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tokusatsu

RIP photo
RIP

Rest in Peace: Creature Artist Yasushi Nirasawa passes away


An amazing monster designer has left us
Feb 05
// Salvador GRodiles
Sad news, everyone; it turns out that the great creature illustrator Yasushi Nirasawa passed away at the age of 52 on Feb. 2. According to his Twitter page, his passing was caused by kidney failure. In case this is your first...
Ninja Sentai Kakuranger photo
Ninja Sentai Kakuranger

What's that? Kakuranger pre-orders have revealed their location


Insert cheesy sound effects
Feb 04
// Salvador GRodiles
If there's one thing that I've learned in my life, it's that you never underestimate a ninja's ability to strike from the shadows. As I was rejoicing over Shout! Factory's plans to release Kakuranger this year, the group caug...
Dobutsu Sentai Zyuohger photo
Dobutsu Sentai Zyuohger

Zyuohger's full trailer shows off its blocky gimmicks


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

Evil gets slashed: Kakuranger heads to North America


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

VS GAG photo
VS GAG

What if Darth Vader and Kamen Rider Black RX crossed swords?


Wake Up, the Hero!
Jan 18
// Salvador GRodiles
Ever since Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens hit theaters last month, I was in the mood for seeing someone do a video where a Jedi or Sith fights one of the various heroes from tokusatsu who wields an energy sword. Lo...
Garage Hero photo
Garage Hero

Watch indie toku studio Garage Hero train in the ways of wire action


Keep it up, GPTV!
Jan 17
// Salvador GRodiles
There's something awesome about seeing a production team honing their own techniques on their own time, Seeing their regimen gives people the chance to see the hard work they put into mastering their skills, and it work...

Final Impressions: Ultraman X

Jan 12 // Salvador GRodiles
From day one, it was obvious that Ultraman X was going to go down a full circle, as the return of the villain that X knocked into Earth’s Sun ended up being a huge thing. Despite, the final villain Greeza resembling a random tokusatsu grunt character, the gang at Tsuburaya made sure to turn this guy into a menacing entity. From the moment it stepped foot on our planet, we were treated to a hopeless scenario where many defense facilities fell to this powerful entity. Like with many giant monster shows and movies, all we heard was a creepy screech that when an area was about to go bye bye. Throw in a major loss for the home team, and we’re taken back to the most of the franchise’s intense finales (such as the original Ultraman series). Going back to Daichi’s character, I was surprised by how much is defeat affected me during the show’s last moments. Yes, his character comes off as a bit of an avatar for the viewers to witness the situations around them, but his will to see his dreams come true shined through the image that his presence gave off. Despite my slight issues with how they didn't give Daichi’s personal dilemmas the spotlight too much, this didn’t stop me from being affected from his defeat. That being said, this shows that Tsuburaya added enough spices to make us feel this way. Going back to a thing I said in a previous post, the thing that made Daichi’s character great for me was his ideals and the way how he bonded with the entire cast. For a guy to gain the trust of a giant dinosaur monster deserves a huge freaking medal. Through his role as a scientist at Xio, we grew to love Gourman and Rui’s antics. In combat, we saw him bring out the best out of Asuna, Hayato, and Wataru. On top of all that, his pact with X helped the giant learn more about Earth customs and mannerism, which is something that a bland character could never achieve. While the series mostly centered on the random monster attacks caused by the Ultra Flares, the amount of screen time that each character was given gave us that wonderful sense of family and teamwork that XiO uses during each big crisis. The science division gave us Rui’s huge obsession with nonhuman lifeforms and the amazing timing behind Dr. Gourman’s random appearances, which made them one of the great representations of the show’s concept of being able to live alongside other creatures. With segments like Tachibana's dilemmas as a parent and Wataru having to accept that he might not get to date his childhood friend, the show’s brief character-focused episodes brought life to the cast, as we see them deal with other issues outside of protecting the city from danger. Everyone’s working towards the same goal and the contributions of each member play a role in saving the day— regardless of the size of their task. Aside from the gang’s teamwork skills and dilemmas, X’s segments where humans bonded with the franchise’s monsters were some of the most heartwarming segments of the series. The Houlinga and the Pigmon episodes were two moments where one can’t rely on stereotypes to judge the world around you. In this case, the common misconception was that almost all creatures want to obstruct everyone’s way of life. This also goes back to the franchise’s idea that most of the show’s giant monsters are like animals. You have your vicious territorial creatures and you have those who tend to be peaceful around others. In the end, I found these segments to be the ones that express the show’s coexistence theme the most. Despite Tsuburaya’s tendency to cut corners on certain segments (such as reusing older monsters from the franchise), Ultraman X’s new angle shined well through in through, as the potential shown from day one continued to go higher each week. The Mons Armors allowed for the crew to experiment with different action scenes and attacks, an element that helps many of the Heisei Kamen Rider shows in promoting their toys. This also allowed for X to use a variety of moves outside of the Ultra Warriors' usual beams and wrestling moves that they're known for. Since each form had a cool gimmick, I’m hoping that this could evolve into a new trend for future Ultra titles— as long the gang continues to show the same passion that went into X’s different transformations. With the few original designs that entered the show’s realm, the team didn’t hold back with these arcs. These segments mostly gave off a ridiculous finale type of feeling, as they ended up being played during the key points in the series. Overall, Gargorgan, the Gua Army’s updated look, and Greeza’s final form all had some neat designs that gave off that menacing feeling that many major adversaries from giant monster titles exhibit. Other than the powerful bad guys, Demaaga, Rudian, and Houlinga were some other great examples of some nice costume work that was put into the franchise’s new characters. as a guy who loves great-looking monster suits, the costume team deserves some praise for their work on the X-exclusive creatures. When I first decided to watch Ultraman X, I came for the fierce giant warrior on monster action. However, I ended up staying with a fun tale about a group of people who fight to protect the peace while doing their best to turn the world into a place where all types of life forms can live together. Sure, the story with Daichi’s parents was never resolved, but we can only hope that the show's upcoming film will give our hero the ending that he deserves. With Tsuburaya doing some interesting things with the series, let’s hope that this is a sign that they’ll keep this rainbow strong with their later installments. In the meantime, X got me more interested in the Ultra franchise, so I plan to dive further into it in the future. Thanks to its fun run, I guess you could say that it’s one of my favorite tokusatsu shows from last year. [You can unite with Ultraman X one last time at Crunchyroll and Tsuburaya’s YouTube channel]
Ultraman X photo
Somewhere over the rainbow
This might just be me, but 2015 felt like an average year for tokusatsu. The usual stuff ranged from average to enjoyable, and only one of them was consistently fun. However, things weren’t too bad, as I discovered the ...

Kamen Rider photo
Kamen Rider

Kamen Rider Battride War Genesis' opening will turn the world into your stage


Gotta Break Those Chains!
Jan 07
// Salvador GRodiles
After hearing Kamen Rider Girls in the first two Kamen Rider Battride War titles, it feels a bit strange that the group didn't return to sing Battride War Genesis' theme. My guess is that it might have to do with their album...
Dobutsu Sentai Zyuohger photo
Dobutsu Sentai Zyuohger

Strike: Animals go bowling in the new Zyuohger trailer


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

Let's kick off the 2016 year with a sweet new Mythos trailer


Myth Form!
Jan 01
// Salvador GRodiles
This might sound weird of me to say this, but one of the things that I'm excited the most about the 2016 Tokusatsu Year is that we might see more independent toku projects enter the scene. In regards to these indie prod...
Kamen Rider Ghost photo
Kamen Rider Ghost

Kamen Rider Ghost's chiptune opening will brighten your soul


Pixels Open!
Dec 25
// Salvador GRodiles
If there's one thing that I love about watching Kamen Rider Ghost each week, it's the show's opening by the ouendan group Kishidan. On a joyous Christmas day, Megaane has used his Retro Eyecon to turn "We Think, Therefore We...

Annotated Tokusatsu: Ultraman X episodes 14-20

Dec 16 // Salvador GRodiles
One of the deal breakers for this decision was that the show’s 14th episode presented us with another fight that’s on par with most final battles in tokusatsu. The Spectre siblings fused into a powerful entity, and we got to see Victory and Ginga perform their little fusion routine. Of course, this segment worked out nicely, as we got to witness an overkill of ultra proportions. I mean, if you have Exceed X and Ginga Victory together, whoever’s facing up against them is doomed. Honestly, it’s this type of action that gave this bit a fine closure to the Gua Army’s attempt to conquer Daichi’s world. While the next episode to follow was another recap, I guess this served as a point for the staff to gain extra time to finish up the rest of the show’s content. Again, X always manages to make up for these segments when it delivers something that makes up for it. This time, the highlight was its team doing a fine job with conveying Kamiki’s issues with trying to save the city while attempting to attend his daughter’s marriage. All in all, this episode managed to show us the struggle that many working parents have— especially when Japan is being attacked by giant monsters every week. Of course, the team’s decision to hold a giant monster boxing match made way for some great scenes of the Captain showing us his moves. Add an episode where we see an incident being told through the perspective of a reporter, and we have another fine addition to X’s track record of experimenting with its format. Even though this show mostly revolves around XiO thwarting stand-alone threats, the real treat is the way how they handle each segment, since each crisis makes a specific character the star. Of course, the big thing that’s making things exciting is that the Dark Thunder Energy seems to be the bridging element that’s setting up for the appearance of the program’s final catastrophe. Along the way, we cried over the bond between a young girl and classic Ultra series monster Pigmon. Not only did the creature sport a distinct type of cuteness, the show got us to care about it, as we're reminded of that warm feeling that comes from having a special friend that sticks by our side. This actually adds a nice layer to the icing on the Ultra cake. Thanks to my love for these types of moments, it was certain that X’s love dilemma and his fight against Gomora would hit me as well. With a romance-themed episode thrown into the mix, we now have a combo that teaches us about the life’s cruel moments. Honestly, it’s always interesting to see a children’s show cover these types of themes since many fictional titles tend to focus on the person we’re following getting the girl. Of course, Mu-chan is probably one of the silliest looking monsters to date, as she happens to have very cartoony cat look. And to think that her abilities played an important role in the episode’s topic. Back to the emotional segments, one recurring theme in X is Daichi’s connection to Gomora. The creature represents the final thing that his parents left behind, and it’s also the first monster that he bonded with. Of course, this resulted in another emotional moment for our hero, which contributes the series theme of coexistence. More important, it’s hard to go wrong with a segment where a large dinosaur-like creature performs special tricks for its best buddy while giving him a big thumbs up. It’s thanks to these themes that Lt. Tachibana’s moment was another strong moment for the series. Due to the way how Ultraman Nexus’ powers work, this was a neat way to write the Silver Giant into the series— even if it was for a brief moment. In a way, this segment showed us that distance can’t stop a mother from wanting to save her family from danger. Hell, the show deserves some props for retaining the Space Monster’s desire to eat other humans intact. Even though this contradicts with the group’s idea of coexistence, it shows that there are just some beings that can’t be persuaded. Based on my brief experience with the series, it’s practically impossible to make friends with a group of creatures that act as humanity’s predators. On top of that, they're considered to be evil creatures in their corresponding show. Despite the franchise’s recurring theme of reusing older monsters, the way how X gives them the spotlight makes up for this money-saving decision. Each episode depicts the creatures in a different way than their predecessors, and we get to see how they impact the main cast, along with the civilians who get to interact with them. During these last few weeks, the show treated us to a dynamic fight, the concept of making big sacrifices for the greater good, and the strong moments that come from a powerful bond. In a way, these aspects act as the bridge that connects most of the show’s episodes that seem like stand-alone segments at first. Because of the program's format, this resulted in each chapter being a blast. With two episodes left until Ultraman X ends, the show has already proven to us that it’ll likely end on a high note. Seeing that the Dark Thunder Energy occurrences are the major thing that’s affecting everyone right now, this means that the program’s last arc should put an end to its source. One thing for sure, I can’t wait to see X’s main adversary in action, as it’s going to be a fight to remember. [You can unite with Ultraman X at Crunchyroll and Tsuburaya's YouTube channel]
Ultraman X photo
Never doubt a mom's love for her family
It’s been a while since we took a look at Ultraman X’s progress. Let’s just say that a few obstacles got in the way of this segment. Aside from being treated to a nice finale to the Gua Army Arc, a bunch of ...

Impressions: Kamen Rider Ghost episodes 1-9

Dec 10 // Salvador GRodiles
Giving off a bit of a YuYu Hakusho vibe, Ghost starts off with a guy called Takeru Tenkuji getting killed by some ghostly creatures called the Ganma. Thanks to the work of the Sage, the guy’s now a ghost and he has to collect the spirits of fifteen heroic figures. If he succeeds, he can use their power to grant himself a wish, which could restore his life. However, he has 99 days to accomplish this goal; otherwise, he’ll remain dead. Since the hero needs to be challenged, he also has to obtain them before his enemies and rivals do. If there’s one thing that I love about the Kamen Rider franchise, it’s when they implement gimmicks where the tide between the heroes and villains changes each week. Kamen Rider OOO did this with the Core Medals and Gaim’s tendency to have characters switch factions while backstabbing others were two great features that made it hard for the audience to guess how the overall story would turn out. With Takeru having a time limit to collect the heroic spirits, this element gives the show that spice that can make people want to keep up with each episode. Not only that, both Riders are able to turn them into eye-shaped items called Eyecons, which goes well with the title’s spooky motif. Add the show’s second Rider, Kamen Rider Specter, to the mix early on, and we ourselves the perfect mix to challenge our main hero. Just like Takeru, Specter has his own reason for wanting to collect the heroic spirits. In fact, the guy has a few of them on his side already. Due to this rivalry, the show has that OOO feeling where anyone could lose their powers at any time. This format works nicely since it affects both sides’ fighting capabilities and the progress of their main objective. Unfortunately, the program’s super low budget prevents it from reaching its true potential. Likely because of the Ghost’s tinier budget, the series’ villains are all mostly the same Ganma grunt creature design, except that they gave them different molds and/or outfits. If you look at the creatures’ basic features, such as the Mozart Ganma and the Lewis Carol Ganma, the differences between the Monsters-of-the-Week are practically nonexistent. In fact, it makes the show look cheaper than your standard Heisei Rider show, which is unfortunate since the bad guys from the first episode sported one design that did a decent job in masking the basic Ganma design. That, and the Tesla Ganma was another one that stood out from the rest. Even though we’ve had shows like OOO or Drive where the monsters would evolve from their henchmen form, the team would make sure that each enemy has their own unique look and body build. Even if the series has to work with less money than usual, it could be possible for them to create an array of different bad guys if they would’ve utilized the two-part format again. Right now, the Ganma’s giant forms are the closest thing to them having something that’s doesn’t look the same, so let’s hope that we see some new changes down the road. This problem doesn’t just apply to the bad guys, as the action and visuals suffer dearly as well. Usually in these types of shows, the first few episodes would always have the heroes performing an array of ridiculous moves to get everyone excited. Not just for wanting to get them to buy the toys, but to make sure that they’re in for a good time. With over eight different Forms shown in the series so far, Spectre’s finishers are the only ones that almost achieve this spark. These mostly apply to Ghost’s scenes, which lack that ‘Oomph’ or ‘Bam’ that many Riders' special attacks have. For example, his first Rider kick during episode 1 had him do his finisher after barely jumping off the ground. While Riders like Kabuto have done finishers where they do a simple move like a roundhouse kick, the attacks are still enforced with good action direction, effects, and camera shots. Perhaps if they experimented with some effects and camera angles, we might’ve ended up with something better, since they could utilize special techniques to make up for the program’s low budget. In this case, this seems to be more of a case of poor action direction that doesn’t focus much on the flashy moves, since smaller titles like Fujiyama Ichiban and Garage Pro TV’s shows have been able to create cool-looking scenes and attacks with their limited funds. That being said, there’s a chance that a few members of Ghost's staff aren’t having fun with the production since that’s a factor that can make or break many projects. Other than that, the wire work for Ghost’s flying scenes felt strange, as his body movements are inconsistent while he's flying. Honestly, this could’ve been fixed with some effects to make him look more phantom-like during these segments. Hell, the typical ghost tail would've made these scenes amazing. On top of that, the fact that the team recycled an entire scene from the Kamen Rider OOO movie during episode 4 is a sign that the show’s production is going through a major struggle. However, things start to get slightly better in later episodes, though the obvious signs of the cheaper look still remain. Despite the show’s cost-related issues, Ghost still has some decent things going on. The main Rider’s hooded jacket looks cool, and his Halloween color scheme work well with the ghost theme— seeing that the show premiered in October. While it’s obvious that Specter’s design having similarities with Ghost’s looks is the result of a smaller budget, it’s still neat that they have a Kamen Rider #1 and #2 vibe going on, as the two classic heroes shared similar design features. At the moment, these two suits are the best costumes in the series so far, which will likely improve when they get their stronger forms. To an extent, both characters' costumes remind me of Kamen Rider Wizard's stylish looks, which remains consistent in Ghost and Specter’s different Souls that represent various historical figures. As the for the show’s story, one of its best elements is Specter’s backstory and reasoning for wanting to obtain the special wish. For a character that’s only been around for four or five episodes, his alignment is an interesting one since the villains don’t see him as a huge threat. Aran seems to know Specter and it looks like Saionji wants to manipulate him as well. Since it’s hard to pinpoint the second Rider’s alignment, this conflict serves as the main piece that save Ghost from its sad state. Even though the group’s mysterious actions are still on track, it’s a bit sad when the supporting cast outsmarts Saionji, who happens to be the main villain at the moment. For now, the only thing that could make him threatening is that he might become an evil Rider or a threatening creature later on. Seeing that Aran has his own motives, this element takes us back to how OOO and Gaim had a few of its characters switch sides or form new factions. Based on the new character Javel’s appearance, the show hints that they’re likely inhabitants of the Ganma’s world, which I could see becoming a big thing soon. Sadly, Ghost’s supporting cast doesn’t hold the same strength as he potential that the evil side has. Akari is your person who refuses to believe that spirits are real and Onari is the ridiculous buffoon that happens to be a monk. They may have been helpful to Takeru from time to time, but they seem to have those same aspects that made most of Wizard’s cast weak. Hopefully, this flaw is temporary, since a good dose of character development can solve this problem right away. I guess the Sage and his ghostly partner Yurusen are alright, as their appearances tend to have some amusing comedic timing to them. Speaking of which, Takeru could use this as well since his basic personality doesn’t make him stand out that much. Even though his quirk is that he brings hope to the people who’re being manipulated by the Ganma, he’s missing that special touch that made most of the franchise’s protagonists great. On the bright side, his quest and will to return to the world of the living could make him better later on. For now, he seems to be on the same level as Haruto from Wizard, which means that he’s close to hitting that same level of blandness that the title’s hero has. Due to its low budget and possible issues with the production’s management, Kamen Rider Ghost continues to suffer from being an average show in the eyes of its predecessors. Perhaps if Kamen Rider Drive’s second half didn't put the toys in the backseat, then the program would’ve gotten higher merchandise sales to would've allowed the latest installment to look better. However, it’s still too early to dismiss the series as a disaster, since there are many elements that can turn things around. With the program starting to shed light on Takeru’s dad’s experiments with the supernatural, I could see this aspect opening up to some shocking surprises that’ll lead to a frightfully good time.
Kamen Rider Ghost photo
G-G-Go Ghost!
If there’s one thing that’s scary about an ongoing franchise, it’s when the latest series gets a budget cut. In some cases, this scenario won’t stop the team from delivering an entertaining program; ho...

Dobutsu Sentai Juohger photo
Dobutsu Sentai Juohger

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


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

Ultraman Nexus gets an official YouTube stream before it hits Crunchyroll


Space Monsters beware
Dec 05
// Salvador GRodiles
Once again, it's a great time to be a fan of tokusatsu, as Tsuburaya uploaded four episodes of Ultraman Nexus, one of the first Ultra TV shows that's targeted towards an older audience to prepare for its upcoming debut on Cru...
Garo photo
Garo

Aww yeah: Next year's Garo projects give us more Zero and Leon


All part of a good Thanksgiving dinner
Nov 25
// Salvador GRodiles
You know that the end of November's gonna be amazing when we learn about the new Garo-related announcements. While three projects were announced during this year's Garo: Golden Wolf Thanksgiving festivity, only two of them a...
Kamen Rider Ghost photo
Kamen Rider Ghost

Carve out history with Kamen Rider Ghost's full OP music video


Get ready to shed tears of joy
Nov 23
// Salvador GRodiles
As the single for Kamen Rider Ghost's full opening gets ready to hit Japan on December, the full music video for Kishidan's latest song, "We Think, Therefore We Are," has materialized in front of us. Of course, the tune...

Annotated Tokusatsu: Ultraman X episodes 8-13

Oct 17 // Salvador GRodiles
You know that a segment is gonna get serious when you bring out a monster that literally wiped out the original Ultraman. While I never got around to watching the second Ultra show (Ultra Q is the first), I remember hearing about Zetton being one of the Giant of Light’s toughest adversaries. That being said, this sort of element is the kind of thing that one usually saves for a big moment. Unfortunately, the impact wasn’t as big as the one during the battle against Gargorgon. Yes, there was a twist during Daichi’s quest to create the Cyber Zetton Card, but this type of thing felt a little too sudden at this point in the game— unless if they're building up towards the appearance of an evil force that’s planning to invade the planet. Nonetheless, this didn’t stop the episode from having a few fun moments. Whether it was X using the Zetton Armor to reflect attacks and a ridiculous energy tornado attack or Ultraman Max’s cameo, the action side of things was enjoyable. Luckily, the series decided to change things up to prepare for its next phase. Considering that most of Ultraman X’s scenarios were catastrophes caused by large monsters and/or aliens, it was neat to see that the team left us with a few humorous segments. Honestly, I never imagined seeing an episode that’s dedicated to a guy helping a group of extraterrestrials win a game of rugby. For the most part, it served as a great diversion from the show’s usual formula, as it gave us the chance to see a bunch of people in monster suits acting like fools. Speaking of which, the situation with the creature Houlinga served as a fine example of a crisis where one has to investigate the situation before acting. While XiO’s members lost some points for the way how they handled the crisis, this was one of the few moments where Daichi showed more personality. Sure, his stunts have made him an okay person to follow, but there aren’t enough scenes where we actually see the guy stand out. In this case, he was the only person who put the effort in understanding Houlinga’s motives, which is a step in the right direction for his character. Other than that, I was surprised to see that the episode showed us a scenario where humans and large monsters can coexist. If anything, this might lead up to an interesting scenario later on. Speaking of Daichi, his whole bit with trying to summon Cyber Gomora reminds us of how he’s suffering from a case of wasted potential. From the moment that his backstory was revealed to be a sad one, the staff has avoided this element in favor of making him a character that people can insert themselves into. Sure, he isn’t a completely blank state character, but it’s getting to this point where his performance doesn't make him stand out too much from the rest of the XiO's colorful members. At least his actions and reactions to things make him a decent person, so we can only hope that he gets better as the story behind his parents becomes more relevant later on. Despite this plot element being a little too late in the game, it’s hard to deny that Cyber Gomora’s debut was in battle was quite a treat. I mean, the guy’s already a formidable beast in previous Ultra installments, so it was inevitable that his new variant would kick all sorts of butt in his debut. To an extent, it gave off a nice Mega Monster Battle: Ultra Galaxy Legend and Ultra Galaxy Mega Monster Battle vibe, since the idea of summoning a large creature to fight an enemy gave off a Rei vibe. Even though Daichi’s method is different, there’s something magical about seeing a non-Ultra Warrior as a good guy. Of course, this isn’t the height of the series’ latest progress, as it started to take things up a notch. Usually, the segments where X would be in peril would last one or two episodes; however, with the introduction of Gina Spectre, the team has outdone themselves again.  This is thanks to her being part of an empire known as the Gua Army, which already makes her presence bigger than the previous the show’s previous baddies. Combined with the fact that she’s played by Minami Tsukui (Kamen Rider W’s Grasshopper Woman/Hopper Dopant and Kamen Rider Gaim’s Yoko/Kamen Rider Marika), Tsuburaya managed to hit us with another solid entree. For once, the team was able to make this situation into a major event for Ultraman X. I mean, if you’re going to bring in a previous Ultra Warrior to the mix, you know that something big is about to go down. This happened with Zero and Max's cameo appearance, which were both amusing on their own behalf. If that doesn't happen, then you're likely left with a terrible scenario where we end up with a huge pile of garbage *cough Toei’s Super Hero Wars movie series. In this case, Ultraman Victory only made this arc more exciting— especially when Daichi thought that he couldn’t speak Japanese. Also, the idea behind Victory’s flute sword and his ability to perform special attacks with the Spark Dolls left me with a good impression on the character. Going back to Daichi, the weakest part of the arc was the staff pulling off another last minute attempt to emphasize on his character. Even if this scene wasn't that emotional, the idea behind Ultraman X’s Exceed Form worked as a decent way to show that his bond with the alien has grown stronger throughout the series. That and to show off his determination to find his parents. Again, these segments would’ve shined well if we saw him deal with his personal problems earlier in the series. But hey, Ultraman Exceed X uses his headgear as a sword, so something good came out of this event. Based on Exceed X’s debut, it looks like his style mostly involves using his sword and fabulous rainbow energy. Not that it’s a bad thing since his segments were pretty flashy; however, with Ginga and Victory’s more versatile skills, I’m hoping that Daichi will get to use the Cyber Monster Cards with his new Form. That way, the series won’t neglect the toys that it’s been marketing to people during these past few weeks. Even though the Ultra franchise was stuck in a situation where it production staff couldn't manage its budget, Ultraman X continues to take the brand to new heights. While the Gua Army was another example of the company recycling assets from previous shows, the team still managed to bring a new spin on Andro Super Warriors’ major villains. Since the series’ heroes were four Ultra Warriors who fought evil while donning special suits, I guess this still count as them bringing back older bad guys, except that they’re given an updated look. If the show’s 14th episode marks the end of this group, then their presence proved to us that the staff is willing to have segments that extend beyond two episodes. From the looks of it, the second half of Ultraman X might top this moment easily. Who knows, that one villain that X knocked into the sun could return after this next week's episode; thus resulting in a climactic moment for the series. [You can awaken Ultraman X's Ultimate Form at Crunchyroll and Tsuburaya's YouTube channel]
Ultraman X photo
A chokehold that transcends dimensions
Man. Ultraman X has gone through a lot during these past few weeks. From intense major event battles to sports games, the show is packing a ton of different elements recently. Perhaps the biggest thing to happen is that we mi...

Final Impressions: Garo: Gold Storm Soar

Oct 05 // Salvador GRodiles
When you look at the big picture, it makes sense that Garo: Gold Storm Soar was going to have the heroes win earlier than before. Not that it’s a bad thing, as the show has been doing a great job in handling the segments that made way for Zinga becoming the owner of Ladan. Since each episode served its own purpose, the whole thing didn’t feel like it was rushed. One moment, Ryuga and the gang are trying to save Rian. Then we see them get ready to confront the show’s main adversaries in a fight that’ll determine the fate of humanity. Also, we had a scene with a guy protecting the city with a massive magical electric guitar; therefore making this finale an exciting moment for the series. Compare to Garo: The One Who Shines in the Darkness’ Zedom battle, the staff pulled no punches with Ladan’s designs, as we’re treated to a giant castle with Gothic architecture that’s fused with a grim reaper. All in all, it managed to recapture the magic that makes from the franchise’s final fights worthwhile, which shows that they were able to make it up to the viewers for how they used the program’s budget in the third installment. Even though Ryuga didn’t get a one-time Super Form, it was still cool to see his use his Dark Armor again. If anything, this probably makes him the second Makai Knight in the Garo toku franchise to be able to fly. Again, the staff’s decision to bring back this design was a fine way to give folks the suit that they missed out on during the series’ third installment. In a way, it almost cancels out the lack of him having a special transformation that’s exclusive to this installment. I guess the giant Garo that's made of people's lifeforce counts as something too, so there's that. If there was one issue to be had with the show’s resolution, it’s that we didn’t get a proper closing to the cast’s story. Yes, the city was saved and everyone went back to their normal lives, but I felt that we were deprived of a proper closure to Ryuga and Rian’s relationship. Then again, you have to give the show some props for having the girl focus on her other priorities, which implied that she’s saving her big move after she accomplishes her dream— especially with the way how the two main characters interacted towards the end. Come to think of it, Gold Storm Soar's ending was almost similar to the original series. Our heroes walk off into the horizon while they prepare for their next journey. In the end, this segment tends to work well since a Makai Knight and Priest’s job never ends. As long as people with malevolent intent exist in our world, the Horrors will continue to terrorize society. When this happens, the Makai Knights and Priest will always be there to protect the planet’s citizens from their danger. That being said, it might be a while before Ryuga and Rian’s journey ends, so there’s a chance that they could return in a new series, special, or movie. Part of the thing that made the series fun was how each episode slowly unraveled the mystery behind Zinga and Amiri’s plans for awakening Ladan. Even though it was obvious that they were meant to be a Ryuga and Rian’s evil opposites, the Destroyer of Worlds alone was enough to make the bad side interesting. Whether it’s his psychotic expressions or his tendency to taunt his opponents, Masahiro Inoue nailed his role well in Gold Storm Soar. At the same time, it shows how much he’s evolved from when he played as Tsukasa/Decade from Kamen Rider Decade. While Garo: Gold Storm Soar’s quality felt like a step down from Garo: Makai no Hana, the series somehow showed us that it had what it took to dominate the spring and summer season. The small amount of Horrors-of-the-Week comprised of people in creepy suits may have been smaller than its preceding live-action installment, but there was still a great amount of variety between the CG creatures and the costumed ones. That and we had not one but two Makai Knights that weren’t 3D models, which is a step in the right direction. Because of these elements, this shows that the franchise is at its best when its creator, Keita Amemiya, is part of the show’s staff; otherwise, the team might have issues if they’re working with a smaller budget than usual. Of course, the only downside of this scenario is that in exchange for the guy being involved with the franchise, Amemiya ends up being stuck in the Garo loop again. Hopefully, there'll come a time when the staff could pull off a great show without his involvement. That way, he could focus on his own projects— just like the time when he worked on Shougeki Gouraigan. Since the first Garo anime did well without his supervision, the tokusatsu side of the franchise might achieve this goal one day. At the end of the day, I think it's safe to say that this year’s live-action Garo installment was still a fine treat for fans of the franchise. Considering that Sho Aikawa (Kamen Rider Decade and Eureka Seven AO's Writer) and Toshiki Inoue (Kamen Rider 555 and Kamen Rider the First's Writer) are part of the second Garo anime's staff, this is a sign that it’ll be a disaster. On a more positive note, we can rest assure that Garo: Gold Storm Soar left us on a good note; therefore leaving us satisfied until the next set of Garo-related goodies. When you look at the big picture, it makes sense that Garo: Gold Storm Soar was going to have the heroes win earlier than before. Not that it’s a bad thing, as the shows been doing a great job in handling the segments that made way for Zinga becoming the owner of Ladan. Since each episode served its own purpose, the whole thing didn’t feel like it was rushed. One moment, Ryuga and the gang are trying to save Rian. Then we see them get ready to confront the show’s main adversaries in a fight that’ll determine the fate of humanity. Also, we had a scene with a guy protecting the city with a massive magical electric guitar; therefore making this finale an exciting moment for the program. Compare to Garo: The One Who Shines in the Darkness’ Zedom battle, the staff pulled no punches with Ladan’s designs, as we’re treated to a giant castle with Gothic architecture that’s fused with a grim reaper. All in all, it managed to recapture the magic that comes from the franchise’s final fights, which shows that they were able to make it up to the viewers for how they used the series’ budget. Even though Ryuga didn’t get a one-time Super Form, it was still cool to see his use his Dark Armor again. If anything, this probably makes him the second Makai Knight in the Garo toku franchise to be able to fly. Again, the staff’s decision to bring back this design was a fine way to give folks the suit that they missed out on during the series’ third installment. In a way, it almost cancels out the lack of him having a special transformation that’s exclusive to this installment. If there was one issue to be had with the show’s resolution, it’s that we didn’t get a proper closing to the cast’s story. Yes, the city was saved and everyone went back to their normal lives, but I felt that we were deprived of a proper closure to Ryuga and Rian’s relationship. Then again, you have to give the show some props for having the girl focus on her other priorities, which implied that she’s saving her big move after she accomplishes her dream— especially with the way how the two main characters interacted towards the end. Come to think of it, Gold Storm Soar almost ended like the original series. Our heroes walk off into the horizon while they prepare for their next journey. I guess this segment is perfect since a Makai Knight and Priest’s job is never over. As long as people with malevolent intent exist in our world, the Horrors will continue to terrorize society. When this happens, the Makai Knights and Priest will always be there to protect the planet’s citizens from their danger. That being said, it might be a while before Ryuga and Rian’s journey ends, so there’s a chance that they could return in a new series, special, or movie. If not, then we can still rest assure that Gold Storm Soar ended on a fine note for the entire cast, which resulted in a great year for the franchise. Part of the thing that made the series fun was how each episode slowly unraveled the mystery behind Zinga and Amiri’s plans for awakening Ladan. Even though it was obvious that they were meant to be a Ryuga and Rian’s evil opposites, the Destroyer of Worlds alone was enough to make the bad side interesting. Whether it’s his psychotic expressions or his tendency to taunt his opponents, Masahiro Inoue nailed his role well in Gold Storm Soar. At the same time, it shows how much he’s evolved from when he played as Tsukasa/Decade from Kamen Rider Decade. While Garo: Gold Storm Soar’s quality felt like a step down from Garo: Makai no Hana, the series somehow showed us that it had what it took to dominate the spring and summer season. The small amount of Horrors-of-the-Week comprised of people in creepy suits may’ve been smaller than its preceding live-action installment, but there was still a great amount of variety between the CG creatures and the costumed ones. That and we had not one but two Makai Knights that weren’t 3D models, which is a step in the right direction. Because of these elements, this shows that the franchise is at its best when its creator, Keita Amemiya is involve is part of the show’s staff; otherwise, the team might have issues if they’re working with a smaller budget than usual. Since the latest Ryuga series was an improvement over the third Garo TV show, this year’s live-action installment was still a fine treat for fans of the franchise. If the second Garo anime’s writing staff is a sign that it’ll be a disappointing title for the brand, the viewers can rest assure that Garo: Gold Storm Soar left us on a good note. 
Garo: Gold Storm Soar photo
It never hurts to smile
Have you ever had that feeling where a show that you’re keeping up with ends sooner than expected? In my case, it feels stranger for the latest Garo toku series to end at episode 23, since each installment of the franch...

Kamen Rider Ghost photo
Kamen Rider Ghost

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


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

Impressions: Shuriken Sentai Ninninger episodes 1-30

Sep 27 // Salvador GRodiles
At one point in time, a man with the title of the Last Ninja managed to seal away a group of Yokai that were lead by a ruthless warlord called Gengetsu Kibaoni. Flash forward to the present, and a mysterious fellow who goes by the name of Kyuuemon Izayoi has awakened most of the creatures that were sealed away.  Standing in his way are the five relatives of the legendary shinobi, who are also in training to become great warriors. As they work hard to save humanity, the team is also competing to see who can become the Last Ninja’s successor. From the get-go, the main thing that sets Ninninger apart from most other Sentai shows is that the five heroes are also rivals. Despite their ambitions for wanting to become the next Last Ninja, the group still has to work as a team to overcome all odds. Because of this format, this lets us see the main cast’s relationship exhibit different levels of chemistry during training and in real battle. Hell, the team’s trials are played out like an actual school, since students are ranked by their grades and overall performance until they graduate. At the same time, they still help each other out during tough situations, which brings us an interesting take on the franchise's teamwork theme. Even through the series features a neat take on the team’s relationship, it’s unfortunate that the staff is trying too hard to replicate Kyoryuger’s over-the-top aspects. Obviously, I love it when a Sentai program has off-the-wall elements, but it’s important for these aspects to come off naturally. For example, Takuharu Igasaki/Aka Ninger gives off a Daigo/Kyoryu Red vibe, but the guy’s overly exaggerated enthusiasm and his tendency to use the phrase ‘fired up’ and ‘hot’ lacks that special zest that made the King's hot-blooded phrases great. Instead, his actions make him a bit annoying at times. Speaking of attempts to replicate successful elements, the final part of the team’s roll call has to do with running wild and the show’s sixth Ranger made his debut early in the series. Based on these aspects, it’s likely possible that Ninninger’s staff is hoping that these elements will replicate Kyoryuger’s success. Luckily, the show doesn’t come off as a poor excuse to market merchandise to kids based on the brand name alone, since there are a few moments that stand out on their own. Despite Takaharu’s slightly irritating habits, the rest of the cast manages to balance out his negative traits. With two young heroes that provide great support, a magic ninja, a scientific genius, and a cowboy that loves to take selfies with monsters, the rest of the Ninninger balance out the red shinobi’s bad qualities. I guess you could say that each member covers their own weaknesses in battle and in life. All in all, the group’s interactions play off for some good laughs here and there, which helps keep viewers entertained before the action kicks in. As for Kyuuemon’s group, the show’s format prevents them from being fleshed out too well. This was due to the fox demon’s tendency to revive Gengetsu’s Generals one at a time, which prevented most of the major bad guys from reaching their full potential. One villain that suffered dearly from this was Raizou Gabi, who seemed like he was going to be Takaharu’s rival throughout the entire show— kind of like Takeru/Shinken Red and Juzou’s encounters in Shinkenger. Even though the later Commanders are still alive, their role hasn’t reached the same pinnacle as the blood-thirsty samurai. For now, Izayoi shows some promise, since his backstory is connected to the Igasaki Ninja Clan. That and it’s cool to see that Gengetsu’s high-ranking members wear broken Noh masks; thus adding a neat aesthetic to the group’s Warring Era theme. Perhaps if Gengetsu and his top officers were awake from the get-go, Ninninger might’ve had a stronger villain cast. Then again, Ninja Sentai Kakuranger featured a similar format to the latest ninja team’s adversary, so the issue here is how the bad guys interact with the heroes. Hell, in titles like Tokumei Sentai Go-Busters, a series with a small general count, the thing that let Enter stay strong throughout the series was his constant interaction with his enemies. Whether he was eating a pizza while commencing his evil scheme or greeting the team in French, his presence was a welcoming aspect for the show. Sadly, the Kibaoni Army’s commanders (except Raizou) weren't able to deliver a great dynamic between them and the good guys, which was due to them not crossing swords with the heroes too often. Where the villains were lacking, the Monsters-of-the-Week managed to keep the series’ conflicts entertaining. Besides being actual yokai crossed with random objects, most of these creatures leave us with some silly moments here and there. I mean, we got to see Frankenstein's Creature become a fan of cute 2D girls, a moment that I didn't expect to see outside of Hikonin Sentai Akibaranger. Due to Kyuuemon’s desire to collect people's fears, we get to see these baddies scare humans through actions like using walls to crush people’s dreams or trapping people inside of difficult board games. Even when the Izayoi Clan ninjas took over as the weekly adversaries for the heroes, they still managed to carry the spirit of the other bad guys. Going back to Kyuuemon, his role in the show is now one of the bigger things that could turn the villains around. Aside from his mysterious motives, he played a decent role in giving the show’s sixth Ranger, Kinji/Star Ninger, a challenge while he was trying to become the Last Ninja’s student. As the ninja fox demon starts to show more of his true colors, I could see him becoming a bigger villain than Gengetsu later on. For now, this is aspect is something that could turn the evil side into a more lovable group. In regards to the team’s weapon designs, their #1 Sword sports a colorful look, which goes well with its role as a changing device and main combat gadget. Just like Ninja Sentai Kakuranger’s heroes, the Ninninger all have the same gear, since their other tools include a transforming shuriken and a frog gun. Nonetheless, each member’s strengths and weaknesses allow for everyone to use the items in different ways, such as Yakumo/Ao Ninger combining magic with his special attacks. Thanks to their special shurikens that can be inserted into each weapon, the show’s staff has ensured that the Ninninger are able to add some more flair to the action scenes on screen. Of course, these segments go well with the group’s usage of ninja techniques like substitution and clone move; thus acting as another decent callback to the two previous ninja-themed Sentai shows. As for the gang’s costumes, the suits manage to compliment the show’s motif, as each hero’s helmet has a different shuriken that acts as their visor. On top of that, the scrolls on their chests complete the great package that makes up these great designs. While Star Ninger’s attire lacks these features, his cowboy elements were a clever way to utilize the sheriff’s star as part of the team’s association with spiked throwing weapons. While we’re on the topic of Star Ninger, the hero’s cowboy hat-shaped helmet and poncho work as a great way to compliment his American origins. Sure, he’s a parody of Texan and Wild West stereotypes (the guy transforms with a freaking cheeseburger cellphone, for crying out loud), but it’s these aspects that make his character fun. In a way, he’s like a glorious fusion between Ninpu Sentai Hurricanger’s Shurikenger and Shinkenger’s Shinken Gold, since he likes to add English words to phrases and he has a gold costume that has blue on it. Just like Kyoryuger’s mecha dinosaurs, Ninninger’s signature robots also feature a colorful toy-like design. If there’s one thing that sets them apart from the samba dinosaur show, it’s that the team’s Ninja Allies don’t share a similar motif. When you think about it, a giant ninja, a dragon, a dump truck, a dog, a train, an elephant, a U.F.O., a surfer, a lion fortress, and a Western ninja that rides a buffalo A.T.V. wheeler have nothing in common. Then again, most of these things are seen as cool things, which might’ve been a factor in their decision to give the gang machines that lack a common motif. Even though the Ninninger’s Ninja Allies look like something to come out of a ‘Cool Japan’ campaign, the shear ridiculousness behind these units using each other as thrones is both an awesome homage to its ninja theme, along with being a great way to replicate the great aspects from show like Gurren Lagann into a live-action series. From day one, this was an idea that I was on board with from the beginning, and Ninninger has yet to disappoint me with this theme. With all said and done, Ninninger may be a show that tries too hard to replicate Kyoryuger’s zaniness, but its other ideas prevent it from being a disappointing Sentai series. Based on its progressions, it’s not the right kind of bread to complete the sandwich that contains ToQger and its predecessor, since its major villains lack the elements that made the ones from the two previous shows great. However, this could change with Kyuuemon’s new ninja clan and Gengetsu’s true debut, so anything could happen at this point. Another great thing that kept the series fun was its return to the family theme present in Sentai titles like GoGo V and Magiranger gave the series its own charm, since it gave the main cast the chance to partake in lots of silly segments. Whether it was Kinji’s attempts to defeat the other heroes or the group’s early reactions to Takaharu’s old friend/possible love interest, these aspects continue to remind me why I find this format to be great. Based on the way how things are going now, the show’s looking to be an enjoyable title by the time things get super real— especially with the whole ordeal with Kyuuemon creating ninjas out of Tsumuji’s ninja abilities. If the show's staff plays their cards right with this one, we might be in for a cool scenario soon. While it might not reach Tokusatsu of the Year quality, the series has enough decent content for many folks to enjoy. In other words, hiding doesn't stop party night!
Shuriken Sentai Ninninger photo
It's all about that Shinobi Love
When it comes to delicacies that blend things together, the sandwich is one of those meals that smash a bunch of stuff in between two slices of bread. So what does this have to do with tokusatsu? Well, one thing that I’...

Annotated Tokusatsu: Ultraman X episodes 6-7.5

Sep 06 // Salvador GRodiles
Luckily, the new characters ended up improving things in the long run. Even though the beginning of tE rU’s (yes, that’s how his name is actually spelled) story wasn’t on the same level as the last two episodes, both segments worked well as a great build-up to the climatic showdown against the alien’s true adversary. This was thanks to the series of events that got us to know the inhabitant of Planet Gold. One thing that every episode of Ultraman X had in common was that the Spark Doll monsters were involved in some sort of destructive action. While I haven’t watched the two Ultraman Ginga shows, it was neat to see that these sofubi figures can be used for good from the get-go. Sure, tE rU and his giant robot-turtle Rudian decimated the city during the first part of the story arc, but that was the result of some misunderstandings caused by his predicament. In tE rU’s case, his early actions were out of self-defense. Honestly, it didn’t help that he faced discrimination early on in the episode. Come to think of it, this situation could play a major role in the series later on; thus placing XiO in a situation where they’ll have to assess future situations before taking action. While Daichi hasn’t done much to stand out from the other characters, it’s his willingness to understand others that make him a decent person to follow. At this point, he still lacks the aspects that make the rest of the cast fun, but his strengths lie in the way how he defends everyone as Ultraman X. Of course, the guy also contributes to making the Giant of Light’s random antics being better than ever. So far, this chemistry has been the thing that lets Daichi hold the fort during these past few weeks. Unlike the show's previous episodes, we’re finally treated to a new original monster in the form of Gargorgon. Compare to the older Showa Era creatures, the three-headed monster has one of the fiercest-looking designs in X. In fact, the creature looks like an endgame villain, which shows that Tsuburaya has a few aces up their sleeve that they’re saving for important moments like this. Speaking of which, Rudian was another fine specimen since it’s basically a gold turtle that looks like a fusion between Gamera and Anubis. On top of that, the mecha has giant freaking Gatling gun arms! Thanks to these suits, episodes 6 and 7 of Ultraman X had some great designs. Once again, this arc’s strength was that they gave XiO the spotlight in the same manner during the episode when they had to save X from Bemstar’s grasp. Come to think of it, the build-up to our hero using his new Mons Armor might be a callback to that segment. While we're on the topic of references, the way how he stopped Gargorgon was reminiscent of the story of Perseus; thus adding a nice Greek mythology nod to the series. Even though the series has been getting stronger, it’s unfortunate that a recap segment came by and ruined the show’s momentum. Since the reason behind these episodes is understandable, I guess it’s something that will never go away. At least, they gave us a preview of the newer goodies to come which worked well in raising everyone’s appetite for the show’s ridiculous content, such as Cyber Gomora appearing as an actual monster later on. Despite its loss in momentum, Ultraman X continues to pull through as a show that’s slowly living up to its potential. With the Ultra Killer getting ready to make its return again, I believe that we’re in for another intense storyline. Combined with the other promising goodies, this show already has what it takes to be ultra phenomenal. Let’s just say that everyone’s urge to buy more Ultra sofubi monster toys and cyber cards will continue to go up again. [You can join forces with Ultraman X at Crunchyroll and Tsuburaya's YouTube channel.] Luckily, the new characters ended up improving things in the long run. Even though the beginning of tE rU’s (yes, that’s how his name is actually spelled) story wasn’t on the same level as the last two episodes, both segments worked well as a great build-up to the climatic showdown against the alien’s true adversary. This was thanks to the array of events that got us to know the inhabitant of Planet Gold. One thing that every episode of Ultraman X had in common was that the Spark Doll monsters were involved in some sort of destructive action. While I haven’t watched the two Ultraman Ginga shows, it was neat to see that these sofubi figures can be used for good from the get-go. Sure, tE rU and his giant robot turtle Rudian decimated the city during the first part of the story arc, but that was the result of some misunderstandings caused by his predicament. In tE rU’s case, his early actions were out of self defense. Honestly, it didn’t help that he faced discrimination early on in the episode. Come to think of it, this situation could play a major role in the series later on; thus placing XiO in a situation where they’ll have to assess the situation before taking action. While Daichi hasn’t done much to stand out from the other characters, it’s his willingness to understand others that makes him a decent person to follow. At this point, he still lacks the aspects that make the rest of the cast fun, but his strengths lie in the way how he defends everyone as Ultraman X. Of course, the guy also contributes to making the Giant of Light’s random antics being better than ever. So far, this chemistry has been the thing that let Daichi hold the fort during these past few weeks. Unlike the previous episodes, we’re finally treated to a new original monster in the form of Gargorgon. Compare to the older Showa Era creatures, the three-headed monster has one of the fiercest-looking designs in X at the moment. In fact, the creature looks like an endgame villain which shows that Tsuburaya has a few aces up their sleeve that they’re saving for important moments like this. Speaking of which, Rudian was another fine specimen since it’s basically a gold turtle that looks like a fusion between Gamera and Anubis. On top of that, the mecha has giant freaking Gatling gun arms! Thanks to these suits, episodes 6 and 7 of Ultraman X were a nice treat. Once again, this arc’s strength was that they gave XiO the spotlight in the same manner during the episode when they had to save X from Bemstar’s grasp. Come to think of it, the build-up to our hero using his new Mons Armor might’ve been a nice callback to that segment. Hell, the way how he stopped Gargorgon was reminiscent of the story of Perseus; thus adding a nice Greek mythology nod to the series. Even though the series has been getting stronger, it’s unfortunate that a recap segment came by and ruined the show’s momentum. Since the reason behind these episodes is understandable, I guess it’s something that won’t go away forever yet. At least, they gave us a preview of the newer goodies to come which worked well in raising everyone’s appetite for the show’s ridiculous content, such as Cyber Gomora appearing as an actual monster later on. Despite its loss in momentum, Ultraman X continues to pull through as a show that’s slowly living up to its potential. With the Ultra Killer getting ready to make its return again, I believe that we’re in for another intense storyline. Let’s just say that everyone’s urge to buy more Ultra sofubi monster toys and cyber cards will continue to go up again.
Ultraman X photo
Perseus the Tokusatsu
At long last, Ultraman X has finally pulled out some original creatures out of their hat. Again, it’s understandable why they couldn’t have done this earlier in the game. Either way, this hasn’t stop Tsubura...

The Ultraman photo
The Ultraman

Animator Expo's Ultraman short is chock-full of toku goodness


The courage you gave me was 110 Million!
Sep 04
// Salvador GRodiles
As Ultraman X continues to rock the airwaves with its hero that fights bad guys with his sweet-looking monster armors, the Japan Animator Expo project has united with the Giant of Light to bring us a short that'll make any Ul...
Kamen Rider Drive photo
Kamen Rider Drive

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


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

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


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

Annotated Tokusatsu: Garo: Gold Storm Soar episodes 17-19

Aug 27 // Salvador GRodiles
You gotta hand it to Gold Storm's staff for having multiple events from previous episodes that seemed unrelated come together. When done right, these twists fill the audience with a shocking feeling as their mind wraps around the events that have occurred. In this case, the show's recent big twist was obvious from the beginning; however, what made this scene shine was the motive behind the specific action. Originally, I felt that the team was going to make Zinga and Amiri similar to Barago/Kiba the Dark Knight from the original series since their motive involves freeing a threatening force for their own gain. Aside from their method of becoming evil, the other thing that improved the main villains' character was that their path was triggered by a tragic event. I mean, losing a kid is no easy task to endure— especially when he’s murdered by the very people they tried to save. At the same time, it added a new layer to Gald and Haruna’s backstory, since the intersection between the two groups predicaments increased the show's drama levels. Speaking of surprising elements, did anyone expect to see Ryuga’s old Garo Armor design return as an actual suit? Something tells me that this moment was an excuse to give the viewers a taste of what the main hero’s costume would’ve been like if Garo: The One Who Shines in the Darkness didn’t rely on CG for its Knights and creatures. As a person who enjoyed the franchise's third series, it was a nice service to those who wished to see his old form again. On top of that, the aerial battle between him and Zinga was a perfect way to make it stand out even more. Judging by the armor’s design, there’s a good chance that Ryuga’s current suit was what the team wanted the Golden Knight to become after he purified it. Likely due to Garo Season 3’s low budget, the staff decided to reuse Kouga’s version of the costume. I guess this proves that the guy’s current form wasn’t the result of his gear going through an evolution before Gold Storm’s events. Either way, it’s fascinating to see how these details can tell a story through the use of its visuals. Even though Zinga ‘kicked’ the bucket earlier than expected, his latest move almost keeps us guessing on how he’ll inhabit Ladan. Since Garo: The One Who Shines in the Darkness didn’t wrap up Ryuga and Rian’s relationship, it’s obvious that the guys desperation attack was meant to intensify this moment. One of the great parts about this was Miki Nanri being able to switch between two roles. All in all, she did a good job in expressing the guy’s maniacal way of speaking, which contributed to the dramatic campiness on screen. On top of that, the washed up effect in Rian’s mind served as a neat aesthetic for the scene. At this point in the story, it’s hard to believe that Gold Storm is close to its final countdown. One moment, it was spring and now we’re at the end of the summer season. I guess this is due to time flying fast. Based on the way how things have gone, we might see the appearance of Ladan’s ruler soon. Once the pieces become complete, the real battle shall become a climatic treat that’ll surpass Garo Season 3’s final battle. Hell, it might be a fitting end to Ryuga and Rian’s relationship. For now, we’ll just have to hope that she ends up on the rare list of characters that can be saved. However, a tragic ending wouldn’t be too bad— as long as the right ingredients are put into place. Then again, Ryuga worked hard for his status so a good closing to his journey wouldn’t be too bad right now. You gotta hand it to a show when it pieces together multiple events that seemed like they had nothing to do with each other. When done right, these twists fill the audience with a shocking feeling as their mind wraps around the events that have occurred. In Gold Storm’s case, the big twist was rather obvious from the beginning; however, what made this scene shine was the motive behind the specific action. Originally, I felt that the team was going to make Zinga and Amiri similar to Barago/Kiba the Dark Knight from the original series, since their motive involved freeing a threatening force for their own gain. Aside from their method of becoming evil, the other thing that sets the evil duo apart is that their path was triggered by a tragic event. I mean, losing a kid is no easy task to endure— especially when he’s murdered by the people you tried to save. This event was an example of the show’s staff to flesh out the main villains before the program comes to a close. At the same time, it spiced up Gald and Haruna’s story; thus making the drama even juicier. Speaking of surprising elements, did anyone expect to see Ryuga’s old Garo Armor design return as an actual suit? Something tells me that this moment was an excuse to give the viewers a taste of what the main hero’s costume would’ve been like if Garo: The One Who Shines in the Darkness didn’t rely on CG for its Knights and creatures. All in all, it was a nice service to those who wished to see his old form again. On top of that, the aerial battle between him and Zinga was a perfect way to make it stand out even more. Judging by the armor’s design, there’s a good chance that Ryuga’s current suit was what the team wanted the Golden Knight to become after he purified it. Likely due to Garo Season 3’s low budget, the staff had to resort to reusing Kouga’s version of the costume. I guess this proves that the guy’s current form wasn’t the result of his gear going through an evolution before Gold Storm’s events. Either way, it’s fascinating to see how these details can tell a story through the use of its visuals. Even though Zinga ‘kicked’ the bucket earlier than expected, his latest move almost keeps us guessing on how he’ll become Ladan’s ruler later on. Since Garo: The One Who Shines in the Darkness didn’t wrap up Ryuga and Rian’s relationship, it’s obvious that the guys desperation attack was meant to intensify this moment. One of the great parts about this was Rian’s actress being able to switch between two roles. All in all, she did a good job in expressing the guy’s maniacal way of speaking, which contributed to the dramatic campiness on screen. On top of that, the washed up effect in Rian’s mind served as a neat aesthetic for the scene. At this point in the story, it’s hard to believe that Gold Storm is close to its final countdown. One moment, it was spring and now we’re at the end of the summer season. I guess this is due to time flying fast. Based on the way how things have gone, we might see the appearance of Ladan’s ruler soon. Once the pieces become complete, the real battle shall become a climatic treat that’ll surpass Garo Season 3’s final battle. Hell, it might be a fitting end to Ryuga and Rian’s relationship. For now, we’ll just have to hope that she ends up on the rare list of characters that can be saved. However, a tragic ending wouldn’t be too bad— as long as the right ingredients are put into place. Then again, Ryuga worked hard for his status so a good send off wouldn’t be too bad right now.
Garo: Gold Storm Soar photo
I am GARO!
Once again, Garo: Gold Storm Soar is treading into climatic territories that make us think that we’re in for a final clash. Obviously, these moments are only meant to set the stage for the true finale, but the climatic ...

Gosei Sentai Dairanger photo
Gosei Sentai Dairanger

Tenshin Da: Dairanger is up for pre-order


The five stars have finally aligned!
Aug 19
// Salvador GRodiles
It's been a month since Shout! Factory announced that they're releasing Dairanger in North America, and the show is can now be pre-ordered at the company's Website. While it's unfortunate that one can't reserve the serie...

Annotated Tokusatsu: Ultraman X episodes 4-5

Aug 18 // Salvador GRodiles
Right when I felt that Ultraman X was going to only have one huge battle at the end of every episode, the people at Tsuburaya threw a curve ball at me. In fact, this surprise was the right element that it needed to push the story forward. As fun as it is to see Daichi transform into the Giant Warrior each week, the supporting cast still deserves their time to shine. This is where episode 4’s conflict came in since it covered the usual trope where a group of characters must learn to work together. Sure, this element has been done to death in many shows, but the great part about this aspect is the reward that comes from seeing everyone settles their differences. At the same time, it helped establish Asuna, Wataru, and Hayato’s roles as XiO’s combat unit. Because of this outcome, the Musketty’s Forms became more useful in the segment; thus acting as a good way to promote the machine as a toy. Once again, the show resorts to bringing back previous monsters and adversaries from the Ultra franchise. Honestly, I’m going to assume that this will continue to be a recurring thing in this show. Then again, since Mega Monster Battle: Ultra Galaxy Legend is the only other title in the franchise that I’m familiar with, seeing these old creatures for the first time has been a nice treat. Koichi Sakamoto's movie also had some classic baddies, which shows that this trend has been around for a good while. At least the human-sized aliens are changing the playing field right now. Unlike the show’s giant monsters, these extraterrestrials are more like the types of villains that inhabit the realm of tokusatsu, such as the generals or the Monsters-of-the-Week. They all have their own agendas and they manage to give the human characters the chance to actually shine. I mean, I didn’t expect to see XiO’s members go toe to toe with one of these villains. In the end, if these guys add more action to the series, then Ultraman X has what it take its entertaining quality to a higher level. Speaking of which, I didn’t expect for Ultraman X to repeat the same format in the next episode. At first, it felt that the staff was running out of ideas this early in the series, but one can never judge an episode by its basic format. Just like the previous segment, episode 5 gave us a better look at Rui’s character. Sure, she’s your usual enthusiastic character that goes nuts over random things, but it’s the way how she expresses her love for her research, comrades, and giant creatures that make her very lovable. In fact, her encounter with Alien Nackle Bandello expressed her sentiments well; thus giving the viewers another good reason for them to care about her. Other than this development, Ultraman Zero’s cameo was a great way to spice up the action. Since his debut in Ultra Galaxy Legends was during the film’s major battle, it was nice to actually see him partake in the show’s story. Mind you, I haven’t seen the other films that he’s been in, so my knowledge of his character is limited right now. But hey, his flaming skills and his various moves that revolve around his head gear were a great addition to Ultraman X's arsenal of ridiculous characters. Another greatest treat was seeing X switch between his Gomora and Eleking Armor when he battled Black King. All in all, this segment was a nice relief since it gives us the chance to get acquainted with his new powers. That and it’s a good way to sell the Cyber Monster cards to people. Again, his transformations gave off a nice Heisei Kamen Rider vibe, which is still one of the show's good aspects. Most importantly, you can’t go wrong with the main hero having an X-shaped body slam and a powerful energy chop attack. Of course, the idea of having giant heroes using wrestling-like moves on huge creatures is entertaining to watch. Now that we’ve flown through five episodes of Ultraman X, it's safe to say is that Tsuburaya hit us with some great surprises. The show’s team is changing up the format between episodes and they did a good job in making us more interested in XiO’s main members. Then again, this sort of style might’ve been present in previous Ultra shows so it might be something that isn’t too new. Nonetheless, this doesn’t stop the current installment from losing its shine. As long as they keep up the good work, I think that I might start to become more invested in the franchise. In other words, I'm now officially a fan of the Giants of Light. [You can take a selfie with Ultraman X at Crunchyroll and Tsuburaya's YouTube channel] Right when I felt that Ultraman X was going to only have one huge battle at the end of every episode, the people at Tsuburaya threw a curve ball that defeats my speculation of the series’ format. In the end, this sort of thing was the element that it needs to push the story forward. As nice as it is to see Daichi transform into the Giant Warrior each week, the supporting cast still need their time to shine. This is where episode 4’s conflict comes in since it covered the usual trope where a group of characters have to work together. Sure, this element has been done to death in many shows, but great part about this aspect is the reward that comes from seeing everyone settles their differences. At the same time, it helped establish Asuna, Wataru, and Hayato’s roles as XiO’s combat unit. Hell, they even made the Musketty’s Forms even more useful which shows progress and helps promote the machine as a toy. Once again, the show resorts to bringing back previous monsters and adversaries from the Ultra franchise. Honestly, I’m going to assume that this will continue to be a recurring thing in this show. Then again, since Mega Monster Battle: Ultra Galaxy Legend is the only other title in the franchise that I’m familiar with, these creatures have been a nice treat. At least they’re now bringing in the human-sized aliens, who manage to change the show’s playing field. Unlike the show’s giant monsters, these extraterrestrials are more in tune with the types of villains that inhabit the realm of tokusatsu. They all have their own agendas and they manage to give the human characters the chance to actually shine. I mean, I didn’t expect to see XiO’s members go toe to toe with one of these villains. In the end, if these guys add more action to the series, then I’m absolutely okay with that. Speaking of which, I didn’t expect for Ultraman X to repeat the same format in the next episode. At first, it felt that the staff was running out of ideas this early in the series, but one can never judge an episode by its basic format. Just like the previous segment, episode 5 gave us a better look at Rui’s character. Sure, she’s your usual enthusiastic character that goes nuts over random things, but it’s the way how she expresses her love for her research, comrades, and giant creatures that makes her very lovable. Honestly, her encounter with Alien Nackle Bandello expressed her sentiments well; thus giving the viewers another good reason for them to care about her. Other than this development, Ultraman Zero’s cameo was a great way to spice up the action. Since his debut in Ultra Galaxy Legends was during the film’s major battle, it was nice to actually see him partake in the show’s story. Mind you, I haven’t seen the other films that he’s been in so my knowledge of his character is limited right now. But hey, his flaming skills and his various moves that revolve around his head gear were a great to see again. Perhaps the greatest treat was seeing X switch between his Gomora and Eleking Armor when he battled Black King. All in all, this segment was a nice relief since it gives us the chance to get acquainted with his new powers. That and it’s a good way to sell the Cyber Monster cards to people. Again, his powers give off a nice Heisei Kamen Rider vibe which is still a good thing. Most importantly, you can’t go wrong with the main hero having an X-shaped body slam and a powerful energy chop attack. Also, the idea of having giant heroes using wrestling-like moves on huge creatures is entertaining to watch. Now that we’ve flown through five episodes of Ultraman X, all I can say is that Tsuburaya has left me surprised. The show’s team is changing up the format between episodes and they did a good job in making us more interested in XiO’s main members. Then again, this sort of style might’ve been present in previous Ultra shows so it might be something that isn’t too new. Nonetheless, this doesn’t stop the current installment from losing its shine. As long as they keep up the good work, I think that I might start to become more invested in the franchise; therefore resulting in me adding another thing to my list of tokusatsu offerings that I enjoy.
Ultraman X photo
A joyous bond of Ultra proportions
We’re five episodes into Ultraman X, and the show has finally unleashed its good playing cards. Not only did we get to fall in love with the rest of XiO’s crew, the show gave us a cameo appearance in the form...

Annotated Tokusatsu: Garo: Gold Storm Soar episodes 13-16

Aug 10 // Salvador GRodiles
You know that a show is going to get better when the first thing that it does is to have a fishing segment. I don’t know what it is about these moments, but every time that I see a character attempt to catch a large fish or adversary, I can’t help but to be mesmerized by the dynamic shots between the person and its target. That being said, Gold Storm’s staff hit the right notes in shooting Rian’s brief match against the Horror that was residing in the lake. Not only that, it served as a nice set  up to Raiga’s fight against the creature’s true form. In other words, it was another fine episode for the series. Interestingly, this might be the first time that the Gold Storm TV series featured nudity. Honestly, this came as a surprise since the franchise usually would show four or more episodes that would show a naked woman. My guess is that they’re trying to focus more on the major characters, villains, and monsters since Garo: Makai no Hana kind of followed this format— before the final battle against Eiris. Then again, the show’s finale could cancel my random observation so it might be too soon for me to make this assumption. In all seriousness, this pattern has no effect on the program’s quality in any way. If there was one thing that hindered the series, it’s that we were hit with a recap episode. I understand that many studios have issues with meeting their deadlines, but they should do their best to make it fun. At least the team tried to make it interesting since they chose to have Gold Storm's main ladies talk about the events that have happened so far. In the end, it wasn’t too bad, as there were some parts that moved the story forward. However, I still think that more people need to look at Akibaranger as a reference on how to do an entertaining clip-show segment. Obviously, Gold Storm’s recent strong moments were the episodes about the team storming through Zinga and Amily’s stronghold. Every scene in this segment was fantastic since the coordination between the main cast was at its finest. This was reflected in the gang’s synchronized attack to penetrate the base’s defenses, which worked well in showing how everyone has evolved so far. In terms of character development, this moment shined through nicely. At the same time, the show is telling us that it’s ready to unlock its shackles. Also, you can’t go wrong with a Watchdog showing off her special abilities. To an extent, it was a nice callback to the original series, except that the main hero's superior is supporting the good guys. Due to the show’s recent progress, Garo: Gold Storm Soar is still on a roll. The developing relationship between the characters continues to reward the viewers for investing in the series since their teamwork resulted in tons of solid moments during the counterattack against the show’s main villains. Despite the recap episode’s slight hindrance on the series, the latter segments made up for it because of heroes’ coordinated strike. While it’s a bit of a bummer that Rian was turned into a damsel in distress, I guess that it was a plot element used to develop Ryuga’s bond with the Gunslinging Makai Priest. Either way, the program’s great potential came through and all that’s left is to see it through the end. Seeing that JAM Project’s new song rocked our souls, it’s only going to get even more real. I know I kept saying this a lot in the past, but it’s just the way how I feel at the moment. You know a show is going to get good when the first thing that it does is to have a fishing sequence. I don’t know what it is about these moments, but every time that I see a character attempt to catch a large fish or adversary, I can’t help but to be mesmerized by the dynamic shots between the person and its target. To anyone who enjoys these segments like I do, Gold Storm’s staff hit the right notes in shooting Rian’s brief match against the Horror that was residing in the lake. Not only that, it served as a nice set  up to Raiga’s fight against the creature’s true form. In other words, it was another fine episode for the series. Interestingly, this might be the first time that Gold Storm featured nudity. Honestly, this came as a surprise since the franchise usually would show four or more episodes that would show a naked woman. My guess is that they’re trying to focus more on the major characters, villains, and monsters since Garo: Makai no Hana kind of followed this format— before the final battle against Eiris. Then again, the show’s finale could cancel my random observation so anything is possible. In all seriousness, this pattern doesn’t affect the program’s quality in any way. If there was one thing that hindered the series, it’s that we were hit with a recap episode. I understand that most studios have issues with deadline somethings, hence why these types of segments are made. At the same time, how hard is it to make these moments fun? At least the team tried to make it interesting since they chose to have Gold Storm main ladies talk about the events that have happened so far. In the end it wasn’t too bad, as there were some parts that moved the story forward. Obviously, Gold Storm’s recent strong moments were the episodes about the team storming through Zinga and Amily’s stronghold. Every scene in this segment was fantastic since the coordination between the main cast was at its finest. This was reflected in the gang’s synchronized attack to penetrate through the base’s defenses, which worked well in showing how everyone has evolved so far. In terms of character development, this moment shined through nicely. At the same time, the show is telling us that it’s ready to unlock its shackles. Also, you can’t go wrong with a Watchdog outclassing the heroes in every way. To an extent, it was a nice callback to the original series, except that the special guardian is on the good side. Due to the show’s recent progress, Garo: Gold Storm Soar is still on a roll. The developing relationship between the characters continues to reward the viewers for investing in the series since their teamwork resulted in tons of solid moments during the counterattack against the show’s main villains. Despite the recap episode’s slight hindrance on the series, the latter segments made up for it because of heroes’ coordinated strike. While it’s a bit of a bummer that Rian was turned into a damsel, I guess that it was a plot element used to develop Ryuga’s bond with the Gun-slinging Makai Priest. Either way, the program’s great potential came through and all that’s left is to see it through the end. Seeing that JAM Project’s new song rocked the scene, it’s only going to get even more real. I know I kept saying this a lot in the past, but it’s just the way how I feel right now. 
Garo: Gold Storm Soar photo
The cute ones are always very dangerous
It looks like we’ve hit a major point in Gold Storm’s plot. Wait a second… Isn’t this show supposed to run for 25 episodes?! I guess they’re planning something huge if the staff is pulling out t...

Mythos photo
Mythos

Indie toku series Mythos continues with its origin episodes


Is Tala going to transform soon?
Aug 08
// Salvador GRodiles
In an era where there's only four or five toku series airing in Japan each year, it feels refreshing when people create new projects about costumed heroes and/or monsters. From Garage Hero to Samurai Action Studio's stuff, t...
RIP photo
RIP

Rest in Peace: Masayuki Izumi passes away


A great antihero has left our world
Aug 04
// Salvador GRodiles
Ladies and gentlemen; it pains me to tell you all that Masayuki Izumi passed away on July 28. Sadly, the guy left to the other side at 35, which was too soon for someone at that age. The cause of his death was an undisclosed ...

Annotated Tokusatsu: Ultraman X episode 3

Aug 03 // Salvador GRodiles
Speaking of goals, this week’s episode was one of the first ones to actually introduce a major conflict in the show’s story. Sure, the idea behind sealing the unsealed Spark Dolls was a big goal for XiO, but there needs to be a bigger element to prevent the course from losing its delicious taste. Thankfully, the mysterious lady that was controlling the nocturnal creature known as Telesdon, a monster that looks like a dinosaur crossed with a giant turd, might become a recurring villain. In all seriousness, the monster shares more similarity with a mole than fecal matter. I mean, the guy burrows underground; therefore making it a ground-based monstrosity. Yes, Telesdon is another recycled creature but at least that gives Tsuburaya the chance to resell more SofuBi figures to people who're unfamiliar with Ultraman's classic creature. Since I’m still new to the franchise, it’s neat to see these old-school suits make a return— even if it’s the result of the series having a low budget. Even though Asuna’s passion for fashion got in the way of the mission at hand, the way how her actions coincided with the important scenes were hilarious. Due to the timing behind her antics, the most annoying segments caused by her were laughable. Honestly, I’m surprised that the lady’s decision to wear high heels while pursuing a dangerous person to be disappointing.  I guess this has to do with the brief moments that we spent with XiO’s members. Let’s just say they continue to show potential. From the looks of it, the whole purpose for her predicament was meant to convey the bond that the organization has. While they could’ve saved this moment after we’ve been acquainted with the crew later on, the staff isn’t running on the same episode count that many long toku shows have so they have to take advantage of their timeframe. For what it was, it gives me hope that the rest of the characters will get a similar treatment to the crew’s action girl. In other words, I’m hoping that we get a Dr. Gourman episode down the road. Speaking of which, the show deserves some props for having Gourman create the Ultlaser, a weapon that pays homage to the original Ultraman. Since I heard that the franchise tends to have lots of scenes where the people shoot at the large creatures, the fact that the gun does the Giant of Light’s hand gestures is a good sign that these segments are capable of being better than before. If anything, this will determine if the studio have found the balance on how to handle the franchise. On the design side of things, the show’s docking vehicles continue to serve their purpose in keeping our giant monster battle appetite in check. Hell, Musketty’s form-changing ability that’s based on the vehicle that it combines with still manages to change up the ante in these segments; thus maintaining its role as the title's appetizer. X’s Eleking Armor has a nice super robot vibe to it. I guess it’s the armored beast head on his shoulder that makes him look like a badass. From his electric gun whip to his shockingly destructive finisher, this week’s battle brought us some neat moments. Even Telesdon got with the program since his burrowing attacks had it do a spinning move that turned the reptilian creature into a drill. To an extent, it was a nice improvement over the last fight. While it seems that Ultraman X’s format might be limited to the hero using a new Monster Armor each week, I’m hoping that they’ll get to have him change Forms on the fly during the later battles. As nice as it was to see them change things up each week, it’s still important for a series to give each power-up more screentime since it can make the toys look cooler. If the show’s opening is anything to go by, the staff is likely saving this feature for the title’s big fights. Seeing that episode 3’s monster had a human sized partner that got away, this is a great sign that Ultraman X is setting up for the show’s first major arc. Considering that the series will likely run for 22 episodes, this gives the team more time to develop the show's story further. Until then, we can count on XiO’s crew to keep us entertained. Not only that, X’s priceless inability to comprehend basic human manners will act as another aspect that’ll tickle our funny bones. [You can catch Ultraman X on Crunchyroll and Tsuburaya's YouTube channel] Speaking of goals, this week’s episode was one of the first ones to actually introduce a major conflict in the show’s story. Sure, the idea behind sealing the unsealed Spark Dolls was a big goal for XiO, but there needs to be a bigger element to prevent the course from losing its delicious taste. This was set up by the fate of the mysterious lady that was controlling the nocturnal creature known as Teresdon, which happens to look like a dinosaur crossed with a giant turd. In all seriousness, the monster shares more similarity with a mole than fecal matter. I mean, the guy burrows underground; therefore making it a ground-based monstrosity. Yes, Teresdon is another recycled creature but at least that gives Tsuburaya the chance to resell more SofuBi figures to people. Since I’m still new to the franchise, it’s neat to see these old-school suits make a return— even if it’s the result of the series having a low budget. Even though Asuna’s passion for fashion got in the way of the mission at hand, the way how her actions coincided with the important scenes were hilarious. Due to the timing behind her antics, the most annoying segments caused by her were laughable. Honestly, I’m surprised that the lady’s decision to wear high heels while pursuing a dangerous person to be disappointing.  I guess this has to do with the brief moments that we spent with XiO’s members. Let’s just say they continue to show potential. From the looks of it, the whole purpose for her predicament was meant to convey the bond that the organization has. Yes, they could’ve saved this moment after we’ve been acquainted with the crew later on, but the staff isn’t running on the same episode count that many year-long toku shows have. For what it was, it gives me hope that the rest of the characters will get a similar treatment to the crew’s action girl. In other words, I’m hoping that we get a Dr. Gourman episode down the road. Speaking of which, the show deserves some props for the Ultlaser, a weapon that pays homage to the original Ultraman. Since I heard from Bueno and his group that the franchise tends to have segments where the people shoot at the large creatures, the fact that the gun does the Giant of Light’s hand gestures is a good sign that these segments have become even flashier than before. Hell, this might be a sign that we’re getting more elements to up the ante in the series. If anything, this will determine if the studio have found their direction on how to handle the franchise. On the design side of things, the show’s docking vehicles continue to serve their purpose in keeping our giant monster battle appetite in check. Hell, Musketty’s form-changing ability that’s based on the vehicle that it combines with helps change up the ante in these segments. X’s Eleking Armor has a nice Super Robot vibe to it. I guess it’s the armored beast head on his shoulder that makes him cool. From his electric gun whip to his shockingly destructive finisher, this week’s battle brought us some neat moments. Even Teresdon got with the program since his burrowing attacks had it do a spinning move that turned the reptilian creature into a drill. To an extent, it was a nice improvement over the last fight. While it seems that Ultraman X’s format might be limited to the hero using a new Monster Armor each week, I’m hoping that they’ll get to have him change Forms on the fly during the later battles. As nice as it is to see them change things up each week, it’s still important for a series to give each power-up the time to shine since it can play a good role in making the toys look cooler in action. If the show’s opening is anything to go by, the staff is likely saving this feature for the title’s major battles. Seeing that episode 3’s monster had a human sized partner that got away, this is a great sign that Ultraman X is setting up for the show’s first major arc. Considering that the series will likely run for 22 episodes, there’s plenty of elements that the team can mess around in the next few weeks. Until then, we can count on XiO’s crew to keep us entertained. Not only that, X’s priceless inability to comprehend human mannerism will act as another aspect that’ll zap our funny bones with laughter.
Ultraman X photo
This guy is no Elekid
Another day, another city to be ruined by a giant monster. Yup, that’s Ultraman X’s format for ya. I guess that those pesky creatures just want to walk the Earth after being freed from their toy-like states. Not t...

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 ...

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...

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 right 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...
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...
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...

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...


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