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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!