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This Week in Tokusatsu – Week 2, 2019

Kamen Rider Woz debuts! The police have finally begun to suspect the identities of the phantom thieves, and we get a new anime Godzilla movie courtesy of Netflix.

Lupinranger vs Patoranger Episode 46

Picking up right after the Christmas special, Keiichiro believes (correctly) that he has figured out the identities of the Lupinrangers. He takes his findings to his colleagues, and Commander Hilltop, and begins to make his case. Tsukasa, who has been suspicious of them in the past, feels the lightbulb click on, and the pieces fall into place. For her, a lot of suspicious elements of their past escapades suddenly make sense. The Lupinrangers themselves, meanwhile, are trapped in a game show thanks to a piece of the Lupin Collection, and the show becomes a highlight reel of past episodes for both teams.

This episode contains some comedic bits, impersonations of other characters and the male Lupinrangers in drag, but otherwise is mostly light on action and substance. The biggest elements of this episode for the plot overall come at the beginning and end, by which point the Global Police have agreed to begin surveilling the Jurer trio. Keiichiro made his case, it seems, and that will be our setup for the last seven episodes, which will air between now and early March 2019, when Kishiryu Sentai Ryusoulger begins. While the police and thieves fight amongst themselves, though, the Ganglers are preparing their master plan, so it will be interesting to see how all of these different elements come together in time.

Kamen Rider Zi-O Episode 17

It’s new year’s day in… 2022?! Sougo meets a new Rider in the beginning of this episode, Kagura Rentaro, Kamen Rider Shinobi. Shinobi is the Rider from 2022, and also bears the identity of Another Shinobi in 2019. To set up for this episode, the show builds a new version of Woz, and manages to give him unspeakable power without really thinking logically about all of the implications after. This new Woz wears all white, and carries an e-reader like an older Kindle that he can write future predictions into, which are shown to immediately come true. White Woz, as the preview for next week calls him, uses this power to mess with not only Zi-O, but also Uhr as well, showing with devastating effect the potential he could unleash.

This left me with one very important question, though. If White Woz’s book can change the timeline directly, why not simply erase any threat from existence with a phrase written into the book, as he threatens to do to Zi-O? Any character having that level of power deflates the stakes in most situations, so hopefully this power will either have rules that are explained, or be taken away, to give the team some semblance of a struggle. When White Woz does make his first transformation at the end of the episode, he easily defeats Another Shinobi, before using a term in universe that has only been heard up to this point in the marketing.

“You will change history, Geiz Revive.” He says to Geiz, bowing the way “Green” Woz always does for Sougo. The future characters consistently mention a new idea this week, the Day of Oma, in which Sougo becomes Oma Zi-O and erases all other Riders from history . It’s implied, based on Kamen Rider Shinobi being unknown to “Green” Woz, that this day occurs before 2022. Based on the way the idea is explained, it seems White Woz comes from the future that directly follows the early events of the series, but assumes a darker end in which Sougo still succumbs to the power of Oma Zi-O.

This Oma Zi-O is defeated by Geiz’s powered up form, Geiz Revive, and the future is saved, or so Woz claims.

Only time will tell how this arc plays out, but the preview for the next episode sets up Kamen Rider Woz as a direct antagonist to Zi-O, even if he is supporting Geiz. Stay tuned for more.

Godzilla – The Planet Eater

After a brief period between the second and third films in the Godzilla anime trilogy, we’re finally able to watch the conclusion to this series. Like the other two films in the series, Godzilla: The Planet Eater follows the exploits of a tri-species group of humans and two other races, trying to defeat Godzilla and reclaim Earth as their home, 20,000 years after fleeing into space. The films have seemingly gone down in quality with each subsequent release, with the first featuring lots of frenetic action scenes, passable animation, and one of the better designs for Godzilla outside of live action. The second film, City on the Edge of Battle, took a dip in quality but still managed to put an interesting twist on MechaGodzilla, and now The Planet Eater seems to have mostly gone off the rails.

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During the second film, our heroes stumble on a group of evolved humans, who have adapted to make a Godzilla-controlled Earth habitable, and end up taking refuge with them after the MechaGodzilla City is defeated. This third film picks up seemingly minutes after the end of the second, as people struggle to recover and put themselves back together. One of the races, called the Bilusaludo, is a technophiliac cult, and had offered themselves up as sacrifices to bond to the nanomachines that make up MechaGodzilla City, even going so far as to force humans and Exif, the third race, to join them. But where the first film focused on humans, and the second largely on the Bilusaludo, the Exif become the major players this time around.

The bulk of what plot exists in this movie is focused on the Exif, particularly a priest name Metphies, trying to summon their god via a ritual. Their god, it turns out, is classic Toho monster King Ghidorah. At least, that’s what we’re meant to believe. The film never gives us a proper look at Ghidorah, through its entire runtime. Instead, we’re treated to shadowed silhouettes of Ghidorah’s classic look, and three glowing gold ghost dragons that can only be described as being rip-offs of Shenron, from the Dragon Ball series, right down to where the appear from nothingness against a black background. Many of the themes in the film involve criticism of religion both for the believer and the skeptic, and there are a pair of minute-long sequences where the film becomes a one-frame-per-second slideshow of poorly-animated CG images.

This would be tolerable, if the final scene before the credits roll didn’t completely undo the entire trilogy. Overall, I find it impossible to recommend this film, even as an avid lover of Godzilla and Kaiju in general. If you are on the fence about this one, do not waste your time.

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

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This Week in Tokusatsu – Christmas 2018

The police and thieves take a break from the action for a Christmas special, Jinga ramps up to a thrilling conclusion and Zi-O continues the battle against his future self! Let’s dive in, shall we?

Lupinranger vs Patoranger Episode 45

Obligatory Christmas special! There is a major shift in tone this week, as we take a step back from the darker, grittier, almost film-noir action of the previous few episodes to celebrate Christmas with the Rangers. Though the episode does advance the plot, in the beginning and end, not much happens of note in the middle. To start out, Sakuya receives a request from a child to have the Patorangers throw a Christmas party, complete with holiday cake and chicken dinner, both Japanese traditions at Christmas. The bulk of the episode focuses on a Gangler called Sahmon, whose driving purpose is to replace the traditional Christmas chicken dinners with salmon for everyone in Japan.

At worst, this Gangler is a minor inconvenience, even acknowledged by civilians with a few casual phrases such as, “This wouldn’t be so bad if chicken wasn’t a Christmas tradition,” or even by Noel and Sakuya with, “Salmon is my favourite food most of the time, but chicken at Christmas is tradition.”

Over the course of the episode, Sakuya and Noel focus on taking Sahmon down, with eventual help from the thieves, who are the ones to ultimately defeat him. There is no Lupin collection item this week, no larger stakes, save for the knowledge from the police of a string of missing persons cases set about a year earlier. At the end of the episode, having skipped the party to do research into the cases, Keiichiro is finally able to put together the identity of the Lupinrangers.

That’s right. We’re five episodes from the end of the series (six, if you include this one) and one of the police officers has just now confirmed the identity of the thieves. This is a reveal that would have been much better served by coming far earlier, though the next episode promises to expand on this even more.

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Kamen Rider Zi-O Episode 16

The 2068 arc of Zi-O continues this week, with the fallout of Sougo meeting his future self. Now knowing fully that he has the potential to become the genocidal tyrant called Oma Zi-O, Sougo resolves himself to give up on his dream of becoming a king, and goes so far as to have Geiz destroy his belt. After this succeeds, Sougo begins to think he is free and the future is safe. There is even a moment where Oma Zi-O begins to fade away, laughing as he awaits Sougo’s ultimate decision. Sougo’s resolve is unshakable, even in the face of an assassination attempt by the Time Jackers.

Sougo refuses to fight, running and protecting a child from a stray attack, even without the power of Zi-O, prompting Geiz and Tsukuyomi to delay their return to 2068 and intervene. The attack, having been set up by Woz, is intended to force Sougo’s hand and get him back on the track that will lead to his future as Overlord. This episode features a lot of character growth for both Sougo and Geiz, with some big moments shared between them as well as an interesting shift in viewpoint for Geiz.

The biggest moments for Sougo come at the tail end of the episode, with renewed resolve and returned power as he remembers his dream. It all comes together in a satisfying way, and the preview for the next episode promises the debut of Kamen Rider Woz.

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Kami No Kiba – Jinga Episode 11

Picking up where we left off last week, Jinga struggles against Rozen while Fusa and Toma debate the merits of simply going to the Watchdogs, themselves. Another Makai Priest opens the episode with a brief moment spent trying to prove Jinga’s power is real, but we are not shown the conclusion of the test. Instead, the episode focuses squarely on Jinga and his reluctance to give up against Rozen. Though he begins fighting back using strictly non-lethal measures (his sword never leaves the scabbard and he focuses on dodging), the battle takes a darker turn at the midpoint of the episode.

Through sheer resolve, Toma makes the choice for himself and Fusa to willingly go to the Watchdogs, even as Alva protests to Jinga to give up. When Jinga refuses and keeps fighting, he ends up killing one of the knights in Rozen’s squad, before turning his blade another way. A shocking, sudden death leads to the battle that caps off the episode, and will seemingly be the focus of the series finale, which airs next week.

The Jinga we have followed, the knight, fights hard against the horror within, the Jinga from the summer Garo film, Kami No Kiba. When the series concludes next week, we will see which side prevails, and ultimately the beginning of the future of Garo as a franchise. Personally, I do not want to see Jinga redeemed. He has made for a compelling primary antagonist, both to the other Makai Knights and to himself. This shifting dynamic has proved to be a breath of fresh air for Garo as a franchise, and I hope it will continue.

Stay tuned here after the finale next week for more.

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Ultraman R/B (End)

Ultraman R/B has now officially concluded, and thoughts/reviews will be coming once the series is made available with English subtitles past episode 19. Stay tuned for more!

Kishiryu Sentai Ryusoulger Confirmed

On Christmas day, the leaked images of next year’s Super Sentai team, Kishiryu Sentai Ryusoulger were confirmed to be accurate, along with a story synopsis and official romanization of the name, per Toei. This will be the 43rd Super Sentai series, and the fourth to feature a dinosaur theme. The writer, producers, and showrunner have also been revealed, listed below.

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Story:

65 million years ago

An era when dinosaurs were everywhere. When attackers sought to take over the world, bringing war, knights were selected to stand against this threat. A meteor falls to the earth and brings the era of the dinosaurs to an end. Those chosen knights then chose to live the rest of their lives quietly on earth. In preparation for the return of this enemy, dinosaurs with great power were made to sleep in a temple.

Now, at the end of the Heisei era, the attackers have returned to Earth, pushing their evil to the limits of the universe. Now, it’s time to grasp the powers of the dinosaurs!

“Knights” x “Dinosaurs”

Now is the time to protect earth’s peace with that power!

(TV Asahi)

65 million years ago, the immensely powerful Druidon Tribe reigned over Earth. The tribe abandoned the planet when a gigantic meteor approached, vowing that they would return as the rulers of the world again as they headed into space.

The Ryusou Tribe who battled against the Druidon Tribe stayed on earth, along with their dinosaur companions, the Kishiryu. The Ryusou Tribe withstood the ice age brought on by the gigantic meteor. They placed their Kishiryu companions into the Ryusouls and sealed them in temples throughout the world.

Time has moved on and the Druidon Tribe has returned after fighting in harsh environments across space, totally increasing their powers. The Ryusou Tribe that kept the Earth safe in the past have selected new knights: the Ryusoulgers. They have been revived by their mission as the battle against the Druidon Tribe begins.

Staff:

  • Kiyoshi Yoshikawa (Iryu Sosa, Cop Seven) Music
  • Takahashi Kazuhiro (Kamen Rider Ghost) – Producer
  • Maruyama Shinya (Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon) – Producer
  • Kazuya Kamihoriuchi (Kamen Rider Ex-Aid, Kamen Rider Build) – Director
  • Junpei Yamaoka (Tsuribaka Nisshi: Shin’nyû Shain Hamasaki Densuke) – Lead Writer

Ryusoulger marks the first entry into Tokusatsu for veteran J-Drama writer Junpei Yamaoka, but with a solid crew bringing his vision to life, only time will tell how Ryusoulger is realised. Kishiryu Sentai Ryusoulger will premiere 17th March, 2019 on TV Asahi, with English subtitles like to follow.

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

Source: Toei/TV Asahi via The Tokusatsu Network (Ryusoulger story and staff)
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This Week in Tokusatsu – Week Ending December 23rd, 2018

The police and thieves learn the truth of Noel’s past and Zi-O sees his future for the first time! Let’s dive in, shall we?

Lupinranger vs Patoranger Episode 44

Coming off the heels of last week’s revelation that Noel is not entirely human, we learn a great deal more about his actions and his heritage, as well. The episode focuses largely on Noel and how the teams react to him, now knowing the truth. The thieves catch up with him first, and he is finally able to explain that though he is not human, neither is he a Gangler. Rather, Noel, Kogure, and all the people who work for the Lupin family are members of a third race, which is not explicitly named but is something akin to traditional elves. Having fled to Earth after their own world was taken over by Ganglers, this race blended in with human society, under the seemingly immortal Arsene Lupin.

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Noel’s entry point into the story, it is revealed, is at the exact point the Collection is stolen by the Ganglers. During the attack, Arsene Lupin is said to have been killed, and Noel, his apprentice, takes up the search for the items to fulfill the dream of Arsene Lupin. Satoru, still distrusting of Noel, is eventually revealed to be a Status Double Gangler, using two powers to mimic voices and control actions. Through flashbacks, this control ability is used to explain Noel firing on the other Patorangers before, as well as Noel giving Tokageru a piece of the Lupin collection.
The next episode, despite being one of only four or five remaining, appears to be a standalone Christmas special. It will certainly be interesting to see how the writers manage to tie this into the main narrative, if at all.

Kamen Rider Zi-O Episode 15

The 2068 Arc of Zi-O kicks off this week, though with a relatively small amount of the action actually set in that future. What does happen in 2068, though, is a fundamental building block for the development of Sougo as a character, and will likely shape him in grand ways in the episodes to come. The episode begins with an unexpected turn of events. While debating what to do about Decade, Geiz urges Sougo to simply throw away his belt, the Jiku Driver, and cease being a Kamen Rider, in the name of preventing the Demon King Zi-O future. While Sougo begins to debate this option, our heroes are attacked and the city is besieged by war machines from the Demon King’s future, which match the ones Sougo claims to have seen in a dream as a child. This dream gives purpose to Sougo’s life, and makes the life goal of becoming a king seem suddenly much more reasonable.

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In the ensuing battle, Decade intervenes and Sougo sees Tsukasa unmasked for the first time. It’s ultimately Decade himself who initiates the time travel to 2068, where Sougo and Tsukuyomi become trapped. The future is bleak, it seems, though we don’t get to see much of it, as all the future scenes seem to take place in the same bare, open field. The emotional moments come mainly in the exchange between Sougo and his future self, the old man who is Oma Zi-O. What begins as Sougo seeing his own future and coming to terms with that quickly turns violent, and the younger Sougo finds himself on the receiving end of a beating. Oma Zi-O reinforces, in a powerful way, Geiz’s earlier idea that the only way to avoid becoming Oma Zi-O is to throw away the power of Riders completely.

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In the next episode, continuing the arc, it’s implied that Zi-O will receive some kind of upgrade, and we are assured to see more of Oma Zi-O as well. Look forward to the next episode when it airs this coming Saturday night (Sunday, JST).

Kami No Kiba – Jinga Episode 10

We’ll be skipping Episode 9 of Jinga, as that episode acts as a recap for the first arc of the series. Episode 10, however, picks up where episode 8 left off, with Grand Master Rozen asking the Watchdogs for permission to bring in Jinga. This is coming off the heels of a fellow Grand Master and his son both having been murdered in the previous episode. Rozen is understandably skeptical of what Jinga claims he can do, as a power like that has never existed before. He claims the power acts in direct contrast to what Makai Knights should be doing, which is killing horrors.

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To aid him in learning more, Rozen goes to Fusa, asking if she trusts Jinga, and what kind of person he is. Fusa, through flashbacks and her own expository monologue, explains that she trusts Jinga implicitly, and thinks he is doing the right thing. As things continue on, Jinga and Rozen come into more direct conflict, ending with Jinga captured by Rozen and a squad of Knights at the episode’s end, accused of the murder of Rozen’s apprentice, Shijo.

The next episode promises to continue the conflict, and hints at a more direct showdown between the two.

Ultraman R/B (End)

Ultraman R/B has now officially concluded, and thoughts/reviews will be coming once the series is made available with English subtitles past episode 17. Stay tuned for more!

SSSS. Gridman full series review coming next week!

Hey all, just a quick note here that we’ve not forgotten about SSSS. Gridman! The series is ending with episode 12, airing on 12/28/18, and we’ll be doing a full series recap/review after that episode airs!

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 – November 30th, 2018

Greetings, loyal readers! Today marks the beginning of a new weekly series, This Week in Tokusatsu, here at Toku Toy Store! Each week, we will be spotlighting events from Tokusatsu shows and movies, summed up in a more broad way than our older episode reviews. Stay tuned here each week for news, previews, and reviews!

For this first edition, we have a lot of ground to cover with more to come. Lupinranger vs Patoranger has entered its final arc, and though the pacing is inconsistent, the show is going strong! Meanwhile, Kamen Rider Zi-O begins to pick up steam with the Gaim arc coming to a close, and new trailers have debuted for Ultraman and Godzilla: King of the Monsters. Let’s dive in, shall we?


Lupinranger vs Patoranger Episode 41

Our heroes face off against the Gangler general Destra this week, and find themselves trapped in the Gangler world, which is something akin to Britain or France, draped in purple fog and eternal darkness. This is where we start to see the politics within the Gangler organization take shape in a meaningful way, as well as learning the true power that comes with a Status Double Gold designation, for someone like Destra. The episode treats us to some really well-done action pieces, even if the isekai plot thread is resolved a bit too quickly.

Once again, we’re starting to see Tsukasa put the pieces together that maybe the Jurer trio are more than they appear to be, but again the show holds off on the reveal. With just eight or nine episodes left before the end of this series, the reveal is coming up fast, and the final arc appears to be where the teams will have to truly come together. The preview for the next episode shows Tokyo in ruins, and Ganglers rampaging, as the heroes look on. The stakes are high and we won’t have to wait long for the payoff.


Kamen Rider Zi-O Episode 12

This week, Zi-O’s Gaim arc concludes, and we get to see a bit more of the spectacle that comes from having two Sougos, separated by a time interval of three days. It’s mostly played up for laughs in the beginning, but does end up becoming a crucial part of the endgame plot. Along the way, we get new character insights into most of the main cast, but the main bulk of the character growth comes in the form of Geiz’s willingness to trust Sougo with another Ridewatch, and the power of Gaim. It’s a powerful moment, driven by the lecture Geiz gets from returning actor Yutaka Kobayashi (Kamen Rider Baron/Kumon Kaito).

Next up, we will be treated to what appears to be a thoroughly packed arc, including appearances by Ghost, Decade, and Agito, with Decade appearing as a primary villain, if the trailer is meant to be taken at face value. A glimpse of Another Ghost reveals that the next Another Rider is more horror-themed, more demonic in appearance than his contemporary counterpart, and we also see that Sougo’s meeting with Takeru leads to him becoming a ghost as well. Does this mean one of the Sougos will die? Only time will tell.


Ultraman Anime Trailer

Earlier this week, Netflix debuted the first trailer for the long-awaited anime adaptation of the Kodansha manga Ultraman, which serves as a sequel to the original series. The art style has been a bit alarming for some, with much of the 2d/3d CG drawing parallels to the much-maligned Berserk continuation from 2016. The story follows a new Ultraman, the son of the original, and appears to be set in the modern era, rather than the 1960s setting of the original series. Another large detail is that this series will ignore all Ultraman continuity after Ultraman season one.

Look for Ultraman to debut in April 2019 on Netflix.


Godzilla: King of the Monsters International Trailer

The second international trailer for Godzilla: King of the Monsters debuted this week, and gave us our best look yet at the upcoming Kaiju. Rodan, Mothra, and even (through fog) King Ghidorah himself were on display in the new trailer, while the story of the human characters was expanded on a bit further. As hype for this film continues to build, Legendary Pictures’ Monsterverse comes together, with this third film slated to open the floodgates to Western Kaiju fans and casual viewers alike. Who knows what will come next? Maybe a cameo from MechaGodzilla? A crossover with Pacific Rim? Only time will tell, but expectations are high and excitement continues to mount as we approach the 31 May 2019 release of this film.


Looking for Jinga and Ultraman R/B? Check back soon as these shows become available and updated!

What was the highlight of your tokusatsu week? Join the discussion on social media!

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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 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 18 Review

This week on Lupinranger vs Patoranger: A previously-defeated Gangler returns?!

The returning Gangler, Anidara, is one of the Crush brothers, who were both previously defeated by the rangers. He returns at Kaiju size, and the police waste no time in deploying PatKaiser to put him down for good. After a failed assault, Good Striker is the first to figure out what’s happening. PatKaiser is defeated and the Lupins swoop in. With them, Good Striker goes for another round.

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When we learn the truth of Anidara’s resurrection, we also learn more about the Lupin Collection. The items were made in the Ganglers’ world, and Destra claims they should not be able to be used by humans. This is an interesting turn that could lead to a revelation later related to Arsene Lupin, Kogure, and everything we think we know about the thieves. This is simply another small piece of a much larger puzzle the show has been teasing us with for several weeks now, and it shows no signs of changing this direction any time soon.

The next piece of this puzzle comes in the form of Good Striker’s origin. Arsene Lupin is the creator of Good Striker, it seems, and he built Good Striker as a guardian for the Collection. This gave him sentience, transforming him from an item in the Collection into a living being.

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Kogure gives more insight into Good Striker beyond his utility, stating that like any creature with sentience, he has his own troubles, personality, and experiences to draw from. The thieves make their exit in the attempt to track him down, and learn of a fight at a particular time and place.

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The showdown is a trap, obviously, and we see the police begin to plot behind the scenes to lure out the Gangler and the Lupinrangers using this bait. Ultimately, it is Kairi who finds Good Striker, on a park swing like a child. Good Striker eventually confides that he is a neutral party, concerned only with the Collection and acting based on how he feels in the moment, and the pair share a moment of mutual respect by way of a rough approximation of a fist bump.

When the duel between Anidara and the Patorangers comes, as predicted, the thieves are on site. The police are waiting, and retrieve Good Striker like an item.

We see an interesting moment where Kairi interrupts the combination of PatKaiser, and creates a hybrid mecha only to start a fight in the cockpit. During the attempted heist, we see that items from the Lupin Collection do not change size when their host Ganglers do. From there, the item is stolen and the episode ends on a note about Good Striker as a character.

Overall, this episode does a good job of shedding light on some of the more obscure elements of the show’s world, back story, and characters, and it seems to be building up to more reveals later. With the upcoming arrival of LupinX/PatoX, who knows what more will come?

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

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Kaitou Sentai Lupinranger vs Keisatsu Sentai Patoranger Episode 16 Review

Yeah, science! We open on an explanation of why Ganglers explode when killed, and how they can be revived as Kaiju. The prevailing theory is that the safe is the Gangler’s core. Before they can go into too much detail, though, we are met by this week’s Gangler attacking a wedding. It’s an odd crab-stingray-man and the Lupinrangers waste no time in engaging. This new threat demonstrates a body-swapping ability early on by turning Umika into a bird. This classic trope is the setup for the episode, leading to some confusing shenanigans as another attempt at swapping a ranger and a bird is made, only to turn Touma into the Gangler himself.

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Touma, in a slightly foolish moment, attacks his own body right in time for the police to show up. Not knowing any better, they intervene and assume Touma is the same Touma they know from Jurer. The police know him by name, and they tell him to run, right in time for the real Touma, in the Gangler’s body, to be attacked by the police. The way it tries to swap back, for a moment, indicates that the power is a skill it has,not something connected to its Lupin Collection item.

There is a moment where it figures out it is attractive, by way of a pair of high school girls, while the monster Touma is simultaneously snuck home wrapped in a tarp. Everything in this episode screams of some missing levity returning to the plot. As always, Tsukasa is the first one to realize anything is off as the groups debate why Jurer is closed and where Touma is. The thieves react visibly, which would give them away in any other scenario. However, for plot reasons, their facial expressions are seemingly ignored.

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A small, but important detail, is that after the body swap, Touma and the Gangler keep their own voices. For much of this episode, the Gangler’s voice and constant, random, “Yayyyy!” Grated on my ears like nails on a chalkboard, even with as interesting as it was to see how the Gangler adapted to being a human. Tonally, the episode does make a brief diversion back to the heavier darkness of the last few episodes as Touma makes Kairi vow to stop this Gangler, even if it means killing Touma’s human body. The result is the same in the end as if they do nothing, he says, and it sets up a duel between Gangler Touma and Kairi, fighting for control of Touma’s body.

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A daring gamble on Kairi’s part leads to another dramatic moment, and then the fight resumes as the tone shifts back to the more familiar Sentai feel.

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With all three thieves, we see a new combination form for LupinKaiser, replacing the blue and yellow arms with green and black, for the ScissorBlade and Cyclone Dial Fighters.

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The battle comes to an end quickly after that, and things return to normal, with the police none the wiser. Back in Jurer, in a packed room full of all six main characters, the police call Touma out for skipping work, and caution Kairi and Umika about Touma slacking off to hang out with girls.

Next week, Keiichiro has a girlfriend?! Stay tuned and see. What did you guys think of this week’s episode? Leave a comment and let’s discuss!

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Hero Mama League Operation 01 Review

Hero Mama League consists of Nono Nakami (Hurricane Blue), Reimon Marika (DekaYellow) and Ozu Houka (MagiPink). As we open the series, all three have married and become mothers, with children all around the same age who attend the same preschool. The film is short, only about 16 minutes long, but channels parts of both Super Sentai and the American film Bad Moms, as the group tries to flirt with the preschool teacher and then laments the fact that he thinks they look tired. Over coffee, the three of them talk about motherhood, including various over-the-top modifications made to their hero gear or uses for their weapons to calm their children down. As the hero mamas talk about ways to save time doing chores, an alien ninja called Demost creates an army of Mecha Nin Insects using a new type of Ninpo, and prepares to unleash the force on Earth.

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The discussion of time goes so far as to have DekaYellow transform before leaving the restaurant to go fight aliens. Her time saving plan fails, leading to the role call needing to be repeated, and she comes back looking more drained than before. This is repeated with MagiPink, though she adds in stories of chores during battle getting her hurt and ruining her husband’s shirt.

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When the discussion ends, they emerge from the restroom to find the attack has begun, and vow to stop it without time saving tricks or cut corners. The Hero Mamas enter the battle, but it cuts to Demost, defeated, and we are told that the rest of the story will be shown in a V-Cinema special included with Uchuu Sentai Kyuranger vs Space Squad.

Overall, Hero Mama League is definitely a series targeted at the mothers of children going to theatres to see Super Sentai films, or watching at home with their children, and ends on a message to inspire and empower said mothers. It is a positive message overall, even if the film itself is a little lacking in substance. If you are a fan of these characters, though, this film may be worth a watch for you. You can find Hero Mama League Operation 01 available now, subtitled in English through Tv-Nihon.

What did you guys think of Hero Mama League? Leave a comment and let’s discuss!

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Kaitou Sentai Lupinranger vs Keisatsu Sentai Patoranger Episode 15 Review

The Patorangers are in rough shape following the events of episode 14. Keiichiro remains hospitalized, and the others are up and moving but hurt. We open the episode on Commander Hilltop entering Bistro Jurer. He already knows the names of each Lupinranger, but does not let on that he knows more just yet, citing the bistro’s fame around the GSPO station. As it turns out, he has come to buy snacks to take to the hospitalized Patorangers. We get the first indication of a language barrier, indicating that Hilltop may be American, like actor Ike Nwala, who plays him.

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The curious line, “Hold me tight,” when Hilltop means to use the Japanese colloquialism, “Omimai,” is a nice way to diffuse some of the tension created by the commander’s presence in the bistro and the news of the Patorangers being injured. Overall, his tone is relatively light given the grave circumstances, and is meant to be reassuring. Par for the course, we eventually get our arc for the episode in the form of learning that Keiichiro can only be cured by the defeat of Togeno, the hitman Gangler from episode 14. Kaijin abilities are often removed in this way in Tokusatsu shows, and this series appears to be no exception. It’s a familiar plot device, but not an entirely unwelcome one.

Learning that the Patorangers are injured brings out another layer of that humanising depth and complexity seen in previous episodes for all of these characters, but none more so than Kairi, as he shares a moment with Tsukasa to learn how much the police are risking in the name of public safety. Having been confronted with the very real possibility of the death of his rival, Kairi is clearly conflicted, perhaps even hurting. As much as it would make the Phantom Thieves’ job easier to have the police out of the way, they have gotten to know the Patorangers on a personal level through regular contact at Jurer, and may even consider them friends, in a way.

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Togeno, shamed and shunned by Boss Dogranio, goes on a rampage, and here we see Touma’s first contact with the Gangler. No longer content to use the poison quills from his own body, Togeno now carries a rifle, fitting for his profession when in human form.

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Even badly hurt, Sakuya is willing to jump right back into the fight on hearing of Togeno’s return, but finds Tsukasa suiting up at the station when he arrives to do the same. Tsukasa insists they will fight smarter, coming up with an effective plan to bring down Togeno.

This is how we learn Sakuya is a trained sniper, and in Tsukasa’s plan, Sakuya will put that skill to the test, setting up an exciting gun battle between himself and Togeno. Sadly, we never truly get to see this play out as we get Sakuya dual wielding VS changers instead. It would have been exciting to see Sakuya shine, as his sharpshooting training indicates his background may be more layered and nuanced than his simple joking personality may suggest. As GSPO is a global organization, there exists a possibility that he may have military training, maybe even as part of NATO. This revelation would open the world of Lupinranger vs Patoranger to more possibilities and a large crossover event at some point, especially if this continuity is the same as Dekaranger.

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Keiichiro makes his return, barely able to stand. A combined shot, cooperatively made after Umika intervenes, defeats the Kaijin-sized Togeno and allows for him to be resurrected as a Kaiju.

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The mecha scene shows the debut of the Crane and Drill form of PatKaiser.

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After Togeno is defeated, the poison that had spread ceases to be, and the team is healed of their sickness. The preview for next week sets up a new conflict between Touma and the rest of both teams, as he is bodyswapped with a Gangler.

Also included is a preview for the fantastic-looking Uchuu Sentai Kyuranger vs Uchuu Keiji Gavan.

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