Salvador G-Rodiles

Kamen Rider Ghost photo
Kamen Rider Ghost

Kamen Rider Ghost's latest details are to die for


Who you gonna call?
Jul 29
// Salvador GRodiles
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 ...
Japanator Live photo
Japanator Live

Japanator Live: Sal gets his revenge on Chantelise's last boss


It's time to taste victory!
Jul 27
// Salvador GRodiles
[Update: The stream is over, but you can watch it here.] With Chroma Squad's three story routes complete, Sal is ready to take on Chantelise's final boss again. Now that he's found a better defensive item, there's a slig...

First Impressions: Ultraman X episodes 1-2

Jul 27 // Salvador GRodiles
In a clash between a red and purple entity, the two figures collide with Earth’s Sun. This ends up causing the phenomenon that people refer to as the Ultra Flare, which awakens the monsters that were sealed under the planet as Spark Dolls (a.k.a. actual creature SofuBi/soft vinyl figurines). Luckily, a group called XiO was formed to protect the people of our world and our main hero Daichi Oozora ends up become the candidate who unites with the show’s Ultra Warrior. Ultraman X’s plot may sound like your usual setup in a giant monster show, but episode 1’s main charm lies in the battles between the large hero and the huge creatures. To an extent, the battles play out like your action scenes from the Godzilla movies, except that you have a guy who uses martial arts and wrestling moves against his foes. Other than that, the shown didn’t have much going for it since the first episode was focusing on the disaster caused by the Godzilla-like monster known as Demaaga. Sure, we got a glimpse of Daichi’s backstory about his parent’s death, but it wasn’t anything grand to pull most people in. At least his fear of height gave him some flaws that could shape his character later on. Thankfully, the second episode helped raise the program’s quality. If there’s one thing that makes series about an organization trying to save the world, it’s the supporting staff themselves. This was an element that made titles like King of Braves GaoGaiGar and Tokumei Sentai Go-Busters’ first half fun to keep up with. Even though Daichi didn’t stand out much in the beginning, his comrades showed great potential. I mean, this series has a freaking scientist that’s a creepy goofy-looking alien. Honestly, Dr. Gourman’s presence in the show alone was enough to bring in some good laughs while we wait for the huge battle between Ultraman X and the Monster-of-the-Week. Of course, the silly alien isn’t the only character that’s fun since the rest of XiO’s members contribute to the show's segments. Rui’s enthusiasm for research and victory is cute and her interactions with Gourman were priceless. Even though the rest of the team mostly played the role of keeping the dangerous areas under control, the later episodes might flesh them out more. Hell, anyone who fights a giant monster with an advanced bazooka and/or gun deserves some mad props. One of the things that might push Ultraman X is that the hero can summon special armors through the use of the Cyber Monsters, digital creatures that are created from the data of the ones who’re sealed in the Spark Dolls. In a way, it’s almost like they were inspired by the Heisei Kamen Rider shows’ Form-changing gimmick. Sure, this means that the Giant of Light will likely have a bunch of different transformations, but it also lets the team experiment with the show's action scenes, such as the hero gaining the ability to fight with huge claws. Since I’ve heard that Tsuburaya toys mostly focus on the kaiju, this element might help them make the program's hero a more marketable character. Come to think of it, this new path might’ve inspired them to depart from the alien using the main hero as a host (or the Ultra Warrior using a human disguise) since the two Ginga shows and X involve a guy uniting with the Giant of Light through a special device. While XiO’s support vehicles that can dock into other machines are only used to stall the viewers until the big fight, their purpose could help with the merchandising side of things. Who knows, they might pull a Gridman/Superhuman Samurai Syber-Squad and have them combine with the hero. For now, they serve as another feature that can help Tsuburaya expand on the show's toys. In regards to the two monsters shown so far, the creatures’ cartoony and pudgy designs give off a nice old-school feeling. While it seems lazy for Tsuburaya to reuse Birdon from Ultraman Taro, the franchise has been known for reusing older beasts, which is usually used to pull older fans in. That and to sell toys of the previous enemies to the new generation of children. Also, the staff's decision to feature a creature that looks like Rodan crossed with a chicken is a nice way to add goofy elements to any action scene. Compare to other children toku franchises like Super Sentai and Kamen Rider, I was surprised to see that Ultraman X uses more practical effects than CG. Based on the program's first two episodes, the 3D models might be limited to the XiO defense vehicles. From Birdon’s flying scene to the show’s main fight sequences, the segments ranged from being hilariously cheesy to dynamically entertaining. For example, Birdon's flying segment would've benefited from using a CG creation or having the suit actor flap its wings like an actual bird. Nonetheless, it served as a silly moment before Daichi unites with X. Seeing that this is my first Ultra TV show, I’m not sure if this rule applies to the brand’s previous modern installments. One thing for sure, it shows that relying on mostly practical effects can look great or limit the type of sequences that appear on screen. For the most part, the first two major fights played out nicely and X's new Monster Armors might liven things up even more. With Ultraman X being my second entry into the Ultra franchise, the show has gotten better with each passing episode. Daichi may be a decent character at the moment, but his backstory and his connection to his parents’ Spark Doll might lead to him developing into a better protagonist. For now, the series' neat aspect is that its supporting cast gives off a nice dash of comedy to keep us satisfied until the main battle. Combined with the hero’s ability to equip monster-themed armors, I believe that Tsuburaya’s franchise has reached a new height. I guess you could say that we're in for an Xciting ride. [You can unite with Ultraman X at Crunchyroll and Tsuburaya’s YouTube channel] In a clash between a red and purple entity, the two figures collide with Earth’s Sun. This ends up causing the phenomenon that people refer to as the Ultra Flare, which awakens the monsters that were sealed under the planet as Spark Dolls (a.k.a. actual creature SofuBi toys). Luckily, a group called XiO was formed to protect the people of our world and our main hero Daichi Oozora/group member ends up become the candidate who unites with the show’s Ultra Warrior. Ultraman X’s plot may sound like your usual setup in a giant monster show, but episode 1’s main charm lies in the battles between the large hero and the huge creatures. To an extent, the battles play out like your action scenes from the Godzilla movies, except that you have a guy who uses martial arts and wrestling moves against his foes. Other than that, the shown didn’t have much going for it since the first episode was focusing on the disaster caused by the Godzilla-esque monster known as Demaaga. Sure, we got a glimpse of Daichi’s backstory about his parent’s death, but it wasn’t anything grand to pull most people in. At least his fear of height gave him some flaws that could shape his character later on. Thankfully, the second episode helped raise the program’s quality. If there’s one thing that makes series about an organization trying to save the world, it’s the supporting staff themselves. This was an element that made titles like King of Braves GaoGaiGar and Tokumei Sentai Go-Busters’ first half fun to keep up with. Even though Daichi didn’t stand out much in the beginning, his comrades showed great potential. I mean, this series has a freaking scientist that’s a creepy goofy-looking alien. Honestly, Dr. Gourman’s presence in the show alone is enough to bring in some good laughs while we wait for the huge battle between Ultraman X and the Monster-of-the-Week. Of course, the goofy alien isn’t the only character that’s fun since the rest of XiO’s members contribute to the segments on screen. Rui’s enthusiasm for research and victory is cute and her interactions with Gourman were priceless. Even though the rest of the team mostly played the role of keeping the dangerous areas under control, the later episodes might flesh them out more. Hell, anyone who fights a giant monster with an advanced bazooka and/or gun deserves some mad props. One of the things that might push Ultraman X is that the hero can change his fighting style through the use of the Cyber Monsters, which have the data of the creatures who’re sealed in the Spark Dolls. In a way, it’s almost like they were inspired by the Heisei Kamen Rider shows’ Form-changing gimmick. Sure, this means that the Giant of Light will likely have a ton of different transformations, but it also opens the doorways to more unique fight scenes. Since I’ve heard that Tsuburaya has been struggling with having variety in their toys for their titles, this element might push the franchise in a great new direction. Hell, this new path might’ve inspired them to depart from the alien using the main hero as a host since the two Ginga shows and this one have the guy unite with the Ultra Warrior through a special device. While XiO’s support vehicles that can dock into other machines are only used to stall the viewers until the big fight, their purpose could help with the merchandising side of things. Who knows, they might pull a Gridman/Super Human Samurai Cyber Squad and have them combine with the hero. For now, they serve as another example of this show focusing on selling more toys. In regards to the two monsters shown so far, the creatures’ cartoony and pudgy designs give off a nice old-school feeling. While it seems lazy for Tsuburaya to reuse Birdon from Ultraman Taro, the franchise has been known for reusing older beasts, which is a decent way to pull older fans in. At least it was neat to see the classic beast in action since it looked like a goofy Rodan crossed with a chicken. Compare to other children toku franchises like Super Sentai and Kamen Rider, I was surprised to see that Ultraman X uses more practical effects than CG. From Birdon’s flying scene to the show’s main fight sequences, it’s impressive to see that the company didn’t resort to using 3D models during the crazy scenes. Seeing that this is my first Ultra TV show, I’m not sure if this rule applies to the brand’s previous modern installments. One thing for sure, it’s a welcoming aspect that shows that traditional practices can still impress folks— even if they’re cheesy and campy. With Ultraman X being my second entry into the Ultra franchise, the show’s first two episodes hold up to where we can end up with a fun title. Daichi may be a decent character at the moment, but his backstory and his connection to his parents’ Spark Doll might lead to him developing into a better protagonist. For now, the series neat aspect is that its supporting cast gives off a nice dash of comedy to keep us satisfied until the main battle, which balances out nicely. Combined with the hero’s ability to equip special armors, I believe that Tsuburaya’s franchise has reached a new height. I guess you could say that we’re in for a show that’s both exciting and excellent. [You can unite with Ultraman X at Crunchyroll and Tsuburaya’s YouTube channel]
Ultraman X photo
Xanidium Beam!
For a good while, my only experience with the Ultra franchise was Mega Monster Battle: Ultra Galaxy Legends, which was directed by Koichi Sakamoto (Zyuden Sentai Kyoryuger and Ultraman Ginga S’ Director). Honestly, I&rs...


Japan Animator Expo photo
Japan Animator Expo

Here's a quick sample of Animator Expo's Third Season


Summer is about to become cool
Jul 24
// Salvador GRodiles
At last, the Japan Animator Expo project has uploaded a trailer for their upcoming season. From the looks of it, the third installment sounds like it'll be better than ever. I mean, we get to see another Tsuburaya hero g...
Secret of Evermore photo
Secret of Evermore

Celebrate Secret of Evermore's 20th Anniversary with a remastered soundtrack


Don't underestimate a dog's loyalty
Jul 23
// Salvador GRodiles
Oct. 1 may not be here yet, but that isn't stopping Sean Schafianski (Chrono Trigger: Jazz Arranged Version) from releasing his Secret of Evermore arranged soundtrack known as Secret of Evermore: Remastered Tracks. In t...
Boomslank photo
Boomslank

Rejoice! Five Boomslank shirts get reprinted


Now even cooler than ever
Jul 21
// Salvador GRodiles
If you're into wearing sweet-looking clothes, our friends at Boomslank have reprinted not one but five shirts. But that's not all folks; instead of re-releasing each apparel, P-Shinobi has updated "Airport," "Flag," "Live," "...
Japanator LIVE photo
Japanator LIVE

Japanator LIVE: Sal suits up for Chroma Squad's Metal Hero Route


Crocodile Flash!
Jul 19
// Salvador GRodiles
[Update: The live stream is over, but you can watch it here.] The time has finally arrived, people; Sal is ready to add the finishing touches to the Japanatorger's final journey. Since he only has one more route left to finis...

Annotated Tokusatsu: Garo: Gold Storm Soar episodes 8-12

Jul 18 // Salvador GRodiles
For a second, Gold Storm seem like it was going to lower its intensity levels for a while, but the show somehow managed to follow up nicely on Ryuga and Rian’s first major fight against Zinga and Amily. While there weren’t any big action scenes involved, it was great to see that the show was finally putting the spotlight on the mysterious Makai Priest known as Gald. In a way, his hatred for Makai Knights helped spice up the relationship between him and Ryuga. Sure, it wasn’t on the same level as Rei’s rivalry with Kouga in the original Garo series, but it served as a way to deviate from the typical scenario where a major ally joins the hero’s group right away. Perhaps the most interesting reveal is Ladan’s role in the story. In every Garo series, the final adversary always ends up being a super powerful Horror that’s basically on the same level of a demon overlord. Even though the idea behind the Golden Knight tackling a ridiculous adversary is always a sight to behold, it’s a nice sense of fresh air to see the main threat as a demonic tool this time around. At the same time, this information explained the reasoning behind Zinga being a cannibalistic Horror, which makes us question his true appetite. Because of this new angle, Gold Storm continues to be a great improvement over Garo: The One Who Shines in the Darkness. Of course, you can’t have a good arc without some good old-fashioned character development. Surprisingly, one of the best one came from an episode that focused on Daigo. Part of it had to do with the staff deceiving the viewers into thinking that the Axe-wielding Makai Knight’s master was the child-eating Horror. All in all, the segment worked out nicely as there were many scenes where it seemed that Daigo was in peril. Best of all, the episode still manages to be relevant to the show’s main plot, another feat that the staff deserves props for. In regards to the show’s most recent costume designs, the Monster-of-the-Week that was sent to assassinate Gald’s younger sister sported a nice undead tree-like design. Because of the costumes’ branches and wooden features, the Horror looked like an evil Groot. On top of that, we had a creepy water Horror right in episode 12. From the looks of it, this might be a record for Gold Storm since we saw two suits in a row. While part of the creature’s suit felt like they glued some altered faces of the default Horrors, its design still had that scary feeling that many of the franchise’s non-human adversaries have. Accompanying Gold Storm’s recent development, the program’s choreography mixes it up in some interesting ways. Both Ryuga’s fight against the lighting and water Horror were two great examples of how to handle a scene where the opponent is hard to hit. Hell, the former makes me believe that Makai Knights are trained to endure electricity since a normal person would’ve been dead in less than a second. Then again, the main heroes from the previous Garo shows have been hit with deadly attacks when they were untransformed so we can assume that this element has been set in stone for a good while. On a more positive note, the sword sheathing moment between Ryuga and Zinga was handled well, Even though it only happened for a brief moment, I have to give the two actors and the action team some huge props for pulling a stunt like that— especially the part where they catch their sheaths while in the air. Based on their recurring showdowns, this might be a sign that the show’s final battle won’t disappoint us. Now that we’ve reached Gold Storm’s halfway point, I think it’s safe to say that nothing will prevent the series from losing its glow. Gald’s younger sister Haruna helped move the plot forward and the two characters’ backstory hints at Zinga being the one behind the destruction of their village. Combined with the segments about Daigo, things have been getting juicy lately. Since we’re getting a JAM Project opening theme soon, don’t be surprised if your body experiences a huge surge of golden energy. If anything, summer is looking better than ever now.
Garo: Gold Storm Soar photo
Lightning never hits in the same place
It looks like Garo Gold Storm Soar is picking up from where it left off and things continue to get more real. Along the way, we get a tasty serving of story and character development that sheds more light on the show’s ...

The Garage photo
The Garage

Feast your eyes on The Garage: Tokusatsu Tutorial's badass insect-themed hero


Get ready to learn about making toku
Jul 17
// Salvador GRodiles
The folks at Garage Hero may be busy with adding the final touches to Ayakashi Zamurai, but that's not stopping them from showing us some images of The Garage: Tokusatsu Tutorial's hero. For the record, the sho...
Million Arthur photo
Million Arthur

It's time for war: Square's Million Arthur game is now available


Who wants to become Camelot's King?
Jul 15
// Salvador GRodiles
We're in the middle of July and GAMEVIL has released Square-Enix's Million Arthur game on the Android and iOS. To be more specific, it came out on July 14, but you get what I mean. In light of this day, the company uploaded ...
G-Tekketsu photo
G-Tekketsu

Rejoice? The next Gundam series gets Anohana's Director and Writer


The Gundam We Saw That Day
Jul 15
// Salvador GRodiles
[Update: GundamInfo posted a recap video of the show's press conference, which can be watched below] Now this is what I like to call an unexpected turn of events. During the live stream for the next Gundam series, Mobile Sui...
Ultraman X photo
Ultraman X

Simulcast GET: Crunchyroll nabs Ultraman X


In which toku fans are given more hope
Jul 14
// Salvador GRodiles
Well, folks; I think it's safe to say that 2015 is a great year to be a tokusatsu fan. Last week, Shout! Factory announced Dairanger's North American DVD release, and Crunchyroll has now revealed that they're simulcasting Ult...
Japanator Live photo
Japanator Live

Japanator Live: It's time for more Chantelise


Watch out for friendly shopkeepers
Jul 12
// Salvador GRodiles
[Update: The stream is now over, but you can watch it right here.] Now that Sal has mastered the ways of the Night Driver in Chroma Squad, the guy returns to his adventures in the world of Chantelise. Little did he know, his ...
Yu-Gi-Oh! photo
Yu-Gi-Oh!

SDCC '15: Yu-Gi-Oh! Duel Monsters' uncut episodes are now on Crunchyroll


Believe in the heart of the cards
Jul 12
// Salvador GRodiles
Good news, everyone; the folks at 4K Media Inc., the company that handles the Yu-Gi-Oh! franchise's license and marketing, have announced at Comic Con that Yu-Gi-Oh! Duel Monsters is now on Crunchyroll in its uncut glory. As ...
Gosei Sentai Dairanger photo
Gosei Sentai Dairanger

SDCC '15: Dairanger fights its way to North America


It's Fortification Time!
Jul 11
// Salvador GRodiles
[Update: The gang at Ranger Crew have confirmed that the series hits North America later this year.] Congratulations, people! Thanks to everyone who supported Shout! Factory's Zyuranger release, the company has announced at C...
Power Rangers photo
Power Rangers

SDCC '15: Power Rangers Dino Super Charge gets an electrified teaser


Unleash the Power!
Jul 10
// Salvador GRodiles
Ever since Saban got the rights to Power Rangers again, I felt that their latest installments were disappointing. Samurai could've been a decent show, but the terrible acting direction held it back. Right when it s...
Mega Ran photo
Mega Ran

Aw snap: Mega Ran and Mighty No. 9 team up for a sweet deal


Mighty No. Ran anyone?
Jul 09
// Salvador GRodiles
I may not be up to date with Mega Ran's music, but there's something amazing about the way how the guy tells an engaging story while he raps. Whether it's his tunes about the Blue Bomber, Final Fantasy VII, or other neat top...
Japanator Live photo
Japanator Live

Japanator Live: Sal kicks his way through Chroma Squad's Rider Route


The Otaku Stone has awakened!
Jul 05
// Salvador GRodiles
[Update: The stream is over, but you can watch it here.] After going through a second playthrough, Sal has finally reached the point in Chroma Squad where he must make an important choice. For the sake of consistency, the guy...
Gundam photo
Gundam

AX '15: Right Stuf to release Zeta Gundam, Victory Gundam, and more


Believe in the Sign of Zeta
Jul 05
// Salvador GRodiles
Good news, everyone; during Anime Expo '15, the gang at Right Stuf have revealed the next phase of their Gundam distribution deal with Sunrise. This time around, the company plans to release Victory Gundam, Gundam X,&nbs...
Ayakashi Zamurai photo
Ayakashi Zamurai

Garage Hero's Ayakashi Zamurai series unsheathes a new trailer


There's plenty of comedy to go around
Jul 03
// Salvador GRodiles
As Garage Hero continues to work hard on their upcoming projects, the group has taken the time to upload a new Ayakashi Zamurai trailer. This time around, we get to see more of the fantasy samurai show's comed...

Review: Ressha Sentai ToQger

Jul 03 // Salvador GRodiles
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...

Muv-Luv photo
Muv-Luv

Watch out, BETA: Muv-Luv localization to get Kickstarted


Coming soon to a Kickstarter near you
Jul 01
// Salvador GRodiles
It looks like visual novel fans are in for some good news. The gang at DegiGames and Ixtl have revealed that they're creating a Kickstarter to localize Muv-Luv and Muv-Luv Alternative. While the funding campaign wil...
Japanator Live photo
Japanator Live

Japanator Live: Sal traverses through Chantelise's lands


And now for something different
Jun 27
// Salvador GRodiles
[Update: The stream has ended, but you can watch it here] It turns out that Sal's last Chroma Squad stream ended up being his final one. While he managed to help the Japanatorger and their sixth member save the world from evi...
VA-11 HALL-A photo
VA-11 HALL-A

Drown away your sorrows with a new VA-11 HALL-A trailer


Just what the bartender ordered
Jun 26
// Salvador GRodiles
Back when Japanator Managing Editor Josh Tolentino wrote about VA-11 HALL-A, the bartending game that's set in a cyberpunk setting, my interest for the title was at a normal level. While I didn't get to play the project's pr...
Mario photo
Mario

Live in Los Angeles? Q Pop is hosting a Mushroom Kingdom Tribute Art Show


A.k.a. Mario Paint Live
Jun 26
// Salvador GRodiles
I may not be a big Mario fan like I used to be, but I still enjoy playing his games when they grab my attention. Nonetheless, my love for Yoshi and the Mushroom Kingdom's other inhabitants remains unchanged since they helped ...
Texas Toku Taisen photo
Texas Toku Taisen

Here's the Texas Toku Taisen '15's screening schedule for San Japan


Texas is about to get its Henshin on
Jun 24
// Salvador GRodiles
As we get ready to finish off the month of June, the screening schedule for this year's Texas Toku Taisen has hit the Web. This time around, they're showing their stuff at San Japan 8 on July 31 through Aug. 2, whic...
Tales of Berseria photo
Tales of Berseria

Anchors Aweigh: Tales of Berseria enters the high seas


Let's set sail for adventure!
Jun 22
// Salvador GRodiles
There's something nice about sailing to places in video games. Whether it's Wind Waker's open seas or Skies of Arcadia's vast skies, the idea of exploring vast areas on a ship has always been a thing that I've enjo...
Japanator Live photo
Japanator Live

Japanator Live: Chroma Squad Season 5


The true Penultimate Stream begins
Jun 20
// Salvador GRodiles
[Update: The stream has ended; however, you can watch the recorded footage from the most recent segment here.] It looks like I owe you folks an apology, since I was wrong about my last Chroma Squad stream being the Pen...
Cyborg 009 vs Devilman photo
Cyborg 009 vs Devilman

Aw snap: Cyborg 009 and Devilman collide in a new OVA


Sounds like a match made in heaven
Jun 19
// Salvador GRodiles
Oh wow, now this is what I call an unexpected turn of events. It turns out that the new Cyborg 009 anime is a three-episode crossover OVA with Devilman. Actas (Kotesushin Jeeg and MazinKaiser SKL's Animation P...
Cosplay photo
Cosplay

Overcome the heat with Beat Down Boogie's refreshing cosplay videos


Take that, hot temperatures!
Jun 19
// Salvador GRodiles
Summer's around the corner, and the gang at Beat Down Boogie are giving us a tour of ColossalCon '15, which takes place at the Kalahari Waterpark in Sandusky, Ohio. Thanks to this glorious combination, the cosplayers were ab...
Sword Art Online photo
Sword Art Online

Let's log into Sword Art Online: Lost Song and Re: Hollow Fragment's E3 trailers


Now featuring catchy music
Jun 17
// Salvador GRodiles
For a good while, we've known that Sword Art Online: Lost Song and Re: Hollow Fragment were heading West. With E3 '15 happening as we speak, Bandai Namco has conjured up a new trailer for both games that show off their ...
Naruto: Ninja Storm 4 photo
Naruto: Ninja Storm 4

Naruto: Ultimate Ninja Storm 4 summons the flashy ninja techniques


Gameplay no Jutsu!
Jun 17
// Salvador GRodiles
I may have dropped Naruto back in my early college years, but to this day, I still enjoy the gameplay and ridiculous animations of the series' fighting games by CyberConnect2. Speaking of which, the folks at Bandai Namc...
Japanator Live photo
Japanator Live

Japanator Live: Chroma Squad Season 4


It's time for the Penultimate Stream!
Jun 14
// Salvador GRodiles
Right when Sal successfully turned Laser Squadron Japanatorger into a successful tokusatsu series, things started to get real for the Jtor crew. Let's just say that Japanator Editor in Chief Hiroko was tricked into doing so...
Touhou photo
Touhou

Memories of Phantasm's fifth episode blasts its way to YouTube


Watch out for Mandragoras
Jun 14
// Salvador GRodiles
Summer is around the corner and Manpuku Jinja has uploaded Fantasy Kaleidoscope ~The Memories of Phantasm~'s fifth episode on YouTube. Compare to the project's previous segments, this one decides to focus on the co...
Tales of Zestiria photo
Tales of Zestiria

Huzzah! Tales of Zestiria heads to the PS4 and PC


Now featuring more zesty delicacies
Jun 14
// Salvador GRodiles
I may be super fashionably late to the party, but it's not everyday that a Tales of title gets a special treatment like this. While it's been hinted that Tales of Zestiria was getting a Playstation 4 and PC release for ...
Cosplay photo
Cosplay

Beat Down Boogie gives us a taste of Momocon '15's greatest cosplay


Six minutes of cosplay goodness
Jun 13
// Salvador GRodiles
As we're getting close to finish the week off with a bang, the gang at Beat Down Boogie are up to their usual tricks again. In their latest video, they give us a tour of Momocon '15, which is located in Atlanta. From the pos...
The Legend of Legacy photo
The Legend of Legacy

Rejoice, SaGa fans: The Legend of Legacy heads to the Americas


It's time for a legendary announcement
Jun 12
// Salvador GRodiles
If you're craving for a new entry in the SaGa series, then your hunger shall be slain by Atlus' acquisition of The Legend of Legacy, a 3DS game by FuRyu (Unchained Blades) that happens to be a spiritual sequel to Sq...
Million Arthur photo
Million Arthur

Draw your Swords: Square's Million Arthur game gets a worldwide release


Are you brave enough to wield Excalibur?
Jun 10
// Salvador GRodiles
For a good while, I never was able to get behind any mobile games, since my phone isn't smart enough to play any of the titles that are available on the online stores. Thankfully, I was able to fix this problem after I got my...
Tales of Berseria photo
Tales of Berseria

The next Tales of game looks beary interesting


Will this title feature a bear motif?
Jun 07
// Salvador GRodiles
As we're waiting for Tales of Zestiria's Western release to hit stores, the folks at Bandai Namco have announced the next Tales of game at the Tales of Festival in Yokohama. From the looks of it, Tales of Berseria might have ...
Food photo
Food

Nissin Cup Noodle's latest commercial transcends time and space


Stay Hot!
Jun 05
// Salvador GRodiles
To this day, I've yet to try fresh ramen. At the moment, my experience with the meal's limited to the cheap Maruchan instant noodles that are good for anyone who's on a tight budget. While we're on the topic of noodles, Niss...

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