Toei

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
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Kyousougiga is an intentionally confusing show. If there's any doubt that the confusion is intentional, just look at the way we have two Myoues and two Kotos. Often it's hard to parse the meaning of what's going on-- we usually know what's happening in the most literal sense, but we don't know why, or what it has to do with anything else. There's a lot of symbolism thrown around, some very obvious and some less so, and sometimes, it's frustrating that the show won't just come out and tell you what it wants to say. The big fear with these artistic, "symbolic" shows is that you can bang your head against the wall trying to figure out what it all means, and it might mean nothing; the symbols could just be there to obfuscate the fact that it's all style over substance and has no depth. Alternately, even if the symbolism is used with precision, that doesn't necessarily make the story good. For example, I dropped Mawaru Penguindrum at the halfway point, not because I didn't think the symbolism was meaningful, but because I no longer cared what the symbolism meant-- I found the style of the show so obnoxious with the excessive use of symbolism that it killed my investment in the story. Actually, I think what I said at the time was more along the lines of "This show is like a first-year English major masturbating," but that's neither here nor there. The story of MyoueX2 and KotoX2 in the Looking Glass City however has a consistent playfulness to it that makes it's oblique nature much more tolerable, at least for me. Furthermore, while I couldn't tell you what every single thing in Kyousougiga means at any given time, the big question-- what it's all really about, at the end of the day-- does have a pretty clear, definitive answer, and one that's obvious for pretty much the entire run of the show. You can argue all you want to about the significance of Koto's hammer or the true nature of Mirror Kyoto, but there's never any doubt that the show is about the importance of family. At first it seemed like the story was a strange mix between tales of mythical Gods with unbelievable powers and illustrating the importance of family, but during the last few episodes it finally clicked for me; the show doesn't just mix Gods and families, it uses Godlike power to describe the nature of families. When a person creates a family, that's the closest they can ever become to being a God; they choose a person to create life with (or nurture life, as in the case of Yakushimaru), and the reality they create for themselves that way becomes their own little universe. The original Myoue may have created the planets and has been watching over the universe with his divine powers since before the time of the dinosaurs, but he still refers to his family--multiple times-- as "my whole world." Even though he's virtually omnipotent, the world that matters to him is composed of his wife and children. Notice also how, despite the fact that Myoue and his brother have basically created everything around them, it's Koto-- his biological child with his wife-- that Myoue clearly loves the most. This is dangerous territory (since you could see an implication here that he loves his biological child more than his adopted children), but I really don't think the show is trying to say that parents love their bio-children more; I think the point is that creating new life in the form of children is perhaps the most divine thing humans can as aspire to. It's so divine that even God himself, Myoue, is more impressed with this one little girl than all the planets in the solar system. If we look at the case of Yakushimaru (or the other Myoue-- thanks a lot, show), we see the use of Godlike powers to illustrate the importance of family from a different angle. Yakushimaru is given the ultimate power of creation in the form of his father's prayer beads, yet for most of his (rather long) existence, he has no interest in using that power. Why? Because he lost his family as a young boy, and without his family, he feels as though he has nothing to live for. The fact that he has literally been given the greatest power in the universe means nothing to him, because he misses his parents. It's only when he finally begins to accept Koto as his sister-- and thus acknowledges that he has a new family now-- that he's ready to wield the power he's been given. As someone who hopes to have children in the not-so-distant future, the message of the show resonated strongly with me. I don't want to have children just because they're cute and I want to dress them in adorable outfits (although that's awesome), I want to have children because I want to create my own little slice of the universe for just me and my family. That doesn't mean I actually see myself as some kind of birth goddess with great power over my potential kids; just as Myoue is powerless to stop Koto from blasting him in the face with her hammer, what my children (if I'm lucky enough to have them) eventually become is up to them, not me. It's a power of creation that comes with a massive amount of unpredictability, but that's what makes it so great; just as Myoue prefers Koto to the creatures that he designed exactly to his specifications, I greatly prefer the idea of a child who will struggle to become their own person rather than just follow in my footsteps and be Karen 2.0-- shudder, who needs that. All of this is a roundabout way of saying, if I suddenly have 14 kids and take over the world with an army of tiny minions, it's all Kyousougiga's fault.  
FI: Kyousougiga photo
God's in his heaven and all's right with Mom and Dad
I'm late, I'm late for a very important date. With the winter anime season in full swing, this is my last opportunity to do a Final Impressions for something from the fall season. I think I put off writing up Kyousougiga for ...

Sailor Moon photo
FINALLY. JEEZ.
After dragging us along in one of the grandest and most drawn-out teases in recent memory, our long journey has come to an end: the new Sailor Moon anime will air in July later this year. For ages now, we've been told that a ...

Tokusatsu photo
Tokusatsu

Dinosaurs run wild in Kyoryuger vs Go-Busters' trailer


Three times the dinosaurs to be exact
Dec 21
// Salvador GRodiles
I may be stating the obvious here, but it's not everyday that we get to see three dinosaur-themed Sentai teams in one film. In fact, you could say that Kyoryuger vs Go-Busters completes the Tri-force of Dinosaurs, since we h...
Tokusatsu photo
Tokusatsu

Choo Choo! Tokkyuger's costumes and robot have arrived


Toei has gone off track
Dec 06
// Salvador GRodiles
It's time to enter the railways again, because the images of Ressha Sentai Tokkyuger's heroes, giant robot, and toys are here! Based on my experience with the Sentai franchise, the Tokkyugers have one of the si...
Streaming photo
Streaming

Say Bye Bye: Toei Japan Channel to shut down in December


See you on the other side
Nov 30
// Salvador GRodiles
Well, people; it looks like Toei's special channel that intended bring classic toku shows to the US is going to disappear on December 31st. Silly enough, the main reason behind the channel's disappearance is due to Globecast'...

Review: One Piece Movie 10: Strong World

Nov 14 // Pedro Cortes
One Piece Movie 10: Strong World [BD/DVD]Studio: Toei AnimationLicensed by FUNimationRelease Date: Nov. 19, 2013MSRP: $34.98 [Amazon | RightStuf] Set after the Thriller Bark arc, the Straw Hats are forced to make their way back to East Blue in response to violent attacks and villages disappearing. Right before the turn their sails, Luffy and crew meet Gold Lion Shiki, an old pirate with the ability to affect the gravity of objects. First offering his assistance in moving the Straw Hats toward East Blue, he kidnaps Nami for her superior navigating skills and scatters the group across several floating islands. With Nami in his hands and everybody scattered, Luffy has to get everybody back together to fight Shiki, who has quite a history with some pretty powerful people. Left to the whims of weekly shonen show budgets, One Piece's animation quality usually varies between decent to butt, depending on how deep into an arc they are. Usually, action scenes get the most attention while dialogue-heavy sections look comparatively rough. That’s not a problem here-- Strong World looks great. Characters rarely, if ever, go wildly off-model. The action is more complex than it usually is, featuring extensively animated movement that you usually wouldn’t see. The colors pop, thanks to the power of HD animation. It’s clear that Strong World had a beastly budget and it shows. The story is also better than your normal movie fare. Oda’s involvement means that everything just about makes sense in this movie. One of the few things that sticks out is the existence of Shiki, who really should have come up by now in the series proper. I mean, he is a contemporary of Gol. D Roger, who escaped Marine prison by chopping off his legs and floating away. That’s a story that would’ve at least been mentioned in passing, don't you think? Despite that, Shiki himself fits into Oda’s strange universe just fine. The floating islands remind me of sections of Skypeia, but in a good way. Having different ecosystems on each island keeps the visuals varied and each character on their toes. The Japanese voice cast is excellent, as always. These guys and gals have been delivering solid performances with these characters for years. It's a given that even the worst of the One Piece movies is salvaged by hearing Mayumi Tanaka’s Luffy, Kazuya Nakai’s Zoro, etc. What I was more curious about was the English dub. Having only seen a few episodes in English, I knew that the crew that FUNimation pulled together for One Piece was pretty damn good. In fact, it’s one of the best dubs out there, period. With Strong World, these guys did a fantastic dub that’s on par with the superb Japanese cast. Of particular note is Ian Sinclair as Brook, who absolutely nails the musical skeleton’s vocal patterns, cadence and accent. I couldn’t ask for a better performance for a character I like so much. I hope that they bring him back when the US releases get to Thriller Bark. My only criticism is that there are very few extras in the package. Besides an introduction to Brook filmed with Sinclair and several staff members, you’ve got the US trailer for Strong World and the usual assortment of trailers for other FUNimation products; it's a pretty bare-bones package. Considering that we’re getting Strong World as a Blu-ray/DVD combo pack for a decent price though, I’m not complaining too much. Fans of One Piece absolutely need to get this movie. While it doesn’t affect canon in any way, it’s a fantastic film that can fit into the universe. It looks great, the fights are awesome, both language tracks feature superlative performances, it’s the One Piece movie that could only be done under the gaze of Oda. Strong World is far and away the best of the One Piece movies and is one of the best films in any shonen franchise. Get this movie.   9.0 – Exceptional. One of the best things its genre has ever produced. Its example will be copied or taken into account by almost anything that follows it.
One Piece photo
Solid Gold
Most long-running shonen franchises have theatrical releases to supplement their ongoing stories. Dragon Ball has 18 flicks between the original and Dragon Ball Z, Naruto has nine movies, Bleach has four and so on. Being...

First Impressions: Kyousougiga (TV)

Oct 31 // Salvador GRodiles
Even though the original Kyousougiga ONA felt like a high-speed psychedelic roller coaster ride--- in a phenomenal way-- the TV series slows things down, so that it can expand on the plot. While things are a little more subtle, the show refuses treat its audience like a bunch of children that sit in front of a classroom. That being said, in order to understand Kyousougiga’s story, the viewers will have to pay close attention to the visuals and dialogue on screen. It may sound like a chore at first, but there’s something about Kyousougiga’s writing that it feels very rewarding when you piece things together. While the TV show is technically the third installment in the Kyousougiga series, the story is still accessible to newcomers, since it's a prequel to the first ONA (a.k.a. episode zero of the TV series). Furthermore, the short segments from Kyousougiga Dainidan make an appearance in the program, which ensures that new viewers will be up to date with each crazy chapter. However, for us Kyousougiga veterans, this means that we have to deal with a hefty amount of recycled footage. Thankfully, this decision doesn’t ruin the show, since the new content helps the scenes from the second installment make more sense. In fact, the TV series manages to piece the older segments together in a manner where they don’t feel episodic anymore. More importantly, Shoko’s catastrophic PSP search looks even better in HD! Seeing how it was one of my favorite segment from last year, it was great to see that the older footage retains its great quality. In regards to the new content, Kyousougiga expands more on Koto’s backstory before she arrived in the Mirror Kyoto Capital. While her bond with Inari was conveyed well in the Dainidan shorts, the new series reveals the real connection between him and Koto by showing the masked man's actual face to the viewers. On top of that, the introduction to the organization known as Shrine helps fill in the gaps that were left behind by the previous installment.  Prior to Koto’s birth, Myoe and Lady Koto lived with their three children-- Yakushimaru, Yase, and Kurama-- before they escaped to the supposedly perfect Mirror Kyoto. The reason behind their departure had to do with Shrine's discomfort with having demons from another realm in the normal Kyoto Capital. Of course, we all know that running away from one’s problems is never the intelligent thing to do, as it generally makes the consequences even worse. Because Lady Koto didn't uphold her end of a deal with a Bodhisattva, her decision ended up jeopardizing the lives of her children. With that in mind, Kyousougiga’s true theme is about the consequences that come from leaving important matters unresolved. The aftermath of Lady Koto's folly leaves her three kids alone in an unknown world, where they had to fend for themselves. While they were able to work their way into becoming the main figures in the Mirror Capital, their desire to be reunited with their parents is still a motivating force. Aside from the family-related conflicts, we’re also dealing with Koto’s wish to search for the mysterious Black Rabbit, which might lead to the truth behind her past. At the moment, let’s just say that Kurama and Yase’s theory from episode zero was proven false in episode five of Dainidan. As for the twist's content, you'll have to keep watching Kyousougiga to discover the connection between the two Kotos.  Despite Kyousougiga’s decision in reusing footage from its preceding installments, the TV series is still shaping up to be a solid successor to the ONAs. Thanks to the way it compiles old scenes with the new content, the animation team has given us a better way for us to experience Koto’s plot. Not only that, the show’s colors are still bright and exuberant, and the characters continue to bring an energetic vibe that keeps viewers intrigued. Since Toei and Banpresto are doing a good job with the show so far, I look forward to seeing how they’ll handle the action scenes with a TV-sized budget. Depending how the story goes, there’s a good chance that we’ll finally see the events that take place after episode zero. If not, then we'll have to settle with another fun adventure from Kyousougiga's universe. Either way, we're in for an exciting ride, and that's what matters. [Experience the back end of Koto's magical hammer at Crunchyroll]
First Impressions photo
Koto is back for another round!
There comes a time in most people’s lives where they have the desire to escape from their own personal problems. In some cases, these individuals create a special reality that lets them relax peacefully. While things ma...

Tokusatsu photo
Tokusatsu

Kamen Rider Wizard & Gaim movie gets a full trailer


Fruits and doughnuts are going to war
Oct 25
// Salvador GRodiles
Well, it's time to go to war, because the trailer for Kamen Rider x Kamen Rider Wizard & Gaim: The Fateful Sengoku Movie Battle-- try saying that three times fast-- is about to decide the fate of one's diet! Will fruits ...

Final Impressions: Kamen Rider Wizard

Oct 21 // Salvador GRodiles
As Amadam takes advantage of the conflict between the Riders and the monsters, the strange ruler gets a hold of the treasure chest that contains the Rider Rings. In an attempt to do something clever, Wizard’s final episode tried to create a spectacular finale by using the recurring theme in the franchise where every Riders' power is linked to their foes. Unfortunately, the end result is a lackluster segment that's an embarrassment to the whole franchise. Normally, a reunion between Kamen Riders is considered as a sign that the audience is in for a spectacular episode, filled with enough fanservice to boost everyone's willpower to the max. However, when you try to create a battle where everything is happening super-fast, you lose that special momentum gained when the choreography and special effects complement each other gracefully. Since the final battle of this Wizard special falls short in this category, the impact of seeing your favorite heroes is reduced to an amateur scene that felt like it was directed by someone who has never worked on an action show in their entire life.  Due to the poor direction in this special, the main elements that were supposed to bring joy to the viewers end up being rather frustrating. One of these problems was the appearance of Tsukasa/Kamen Rider Decade, since his part wasn’t that major-- even though he was the only previous Rider to appear out of costume. Seeing how this guy used to be known as the Destroyer of Worlds, you would think that the staff would give him a huge role in the arc. But alas, our magenta hero was left with little to do, disappointing the audience. Going back to series, while the actual episodes in the show were better quality then this special, Wizard's main problem lies in the way it handled its characters and scenarios. Whenever Wizard introduced important characters that could play major roles in the plot, they wound up in the background while the show focused on the main Rider. Due to the lack of emphasis on the supporting cast, it was difficult for viewers to care about them. Koyomi is a huge culprit in this matter, since the staff decided to make her the center piece of the series’ final arc, despite the fact that she was rarely given any screentime after Kamen Rider Wizard's early episodes. Because of Koyomi's small role in the show, none of the huge moments in which she was featured later on struck an emotional cord with viewers. There’s a good reason that Haruto only chooses to eat plain sugar doughnuts; I think it's because of his inability to show some actual flavor in his personality. At first, his egotistical remarks were entertaining, but his reliance on them got old after Wizard’s first half. Not only was the supporting cast underutilized, but our main hero didn't get the chance to grow much throughout the series either. I guess you could say that this magician’s tricks have run dry. Thankfully, the secondary Rider managed to fill in the shoes that Haruto couldn’t. Compared to the doughnut lover, Kosuke was more expressive and silly. While he started off as a joke character, he managed to eclipse the main character’s accomplishments by putting an end to the Sabbath. In the end, our mayonnaise-obsessed Rider turned out to be the best hero in the show--which makes you wonder how the story might’ve went if Kamen Rider Beast was the main character.   If it weren’t for this special, Kamen Rider Wizard could've ended on a decent note. However, because of the amateurish nature behind the production of episodes 52 and 53, we ended up with a closing that leaves a bitter taste in our mouths. On the positive side, Wizard changed up a few things by having a villainous Rider and a female Rider in the actual series: two trends that were mostly exclusive to the Kamen Rider films. Hopefully, we'll see these aspects return to the franchise later on. The show had issues, but that doesn't mean that Kamen Rider Wizard was a huge disaster. Mayu’s conflict with Medusa was a solid segment, and Sora’s devious actions throughout the  story helped keep things intriguing. On top of that, the action segments were well done, since the magic motif allowed for the Riders to mix their melee styles with an array of creative spells. All in all, most of these strong elements were able to outweigh the parts that weren't planned out well.  Perhaps the best way to convey the program’s overall quality is to compare it to a stale, plain sugar doughnut. Kamen Rider Wizard may lack the fresh ingredients to give the pastry a delicious taste, but the sweet flavor from the treat itself might give people the incentive to finish the snack. In a way, this explains the fact that despite my criticisms, I still wanted to sit through the entire magical act. Then again, they disrespected Fourze; therefore, this is a sign that I should’ve walked out while I had the chance. 
Final Impressions photo
Being a Wizard is suffering
It’s hard to believe that a tale about a magical Kamen Rider that loves doughnuts could be a huge letdown. The show's premise was very promising, since our main hero was battling to protect the lives of innocent people ...

Dubbing photo
Dubbing

Will Sailor Moon get a new English voice?


Rumor has it she will
Oct 05
// Karen Mead
I have to admit, as excited as I am for the new Sailor Moon anime we're supposedly getting one of these days, the question "Who's going to be handling the dub?" hasn't exactly been at the forefront of my mind. I'm more concer...
Ressha Sentai Tokkyuger photo
Ressha Sentai Tokkyuger

All Aboard! The next Super Sentai show gets trademarked


Trains are where it's at!
Sep 26
// Salvador GRodiles
Now that we've entered the Fall Season, it's time to learn about the new Sentai series that will premiere in 2014! Crossing the rails of glory, Toei has decided that the next show will be called Ressha Sentai Tokkyuger. ...
Toei's US toku channel  photo
Toei's US toku channel

Stream, Please! Toei to create a toku channel for the US


Warning, this is not a dream.
Sep 07
// Salvador GRodiles
Man, I never expected to see this happen in my lifetime. Heck, I almost thought that I was thrown into a wormhole when Toei and Cool Japan's new announcement slapped me in the face. While I'm still coming to my senses over th...
Japanator Arena photo
Does this count as an actual battle?
*ding, ding, ding* It's Over! Gurren Lagann was being knocked around by Asura to the point where the entire universe trembled! The Tengen Toppa was tossing galaxies back and forth, which resulted in Asura deflecting them with...

More Gaim details photo
More Gaim details

Huzzah! Urobuchi reveals more info about Kamen Rider Gaim


Coming from the mouth of the Butcher himself.
Sep 02
// Salvador GRodiles
As I said before, don't let the fruit designs throw you off, because Urobuchi isn't going to play around with this fine piece that we call a fruit salad. In a way you could say that the reason that the riders are based off of...
Kamen Rider Gaim trailer photo
Kamen Rider Gaim trailer

Put your Fruits on for Kamen Rider Gaim's first trailer


I'll take that slice of orange, please!
Aug 25
// Salvador GRodiles
I don't mean to make an alteration to a signature catch phrase from a certain warlord, but the first thing that came to my head during Kamen Rider Gaim's trailer was Sengoku Basara. More specifically, Date Masamune, due to s...
Japanator Arena photo
Welcome to our first team battle!
*ding, ding, ding* It's Over! Toshiro's ice abilities have no effect on Kuzan, so he had to resort to his Kido skills. Unfortunately, Toshiro's non ice abilities couldn't damage Kuzan. After converting the J-tor Arena into a ...


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