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This Week in Tokusatsu – Weeks 7 and 8, 2019

As Lupinranger Vs Patoranger comes to a close, Zi-O starts to achieve his full potential and the Super Sentai Saikyou Battle kicks off.


Lupinranger vs Patoranger Episode 51 (End)

The Lupinrangers are stuck inside Dogranio’s safe after their battle with Zamigo. Thankfully, they equipped their police counterparts before entering, knowing this could happen. On the whole, this final episode feels rushed. The battle against Dogranio is short and anticlimactic, decided quickly by a macguffin more than the skill or strength of any of the Rangers. When it’s over, Dogranio is taken into custody rather than being killed, and we flash forward a year.

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In that time, the Patorangers have become superheroes, celebrities to some degree, while still managing to do their jobs and mop up the last of the Ganglers. The Lupinrangers are believed to be dead, or at least, still trapped inside Dogranio’s safe world. When the credits start to roll on this series for the final time, the ending is ambiguous, a cliffhanger that leaves the main arc of the show unresolved. It is flashy, though, and does not disappoint if you are looking for good choreography and stunt work.

Where it does fall short in one other big way, though, is that the final scene of the series undoes much of the growth the characters went through, ignoring previously established friendships and romances, in favour of the generic cops-and-robbers angle that began the series. With a movie coming later in the year, I am personally hopeful that that will provide the ending this amazing series rightfully deserves. Kishiryu Sentai Ryusoulger kicks off in a few weeks, but until then, we are going to be treated to a four-week miniseries called Super Sentai: Strongest Battle! This series will be covered here during its full run leading up to the premiere of Ryusoulger.


Kamen Rider Zi-O Episodes 22 and 23

Zi-O’s true power is unleashed this week as Zi-O II debuts! In an attempt to defeat Another Ryuga, Geiz sacrifices his life to use his finishing attack on Another Ryuga, knowing that there is a time distortion before the attack triggers. This leads to Sougo beginning to accept the darkness in himself, the way he’d convinced Kido Shinji earlier in the episode to do the same.

Zi-O II is able to defeat Another Ryuga, and in a strong twist of character, Tsukuyomi and Geiz wrap the episode knowing they pushed Sougo in the wrong direction. They resolve to do better, and we begin the next episode, which sees Sougo jump 102 years into the future, to 2121.

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There he meets Kamen Rider Kikai, a parody of Shotaro Ishinomori’s other classic tokusatsu hero, Kikaider. Curiously, the episode is even called “Kikai da!” as an easter egg reference to this character.  Kikai’s design is very reminiscent of Drive, to me, with similar eyes and helmet shape. Many of the parts are mechanical in nature, obviously meant to emphasize the “Kikai” or machine design.

It’s a good suit, overall, and one that could easily be believed as a future Rider. When Sougo and Geiz end up meeting Another Kikai, it is the opposite of its counterpart, organic in nature instead of mechanical. The armour is largely made of wood, and instead of a person, Another Kikai appears to be some kind of Beetle that can reform itself by jumping from one tree to another. To put a twist on things, it’s revealed with a quick snippet of dialogue that this Another Rider was not created by any of the existing Time Jackers we know.

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Through animation and set pieces, as well as some expository dialogue by Kikai, we see a dark future that is worthy of its own series, if played out correctly, much like the previous Miraiders up to this point. One thing that threw me off at first, but quickly became one of the best parts of the episode, was the face and voice behind Kikai. The same actor who plays Kamen Rider Kikai was also recently seen as Zamigo in Lupinranger vs Patoranger, but seeing him play a hero is only briefly an odd transition. He plays the part well, and I personally would love to see more of this character and world, either through a spin-off or V-Cinema like Kamen Riders Shinobi and Quiz are getting.

This episode holds a few more big twists that you will need to watch it to see, but the implications on the plot are staggering if managed correctly. Next week, we will see the resolution of the Kikai arc, as well as all three Riders working together for the first time. Stay tuned and leave your thoughts in the comments or on social media!


Super Sentai Strongest Battle Episode 1

This three-episode miniseries is designed to fill the gap between the end of Lupinranger vs Patoranger and the beginning of the upcoming Kishiryu Sentai Ryusoulger, and is a crossover event between returning and new heroes. We begin with the defeat of the Gokaigers at the hands of the series’ villain, Gaisorg. The series features not only teams crossing over, but dimensions, as we see the team lineup debut. The team includes Gokai Red, Zyuoh Eagle, AkaNinger, Kyuranger’s Sasori Orange, and Toq # 5 (Pink). All of the original actors return, though the voice for Gokai Red’s suited form in the opening is clearly not Ryota Ozawa. Keiichiro of the Patorangers is also invited to join, but we are still given no resolution to the cliffhanger ending of his series.

Taking beats from multiple western media sources, each Ranger who is invited is given a literal golden ticket, then transported to a Marvel-style battle world, a planet called Nemesis. Each summoned ranger joins a team of five, for a total of 32 groups, and the contest is shown to be a battle royale tournament. Zyuoh Eagle regrets that he and Keiichiro are in the first match, thinking they would get along well, but knowing this is just a contest. The match is between “Team Weirdo” and “Team Serious Business” which both appear to be fitting names. Apart from this one-on-one contest, we see other matches going on with other teams, dating as far back as Denjiman and Turboranger. Many of the battles shown are between teams whose seasons had crossover movies, including TimeBlue against Gingaman Red.

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Overall, this crossover event appears to be riding the Battle Royale hype train, but is a fun ride nonetheless. If you need a Super Sentai fix in between series, this will get you through, but is largely lacking in substance, apart from the character interactions.


Power Rangers News

Unveiled at Toy Expo 2019, we finally have our first look at the Lightning Collection, as well as other new Power Rangers toys coming from Hasbro later this year. Each figure in the Lightning Collection is highly detailed, including multiple accessories and head sculpts for Rangers (including Doggie Cruger). The first wave of Lightning Collection figures will be as follows:

Part of the second wave has also been officially announced. Included in this wave will be:

  • Goldar (US Exclusive to Gamestop)
  • Beast Morphers Red

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In addition, it was confirmed that Power Rangers Beast Morphers will premiere on March 2nd on Nickelodeon in the US, with worldwide release to follow shortly after.

A trailer debuted for Beast Morphers around 2/21/19, showing some of the differences between Beast Morphers and Go-Busters, as well as some of the effects and the new transformation sequence. It appears they are adding a crystal gimmick that didn’t exist in Go-Busters, but are otherwise leaving the scene largely unchanged.

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

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This Week in Tokusatsu – Week 5, 2019

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


Lupinranger vs Patoranger Episode 49

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

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

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

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


Kamen Rider Zi-O Episode 20

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

White Woz and Geiz

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

Zi-O W Armour

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

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

Zi-O 2 RideWatch

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


Tokusatsu GaGaGa Episodes 1 and 2

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

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

Shishi Leo on the Train

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

Jushowan Action Pose

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

Gacha Machine Kid

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

Jushowan or Love Cute

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

Sneaking around the toy store

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

Shopping

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

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

Nakamura and Yoshida meet

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

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

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

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This Week in Tokusatsu – Weeks 3 and 4, 2019

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

Lupinranger vs Patoranger Episodes 47 and 48

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

Noel Captured 48

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

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

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

LupinRangers no helmets

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

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

Combined Teams 48

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

Kamen Rider Zi-O Episodes 18 and 19

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

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

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

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

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

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