Posted on Leave a comment

Toku Review Round-up! (July 19th, 2020)

Looks like it’s that time again; I’m back once more to review recent episodes of the latest tokusatsu shows! Compared to the state of the world, the current climate of Tokusatsu could be described as ‘aggressively normal’ – there’s many quality shows airing, and everyone’s got their hot takes. As Zero-One nears its conclusion, speculation on how it will end, as well as the next show ‘Kamen Rider Saber’ looms in the air. Kiramager continues to dazzle people with its new sixth ranger, and Ultraman Z continues to have the most hype inducing opening theme song. It’s certainly ‘business as usual’ when it comes to major tokusatsu.

But how good is any of it, really? That’s the real question. And for some reason, you came here for those answers, or just to have a read of what I think. In either case, thank you for checking it out! Without further ado, let’s dive right in.

Kamen Rider Zero-One – Episodes 37 & 38

I watched episodes 37 and 38 of Zero-One back to back, and I have two very distinct feelings about each episode. When recalling episode 37, I struggled to remember the key events that happened within, and with episode 38, I felt quite frustrated at the direction it was taking. Unfortunately, Kamen Rider hasn’t really lived up to my hopes for it the past few weeks.

Episode 37 itself is fine, it just doesn’t really achieve all that much. The episode is dominated by more fights against the Ark which is able to seamlessly possess different members of Metsuboujinrai.net. It’s a little bit disappointing how this is essentially further sidelining already-sidelined characters, and reducing their role a fair bit. The combat in this episode is good, but it’s getting more and more divorced from a sense of stakes or character motivation. It’s awesome seeing the full Metsuboujinrai crew together, but it doesn’t really mean a lot right now.

There are some fun elements to this episode. I still like Naki a lot, and have done since their introduction. I think it’s important to note though, that with so few episodes left, there probably aren’t many exciting directions in which they can take Naki as a character. I hope they can surprise me in that regard, because I like Naki’s cold and calculating persona, and I actually like their new suit form which is introduced in this episode. I hope we get to see more of ‘Japanese Wolf’ in later episodes.

In addition, the senior management of HIDEN launch an ambush against Gai’s tyrannical presidency by collecting data on his various crimes. This comes to a head at the end of the episode, as they prepare to force out Gai with stacks of evidence. What could possibly happen next? Surely this will have lasting consequences for Gai and HIDEN intelligence as a whole?

Unfortunately, these are rhetorical questions. Episode 37 was kind of boring with some fun action – I give it 2 out of 5 ‘Japanese Wolves’.

At the beginning of Episode 38, it seems like Gai immediately gains the upper hand, forces his way into the secret lab, and deletes all of the incriminating records of his behaviour, with relative ease. Technology is incredible.

Zero-One never ceases to remind us of how amazing technology is, especially when we keep being introduced to friendly A.I. important to changing the hearts of main characters. I’m talking of course about episode 38’s robot dog, ‘Thouser’, and its effect on bad guy Gai Amatsu, which may prove to be one of the more controversial elements of Zero-One overall. 

I’ll get this out of the way: I don’t really like what they’re doing here. In principle, I like dogs a lot, and I’m usually all for the cuteness and nostalgia of a dog changing someone’s heart. But unless this is the grand bait-and-switch that some are anticipating it will be, I don’t think they’ve really done the groundwork to justify Gai switching sides at this point. We get a backstory that’s told to us in shorthand, which is brought to the forefront through the recreation of the robot dog ‘Thouser’ in the present day. It’s a weird way to execute on this concept, which I assumed might have been coming anyway, but definitely not like this.

I’m certainly not a ‘Gai hater’ – I think he served his purpose as a villain agreeably. But therein lies the problem. They’ve done far too much to elucidate his villainous nature which now makes it a lot harder for us to buy into the idea of him having a change of heart. If any of Gai’s past had been established a bit earlier, it would have been a lot more effective to give us this sudden declaration that he ‘loves HIDEN Intelligence’ at the end of this episode. Once again, there are some cool things here, such as the return of the bike and the brief glimpses we see of Fuwa & Yua, but it’s all kind of overshadowed by the impact of this big change.

Overall though, Gai’s tragic robot dog backstory and switch, which dominates the episode, doesn’t really work for me. I try to avoid being negative about things online, so sorry for this – Episode 38 gets a 1.5 Robot Dogs out of a possible five.

Mashin Sentai Kiramager – Episodes 13 & 14

Kiramager continues to delight with another set of charming episodes. Of the three shows in this lineup of reviews, I think I’d have to say I’m enjoying Kiramager the most right now, for the simple fact that it’s hitting a lot of high notes in terms of tone, comedy and design, even if they’re quite familiar notes.

Lots of examples of these qualities can be seen in Episode 13, which gives us a further look at Kiramager Silver, Crystalia Takamichi. The bombshell of the previous episode left us wondering how he might gel with the group, but this episode gives us all the answers we might need on that front, showing us a character caught between two worlds, who must confront their past mistakes.

It was charming to see a character like Takamichi brought to life with this comedic and lighthearted performance. The episode also morphs a lot structurally for a sentai episode, twisting the existing formula a bit to focus more on Takamichi’s development as a character. It’s a fairly classic set-up; Takamichi is caught between a desire to hunt treasure and a hidden desire to save people as Kiramai Silver. What results is a lot of sequences of Silver flying in to ‘steal the thunder’ from the rest of the team, but refusing to commit to the role. It’s pretty amusing. 

We even get a bit of backstory for Takamichi in brief but zesty flashbacks, and the proper debut of his new drilling vehicle Mashin, Drilljean. Furthermore, Takamichi gets to reconcile with the CARAT leader Hakataminami – his younger brother! Yes, it seems Takamichi was recreated from crystals, meaning he hasn’t aged in quite some time, making him a ‘full fledged showa guy.’

This was a neat episode – it had some fun villain encounters, some unique character development and some good action. It was a good time. I give it 3.5 out of 5 Drills.

Episode 14 feels like a continuation of the previous episode’s themes, despite being a different story. We have more angst and aloofness from Takamichi, who is still more interested in treasure hunting than anything else, which is highlighted in the opening sequence of the episode.

Despite working with the rest of the Kiramagers in some form to defeat Yodon Marsskmen, Takamichi still maintains a (misguided?) belief in their own superiority, and this episode’s all about him having to drop that belief and rely on others. He’s forced into a spot of vulnerability once a steam engine themed enemy attacks the bathhouse that they’re hanging out in, causing Takamichi to lose his Kiramai Changer. We also via flashback that this toxic attitude of narcissism was passed onto him by the villain Garza, who encourages him that when he is alone is when Takamichi shines the brightest.

It’s a pretty simple concept for an episode, and Sentai often uses ‘learning teamwork’ as a thematic turnstile (even within earlier episodes of this series) but it provides some quirky fun regardless. This episode would actually be a lot less interesting to me without the inclusion of the steam-engine Marsskman – I really dig their design, and the way in which Kiramai Red literally has to slam-dunk some rubble into his ‘chimney’ to defeat him, while Silver holds him in place. Using basketball manoeuvres in combat is pretty fantastic in any context, and it’s done here in a way that’s both functional and flashy.

Takamichi learns that Garza’s advice about him working best on his own was a manipulative form of sabotage, and in one final act of genuine teamwork, the full group unites to defeat the Yodon forces, using a variety of new mech creations. Silver even gets to join in on the ending dance, finally! I give this episode 3 out 5 Steam Trains/Slam Dunks.

Ultraman Z – Episodes 3 & 4

I know because of the way we started this series that we’re an episode behind in this reviewing of Ultraman Z. I know there’s some incredibly exciting stuff that has gone in Episode 5 that I want to talk about, but for the sanctity (???) of this review column, we have to stick to two episodes at a time. I can’t be giving Ultraman Z any preferential treatment, as much as I would like to. You’ll have to wait until next time for the takes on episode 5 & 6.

With that being said, Episodes 3 and 4 are both fairly strong in their own right. Episode 3 takes a leaf out of the book of Zero-One and introduces a new problem for our heroes: corporate accountability and funding negotiation. This becomes an issue after Haruki accidentally destroys an observatory while piloting Sevenger in a skirmish against Guigass (it’s nice to see them again!).

As a result, funding for STORAGE’s second anti-monster robot is pulled, meaning that they must now re-negotiate. In order to prove Sevenger’s effectiveness, they opt to demonstrate this by using them to transporti a dormant monster, Gomora, away to a safer, unihabited space. This is livestreamed to a variety of western government officials, who amusingly remark (in English) about the likeness of this scenario to ‘Japanese Robot Animations’ they used to watch as a child.

Of course, things escalate when Gomora awakens. We’re treated to a brief fight against the creature with Sevenger, before Haruki decides to call in the power of Ultraman Z. The fight at this stage becomes a lot more interesting, and even the western government guys seem to recognise ‘Ultraman’! Haruki, who has been suffering from hayfever the whole episode to the point of distraction, remarks that the air is clear inside this bubble reality within Z, allowing him to focus on defeating Gomora. The fight that ensues is very tangible and dynamic.

Despite this, the battle proves to be tough until Z is able to get a power up, transforming them into their Beta Smash form and finishing the fight with Gomora. All is well that ends well, as STORAGE is able to secure funding for their second robot – the officials were so impressed with Sevenger’s ability, given that Ultraman struggled! I think this is a funny – if a little contrived – way to wrap things up.

This was another simple but effective episode for Ultraman Z. It didn’t seem to hone in on a particular message, rather trying to say multiple things about responsibility and perseverance, but that’s fine. It was more lighthearted fun. I give it 3 out of 5 Beta Smashes.

The next episode is all about introducing us to STORAGE’s second robot, Windom, which has suffered a variety of cutbacks in production. The quality overall is lower than what Hikari expected when designing it. I’m starting to think that STORAGE – ostensibly the only serious line of defence against a variety of regular threats – is severely underfunded? Maybe this show is saying something. There’s not much time to focus on this, however, as another Kaiju attacks – the underground beast Telesdon!

The team suffers another big L in this battle as the Telesdon remains undefeated. Despite this, Hikari is able to retrieve a vital sample of the monster’s skin, which they use to analyse the threat for the upcoming rematch. We also get a brief glimpse at a ‘mysterious figure’ who uses their own type of Ultra Riser and a strange machine to create their very own Kaiju medal. I like the way that this scene is lit in a cryptic green shade, and I like how this scene allows us to draw our own conclusions on how the machine functions, and to what purpose the medal will be used in the future.

Hikari comes to some sort of epiphany about the power problem of Windom, and Sevenger once again attempts to take on Telesdon. After Sevenger is toasted, Haruki summons Ultraman Z in their Beta Smash form once again to throw down some wrestling moves. Meanwhile, Hikari manages to recycle a spare kaiju part to act as an external power source for Windom, which appears at exactly the right time.

I’d like to take a moment to heap some praise on the design of this one – whilst I like Sevenger, there’s something about Windom’s overall design, from its more humanoid hands and arms, to the weird almost beak-like mouth and scalp antenna, Windom is a bizarre design that definitely fits right alongside Sevenger as a clunky, man-made machine. It’s charming. It’s also essential in this encounter, winning the battle against Telesdon easily.

That is until Telesdon gets upgraded by this mysterious figure from earlier. Z has to switch things up and change forms to focus on speed, which combined with the new power of Windom, allows them to turn the tide of the battle once more. The way in which this fight is framed and the pace at which it moves allows us to see that Ultraman works better with the company of Wisdom, forming a great team together.

Things wrap up neatly from here, and Haruki and Z discover the existence of the ‘kaiju medal’, which floats out of Telesdon upon their defeat. Ulraman remarks that this could be catastrophic if put in the wrong hands, and we get more of a glimpse at what the future might hold of Ultraman Z’s villains. Overall, I enjoyed this episode a bit more than three, for the teamwork and fight choreography on display, the glimpses at the villainous side, and the more concise and robust theming. It was as solid episode which I grant 4 out 5 Kaiju medals.

That’s all for this week’s edition of Toku Review Round-up! As always, I’m looking forward to seeing where things go from here. Zero-One’s got a lot of explaining to do, Kiramager is moving onto to a new team dynamic, and I’m keen to see more of Ultraman’s villain. It’s an exciting time to be a toku fan, that’s for sure.

Posted on Leave a comment

SODO Sundays – July 12th, 2020

Hello, tokusatsu community! It’s Joshua Perry here to talk about SODO figures on my fortnightly series, SODO Sundays. Today, Zero-One starts its final retail set and the next series for SODO Chronicle is revealed!

Kamen Rider Zero-One

AI-10 will start with the Dodo Magia in 3 boxes. The first box will have his original Magia design. The second and third boxes are for Dodo’s Custom Upgrade forms. Specifically, the SODO figures can make his Dodo Magia Custom 2 form. In the show, Custom 1 is the armour from Custom 2 and the head from his base form but due to the neck peg system not matching between the two figures you’ll be unable to make the Custom 1 figure. They showed how it should look while saying how it can be made.

20200704184954

To go with the Dodo Magia you can get his chick footsoldiers that will be out AI-09.

SODO Chronicle…

GAIM!

Gaim will be the next Rider Series to join the SODO Chronicle line. Out in November, the first set will have Gaim- Orange Arms, Baron- Banana Arms, Ryugen- Budou Arms, and Zangestsu- Melon Arms. They have changed the body mould a little bit with this release, changing the waist articulation to be a ball joint and having the hands-on a ball joint instead of just a peg.

20200710193118

To fit with Gaim’s Arm Change gimmick you’ll be able to change the armours but to get the full effect stickers will have to be selected for the visors.

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

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

 

Posted on Leave a comment

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

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

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

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

Kamen Rider Zero-One – Episodes 35.5 & 36

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Ultraman Z – Episodes 1 and 2

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

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

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

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

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

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

Mashin Sentai Kiramager –  Episodes 11 + 12

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Posted on Leave a comment

Kamen Rider Zero-One: The Story So Far

Here on Toku Toy Store, I recently recapped all of Machine Sentai Kiramager in anticipation of its return as part of the Super Hero Time broadcasting slot, giving a ‘sparkling’ summary and brief thoughts on the show. In light of the recent ‘presidential’ recap specials and the imminent return of the show, it only makes sense to revisit the currently airing Kamen Rider show in a similar way! So here’s an arc-by-arc look at Kamen Rider Zero-One so far, which approaches its endgame when it returns this weekend!

The Metsuboujinrai.net Arc

The story in Zero-One begins with a lot of information right out of the gate. Zero-One takes place in a world where A.I. is a predominant technological force, where ‘Humagears’ – synthetic human androids –  produced by the A.I Company Hiden Intelligence, have integrated into a variety of working roles throughout society. We are introduced to our lead character, Aruto Hiden, who is struggling to entertain crowds as an amateur comedian. We see him fail to win the favour of a crowd against a Humagear comedian who gets a lot of laughs, much to his disappointment. The Humagear comedian replaces Aruto’s job, but Aruto isn’t down on his luck for very long, as he’s soon approached by Izu, Hiden Intelligence’s presidential secretary, who informs Aruto of his grandfather Korenosuke Hiden’s demise and invites him to attend his will reading at the Hiden Intelligence corporation. Much to the shock of everyone at Hiden Intelligence, the will states that Aruto is the new company president! Not only that, but the position of president also shoulders him with the responsibility of defending the world from rogue Humagears using the ‘Zero-One Driver’ – a belt that transforms him into a Kamen Rider using advanced satellite technology!

We’re also introduced to our secondary characters within this first episode – A.I.M.S agents Isamu Fuwa and Yua Yaiba. A.I.M.S are typically dispatched to deal with Humagear threats. Fuwa is hot-headed whilst Yua has a bit more of a calculating temperament. They make a pretty fun duo to begin with.

After learning that the Humagear comedian at Aruto’s former workplace has gone rogue after being hacked by a shadowy figure, Aruto returns to enact justice. Activating the Zero-One driver gives Aruto an advanced tutorial on the suit’s systems, and he is able to quickly stop the threat of the rogue humagear. He accepts his new role as both president of Hiden Intelligence and a Kamen Rider, and resolves to achieve his dream of ‘making the world laugh’ through this new vocation. What a nice dream to have.

Much of the Metsuboujinrai arc can be characterised by Aruto juggling the responsibilities of being president of Hiden Intelligence with his responsibilities as a ‘Kamen Rider’. A variety of episodes show Aruto taking a hands-on approach to the presidency, delivering new Humagear units to businesses that could use them. Aruto believes steadfastly in the ability of Humagears to express humanity despite not being human. This is shown pretty effectively in episode 3, which has Aruto bring a Humagear to an acclaimed sushi chef Uozomi, who dismisses the possibility of buying a Humagear assistant chef, citing the Humagear’s lack of a ‘heart’ as a reason they can’t make quality sushi to his standards. Whilst the Humagear chef eventually finds acceptance with the master chef Uozomi after he is rebuilt from scratch, Aruto would advocate for his ability to make sushi as well as a human from the beginning.

Aruto’s attitude towards humagears seems to be because of a pivotal event in his childhood, which we see glimpses of throughout the show. Aruto was raised by a Humagear made in the image of his father, Soreo Hiden. Aruto’s humagear father was destroyed during a tragic event known as the ‘daybreak incident’, a large scale explosion that wiped out the ‘Humagear test city’ known as Daybreak Town. The show itself doesn’t do the best job of pointing it out, but I think it’s pretty interesting that characters express different perspectives on Humagears as a result of the daybreak incident, despite experiencing the event in only slightly different ways – Aruto and Fuwa both experience a form of trauma as a result of the daybreak incident, but develop very opposite perspectives on Humagears as a result. 

The core of this first arc, however, involves a lot of encounters with our first antagonist group, Metsuboujinrai.net, an organisation that believes in the inherent evil of humanity and the desire to ‘liberate’ Humagears. Aruto’s initial confrontations with the group reveal two members: Horobi & Jin, who have a kind of familial relationship – Jin is childish and silly whilst Horobi is more stern and cryptic , and both make repeated reference to ‘the will of the ark’ which seems to guide their motivations. Throughout the first arc, we see Horobi & Jin attempt to ‘hijack’ Humagears on both a small and large scale, operating out of  daybreak town – ground zero for the aforementioned ‘daybreak incident’, where a rogue satellite known as Ark, lies dormant. In addition, several other members of Metsuoboujinrai.net are working covertly to upend Hiden Intelligence and Humagear society as a whole to carry out ‘the will of the Ark’. It’s eventually explained that the ‘Ark’ is the antithesis to Hiden intelligence’s own satellite Zea, which was taught the value of humanity, whilst the Ark learned about the evils of humanity.

At most points, Aruto, Fuwa and Yua are able to subvert the plans of Metsouboujinrai.net, but rarely as a cohesive unit, and often at the cost of Hiden Intelligence’s reputation, which takes plenty of knocks from the repeated hacking of Humagears (This will be important later on!).

The A.I.M.S operative Fuwa also goes through a number of changes throughout this arc, initially presented as our secondary rider. Whilst Aruto must learn to wield his new powers responsibly, Fuwa is on a journey of learning to reject responsibility and authority in favour of doing what (he believes) is right, routinely ignoring the constraints of his position to take aggressive action. This is externalised by his transformation sequence, which initially shows him breaking open the wolf Progrise Key with sheer aggression to activate his ‘Shotriser’ which he is not authorised to use. Fuwa’s aggression is frequently targeted against Humagears, whom he despises due to a personal trauma from the daybreak incident, something he blames solely on Humagears. Fuwa is forced to confront his internal bias against Humagears several time, but most critically when he is severely injured during a massive Humagear hacking inciden at a hospital, and the only doctor who can give him life-saving surgery is a Humagear. Having his life saved by a Humagear begins to change his perspective, chipping away just a bit at the intense hatred he holds.

After many skirmishes with Metsuboujinrai.net and their corrupted Humagears, including the decisive defeat of other members of Metsuboujinrai.net such as the astronaut engineer Izakuchi,  this arc draws to a close with a dramatic set of ‘final’ encounters against Horobi and Jin using the Shining Hopper upgrade to Zero-One’s basic form, and then soon after, Shining Assault Hopper, which is synthesised by combining Fuwa’s Assault Wolf key with Aruto’s Shining Hopper key, granting Zero one a new form that allows them to strike the decisive blows to Jin and metsuboujinrai.net. Jin is ‘destroyed’, and Horobi is taken into A.I.M.S custody, bringing an end to the threat of Metsuboujinrai.net… for now.

The Workplace Competition Arc

It’s hard to pinpoint exactly where Zero-One transitions into its second arc, but soon after the threat of Metsuboujinrai appears to be quelled, Gai Amatsu, CEO of ZAIA Japan, begins to appear to the audience as an emerging new villain. It’s revealed that Yua Yaiba has an allegiance to ZAIA Japan rather than A.I.M.S, and is an assistant to Gai, who appears to have been manipulating the events of the first arc to meet his own needs. Preying on the fact that Humagears are still being corrupted despite the supposed resolution to the threat of Mesuboujinrai.net in order to suggest that Hiden Intelligence has failed to protect civilisation from the natural threat of the Humagears. This is declared in a public press conference, followed up with the assertion that ZAIA Japan intends to acquire Hiden Intelligence in order to stop production of Humagears and invest into A.I. enhanced ‘ZAIA Spec’ glasses. Aruto attempts to defend his company, so Gai suggests in order to settle the issue, they have a multi-part competition to determine the fate of Hiden Intelligence.

The first challenge of the competition takes the form of a floristry contest, where the two competitors of each company’s choosing get judged on who can create the most pleasing arrangement by a panel of experts. Aruto chooses the Humagear florist Sakuyo Ichirin, whilst Gai chooses human florist Rentaro Tachibana (enhanced with ZAIA Spec). The competition appears to end in a swift defeat for Hiden when the judges prefer Rentaro’s arrangement, but it becomes clear pretty quickly that Sakuyo’s arrangement was tampered with, an act of cheating that Gai won’t stand for as a victory, which does a great job of highlighting his personal pride, and sets the tone for the rest of the competitions.

The introduction of Gai also sees the introduction of Thouser, who has a strange but eccentric suit which is activated by his ‘thousandriver’, which utilises advanced keys of 5 horned creatures to create an immensely powerful Kamen Rider suit, which both Aruto and Fuwa struggle to defeat. The workplace competition arc features many battles with Thouser, many of which end the same way (Aruto getting owned) until Aruto is forced into and eventually able to control an immensely powerful brand new form – Metal Cluster Hopper.

Several more challenges in the competition come to pass, including a real estate challenge to see if Humagars or humans are better at selling houses, a legal trial to see if a Humagear is capable of providing a sufficient legal defence, and a firefighting challenge to see if Humagears can save lives. By the end of the challenges, Aruto and Gai are on two points each, leaving the final round to decide a winner. 

The final challenge of the job competition involves allowing the public to decide on if a new ‘humagear’ city should be built atop the ruins of Daybreak Town – a memorial that can also act as a place where humans and Humagear can live in harmony. Aruto puts together an ‘impressive’ campaign with the help of M.C. Check-it-Out, who writes a song to attempt to garner support, whilst Gai runs a more deceptive campaign focused on discrediting Aruto, Hiden Intelligence and appealing to the masses by promising the public distribution of the ‘raidriser’ belt as means of defense against rogue Humagears. Gai really has become entwined with a bitter corporate greed.

The end of this arc also shows us the debut of Yua’s new ‘raidriser’ Jackal form, which looks highly intimidating with a scythe weapon and a harsh red visor. We’re also introduced to the idea that both Fuwa are Yua are being indirectly controlled by an A.I. Chip which Gai has been using to manipulate their actions to a substantial degree using the intermediary Humagear Naki, a member of Metsuboujinrai.net. Horobi is freed from A.I.M.S custody by Fuwa under the influence of Naki, which is a pretty big deal, given that he was the one meant to be keeping him in custody. Oops.

Fuwa isn’t bothered by this for too long, however, as he is such an emotionally charged figure that he can just kind of, ‘force-of-will’ his way out of his brainwashing/programming situation, impressively synthesising a new suit upgrade in the form of Rampage Vulcan using the Rampage Gatling Vulcan progrise key. 

Getting back to the point of this arc, though (and the ‘point’ of this arc certainly is quite ambiguous in the show itself at times) Gai wins the vote, and as a result the whole job competition, allowing him to acquire Hiden Intelligence. The company is made a subsidiary of ZAIA Japan, decomissions production of new Humagears and literally begins replacing existing ones with ZAIA Spec glasses. If Aruto and Gai are playing chess, then at this stage, Gai holds all of the pieces.

Hiden Manufacturing Arc 

That is until Aruto steals some of the pieces back. Firstly in the form of the data of all of the essential Humagear characters we’ve come to know and love from previous episodes, and secondly in the form of keeping the ability to transform into Zero-One, regardless of Gai’s misguided assumption that this power would now be transferred to him as the new president of Hiden Intelligence.

We’re only a few episodes into the Hiden Manufacturing Arc so far as this is pretty much where we left off before the hiatus – but it seems that Kamen Rider Zero-One is issuing all the threads that the show will be continuing to follow until the end. Jin is back in a new, more cynical form, Aruto has left Hiden Intelligence to start his own company, Hiden Manufacturing, and Horobi is up to his old tricks. While Gai has complete control over Hiden intelligence, Aruto sets out to continue to aid the Humagears by restoring Humagear characters from previous episodes using the backup data he was able to retrieve. Gai continues to attempt to thwart Aruto’s efforts.

A few pretty interesting things have happened so far in this arc, including the reveal of Fuwa’s tragic memories as a fabrication by Gai, which calls all of Fuwa’s previously established backstory into question, but also allows him to realise the truth behind the Humagear Naki that is controlling him and create further independence for both himself and Naki. Yua’s also had a big character moment in her active rebellion against Gai, (finally) choosing to leave ZAIA Japan and vowing to destroy it in a dramatic reconciliation. The remaining members of Metsuboujinrai.net are similarly aiming their sights against Gai, as a reformed Jin seems to be beginning to understand the way in which Aruto values the Humagears, mutually acknowledging the need for Humagears to have a dream.

That’s pretty much everything that’s happened in Zero-One so far! The stage is set for Gai to have a pretty bad time in the final stretch of episodes, but there are still things to uncover as the recap episodes have shown the first glimpses at another mysterious villain. I’ve mostly enjoyed the show so far, and whilst I do have some criticisms with how it’s been paced during the middle stretch and how some of the characters have been handled, the show appears to be course correcting for something that looks quite satisfying in the end. I’m looking forward to its return!

Have you been enjoying Kamen Rider Zero-One? Where do you think the story goes from here? Sound off on our social media pages or drop us a comment below!

Posted on Leave a comment

SODO Sundays – June 14th, 2020

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

Kamen Rider Zero-One

To start off AI-09 we have two new HumaGear versions joining the SODO line! First up is the first generation of the HumaGear seen in the Reiwa: The First Generation movie as well as flashbacks from the series. This figure uses the base figure from the Guardians from Build and Kamen Rider Kikai from Zi-O. The figure, like the regular HumaGear coming in AI-08 gives you the optional sticker to have the good or evil HumaGear Module on the head and eyes.

Like the Another Riders from last year SODO is once again diving into the villains from the series with the Magia! The basic Trilobyte Magia was released back in AI-06 but now in AI-09 the other Magia are beginning to be released. First up is the Berotha Magia from the first episode. He comes with a Zetsumeriser that can be placed onto the normal HumaGear to recreate the transformation sequence. There are alternate stickers as well to show the uncracked and cracked Zetsumerize Key in the belt.

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

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

Posted on Leave a comment

What makes a good Kamen Rider villain?

When tokusatsu fans talk about Kamen Rider, there is – and always has been – a certain need to categorise the characters into the strict roles they serve in the story. We hear the terms of ‘primary’ ‘secondary,’ and even ‘tertiary’ or ‘extra’ Riders to describe the formation of the heroes, the order in which they appear in the story and to some extent, an internal hierarchy of heroism. Discussions about what the heroes in Kamen Rider should be for a good Rider story often become a bit heated – after all, people develop very personal attachments to the Rider they fall in love with first, and this. However, there’s another character label that seems to have even more of a potential to set fan discussions alight, and that’s the ‘villain’ of any given Kamen Rider series.

These are sometimes a solitary figure, sometimes a more organised, systemic threat, but always very much opposed to our protagonist (at least at first). Fans of Kamen Rider always seem to have strong opinions about what makes villainous characters compelling or not compelling, because the battle of good versus evil is what propels the story of Kamen Rider forwards and makes a series fun and engaging. Without a good villain, there would be no obvious target for our heroes to kick from the sky, and nobody to stylishly explode our heroes in retaliation.

Discussion surrounding what makes a ‘good’ Kamen Rider villain mostly boils down to personal preference of course, but I do think a sort of profile of characteristics of an interesting Kamen Rider villain can be drawn up, just by looking at what appears most commonly in the show and thinking about what makes certain Kamen Rider villains seem appealing on a thematic level.

Firstly, I think there has to be some level of personal connection with – and intimate understanding of – the protagonist Rider. Even when there isn’t the most direct connection, the most compelling Rider villains seem to be the ones that are able to hold a mirror up to the main Rider’s morality, taking swift cuts to the values that the heroes claim to hold dear or present as part of their heroic nature. A good Rider villain is able to use this to get inside the head of the hero in this way, whether that’s through a detailed knowledge of the Rider’s past or just keen observation, excellent Rider villains have an incredible ability to spot weaknesses.

Good Rider villains in this way can often be seen as two sides of the same coin, and this is usually expanded upon in the finer details of the lore of each series, where we often find their powers to mirror each-other in a literal sense. This is one of the principles of the original showa era Kamen Rider, who exists as a product of the villainous organisation Shocker, returning to enact divine retribution on his former torturers, whilst still bearing the marks of the horrors he went through. This is an essential duality that signifies the wider conflict, and one that maintains some degree of resonance in how Rider positions its heroes and villains to this day.

This idea of duality is something that comes up a lot when Riders are pitted against their villainous counterparts. If you were to watch a random selection of Heisei era shows, you’ll often find Riders having to battle evil versions of themselves, or alternatively harness some sort of darkness within them.

There are many iterations of this in Rider, but to cite a few examples recent shows, Evolto from Build acts as a parallel to main Rider Sento in a lot of interesting ways, representing the destructive capabilities of scientific evolution that Sento wishes to turn away from in favour of ‘love and peace’. This is shown visually and thematically in the way that Evolto is able to assimilate the aesthetics of certain characters by possessing them, and at a crucial point, possessing our hero sento and morphing the iconic colours.  As another similar example, Ex-Aid’s Dan Kuroto, whose Rider form takes on a dark palette swap of the iconic Ex-Aid suit, contrasts with the protagonist Emu through an ego-centric philosophy that directly opposes Emu’s desire to heal others. In both of these cases however, Rider presents some crossover in the viewpoint of the heroes and villains, choosing to acknowledge some form of nuance in this area. 

The idea of the fine line between heroism and villainy was also utilised in an interesting way in Zi-O, which turned the idea of villainy on its head, at least to begin with. For all of Zi-O’s supposed flaws, I think the idea of our hero being destined to become a great evil is at least compelling for a little while, even if this was a more compelling idea than what the show was ultimately able to achieve.

Furthermore, Kamen Rider villains seem to be particularly engaging when they force the hero to continually improve upon themselves through challenge – in essence, Kamen Rider villains have to be better than the hero, at least to begin with. This is more to do with story structure and pacing than anything else, but Rider villains can’t be engaging if they’re too easy to defeat. This is essentially what differentiates Rider villains from the kaijin that we see easily defeated in single or multi episode arcs. This is done excellently in Kuuga, which gives us N-Daguva-Zeba, a bizarre but highly engaging villain who appears obsessed with Kuuga’s own growing strength as much as his own. This created such a wonderful dynamic in Kuuga, which I think ultimately proved to be key to that show’s success, re-establishing an easily replicable dynamic for the early Heisei era.

Another essential component to a good Rider villain which we see throughout the series is the idea of both mystery and omnipresence. Having our villain be at first unknowable can really escalate the tension in a satisfying way, and this is often made more obvious through the conspiratorial nature of villainous organisations that we see within Kamen Rider. A shadowy omnipresence feels crucial to the Kamen Rider villain – at least up to a certain point. After all, we need to know who they are eventually!

One final quintessential theme with Rider villains is the idea of making a turn towards heroism. This typically happens during a crucial dramatic moment, and the list of villainous characters that have changed their ways in Kamen Rider is a pretty long one. I’m personally split on the use of this idea, as I think it’s led to some amazing results and some that aren’t quite as satisfying in the history of the show. I tend to appreciate this most when the change is permanent and can build towards an emotional character moment of self-sacrifice, but only if that sacrifice feels like it was earned (this is a complicated issue in and of itself).

Discussions of the villains of the currently-airing Rider series Zero-One have been so unique because there’s been a wide array of new interpretations of these classic ideas of villainy in both positive and negative ways. Both Metsouboujinrai & Gai ‘Thouser’ Amatsu have shown us antagonists willing to challenge Aruto on a fundamental level, questioning his unfailing belief in both Humagear and the idea that humanity can be learned, whilst also challenging him to become stronger. Similarly, both Metsobojinrai and Gai have been part of wider conspiracies to define the fate of the humagear, and both have indicated that they might be willing to ‘change sides’ to help eradicate a greater threat. With some unfortunate repetition of certain villainous tropes and odd switches in power dynamics aside, the stage in Zero-One is currently set for some interesting final conflicts. I think it’s all because we’ve gotten villains that are well-suited to challenge our heroes, by giving us a kind of ‘greatest hits’ of what we’ve enjoyed and also found irritating about Rider villains before, and using this as a platform to elevate its dynamic conflict. Whether this is something you’re into, or even something you agree with conceptually is a different matter of course, but I think even when Zero-One‘s villain’s are at their worst, they’re at least moving the show forward in a way that’s suitable for the context of the show.

Of course, Rider villains won’t always adopt these traits identified here, and certainly many of these ideas can be used badly when placed in the wrong context. This profile of a ‘good’ Rider villain will undoubtedly be different for everyone, and if even in fan discussions where there is overlap on what works, people will assign different values to certain traits that could tip certain villains into being their favourites. There are some valuable criticisms of all of Kamen Rider’s most popular villains, and I think it would be silly in any case to assume that there is one way of doing that could be universally successful. However, the style & pattern of Rider villains that I’ve tried to identify here is one that is clearly working in a lot of ways; the show has produced quite a number of iconic and beloved villains, and the fact that we can even try and dissect it here is perhaps the biggest testament to their continued importance. They’re a bit more than just a target for Rider Kicks!

What are your thoughts on Kamen Rider villains? Do you agree or disagree with my summation of them? Join the conversation with me @aruphexille on Twitter, on Toku Toy Store’s social media pages or leave a comment below!

Posted on Leave a comment

Toei Tokusatsu World Reviews: Masked Rider Shin

Shin Kamen Rider: Prologue (真・仮面ライダー 序章 (プロローグ), also known as Masked Rider Shin, is a 1992 V-Cinema that came about in the period between what we now know as the Showa and Heisei eras. Technically part of the former, the V-Cinemas of Shin, ZO, and J are all stand-alone and really stand apart from both eras with their combined aesthetic.

masked rider shin henshin

As the 20th anniversary of the Kamen Rider franchise, Shin shares a lot of thematic elements with it’s progenitor, the original Kamen Rider series. A shadowy organisation, heavy influences of the military-industrial complex, cyborgs, grasshoppers, it’s got it all! Not only that but the version available on the Toei Tokusatsu World account is the uncut version so there’s a heaping helping of haemoglobin and some cheeky T&A so it’s got all the makings of an early 90’s B-movie monster action movie.

masked rider shin win against god

It’s a shame that it’s boring as sin. It’s plodding, it’s more padded than the Shin suit, and the characters are the blandest, one-note character archetypes they might as well be 2D. If you’ve seen any kind of Kamen Rider series, you know what this movie is about and if you’ve ever seen 1991’s The Guyver then you’ve seen a better movie than this and should really watch it again.

masked rider shin dream

Shin Kazamatsuri is a human test subject for his father’s cancer/AIDS research and, thanks to the manipulation of the higher-ups, is secretly fitted with a bunch of bio-engineered cybernetic nonsense to turn him into a really dumb-looking karate bugman. The transformation scenes takes obvious cues from American Werewolf in London and the main antagonist is basically a Tyrant from Resident Evil with a swiss army knife for an arm.

masked rider shin baby

There’s also this roach fetus because… Why not? That’s some horrifying Cronenbergian nonsense.

masked rider shin good shot

Technically, the film is serviceable and the effects are on-par with what you’d expect of tokusatsu of the time but it’s biggest deficit is the plot and if you’re looking for something similar, I’d say you’d have more fun watching Kamen Rider Amazons because they’re pretty similar but the latter has a better plot overall.

masked rider shin ishinomori

Oh, there’s also an Ishinomori cameo, which I found delightful.

Fellow Toei World reviewer, Alex, said that watching Shin is “an experience” and I’m certainly of that mindset right now. I definitely “experienced” this movie but I don’t think it’ll be a lasting one.

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

Posted on Leave a comment

SODO Sundays – April 18, 2020

Hello, tokusatsu community! It’s Joshua Perry here to talk about SODO figures on my fortnightly series, SODO Sundays. Today Zero-One’s AI-07 begins!

Kamen Rider Zero-One

To kick off AI-07 is one of the more recent suits to appear in the series Kamen Rider Jin Burning Falcon! Bandai stated that they tested twelve different shades of red for the plastic to be able to get the best possible look to the show.

He will come with wing pieces just like his original base form release as well as two versions of his Slash Riser for belt and weapon modes.

Kamen Rider Kuuga

To celebrate the release of SODO Chronicle Kuuga Set 01 soon, the figures have been shown off in more detail. Mighty Form was the first to get this treatment. For this showcase, the Bandai Blog recreated a church diorama to reenact Kuuga’s first henshin into his Mighty Form from Episode 2.

That’s not all for Kuuga. He will be getting a third set in the SODO Chronicle line. This will be a Premium Bandai release. Included in the set will be Kuuga’s four Rising Forms: Rising Mighty, Rising Dragon, Rising Pegasus, and Rising Titan.

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

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

Posted on Leave a comment

Gallery: Rider Kicks Figure Series – Kamen Rider W & Hardboilder

The Rider Kicks Figure series continues into a bold new era with it’s budget gimmick figures. Revving up with a new subline, RKF figures now come with their own signature motorcycles starting with Kamen Rider W and they’re Hardboilder!

Living library Philip (フィリップ) and half-boiled detective Shotaro Hidari (左 翔太郎) are an unlikely pair but fate conspired to drive them together in more ways than one. This pair of unlikely friends form the unbeatable two-in-one detective Kamen Rider W (仮面ライダーW)! Their signature Rider Machine is called the Hardboilder (ハードボイルダー)

RKF_Kamen Rider W_Hardboilder_Toku Toy Store (1)RKF_Kamen Rider W_Hardboilder_Toku Toy Store (7)RKF_Kamen Rider W_Hardboilder_Toku Toy Store (4)RKF_Kamen Rider W_Hardboilder_Toku Toy Store (6)RKF_Kamen Rider W_Hardboilder_Toku Toy Store (5)RKF_Kamen Rider W_Hardboilder_Toku Toy Store (2)RKF_Kamen Rider W_Hardboilder_Toku Toy Store (3)A full review of the Kamen Rider W & Hardboilder set by Mint in Box Reviews can be viewed here:

This toy, as well as others in the Rider Kicks Figure range, are available from Toku Toy Store! Stay tuned for further Rider Kicks Figure reviews and galleries!

Posted on Leave a comment

Gallery: Rider Kicks Figure Series – DX Hiden RisePhone

The Rider Kicks Figure series continues into a bold new era with it’s budget gimmick figures. To celebrate the coming of the Reiwa Era, here’s a look at the first Kamen Rider of this new age; Kamen Rider Zero-One!

The Hiden RisePhone (飛電ライズフォン) is Aruto Hiden’s personal executive phone and data device as the President of Hiden Intelligence. With it, he can summon the Rise Hopper motorcycle from the Zea Satellite.

RKF_Kamen Rider Zero-One_DX Hiden Risephone_Toku Toy Store (4)RKF_Kamen Rider Zero-One_DX Hiden Risephone_Toku Toy Store (3)RKF_Kamen Rider Zero-One_DX Hiden Risephone_Toku Toy Store (2)RKF_Kamen Rider Zero-One_DX Hiden Risephone_Toku Toy Store (1)A full review of the DX Hiden RisePhone by Mint in Box Reviews can be viewed here:

This toy, as well as others in the Rider Kicks Figure range, are available from Toku Toy Store! Stay tuned for further Rider Kicks Figure reviews and galleries!