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This Week in Tokusatsu – Weeks 7 and 8, 2019

As Lupinranger Vs Patoranger comes to a close, Zi-O starts to achieve his full potential and the Super Sentai Saikyou Battle kicks off.


Lupinranger vs Patoranger Episode 51 (End)

The Lupinrangers are stuck inside Dogranio’s safe after their battle with Zamigo. Thankfully, they equipped their police counterparts before entering, knowing this could happen. On the whole, this final episode feels rushed. The battle against Dogranio is short and anticlimactic, decided quickly by a macguffin more than the skill or strength of any of the Rangers. When it’s over, Dogranio is taken into custody rather than being killed, and we flash forward a year.

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In that time, the Patorangers have become superheroes, celebrities to some degree, while still managing to do their jobs and mop up the last of the Ganglers. The Lupinrangers are believed to be dead, or at least, still trapped inside Dogranio’s safe world. When the credits start to roll on this series for the final time, the ending is ambiguous, a cliffhanger that leaves the main arc of the show unresolved. It is flashy, though, and does not disappoint if you are looking for good choreography and stunt work.

Where it does fall short in one other big way, though, is that the final scene of the series undoes much of the growth the characters went through, ignoring previously established friendships and romances, in favour of the generic cops-and-robbers angle that began the series. With a movie coming later in the year, I am personally hopeful that that will provide the ending this amazing series rightfully deserves. Kishiryu Sentai Ryusoulger kicks off in a few weeks, but until then, we are going to be treated to a four-week miniseries called Super Sentai: Strongest Battle! This series will be covered here during its full run leading up to the premiere of Ryusoulger.


Kamen Rider Zi-O Episodes 22 and 23

Zi-O’s true power is unleashed this week as Zi-O II debuts! In an attempt to defeat Another Ryuga, Geiz sacrifices his life to use his finishing attack on Another Ryuga, knowing that there is a time distortion before the attack triggers. This leads to Sougo beginning to accept the darkness in himself, the way he’d convinced Kido Shinji earlier in the episode to do the same.

Zi-O II is able to defeat Another Ryuga, and in a strong twist of character, Tsukuyomi and Geiz wrap the episode knowing they pushed Sougo in the wrong direction. They resolve to do better, and we begin the next episode, which sees Sougo jump 102 years into the future, to 2121.

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There he meets Kamen Rider Kikai, a parody of Shotaro Ishinomori’s other classic tokusatsu hero, Kikaider. Curiously, the episode is even called “Kikai da!” as an easter egg reference to this character.  Kikai’s design is very reminiscent of Drive, to me, with similar eyes and helmet shape. Many of the parts are mechanical in nature, obviously meant to emphasize the “Kikai” or machine design.

It’s a good suit, overall, and one that could easily be believed as a future Rider. When Sougo and Geiz end up meeting Another Kikai, it is the opposite of its counterpart, organic in nature instead of mechanical. The armour is largely made of wood, and instead of a person, Another Kikai appears to be some kind of Beetle that can reform itself by jumping from one tree to another. To put a twist on things, it’s revealed with a quick snippet of dialogue that this Another Rider was not created by any of the existing Time Jackers we know.

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Through animation and set pieces, as well as some expository dialogue by Kikai, we see a dark future that is worthy of its own series, if played out correctly, much like the previous Miraiders up to this point. One thing that threw me off at first, but quickly became one of the best parts of the episode, was the face and voice behind Kikai. The same actor who plays Kamen Rider Kikai was also recently seen as Zamigo in Lupinranger vs Patoranger, but seeing him play a hero is only briefly an odd transition. He plays the part well, and I personally would love to see more of this character and world, either through a spin-off or V-Cinema like Kamen Riders Shinobi and Quiz are getting.

This episode holds a few more big twists that you will need to watch it to see, but the implications on the plot are staggering if managed correctly. Next week, we will see the resolution of the Kikai arc, as well as all three Riders working together for the first time. Stay tuned and leave your thoughts in the comments or on social media!


Super Sentai Strongest Battle Episode 1

This three-episode miniseries is designed to fill the gap between the end of Lupinranger vs Patoranger and the beginning of the upcoming Kishiryu Sentai Ryusoulger, and is a crossover event between returning and new heroes. We begin with the defeat of the Gokaigers at the hands of the series’ villain, Gaisorg. The series features not only teams crossing over, but dimensions, as we see the team lineup debut. The team includes Gokai Red, Zyuoh Eagle, AkaNinger, Kyuranger’s Sasori Orange, and Toq # 5 (Pink). All of the original actors return, though the voice for Gokai Red’s suited form in the opening is clearly not Ryota Ozawa. Keiichiro of the Patorangers is also invited to join, but we are still given no resolution to the cliffhanger ending of his series.

Taking beats from multiple western media sources, each Ranger who is invited is given a literal golden ticket, then transported to a Marvel-style battle world, a planet called Nemesis. Each summoned ranger joins a team of five, for a total of 32 groups, and the contest is shown to be a battle royale tournament. Zyuoh Eagle regrets that he and Keiichiro are in the first match, thinking they would get along well, but knowing this is just a contest. The match is between “Team Weirdo” and “Team Serious Business” which both appear to be fitting names. Apart from this one-on-one contest, we see other matches going on with other teams, dating as far back as Denjiman and Turboranger. Many of the battles shown are between teams whose seasons had crossover movies, including TimeBlue against Gingaman Red.

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Overall, this crossover event appears to be riding the Battle Royale hype train, but is a fun ride nonetheless. If you need a Super Sentai fix in between series, this will get you through, but is largely lacking in substance, apart from the character interactions.


Power Rangers News

Unveiled at Toy Expo 2019, we finally have our first look at the Lightning Collection, as well as other new Power Rangers toys coming from Hasbro later this year. Each figure in the Lightning Collection is highly detailed, including multiple accessories and head sculpts for Rangers (including Doggie Cruger). The first wave of Lightning Collection figures will be as follows:

Part of the second wave has also been officially announced. Included in this wave will be:

  • Goldar (US Exclusive to Gamestop)
  • Beast Morphers Red

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In addition, it was confirmed that Power Rangers Beast Morphers will premiere on March 2nd on Nickelodeon in the US, with worldwide release to follow shortly after.

A trailer debuted for Beast Morphers around 2/21/19, showing some of the differences between Beast Morphers and Go-Busters, as well as some of the effects and the new transformation sequence. It appears they are adding a crystal gimmick that didn’t exist in Go-Busters, but are otherwise leaving the scene largely unchanged.

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

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This Week in Tokusatsu – Week 6, 2019

This week, the Lupinrangers face off with Zamigo. The Ryuki arc of Zi-O begins with a twist, and the live-action Tokusatsu GaGaGa keeps moving right along!


Lupinranger vs Patoranger Episode 50

It’s finally time for the showdown between Kairi and Zamigo! This episode is full of frantic action, as well as dramatic character moments seeing how the teams interact. The Ganglers are on the offensive, as Dogranio himself enters the field to continue what he started last week. Umika and Touma manage to get out of police custody and out of the hospital, despite their serious injuries, and vow to fight on. Confronted at GSPO HQ by Tsukasa and Sakuya, they are faced with a choice and don’t back down when they need to prove their conviction.


This leads to the police willingly handing over their gear, so the remaining Lupinrangers can save their friend. What unfolds from there is a 3-on-1 battle that is interrupted by Dogranio, whose safe we finally see in action. Zamigo insists on not being interrupted by anyone during his battle, including Dogranio, and as such, he asks to take refuge in Dogranio’s safe. As it turns out, the Ganglers’ leader holds an entire world inside his safe, containing all the Lupin Collection items not seen up to this point in the series. This world is where the battle against Zamigo takes place. In the end, the Rangers are victorious but still trapped. As previously indicated, Dogranio opens his safe on command, but it is impossible to break out.

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Next week’s finale sees the Patorangers and Dogranio face off, while the Lupinrangers remain trapped. For the first time, this episode also marks the debut of a new form for a primary ranger, in the form of Super Patren #1, using Siren Striker. It’s fundamentally identical to Super LupinRed and Super LupinX, but flipped. The finale of Kaitou Sentai Lupinranger vs Keisatsu Sentai Patoranger airs on Sunday, 10 Feb, at 7:30AM JST. Stay tuned for a full series retrospective once the series has concluded!


Kamen Rider Zi-O Episode 21

The Ryuki arc kicks off this week in an interesting fashion. A series first, the primary Rider of the previous season is not the focus of this arc. Instead, we’re met by the contract being formed between Uhr and the mirror-world Kido Shinji, Kamen Rider Ryuga. Using the Another Ryuga watch, he becomes Another Ryuga and begins attacking through mirrors. The stakes are high, as the original Ryuga can’t exactly be convinced to lend his power. It seems as though Another Ryuga is unbeatable, until White Woz comes up with a plan: Kill Kido Shinji, Kamen Rider Ryuki, and his mirror self will simply poof out of existence and cease to be.

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White Woz brings this plan to Geiz, who immediately rejects it and intervenes in White Woz’s attack on Kido. Conversely, Black Woz seems to be putting a plan into motion as well, using the Zi-O II Ride Watch that was shown last week to give Sougo Mirror-World access. Inside the mirror world, Sougo meets himself. This is a darker version. The parts of Sougo that could become Oma Zi-O are brought to light and Sougo ends up fighting himself. The episode ends there, on a high note of dramatic tension that promises to pay off in next week’s episode. Keep an eye out here for more!


Tokusatsu GaGaGa Episode 3

More shenanigans are afoot this week, with a focus on the Extra Hero trope of Tokusatsu media. As Nakamura and Yoshida get closer, they begin to wonder if they can get their own “extra hero” to coincide with the reveal of Jushowan’s fourth member, silver ranger Celotol. Over the course of the episode, Nakamura also has to deal with the lingering paranoia that she’s been outed, after finding the capsule toy Kitashiro left in her locker at the end of episode two. The first candidate is Nakamura’s coworker, Yuki, who is a fangirl of the blue ranger from Stranger Five. Her love of this actor does not extend to tokusatsu in the way Nakamura and Yoshida hope, though.

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There are lot of laughs, some physical comedy and a lot of cutaways to tokusatsu scenes and Scrubs-style daydreams. It’s over the top in the best ways, but also has a heavy dose of reality, thanks to Kitashiro’s judgment of Nakamura. When it comes out that Kitashiro does know about Nakamura’s tokusatsu obsession, it’s crushing, with Kitashiro saying Nakamura should be ashamed of herself. She is outright called a disgrace, but the tables turn before long.


As it turns out, Kitashiro is a closet idol geek, with her wallet being outed as carrying the symbol for a boys idol group, Bee Boys. Yoshida finds out, and gives Nakamura the information before encouraging her to try to turn Kitashiro into a friend, letting the older woman know she’s not alone in being a closeted geek. Kitashiro goes along with this about as well as one would expect, and that is what sets up next week’s episode.

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

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This Week in Tokusatsu – Week 5, 2019

This week, we see Dogranio’s destructive power unleashed. The Quiz arc of Zi-O comes to a close, and the live-action Tokusatsu GaGaGa kicks off!


Lupinranger vs Patoranger Episode 49

After revealing their identities publicly last week, the Lupinrangers have gone on the run! Jurer has been emptied out completely, with “not a hair” left behind, according to the GSPO’s forensic expert. They haven’t gone far, though, still hiding somewhere in the city with the help of Kogure and Noel. While they plan their next move, Dogranio and Zamigo have a talk about power, and about Lupin Red. Zamigo vows that no one else will take Kairi from him, not even Dogranio himself, and Dogranio insists that he is an old man but still needs to raise hell sometimes. With that in mind, he launches an all out attack himself, in person, on the city.

This draws out the Lupinrangers, who are fittingly and quickly decimated by the Ganglers’ leader. Umika and Touma end up hospitalized and under arrest, being guarded by the GSPO while they recover. Kairi, while severely injured, is not taken and instead insists on continuing the fight. Somewhere along the way, he seeks out Keiichiro, who has seemingly had a full change of heart in regards to the thieves and their motivations. Now knowing who they are and what they are up against, Keiichiro vows to help Kairi however possible, even if it means resigning from his position at GSPO and becoming a criminal.

Kairi refuses, and goes his own way, eventually making his way to Zamigo. The episode ends on the cliffhanger of their fated duel finally about to take place, but not before we get an incredibly stylish, fittingly dramatic transformation sequence from both of them as one of Zamigo’s ice cubes falls between them.

Next week is the final episode of Lupinranger vs Patoranger, and if the preview clip is anything to go by, it will not disappoint. Be sure to keep an eye out here after the finale for a retrospective look at the full series!


Kamen Rider Zi-O Episode 20

This week’s episode doesn’t do a great deal to advance the plot overall, but does give a lot of interesting insights into certain characters. White Woz now appears to be much more self-serving than he originally appeared, subtly confirming the underlying malevolence he displayed in his first few appearances. Black Woz, while not entirely in agreement with Sougo, never outright acts against his master the way White Woz does for Geiz. It’s an interesting contrast, for sure.

White Woz and Geiz

The bulk of the episode focuses on the conflict between Geiz and Mondo (Kamen Rider Quiz) as they work to put a stop to Another Quiz. Over the course of several encounters, we see the layers peeled back on Mondo’s character as well, revealing that his motivations are more than they appeared. Also featured is the debut of Zi-O’s W armour in the series, though no explanation for the W RideWatch is given in the episode.  This is because the watch is obtained in the film Kamen Rider: Heisei Generations Forever which debuted in theatres just before Christmas. This power-up places the canon timeline of that film somewhere before episode 20.

Zi-O W Armour

When the climax of the arc comes, we see once again that White Woz is easily the most powerful character on the show, as he first stops Ora from freezing time and then self-charges the Quiz MiraideWatch, stealing Mondo’s power so he can defeat Another Quiz himself when Geiz has a moment of sentimental morality. At the end of it all, Mondo walks away powerless, destination unknown, and Black Woz brings a new watch to the clock shop for repair.

This is, presumably, the previously seen Zi-O II RideWatch, and it looks like we will see this new form in action in the next couple of episodes, if the repairs go well. 

Zi-O 2 RideWatch

The next arc will revolve around Kamen Rider Ryuki, and features a few returning actors. Are you excited to see Ryuki’s cast return?


Tokusatsu GaGaGa Episodes 1 and 2

Tokusatsu GaGaGa is a comedy series based on a manga of the same name, and follows a beautiful but otherwise average office worker as she grapples with adult life and being a closeted Tokusatsu geek. Through each episode, we see the protagonist, Nakamura Kano, try to deal with seemingly everyday situations while slipping into Scrubs-style daydream sequences, revolving around Tokusatsu and how she uses it as a lens to relate to the world.

In the first episode, we are treated to a few silly situations, played for laughs, including a lot of graphics on screen explaining what certain phrases mean and names of people as well. The show even features its own Toku heroes.

Shishi Leo on the Train

Bestial Storm Jushowan is the series’ representation of Super Sentai, with suits and abilities that mimic Gekiranger, while Rescue Machine EmerJason is something akin to a Metal Hero, or Kamen Rider, though the suit bears a strong resemblance to Space Sheriff Sharivan mixed with CarRanger. In just the first episode, both heroes make appearances in Nakamura’s daydreams, as she grapples with trying not to out herself but still indulging in her love of Toku. On the train to work, she sees another woman with a charm on her purse of Toraiger, Jushowan’s blue ranger. In response, a great deal of the episode is spent on Nakamura going from one gatcha machine to another in search of her character’s charm.

Jushowan Action Pose

When she finds the charm, for Jushowan’s red ranger Shishi Leo, Nakamura must first overcome a child she compares to Damian from The Omen, an American horror film. During a Karaoke outing with her work colleagues, conversely, Nakamura imagines her nerves and lack of understanding of popular music as a Tokusatsu monster of the week. This “Karaoke Monster” is only defeated when Nakamura steels herself, and decides to sing the OP to EmerJason in front of her co-workers.

Gacha Machine Kid

As she tries to get a Shishi Leo figure out of a fast food meal, we even get a brief look at Love Cute, the series’ version of Pretty Cure, a popular Magical Girl anime for little girls that is inspired by Tokusatsu.

Jushowan or Love Cute

For the sake of escapism, at one point, she even ducks into a toy store to get blind box figures so she can avoid answering her mother’s repeated phone calls. The store is run by a man who looks very much like the stereotypical Yakuza thug, and Nakamura has a moment of regret as she answers the next call to escape the store.

Sneaking around the toy store

From there, the scene becomes a nightmare of Jushowan, defeated but still fighting. Nakamura wakes up terrified, after the villain of Jushowan mentions shopping. As it turns out, Nakamura is dreaming of shopping with her mother later the following day. She gets dressed up for the occasion, inadvertently causing a scene in her office as several of her friends who like to gossip start wondering if she has a date, or is expecting a proposal. It’s exactly as over the top as it sounds, especially after Onoda, a male coworker who clearly has a crush on Nakamura, runs into another man with a cart full of boxes.

Shopping

As Nakamura wanders through the mall with her mother, she makes it a mission to stop the older woman from seeing anything Tokusatsu related, but stops on her own to stare at a poster for the Jushowan and EmerJason crossover hero show. Looking at clothes, she equates the price to a DVD box set. Nakamura’s mother, as a character, is a bit of a stereotype of the typical doting Japanese mother, encouraging Nakamura rather forcefully to wear frilly, girly clothes and get married young, reinforcing each suggestion with guilt about her age and about Nakamura’s fatherless childhood. To cope with this, she imagines herself fighting General Genka, Jushowan’s main villain, using only the hangers from the store.

Nakamura stands up to her mother, who makes a scene in the store until she backs down, then takes the spare key to Nakamura’s apartment. Nakamura stops to take a picture of the poster from earlier, and her friend Onoda is seen observing. Nakamura eventually decides to go to the hero show, and sees the woman with the Toraiger charm again. As she sits in the crowd, we get a bit of insight into this other woman, Yoshida, who resolves this will her last hero show. She goes alone, it seems, and she thinks Nakamura is only at the show to kill time on a break from work.

Nakamura and Yoshida meet

The two start talking, and decide to hang out to watch the show together. As each woman sits with her thoughts, there’s a bit of awkward silence outwardly. When they do finally talk, the two women begin to bond over their love of Tokusatsu, and we see some of Yoshida’s perspective in a flashback sequence. After bonding during the show, Yoshida and Nakamura spend a long time talking, with a pop-up on the screen each time they mention a series or episode. One of Nakamura’s coworkers drops in and makes things awkward, to comedic effect. When their secret is nearly exposed, Nakamura has another vision to help decide if she’ll intervene to protect Yoshida.

With the show’s continued emphasis on the theme of understanding, the women learn that the Yakuza who runs the toy store is just as into Tokusatsu as they are, and Yoshida resolves to make him understand his obsession is ok. In the preview for the next episode, we get to see that he will be a recurring character, and the next episode will seemingly have a lot more emphasis on the cutaways. Tokusatsu GaGaGa airs on NHK and will run for a total of seven episodes.

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

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This Week in Tokusatsu – Weeks 3 and 4, 2019

After a missed week due to hardware issues, we’re back at it with the debut of Kamen Rider Quiz, and Lupinranger vs Patoranger enters the home stretch!

Lupinranger vs Patoranger Episodes 47 and 48

The Global Police have agreed to begin conducting surveillance on the Jurer trio, and as this plan is put into action, we see a distraught Sakuya begin to act on his own. Clearly torn, he gets Umika to agree to a lunch date, while Gauche and Zamigo continue scheming. Zamigo has been upgraded, we later learn, making him even more dangerous than he already was, a worthy enemy. As in times past, Sakuya and Umika try to have a lunch date, during which Sakuya begins to ask probing questions and learn about Umika. They are interrupted by a Gangler attack, and during the attack, they are defeated, with Noel offering himself to Gauche as a sacrifice, a willing test subject for her mad surgical experiments.

Noel Captured 48

Episode 48 focuses largely on the rescue attempt, with Gauche publicly goading the people of Japan and specifically the Ranger teams, displaying him weak and bound, promising a live dissection. The police see it for the obvious trap it is, and while the thieves do as well, Kogure advises against a rescue attempt. When the Lupinrangers refuse to back down, they justify it by vowing to take Gauche’s collection items. At the site of the event, Dogranio makes a personal appearance, and the police are cornered inside the trap they knew was coming.

With the police soundly defeated, the thieves make their entrance just in time to stop Gauche’s opening cut, in true dramatic fashion, and are addressed by Dogranio directly, who demands they remove their masks. With the entire affair being broadcast live over the internet and on the large displays that litter Shinjuku’s buildings, Dogranio offers a deal: Expose their identities and defeat Gauche, and Noel will be freed.

It’s Umika who has the strength to make the choice, and she is the first to act. Convincing the others to do the same, she removes her mask and hat, and the police look on. The shot is done in slow motion, with dramatic music, and much of the focus is put on the devastated reactions of the police. Clearly, up to the point of the investigation, they had considered the Jurer trio friends. When the transformation happens this time, there is a careful, deliberately extended shot of their exposed faces before the familiar helmets form.

LupinRangers no helmets

After escaping the little trapped room, the police have the sense to turn the focus on the Ganglers, and agree to fight side by side with the thieves. Gauche is the bigger threat and they have the tactical presence of mind to know that. With the combined firepower of five regular rangers and two super rangers, they take the shot, mortally wounding Gauche. In a last ditch effort, she implants her gold safe in another Kaijin, who grows to Mecha size at once. Still unable to speak Sakuya passes off a dial fighter to Umika, and X Emperor, LupinKaiser, and Lupin Magnum take on the new creature.

In the end, the Lupinrangers decide to abandon Jurer and find another hideout, with Kogure’s help. Still devastated, Sakuya looks on in tears, and is comforted by Tsukasa.

Combined Teams 48

With only three or four episodes left to go, the preview for the next one promises to leave a big impact as well, with Dogranio himself entering the fight.

Kamen Rider Zi-O Episodes 18 and 19

Much of Zi-O episode 18 focuses on Woz, and the introduction of White Woz, as he will later be known. This extends to how White Woz interacts with Geiz in much the same way Black Woz does with Sougo. Each is trying to elevate one of our core Riders to the status of kingship or maybe even godhood, to reflect the future they come from. As before, White Woz’s eReader time manipulation becomes a central part of his fighting style, which leaves me again asking, “Where are the stakes if he can alter history by writing a phrase?”

It’s a question we still don’t have an answer to, even as episode 19 has come and gone with the debut of Kamen Rider Quiz, played by Go-Busters actor Katsuhiro Suzuki. While it is not explained how, Kamen Rider Quiz travels through time from 2040 to 2019 in search of Another Quiz, who is actually his scientist father. Each time he appears, his entry serves as an excuse for White Woz to push Geiz to defeat him. Quiz is an anomaly in one other big way, though. He and his Another Rider exist simultaneously, unlike all previous Anothers including Shinobi.

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This alone rules out the timeline split being the cause of Another Quiz’s ability to exist side by side with Quiz. Hopefully more information will be provided on this in the coming weeks, but as we wrap up this episode, we see Geiz finally decide (after White Woz has forced his hand) to take on Quiz, fighting for the Quiz MiraideWatch.

Next week, we will see the fight play out as well as the debut of the W Armour. 

Tokusatsu Gagaga Episode 1 review will be coming later on in week 5 of 2019. Stay tuned for more!

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

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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.

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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!

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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!

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Kaitou Sentai Lupinranger vs Keisatsu Sentai Patoranger Episode 26-32 Review

This one was a long time coming. For any of you who have been readers for a while, you’ll know that Lupinranger vs Patoranger has been missing from the TTS News section for a while, but I’m here to bring it back for you.

Let’s kick things off with a quick review of the most recent story arc, which focuses on testing the bonds of loyalty within the teams, and even between them. Note: This review will cover episodes 26-32 of Kaitou Sentai Lupinranger vs Keisatsu Sentai Patoranger, and some minor spoilers may be discussed. Let’s dive right in. Shall we?

Episode 26 starts us off at an auction house for the criminal underworld. Items included in the Lupin Collection are on the block, which leads Noel and Umika to go undercover. There’s a certain amount of intrigue, like something out of a crime novel, as they try to discover who the Gangler is. Characters from all over the world make appearances, including an American who, notably, has no spoken lines. This contrasts greatly from someone like Hilltop, who is canonically American but speaks fluent Japanese, or even Noel, who is French. It is very nice, though, to see the global aspect of the GSPO emphasized in subtle ways like this, expanding the scope of the plot beyond Japan’s borders. When they do discover who the Gangler is, though, it comes as something of a twist for the team, having just gone based on Noel’s guesses up to this point.

It’s a safe bet to say Noel is an even mix of Arsene Lupin and Detective Hercule Poirot, the French Sherlock Holmes. Both sides come out in situations like this, when he throws together a crazy heist plan based on a Sherlockian theory, made based on analysing evidence. When it all comes together, it’s incredibly satisfying to see the scheme play out.

Episode 27 offers more of the same, this time a team-up between Touma and Sakuya. The focus in this episode is on a “Martial Arts” dojo that turns out to just be low-impact aerobics. What makes it interesting, though, is that the Gangler who runs the dojo is a cartoon villain straight out of Looney Tunes, complete with bombs wrapped in snacks and silly sequences of dancing. For this episode, we don’t get a lot of substance, but we do see Touma being a bit on the brooding side as Sakuya tries to get him to open up. Much of the dojo sequence is played for comedy, and the Gangler’s power is admittedly very understated, as something like mind control or suggestive influence could have been used so much more effectively in different hands. 

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Thankfully, episode 28 has a bit more to offer.

This episode gives us our first real glimpse into Umika’s family life, as her father comes to visit for her birthday. Latching onto Kairi in a comedic, over-the-top way at first, he thinks the Bistro is something more than it appears, as Umika was previously a bit of a princess or a spoiled child. The arc of the episode is in two parts, with Umika’s father first learning to trust Kairi, then seeing that Umika is now a woman grown, and able to take care of herself. It’s a bit about letting go, and about the bond between parent and child, but big on emotional beats nonetheless.

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Episode 29 is another that is big on introspection, and the meaning of memory. In an experiment being performed by Gauche, Keiichiro loses his memories, and is only stirred out of his stupor by photos of the Lupinrangers. There is a certain amount of passion that comes along with anything that he does involving them, and that combined with the use of photos, manages to burn through Gauche’s haze to drive him to action when his team needs him. In this episode, there is a big action set piece in which Keiichiro becomes like a machine, using the Crane Trigger Machine as a replacement for his own arm at one point during a battle. It’s big, stupid fun in all the ways Super Sentai should be. There is even a moment where Keiichiro sees Hilltop, and thinks he is American actor Eddie Murphy, as seen below.

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For episode 30, though, we get a big character development moment from Keiichiro, and the arc that starts from this episode begins a trend of these twists that continue over the next several episodes. On a paid vacation, Keiichiro takes a trip. Kairi, coincidentally, is at the same spot, and the two attempt to hang out as friends, neither knowing the other is their opposite Red Ranger. There’s a moment where they play off each other like a buddy-cop duo right out of a Hollywood film, with “K-man” playing the serious role juxtaposed against Kairi’s lighter humour. This, of course, all comes crashing down when Keiichiro manages to get sucked back into work to get a new VS Vehicle from a shady arms dealer, only to be ambushed at the scene.

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After being rescued by Kairi, the two resume their normal fighting, going until Keiichiro decidedly has the upper hand in the fight over the new VS Vehicle. A call for emergency services ends the fight, with Keiichiro putting his trust in Kairi to do the right thing and help people, using the new VS Vehicle to put out the fires. Kairi does as he is asked, and keeps the Vehicle as a reward. It’s a big moment, and the emphasis is there, well and properly, right down to the music and shot composition. But this isn’t the end of new developments for Keiichiro or any of the police, as the next episode shows.

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Episode 31 focuses on Tsukasa, and her bond with a Gangler who is seemingly deeply repentant for his crimes. Called Yoshii, the Gangler dreams of a peaceful life, fantasizing about an overly-romanticised home life with a family, casting Tsukasa in the husband role. The others are reluctant to trust this Gangler, naturally, and are even more so when he is offered a plea bargain in exchange for information. It’s through this deal, however, that they learn about a project Gauche is collecting the safes of defeated Ganglers for. Noel correctly predicts that something is off, and in a twist reveal at the end of the episode, he ends up coming to Tsukasa’s rescue as Yoshii’s true nature is revealed.

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This entire episode serves as a credit to the skill of actress Okuyama Kazusa. She appears genuine, in most scenes, conveying an earnest nature and a desire to form a real connection with a potential ally. When the betrayal and the attempt on her life come near the end of the episode, her shock is palpable, as is the sense of defeat she seems to feel as she is proven wrong. In the end, though, the intel about Gauche’s experiment is proven correct as the setup of the next episode is put into place. Yoshii’s safe ends up being the fifth on a single Gangler, newly added to the battle.

Episode 32 focuses on this Gangler, and the lengths the team has to go to in order to defeat it. With five safes, it is mathematically impossible for one team to take it down, so Noel proposes the police and thieves work together. Sticking to his principles, Keiichiro refuses until he is challenged to a traditional duel against Noel, with the identity of the thieves and their freedom being Keiichiro’s prize if Noel fails. The battle plays out spectacularly and Keiichiro accepts help from the thieves at the end.

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This episode marks the second appearance of the combined mecha made from Good Striker, X Emperor, and six VS Vehicles. The thing is an unwieldy monstrosity of a machine, but gets the job done in the end, and Keiichiro finally begins to see that sometimes the minor, personal victory needs to be set aside for the greater good. A lesson is learned, and he is better for it. When the episode ends, all of our characters are in a better place, and we are given a closer glimpse into what happened at the end of the duel, subverting certain expectations and what we believe we saw, expertly using camera angles and weighted, deliberate character choices.

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What did you think of this arc? Leave your thoughts and let’s discuss!

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Kaitou Sentai Lupinranger vs Keisatsu Sentai Patoranger Episode 25 Review

At the halfway point in the series, we are at a crossroads in Lupinranger vs Patoranger. Lymon, the Gangler from last week, is still at the height of his abilities, with some new tricks thrown in this week for good measure that force all seven rangers to work together for the first time. This leads to the creation of the monstrosity of a mecha seen previously in toy scans, Good Cool Kaiser VSX. This comes at the height of a shared trust problem between the two teams, and even from the Lupinrangers to Noel.

 

 

This episode focuses primarily on the fallout from the Patorangers’ defeat at the hands of Lymon last week, even citing the collateral damage and civilian casualties caused by the battle. In addition, the main interpersonal dynamic focuses on an injured Noel, his relation to the other teams and specifically to Kairi, and sets the foundation for Noel’s resolve to be tested. Despite severe injuries, he keeps fighting and figures out the secret to Lymon’s golden safe.

 

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In the end, it takes all seven rangers working in full cooperation to get anywhere near Lymon, and they only turn to this point out of desperation after much prodding by Tsukasa. Clearly, none of them like this idea but they are forced into it because they are simply and wildly outclassed. Lymon’s abilities are presented in such a way that makes it clear the Rangers have been fighting and struggling against the bottom of the barrel, up to this point. This is a bit of a deviation from the norm, as the Rangers have largely not scaled up in power to keep up with their enemies this year, as is tradition. Instead, the action has been centered around them finding new and creative ways to use existing abilities.

 

This new Ultrazord-class mecha marks the first significant power spike for the teams since Noel’s introduction, and with the upcoming scans revealing more, it will be interesting to see what sort of enemies necessitate those upgrades. Good Striker, especially, is going to be getting at least two new versions that we know of already, so I am curious to see how the rest go. Along with this, there can only be so much time left before the police discover the thieves’ identities. Maybe Noel will be the key, or maybe we will even see more Rangers added as the series goes on. The tradition recently does seem to be teams of ten plus, after all.

 

 

Overall, this episode does a lot to establish a new dynamic between the two teams and their middleman, but falls a bit short of true progress. There are a few bits of comedic exchanges between characters, including swapping seats in the new all-Ranger mecha, and some heartfelt dialogue, but it still leaves a bit to be desired in the end. Stay tuned for the next one to see how it all unfolds!

 

As always, leave your thoughts below and let’s discuss!

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Kaitou Sentai Lupinranger vs Keisatsu Sentai Patoranger Episode 24 Review

This week, a new ship is born for the fans to get excited about. This episode focuses very heavily on Kairi, Tsukasa, and their respective stories as well as how the pair of them interact. After raiding a club to capture Giwi, a Gangler general, Tsukasa sees Kairi and believes he is an innocent civilian, taking him to safety before they share a bonding moment over their shared lack of family. Both are orphans, Kairi raised by his brother and Tsukasa by her grandfather, in turn. The whole flashback scene in which Tsukasa tells her story is fittingly somber, starting from her grandfather teaching her to defend herself, all the way up to saving her friend from a rape in high school.

 

 

Through this sequence, her voice is calm and contemplative, and even the music in the background is somber, as if the world they live is lamenting their shared loss. After the brief exchange and a lecture about not letting family get away, Tsukasa leaves and Kairi is able to just think for a while.

 

As we cut back to the Ganglers, Zamigo is able to make a return appearance, now doing shady deals with Giwi. Giwi, in turn, finally lets his power loose as one of his victims is turned into a living flower pot of sorts, covered in leaves and vines that keep growing back exponentially every time they are removed. The police waste no time in putting a warning out to the public, but for many people it is implied it may be too late. Thankfully, in a reaction of sorts, it’s Kogure to the rescue! He seems to know how to stop the plants from spreading, and gives the Lupinrangers these instructions as the police check into the victims. It’s a good way to show them playing both sides, with Noel in between presumably feeding each side intel from the other. The rest of the battle plays out pretty much as par for the course, and despite being seen as a general up to this point, Giwi is defeated with relative ease.

 

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Before Giwi has even exploded, though, Zamigo is approached by Lymon hoping to make a deal. The next episode seems to suggest that Lymon will be the new primary antagonist, and go so far as to rival boss Dogranio in the scope of what he can do. How will this play out? Maybe this will force the tag-team we all know is coming. Stay tuned to find out!

 

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

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Kaitou Sentai Lupinranger vs Keisatsu Sentai Patoranger Episode 23 Review

The Ganglers we know are not the only dimension-hopping criminal syndicate. When the Lymon Gang arrives on the scene, even boss Dogranio takes notice, and we open this episode on the Ganglers plotting how to get around their competitors. A series of kidnappings against chefs leads to Noel asking Touma for help luring out the kidnapper, on the condition that Touma be allowed to claim any Lupin Collection items the group might stumble across. Noel makes the deal easily, knowing the GSPO have already failed in their mission to catch this criminal.

 

 

With the way Touma moves about his kitchen, teaching a class, it makes me wonder if the actor himself may be a chef, or trained as one. It’s certainly not an uncommon hobby, especially in Japan. The class, and the subsequent capture of Touma and Noel by a Gangler, all go according to plan, and they begin to explore the Gangler’s hideout, an old ship sitting in Tokyo bay. When discovered, they change and engage. This Gangler’s name is Ushibarock, and he is a member of the Lymon Gang, revealed when Lymon himself enters the fight.

 

Lymon is what Noel calls a, “Status Gold,” meaning that he has a gold safe. When Touma tries to open it, he gets the combination right only to be met by an error message. Noel theorises that VS Vehicles can’t open Gold safes, and the attempt may disable a VS Vehicle temporarily. It’s at this point that we learn Ushibarock’s motivation: He needs a chef for his hideout.

 

 

What begins to sound like the culinary Hunger Games quickly becomes something more akin to Iron Chef. With some encouragement from Noel, Touma agrees to take part in the contest. Noel confides that he is not a chef, but pours the same level of dedication Touma has for cooking into being an artificer. As the lead caretaker of the collection, his pride is wounded when a piece is damaged, and that is something he cannot allow. As the two work on their own trades, Touma contemplates if cooking might have been his true calling. One cannot be a phantom thief forever, after all.

 

When presenting his dish, Touma appears, at first, to have poisoned Lymon and his companion. Instead, Touma is appointed at once as Ushiarock’s replacement. Lymon, in his way, is seeking to become Dogranio’s replacement and tells Kairi as much during their first encounter on the ship. Here, we see the Scissor dial fighter make a return, with Kairi using the shield portion to protect Umika from a blast of flame. Through the best kind of teamwork, Noel and Touma are able to retrieve Ushiarock’s item and then the battle becomes 4-on-1, following the normal pattern from there forward.

 

The police are conspicuously absent this week, apart from the cameo of their failed cooking show plan, but all in all, this episode stands out as a high point of what this series can be. Lupinranger vs Patoranger continues to deliver, despite having minimal marketing items compared to its Kamen Rider counterpart, Build, and with the series currently approaching the halfway point of its run, there is plenty of time for the show to continue to improve.

 

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