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Toei

Digimon Adventure tri. photo
Digimon Adventure tri.

Licensing GET: Shout! Factory grabs Digimon Adventure tri.


Greymon digivolves into Blu-raymon!
Jan 17
// Salvador G Rodiles
It's been a good while since Digimon Adventure tri.'s theatrical event occurred in North America. Luckily, this won't be the last that we'll hear from the original series' new sequel as Shout! Factory digivolves the film's fi...
Gekisou Sentai Carranger photo
Gekisou Sentai Carranger

Safety First: Carranger is up for pre-order on Shout! Factory's Website


Who wants to learn about traffic safety?
Jan 10
// Salvador G Rodiles
Now this comes as a surprise. It turns out that Shout! Factory plans to launch Gekisou Sentai Carranger, the show where Power Rangers Turbo got its footage from, on April 25. Just like their previous releases, if you pre...

Annotated Anime: Tiger Mask W episodes 11-13

Jan 09 // Soul Tsukino
Episode 11 If you love training videos then this is the episode for you! This episode takes place just after last week's show has ended. Tiger has a week until his next round match against Tiger the Dark and he needs to come up with a new killer move. Wakamatsu and Tanahashi invite him to train at the NJPW dojo, which Tiger agrees too. This pisses off Takaoka who is so old school he talks about a bodyslam or keylock being a killer move once. Anyway, most of the episode is literally a commercial for New Japan as both Tanahashi and Okada (where has he been this whole time?) take turns beating the crap out of Tiger Mask at the New Japan Dojo. I have to admit the animators must have made a trip to the Tokyo building because they get the inside of the training hall scary accurate! Kudos to them for that. Another interesting point in all this is a random appearance of Tetsuya Naito. He doesn't play a part in the story and is only on for a few minutes, telling Tiger Mask to chill out and Tranquillo and that's it. That was... useless. What the hell was the point of that? Unless Los Ingobernalbes show up to help Tiger Mask beat Tiger the Dark there was no point to this cameo at all. It literally would have made more sense to have Nagata, Fukuwara Mask or hell, even Gorilla Jeet Sign show up here more than that! After his time at the gym, Tanahashi and Wakamatsu take Tiger to a waterfall to stand under, with Tanahashi saying it was something Hirooki Goto did to find his finisher, to which Wakamatsu said that it was to collect himself when he lost to Okada. Either way, Hirooki Goto hasn't even appeared on this show so unless you are a fan of New Japan wrestling, it will just fly over your head. Outside of watching Tiger get his clock cleaned a number of times and pointless mentions and cameos, We see what the GWM guys are doing with their training! It's all atmosphere and pressure chamber space age technology with them as it's just like the training montage from Rocky IV. Tiger the Dark wants to be just as strong as Yellow Devil. We also see Takuma go to the hospital where his father is, but he still can't face him so he leaves some pudding with the nurse and leaves. His father figures out where the pudding from his hometown came from and tries to go after Takuma but he is still wheelchair bound. This episode flat out was not very good. It seemed more like an advertisement from NJPW and its top wrestlers more than anything that really advanced the plot. Nothing here couldn't have been accomplished in a 2-minute flashback and didn't need to be played out like this. Total skippable episode. Episode 12 It's time for the next match as the semifinals of the masked world tournament are tonight. However Tiger is still training with Tanahashi to try and get his new finishing move down at the NJPW gym. I can't say this is a good idea, but this is anime and that changes things. We even get a little bit of Haruna training at the home gym a little bit as she is toying with the idea of becoming a wrestler. The training bag ends up hitting her and knocking her down to the floor. The big show starts promptly at 3 pm and Tiger Mask, Dragon Young, and It's-The-Ace are not there. Tonight's matches are an opener of a couple of jobbers, Ken Anderson and Mike take on Poseidon and Dragon Young, and the two semifinals. Tiger and his buddies don't show up until the opening match is just ending so poor Poseidon is standing there just as his partner shows up (in a cab no less) and they run to the ring and promptly lose because they keep hitting each other. They then start fighting. Umm, okay. Yellow Devil and It's-The-Ace are up next and no surprise that Tanahashi does more damage to Yellow Devil than anyone else. Were you expecting any different? But since NJPW is producing this, Tanahashi loses without actually being pinned or submitted because screw you that's why! When your main villain of the season can't be bothered to pin a dude, that doesn't really look all that great when the final happens does it? Tiger Mask and Tiger the Dark finally go at it. It is actually really disappointing as the match really isn't much to talk about. Tiger the Dark unveils his own new special move, a modified Octopus hold, and Tiger nearly passes out. But Haruna had invited Daisuke and the nurse to watch the show! They arrive just in time and not only does this revive Tiger, but Tiger the Dark freaks out, as you could imagine. It doesn't help that Daisuke is cheering for Tiger Mask and not him. Well, stupid, if you'd actually face you father and tell him what you are doing this wouldn't have happened now would it? Anyway, Tiger Mask unveils his new move, which is a flying knee to the face. Seriously, he got his ass kicked by NJPW's guys, stood in a waterfall, and got jabbed at with sticks on fire just to come up with a flying cartwheel knee to the face. This doesn't put Tiger the Dark down, it just splits open his old scar from Yellow Devil and pisses him off. Dark goes to retaliate but just passes out from the blood loss and Tiger Mask wins. This episode was disappointing. It still was able to hit some plot points but man it was like the match with the two tigers was just an afterthought. That match should have taken WAY more of the episode instead of messing around with all the extra crap. This episode wasn't a total disaster, but I would have done this one a whole lot differently. Episode 13 It's now time for the finals of the Masked World Tournament. But first, it's time for a women's match for no particular reason! Yup. GWM puts on a women's match right before the finals, proving that even in an anime, women matches get the death spot on a card. It's kind of weird as the subtitles refer to it as a "divas" match while you clearly hear them say "Joshi". Both describe a women's wrestling match but have much different connotations. Divas was the term the WWE used for women wrestlers but did away with at Wrestlemania last year as many of the women found it demeaning. Joshi conjures up images of the AJPW women's dojo and beating the tar out of 15-year-old girls before throwing them in the ring. Seriously, look up some vids online of that place. Scary. The only point for this is that originally they were supposed to go 30 minutes, letting Yellow Devil and Tiger Mask rest before the fight, but Miss X shortens it to 10 minutes. They don't actually explain it, but the idea is that Tiger Mask just got done a fight while Yellow Devil is sitting back relaxing. As this match is going on Tiger Mask is PISSED. He yells at Hikari going to his dressing room when she tries to get some questions. Turns out that in the match with Tiger the Dark, he actually screwed up his new big move and that kneeing him in the skull was an accident. Botchamania time for Tiger Mask! Meanwhile, Yellow Devil brings up a good point to Miss X, saying a fighter's top fear is the unknown. He then shows that he is not known for his headbutt but will use it against Tiger. The women's match ends with both unconscious on the mat, with them only going 5 minutes meaning not only does Tiger have to turn around and go back out there, but that the GWM needs to stick their women fighters to some endurance training. Tiger Mask and Yellow Devil start the match and Tiger is ready to kill right out of the bell. He tries for big moves like a tombstone but nothing is working. Yellow Devil is just tossing Tiger around before tossing him out of the ring. Tiger gets so furious he dents the metal barrier outside. Daisuke, Takaoka, Haruna, and Fukuwara Mask all notice Tiger is mad and tells him to calm down (THIS would have been a good Naito reference with Tranquillo). Tiger finally calms down and gets back in. It's around this point that Tiger The Dark wakes up and staggers out to watch the fight too. The match sequence is actually pretty good. Much better than the Tiger the Dark fight. Tiger counters Devil's moves but Devil has had enough of that and strangles Tiger with a choke and then headbutts him so hard Tiger starts bleeding. Daisuke freaks out saying that this isn't the Yellow Devil he knows. Everyone else freaks out as Yellow Mask damn near killed Tiger. Devil picks Tiger back up and goes for the choke and headbutt again but Tiger has a mental episode and counters it. He gets Devil back in the corner and finally hits his move correctly to knock Devil out and win the match. It's a corner cartwheel into a lung blower and monkey flip. I'd stick to the knee to the face. He grabs Yellow Devil and we find out that the masked man wasn't who everyone thought it was, pissing tiger off immensely. As he walks to the back in disgust, Tiger the Dark realizes that Tiger Mask is after Yellow Devil as well. After a couple of duds, this was a good episode. The women's match part of it wasn't the greatest, but they delivered in the actual meat of the episode. Since this was the finale of Season 1 (of 3) I wondered what this show would do. They had a climax with plenty of reason to keep watching (as good wrestling should). Not only does Tiger keep fighting, but a seed has been planted between Tiger and Tiger the dark now that they have a common goal.
Tiger Mask W photo
The climax of the tournament
We are back at it with the further adventures of Tiger Mask W after a holiday break. We are at the end of the first season and the GWM's Masked World tournament is in it's second round so let's get started with the action!

Uchu Sentai Kyuranger photo
Uchu Sentai Kyuranger

Watch Kyuranger's heroes strike a cosmic pose


It's Space Time!
Jan 08
// Salvador G Rodiles
At long last, we get to see Uchu Sentai Kyuranger's constellation-themed heroes in action. Thanks to TV Asahi, the first teaser for the show gives us a better look at the team's costumes. While we only get to see the tea...

Uchu Sentai Kyuranger photo
Uchu Sentai Kyuranger

Check out Uchu Sentai Kyuranger's otherworldly cast


This team is out of this world
Dec 26
// Salvador G Rodiles
Ever since Kyuranger's suits were revealed, I was behind the idea of a constellation-themed Sentai team with nine members. With the show's cast and staff announced, the franchise's 41st show is starting to look more interesti...

Annotated Anime: Tiger Mask W episodes 8-10

Dec 12 // Soul Tsukino
Episode 8 This episode really was a mixed bag of a few things. Each of its points actually had a purpose, but it just put a lot of them to you as a viewer for a single episode. Think of it like one of the episodes of wrestling either right before or right after a big show where it has lots of storylines to give you. The first part of this episode is delving into Naoto's past before he became a wrestler. Naoto and Haruna visit Daisuke in the hospital and then on the way to the matches he shows Haruna that he had been living in a temporary relief shelter when he lost his home and family in an earthquake. We then see flashbacks of a younger Naoto begging Daisuke to train as a wrestler. We get to see him getting the rough treatment and meeting Takuma for the first time. It's a nice bit of background, but at this point do we need it? The next part of the episode shows us what Naoto and Takuma are both up to. Akuma and his two friends as training in a ring  (inside a cage, inside a CAVE) beating on poor Odin. Seems this is where he ended up, as a sparring partner. Miss X tells them they will be part of the big tournament in Japan. Odin begs her for mercy. She tells him she will relent only until after he competes in "Hell in the Hole" whatever that means. Sounds kinda dirty. Odin freaks out about "the Hole".  Meanwhile, Tiger Mask is competing in a NJPW show. He and Tanahashi are teaming up against... aw crap... Yup. Tama Tonga and Bad Luck Fale. The match is short and the good guys win, earning a tag title shot at the next big show.  Not much else to report here really. We see what both Tigers have been up to and setting the stage for the tag title shot. We then finally get to the main point. the GWM announces their new Japanese arena, the Max Dome, and the GWM Masked World Tournament. Tiger the Dark will be there, so will European champion Wagner, and Yellow Devil. Miss X opens it up to any masked wrestler to take part. Naoto wants to compete, but GWM schedules it at the same time as NJPW's show. The NJPW guys aren't happy about this either. Nagata, Okada, Wakamatsu. and Tanahashi, see this and want no part of it. There is actually a really funny line as Nagata tells the other wrestlers to tell "Liger" (referring to NJPW legend Jushin "Thunder" Liger) they are not participating. Someone then asks about "Captain" (The wrestler formally known as Captain New Japan now as Bone Soldier) and Nagata answers "He wouldn't go even if I told him too." BURN! As soon as that's agreed on Tiger Mask shows up and says he can't make the Tag Title match because he will be in the tournament instead. The NJPW guys aren't happy but Tiger has made up his mind. They all silently understand so they don't bust his chops too badly. The episode seems to bounce around a bit but we have a clear goal in sight. The Masked World Tournament seems to be the finale of the first part of this series (it was announced this show has 39 episodes). So while it touched on a lot of things, they all seemed to be gearing towards that in some way. So it didn't focus on the action, but it did serve the purpose of setting things up. Episode 9 It's tournament time! This episode, unlike many of the ones from this series, focuses on the single point of the big World Masked Tournament the GWM is putting on in their new Max Dome. We see the announcement of the eight participants. Tiger Mask is entered, along with Fukuwara Mask. Yuji isn't pleased to hear that, but it turns out Yuji didn't bother to make him an offer not to enter. Yellow Devil, Tiger the Dark, and Wagner are also entered. Rounding out the field are a wrestler named Poseidon, and two goofballs named "Oriental Magic" Dragon Young and  "The Japanese Trump Card" It's-The-Ace. Ya know, I've been accused of being a cynical wrestling fan but those guys look REALLY familiar. Leading up to the afternoon show, We see some minor stuff like Tiger Mask and Fukuwara Mask chumming together at the arena, Fukuwara, and Haruna not being allowed to sell their merch because they aren't GWM talent, and we find out the European Champion is just Tiger The Dark's running buddy Kevin Andersen and Wagner is just made up. Miss X comments it happens all the time.  The big show kicks off with a fan making the "random" draw for the tournament. Tiger the Dark vs. Fukuwara Mask,  Tiger Mask vs. Wagner, Poseidon vs.  It's-the-Ace,  Dragon Young vs. Yellow Devil. If you don't see how this bracket will work out on the next few episodes, then I suggest you go back to the recap of the first episode and start this over again. We get to the action and the first match between Tiger the Dark and Fukuwara Mask doesn't last very long. Tiger Mask makes his entrance for his match and Wagner... isn't there? That doesn't make much sense. Someone ELSE arrives and lays down the challenge to Tiger Mask instead.   Evidently, he is Mister Question, a character from the original show who wants to see if this new Tiger Mask is up to snuff. Okay, kind of random. Wagner finally shows up and he is pissed, but Mister Question quells that argument rather quickly.   Finally, we have a straightforward path in this series, maybe a little too straightforward, but at least we know where we are going and hopefully there won't be a lot of filler anymore. Even though you kinda know how this will play out, I still feel compelled to watch and see how they get there.  Episode 10 The tournament continues! We pick up where we left off with the last episode. Tiger Mask is staring down his new opponent in the tournament, Mister Question. As the match begins we see that Mister Question is no ordinary guy, and I don't mean the white bell-bottomed suit with a turban as part of his mask. It appears he is super flexible.   Like REALLY flexible. Did a Kinnikuman villain walk onto the wrong show? Fukuwara Mask jumps in on commentary and explains that Mister Question is from India, and India is known for Yoga. Anyway as the match progresses, Tiger seems at a loss. Miss X then tells Mister Question that he would be rewarded for taking out Tiger Mask, but he turns that down flat. He's not in this for the money and glory. Miss X is not amused. Tiger is about to get beat when he sees something that fires him up.   After the match ends Mister Question says he will tell Tiger who he is later. Meanwhile, we get the next match of Poseidon vs. It's-the-Ace. There is no question who It's-The-Ace is and the show doesn't even try to hide it. The match ends predictably and in the locker room we find out that Poseidon was actually Mikasa, The former Jinpang wrestler who was Odin's original opponent in episode 1. During the match though we get a meeting backstage between Tiger Mask and Mister Question. The gist of the meeting is that Tiger can't beat the GWM the way he is now, and the man from India tells Tiger he needs to develop a new killer finisher, just like the original Tiger Mask did after the original Mister Question broke Tiger's original finisher. Guess that's Tiger's next goal.  We get to the final match of the first round as Dragon Young faces Yellow Devil. This goes about as well as you'd expect. Poor Wakamatsu doesn't stand a chance and it's over quick. We get an announcement that the next round is next week and that is pretty much it. The second round has Yellow Devil facing It's-The-Ace and Tiger Mask and Tiger the Dark in the other match. This episode was clear and straightforward, a lot less meandering around as some of the episodes been this season. The big reveal of Mister Question isn't exactly anything worth noting but it does play into the storyline. I don't see this as the most noteworthy or best episode so far, but at least you could see where they were going with the story. So with these episodes, we are seeing the climax of the first season starting to take shape. We have a goal and a path to get there. We've seen the villain and he is a rough dude. The next few episodes should be a lot of fun!
Tiger Mask W photo
We finally have some direction
The adventures of Tiger Mask W continues here as we look at the next batch of episodes from the series. So far we've had some ups and downs as far as episodes go but so far I've been enjoying it. Where do we go now? Let's find out!

Uchu Sentai Kyuranger photo
Uchu Sentai Kyuranger

2017's Sentai series brings us nine space-themed Rangers


Saint Seiya the Tokusatsu
Dec 08
// Salvador G Rodiles
Whenever a franchise does its best to change things up, I'm always down for seeing how they execute these new elements. With December among us, the next Super Sentai series, Uchu Sentai Kyuranger, has unveiled its designs, an...
Dragon Ball Super photo
Dragon Ball Super

Dragon Ball Super's English dub airing on Toonami this January


Rock the dragon again
Dec 07
// Nick Valdez
Although you can find Japanese episodes of Dragon Ball Super streaming on Crunchyroll and Funimation Now, if you're like me you've been waiting for an English version. Thankfully we won't have to wait much longer as Toei Anim...

Annotated Tokusatsu: Dobutsu Sentai Zyuohger episodes 4-10

Dec 03 // Salvador G Rodiles
With these set of episodes being the ones that get us better acquainted with the main gang, Zyuohger hit the right notes in making the zyuman characters a fun group to follow. Aside from the show continuing with its fish-out-of-water elements, there was something wonderful about seeing how the crew acts. From Sela’s desire to have Leo spar with her seriously to Tusk’s strict nature in making sure everyone follows their roles, the series did a fine job in using their traits to the fullest during the segments that follow each character. One of the neat surprises from these set of episodes was the truth behind Yamato’s being able to become a Zyuohger. This was due to the slightly tragic nature of how he’s able to utilize this power. Hell, it was this price that showed us the resolve that Larry and the eagle zyuman had when they chose to aid our main zoologist. All in all, this moment shows that Zyuohger can toss in some serious moments when it wants to take a break from its campy comedic segments between Yamato and his comrades. In regards to the new robot power-ups, Zyuoh Wild is a nice addition to the show’s roster, as he resembles an animal version of the Diesel-Oh from ToQger. Of course, its finisher being a series of rocket punches is a great way to give it a nice super robot feel. If Shinkenger’s early robots were able to do some cool things with the origami theme, then Zyuohger does the same with its cube motif. Sure, the look still doesn’t translate well into a toy, but that’s more of Bandai’s toy division’s fault than the folks behind the machines’ designs and suits. With these set of episodes introducing us to the gang and their new abilities, this worked well in making the show’s first big event hit the audience in the right spots. Sure, this is a thing with many Sentai titles, but it’s one of the signs that you’re in for a nice time when your investment pays off with these segments. In fact, the Dethgalien’s leader joining in the game is one of those things that made this arc intense. Compare to the previous hunting games, Genis’ debut as a player shows how one can spice up the weekly formula in these types of shows. The objective before the main fight made you wonder if the team could accomplish this task before any lives are lost, and the odds worked well in testing the gang’s trust in each other. This was thanks to the doubt between the time while they were rushing to complete the main villain's scavenger hunt of doom. Since it made way for a major two-part segment, this increases the possibility of Zyuohger being a wonderful anniversary series. If there was one odd thing about these set of episodes, it’s the segment that featured Kamen Rider Ghost since it felt a bit off. Sure, the franchise started crossing over with Kamen Rider to promote the previous Super Hero Wars films, but those were presented as a 40ish-minute segment that took up the Super Hero Time block. While its purpose was to get people hyped up for Kamen Rider No. 1, the whole thing is almost similar to the Samurai Sentai Shinkenger and Kamen Rider Decade crossover; thus likely making this sequence canon. Since it didn’t distract too much from Zyuohger’s moments that were dedicated to Tusk’s true views on Amu, Takeru’s cameo appearance didn’t cause the show’s quality to vanish. As Zyuohger reaches its first major point, the series continues to be an interesting attraction so far. The main team is being put to the test and things are setting up for an unexpected reunion for the crew that could change the way how the series will flow. One thing for sure, the show is looking to be one that’s worth catching up to. 
Dobutsu Sentai Zyuohger photo
Never take a sacrifice for granted
I may be really late to the party with my thoughts on Zyuohger, but I felt that I should do my best to catch up with the series before it comes to a close next year. Seeing that I dug the idea of a zoologist fighting alongsid...

Annotated Anime: Tiger Mask W episodes 5-7

Nov 16 // Soul Tsukino
Episode 5 This seems like a tale of two kitties. The big thing about this episode is that despite the complete BLOODBATH that occurred in the last episode. It's completely ignored. Wakamatsu getting his skull crushed and then ran into the ring post? He's perfectly fine! Tiger Mask bleeding worse than the infamous Muta scale match with Hiroshi Hase (look it up on YouTube if you aren't squeamish)? Nope, he's all good. I know Japan is known for wrestlers not selling big moves but C'mon! Anyway, the big story point here is that Tiger Mask has joined New Japan Pro Wrestling officially. Before his first match, he runs into Fukuawara Mask. An odd trickster type character who bares a striking resemblance to real life wrestler Ebbasan from about ten years ago. We see Fukuwara mask wrestle Wakamatsu in a match and totally trick Wakamatsu in getting carted out. Tiger Mask ends up fighting Tomoaki Honma.. and of course, pins him after Honma misses the Kokeshi headbutt. Well, give the producers points for accuracy there! At a different arena, the GWM is having a show. Tiger the Dark crushes some guy and it turns out things are not united with the GWM wrestlers. Seems the vets don't like how a newcomer like Tiger the Dark is dominating his opponents, especially the main guy Bosman. It is now apparent that Tiger The Dark (Takuma), Kevin Andersen, and Mike are an island unto themselves in the GWM. This leads to both Tigers being in different battles royal (the proper way to plural battle royal according to Gordon Solie). Tiger the Dark draws number one in a royal rumble style where a new man enters the ring every few minutes (facing 18 nobodies and Bosman) and Tiger Mask is in a regular battle royal where we see Okada, Wakamatsu, Honma, Ishii, Fukuwara Mask, Makabe, and Nagata as an in-ring competitor. They are fighting it out for...rice. Seriously, the biggest wrestling names in Japan are fighting over rice. This episode is short on story. Other than having Tiger Mask join NJPW, there isn't a lot of exposition here. It is a much lighter episode than the last one, but they pretty much ignore everything that happened in that episode too. No healing, no revenge, no nothing. Really detracts from the flow of the series.  Hopefully, this branches into something bigger. Episode 6 Straight up, this episode makes little sense and is so not important to the story it seems to be spoofing itself. So now that he has joined NJPW Tiger Mask's next opponent is Gorilla Jeet Singh. A scimitar wielding psychopath that barely speaks any decipherable language and grunts a groans a lot. Of course, this is a spoof of Tiger Jeet Singh, a wrestler originally from the Punjab (later living in Canada) who was recruit by Antonio Inoki to play a foreign bad guy against him in the '70s, despite not having a whole lot of actual wrestling skill. He would run to the ring carrying a fencing saber and attack fans in the crowd. He wrestled (brawled would be more accurate) for over 30 years, most of it in Japan. Anyway in the lead up to the fight, NJPW is going to have "the next generation of Idol singers" sing a song before the fight. These two little brats are Nama Ham and Yaki Udon, you know their names because they say it constantly and speak in the third person. They hate wrestling and even send out a message on their website about how they were tricked into doing the show. They arrive in the ring for the show and the women wrestling fans damn near boo them out of the building and throw trash at them in the ring. What does any of this have to do with the plot of the series? Red Shoes, got any ideas? Yup. That sums up my feelings on this one. Tiger Mask fights the guy, and the only good thing out of this episode is Gorilla signs voice acting. It is hilarious. One the other hand, the idol singers look and sound awful. I still can't figure out if they just act that way to get attention, they are trying to "play heel", or if they really are as big of brats as they sound. They also both sound, and are animated to look like they are 30 years old. Short and sweet, you can skip this episode completely and you won't lose a thing. Episode 7 This episode was titled "Naoto and Naoto" and promised to be something more about the original Tiger Mask anime. Did it live up to its promise? This episode thankfully has way more purpose than the last episode did. It does have a lot going on with more than one storyline at work in this episode. There is a lot of mention of the past, but it isn't the sole story being told here. Tiger Mask and Haruna are in Okinawa for a New Japan wrestling show. The Main Event is Tiger Mask and Yuji Nagata facing Okada and his CHAOS buddy Yoshi Hashi. But before any of that, we see the reporter  Hikari digging around in some archive and then asking a distracted Haruna for an interview with Tiger Mask. The interview is very brief. Hikari tells the story of the original Tiger Mask to him and asks if he is from the Tiger's Den, if he is related to Tiger Mask, and why use the name. He answers he is not from the Den, not related to Naoto Date, and he answers that she should be able to find out why he took the Tiger Mask name on his own. This episode also gave us some background on the bad guy side of things as well. In a follow-up from two episodes ago, Tiger the Dark gets his shot at the GWM US title, thanks to winning the battle royal. He is facing off against Bosman (in the "Kow Bell" arena in Texas) and beats him for the belt. His rookie buddies Kevin and Mike congratulate him backstage \and soon the other wrestlers do too. Bosman is demoted to indy shows and Miss X is called to Mr. X's office. He then explains the story of the original Tiger Mask from their side of things. Original Tiger Mask beat the then top executive of the company Tiger The Great, and nearly sank the organization, leading to the original Mr. X to die is despair. He doesn't say how he became Mr. X or how Miss X got to where she is, but between this and the earlier scene, it does get us up to speed a bit on what has happened since the original show. The other ongoing plot here follows an old street vendor and his granddaughter. The old guy is banged up after a drunken argument over wrestlers being stronger than karate guys. This leads to him seeing an ad about the new Tiger Mask wrestling and he thinks it's the original. His granddaughter follows him to the show, and it's her first wrestling event. She's enthralled but the old guy is skeptical of anyone using the Tiger Mask name. He watches the main event and starts having flashbacks when he sees Tiger Mask use the back suplex just like the original did. Like I said earlier, this episode had a clear purpose of linking the shows together, and it worked. However, it didn't take the clear path to do it, and that's good in this case. An episode like this in most other shows would literally be two characters talking with a mountain of flashbacks and not much else going on, but this show not only breaks things up with stuff going on like Tiger the Dark winning the title and The tag match, but we even got to see the events of the original from both perspectives of the story. And look who also shows up? Speaking of the flashbacks, I give credit because they did these scenes perfectly. The flashback scenes were animated to look as close to anime in the early '70s as possible. The animators here did an amazing job with the retro style in these scenes and I believe having that distinction really made the flashback scenes work. Big Kudos for doing that. So this was easily a much better and more productive to the story episodes than the last one. It had a purpose and fulfilled that, and didn't take the easiest road to do it either. Hopefully, this means we are back on track after going off the rails a bit. Overall These eps were a mixed back. Episode 5 was alright, but a let down after the bloodfest of the previous episode. Episode 6 is a totally skippable wash, but Episode 7 gets it right. Fight On Tiger Mask! [Catch Tiger Mask W on Crunchyroll.]
Tiger Mask W photo
The good, the bad, and the kitty
Heya Japanator readers! Welcome to our look at the Tiger Mask W anime with episodes 5-7. When we last saw our hero, Naoto, under the mask of Tiger Mask, he got the crap beaten out of him but was able to defeat Red Death Mask in the end. Meanwhile, Tiger the Dark is being overlooked. Ley's see what happens next!

First Impressions: Kamen Rider Ex-Aid

Nov 09 // Salvador G Rodiles
In this case, Ex-Aid’s weakness isn’t its theme, but the way how the team implemented the show’s video game aspects. The staff’s decision to add video game effects in a Scott Pilgrim-esque manner takes away from the action scenes, due to the messages appearing at a speed before the viewer has the chance to register the show’s special touches. Even when the words are viewable, the whole thing feels a bit subpar in comparison to previous Rider shows where the special effects were flashier. For a show that’s doing its best to capture the magic of video games, the special effects in Ex-Aid’s action scenes made the whole thing look like a poorly-made live-action adaptation of an existing title. Thankfully, the series’ choreography is enjoyable when the fights are more focused on the heroes fighting their opponent. While many of Toei’s tokusatsu shows have never had a huge budget, previous Rider shows like Fourze showcased a great mix between its special effects and action to the point where it gives off a better gaming vibe than Ex-Aid. Sure, they got Hironobu Kageyama of JAM Project to voice the series’ transformation belts, but the program can’t keep up with the guy’s energetic lines and songs that cause people’s blood to boil. In fact, the show introducing folks to a dynamic super robot-themed rocket punch can’t make up for it either. Despite this issue, the series still has some promise. As for the show’s combination of medical and video game themes, Ex-Aid manages to make the whole thing work. The main villains were game-related glitches who turned into creatures called Bugsters, and their goal is to infect people with diseases so they can become complete beings. Of course, this adds a bit of intensity to the series since the main Rider has to prioritize in saving the victims before they fully succumb to the bad guy’s diseases. Depending on what the staff does with this idea, the show has the potential to turn this premise into a super serious matter. The other connection is that the show’s main Riders are all different types of doctors, with the program’s lead, Emu, being an Intern Pediatrician. From the looks of it, the series goal might be to use the guy’s status to have him view the medical field in a different way from the pros, as he tends to find a way to balance his patient’s feeling with their condition. Since the show already introduced a total of five Riders, the show’s rivalry angle might serve as a fun way for the audience to see how Emu deals with this outcome. Perhaps the factor that sparks this rivalry between the doctors is that you have an unlicensed doctor who’s a shout-out to Black Jack that wants everyone’s Rider Gashats, the cartridges that act as the source of each Rider’s power, and a guy with an unknown agenda as Riders, which makes you wonder if this will get in the way of the group's goal to stop the Bugsters. Design wise, Ex-Aid is all over the place. The show’s Riders have features that represent various gaming genres, which work well so far.  At first, most of the gang’s tacky choice of colors seem weird on the eyes, but they manage to grow on me as I got to see them in action. As a fan of RPG games, it was nice that Kamen Rider Brave’s knight look was a neat suit from the get-go. Unfortunately, the Bugster’s costumes aren’t as strong as the Rider ones since many of them feel a bunch of rejected Metaroid designs from the Spy-themed Sentai Series Tokumei Sentai Go-Busters. Even though it’s a bit of a step up from Ghost’s early bad guys, there’s something about them that lacks that ferocity that previous Monsters-of-the-Week had. At the moment, Graphite, one of the show’s major villains, sports the best look so I’m hoping that Ex-Aid's later episodes will make way for some cooler looking beasts. Despite its shortcomings, Ex-Aid still isn’t out of the game yet. The chemistry between the show’s four main Riders could lead to some entertaining conflicts, and the series’ latest reveals could take this show to the next level. Since the series is building up to a possible betrayal moment, there’s a high chance that the show’s staff will increase the difficulty and deliver a more exciting product as its development continues further in the week. Who knows, this angle might cancel out the series odd choice of special attack effects and tacky elements.
Kamen Rider Ex-Aid photo
This game is far from Ex-Citing
When it comes to shows with hybrid motifs, I’m always down for titles filled various things that would normally not go together. Even though the latest Kamen Rider series, Ex-Aid, mixes video games with the medical fiel...

Kamen Rider Ex-Aid photo
Kamen Rider Ex-Aid

2016's Kamen Rider series gets Lupin the 3rd Part 4's Writer


Press start to transform
Aug 01
// Salvador G Rodiles
If there's one thing that most of my favorite Rider shows have in common is that they're written by folks who were involved with anime, such as Kamen Rider Fourze and Gaim. Speaking of which, it turns out that Yuuya Takahashi...
Gosei Sentai Dairanger photo
Gosei Sentai Dairanger

Streaming GET: Dairanger is now on Shout! Factory TV


The Gorma Tribe is now in trouble
May 25
// Salvador G Rodiles
If Shout! Factory's Dairanger stream from Saturday made you want to watch more of the series, the company has uploaded the entire series on Shout! Factory TV on May 23, which means that you can now restore...
Choriki Sentai Ohranger photo
Choriki Sentai Ohranger

Ole: Shout! Factory grabs Ohranger


The Machine Empire is going down
May 21
// Salvador G Rodiles
Don't you love it when your prediction comes true? In this case, I had a hunch that Shout! Factory was going to give us a special surprise during their Dairanger stream. Lo and behold, it turns out that their next Sentai ...

First Impressions: Dobutsu Sentai Zyuohger episodes 1-3

Mar 02 // Salvador G Rodiles
Luckily, the time to tap into our inner beasts worked out perfectly, as Zyuohger’s introduction to the Zoologist Yamato left us with a good impression. One thing that went well in his favor is that the staff didn’t exhibit the medical condition where they’re trying too hard to replicate the aspects of a successful Sentai series. On top of that, the guy’s passion for studying animals and their wildlife made him feel right at home with the show’s theme about two different races working together to protect the planet. Due to Yamato's dedication to his job, he reminded me of Ryoga/Aba Red from Bakuryu Sentai Abaranger, who was a wildlife investigator, along with being a committed father to his adopted daughter. The idea of him taking care of his animal comrades, the Zyuman, while they protect the Earth from the Dethgaliens places him in this parental role since he has to make sure that his new buddies blend with society. Like with any concerned parent in a series, the zoologist's reactions to his allies' antics are priceless. When you look at everything the show has to offer, Zyuohger manages to make its elements complement each other. The Dethgalien’s invasion is similar to how hunters partake in events where they take down a specific target, and the main heroes are the prey that's fighting back. Thanks to this great flow, the series left me intrigued with what it had to offer. Also, the villains use coins to revive their subordinates as giants; thus adding a video game twist to the evil group's pastime. In regards to the other team members, the Zyuman showcase a lively attitude so far. From their shocked reaction to Yamato entering their land to their childish nature on Earth, the whole angle takes me back to Shougeki Gouraigan and Kyoryu Sentai Zyuranger since their reaction to humanity’s way of life leaves us with a good laugh. Perhaps the silliest thing about the guy's new friends is that they'll cost him financially as they're all broke. While I wasn’t a fan of the main robot’s toy, the actual Zyuoh King suit doesn’t look too bad since it’s almost like a cube-shaped version of the Shinken-Oh from Samurai Sentai Shinkenger. For the most part, the issue with the machine is that it doesn’t translate well into a combining toy, as the bulky look present in Sentai mecha figures made it look like a rectangular cube with arms and legs. Despite the robot’s issues, Zyuoh King still has the potential to be a fun machine when more of its gimmicks are revealed throughout the series. The mecha’s recent combinations show that it’ll have various finishers and special attacks based on its fighting modes, which might result in some combining sequence similar to the Getter Robo series. Since the team will obviously get more robots in the future, I'm hoping that the designs could evolve into something that works better in merchandise form. Aside from the machines, the Zyuohger’s chest section of their suits continues to be one of the weaker parts of their design. I guess it’s the staff’s weird choice to place a detailed animal illustration on the costume, which throws the whole look off balance. Hell, I still think that they feel like something you would see on a cheaply-made sports team shirt. At least, the helmets are fun to look at, as they live up to the franchise's reputation of having cool masks that resemble a creature biting a head. Thankfully, the team’s fighting style made up for the costume’s flaws, as the gang utilizes their signature animal traits in battle, which resembled the Abaranger’s Abare Mode. As a big fan of the latter, it was nice to see another group use a similar ability since it lets the staff experiment with other types of action scenes outside of the hand-to-hand and weapon-based fighting styles. Even though Zyuohger sported a few average designs for the heroes, the overall presentation left us with a potentially fun title that’s filled with themes that complement each other. The main Zyuman group's fish-out-of-water story opened up to some funny segments with Yamato, and the cube motif’s purpose connects nicely with the animal people’s dilemma. As Yamato starts to develop his own animal abilities, the 40th Sentai series might place him in a strange situation down the road. Just like an actual cube, this show has every face, corner and side distributed evenly. Luckily, the time to tap into our inner beast worked out perfectly, as Zyuohger’s introduction to the Zoologist Yamato left us with a better impression on his character. One thing that went well in his favor is that the staff didn’t exhibit the medical condition where they’re trying too hard to replicate the aspects of a successful Sentai series. Complimenting the animal theme, the guy’s passion for studying animals and their wildlife made him feel like right at home with the show’s theme about two different races working together. To some extent, his personality was a callback to Ryoga/Aba Red from Bakuryu Sentai Abaranger, who was a Wildlife Investigator, along with being a dedicated father to his adopted daughter. Even though the first episode didn’t cover much of this similarity, the idea of him taking care of his animal comrades, the Zyuman, while they protect the Earth from the Dethgaliens that are invading the place as part of their little game. Also, the villains use coins to revive their subordinates as giants. When you look at everything the show has to offer, Zyuohger manages to make its elements complement each other. The Dethgalien’s invasion is similar to how a group of hunters hold an event to take down a specific target and the main heroes are practically the prey fighting back. Thanks to this great flow, the series left me intrigued with what it had to offer. In regards to the other team members, the Zyuman showcase a lively attitude in both episodes. From their shocked reaction to Yamato entering their land to their childish nature on Earth, the whole angle takes me back to Shougeki Gouraigan since their reaction to humanity’s way of life gives off a good laugh. While I wasn’t a fan of the main robot’s toy, the actual suit doesn’t look too bad since it’s almost like a cube-shaped version of the Shinken-Oh from Samurai Sentai Shinkenger. For the most part, the issue with the machine is that it doesn’t translate well into a combining toy, as the bulky look present in Sentai mecha figures made it look blockier than usual. Despite the robot’s issues, Zyuoh King still has the potential to be a fun machine when more of its gimmicks are revealed throughout the series. The mecha’s recent combinations show that it’ll have various finishers and special attacks based on its modes, which might result in a formation sequence similar to the Getter Robo series. Depending on the types of robots the team gets later on, there’s a chance that the designs could evolve into something that works better in merchandise form. Aside from the machines, the Zyuohger’s chest section of their suits continues to be one of the weaker parts of their design. I guess it’s the staff’s weird choice to place a detailed animal illustration on the costume, which throws the whole look off balance. At least the helmet and the rest of the body look fine; thus leaving us with an above average look. Thankfully, the team’s fighting style made up for the costume’s flaws, as the gang utilizes their signature animal traits in battle, which resembled the Abaranger’s Abare Mode. As a big fan of the latter, it was nice to see another group use a similar ability since it lets the staff experiment with other types of action scenes outside of the hand-to-hand and weapon-based fighting styles. Even though Zyuohger sported a few weird design choices, the overall presentation left us with a title that’s filled with themes that complement each other. The fish-out-of-water story with the Zyuman opened up to some funny segments with Yamato, and the cube motif’s purpose connects nicely with the animal people’s way of life. With the sixth Ranger being foreshadowed early in the game, the 40th Sentai series is looking to be a beastly good time. Just like an actual cube, this show has every face covered nicely.
Dobutsu Sentai Zyuohger photo
Please insert coin to continue
It’s hard to believe that the Sentai franchise is now airing its 40th installment. Honestly, this feeling comes from the fact that the previous series, Shuriken Sentai Ninninger, was celebrating the franchise&rsquo...

Dobutsu Sentai Zyuohger photo
Dobutsu Sentai Zyuohger

Zyuohger's full trailer shows off its blocky gimmicks


How to use a Rubik's Cube as a weapon
Feb 01
// Salvador G Rodiles
Whenever I get to see Dobutsu Sentai Zyuohger in action, my interest in the show starts to rise slowly. With Toei uploading a three-minute trailer of the program on their YouTube channel, they manage to hit us...
Ninja Sentai Kakuranger photo
Ninja Sentai Kakuranger

Evil gets slashed: Kakuranger heads to North America


Kakuranger, Ninja Ninja!
Jan 24
// Salvador G Rodiles
You know that Shout! Factory's Super Sentai releases are doing fine when they throw a big surprise announcement at our faces. During their special Kyoryu Sentai Zyuranger streaming event on Saturday, Jan. 23, t...
Dobutsu Sentai Zyuohger photo
Dobutsu Sentai Zyuohger

Strike: Animals go bowling in the new Zyuohger trailer


Who invited the zoo?
Jan 03
// Salvador G Rodiles
With one month left until the 40th Sentai series' premiere, another wild Zyuohger trailer has appeared. Right now, I'm still on a neutral position on how I feel about the show; however, the series' idea of having four of the...
Dobutsu Sentai Juohger photo
Dobutsu Sentai Juohger

Check out the 40th Sentai series' animal-themed suits and robot


Can we expect a farm setting?
Dec 09
// Salvador G Rodiles
Ever since I watched the Go-Busters V-Cinema, a part of me wished to see an actual series was similar to the alternate Go-Busters featured in Tokumei Sentai Go-Busters v.s. Dobutsu Sentai Go-Busters. My wish may not have...
Kamen Rider Ghost photo
Kamen Rider Ghost

Raise your hoodies: Kamen Rider Ghost's new preview has entered the building


Just in time for Halloween
Sep 28
// Salvador G Rodiles
As Kamen Rider Ghost gets ready to materialize in our world this Sunday, a new preview has arrived from the spirit world to give us a better look at our new spooky hero. So far, it's doing a fine job in giving us the main th...
Kamen Rider Drive photo
Kamen Rider Drive

Full Throttle: Garage Hero takes a look at Kamen Rider Drive: Surprise Future


Shift Car sound effects included
Sep 02
// Salvador G Rodiles
Bueno of Garage Hero/Garage Pro TV has returned to share his thoughts on another tokusatsu movie. This time around, he's taking Kamen Rider Drive the Movie: Surprise Future for a joyride with his comrades Michael (Gun Calibe...
Kamen Rider Ghost photo
Kamen Rider Ghost

Kamen Rider Ghost's special video takes us back to outer space


It's Spooky Space Time!
Sep 01
// Salvador G Rodiles
[Update: Toei region locked the Kamen Rider Ghost special video.] Now that September has started, the folks at Toei have spooked up a new video for Kamen Rider Ghost on their tokusatsu YouTube channel. Apparen...
Kamen Rider Ghost photo
Kamen Rider Ghost

Kamen Rider Ghost's latest details are to die for


Who you gonna call?
Jul 29
// Salvador G Rodiles
For a good while, it's been known that the latest bug-eyed hero in the Kamen Rider franchise was going to sport a supernatural motif. While we've seen glimpses of the show's titular character as a toy and a few ...

Review: Ressha Sentai ToQger

Jul 03 // Salvador G Rodiles
Ressha Sentai ToQgerStudio: ToeiRelease Date: February 16, 2014 Focusing on the ongoing battle between light and darkness, ToQger is about Right/ToQ 1, Tokatti/ToQ 2, Mio/ToQ 3, Hikari/ToQ 4, and Kagura/ToQ 5's quest to find their hometown known as Pleiades Shore. During their travels, the group joins forces with the Rainbow Line, a railway that protects people's imagination, to battle the Shadow Line, an opposing railroad that spreads their darkness across the land. As the team works hard to protect the various stations scattered across the region, they hope that they'll encounter their home as one of their stops. While the series' premise showed potential, its execution turned the program's early episodes into a trainwreck. Instead of introducing the viewers to the cast, ToQger hurled the main characters at the audience's face. Because of the lack of a proper introduction, it felt that we were missing an important segment that would make the gang more interesting. Sure, GoGo Sentai Boukenger followed this format, but the main difference is that the group's actions and conversations contributed to the audience wanting to learn more about them. Sadly, ToQger failed to accomplish this aspect-- even if the five heroes are childhood friends who lost their memories. Even though the show's cast gave off a fun vibe, their childish personality made them a bit annoying. Right was too scatterbrained and the other heroes felt like they were trying too hard to be silly. Not that I have anything against immature characters, but it takes a special touch to make these type of archetypes work well in a title. Despite ToQger's issues making its viewers care about the stars, Tokatti's shy characteristics and Mio's willingness to look out for everyone were both two examples of elements that could improve the series' quality. While we’re on the topic of childishness, I didn’t expect ToQger to justify their decision to have the team act immature (in a slightly annoying way). Even though the team’s personality got better as the show neared its second half, it felt strange to witness a group of young adult act more childish than the usual folks who exhibit child-like habits. In fact, this twist and their true backstory improved the show’s emotional moments that took form during the show’s second half. To an extent, it even manages to act as a decent way to convey the importance of needing to become more mature in grave situations. Separated from their home and family, the ToQger had to go through great extremes to find their town. It was this sense of maturity that helped the series up the ante after its quality was going up. Sadly, this change didn’t result in Right becoming a more likable character. Nonetheless, his role in the team was important since he’s basically that one slightly annoying guy who somehow prevents the group from falling apart. I guess his inner conflict during the final arc was a decent way to have him grow since he was willing to sacrifice his childhood to help preserve the happiness of his friends. As an adult who has an active inner child, I found the team’s struggle to be relatable because it covered the foundations of learning to be more responsible in certain situations. Even though life can be tough at times, that doesn’t mean that we can’t spice things up while we’re at it. That’s where ToQger’s imagination theme comes to play since it acts as a tool to help the gang stay positive during any difficult task. In the end, I commend the show’s staff for doing a decent job in conveying this message during the program’s stronger segments. ToQger's major twist may have been a great way to push the series forward, but the program's viewers had to reach episode 31 to witness this element first hand. Even though it was foreshadowed earlier in the series, it was hard for many folks to notice this element since there have been a few Sentai heroes who have childish personalities (in an enthusiastic way). Based on the shift in quality between the title's two parts, there’s a good chance the show changed in direction style. In the third part of my interview with Bueno (Gun Caliber’s Producer, Director, and Star) of the indie toku studio Garage Hero, the guy said that the folks in the tokusatsu industry go about making tokusatsu in the two following styles: Either they think that slapping a well-known brand's name on a product is enough to have it sell toys, or they take advantage of the toy’s designs and create an awesome show that uses these products in a cool way where it makes people want to buy them. Since the show’s plot, robots, and action scenes felt a bit lackluster, it was obvious that the staff was following the former. Even though ToQger had Yasuko Kobayashi (Kamen Rider OOO and Garo: The Carved Seal of Flames’ Writer), a writer known for adding creepy elements to her toku shows, on the writing staff, her contribution to the series didn’t bloom until the second half. Because of the sudden increase in quality, one can assume that the production staff’s attempt to ride on the easy merchandising express didn’t help them much since the later episodes felt like they were putting more effort into the show. From there, the staff used the imagination angle to focus on fleshing out the ToQger, along with introducing new machines with improved designs. On top of that, Kobayashi’s dark elements complimented the show’s more enjoyable second course. If there’s one thing that stayed consistent throughout the whole series, it’s the show’s main villains. The main group consisted of General Schwarz, the guy in charge of the Shadow Line's train division; Madame Noire, the classy lady that wishes the best for her daughter; and Grita, Noire's daughter who has a crush on Schwarz. Each elite villains had their own special moments, which placed the program's viewers on their toes as they're left guessing about their final fate. Whether it was Schwarz’s hints of ulterior motives or Noire's special plans for Grita, the series’ adversaries rarely stuck to the basic role of conquering humanity. Honestly, it was the evil cast’s personality and motives that kept me interesting in seeing how the show developed early on. In a way, they were the only thing that felt like Kobayashi’s signature aspects when the show was off track. Perhaps the best villain of them all was the Emperor of Darkness himself. One thing that made the Shadow Line's ruler great was that he wasn’t your run-of-the-mill evil villain who wants to bring destruction to the world. Throughout the series, the guy only wanted to exhibit his own ‘shine.’ In a way, the Emperor of Darkness’ situation symbolizes the concept of people expectations on certain individuals. Because of his status, the Shadow Line’s top rulers expect him to be a ruthless lord who’s intent on bringing despair to the entire planet. At the same time, his methods exhibit the characteristics of a deprived child who would go through great lengths to get what he wants. Thanks to the way how he was depicted in the show, the staff did a good job in placing the villain in a position where he could switch sides at any given point in time. Speaking of great villains, the Shadow Line’s top member featured some solid designs. The main generals were demonic Victorian/High-Class Wild West creatures that had slight bits of Steampunk and Zed looked like he would be a Devil Trigger Form in the Devil May Cry series. Hell, the great craftsmanship placed into each costume was another great factor that gave me hope that ToQger would improve. Again, this was one of the few things that the show had going for it when it seemed that the show was trying to sell toys based on the Super Sentai name alone. As the program started to improve, we started to see a jump in the robot designs as well. ToQ 6's machine and the other combining mechas were all cool-looking robots since the train features were distributed better across their bodies-- unlike the ToQ-Oh’s Total Recall train chest. For a franchise that’s known for showcasing some fun fight scenes, ToQger fell flat in its early half. While the imagination-based powers sounded like a nifty gimmick, the show’s heroes exhibited clumsy movements that lacked the exhilarating feeling that comes from most Sentai shows. Normally, this sort of style would work great for a good laugh (such as the Go-Onger losing some of their early fights in their show) but the program’s failure to establish its characters properly prevented it from succeeding in this matter. Luckily, the action sequences improved as the series’ quality went up. Part of it likely had to do with the team gaining more experience in battle, along with ToQ 6 changing up the program’s format. Even when ToQger was its worse, the series had a great array of voice actors at its side. Jun Fukuyama (Code Geass' Lelouch, Assassination Classroom's Koro-sensei), Noriko Hidaka (Gunbuster's Noriko and Ranma 1/2's Akane), and Aya Hisakawa (Sailor Moon's Ami/Sailor Mercury, Cardcaptor Sakura's Kero) all did a wonderful job with voicing Nero, Noire, and Grita. Of course, their great performance contributed to the Shadow Line being a great group to follow. For the good side, Kappei Yamaguchi (One Piece's Ussop and Persona 4's Teddie) and Yui Horie (Persona 4's Chie and Golden Time's Koko) both hit the park with their roles as Ticket the puppet and Wagon. With the Conductor by their side, they were the Rainbow Line's best characters during the show's first half.  ToQger may have had a weak start, but the show easily gained the title of the Little Engine that could when it ended its run. ToQ 6's silly backstory and Emperor’s story were two key ingredients that threw the series back on track. Combined with the various power uprisings happening among the main adversaries, the program started to become more entertaining than before. Of course, the program’s theme about children learning to be responsible while retaining their imaginative creativity was another factor that improved the title. Unfortunately, one would have to sit through 12 or 13 mediocre episodes before the train-themed Sentai title picks up; therefore making it a difficult series to recommend to people. However, if a person can endure the darkness that plagues the series early on, then he/she might come out with a smile that’s powered by imagination and rainbows. Once you reach your final destination, there’s a small chance that you’ll reconnect with your inner child. Depending on your experience, you might have a better appreciation of the term ‘IMAGINAAAATION!’ [This review is based on a broadcast of the program obtained by Japanator] If there’s one thing that ToQger shares with Goseiger, it’s that both shows have a weird-looking Super Form for their Rangers. While the team’s Hyper Express Mode looks better than the Goseiger’s Miracle Mode, I feel that it’s lacking since the armor doesn’t complement the suit much. Nonetheless, the new transformation worked well in pushing the story forward as the Marquise Mork entered the scene. In this case, it shows us that an average power-up can improve a program’s plot when used right. It also helps that Zed remains as one of the series’ best villains. One thing that made Zed great was that he wasn’t your run-of-the-mill evil villain who wants to bring destruction to the world. Throughout the series, the guy just wants to exhibit his own ‘shine.’ In a way, the Emperor of Darkness’ situation symbolizes the concept of people expectations on certain individuals. Because of his status, the Shadow Line’s top rulers expect him to be a ruthless lord who’s intent on brining despair to the entire planet. At the same time, his methods exhibit the characteristics of a deprived child who would go through great lengths to get what he wants. Thanks to the way how Zed was depicted in the show, the staff did a good job in placing the villain in a position where he could switch sides at any given point in time. While we’re on the topic of children, I didn’t expect ToQger to justify their decision to have the team act childish (in a slightly annoying way). Even though the team’s personality got better as the show neared its second half, it felt strange to witness a group of young adult act more immature than usual folks who exhibit child-like habits. The idea behind Right and his friends being children who were turned to adults to fight the Shadow Line added to the show’s emotional moments that took form during the show’s second half. To an extent, it manages to act as a decent way to show the importance of kids needing to become more mature in grave situations. Separated from their home and family, the ToQger had to go through great extremes to find their town while fighting the Shadow Line’s forces. It was this sense of maturity that helped the series up the ante after its quality was going up. Sadly, this change didn’t result in Right becoming a more likable character. Nonetheless, his role in the team was important since he’s basically that one slightly annoying guy who somehow prevents the group from falling part. I guess his inner conflict during the final arc was a decent way to have him grow since he was willing to sacrifice his childhood to help preserve the happiness of his friends. As an adult who has an active inner child, I found the team’s struggle to be relatable because it covered the foundations of learning to be more responsible in certain situations. Even though life can be tough at times, that doesn’t mean that we can’t spice things up while we’re at it. That’s where ToQger’s imagination theme comes to play since it acts as a tool to help the gang stay positive during any difficult task. In the end, I commend the show’s staff for doing a decent job in conveying this message during the program’s stronger segments. While the show’s major twist was a great way to push the series forward, the show’s viewers had to reach episode 31 to witness this element first hand. Even though it was foreshadowed earlier in the series, the franchise’s status as a children’s program made it hard for most folks to notice this element since there have been a few Sentai heroes who have childish personalities (in an enthusiastic way). Based on the shift in quality between the ToQger’s early and later episodes, there’s a good chance the show changed in direction style. In the third part of my interview with Bueno (Gun Caliber’s Producer, Director, and Star) of the indie toku studio Garage Hero, the guy said that the folks in the tokusatsu industry go about making tokusatsu in the two following styles: Either they think that slapping a well-known brand name on a product is enough to have it sell toys, or they take advantage of the toy’s designs and create an awesome show that uses these products in a cool way where it makes people want to buy them. Since the show’s plot, robots, and action scenes felt a bit lackluster, it was obvious that the staff was following the former. Even though ToQger had Yasuko Kobayashi (Kamen Rider OOO and Garo: The Carved Seal of Flames’ Writer), a writer known for adding creepy elements to toku shows, on the writing staff, her contribution to the series didn’t bloom until the second half. Because of the sudden increase in quality, one can assume that the production staff’s attempt to ride on the easy merchandising express didn’t help them much since the later episodes felt like they were putting more effort into the show. From there, the staff used the imagination angle to focus more on fleshing out the ToQger and the newer machines featured improved designs. On top of that, Kobayashi’s dark elements complimented the show’s more enjoyable second course. If there’s one thing that stayed consistent throughout the whole series, it’s the show’s main villains. Aside from Zed’s situation, the other big villains had their own special moments. Whether it was Schwarz’s transition from conquering the Shadow Line to avenging Grita or Noire’s attempt to make Grita the head of the group, the series’ adversaries rarely stuck to the basic role of conquering humanity. Honestly, it was the evil cast’s personality and motives that kept me interesting in seeing how the show developed early on. In a way, they were the only thing that felt like Kobayashi’s signature aspects when the show was off track. Speaking of great villains, the Shadow Line’s top member featured some solid designs. The main generals were demonic Victorian/High-Class Wild West creatures that had slight bits of Steampunk and Zed looked like he would be a Devil Trigger Form in the Devil May Cry series. Hell, the great craftsmanship placed into each costume was another great factor that gave me hope that ToQger would improve. Again, this was one of the few things that the show had going for it when it seemed that the show was trying to sell toys based on the Super Sentai name alone. As the program started to improve, we started to see a jump in the robot designs as well. The Build Dai-Oh, Super Duper ToQ-Oh, Hyper Express Emperor, and ToQ Rainbow were all cool-looking robots since the train features were distributed better across their bodies-- unlike the ToQ-Oh’s Total Recall train chest. For a franchise that’s known for showcasing some fun fight scenes, ToQger fell flat in its early half. While the imagination-based powers sounded like a nifty gimmick, the show’s heroes exhibited clumsy movements that lacked the exhilarating feeling that comes from most Sentai shows. Normally, this sort of style would work great for a good laugh (such as the Go-Onger losing some of their early fights in their show) but the program’s failure to establish its characters properly prevented it from succeeding in this matter. Luckily, the action sequences improved as the series’ quality went up. Part of it likely had to do with the team gaining more experience in battle, along with ToQ 6 changing up the program’s format. ToQger maybe had a rough start, but the show easily gained the title of the Little Engine that could when it ended its run. ToQ 6 being a former Shadow Line member and Zed’s story were two key ingredients that threw the series back on track. Combined with the various power uprisings happening among the main adversaries, the program started to become more entertaining than before. Of course, the program’s theme about children learning to be responsible while retaining their imaginative creativity was another factor that improved the title. Unfortunately, one would have to sit through 12 or 13 mediocre episodes before the train-themed Sentai title picks up; therefore making it a difficult series to recommend to people. However, if one can endure the darkness that plagues the series early on, then they might come out with a smile that’s powered by imagination and rainbows. Once you reach your final destination, there’s a good chance that you’ll reconnect with your inner child. Depending on your experience, you might have a better appreciation of the term ‘IMAGINAAAATION!’
Ressha Sentai ToQger photo
Imagining Victory!
When it comes to TV shows that run for a year, it’s hard to imagine that a long series could improve when its early segments failed to impress most viewers. In many cases, if you can’t grab the audience during the...

Tokusou Sentai Dekaranger photo
Tokusou Sentai Dekaranger

It's Judgement Time: Dekaranger to return as a V-Cinema


Chu Chu Chu Deka Deka!
May 15
// Salvador G Rodiles
Oh my. Right when it felt that Hurricanger was going to be the only Sentai show to get the 10 Years After treatment, a new beacon of hope has surfaced for toku fans. Seeing that it's been ten years since Tokusou Sentai Dekar...
Digimon photo
Digimon

Digimon Adventure tri.'s latest trailer will please your nostalgic heart


The Crest of Hope shines strong
May 07
// Salvador G Rodiles
This might sound strange, but I have yet to watch Digimon Adventure in its original language. Nonetheless, the series is still one of those titles that I still adore to this day. Anyway, Toei's uploaded a new trail...
Garage Hero photo
Garage Hero

Watch Garage Hero tear Super Hero Wars GP to shreds


In which Bueno tells a kid to shut the hell up
Apr 10
// Salvador G Rodiles
Aw snap, Bueno of Garage Hero and his friends are about to get real, as they share their thoughts on Super Hero Wars GP: Kamen Rider 3, which might as well be called Super Mario Kart: Let's Go Kamen Rider Edition. ...
Saint Seiya photo
Saint Seiya

Saint Seiya returns next month


All that glitters is gold
Mar 17
// Hiroko Yamamura
Get your polish ready! Toei's Saint Seiya is set to return to the airwaves next month, and you're going to want your armor looking spiffy. The show will be available via a stream on Bandai's channel globally, so many fans of...
Spider-Man photo
Spider-Man

Toei's Spider-Man series web-slings its way back to Marvel.com


Just in time for his debut in The Amazing Spider-Man #12
Jan 11
// Salvador G Rodiles
Now that's what you call a perfect timing, people! Right when the Emissary from Hell, "Supaidaman," made his comic book debut in The Amazing Spider-Man issue 12, Marvel has decided to re-upload Toei's 1978 Spider-Ma...
Ninninger photo
Ninninger

Go Ninja: Get psyched up for Ninninger's first promos


The Year of the Ninja is off to a good start
Dec 28
// Salvador G Rodiles
I may be late to the festivities once again, but it's time to look at Shuriken Sentai Ninninger's heroes in motion. Silly enough, these videos caught me by surprise, as I wasn't expecting to see a promotional video...

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