Sunday, March 17, 2013

Kobayashi recent sentai: why Shinkenger rocks and Go-Busters sucks

Shinkenger and Go-Busters are both recent sentai written by Yasuko Kobayashi, and both have been written less than 5 years ago. However, while Shinkenger is a sentai of very high quality, Go-Busters is mediocre at best.
Let's review the different elements of each sentai, and why Shinkenger works and Go-Busters doesn't

Generally speaking, Shinkenger's cast is much better than Go-Busters, with the actors being much more convincing in Shinkenger. I'd even say that Shinkenger has one of the best cast in recent sentai, both actors and voice actors. Let's check now the characters themselves.
a) The heroes

Yasuko Kobayashi is at her best when she's writing about the inteactions between her characters. It's worth noticing that while Shinkenger has five main heroes, one additional hero and one Bangai heroine, Go-Busters has only three main heroes and two additional heroes, one of which isn't even human. Even if she tries to make up for it with the Buddyroids, they don't have the same impact a human hero would have (th exception being J, who is definitely a good character). With less heroes, less different relationships to develop, and less diversity. Moreover, Takeru is more convincing as a leader than Hiromu, and unlike in Shinkenger, you never feel that Ryuji and Yoko are following Hiromu's lead. Shinkenger has also two heroines, and it allows to have a more adult heroine, instead of just a kid heroine, and Shinkenger gains a lot thanks to it. The other male rangers are also better done : Ryunnosuke and Chiaki  show much more personality than Ryuji; while Jin is not that bad, Genta plays better the mix of large ham and seriousness than him. Another element : Hiromu doesn't really have a foil among the other Go-Busters (except sometimes Jin),  while Takeru have characters like Ryunnosuke, Chiaki and Genta who are in different ways Takeru's foils, and add a lot in his character development. Kotoha is also more convincing as the "kid lady sentai" than Yoko.

b) Supporting characters
Shinkenger has one regular supporting character: Jii while Go-Busters has three : Kuroki, Morishita and Nakamura; however, Jii has more personality than the three others together, who most of the time, seem to be more machines than humans. When Jii  regularly displays his fatherly personality towards the team, the Go-Busters  helper trio seems to be just there

c) The Villains
I never thought that having only one main villain, with another one only appearing after more than 20 episodes was a good idea. Indeed, for that to work, it's necessary to make the monsters of the week be real characters (like the criminals in Timeranger and Dekaranger) instead of being mere canon fodder, like in Go-Busters. Both Shinkenger and Go-Busters aren't series where the main focus are on the villains. However, Shinkenger has a diverse and often interesting villain cast; the Big Bad Dokouku, who, I must admit, mostly stays in his boat and drinks sake, but the series does give a sensible explanation for it, and when he's able to fight, he shows he deserves to be a Big Bad (being voiced by Dairanger's Shadam actor helps too); contrarywise, Go-Busters Messiah is just a screaming skull who only is able to complain; it's no wonder Enter ended up as the true Big Bad.  Shitari is the wise among the Gedoushu and the perfect right hand. Dayu and Juuzo are both lost souls, who mostly are motivated by their own obsessions, and as such, don't really care for the main Gedoushu's plots. Akumaro is less interesting, but he still brings its part. Even if Enter is a pretty good villain, carrying alone the villain side by himslef is too much for him, and he has noone to interact with during 20 episodes (except Messiah, who's so uninteresting that it doesn't bring much). Besides, Escape, who appears later, has been pretty wasted and even if she shows Dayu's obsessive side and Juuzo's thirst for a good fight, she never manages to be as convincing as the Shinkenger duo, and she's pretty wasted during Go-Busters

2) The motif
Shinkenger has a big theme: Japanese folklore with the samurai theme, the kanji theme in the suits, the Gedoushu theme for the villains, with the Sanzu river, home to Yokai like characters ( the Gedoushuu) and of lost souls like Dayu and Juuzo. It adapts those theme for a modern time kid audience very cleverly, and it shows, with well done designs, and the series is beautiful esthetically. Go-Busters is supposed to have a spy theme, but I don't feel that that theme is used convincingly, one of the main reasons being the stories not being very well done.

Another element worthy to mention: while Shinkenger has a pretty heartwarming atmosphere, with the Shiba home as a family-like home, and Genta's sushi cart as a fun place to have a nice snack, Go-Busters's headquarters feels too professionnal, too cold, and, as a result, it doesn't feel like an appealing place to make the audience feel empathy for the heroes.

3) The story
Kobayashi isn't a very good storyteller, and both Shinkenger and Go-Busters suffer from plot stalling. However, because Shinkenger has more characters, it suffers much less of it, especially since it can focus on their interactions. Having a more diverse cast of villains help too.
I'll show a few examples to explain : characters like Dayu and Juuzo have an interesting backstory, them being former humans who chose a damnation like fate because of their obsessions; as a result, when they confront the heroes, especially Mako for Dayu and Takeru for Juuzo, it makes those confrontations much more rich. A good example being the final fight between Juuzo and Takeru; at that time, Takeru is desperate and doesn't feel he has a reason to live; as a result, he's drawn to Juuzo's nihilistic fighting hunger, and becomes almost like him; it's only when his friends come to save him and tell him how much he matters for them, despite the Kagemusha stuff that he manages to pull himself together: compare it to Escape having to overheat Ryuji to have him fight like she wants him to do; when he overheats, Ryuji doesn't act like himslef, but is rather like a fighting machine.

 Conclusion: Shinkenger is much better than Go-Busters because of better characters showing more character development, a more well used motif, and even a more interesting storyline.

Your thoughts?


  1. Great post, I agree with all of this. =)

  2. even though i was very excited for Go busters i missed a week after episode 3 and even though i loved episode one ,something just didn't click i didn't find the interest to go back where as Shinkenger is My favorite show ever created sooo yep , everything you said is probably why i just didn't go back to go busters and watch

  3. I've watched both and I totally agree with everything you've written. For me, the characters didn't click in Go-Busters as they did in Shinkenger. The character interactions with one another in Go-Busters felt kind of...I don't know...cold and to where the interactions in Shinkenger felt more honest and very well-developed. The story itself was alright in Go-Busters but it wasn't enough to keep my interest, while in Shinkenger it held my interest more.

  4. I could effectively argue with you on this subject on multiple accounts since the biggest gripe with Go-Buster's popularity is the fair sense of what the tokusatsu stature has become, especially with the mass of both rider and sentai series relying on a collectible gimmick and a high end catalogue that includes occasional material to wet the viewer appetite; Go-Busters effectively had a slow catalogue, but with that aside it's arguable to say Go-Busters effectively has one of the most underrated story within recent sentai.


    a) Shinkenger.
    You start with an immediate comparison between Shinkenger and Go-Buster's cast in terms of design being better overall , but your reasons leans more on the popularity and number of the cast itself which may seem rather superficial and somewhat biased when it overshadows a multitude of their character faults. Mostly being that Tori Matsuzaka carries the majority of the team, with his looks and very little acting outside his stoic character. Undoubtedly he's the most awestriking male lead in sentai history, and without his role the majority of the Shinkenger's popularity would decrease due to the fact that series is a Red oriented series akin to Disney's chroma superiority in Power Rangers. In essence it's Takeru's presence that the majority of the cast have to constantly revolve around, and when Koboyashi tries to work outside of that dynamic in episodes dedicated to individual characters they rarely ever progressed any further on said individual content which limits them to only being filler episodes instead of becoming staple character traits.

  6. b) Go-Busters.
    As opposed to this Go-Busters are generally focused on the major bulk of their cast overall, with the primary three Busters being relatively boring; but one of the more realistically grounded heroes in sentai. Each of the individual characters have both character faults and weakness that their each respective Buddyroid serves as an effective character foil to counterbalance.

    Hiromu as the male lead is the straightforward and stoic soldier character with poor social skills; his buddyroid Cheeda Nick serves as a foil to him by pointing out his faults and act as his sole voice of reason. Ryuji being the brotherly and even somewhat motherly figure of the group easily has the most dangerous condition among the Busters, providing support for the younger members Ryuji constantly overlooks the seriousness of his own condition; his buddyroid Gorisaki fills that role as his personal aid and even providing him with ice packs. Finally Yoko easily being the youngest of the group is akin to Kotoha's character, forced into a role of a heroine at a considerately young age. But effectively being the most immature character in the series, Usada foils her bratty character and helps her mature into a heroine who have to make impossible decisions. In essence she has matured the most out of the entirety of the cast.

    Jin and J included serve as the comical relief of the Busters team. But Jin regarded with his particular situation remains as the most mature and experienced member of the cast, personally dealing with his mortality and keeping it secret from his cast mates. J as a foil to Jin while comical and aloof can truly see past Jin's bravado and truly cares for his buddy. While not on par with sibling sentai tag teams, Jin and J seem like a more genuine relationship between two similar partners. Also regarding J's argument for being a machine and not human is a pretty asinine reason for dismissing his character, let alone for other non-human sentai members like GoseiKnight and even DekaMaster, going far as being regarded as awful characters for not having "human" actors.

  7. b) Go-Busters.
    As opposed to this Go-Busters are generally focused on the major bulk of their cast overall, with the primary three Busters being relatively

    c) Supporting Cast.
    I agree with you there on Jii's involvement to the team; in comparison to the EMC department who provides not only enemy intelligence but mission objectives, Megazord countdowns, comical relief, and even aided the Busters on a manual combination of Go-Buster Oh in a filler episode would easily fail as individual characters. Since between the three of them they can't squeeze a personal episode for them outside their daily duties. The EMC physically perform their roles as a supporting cast a lot more than what individual outside characters tend to do, and it should not really hinder their characters for actively doing their job. By that logic Goseiger's Nozomu would be the perfect pinnacle of a supporting character.

    d) The villains, though I partially agree on the villains being that both Shinkenger and Go-Busters have pretty entertaining villains. But as I stated before more =/= better, while Messiah being a floating screaming head his development as a threat was a staple theme in this series with 3 climactic battles relatively focused on a stronger iteration of said character, until Enter taking the role proving that the "Big Bad" role overall is a generally weak character concept since it's importance only holds weight near the end of their series. Dokukou was a perfect example of this, being a relatively lazy and poorly ineffectual leader with only one dedicated lackey under him throughout the majority of his series. His appearance in the real world along with his amassed strength at the end the series was the only time his presence truly held any clout. Enter as a lackey alone was a far more effectual villain than most of the Gedoushuu. He legitimately learned from his mistakes and even helped in Messiah's evolution to the point he eventually replaced him as the big bad, and even thought of a well done plot device which created an excellent character dilemma for the Busters to overcome in a final battle. He's easily one of the most developed villains in recent sentai.

    Escape however despite being a part of the Go-Buster's retooling had a pretty genuine human desire to help her "Papa" and had a tragically twisted character death. Dayuu and Juuzo in comparison while no less interesting and tragic seem to eventually skew off into their own devices, and actually had a more intertwined and developed relationship in Power Rangers Samurai...

  8. 2) The Motif.
    Shinkenger follows it's Samurai theme to a T and I can't deny that. Go-Busters however is not a spy theme series at all, it's a Special Mission theme series which honors a private militaristic etiquette in a cyber punk fantasy. With military-esque CQC (Close Quarters Combat) choreography, mission style etiquette, and a realistically well grounded approach to a majority of what the fantasy tends to divulge in, including extensive designs of the Buster Machines, Hyperspace, Avatars, and the Megazords with nicely well choreographed battles along with sentai elements created this truly unique dynamic within the decades of traditional sentai repetition.

    I relatively agree on the Shiba household being more family oriented, but the Busters is genuinely on a different atmosphere than Shinkengers. Especially since Yoko is the only legitimate orphan out the group.

  9. 3) The Story.
    This is most arguable element of the Go-Buster's series, since Sentai in general has too much traditional repetition towards it's audience to recognize "good writing" in something so formulaic. Kobayashi is recognized for her tragic elements, and being rather extensive in her story telling. It's a mixed bag to say her stories suffer from it since it does it's job to add more to the mythos of their individual stories. Having more character's doesn't necessarily make the problem less glaring, since as much the villains benefit from it, the main cast often suffer from ineffectual filler. As heartwarming the filler may be, the fact they never delve further into it as the series progresses proves how ineffectual it's involvement is to both the story, the mythos, and the characters in the long run. Yes Mako cried when having closure with her Mother; but neither her condition nor the events of the previous Shinkenger generation were rarely discussed or hinted in future events.

    Also this most important aspect of the discussion seems rather one sided to what appears to be your genuine lack of knowledge of Go-Busters overall. You'll have to watch the series in it's entirety to generally judge it in it's entirety. Red Buster and Enter generally shares something akin to that relationship that Takeru and Juuzo share. While originally two separate characters with little interaction, Red Buster and Enter share an almost contradictory and symbiotic relationship. Especially from the middle of the series to the ending, where much to his disbelief in the capability of humanity, Red Buster and Enter both represent an anti-thesis to that argument. As a result this inspires a being like Enter to truly develop as a villain and obtain humanity in what is probably one of the most disturbing form of means, assimilation. The symbiotic relationship that these two develop as Red Buster becomes Enter's back-up proved to be one of the most problematic dilemma's a hero had to face, as Hiromu even had to contemplate suicide to save the world from Enter and himself. This was eventually solved by a sacrificial play done by Jin as the busters had a truly heartwarming moment, having to confront dealing with Jin sacrificing what chance he has left returning to normal to complete the mission, and ultimately dying in the process.

    Escape and Ryuji's rivalry while not as extensive, had a fairly intense despite being a part of the retooling. But Ryuji's overheating problem constantly deals with the diliema of him needing to go berserk for the sake of completing the mission, over the danger he possess to both himself and his teammates, especially Yoko. Escape however while originally true to her devotion for her "Papa" was betrayed and assimilated by Messiah. Unable to contemplate the role of death, Enter time and time again tried to recreate Escape and failed to the point he created an even more unstable Escape. Escape's death was a result of closure and respect from Ryuji.

    Go-Busters while not being exempt from it's flaws, is a pretty capable sentai series that does well to create a well grounded and verse universe that even went as far to challenge not only the current status quo of sentai but the repetitive traditions and practices that Sentai systematically kept for decades. It's is truly an underrated sentai series that you could put on par with great dark horses like Gekiranger, and shouldn't be so easily swept under the rug.

  10. Gobusters isnt a Spy theme but more anti-terrorism theme. Yeah Hiromu like most of.the young rookies are not leaders as he is really inexperienced. Yoko and Ryuji are more likeable but too obedient with no opinions. Varglass could have more then 3 villains to add tension. Kobayashi is the DC Fontana of toku but she really didnt deliver it this time with Gobusters. I still enjoy Gobuster because of the idea of it but Shinkenger is a better series PERIOD...

  11. I think that filler episode are there for us to see more into the characters of the show for us to understand more about them and also for us to see their lives outside of being a sentai hero,this is the most evident in shinkenger with all the characters as we understood each one of them and why they wanted to be a shinkenger