything that’s happened in Machine Sentai Kiramager so far! Personally, I think it’s been a very solid series, even in these early stages. It’s got a long way to go still, but Kiramager has remained pretty consistently whimsical, funny, and willing to engage with its characters on a personal level. I can’t really issue many complaints about what I’ve seen so far, and I had a lot of fun returning to it for this recap. I’m excited for the upcoming appearance of the sixth silver Kiramager and much more once the show has returned this weekend!

Are you exited for the return of Kiramager? What have you enjoyed so far? Join the conversation on social media or drop us a comment below!

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SODO Sundays – May 3rd, 2020

Hello, tokusatsu community! It’s Joshua Perry here to talk about SODO figures on my fortnightly series, SODO Sundays. Today lots and lots of SHODO!

Kamen Rider Zero-One

AI-07 will be continuing with Kamen Rider Ichi-gata from Reiwa: The First Generation movie! This figure is a great one to pair with Kamen Rider 001 in AI-06. He includes a pair of fisted hands.

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Also in the set is Kamen Rider Vulcan in his Rampage Vulcan form. The effort and time was put into this figure to mold all of the animals for all the different Progrise Keys this form is powered by. Like the past forms for Vulcan he comes with the ShotRiser in its belt and weapon forms.

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AI-07 will be out in June but we already know the first figure for AI-08 and that is Kamen Rider Zamonas! This is the second of the trio of movie exclusive Riders from the Zi-O Over Quarterz movie. He comes with his bowgun weapon. Zi-O is almost done with the figures for Zi-O with this release.

Kamen Rider Agito

SHODO will be releasing a Premium Bandai Set for Kamen Rider Agito. This set will include Agito’s Burning Form that wasn’t in the earlier SHODO Agito set as well as Kamen Rider Gills and Kamen Rider G3-X!

This G3-X figure is fulled loaded with his full arsenal.

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Kyukyu Sentai Go-Go V

SHODO Super continues for a second set! This set includes the entire Go-Go V team and includes the first female mold for the SHODO line. The team has all of the arsenals for the team as well as another SHODO first with minor stickers on the weapons for the smaller details paint couldn’t cover.

You can watch the latest SODO Sundays video over on the Toku Toy Store Facebook page.

That’s it for this edition of SODO Sundays Season 3! Stay tuned for the next edition on both Toku Toy Store and the Toku Toy Store Facebook page.

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Toei Company launches global tokusatsu YouTube channel

Toei Company announce the launch of TOEI TOKUSATSU WORLD OFFICIAL; a YouTube channel bringing subtitled tokusatsu to international audiences

With North America riding high on the announcement of their TokuSHOUTsu streaming service on Pluto TV, the rest of the English speaking world, most notably the United Kingdom, were feeling a little… left out. This all changed last night as Toei Company Ltd – the company behind the most popular toku shows such as Super Sentai and Kamen Rider – announced that they are expanding their YouTube offering to bring us TOEI TOKUSATSU WORLD OFFICIAL. Starting April 6th, 2020, this service will launch with the first two episodes of 70 different toku programmes from the 1960s, 70s, 80s, and 90s.

The whole list of seventy has not been fully revealed but will include innagural Super Sentai series, Himistsu Sentai Gorenger (1975), Metal Hero Series including Uchu Keiju Gavan (1982), and robot anime such as Voltes V (1977). Once the first two episodes of the full catalogue have dropped on April 6th, future episodes will be released on a schedule with each series getting their own release days.

Full details and the early release schedule is available in Toei’s press release, available here.

Are you excited for Toei Tokusatsu World Official? What shows are you most interested in? Join the conversation across our social media channels!

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SODO Sundays – March 8, 2020

Hello, tokusatsu community! It’s Joshua Perry here to talk about SODO figures on my fortnightly series, SODO Sundays. Today, a new OOO Set and an update on the Kirameger YUDO figures.

Kamen Rider OOO

A new SODO Chronicle Kamen Rider OOO Premium Bandai is being released. This time the set focuses on everything for Kamen Rider Birth. The set has 2 figures in it: Kamen Rider Birth and Kamen Rider Birth Prototype.

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There are a ton of accessories included like the Birth Busters for both Riders and the Birth CLAWs weapons that can also form the Sasori mode. They can be used to create Birth’s Birth Day mode as well.

Also included is a canaster of Cell Metals and the manual for the Birth Rider System.

Mashin Sentai Kirameger

A small update for the first set of YUDO figures. Extra KirameSwords have been added to the accessories box so that each member of the team can be displayed with a weapon. This is something YUDO hasn’t done the past 2 years in their releases.

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You can watch the latest SODO Sundays video over on the Toku Toy Store Facebook page.

That’s it for this edition of SODO Sundays Season 3! Stay tuned for the next edition on both Toku Toy Store and the Toku Toy Store Facebook page.

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SODO Sundays – September 29th, 2019

Hello, tokusatsu community! It’s Joshua Perry here to talk about SODO figures on my fortnightly series, SODO Sundays. Today, more Zero-One and Ryusoulger!

Kamen Rider Zero-One

The rest of AI 01 has been revealed! Biting Shark and Flying Falcon will be the last two figures to be featured in AI 01. Continuing the trend from Rising Hopper there is a lot of paint on these two forms with minimal stickers. Shark will come with the Attache Calibur in sword mode while Falcon will come with it in suitcase mode.

There will also be a Complete Set Box that will have just enough extra bodies to give each form an option to be displayed. This set will release on October 28th.

Kamen Rider Zi-O

The second Set of Another Riders will be out next month and the showcase on all four figures has begun with Another Den-O. All of the figures in this set will come with optional year stickers to reflect their original appearance or their Another Zi-O II summons.

BiriBiri Geiz will also be getting a figure in the big yearly box set this year that will also come with the DX Ridewatch for the form.

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Ryusoulger

December will bring the third set of YUDO figures for Ryusoulger. Ryusoul Red and Gold will be returning from the older waves. The grunts of the series, the Drunn Soliders. 3 more armors will be included as well: the CosmoRaptor, ShadowRaptor, and PackyGuru armors.

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As always, you can watch SODO Sundays Season 3, Episode 3 here:

That’s it for this edition of SODO Sundays Season 3! Stay tuned for the next edition on both Toku Toy Store News and YouTube channel.

 

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SODO Sundays – August 4th, 2019

Hello, tokusatsu community! It’s Joshua Perry here to talk about SODO figures on my fortnightly series, SODO Sundays. Today, SODO Chronicle, YUDO, and SHODO-O!

Kamen Rider Zi-O

Since the rest of the Zi-O SODO line was already revealed, the only new things for Zi-O was showing off Kamen Rider Ginga and Hattari from Ride Plus 2 in greater detail. Hattari’s shuriken face can come off for easier access to the sticker location. Another Zi-O was also shown off in more detail.

Kamen Rider W

SODO Chronicle W is making a return. A new Premium Bandai set has been revealed to have more of the Riders from the series. This new set will include Kamen Rider Accel, Accel Trial, and Kamen Rider Skull. A new headpiece will be included with Skull to be able to make Skull Crystal. This new Premium Bandai exclusive set will be released in December. With this set it only leaves a handful of Riders and forms from Double for SODO to make, maybe they’ll have another set to finish them off?

Kamen Rider OOO

While not shown off, the other 3 figures to be in OOO Chronicle Set 1 will be Gatakirirba, Latoraratar, and Sagohzo Combos. Also revealed was an Ankh arm to have to display next to the figures. Chronicle OOO Set 1 will release in December.

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SHODO-O 2

The second SHODO-O Set has been fully shown off. This set of villain characters will include Apollo Geist from Kamen Rider X, Kamen Rider Ouja and Ryuga, and the Horse Orphonoch. Ryuga will come with his Advent Monster Dragblacker.

Ryusoulger

The full line-up for YUDO Set 2 has been revealed. We already knew Ryusoul Gold and his BiriBiri Armor was in the line-up but now we have a rerelease of Ryusoul Red, his DimeVolcano armor, more Ryusoul armors and Gaisorg. This set comes out later in August.

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Kamen Rider Zero-One

SODO will reveal Kamen Rider Zero-One SODO figures the day the first episode airs. So stay tuned for Season 3 of SODO Sundays coming to Toku Toy Store to cover the next year of Kamen Rider Zero-One and other SODO releases!

As always you can watch SODO Sundays Season 2, Episode 23 here:

That’s it for this edition of SODO Sundays Season 2! Stay tuned for the next edition on both Toku Toy Store News and YouTube channel.

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SODO Sundays – June 23rd, 2019

Hello, tokusatsu community! It’s Joshua Perry here to talk about SODO figures on my fortnightly series, SODO Sundays. Today, the end of Zi-O Set 10 and some new Ryusoulger.

Kamen Rider Zi-O

The final figure of July’s Set 10 has revealed! Zi-O’s final form Grand Zi-O is coming to the SODO line. This figure will feature moulded on details for all of the Heisei Rider statues all over the suit but will have stickers in able to make the statues stand out with greater details.

Ryusoulger

August will see the release of YUDO Set 2. The first figure from this set has been revealed to be RyusoulGold. He will include his Mosa Changer and Mosa Blade. Also included will be the pieces to give him his BiriBiri Armor.

Kamen Rider W

The Kamen Rider Cyclone figure, revealed a while back, got a better focus recently.

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As always you can watch SODO Sundays Season 2, Episode 20 here:

That’s it for this edition of SODO Sundays Season 2! Stay tuned for the next edition on both Toku Toy Store News and YouTube channel.

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Going ガガガ – A Tokusatsu GaGaGa Series Review

Channelling the fandom troubles of geeks and nerds everywhere, Tokusatsu GaGaGa was a series that kept us feeling gaga from start to finish.

We’ve all seen Akibaranger, right? I feel confident making that statement to the toku-watching community as a whole and, at the very least, you’ll be aware of it’s themes or those wacky GIFs of the “Powerful Rangers”.

So what if I told you that there was a show that captured the toku otaku experience even more-so than that? A show that dealt with tokusatsu as a fandom, fandom as a stigma, camaraderie, societal and familial pressures, and living up to the ideals that inspired us as children?

That show would be Tokusatsu GaGaGa; an adaptation of the Niwa Tanba manga of the same name that follows Kano Nakamura as she navigates her mid-20’s in a serious career while hiding her geekiness from her co-workers and family. It’s a very engaging story for me personally but I think it’s broader implications are what make it stand out amongst the J-Dramas aimed at people who like rubber monsters and explosions.

Simply put; Tokusatsu GaGaGa is about feeling ‘other’ in what most would define as ‘regular’ society. It’s about hiding something core to your self-identity out of fear of rejection, being ostracised by your peers, or as just being too childish, something many in the Western toku fan base has bemoaned when Power Rangers is derided in mainstream consciousness.

These themes are explored in the show in a number of different and unique ways, from metaphorical cuts to the in-show Sentai and Metal Hero series (Bestial Storm Jushowan and Emerjason, respectively), delusional instances of superheroes appearing to Kano to inspire her, or how certain characters compare experiences in differing fandoms. [Warning: Character and Plot SPOILERS AHEAD]

Lead actress Fuka Koshiba, and the rest of the cast to an extent, excel in bringing to life these relatable characters and making their respective journeys truly engaging. Kano Nakamura is a fantastic character who and the expressiveness of Fuka’s acting highlights both her dramatic and comedic elements. Frankly, I’d love to see Fuka in a proper Toei show, she’s got the chops to be a fantastic Sentai Red.

Joining Kano are “Sentai Sempai” Hisami Yoshida, an older sister-type with a fondness for butts. Her relationship with Kano is sweet and almost borders on the homoerotic sometimes and I honestly can’t tell if that’s intentional or I’m just reading too much into the long, lingering looks that they share frequently. I’m just saying, this show is already one big analogy to being LGBTQ+, I wouldn’t put it past author/directorial intent (I haven’t read the source material to confirm if it’s like that there) that it is.

There is also “Stoic Idol Fan” Yuko Kitashiro, Kano’s hard-nosed co-worker who hides a love of J-Idols The Bee Boys behind her Aubrey Plaza-esque looks. “Mr Yakuza” Masaaki Matsumoto, a crunchy-on-the-outside, soft-on-the-inside shop owner who feels great shame for his love of magical girl shows and “Damian” Taku Tamiya, a cram school kid who befriends Kano and acts as a mirror to Kano’s own childhood experiences. Each highlights an aspect of her personality and allow us to explore Kano’s views on life.

There are other ancillary characters who act as plot points or comic relief but the only other character of note is Fumi Nakamura, Kano’s mother. Often represented as the ever-present villain of Jushowan, Genka Shogun, Fumi is an over-bearing traditional mother who projects her values onto her daughter and much anxiety ensues. This is an experience that I’ve had and I’m sure it’s something many who love superheroes into their adulthood have had to deal though with the genre becoming more mainstream, this is being mitigated somewhat.

Kano’s arc with her mother is pretty compelling and you almost begin to sympathise with Fumi until a fateful lunch date when she goes too far and then IT IS ON. Seriously, there’s a moment in episode 6 that made me scream “Get ‘er, Kano!” as the show’s theme song (performed by Golden Bomber, whose lead singer performed Life is SHOW TIME) kicks in and it’s absolutely brilliant.

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In terms of being a tokusatsu, there’s plenty of references, homages, and production details that call back to the long history of toku in Japan. Cameos of suit actors, beloved voice actors, and the action director himself being a suit actor alumni all give this show a pedigree to rival that of any official Toei production (Toei did lend their aid to this NHK production though to what extent, I don’t know). The suits look just as good as something Toei themselves would produce and I would definitely watch an Emerjason show!

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I heartily recommend checking out Tokusatsu GaGaGa if you’re looking for something out of the usual toku shows that has a lot of heart and a genuine love for the genre. The 7 episode show was subbed by both Big Nova Subs and TV-Nihon and can be found wherever you’d usually find fan-subs.

Have you seen Tokusatsu GaGaGa? What were your thoughts on it? Let us know!