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This Week in Tokusatsu – Week 6, 2019

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


Lupinranger vs Patoranger Episode 50

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


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

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


Kamen Rider Zi-O Episode 21

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

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


Tokusatsu GaGaGa Episode 3

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

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


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

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

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This Week in Tokusatsu – Week 5, 2019

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


Lupinranger vs Patoranger Episode 49

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

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

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

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


Kamen Rider Zi-O Episode 20

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

White Woz and Geiz

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

Zi-O W Armour

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

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

Zi-O 2 RideWatch

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


Tokusatsu GaGaGa Episodes 1 and 2

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

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

Shishi Leo on the Train

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

Jushowan Action Pose

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

Gacha Machine Kid

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

Jushowan or Love Cute

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

Sneaking around the toy store

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

Shopping

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

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

Nakamura and Yoshida meet

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

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

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

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This Week in Tokusatsu – Weeks 3 and 4, 2019

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

Lupinranger vs Patoranger Episodes 47 and 48

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

Noel Captured 48

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

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

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

LupinRangers no helmets

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

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

Combined Teams 48

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

Kamen Rider Zi-O Episodes 18 and 19

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

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

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

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

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

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

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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!