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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!

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Kaitou Sentai Lupinranger vs Keisatsu Sentai Patoranger Episode 22 Review

French romanticism is tested against Japanese sensibilities, as Noel has decided to play Cupid this week, in the name of furthering everyone’s favourite ship. After a quick encounter in which Noel meets the Lupinrangers as a member of the GSPO, he pickpockets Sakuya’s phone off of him, making Umika chase him to give it back. After the pair are gone, he remarks that he can’t help playing Cupid. This encounter leads to Umika discovering this week’s Gangler, Demeran, a classical capture-type Kaijin who catches people in some kind of flower pot.

 

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Sakuya tries to intervene but Umika is captured, and what follows is a series of sitcom-level shenanigans that prevent Umika from saving herself without revealing her identity as Lupin Yellow to her neighbours, Sakuya, or others.

 

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This allows Sakuya to play hero and get in her good graces. As part of this, he goes back to Jurer, apologises to Kairi and Touma, and then gets underway with the rest of the team. The other Lupinrangers spring into action as well, and we see a certain depth added to Noel as he begins to deeply regret pushing this. Demeran seems to have no motive other than capturing people, which is a bit sad due to the wasted potential there. The motivation could remain the same and the stakes raised dramatically if even a line about using the captured humans as food were to be added on.

 

When not focused on Umika being inadvertently forced to play damsel in distress, we begin to see Noel and Sakuya’s resolve tested, as the two work side by side to save the trapped Umika and civilians. Their desperation shows as they try more and more drastic measures to get the situation under control, until they finally figure out a way to solve the problem. For all his regrets, though, Noel takes full ownership of the situation and maintains control throughout, showing his experience and expertise hiding beneath this goofy, light exteriour.

 

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Once the people are freed, the action is free to take a more dynamic turn, and the camera movements become far more erratic to reflect this. While not entirely subtle, it’s a nice change in pace as the whole episode begins to feel more frenetic and action-packed, even for as brief as the sequence is. Overall, another excellent entry this week, including the debut of X Emperor, Noel’s custom mecha sets up a few  things to come. With Noel’s X Emperor having two forms to start, like the man himself, it leads to possible combinations with both teams in different ways. X Emperor Blade could combine with PatKaiser, or X Emperor Gunner with LupinKaiser, just for the sake of inversion of expected pairings.

 

 

Noel and Sakuya play off each other well, and I can easily see them beginning to work as a buddy-cop duo a la Starsky and Hutch or CHIPS. The two are already growing close, and may continue to do so as they form an almost brotherly bond. The preview for next week shows a cooking contest, allowing Chef Touma to shine.

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 21 Review

If Noel is a con man, he is certainly playing the long game. This week, we see Noel’s allegiance tested, and learn a little more of his back story, as both Good Striker and Kogure acknowledge him as a long-time friend and servant of the Lupin family in France. The police are hesitant to trust Noel, and even the Ganglers are confused by his duality, though they seemingly do not know that Lupin X and Patren X are the same person.

 

For much of this episode, we see Noel begin to form his plan, playing both sides off of each other to strengthen his own position, including hand-delivering last week’s Lupin Collection item to the thieves, before later trying to steal another to make the police trust him. Tsukasa, ever the observant one, is hyper vigilant around Noel, though she is as reserved with her mistrust as Keiichiro is open. The leader and the newcomer fit together like water and oil, even after Noel has shown that he can be trusted, due to Noel operating on a different mission and different chain of command.

 

There are two sequences in this episode of seemingly-invincible enemies, first with the Gangler of the week, and second with Noel himself. The Gangler adopts a Chrome form, hardened like metal, and stands still tanking hits while Kairi is able to his item.

 

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Noel, however, is not such an easy opponent and projects a force field on every hit the thieves manage to land while in his Lupin X form. Patren X is not shown to have the same ability, but does make an appearance in battle for the sake of dramatic flair and presenting a consistent image to the other Patorangers.

 

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In this episode, we also see the first appearance, but definitely not the last, of PatKaiser Trains form, which is similar to the way Noel’s train items combined with LupinKaiser last week. Noel, himself, again remains in a train car at vehicle size, though the gold train is shown to be equipped with some kind of energy weapon that he can use against Kaiju. In the end, his motivations remain unclear and both sides remain suspicious of Noel, though the thieves seemingly have more reason to trust him now.

 

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As the episode ends, Noel and Kogure are seen walking along a Tokyo street, with city lights for a backdrop, and Noel tells Kogure they need to talk. The implication is something dark and scandalous, but we will need to wait to find out.

 

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The preview for the next episode indicates that the French romantic in Noel will come out, as Sakuya decides to finally take his pursuit of Umika’s affection a step further. Seeing this as a positive, it seems Noel will push them both further together and help Sakuya along with a bit of traditional French romanticism and the ideals of love.

What did you think of this week’s Lupinranger Vs Patoranger? Who do you think Noel is really working for?Leave a comment below and let’s discuss!

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Kaitou Sentai Lupinranger vs Keisatsu Sentai Patoranger Episode 20 Review

The double agent appears! In the opening seconds of the episode, we are given a first glimpse of the new Ranger, as he boards his train to leave Paris behind. Despite being played by a Japanese actor, it seems our Double Agent Ranger is French, as he remarks that he’s off to the “Chaos of Japan.”

His train, shown from the inside for only a second, has a similar interiour design to the previously shown mecha, and has the sigil of Arsene Lupin on the side. From previous material, we know that this new Ranger is also operating as a member of GSPO, so we’re left with a sense of mystery about him right from the start. He even enters the country in a flashy way, running down a group of Ganglers before his train turns into his weapon. He introduces himself as, “A solitary sterling Phantom Thief, Lupin X.”

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As is tradition, Lupin X is made out to be invincible, and takes the new Gangler’s item effortlessly using a number code, as opposed to the traditional spinning lock the other Lupinrangers have. He is clearly a light character, even going so far as to take a selfie with the girl he rescues.

Interestingly, though, Kairi is just as shocked as Keiichiro to learn of the existence of Lupin X. Thankfully, he doesn’t need to wait long for an answer. He’s brash, full of energy, and big on theatrics, including a demonstration of athleticism. In the midst of a show of backflips, Lupin X steals the phones of everyone nearby, openly declaring that he is Lupin X before he passes phones out back to their respective owners. Keiichiro arrests him on the spot.

Before departing, Lupin X leaves his calling card on Kairi’s phone.

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Lupin X is called Takao Noel, and makes a joke and a show even of just telling the police about himself. He is consistently, and fittingly, dramatic while also being lighthearted and a bit fun. It seems only Commander Hilltop knows, though, that Noel is a deep cover agent transferring in from the French HQ of GSPO. Keiichiro immediately takes a strong and hilarious dislike to Noel, setting up some of the best jokes of the episode. Despite all his theatrics and silliness, though, it is revealed quickly that Noel is an engineer, and a brilliant one at that. Noel is the creator of the VS Changer system, and even went so far as to design his own changer that allows him to become Lupin X and Patren X at the flip of a switch.

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As is fitting for a debut of a new hero, Noel is easily the best part of this episode. His movements in battle are acrobatic and draw the eye in much the same way that movies featuring Bruce Lee or Jackie Chan do. His motivation is selfish in the end, and the brashness he displays even brings out new traits in the other characters, as confusion gives way to fear and fear, in turn, to anxiety. Touma even goes so far as to raise his weapon as he declares that Noel is a threat. To me, at least, this seems to be a hint that Touma would not be above killing Noel in the end, if it meant that the Lupinrangers could accomplish their goals.

This mistrust is quickly swept aside when Noel allows his own VS Vehicles, X-Train Silver and X-Train Gold, to combine with Good Striker to create a new form of LupinKaiser. As his price, Noel claims a temporary leadership role on the team. After this, it is the police who are quick to doubt him. They question his motives, understandably, and when the thieves return to Jurer, they find Noel already waiting.

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Overall, this episode is fantastic. The whole dynamic of the show’s previous cat-and-mouse game is instantly turned on its head by the arrival of brash, bold Noel Takao, and I cannot wait to see what more he can bring to the table as the two teams begin to question himself, themselves, and each other. Noel clearly has a much bigger part to play that has yet to be revealed, but we will have to wait to see where that comes from and how it plays out. What did you think of this episode? Leave a comment below and let’s discuss!

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Kaitou Sentai Lupinranger vs Keisatsu Sentai Patoranger Episode 19 Review

This week begins on a relatively light note, with Sakuya quickly thwarting a would-be rapist, targeting a young girl. It’s made clear based on dialogue that the rapist is a Gangler, but after being humiliated, he just runs off, rather than changing and attacking.

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When Sakuya returns to GSPO HQ, they are met by Deputy Director Yamagami, who scolds them for the media’s treatment of the Lupinrangers, the police’s low case clearance rate, and more. Commander Hilltop offers to treat the higher ranking official to lunch, and the group makes their way to Jurer. Yamagami is, essentially, the cliche of an angry police captain who dislikes his subordinates, and not much more of his character is shown at this point. Lupinranger vs Patoranger, however, does have an incredible track record for adding depth to characters through subtle touches, set pieces, or dialogue, in a very Dark Souls approach to world building.

Over lunch, the police get a lecture on proper police conduct and attitudes, while the earlier Gangler is revealed and begins a revenge scheme against Sakuya. Sakuya, for his part, is seemingly manipulated into pouring a bowl of soup over Deputy Director Yamagami’s head and attacking his squad mates, as well as Commander Hilltop and everyone else in Jurer. At the end of it all, the Gangler walks away laughing.

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The tone becomes decidedly more dramatic as Sakuya is given a two-week suspension, including the cliched, “Turn in your badge and gun,” routine seen in American and British police dramas. At Jurer, Keiichiro tries to make amends for the earlier incident before Good Striker gives the Lupins a warning about a Gangler having been inside the cafe.

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We eventually see Sakuya in his home, and learn just from the background decoration that he is musically-inclined, and travels outside of Japan. The detail of his travel, while small, adds layers and history to the character, perhaps coinciding with his military service. Sakuya is a decorated, trained long-distance sniper, after all. The Patorangers are police officers, and would have volunteered for a task force to gain their abilities, so it only makes sense that they would have career history behind them, and I look forward to seeing more of that come into play.

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Sakuya puts the puzzle together, only for the Deputy Director to foolishly hold a grudge and ignore the information. Keiichiro and Tsukasa are attacked as a result of the Deputy Director’s willful inaction, and Sakuya defies his suspension order to try to help them. Thankfully, Commander Hilltop is in Sakuya’s corner and comes prepared with VS Changer and Trigger Machine ready.

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After a brief battle, the Lupins enter only long enough to retrieve the Gangler’s Lupin Collection item, then depart, leaving Good Striker with the police as a show of good faith. Touma even goes so far as to say, “I’m sure someone’s mad after being framed.”

After the battle, tension builds as we wait to see the fallout of Sakuya’s defiance. Even the music becomes somber as Sakuya prepares to be permanently dismissed from the Patorangers, only to end up being praised highly and even hugged by Deputy Director Yamagami. Now in much higher spirits, Yamagami goofs off a bit, including bringing the running joke of Hilltop’s name to a head, before the episode ends. The preview for the next episode shows, at long last, the debut of Lupin X/Pato X, the double agent ranger.

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