Friday, September 16, 2016

My Updated Kamen Rider Rankings

Since I did an updated list for Sentai, I figured its time to do an updated one for Kamen Rider. Keep in mind that I've been more into Sentai than rider. So there probably isn't gonna be as many new series on this list. With that being said, there has been a slight shift since last time so I guess a new list is warranted. Since the last one, I've finished Gaim and Amazons. Drive and Ghost will not be talked about because I dropped both of them before the 25 episode mark. Den-O will not be mentioned even though I saw half of it since I haven't seen any more of it since the last list. With that out of the way, lets get right down to it.

7. Kamen Rider Amazons:
It took a while but I finally found a series I dislike more than Faiz. Yes, that is a big statement to make since only season one is done and its only 13 episodes. It tries so hard to be dark, edgy, and serious that it ends up being overly angst-y. I don't tend to like the "Life sucks, deal with it!" mentality in superhero shows unless its done really well. It got to the point where I was only watching it to riff it with a friend. Pretty much the main positive I have for this series so far is Alpha's suit. Omega's bike is the most irritating bike I've seen so far. It will not stop roaring whenever its on screen. After a while, my friend and I were constantly telling it to shut up whenever it showed up. Its also this extremely generic lion roar even though the bike is lizard themed. The fight scenes were outright boring and lacked any sense of brutality which is pretty bad for a modern take on Amazon. It doesn't really feel like the show has any weight to it. I legitimately don't expect Mamoru to survive season two and I'm honestly a bit surprised he survived season one given how bleak the tone was.

6. Kamen Rider Faiz, Decade, and Kiva:
Yeah, all three share the same spot but I'll start with Faiz. I've actually softened up a bit on it this series since the last list. It does have some good ideas but the execution makes some of them frustrating. The drama built around misunderstandings or mis-communications still annoys me because it can be solved so easily. I still love the rider suit and monster designs. I love all the little gadgets that the belts have. I get what they were trying to do with Kiba's heel-turn near the end but it really could've been handled better. It comes off as a bit annoying and its placed at a bit of a bad spot for me given everything that happens near the end. I like the Orphenocs in concept but the execution was kind of lacking. I also kind of wish they had a little more variety in their color scheme.
I still don't like Decade and my thoughts on it haven't changed much from last time. I still think it gets lost in all the world hopping to the point where it forgets the driving force of the show. It also doesn't help that the show doesn't have a concrete ending. Due to that, it left so many questions unanswered. In a way, thats good because it means an infinite number of stories to tell and its a way to always bring Tsukasa back for cameos. However, the downside is that those stories can be kinda tainted because well its Decade. Any questions that the Decade movie and the crossover with W answer vary between the two. So we really don't get to know a lot regarding Decade. I still have no idea what Narutaki is.
I'm about 2/3 of the way through Kiva. So why is it being ranked? Its because I don't think the last third is going to be able to change my opinion of the show all that much, especially given what I heard happens near the end. It falls into a lot of the same pitfalls as Faiz. So much so that an entire love triangle is built on miscommunication. I can't stand Otoya and he is probably going to end up on my least favorite rider character list whenever I redo it. Pretty much the only things I like about it at this point are the suits and the music. With that being said, Kiva's default suit should've been sent back to the drawing board. I like its design but its the weight thats the problem. It apparently caused the suit actor to have back problems because most of the weight is in the chest. I absolutely love the stained glass look for the Fangires.

5. Kamen Rider Wizard:
I'm still very mixed on this series. I liked the aesthetics, particularly the designs for most of Wizard's forms, and some of the background music. The battle music sounds, for lack of a better phrase, like a magical symphony. The main form I don't like design-wise is Infinity due to it looking too plastic-y. There are some nice ideas in the show but the execution is questionable. Its one of the few shows I've seen where a villain reveal has shattered one of the fundamental rules of its universe and nearly made the plot collapse in on itself. I don't really remember much action-wise outside of some sword-play. Also if you notice, Wizard never actually throws a punch in his fight scenes. I'm guessing its because they didn't want to break the rings on his hands.

4. Kamen Rider Gaim:
I like this show, not as much as I did when I first finished it but I enjoyed it for what was. I'm indifferent on the suits with the exception of Pineapple Arms. The flopping shoulder pads can get distracting. Other suits have that problem as well but it is a lot more noticeable on pineapple arms. At one point, Pineapple Arms shoulder pads swung and bounced off the chest-plate of the suit. With that being said, I think the shoulder pads for Ryugen Grape Arms look good. The dueling philosophies are a nice touch but unfortunately, some don't get touched on much. The other downside is that due to the number of riders, some get shoved to the side. I'm actually one of the people in the fandom who is glad Micchi didn't die. In my opinion, it would've been him getting off too easy. He has to live with what he has done and with his friends no longer trusting him. The show flat out admits that he burned a few bridges that he might never be able to repair.

3. Kamen Rider W:
I enjoyed this show a lot and my opinions of it haven't actually changed much from the last list. I love the detective style it has to it. The Dopant designs are great and they are able to capture some of the more abstract concepts will in their designs. Some of them have a nice of nightmare fuel to them. The action is absolutely fantastic. I still love the mix and match ability for the form changes. Luna Trigger is still my favorite out of all W's forms. Museum is probably one of my favorite villain organizations. Weather Dopant is probably my favorite villain in the show. The dude manages to hit Long levels of creepy for me. Shotarou and Philip play off of each other rather well and I liked Accel's subplot. Philip's search pose has actually become my thinking pose. The rider suits for the show look great, especially all of W's forms. They really made sure the colors for all W's forms worked regardless of combination.

2. Kamen Rider Ryuki:
One of the more divisive early heisei series but I like it. I will admit its a heavily flawed show and I don't really defend its flaws that much. So why is it ranked this high for me despite being so flawed? Honestly, I can't put my finger on why I like it that much. Something about the show just speaks to me. I just can't help but look back on it fondly even knowing all its problems. I like the mirror beasts designs. I like that it shows what happens when people the wrong people get a hold of this kind of power which is honestly an interesting idea even if it likely wasn't the show's goal. I still like how each episode ends on a cliff hanger and leads directly into the next episode. Granted it does making marathon-ing it rather difficult since there really isn't a clear point to take a break from it. I'm still indifferent to the ending. I like all the rider suits except for Zolda's which is hilarious because he is actually my favorite rider in Ryuki.

1. Kamen Rider Fourze:
Yeah this one has over-taken Ryuki since last time. This show just hits that sweet spot for me and it really makes me happy. I know a lot of people in the fandom will say that it lays on the friendship stuff too thick. At its core however, I see it as a show about how one person can help people through their problems. I think the high school setting works well with that as well. The Kamen Rider Club is probably my favorite group of characters out of all the rider series I've seen so far. I love the designs for the Zodiarts with Sagittarius being my favorite of them. I like the rider suits in the show with Meteor Storm being the main exception. The helmet looks so weird to me that while watching the show I began referring to Meteor Storm as "Pikachu States". Cosmic States is still my favorite rider final form because I like how it ties all the switches together and sums up Gentaro's personality.

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

My Updated Favorite Sentai Villains List

What makes a good villain? Is it their plan and schemes? Is it their presence and personality? Does the mere mention of their name send a chill down your spine? Throughout the years, Sentai has created an amazingly diverse cast of villains. Yeah there will be some duds in the mix but a good challenge for the heroes can really help the perception of a show. There are quite a few new additions to this list and some of the old ones have been removed for one reason or another. So with that being said, lets see which villains made the cut this time.

8. Basco:
Of course he'd still make the list. This dude is hands down the best villain in Gokaiger and a major obstacle for the Gokaigers. He is one of those villains that manages to get under skin really well. He can even use the ranger keys against the Gokaigers. He even plays the Zangyack Empire for fools so he can hunt the Sentai's grand powers as well. His rivalry with Marvelous is excellent and really adds some nice tension to the show. He is one of those villains that keeps pushing the heroes and makes it really awesome when you see him get beaten in the end.

7. Bandora:
Bandora is actually rather deceptively threatening and creepy. On the surface, she really doesn't seem all that threatening but her plans actually have this disturbingly subtle edge to them. The sneezing powder plot is a nice example of that. Granted some are outright dangerous at first glance like her having Dora Sphinx trap kids in trees that are about to be cut down. In one episode, she even synchs up kid's nerves to a Dora Monster. Her reason for being evil is actually a rather tragic one. She actually gets a happy-ish ending and well given the finale, she kinda needed that. Overall, I find her to be really fun.

6. Rio and Mele:
I like the dynamic these two have so they share the same spot on this list. I'm going to talk more about them in a later post so I'll keep it brief here. I'll talk about Rio first. He leads the Rinjyuken school and is obsessed with being the strongest. Its kind of generic as far as a villain motivation is concerned but it works out nicely in my opinion. His desire for strength comes from seeing his family slaughtered in front of him. His rivalry with Jan was fun and it leads to some really tense moments. It also makes it kind of sad once everything gets revealed near the end of the show.
Mele is probably my favorite out of the two of them. Most of it is due to her loyalty to Rio and her drive to help him become stronger. She is so loyal to Rio that even when she was offered a chance to live again, she threw it away simply because Rio was her reason for living now. She does however worry about Rio's safety as well. She even revives another Kenma because she is so worried that Rio's training at the time was too dangerous. She is actually the reason Rio turns against Long. She is also rather honorable as villain which I usually tend to like. The fates of both her and Rio at the end of series managed to steal a tear from me.

5. Dr. Man:
After seeing only 11 episodes of Bioman this dude is already one of my favorites. He absolutely does not mess around. Early on in the series he identified BioRobo as the biggest threat and immediately came up with a plan to try and disable it. He even engineered a situation where the Biomen had no choice but to fall for his trap because otherwise he'd have wiped out an entire region. He is also rather smart because when he had one of them trapped, he opted to study them as opposed to outright killing them. He has a ton of presence and I was actually kind of scared of him in the very first episode. I can already tell that I'm going to enjoy what this dude has in store for the rest of the series.

4. Abrella:
This guy is pretty cool imo. The dude is pretty much a weapons dealer and his entire reason for fighting against the Dekarangers is because they're getting in the way of his business. He has this constant calm demeanor and manages to keep himself under control even when he is angry. Yeah he doesn't fight them directly that much but he manages to keep up the tension by giving his clients new weapons and mecha when he shows up. The suit actor's performance is great and it adds even more to the character. He is also actually rather smart. He essentially does an entire season's worth of planning just for the final few episodes.

3. AbareKiller:
This dude kinda scares me. Everything he does is to get rid of his boredom and man that makes him a big threat. The dude doesn't even care for his own safety. He tried to crash a planet into the Earth while he was still on it simply because he thought it would be interesting. He adds a nice bit of tension to the show and I enjoyed his rivalry with Ryouga a lot. The man just loves to push people's buttons and he particularly likes to mess with Ryouga's faith in humanity. This usually results in Ryouga giving speeches about his belief in humanity and leads to a righteous butt-kicking. He isn't above cheating if he thinks it will make his games more exciting.

2. Jeanne:
It took me a while to be figure out who I liked more out of the Abaranger villains, her or AbareKiller. She beats out AbareKiller but it was a really close call. She is definitely my favorite villain out of the Evolians. The actress really sells the role. She makes a great rival for Asuka and the drama of her being Mahoro makes her fighting him all the more heart-wrenching. She goes through just as much during the show as Asuka. Its some heavy stuff and it really makes you hope for a happy ending for them both.

1. Long:
Yeah this dude is still my all time favorite Sentai villain. Just the mere mention of his name sends a chill down my spine. He cranks up the creep factor but popping up out of nowhere and getting uncomfortably close to people. The actor just eats the role up. He is a cold, calm, and calculating villain. It makes sense because the dude is basically immortal so he has nothing but time on his hands. That adds another level to the threat because it becomes a question of what he is going to do after you stop his current plan. I have yet to see a post-Gekiranger Sentai villain who inspires the same type of fear in me or one that has the same level of presence Long exudes.

Friday, July 1, 2016

Kamen Rider Amazons Season One Review (Episodes 1-13)

When this was first announced, I was hyped because I loved what I saw of the Showa Amazon. I thought Alpha's suit was awesome when it was revealed but didn't care at all for Omega's suit. Then I saw the trailer and my first thought was "This feels like Kamen Rider The First and The Next". Not a good first impression. How did the show actually turn out for me? Read on and find out. Since its only 13 episodes, I will have to do spoilers. So with that said: SPOILERS INCOMING!
This show lacks color. Everything looks so muted because of the grey filter they put on the footage. I get that the filter is supposed to make it look like an early heisei series but even in those early series we had lots of bright color. Its makes the show sort of uninteresting to look at. The color palette is also too limited, mostly featuring red, green, grey, and black. I can't tell you how happy I was to see some blue because of how badly the filter muted everything. It also mutes certain details on the Amazons because of the color of the suits in certain shots. The picture below is the best example I could find. The Amazons in the background are missing a lot of details compared to the ones in the foreground because of the way the filter shows the color black. The Amazon in the middle of the picture actually has purple on her chest-plate but you can't see it outside of close-ups because of the filter.
A couple of weeks ago, I stumbled across some magazine scans of the show. The difference between those scans and the show is astounding. The scans made the show look so bright and lively. This is a tokusatsu and I expect to see lots of colors like that.

The show itself is depressing, more depressing than Faiz for me. The show is also so edgy its not even funny. It feels like its so wrapped up in trying to be dark and mature that it actually ends up being kind of childishly angst-y. Early on it kept repeating that its impossible for Haruka to live without killing someone. This is despite the fact Haruka's own backstory shows that is possible. Its just done to reinforce that fighting is the only logical thing to do in this show. It also really doesn't help that the show takes every chance to throw Haruka's naive outlook back in his face. To make matters worse, in the season finale, Haruka basically admits that Jin is right about needing to kill to survive. Then he immediately says that Jin might be wrong and there might be another way. So he basically went right back to where he was when he first got his powers. I can handle a dark show if its done well and gives me some moments of happiness and admittedly, Amazons did indeed give me a couple. It gave me one in episode 11 but then it snatched it away from me at the very end of the episode. Mamoru basically goes feral because of an accident that happened in episode 9 and its only revealed via flashback after a legitimately happy moment. I'll get more into that in a bit. The finale did give me a nice moment of the extermination squad being brought back together but I've got a feeling season two is going to snatch that moment away as well. Its far too cynical of a show in my opinion. I get that its trying to be realistic but the lack of optimism is staggering. Its essentially ignoring that not everyone in the real world is so cynical and beaten down.
The show has brought up a comparison between the humans and amazons quite a bit and well the comparison doesn't exactly work. It outright fails in episodes 7 and 8 because they draw the comparison with a human who is a serial killer and an Amazon who merely can't control himself. The Amazon even regrets that he is starting to lose control of himself while the human takes joy in outright murdering people. It falls apart when they kill the Amazon but let the human serial killer get away with no consequences whatsoever. They outright say that the only reason he gets to live is because he is human. This was after he nearly beat a member of their team to death. If that is the justification for letting him live then there was no point in contrasting the two characters in my opinion. The show is trying to sound much more deep and profound than it actually is. Its particularly evident whenever the show brings up the aquarium metaphor in regards to Haruka.

I can't get into the action of the show. Not only is the fight choreography sub-par but it doesn't feel like there is any power behind the hits. Most of the fights in the show just look off because of that. There are also spots where the timing for the impact sound effects is off. At certain points it doesn't even look like a hit connects. If you've got an eye for fights, noticing stuff like that can get distracting. Normally the camera work is supposed to hide stuff like this. It doesn't help that the show isn't even that brutal and it actually avoids a lot of the gore. It goes out of its way to hide the brutality a lot of times by having the camera cut somewhere else or zoom out so you can't see it. Even worse though, what gore it does show is done in unconvincing CGI so I can't really count it as gore because it doesn't feel or look like its really there. Its effectively based on the Showa Amazon, one of the most brutal shows I've seen and yet Amazons lacks the bite the original show had to it. I get that its not a show made as a tv production but I was expecting more practical effects in the fights.
The Sigma stuff pretty much amounts to nothing in my opinion other than just to be there for a twist. The show tries to play up how important he was to the team when he was alive without actually showing how important he was to the team. It really doesn't help that the scene they keep showing in flashbacks is his death in episode 2. Sigma's whole chess metaphor didn't work for me either. The metaphor would've worked out better if he was out-thinking his opponent instead of just over-powering them imo. I like Mamoru but he started annoying me during the Sigma stuff. Granted, it did lead to a legitimately happy moment of Mamoru using the teams motto of working for whoever pays them to get them to fight alongside Omega again. It was a rather nice moment in my opinion. Then they undercut that with the flashback I mentioned earlier. He basically ate a burger made of human meat during a fight at an Amazon restaurant in episode 9 thinking it was a regular burger. It felt like a really forced way to add more drama. It would've worked a little better in my opinion to have his armlet run out.

This season felt padded and I honestly don't think the corporate side of things added all that much. Even though it was half the show, it felt like it was there just to provide a justification for the Amazons existence. It plays out almost exactly like you'd expect, right down to Haruka's backstory and it essentially being revealed that its not an accident that the Amazons got released into the city. I'd have personally down-played the corporate aspect and focused more on the extermination squad. The season's run time also diminished drastically going from around 45 minutes to roughly 30 minutes over the course of 13 episodes. Granted it went back to 40 minutes in the season finale. Even with the cuts to the run-time, it still felt padded. I really don't think they knew what to do with all that time.

Now for the visuals. I find most of the Amazons suits uninteresting to look at. They do capture their animals decently but again, the filter and lack of variety in the color palette hurt the look of the suits. Lots of red, green, brown, and black. As I said before, the filter they're using really doesn't do this color palette many favors. As for the rider's suits, I don't care for Omega or Sigma that much.
My main problem with Omega's suit is that it looks too sleek and robotic. It feels too much like a modern rider design. It doesn't look animalistic enough for me which is kind of a problem. It lacks that whole "be afraid" vibe. I think they over-shot the mark while to modernize the Amazon suit. I get the in-story reason why it looks like that and I get that its supposed to show the personality contrast between him and Alpha. It just doesn't feel like an updated Amazon. It feels more like a current Heisei rider.
Alpha's look is probably the best of the three rider suits. I can easily look at this and immediately get that its an updated Amazon. It has this nice savage and scarred appearance. Using the SIC design was a great idea. I particularly like the green scars and they compliment the red scales nicely and so do the green eyes.
Sigma's suit is meh overall. The bone-y scales are an ok touch and I do like the purple eyes. My major problem with it though is the color scheme. The silver would be nice on its own but the way it fades into the red looks off to me and I can't quite figure out why. I do like that it has a visible mouth on it and it may have been slightly move-able. With that being said, I don't care for it being a repainted version of Omega's original Amazon form. I've got this weird feeling that Sigma wasn't actually planned from the beginning. Not shown in the picture but the filter reacts weirdly with his suit as it makes the silver look green-ish in some shots.

This season was not fun. It was boring, annoying, and depressing. Its one of those times where I probably should've listened to my gut feeling. I'm not even kidding when I say that the only reason I kept watching was because I had friends who were willing to watch with me. I was also able to call most of the twists by episode 3. Its a problem for me because I'm kinda dense when it comes to tv shows. If I can figure it out that soon, it means the show isn't hiding its mysteries that well. If other people enjoy it, more power to them, I just can't stand the show as it stands right now and I hope it improves during season two. I also hope they drop the grey filter next season. My overall verdict for this season: Predictable, boring, depressing, and overly cynical. With season one having ended, I think I might actually dislike this show more than Faiz.

Friday, June 10, 2016

My Concerns For The Upcoming MMPR Movie

Yeah, I know I'm retreading some old ground here. We are in an era where Hollywood has been capitalizing more and more on nostalgic properties. Most people know how Hollywood and Michael Bay have treated Transformers and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. What exactly could this mean for the MMPR movie? Bear in mind that I have been avoiding any plot-related news so as to not influence my opinion before it even comes out.
Let me just begin by saying that Power Rangers nostalgia is a little different for me. My nostalgic attachment has to do more with the franchise as a whole than a single season. I started watching when MMPR first aired and I was two years old at the time. I grew up with the franchise and in a sense, it has been a part of me my entire life. Even now I get this sense of child-like wonderment and excitement when a season of Power Rangers gets announced. Its sort of why Megaforce and Super Megaforce were such a big blow for me. Its why it made me question my place in the fandom. That is to give you a decent idea of where I'm coming from with this post.

With that being said, lets get into the real meat of this. In my opinion, there are two main hurdles in adapting a nostalgic property. One is modernizing it for the current audience. The other is which audience do you try the most to appeal to: The mainstream audience or the fans? Mighty Morphin Power Rangers is a very 90's show. I don't think it would've honestly worked if it hadn't been made then. They definitely need to change up some stuff to appeal to a modern audience. There is also a high chance that they'll try to appeal more to the mainstream audience as well because that is where the big money is. This is unfortunately where my fears start to creep in. I'm sort of worried that they'll try to water down an already basic show like MMPR to be consumed by a more mainstream audience.

Ok so once you've got the audience in your sights, what do you do now? You find ways to reel in some of the fans which in this case is probably going to be anyone who was born or grew up in the 90's. Reportedly, the tone of the movie is going to be "mature yet playful". That worries me because I know Hollywood's definition of mature, I know the mainstream's definition of it, and I've got a gut feeling what the definition of it is for some of the fans they'll try to pull in. The fans I'm referring to make up a decent amount of those who stopped watching after MMPR. In other words, a good chunk of the fans that Power/Rangers appealed to. The ones who want to see the show become dark and gritty. Yeah that is kind of an extreme example but I sort of get the feeling that it will be similar. Its that place where I think there is a little bit of overlap between the two audiences. It worries me because well, I don't think Power Rangers is that suited to going that route. I loved RPM but even it had enough light-hearted moments to balance out the backdrop of the show.
Now for the visuals that have been released so far. I'm particularly referring to the new Rita design and the movie ranger suits. I'll talk about Rita's costume first. I think they over modernized it to the point where I'd see it in a generic fantasy movie. Yeah I get that the reasoning behind it is probably to tie it into the green ranger stuff but it feels off to me. Though I do like the finger-blades and the make-up around the eyes. They really sell the "evil witch" idea.
This was the best image I could find.
The ranger suits however, I think they missed the mark a bit. They looked a little too Ironman-ish for my tastes at first. The set photos however look a lot better because you can actually see the detailing but its a shame that the white portions will probably be over-layed with CGI. Overall, I still think they are a little too detailed and they look too much power armor-y but its not as bad as that first photo to me. Though I am sort of dreading what an updated Alpha will look like, assuming they don't cut Alpha from the movie altogether.

With all that being said, the worst case scenario I can see for this is that it ends up like Bay's Transformers. In other words, a bland or boring dark-ish action movie with lots of explosions. I don't think Bulk and Skull as we know them will be in the movie as their style of comedy doesn't fit the tone the movie is going for. If they are in the movie, the worst-case scenario is Michael Bay style comedic relief. They will probably be using some nostalgia bait to bring in the actual fans. Though another cause for concern I have is that Lionsgate is already considering 5 to 7 sequels. The movie isn't even close to being out yet. They should probably have waited to see how it does before this. Power Rangers is a niche tv show that hasn't had a movie in over 20 years. I don't exactly see this movie failing at the box office because nostalgia is a big seller and targeting the mainstream is a good way to make the budget back. However, if it does somehow fail, it could sink their current plans and maybe sink the idea of a Power Rangers movie franchise in general. Even though I'm going into this with so many reservations, I really hope the movie isn't bad because well, I'd honestly like to see more Power Rangers movies down the road.

Monday, May 2, 2016

My Updated Sentai Rankings

Well I've seen a lot more Sentai since my last ranking list. I've got some new ones to add and I've re-thought the rankings for some of them. Since my last list I've finished a couple more series, seen 11 eps of Bioman, 10 eps of Maskman, 2 eps of GoGoV, 5 eps of Flashman, 7 eps of Timeranger, 9 eps of Megaranger, and 2 eps of Zyuohger. I've also seen a couple eps of Denjiman and an episode of Battle Fever J (unsubbed of course). Ninninger won't be anywhere in this post since I never bothered watching after the first episode. So lets take a look at what has been added and what has been changed.

Before I get to the actual rankings there are still series that I haven't finished but have seen at least half of. I'm mentioning them again because there has been a change in regards to one of them.

Choujuu Sentai Liveman:
Yeah, I need to get back to this at some point. I've been shown clips of some really good stuff that happens near the end. Its just gonna be a while until I get back to this one. I still absolutely love the suits, especially the helmets. Pretty much nothing has changed regarding my thoughts on this show. Its still really good and every character in the show feels natural. Megumi is hands down my favorite character on the team.

Samurai Sentai Shinkenger:
Sword fights just make me happy and the swordplay in this show is still fantastic. I still love the suits and the helmets. The opening and ending themes still have a nice punch to them. My favorite suit is probably Genta's since I like the way the gold and blue look together. I also like Genta's reverse grip sword style. Chiaki is probably my favorite character in the show from what I've seen so far. The rest of my thoughts are pretty much the same as last time.

Gosei Sentai Dairanger:
This one has been removed from my watch-list since last time. Why? Well because I plan on getting the DVDs at some point so I can just finish it at my own pace. These suits are still gorgeous. I can't tell you how much I love these things. The fight choreography still holds up really well to me. My favorite fighting style in the show belongs to Kazu. Drunken fist is one of the coolest styles in my opinion. My favorite character however is probably Daigo. I absolutely love what I've seen of his sub-plot with Kujaku so far. The opening theme is definitely one of my favorites.

Now, with that out of the way, lets move on to the actual rankings. Just remember, if a show you liked gets ranked low on here, its because its not my kind of show.

9. Ressha Sentai ToQger:
Just want to start by saying that I have not actually finished watching ToQger. I gave up about halfway through. So why is it being ranked? Its being ranked simply because I have no plans to continue with the series any time soon. The show never really gave me anything to get invested in. The plot is slow and the build up of what I did see is problematic. Even when things happened, it felt like nothing happened or it was treated like it didn't matter. I dropped the series on a cliffhanger which is something I almost never do. Normally characters would be enough to keep me invested in a slow series but even at the halfway point, I couldn't get a feel for the characters. The action was forgettable and I can only remember a single move. Its a kendama attack that Hikari and Kagura did in an early episode of the show. If other people like this show, more power to them but its just not for me.

8. Zyuden Sentai Kyoryuger:
My tune has changed slightly toward Kyoryuger since last time. I still think its meh overall and its still not something I'd rewatch. I sort of get why people like Daigo now but I still think the show praises him a little too much. I still have some issues with the pacing of the show but I think its best pacing happens during the final arc. The show could've done a bit more with Cyan and Grey than having them pop in and out every now just then. I think their entire purpose in the show should've been them trying to find someone to inherit their powers. Sort of a passing the torch situation that wasn't put in at the last minute. The Zyudenchi kinda slowed down the action a little too much for my taste.

7. Tokumei Sentai Gobusters:
I seem to run into more and more fans of this show these days. I still love the leather look of the suits and the colored visors. I enjoy the first opening theme and my thoughts on the second opening theme has changed. I think the second theme is ok though it tends to get lodged in my head too easily. The action I don't remember being that spectacular and I do remember some of it looking kind of stiff. I did like the early mecha fights where the fight was happening in a mecha and on the ground at the same time. My opinion of Hiromu has softened up a bit though I still don't care much for him. I liked Enter a lot more during the first half than the second half. He had this sort of quirky flare to him with the disguises and my personal favorite was the panda suit. I actually like how streamlined and the arsenal is. With all that being said, this still isn't a show I have any interest in rewatching.

6. Mahou Sentai Magiranger:
I think the show handled the family aspect decently. The show has some of the more gorgeous suits in Sentai imo and I like their civilian uniforms. The opening still gets me pumped and it still has my favorite ending theme in all of Sentai. I still love that the source of their magic is their own courage which is a nice avenue for character development imo. The show does play it kind of safe but I enjoyed it. I love the mecha in the show and I like the idea of them becoming their individual mecha. It had some decently heart-warming moments. This show still has my favorite mecha control system in the franchise so far.

5. Kyoryu Sentai Zyuranger:
I've seen the fandom divided over this one. I understand people's complaints about the show but I enjoyed it. The main five are under-developed but that doesn't bother me much. They're simply doing what heroes do even if they take the backseat to the kids. I can't really imagine the team without any of them simply because their personalities balance each other out. What sells the show for me though is Burai and Bandora. Bandora is surprisingly creepy and her plans have this hidden edge to them. There is quite a bit of nightmare fuel with some of the Dora monsters. She actually might just be one of my all time favorite Sentai villains. The mecha action and designs are great. The show manages to do so much with just seven mecha.

4. Kaizoku Sentai Gokaiger:
Yeah this one kind of dropped, but not because I've rethought my stance on it. I still love the cast and all the enthusiasm. Gai is still probably my favorite character but its a bit closer call for all them now. Its still probably my favorite anniversary season. It is very accessible to people who are just getting into Sentai. It makes you want to see what you missed out on while not leaving you lost and wondering what you missed from previous series. I think it finds a good balance when it comes to pleasing both old and new fans. Depsite not knowing most of the veterans showing up, I was still hyped for each tribute episode. I love GokaiOh and how its variations don't over-shadow the basic design.

3. Bakuryu Sentai Abaranger:
I absolutely loved this show. I love the cast and they have some really good chemistry. This is definitely one of the most tense and touching Sentai seasons I've seen. I mean man, this show is so awesome. I loved pretty much everything about it. Jeanne and Asuka is my favorite love story/rivalry in Sentai so far. It also makes for some gripping and heart-wrenching moments. Ryouga is definitely one of my favorite Reds in Sentai. I love his optimism regarding human nature a lot as well as the family dynamic he has with Mai. There isn't a character in this show that I don't like. The fights got pretty brutal at certain points in the show. I like how the Bakuryu aren't just treated like mecha, they're characters in their own right. I particularly love the interactions between Ryouga and Tyranno. I absolutely love the suit designs. This show definitely has some of my favorite villains, those being Jeanne and AbareKiller.

2. Tokusou Sentai Dekaranger:
Yeah this one definitely should've been higher on the last list. The main reason I pushed it up to here this time is pretty much thanks to the 10 Years After movie. It reminded me of just how much I enjoyed the series. I spent the entire run-time of the movie with a big smile on my face. That movie captured Dekaranger perfectly and it felt just like an episode of the show. I still love the cast a lot. Everyone got their respective moments of awesome. Its a great example of a cop show and I love the Alienizers as a villain group. Abrella is definitely one of my favorite villains in the franchise and I still remember most of the Alienizers. After watching some Bioman, I can definitely say that Dekaranger took some inspiration from Bioman in regards to the Alienizers having their own mecha. This is definitely one of the most memorable shows I've seen in general. The mecha action is great and I absolutely love the mecha designs. DekaBase Robo is probably my favorite mecha in the show.

1. ???

What is my number one? Well you'll find out in a few months. Thats right, I'm devoting a rewatch and a full review to this one. Its probably going to be the most in-depth review I've ever written. I hope you're all looking forward to it.

Sunday, May 1, 2016

Kyoryu Sentai Zyuranger Review

Zyuranger is a series I've seen get a lot of mixed reactions from people. Its a show that I can understand why some wouldn't like and some would love it. What did I think about it? Well read on and find out.
Plot: The witch Bandora awakens after being sealed away for 170 million years and begins her plan to takeover the world. The Zyurangers awaken from their long slumber to fight her off. Throughout the series, Bandora makes it a point of targeting and terrorizing children so naturally the Zyurangers come to their rescue.

Characters: 
I've seen a lot of fans complain about how the main five are under-developed but I honestly don't mind. Sure they're taking the backseat to the kids so I understand those complaints but I can at least get behind them because they're doing what heroes do. They protect the weak and the vulnerable which in this case is the kids. I can't honestly imagine the team without any of them because they balance each other's personalities out and feel like a cohesive team. Since they are under-developed, instead of simply giving me thoughts on them individually, I'll just mention my favorite episodes for each character. Burai however, I'll cover a bit more in-depth.
  • TyrannoRanger/Geki: My favorite episode for him is the one where he helped Dragon Caeser get over Burai's death.
  • MammothRanger/Goushi: My favorite episode for him is probably the Black Knight episode since it pretty much shows how he learned to be strong. The Dora Chimera episode is also a good one for him.
  • TigerRanger/Boi: My favorite episode for him is either the Dora Circe episode or the episode where he becomes a ninja.
  • TriceraRanger/Dan: My favorite episode for him was the episode where Tottopat was making a child think their father was a vampire.
  • PteraRanger/Mei: My favorite episode for her is the episode where Bandora was making apples grow out of children's heads so she could eat their youth and the Dora Silk episode.
Burai is pretty much the only one with an arc. Burai's introduction is really well handled. His introduction is a classic story of misplaced anger and shows just how hatred can consume someone. I like the idea of the candle representing Burai's life. Its a great way to show that the writers will only bring him in when its absolutely necessary. I'd have liked him to survive even though I knew he wasn't going to. His death re-enforced the message that the children's lives are more important and when it comes to heroes, well that is a message I can get behind. It also shows that for all their powers and skills, the Zyurangers are still human. My favorite episodes for Burai are his introduction arc and the lead-up to his death. Even though I knew it was coming, it still managed to make me tear up.

Villains:
Bandora is probably one of my favorite villains in Sentai. She is one of the most fun villains I've seen so far. Her plans are very weird and kinda surreal. They also have this rather disturbing edge to them and she makes it a point to have them target children a lot. I'd honestly like to see Sentai try a villain like her again. One whose plans aren't simply to take over the world but who also manages to screw with people in weird ways. She also seems to be one of the kinder villains in regards to her subordinates, as far as Griffzor and Lamy are concerned anyway. Tottopat and Bookbak provide some nice comedic-relief. Bandora's reason for being evil is kinda tragic but her ending has a bit of optimism to it. One thing I really like is that in the 4 part finale, she actually kicks off her final attack by singing her theme song with her group to everyone in the city.

There is a nice amount of research involved regarding the Dora Monsters. A lot of them are taken from Greek/European myth and fairy tales. Their weaknesses actually line up pretty well with the myths and lore. The show knows how to bring out the creep factor with a few of the Dora Monsters. There are a few episodes that stand out to me in that regard: the Dora Sphinx episodes, the Dora Frank episodes, the clown from the sneezing plot episode, and that eyeball monster whose name escapes me at the moment. The episode with that spider Dora Monster was heart-breaking. Even though the heroes beat the monster, it still felt like they lost. One of the most sadistic plots Bandora uses is during the Dora Unicorn episode. She pretty much attached a kids nerves to the monster.

Mecha: The amount of combinations in this show are amazing. It manages to do a lot with just seven mechas. The mecha being gods in the show's mythos helps add an extra bit of depth to it. It is particularly interesting as here and there the Guardian Beasts can kinda be jerks. There are quite a few so I'll just talk about the main ones.
The prop work and detail on each of the Guardian Beasts are nice. In terms of detail, I think ZyuMammoth is probably my favorite of Daizyujin's guardian beasts. I love Daizyujin's design. The sculpting on it is great and all the colors mesh really well. It even has another mode known as the Dino Tanker.
However, Dragon Caesar is by far the best mecha in the show. There is so much detail on this thing. It has this nice animalistic way of moving and you can tell that there was probably some Godzilla influence in its movements. Its got some really nice details to it. It can merge with ZyuMammoth, SaberTiger, and Triceratops to become Gouryujin.
King Brachion is pretty nice looking. The black and white complement each other really well. There is also a lot nice detail in this thing, particularly in the head and neck. I particularly like that they took the time to detail each tooth in its mouth. This is the final part needed to create Ultimate Daizyujin which is pretty much the strongest mecha in the series.

Suit Designs:
I like the Zyuranger suits. They're nice and simple yet distinct and hard to forget. The white complements their colors rather well. The helmets look really nice and have a good amount of detail to them. The silver Dino Bucklers for the main five look really nice with the belts. As I've said before, some times the silver mouth-pieces look off to me but they work really well with these helmets. Burai's suit has a bit of a more epic feel to it thanks to the gold shield and gold Dino Buckler. I also love the level of detail in each of their weapons.

Final Thoughts: This is one of the shows that I probably won't forget. The team isn't really much to write home about since they're under-developed but I don't mind them that much. They're not really annoying and they're pretty much doing what I think heroes should do. They also don't fall victim to petty arguments.
I didn't talk about this earlier but I like the civilian outfits a lot. They have this ancient tribal vibe to them. The things I'll probably remember most are Burai and Bandora. The show also has this really surreal feel to it. The show's mythos is nice and makes it really feel like an ancient legend. The finale to this show has a good amount of tension to it and I find the ending rather satisfying. Overall the show does have some problems and I can see why some people wouldn't like it but I enjoyed it well enough to recommend it to others.

Sunday, April 17, 2016

Denji Sentai Megaranger First Impressions

After the Bioman first impressions, I told myself that I wouldn't start a new series until after I finished Bioman. However, I had a Megaranger itch to scratch and some time to kill. I checked out the first 9 eps of Megaranger and oh boy was I surprised.
The series opens up unsurprisingly in an arcade. Surprisingly, Megaranger is a fighting game in the arcade. We're shortly introduced to Kenta helping some kids who are being bullied and he challenges the bully to Megaranger. After he beats the bully, he is approached by a bunch of guys in suits because of his skill with the game. They take him to INET to and reveal that the game is actually a test used to recruit people to become Megarangers. After that we're introduced to Kenta's friends from a school club just as the enemy attacks.
The first outing for the Nezirezia Empire was incredible. The first two episodes felt like an end-game move you'd see for a finale. That was a great way to demonstrate just how dangerous they are right off the bat. They wiped INET's earth base off the map. This is one of the most competent first attacks for the villains that I've seen in Sentai. They are definitely some of the most upfront villains I've ever seen. In episode 5, they created a monster specifically to counter Galaxy Mega's sword and in episode 6, they essentially said "lets just nuke the city". I love their plans a lot and it makes the early episodes feel very tense. I absolutely love their designs. I love Dr. Hinelar's make-up. Its really effective and surprsingly detailed. He has this almost royal look to him. I really like the wire-frame look for Yugande's suit and the cape looks good on him. It sort of gives him the look of a digital knight. The black and green perfectly complement each other. I like the shade of blue for Suhiborena's outfit and it looks nice with the silver bits. The silver bits are nicely detailed.
I love Galaxy Mega's design. There is an absurd level of detail in this thing. Every time I look at it, I notice a detail that I didn't catch before. The sculpting is fantastic as well and all of the colors blend really well. I particularly like the big red M on the chest. Its got a really combination sequence. I love how the sword doubles as a lazer whip.
The Megaranger suits are nice to look at. They are simple and stream-lined. The white complements their colors rather well. Like the Timeranger belts, you can look at the Megaranger belts and instantly recognize which team they're from. I like that the design on their chests includes each of their colors. The first eight episodes introduced their individual powers really well. MegaRed can be programmed with lots of abilities. MegaBlack can use satellites to scan and search for things. MegaYellow can search and playback images. MegaPink can use her MegaCapture to scan for things.

The Megarangers are endearing and pretty nice characters overall. The first episode shows their skills with electronics rather well. The enemy's initaly attack fries an electronic lock and they manage to fix the lock with just the gadgets they have in their pockets. Episode 3 reemphasizes this when they run a computer program to figure out whats on Kenta's next test so he can study for it despite missing the class due to fighting Nezirezia. Kenta is a red I can really get behind. He is a nice guy overall and episode 3 shows that rather well. He fights a monster un-henshined to guard a room Shun is in while he saves a program that could help him realize his dreams. In the same episode Shun learned that his friends were more important and said he'd start his dream over from scratch after all his floppy disks got destroyed when he saved Kenta. Kouichiro seems cool and really wants to make sure his friends are taking being Megarangers seriously. The dude actually blamed himself for his friends falling into a trap in episode 4 because he thought he wasn't responsible enough to prevent it. Episode 5 isn't exactly a character episode for the Megaranger's themselves, its for the mentor Dr. Kubota. It shows just how much he cares for the team and believes in them. He even points out that Galaxy Mega was specifically designed to grow with the Megarangers when INET's board tried to automate it. Episode 6 was a nice episode for Miku. It basically shows her being responsible when she thinks someone caught her turning into MegaPink. It also showed just how kind she was as she helped the guy who tricked her into a date get over his shyness. Episode 7 was enjoyable and had a nice moment between Kouichiro and Chisato. Episode 8 we get a great episode for Kenta since he learns just how valuable working with his team is. It also gave us some backstory on Dr. Hinelar. Episode 9 was a great episode for Chisato. It shows that she and the others besides Kenta are a little too quick to judge based on appearances.
I absolutely love the theme song. Its pretty good at getting you pumped up for the show. The ending theme is rather nice and soothing while sort of capturing the high school vibe. I love just how much science and technology is a recurring theme. The show does so far has done a nice job exploring its uses and possible applications. It makes it world feel more natural and organic so its rather easy to get into for me. This is the second series since Timeranger to make me like the entire team before the 10 episode mark. Its very rare that a show pulls that off. I love Abaranger, Dekaranger, and Gekiranger's characters too but this pulled it off a bit faster than they did. This is definitely a series I'm looking forward to seeing more.