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Road to Shattered Grid

The Morphin Grid is in danger. A power and a force that no one has ever seen before is coming to destroy it and it’s going to take the combined might of 25 years worth of Power Rangers to stop it. How has this happened? What dark power could possibly shatter the very foundations of Rangerhood? And who will answer the ultimate call; It’s Morphin Time?

Welcome, my friends, to the Road to Shattered Grid.

To say that Boom! Studios have done for Power Rangers comics what IDW Publishing did for the Transformers franchise would be an apt comparison. Both taking something beloved but with much maligned mainstream counterparts and given fans fresh stories that add more to the characters we loved as kids.

Currently, the Boom! Studios Power Rangers comics are split between two titles; the 2016 Mighty Morphin Power Rangers series, written by Kyle Higgins and illustrated by Hendry Prasetya, which takes place shortly after the events of the seminal Green with Evil miniseries and sees the original five teens with ’tude struggle to adjust to a former enemy joining the team and Tommy suffer with various neuroses after suffering through such trauma, unsure if he can trust himself.

The other is Go Go Power Rangers; a much more light-hearted affair, written by Ryan Parrott and drawn by Dan Mora, that takes place immediately after the pilot Day of The Dumpster and takes a more slice-of-life approach to the original five Rangers trying to find a work-life balance between typical high school drama and their new-found Ranger duties. Personally, I find this to be the stronger series of the two as it shows that the original five weren’t always a tight-knit group and were powered just as much by their hormones as they were by the Morphin Grid.

Now we’ve got that out of the way we can focus on how these two titles built the stage for Shattered Grid. Be ye warned; SPOILERS AHEAD!

Arguably, this story starts off in the pages of GGPR with the Billy wishing to relinquish his powers to work as an intern for Promethea. Promethea is a S.H.I.E.L.D-esque research & development organisation determined to advance technology for the benefit of mankind and was founded by Grace Sterling; billionaire, philanthropist and former Red Ranger.

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Yes, Grace was the leader of a covert Ranger team in 1969, sent to the moon by Zordon to deal with the imminent return of Rita Repulsa thanks to the untimely arrival of Psycho Green. To say that this event was a suicide mission would be putting it lightly, however, the mission was a success albeit with only two survivors, Grace being one of them.

Discarded by Zordon, and seeing what an utter mess he made of the operation, Grace vowed that humanity would defend itself from any alien menace and embarked on her decade-long crusade with nothing but her iron will and the dagger of Psycho Green.

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Flash-forward an unspecified number of decades and we get the first real threat to the MMPR team outside of those known from the show; the Black Dragon. Rita Repulsa entrusted Scorpina with the Green Chaos Crystal. After taking control of the Dragonzord with the crystal and further exacerbating the underlying tensions of the team due to Tommy’s presence, the crystal reacts and explodes inside the Command Centre, partially destroying it along with Zordon’s energy tube and Alpha. A portal opens and out of it emerges the Black Dragon, a fearsome mechanical monster that can disrupt the Rangers’ connection to the Morphin Grid.

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He makes short work of the Rangers, forcing a retreat but captures Billy in the process. Using his coin, Black Dragon severs the original five’s connection to the grid, leaving them powerless. With Billy trapped in the Dark Dimension and the Rangers losing control of their zords to Rita, things had never seemed more dire.

While the remaining Rangers partially reconnect to the Grid using Tommy’s coin (gaining new Green variants of their Ranger forms) and take the fight to Black Dragon, Billy is discussing this new foe with a begrudging Goldar. It’s revealed that not only does Goldar not care for Rita’s new favourite but that he’s not of this Earth, coming from a different Earth after making a deal with Rita.

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Noting that Black Dragon seems more Zord than monster, Billy and Goldar come to an agreement and Billy is freed to assist in taking Black Dragon down. They succeed but his rapidly shrinking body teleports the pair to safety, albeit the safety of a different world, the world of Black Dragon’s puppet master; Lord Drakkon.

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While the Rangers on Earth-1 (they don’t really give designations so let’s go with a formula that works) try to find out what happened to Billy and Tommy, they find themselves getting a history lesson for Earth-2 while evading the Mastodon Sentries (awesome militarised troops using Ranger tech) and eventually find their way to a destroyed Command Centre and to a new, old friend; Saba.

Having moved part of her moon base and fused it with the decimated Command Centre, Rita begins plotting the conquest of Earth in earnest with the revelation of a new plan; the Goldar Troops.

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Meanwhile, after narrowly escaping Lord Drakkon and his troops, Saba recounts the Fall of The Rangers to Billy and Tommy, including how Jason was chosen to wield the white light of good and that many long-time Ranger allies rallied to defend the Command Centre from Rita’s final attack in a gorgeous two page spread.

Billy, Tommy and Saba are soon captured by the Coinless, a resistance movement made up of ex-Rangers and what remains of the Angel Grove citizens. Zack, their leader, vouches for them after talking with Saba and plans are made to battle Drakkon’s forces with the newly acquired Falconzord.

We take time out to find out that Earth-1’s Zordon is free-falling through time and space, without a tether to the physical realm. In this state we see him gain insight into Earth-2’s history and see the demise of his counterpart, only to be found by Saba. Being in a timeless state, Zordon relays to Saba that Rangers from Earth-1 will arrive and assist Earth-2, thus explaining why Saba implicitly trusts Tommy and Billy.

As the Coinless offer surrender to Drakkon on Earth-2, a captured Trini on Earth-1 enacts a clever plan to harness the Black Dragon armour for herself, since she previously tinkered with the Dragonzord’s inner workings and can apply the same knowledge to the Black Dragon. She tears through Rita and her throne room, regaining Billy’s power coin and restoring the powers of the Earth-1 Rangers. Rita, seemingly outmatched, retreats.

Similarly, Earth-2 Trini and Billy use Earth-2 Billy’s power coin and morpher (the last remaining coin not being used for Drakkon’s forces) and uses it in a similar way to the Black Dragon armour, severing Drakkon and his force’s connection to the Morphin Grid, putting them on equal footing with the Coinless.

Tommy and Drakkon engage in their big match-up, trading insults and platitudes about friendship until the Earth-1 Rangers arrive to turn the tide. With defeat at hand, Drakkon chooses to fall from a cliff rather than surrender, seemingly perishing. There’s some neat bonding and sweet goodbyes and the Earth-1 Rangers return to the demolished Command Centre, hopeful that they can restore it and Zordon to their rightful places.

In the middle of the desert, however, a beaten and bloody Drakkon awakens to find himself surrounded by the US military leading us into the current arc which has several connections between MMPR and GGPR.

In the months that follow, the Rangers are slowly regaining the public trust, attending natural disasters and helping the public without Rita throwing giant monsters at the planet every two days. After rescuing the Infinity Tower in Dubai, the Rangers are introduced to Grace Sterling. See? And you thought that plot point wasn’t coming around again…

Grace introduces herself and Promethea, and request their help rescuing two of her pilots that have gone missing in Romania and are being held by Finster. The monster-maker’s broken out on his own since Rita’s departure and has been experimenting with human/clay monster hybrids; sleeper agents that act perfectly normal until activated.

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This ties into the events of GGPR, and kinda screws up the continuity in a big way… There’s a fully functional sleeper agent amongst the group for a protracted period but here, in the future, they’re fairly limited and noticeably on holiday in the uncanny valley.

As Finster’s sleepers begin to activate, the Rangers reach out to Promethea since Grace offered her advanced scanning tech to them. Grace reveals her history to the team and they begin to work closer and closer and Promethea begins actively assisting with their own Mechazord.

While visiting the Promethea HQ, Billy wanders off, curious about what could power such an advanced facility. He comes across a heavily guarded room and, after moving out of sight. When he teleports inside the room, he comes face-to-face with the last person he expected to find: Lord Drakkon.

Meanwhile, Rita returns, having gone on a quest to find the Wizard of Deception and seek his aid in crafting a familiar looking candle. She breaks Finster out of the dimensional and, once learning of his schemes while she was gone, demands the activation of all of his hybrids at once, much to his chagrin.

After a hard fought battle, Billy reveals what he knows to the team and they confront Grace. She explains how Drakkon ended up in her position and vehemently defends her actions when Jason pulls her aside. Jason, reluctantly, decides to cut ties with her because, as he sees it, she’s taking an “any means necessary” approach and he refuses to compromise his values because she makes his helmet lighter (not a euphemism)

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After the Rangers discuss their options with Zordon, Saba pays Drakkon a visit, knowing the weakened state he’s in, intent on killing him. He misses the killshot, allowing Drakkon to break free and decapitate Saba. Using the blade, and a little bit of magic, Drakkon carves a portal into the wall of his cell and with a quiet mutter, disappears through it.

And that’s the story so far. While MMPR has been doing the lion’s share of the story building for the Shattered Grid event, I highly recommend giving GGPR a read too, not only for the improved character building but also for the origins of Rita Repulsa and her band of misfits.

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Shattered Grid will kick off in Mighty Morphin Power Rangers #25 then continue in Go Go Power Rangers, alternating between the titles and having a dedicated Annual and Free Comic Book Day Special, as well. With Rangers new and old, tie-ins with the HyperForce RPG on Twitch, and the kind of loving tributes that only the infinite budget of comics can provide, Shattered Grid has the potential to be the best part of the 25th Anniversary of Power Rangers.

Are you looking forward to Shattered Grid? Which teams do you hope get some significant panel time? Let us know your thoughts on this article and the event itself in the comments below!

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Kamen Rider Build: Episode 6 Review

After the events of episode 5, we get to see the kinda odd reasoning behind why Banjou turned Sento’s friend Tetsuya back into a SMASH after Sento saved him using NinninComic. We also get an explanation behind what the gas is that Faust is using to turn humans into SMASH as well as a little more of an explanation behind Blood Stark’s actions. We unfortunately don’t get to see a new Best Match this week, unless you count the preview for the next episode, but we do get to see a new Trial Form when Sento decides to match up the Ninja and Tank Full Bottles, which was a little interesting. We also find out what happens when someone other than Sento tries to use the Build Driver when we see Banjou attempt to use it.

This week’s episode begins with Banjou following the SMASH he reverted to the Skywall where he’s attacked by some Government Guardians and Officers. He is almost arrested but Build in NinninComic form intervenes and saves him. We then see them back at their base as they start arguing and fighting each other which leads to Banjou trying to use the Build Driver and Sento explaining that it isn’t one size fits all. We also see Sento notice that the Dragon Full Bottle has changed since Banjou has had it.

After that, we see Night Rogue and Blood Stark talking about Blood Stark raising Build’s Hazard Level as well as Owner explaining to Banjou why Sento feels the need to try to save everyone from Faust. We also see Sento doing research on the Skywall when Gentoku Himuro explains to him that it emits a gas from underground that’s made up of minerals not found on Earth.

We also see Misora and Sawa chatting about relationships when Sento walks in and declares his love of openings. He then tells Banjou about the opening and they plan to attack Faust HQ, which is hidden under the Skywall. We then see Gentoku talking to someone on the phone about showing Sento the data on the Sky Wall. With Sento and Banjou at the entrance that Sento found and while they are talking, Sento gives Banjou a new invention he came up with in the form of a mini Dragon he made for Banjou. They then proceed to sneak past patrols as they break into Faust HQ under the Skywall.

Once they’ve made it past the patrols into Faust HQ, we see some scientists in hazmat suits experimenting on someone. They start to run away, scared by the sight of Banjou and Build. We then see Sento having some flashbacks while Banjou interrogates one of the scientists about who framed him. Blood Stark appears and attacks the fleeing test subject. We then discover that Sento and Banjou are unique in that they were dosed with enough Nebula Gas to turn then into SMASH but neither of them changed. Banjou is then poisoned by Blood Stark but his new toy Dragon saves him and spits out the poison. Meanwhile, Sento loses his temper and attacks Blood Stark. As Blood Stark leaves, Banjou calms Sento down by reminding him what Banjou asked was most important to him.

We then see Sento and Banjou save Tatsuya by turning him back then they narrowly escape the Faust facility before it explodes. As the episode reaches it’s end, Tatsuya explains to the pair that he delivered Sento to a new part-time job making medicine at Katsuragi Takumi’s place who’s murder is blamed on Banjou. It’s revealed that Sento was there a full hour ahead of Banjou and could’ve seen who killed Katsuragi Takumi or that Sento could’ve been the one who killed him.

So all in all, it was quite a nice and informative episode where we learnt a little more about Sento’s past as well as finding out that Faust has multiple facilities hidden under the Skywall. We also find out what they are using to create SMASH. In my opinion, it was a good episode as it filled in more blanks as well as progressed the story a bit more. I’m excited to see what happens in regards to Sento and his memories as well as the dynamic between Sento and Banjou.

So that’s it for this week’s Kamen Rider Build review. Do you think Banjou’s Dragon may be a hint as to what’s to come? What’s your opinion on the Katsuragi murder and who’s guilty or innocent? Share your thoughts in the comment section below!

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Power Rangers Ninja Steel: Episode 14 & 15 Review

This past fortnight’s Power Rangers Ninja Steel has been a royal double-bill. In these episodes, we’re introduced to a new character as well as a new Zord! Here is Toku Toy Store’s review of episode 14, The Royal Rival, and episode 15, The Royal Rumble.

The Royal Rival

The programme opens at school with Sarah showing off her latest business class project: Sarah’s Cookie Creator. Despite the uninspiring name, the device itself is pretty cool as it will create delicious cookies out of any and all ingredients. In case we weren’t convinced, resident morons, Victor and Monty, test out the machines capabilities with sardines, liver and broccoli. The irritating pair themselves, of course, have no project prepared and are given an ultimatum by the teacher to prepare it by tomorrow.

Up on Galvanax’s ship, we’re introduced to Princess Viera and her companion monster Lord Drillion. Galvanax and Madame Odius are not convinced by the Princess’ ability to take care of the Power Rangers but they are reassured that Drillion accompanies her, as he can take care of business in the event of her failure.

In the park, Sarah’s invention is creating massive lines of people hoping to sample her products. Victor and Monty are arrested for stealing a cow… mehville. As Preston attempts to use his magic to speed along the cookie making process, the team are contacted by Redbot, who has detected Buzzcam activity nearby. The Rangers leave Mick in charge of the stall and run off to investigate. In a more urban area, Princess Viera commands Drillion to cause chaos and destruction in an effort to draw out the Power Rangers. Her plan succeeds and Drillion makes light work of our heroes. During the battle, an errant energy blast collapses the balcony Princess Viera is watching from. Oblivious to the fact the falling woman is their enemy, Sarah cushions Viera’s fall with vines and Viera calls off her monster.

The pair returns to Galvanax’s ship where they are confronted by Galvanax. He accuses Viera of being weak but Viera, outraged, denies this, claiming she is smart and studies her enemies before destroying them. Galvanax and Drillion formulate a plan that would see Drillion take out Viera and the Rangers in exchange for rule of the Lion Galaxy.

Back at the park, Viera watches the Rangers from afar. They finish up making cookies until Viera approaches Sarah. Sarah offers Viera a cookie from her last batch but they are promptly stolen by a teenager. Viera pursues and captures the youth but Sarah insists she let him go. In conversation with the boy, he reveals that he was stealing the cookies to feed himself and his hungry sister. Sarah is understanding and compassionate but Viera can only look on, confused with what has just transpired. To compound that confusion, Sarah gifts her cookie maker to the teen so that he can sell cookies and buy food for himself and his sister. In a less than unexpected move, Princess Viera has an epiphany and waxes lyrical about how she always believed her galaxy’s ‘might makes right’ attitude was the wrong one. In the process, Viera inadvertently reveals her identity before the two are confronted by Drillion. Drillion attacks the Sarah but Viera jumps in front of the energy blast, saving her.

The whole team arrive and morph. Drillion easily handles the Rangers, breaking their Element Power Stars and bending or snapping their swords. Viera emplores the team to hold out as long as possible and teleports away. The Princess returns to Galvanax’s ship and steals back her lion ship. Frustrated with her escape, Galvanax orders the immediate gigantification of Drillion. The team take him on in the Ninja Fusion Zord but struggle as much as they did on the ground. The Fusion Zord is broken apart and the Rangers appear doomed. From out of nowhere, Princess Viera arrives in her lion ship. Drawing power from the atmosphere, she quickly scares Drillion away before flying off herself. As she flees the scene, she is shot down by Galvanax and crashes in the mountains.

Back in the business class, Sarah is about to fail for failing to complete her project but she is rescued by the teenage boy, who explains the situation to the teacher. Sarah receives an A as the episode closes.

The Royal Rumble

The next episode starts with a quick recap of Princess Viera being shot down before Drillion returns to Galvanax’s ship. Galvanax believes the Rangers will be defeated easily without the assistance of Princess Viera and commands Drillion to go back to Earth and check that her ship is fully destroyed. Before he leaves, Madame Odius takes him aside to give him a little upgrade.

On Earth, Viera is walking away from her downed ship when she discovers its anti-gravity crystal which, unfortunately, is damaged. We cut to the hidden base where Mick and Redbot are pleased to declare that all of their weapons have been repaired. As the team begin to strategise about how they’re going to defeat Drillion, Hayley finds a lion pin on her satchel. As she picks it off, it begins to glow and soon turns into Princess Viera. The team are startled but quickly come around to the idea of fixing her lion ship so that they can use it to stop Drillion. The Rangers ask Mick to help repair the anti-gravity crystal but he refuses, stating that they shouldn’t be helping someone that helped to enslave the Lion Galaxy. As she persuades them by professing her new found goodness, the Nexus Prism shows us a vision of the lion ship in battle. This convinces the team to use the last of the Ninja Steel to turn the lion ship into a zord. Mick and Redbot quickly get to work.

Back in the land of Galvanax, Drillion’s new arm monstrosity upgrade is complete. Galvanax sends Drillion to the forest to look for the lion ship and the Rangers. The team are alerted to Drillion’s proximity to the ship and enter battle. As before, our heroes struggle against the beast but Mick has completed the Ninja Star and throws it into the Nexus Prism. The Prism fires out a new Power Star but it is absorbed by Princess Viera’s armour. To everyone’s surprise, a new Power Star appears on Brody, the Red Ranger’s, wrist. He spins it and is transformed into the Red Lion Fire Ranger. Using his new abilities, Brody and the others make light work of Drillion.

Freshly gigantified, Drillion is confronted by the Lion Fire Zord  (I guess Mick had a little more Ninja Steel lying around after all). Brody forms the Lion Fire Megazord and uses all of its power to send Drillion into oblivion once and for all. Back in the Ranger’s base, Viera thanks the team for showing her the light. She vows to make the Lion Galaxy a better place and heads home to make changes to her kingdom. On her way out, she gives Mick a parting gift, establishing communication with his parents for the first time in twenty years. Mick tells them that he will come home after completing his business helping the Rangers to defeat Galvanax.

This was a pretty good two-parter. The disappointment of the pre-hiatus Ninja Steel seems to be behind us and the episodes seem to be consistently watchable at this point. As usual, the Victor and Monty segments are unnecessary but I’m sure the kids love them, or at least love to hate them. The addition of the Lion Armour was introduced properly, over two episodes, rather than just being gifted to them for no reason. This is a rarity in modern PR, so kudos to Chip Lynn and the team for that. Next, we head into the end of the first half of the series. Thanks to France, that’s already been spoiled but I’m looking forward to seeing how it all plays out.

Did you enjoy The Royal Rival and The Royal Rumble? Let us know your thoughts on all things Ninja Steel in the comment section below or on Toku Toy Store’s Facebook and Twitter pages.

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Uchu Sentai Kyuranger: Episode 31 Review

As the battle to save the universe gets tougher and tougher, we get ever closer to finding out if our team of saviours can bring peace to every corner of space. The latest episode opens like many others with a recap of the last few episodes featuring the debut of Shishi Red Orion.

After the opening, we see our team get back together minus Shou and Champ, who are still in the past telling the story of of the legendary saviours. As the team get together, we find out Don Armage is still alive and controlling the universe, how can this be so, didn’t Lucky defeat Don Armage in the past?

As the team make a plan, we find out Naga has taken Garu and Kotaro hostage. Furthermore, Balance is missing and Echidna is still on Earth, tasked with defeating Naga as a consequence of his emotions being too dangerous. Much to the surprise of everyone, Balance returns and has a plan.

Echidna is next seen fighting Hebitsukai Metal on her own and seems to be losing quite badly, even to the point of being controlled by Naga’s special ability. Suddenly, Balance, Tsurugi, Lucky, Hammy and Spada appear to try to bring Naga back to normality. As our heroes transform, an all out fight between Balance and Naga starts. Will Balance be able to bring his friend back to normal or will Naga break the bond forever?

Just as Hebitsukai Metal launches a final attack on Tenbin Gold, Shishi Red blocks the attack. As the explosion clears, no-one can see Lucky and Balance. While the team act like they’re distraught after having lost their teammates, in truth they have been shrunk using the power of the Genbikyo Kyutama. Now in microscopic size, they enter Naga’s body.

Once inside Naga’s body, Balance and Lucky find the original version of Naga tied up. Balance instinctively steps towards him but Hebitsukai Metal tries to stop Balance from rescuing his pal. Balance tries to get through to Naga and, with the help of everyone cheering for him to come back, our version wakes up and destroys Hebisukai Metal for good.

With Naga finally free from his curse, he, along with the others, transform and fight Akyanba and her minions. Lucky uses his new Shishi Red Orion form to deal the most damage while everyone else fights the underlings. After a brief fight, Naga joins Lucky and uses the Dark Kyutama to become a good version of Hebisukai Metal. Metal deals a final blow to Akyanba but, unfortunately, she survives, gloating that she was using Naga for some fun.

Back on the Orion, the team welcome back Naga with open arms and plan to throw a party. Before they party, Naga reveals he now has an idea where Don Armage is, thanks to him working for Jark Matter.

In my opinion, this episode was fantastic. The fight scenes worked extremely well and the storylines following Naga and Balance has been some of the best in the series. I now can’t wait for it to move into the final arc.

What are your thoughts on the Hebitsukai Metal arc? Does it compare to the other arcs in the series? Share your thoughts with us in the comments or on Facebook/Twitter!

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Kamen Rider Build: Episode 3 Review

This week’s episode of Kamen Rider Build was good. I’d say very good. However, it wasn’t great. The episode is a very expository episode, emphasising the building of the world and giving it a bit more depth in this episode, while somewhat continuing on the story of Banjou Ryuuga and him being framed.

The episode itself starts off almost immediately after 2, with the members of the Café going over the framing of Banjou in quite comedic fashion. They went over all of the convoluted links that all lead to him, ultimately, being framed for murder, complete with chibi drawings, goofy writing and exaggerated speech when presenting it. Not only was it fun to watch but it actually did help to state clearly Banjou’s situation and how they intended to approach it. When they came to begin the investigation, we see one of the Café group, Misora, use a different one of her talents. While in the previous episodes we learned of her mysterious power to purify the Full Bottles, she also has a talent for being an internet idol! To aid Sento and Ryuuga in gaining information on the guard, Nabeshima, she takes to the internet, where she reveals that she is quite the popular net star, going by the name of Mii-tan. There, she asks her fans to get the information for her, all while acting like a very typical Japanese idol would. This little vignette was very well done, and not only added to Misora’s character but provided some great comedy by showing the duality of her sluggish, easily irritable offline personality, and her hyperactive, bubbly online persona. However, I could see the act getting stale as the show goes on, so we’ll have to see how it goes.

As the group is waiting for the information to come in, Sento learns of a Smash attacking a young man, and goes with the reporter, Sawa, to stop it. Build begins the fight in his GorillaSoujiki form, which was quite entertaining, and good to see more of the Soujiki (Vacuum) power. It’s a power that I personally quite like. After a brief and unexciting battle, with Build fighting and Sawa very much acting like an annoying sports commentator, Build finishes off the Smash by going into his classic GorillaMond form and ending it with the finisher. The Smash was actually the little boy’s mother and the two are reunited happily. Build rides off with his new essence as on-lookers comment on whether or not Build had actually kidnapped the boy and his mother, building him up further as an outlaw and not a true hero in this divided world.

When he returns to his lab at the Café, a few things of note happen. First, we learn a bit more about the Full Bottles and how not every bottle is a best match. We also see this patch on the wall, where Souichi says that when you put two bottles into it, it’ll glow and let the person know if it’s a best match. What was noticeable, was that the slots on the wall appeared to be made of the same material as the Sky Wall and the Pandora’s Box itself. Perhaps this Café, and Sento himself are more connected to the Pandora’s Box than they seem. We also learn from Banjou, comedically, that to create a best match, it must be one part animal, the other part machine/inorganic material, as we’ve so far seen with Build’s other forms. In showing this, the new form of the episode is hinted at when Banjou inserted the Hawk Full Bottle and the Gatling Full Bottle. Then, with this new Best Match, the group heads to what appear to be some docks to continue the investigation on Nabeshima.

The group plan to save Nabeshima’s family in Sento, as his family is being threatened by the mysterious Night Rogue. When Banjou (disguised as an elderly person) and Sawa get to the docks, they are attacked by the Touto androids and a fight breaks out. It’s interesting to note that during the fight, Banjou was gripping the Dragon Full Bottle in his hand and when he punched, the punch was stronger, and we saw a burst of energy, identical in colour to the Full Bottle itself. Perhaps this will play further into the story.

Then, Sento arrives, defeating the androids and telling the two to get to the boat, as he goes to fight a Smash that shows up. Banjou and Sawa run, and Build fights the Smash in the highlight of the episode, where he premiers the HawkGatling combination. While the fight itself wasn’t particularly exciting, it was very enjoyable to see this new form. I like the theme, a hawk and a gatling gun reminded me of a fighter jet, which may have been the intention. But, of course the Smash was beaten and, as Sento absorbs the Smash’s essence, it reveals that the Smash was actually Nabeshima. Very suddenly, a strange, purple Cobra-esque monster attacks Sento, stabbing him. It slithers away as the episode ends, leaving us to question what will come of the Kamen Rider.

Overall, the episode was okay. It did a good job of building the world, but that’s about all it did well. We met the three Prime Ministers of the three sections of the country, but even then I wasn’t too thrilled. It seemed very cookie cutter, in that one wanted peace while the other two were selfish, with one seemingly being obviously evil. We also learned the name of the mysterious company that was experimenting on Banjou and Sento: Faust. For those who don’t know, the company appears to obviously be named after the German legend of a young man who sold his soul for all of the world’s knowledge and pleasures. This didn’t really blow my mind, but did fit the demonic appearance of Night Rogue and his apparent role as an evil scientist. Perhaps he sold his soul to some higher force? To Pandora’s Box maybe? The real intrigue for me was in the panel on the wall of the lab that resembled Pandora’s box, and the implications therein. While I enjoyed the episode, and Build is still early in its life as a series, I’d only really rate the episode a 6 out of 10. It had its enjoyable moments, with two fight scenes that weren’t particularly stand out, yet it certainly wasn’t bad. Here’s to hoping that as the series goes on, and we get more answers and excitement, episodes won’t be as stale.

What did you think of the episode? What do you think of Build as a series so far? Let us know in the comments, or on Facebook and Twitter!

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Power Rangers Ninja Steel: Episode 13 Review

To most of the fandom’s disappointment, Power Rangers Ninja Steel had an inauspicious start to the season. It arrived with very little hype or fanfare and, regrettably, the content of the show did little to enthuse even the most forgiving viewer. The story was thrown together haphazardly with little attention paid to integrating some of the eccentricities of Shuriken Sentai Ninninger (Ninja Steel’s parent series) and many balked at the repetition of the ‘Daddy issues’ used so regularly in recent memory. In short, the series just wasn’t much good. That’s all changed within the last few episodes, though, and the quality of the show has drastically improved. Episode 13, Ace and the Race, is no exception to that and builds upon the good work we’ve seen as of late.

The episode opens with the Mayor of Summer Cove welcoming us to the Lake Sunshine Fun-athalon, and the Rangers are preparing to compete in a relay race. As the race calls for three person teams, the team split in half with Preston, Hayley and Sarah comprising one team and Brody, Levi and Calvin making up the other. Moments before the start of the race, Calvin is distracted by a guy named Ace and his beautifully detailed car. Calvin goes to speak with Ace and his crew but promises to return in time for the race.

Meanwhile, on Galvanax’s ship, Cosmo Royale is introducing his newest contestant, Shoespike. The monster of the week bursts on to the stage with two Basherbots trailing behind him and rejoices at the fact he won the race. The peril our Rangers will face this week becomes clear as Shoespike exclaims, “You know what happens when you lose a race to me!” and the Basherbots are turned into trophies. Shoespike – whose Arnie-impersonator voice is reminiscent of Mighty Morphin’s Lizzinator – takes human form, declaring that once the Rangers touch his baton (careful) they will not be able to resist racing him.

Back on Earth, Calvin is taking a look under the hood of Ace’s car. He notices an oil leak and is talked into repairing it, but not before he pushes the car and its three occupants back to the school workshop. With Calvin missing, Brody and Levi are down a teammate. Enter Bob Shoespike, who volunteers to join the team. The pair touch Shoespike’s baton and are instantly transformed into douchebags, calling Sarah a loser before heading to the start line. During the course of the race, Brody shoulder barges Preston into the bushes and Levi launches a random competitor into the lake. Preston, obviously, takes exception to their behaviour and confronts them. Brody and Levi give Preston, Sarah and Hayley a hard time, again calling them losers. Bob Shoespike looks directly into the camera and adds “and you know what happens to losers…” before the three are turned into trophies before Levi and Brody’s eyes. The other competitors are also turned into trophies including Victor, who gets taken away by a stray dog. Shoespike reveals himself to be a monster and challenges the Ranger brothers to a three-legged race. The Rangers gladly accept.

Ninninger Gekiatsutou Ichibantou

Subsequently, at the school workshop, Calvin is finishing off the work to Ace’s car. Ace misnames Calvin as Malvin and Marvin during the course of the ensuing argument, caused by Calvin’s realisation that Ace is a fraud and that he hasn’t completed a single piece of work on his own car as he claimed. Calvin feels let down by his supposed friend, Ace, but Mick reminds Calvin of his own failures in friendship, having bailed on Brody and Levi in the relay race. He concedes and dashes off to rejoin his teammates. Trophy Victor is shotput into a fish tank, meh. Victor and Monty continue to be one of the main problems with this series but I don’t think they’re going anywhere.

Calvin happens upon Brody, Levi and Shoespike warming up for their race. He discovers the three Ranger trophies and they catch him up with the story so far. Calvin confronts Shoespike and joins the team. The Rangers struggle to run cohesively at first before noticing that Shoespike is cheating; his Basherbot teammates are in face dummies and Shoespike is running alone. Despite the booby-traps set by Shoespike, the Rangers win the race in a photo finish. A Basherbot delivers the Ranger trophies, for no reason other than they needed the Rangers present to match the Sentai footage, and the team morph to fight Shoespike. The battle itself, in fact, is a carbon copy of its Ninninger counterpart and culminates in Levi and Brody working together to destroy the monster.

Brody and Levi summon Robo Red and Bull Rider but Shoespike runs rings around them. Calvin arrives in his Tonka Truck and slows the monster down with makibishi. The team form the Ninja Fusion Zord and make quick work of destroying Shoespike once and for all.

Back at the race, Calvin apologises to his friends and, of course, they forgive him in the usual sickly sweet, saccharin fashion. Victor’s trophy is finally turned back into human form, whilst still in the fish tank, and the episode closes with Victor standing in the tank with seaweed in his mouth.

All in all, this was a solid episode. The Saban team made good use of what was a difficult Ninninger episode to adapt to construct a cohesive story. The highlight of the episode, for me, was Shoespike, who got far more screen time here than in the Sentai. His design was neat and the actor who played his human form did a great job, especially during the fourth wall breaking moments. Here’s hoping that Ninja Steel continues to trend upwards as it has in the last few episodes.

Did you enjoy Ace and the Race? Let us know your thoughts on all things Ninja Steel in the comment section below or on Toku Toy Store’s Facebook and Twitter pages.

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Uchu Sentai Kyuranger: Episode 29 Review

This week in Kyuranger, we find out what happened to the team on the Orion and we run into a new ally, so follow me and let’s talk about episode 29.

The episode opens much like any other, with a run down of the past few weeks. To recap what is happening to our team of saviours, we have Lucky, Garu, Hammie, Balance and Kotaro on present day Earth trying to bring Naga back to his usual, emotionless self, and the rest of the team travelling back in time to find out why Jark Matter are still a present threat even after Tsurugi defeated Don Armage over 300 years ago.

The opening scenes show the team on Earth looking over a crashed and beaten Orion ship. With no clue what happened to crew, Lucky takes it upon himself to travel to the past on his own, leaving Hammie, Balance, Kotaro and Garu to deal with Naga. After Lucky arrives in the past, he is greeted by the sight of his fallen team mates and a strange looking man. After a brief fight with a death worm, it is revealed this strange looking man is actually Orion, who stayed on Earth after he sealed Tsurugi on the Argo.

Tsuguri has a quiet moment with Orion and speaks of how Lucky could be even more of a legend that he is. After this, we are informed that Orion has a son in the Leo (Shishi) constellation; just who is this son and have we met him in the series so far? The team all agree with Tsuguri that fighting alongside Lucky is the right choice and they vow that they will take down Don Armage, no matter the cost.

An all out fight ensues with Lucky taking the charge against the Vice-Shoguns. Lucky and Orion fight extremely well together, even catching the eye of Houou Soldier. Suddenly, during the battle, a bright spark appears over the heads of Lucky and Orion. What could this be? Could it feature again soon? The team take down all but one of Don Armage’s best. Will this change the present day, and, if it does anything, what will happen to Naga?

With his Jark Matter subordinates humiliated, the dark lord himself, Don Armage, arrives. Our heroes fire an All Star Crash to defeat him once and for all and the scene is silent until Armage launches a small attack, piercing Lucky’s abdomen and seemingly killing him. As Lucky hits the floor, the shogun himself takes corporeal form, approaches the Kyurangers and reveals his true form.

What is going to happen to Lucky? What was the bright light and will Ryu Commander ever take things seriously? Stay tuned for episode 30 of Uchu Sentai Kyuranger!

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Uchu Sentai Kyuranger: The Story So Far

Uchu Sentai Kyuranger is, at the time of writing, the 41st installment of the long running Super Sentai series and is in some ways quite a departure from what we’ve come to expect from Sentai, while still retaining familiar codes and conventions. This is little doubt, due in some way to the involvement from Bandai of America during this season’s development, that this series will become the next Power Rangers series, after Power Rangers Super Ninja Steel in 2018. As we’re more than halfway through the show’s run, it seems appropriate to recap the events leading up to this point in case some people have forgotten or not caught and episode of the series yet.

Kyuranger is set in a future where the evil Space Shogunate Jark Matter had conquered the galaxy and now rules it with an iron fist. The only force that can hope to oppose Jark Matter and it’s leader Don Armage are the ultimate saviors Uchu Sentai Kyuranger.

These Rangers are: Lucky (Shishi Red), Stinger (Sasori Orange), Garu (Ookami Blue), Balance (Tenbin Gold), Champ (Oushi Black), Naaga (Hebitsukai Silver), Hammie (Chameleon Green), Raptor 283 (Washi Pink), Spada (Kajiki Yellow) Shou (Ryu Commandor), Kotaro (Koguma Skyblue) and finally Tsurugi (Houou Soldier).

Kyuranger is structured in smaller mostly self contained arcs so to properly recap the show’s story it’s best to do so on an arc by arc basis. These arcs are:

The Assembly Arc

The first segment of the show is an arc in which the incomplete team of rangers (Lucky, Hammie, Garu, Spada and Champ by the end of episode one) must locate and recruit the remaining rangers. This takes up the first 5 episodes and features Eriedrone as the ranger’s most recurring villain. For the most part this goes smoothly, however, Stinger briefly aligns with Jark Matter in his capacity as a spy which throws off the plans of the other rangers. The nine rangers are eventually united and Eriedrone is defeated, bringing us on to the next arc.

Kyuranger Seiza Blaster

The Assassin Arc

The second arc involves the rangers battling Ikagen and Madako, two assassins sent by Don Armage to kill the Kyurangers, who are now operating mainly on earth for budgetary reasons. They aim to to solve the mystery of Don Armage’s interest in the planet. Shou’s two ranger forms are debuted in this arc as well, the first being the imperfect Ryu Violet and the second being his permanent ranger form Ryu Commander. The quest to recover the three Kyutama needed to summon the Argo ship begins in this arc also and provides a more solid goal for the team beyond simply saving the universe. The arc ends with Ikagen’s death and runs from episode 6 to episode 12.

Kyuranger Ryu Voyager

The Scorpio Arc

The Third arc focuses on Stinger, his brother, Scorpio, and, to a lesser extent, Champ. The two rangers leave the Orion in order to operate more independently and to track down and apprehend Scorpio, who now works for Jark Matter. The Argo plot is continued in this arc with the Kyutama needed to summon it changing hands a few times. Kotaro leaves for training at Rebellion HQ and Champ is destroyed while defending Stinger. There is also a crossover episode with DekaRed and Gavan Type G in an alternate universe. The arc concludes with the climactic death of Scorpio and the return of Kotaro and Champ. The Argo is summoned and Ohtori Tsurugi (Houou Soldier) is revived. This arc covers episodes 13 to 21.

Kyuranger Kyutama Set SP

The Phoenix Arc

The following arc is much shorter and serves to affirm the new team dynamic, introduce more lore in the universe’s history and establish a new goal for the rangers to achieve. Tsurugi and the others clash initially but quickly come to respect each other and work together as a team. Tsurugi reveals that, in the past, he believed he had killed Don Armage which sets up the following arc’s driving force. Three new villains are also introduced to antagonize the rangers. They are the Vice Shoguns and are much higher ranked than previous villains thus showing their progress so far. This arc lasts between episodes 22 and 23.

The Time Travel / Hebitsukai Metal Arc

The current arc involves traveling back in time to discover the secret to Don Armage’s survival. However, the rangers must also deal with a now evil Naaga, who has joined forces with a Vice Shogun to gain the emotions he’s been trying to develop since his introduction. He also debuts a new evil ranger form, Hebitsukai Metal, making use of the Dark Seiza Blaster and Dark Kyutama. The team decide, therefore, to split in two; one half will travel to the past while the rest stay behind to rescue Naga. This arc began with episode 24 and is still running, at the time of writing, to the current episode, 28.

That’s it for now! Kyuranger is not over yet, thankfully, and the current arc has yet to conclude after introducing some incredibly interesting backstory and lore. Furthermore, the saga of the Kyurangers is far from over; they have already made some impressive progress and we can only hope they keep this up and have more exciting adventures in store for us down the line.

What do you think of the Kyuranger’s story so far? How would you like to see it develop? And what do you think Don Armage’s secret is? Tell us your thoughts in the comment section.