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Toei Tokusatsu World Reviews: Laserion

Video Warrior Laserion (ビデオ戦士レザリオン), or simply Laserion, is a 1984-1985 anime series from Toei that tells the story of a young boy’s video game robot come to life and only he can save the Earth from the evil Jack Empire! It’s a pretty standard wish-fulfilment story that borrows heavily from other mecha anime of the time.

laserion robotThe visuals are bold, there’s some very interesting animated sequences, plus plenty of others that get reused a lot along with some other real cheap shortcuts. There’s a literal visual novel slide across screen and I had to pause the video while I got all the laughs out because it came out of nowhere. The animation is as good as you can expect for this period of time and, naturally, it shares the Gundam/hot-blooded mecha pilot stylings of the time.

That said, I’m going to tell you all not to watch this show on the Toei Tokusatsu World YouTube channel because there are no English subtitles. I had to watch the first episode with auto-generated English subs and, while hilarious, it’s nigh-unwatchable and certainly not conducive to a review of a service that is supposed to allow English speakers to watch these shows.

laserion nonsenseSo yeah, Toei dropped the ball on this one and the end result is utter nonsense but there’s plenty of other mecha anime on the service, some of which I’ve reviewed here so why not check those out!

You can now find Laserion, as well as many other tokusatsu shows, on the TOEI Tokusatsu World Official YouTube channel to watch for free with English subtitles.

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Toei Tokusatsu World Reviews: Daimos

Tōshō Daimos (闘将ダイモス), or simply Daimos, is the third instalment of the Robot Romance Trilogy that followed Combattler V and Voltes V. Unfortunately, none of them are about romancing robots and are just super robot shows with romantic subplots, as was the style at the time.

daimos kazuyaIn this particular case, the survivors of the planet Baam try to invade Earth because while they’re a technologically advanced nomadic race, they can’t find their own damn planet, go figure. Their invasion is halted by the return of Kazuya Ryuuzaki and, with the aid of a portly professor and an extended cast of comedy sidekicks, the activation of the super robot Daimos.

daimos richterThe forces of Baam mostly consist of this Saint Seiya-looking prince called Richter, his sister Erika, who will be Kazuya’s designated love interest, and Balbos, a general who’d look more at home in Fist of The North Star. There’s not a lot to say about them except they look like Thanagarians and washed the Earth’s military with the doofiest robots I’ve seen in a while.

daimos robotThe Daimos robot design is pretty good. It reminds me a lot of the contemporary Sentai mecha that weren’t so much combining robots as they were giant Transformers. Interestingly, Daimos was amongst the line-up of Shogun Warriors toys produced by Mattel.

daimos daddyThis show is about as stock and trade for the 70’s super robot genre as you can get and I’m honestly struggling to think of things to type. The animation is fine for the time, the voice acting sounds okay, and I can see why it may be considered a classic.

I didn’t hate it but I didn’t exactly like it, either. It’s just “fine”.

You can now find Daimos, as well as many other tokusatsu shows, on the TOEI Tokusatsu World Official YouTube channel to watch for free with English subtitles.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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

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Ultraman Anime Release Window Revealed

As revealed today with the release of Volume 12 of the manga, the anime adaptation of Ultraman will be released in Spring 2019, seemingly to coincide with the release of the third film in the Godzilla anime trilogy. The release is also confirmed to be worldwide, with distribution and translation being handled in-house by Netflix, whom have previously brought over hit anime series like The Seven Deadly Sins, Violet Evergarden, and Kakegurui, as well as the live-action adaptations of Mob Psycho 100 and Kakegurui.

The current Ultraman manga is written and illustrated by the team of Eiichi Shimizu and Tomohiro Shimoguchi, who previously worked together on Linebarrels of Iron, and follows protagonist Shinjiro Hayata, the son of original Ultraman Shin Hayata. The series began publication in October 2011, where it was first published in Monthly Hero’s magazine’s first issue. Outside of Japan, the translated volumes can be purchased via Viz Media. With the setup for the plot ignoring all but the first season of the series, this version of Ultraman is very different from the one typically seen in TV series since the mid 1960s. This version of Ultraman is decidedly more grounded, and has a hint of the gritty realism made popular in superhero fiction by Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight trilogy.

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The new series will be done in the 3D-CG art style seen in other recent anime like Berserk (2016-2017), Tiger & Bunny, and Fate/Zero. Artistically, the series may draw many of its designs and influences from Tiger & Bunny, as many of its elements are aesthetically very similar. Look for Ultraman when it is given a simultaneous worldwide release in Spring of 2019.

Are you excited for Ultraman? Leave a comment and let’s discuss!

Source: Gormaru Island via Facebook