Friday, October 11, 2013

Building up a Ranger Death

It's not common for Toei to kill a hero, but there are some out there. Some of them are great example of a proper build up, while others comes in as a real rushed work. I'm going to classified the ones who happened in their respective series AND stayed dead once it ended. Finally telling why I think they belong there. This is my opinion

Dragon Ranger
Black Condor
Beet Buster

Why I think they belong in this category? Because of the writing or the message belong it.
Let's see: we all know the story behind the scenes of Dragon Ranger. For the ones of you who don't, I'll recap it from memory, so forgive me if I say something not completely right. After the introduction of Burai (and I think already established he was destined to die), Toei received bags and bags of letters from the audience begging them to find a way to not kill the character. Toei discussed it with the writers and went along with the original idea the staff had. They did that to teach the kids heroes can die too! Great message if you ask me. Not everything has to be like they want. Life lesson :D
On the other hand we have Black Condor, who during the course of Jetman faced/died many times. And I think his ultimately death was well craft. Even if the other Jetman were in the same position as Gai, every experience he had helped him to explain how was possible for him to be at the Legend War (and the Jetman tribute episode in Gokaiger). I really love that for 19 years, most fans were discussing if Black Condor was dead or not. I didn't need Gokaiger to tell me that in my first time watching Jetman.
AbareKiller and Beet Buster shares the same kind of writing. They're both destined to die since their first episode, but the writing were completely different. Their background stories is what makes them being among the best writing deaths. The way they were executed was handled differently and that's what I love of them.

Kiiranger II
Bull Black
Battle Cossack I
Mele & Rio

Why I think they belong in this category?: Their writing was ok. Nothing impressive to emotionally move me but it's not horrible as to despise them. Maybe Bull Black might be a bit silly, but I think there were worst. They die trying to save a cause, I don't see anything bad on doing that.

Yellow Four I
Gosei Green
Time Fire

Why I think they belong in this category? Merely because of the writing/timing.
Let's see: Gosei Green only lasts onscreen 5 minutes, no build up to know the character, no mention of him previous or after the episode. He's there to say, "Hyde had a partner but he was killed trying to save his kind and humans." Give Hyde a driving force and nothing more. Ok, I get he's not the protagonist of the show, but at least, if the writer wanted to tell us something about Hyde and how equal he was before , they could at least dedicate most of the episode on both characters. How they were like, how he died. Definitively Not what we were thrown our throats.
Time Fire's death is pathetic to say the least. Dying over returning a bird to a little girl? Ok, I get it. Wanted to show the human part on the character. Failing to notice a single minion? Inexcusable! Nothing more to say.
Yellow Four I is lame for the timing, though it's not the writers' fault. Yet, I think it could be handed better. Let's see: the Biomen are all scattered around doing their thing, Mason attacks Yellow Four, she transforms and is hit with the Anti-Bioman particles. The others get the notice, meet with her and start what we see in the episode. See? I made the episode a bit better. Now, you may think I need the actress to play it right? No, because the camera would focus on the character once she's transformed :P  Least to say, Yellow Four I's death is bittersweet because it occurred earlier in the series unlike with the other dead senshis in this post. What a shame is the fact she was one of the protagonist of the show (unlike Gosei Green).

To sum it up: I believe doing a hero's death is not an easy task which can turn out to fit in one of the three categories displayed above. Death is at its best when the story goes that way or when there's a collab between the writers and the actors (best example is Black Condor from Jetman). Death is ok when it's a complete surprise but the hero dies trying to do his/her job (best example is Kiiranger II though I find Battle Cossack II's intro ep is better handled). Another ok is when a bad guy dies trying to redeem himself (always considering he/she was destined to die since episode 1--best examples are Mele & Rio from Gekiranger). Dying is at its worst when they make the character idiotic, even though it was not what they were aiming (best example is Time Fire from Timeranger). When the character was never mentioned before and only appeared on-screen 5 minutes and it's never mentioned again. Why bother to create a character with that conditions? I top this kind of death as the winner if there were an award for "Worst Death Writing in History". No excuses. And if there was an award for "Lame Death Writing in History", I'd choose the killing a main character early in the series with a smart plan not fully developed at that time.

What do you think? Do you agree with me? Do you think I'm picky? What do you think on Death of Heroes? Do you like them?

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Ash Ketchum Rant: Is he the worst trainer ever?

With Gen 6 launching soon, I've been reflecting on the franchise and the anime. Let me just start by saying I've grown up with the anime and it along with digimon, power rangers, and other stuff are some of the reasons I'm the nerdy person I am today. Reflecting on the anime has reinforced what I've learned over the years: Ash Ketchum is the worst trainer I've ever seen! I had no problem with Ash during the Kanto and Johto seasons and after that he just got really stupid. Anyways, lets get started!

Ash over the years.
My main gripe is about Ash is that in anything past Johto, pretty much none of his knowledge sticks or gets used again so he has to relearn it during each region. This is most evident in his gym battles. He constantly makes stupid rookie mistakes that he should already know with how much experience he has. For example, in each region he somehow forgets that he can use a gym's terrain to his advantage or use it to nullify a gym leader's advantage until he is already about to lose. Not to mention he has been seeing the gym leader using the terrain the entire match. Why does he not think of the obvious? He has known how to use a gym's terrain since Kanto! Its ridiculous! Experience does not just disappear like that! With all the experience he has, he should not be having anywhere near as much trouble as he has been having against these gym leaders. I'm not asking him to be super broken, I just want him to be competent again! Not mention the creativity that Hoenn and Sinnoh brought to the table in terms of move combinations and the counter-shield maneuver he even invented during Sinnoh. Does Ash remember those tactics either? Nope! Everything gets wiped as soon as he sets foot in a new region!

This next problem is what I like to call Ash's crowning moment of stupidity. In his first battle in Unova, Pikachu is unable to use its electric moves due to being hit by Zekrom's lightning and it somehow shorting Pikachu out. Ash continues to try and use electric moves despite seeing that they wouldn't work the first time. He completely forgets that Pikachu knows Quick Attack and Iron Tail. He lost to a trainer who got his Snivy barely five minutes ago because he refused to think! What I find even dumber is that Pikachu has to be at least level 100 during this fight. Seriously WTH?!
He lost to this guy! WTF!
He could've wiped that Snivy out just by ramming it. Even if Ash's tactics are somewhat lacking, he shouldn't have lost that fight so easily. The writers forced that loss on him just for some small amount of character development that won't carry over into Gen 6's anime. They'll probably press the reset button on him as soon as he sets foot in the new region...again.

The knowledge reset unfortunately has the same effect on the gym leaders as it does on Ash. They just don't look as strong as they should be because Ash barely has above beginner knowledge in each new region. It looks like they're just beating up on a new trainer until he decides to use his brain. By having Ash fighting at full strength the entire battle, you can get more out of the gym leaders and that will result in a more exciting gym battle with more creative fighting.

I don't mind him starting each region with just Pikachu. I get the concept of wanting Ash to start fresh in each region, hence why he leaves his current team with Oak except for Pikachu. I also understand that the show is also a way to sort of promote the new games to some extent, but making Ash an idiot at the beginning of each region is just stupid. There is no excuse for it! Knowledge and experience don't disappear just because you've changed regions. I stopped counting the fact that its a new region and he has never been there before as a valid reason for his mistakes a long time ago. That kind of logic may have worked in Johto or Hoenn but now its become nothing more than an excuse for the writers to pull this stuff during each new journey. His experience as a trainer should more than out-weigh the shock of going to a new region.

While a case could be made that he is a good trainer simply because he cares about his pokemon and can take care of them to some degree (though he usually needs help from Brock or Cilan), its kind of a moot point given how much danger he puts them in a lot of his battles. There have been way too many times that I've seen him put his pokemon up against pokemon that they're obviously weak against. Pokemon are mortal beings in his world and he knows that. If they take too much damage they can die! He shouldn't be stupid enough to put them in a fight with a pokemon they have a clear disadvantage against. When he does that he is essentially saying "Hey buddy, I care about you, so I'm gonna throw you into the ring against something you're weak against. You might die but just remember, I believe in you". That is the most idiotic thing you can do in a situation like that. Everytime he has done that I've shouted at my tv "You idiot! Why are using that pokemon when you already have the gym leader's weakness with you!". I can't bring myself to root for a character who has that much experience yet still does something so stupid. That plays back into how much he actually cares about his pokemon. If he cared about them as much as the writers want us to think he does, they wouldn't have him do something so stupid. The reset concept becomes even more stupid when you consider something else: His chosen way for becoming a pokemon master is through battling. Its gonna be pretty hard for him to become one if he can't remember a single tactic he learned in the last region.
Ash's collection before Gen 5
In short: Is Ash a good trainer in terms of caring for his pokemon? Debatable. Is he a good trainer in terms of battling? Not even close! To be honest, he shouldn't even be a trainer if he has so many issues with his battling abilities and his ability to retain any tactics he learns in each region. I will never understand why the writers try so hard to make him an idiot again in each region. I think its about time they retire Ash and move on to a new protagonist, one whose new trainer status will at least qualify him to make these kinds of mistakes, though thats not likely to happen given that Ash is pretty much the face of Pokemon at this point.

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Importance of female characters in Super Sentai.

At its beginning, Super Sentai was one of the few tokusatsu franchise including female superheroes, who could change into superpowered suits to fight enemies. Among early Superheroic female characters in toku, Bijinder from Kikaider 01 was one of the first ones, and at the same time that the first sentai series, Himitsu Sentai Gorenger aired, Kamen Rider Stronger aired as well, with Tackle being Stronger's female sidekick, who was able to change into the ladybug-looking Tackle suit. However, while Tackle was Stronger's assistant, in Gorenger, Peggy Matsumoto/Momoranger was an equal partner among the five Gorenger. Since then, (with one exception) Super Sentai always had at least one female hero, and, starting with Battle Fever, villainesses were shown as well. In each series, the female characters had the opportunity to have episodes focusing on them.

However, the importance of those female characters in each series's plot was not the same in the series, either as heroines or as villainesses. I'm gonna review the history of Super Sentai and put emphasis on shows that gave more spotlight to female characters.

1) Early era : Gorenger and JAKQ 
As episodic shows without villainesses, no female character had have important roles in the main plot ; but the same could be said for the male heroes as well: the heroes fought the villains as a team, and each teammates was important ; Gorenger also had some female supporting characters, one of them even filling sometimes as Momoranger for Peggy.

2) Late Uehara era: plenty of villainesses

Battle Fever J, Denziman and Sun Vulcan weren't the best series for heroine focus: because of Diane Martin's miscast, the first half of Battle Fever almost forgot it had a female teammate (Maria Nagisa in the second half however, had a more prominent role), and Sun Vulcan didn't even have a female ranger. However, all those series had major villainesses : in Battle Fever, Salome was by far the most active villainesses, often involved in the battlefield and closely working with the Monster of the Week: and Denziman and Sun Vulcan had most of the antagonists being female characters: Denziman's Big Bad was Queen Hedorian, played by Machiko Soga, and her two female agents (Keller and Mirror) were a lot involved in the Vader's evil plans, doing spy work disguising as normal women to carry out their schemes, and leading the Mooks and Monsters of the Week in the fights. Sun Vulcan used the Zero Girls in the same vein, brought back Machiko Soga as a main villainess, and Amazon Killer also had a major villainess role.

3) Soda era: great era for both heroines and villainesses.

The Soda era was a great era for female characters in sentai. Goggle Five and Dynaman had some great lone female rangers (especially Dynaman, with Rei Tachibana/ DynaPink).
But, more importantly, starting with Bioman, the teams started to include two women, and the female rangers were able to wear suits that weren't pink (mostly Yellow, but also White (in Changeman) and Blue (in Liveman)). Many of Soda's heroines are some of the most memorables female rangers, such as Jun in Bioman, Sara in Flashman, Megumi in Liveman and Remi in Fiveman.  Soda also always introduced at least one important villainess in his shows. Some of them, like Zenobia in Dynaman, could have major roles.
Among Soda shows, three of them gave especially important roles to female characters :

a) Changeman

Changeman had already two great heroines, with Nagisa Sayaka and Tsubasa Mai. However,  Changeman can boast having one of the best sentai villainesses of all time : Queen Ahames. Ahames became an important general with very vicious plans as soon as she appeared, but, most importantly, she managed to earn the superpower coming from the Nana's  Rigel's aura, at Giluke's expense, and replaced him as the Gozma's main general after Bazoo banned Giluke. She remained a very dangerous enemy, cruel towards her enemies but also her allies until her death, her last act being destroying the Changeman's base. On the good side,  a supporting character, Nana had some major plots, like the Rigel Aura plot, and she was also involved in other key episodes, notably the final arc. Another villainess, Shima became the first villainess that changed sides and became an ally, and another supporting character, Zoori, played a key role in making her husband, Gator, defect Gozma as well.

b) Maskman
Maskman had two badass heroic ladies with Haruka and Momoko (Yellow and Pink Mask). But, more importantly, the most important antagonist in Maskman was without a doubt Prince(ss) Igam, since the main storyline mostly involved Takeru/ Red Mask and the two Igam sisters, Igam and Iyal, with Red Mask's love story for Iyal, and the bitter hate that Igam had against him as a result. Moreover, Igam and her sister were revealed to be the ones to be able to bring down Zeba, and make the Tube become again a peaceful subterran kingdom.

c) Turboranger
While Turboranger was one of the few shows of the Soda era with only one heroine (Pink Turbo/ Haruna), it can be argued that the most important character of the second half of Turboranger is the half Boma Kirika, aka Tsukikage Sayoko. Indeed, during the last 21 episodes of Turboranger, not only she was one a major villainesses, she also showed a lot of development during that era. First, she was shown turning from a normal girl into a bitter and cruel enemy. Then, she became a very dangerous enemy, but Soda managed to make the audience feel some sympathy for her, by showing her sad background and her need to find her identity. Lastly, after meeting her Boma father, she realized that she didn't have to be humanity's enemy and after much internal conflict, not only she stopped being the Turboranger's enemy, but she played an important role in saving Yamimaru from himself and become a peaceful man.

4) Jetman/ Sugimura era

While Jetman had two female rangers, a major love story between the main hero and a villainess (the Ryu/ Rie-Maria storyline) and the first female commander (Aya Odagiri), the main storyline still revolved mostly around the male characters (Ryu, Gai, Radiguet and Tran/ Tranza).
Zyuranger had the main villainess being a Big Bad (Witch Bandora) with a major female general in Lami.
Dairanger was notable for having plenty of major subplots, and two of them involved a lot female characters. The first one was the Daigo/ Kujaku arc, which revolved mostly about the doomed love story between Daigo/ Shishiranger and the peacock warrior Kujaku and the rivalry between Kujaku and the Gorma female general, Gara; Gara (or rather, fake clay Gara, was defeated by the spirit of the real Gara, who had become good again). The second one was the Kou/ Akomaru plot, with the involvement of Rin/ Houhouranger as Kou's friend and the two boys's mother.
Kakuranger was the first Sentai series having a female ranger involved in the central plot. Indeed, Tsuruhime/ Ninja White, not only was the leader of the Kakuranger, but she also had the key plot with her father Hakumenroh who was involved with the Yokai against his will.

5) Carranger and beyond
Carranger had two very well done female rangers, with Yellow and Pink Racer, but it also had a key romance plot with Red Racer and the villainess Zonnette, and that romance played a key role, not only as a major subplot, but also because the redeemed Zonnette was the one who made the remaining Bowzock help the Carranger defeat the Big Bad Emperor Exhaust and then, stop doing evil stuff.
After Carranger, while many sentai series had some very well done female characters, either as heroines or as villainesses, few of them became central characters in the series's storyline.

Among those sentai series, however, Abaranger deserves some spotlight because of the major roles of female characters in its storyline. While Abareyellow didn't have much focus compared to her teammates, two characters were pretty much some of the most central characters in the plot: Jeanne/ Mahoro and Lije/ Lijewel/ Mysterious Girl. And the interesting element is that not only they were important as evil characters, but also as good characters.
Jeanne was the most important Evolian general during the first half of the show, having a deep rivalry with Abareblack and involved in the most dangerous Evolian plots. Very quickly, her background (as Asuka's wife) was revealed, and a mysterious girl (in fact, the part of Lije's soul that managed to escape the evil Evolian's god influence) played a key role in stopping Abareblack and Jeanne from killing each other by reminding them of their past. When Abarekiller appeared and became a major antagonist himself, Lije started to get some spotlight as well, since she developed a crush for the evil ranger, playing a key role in him becoming the leader of the Evolian, and then, making herself turn from a little girl to a young woman, and, as a result, become a dangerous enemy herself.
However, at the same time, Jeanne had a final showdown with Asuka/ Abareblack, but, as a result of the mysterious girl reminding her of her past, Asuka telling her of his true love and then Asuka freeing her from the evil armor, she was able to turn back into the good Mahoro. After a few weeks with amnesia, she managed to remember of her past, and decided to become Jeanne again, to free Asuka from the evil armor and then, help the heroes defeat the Evolian by becoming a spy and gving the heroes very important information to defeat the Evolian. Lijewel, realizing that Mikoto was in danger because of Dezumozorya, also played a role in Mikoto becoming at last the heroes's ally, and the Mysterious girl was the one who managed to expel the Dezumozorya from Lijewel's body, saving her (and herself at the same time) from the evil God.

Other series had some key plots involving female character: GogoV had good female characters, with Matsuri/Gopink, the Saima daughter Dinas and GoGreen 's Sempai, Kyoko, and the Big Bad was the mother of the Saima siblings, Grandienne. Yuuri/ Timepink was the leader of the Timerangers. TsueTsue was a major villainess in Gaoranger. Magiranger had a lot of female characters, with  the Pantheon Goddess Sphinx having plenty of development. Shinkenger also had a key plot involving a female character, with Takeru/ Shinkenred being the Kagemusha of  Kaoru/ Hime Shinkenred.

And of course, the Unofficial Sentai Akibaranger has also most of its characters being female, and as such, having major roles. In fact, Nobuo/ Akibared, while the main character, was one of the very few main male character in the show. 

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Mighty No. 9 Kickstarter Finished! End Result?

As of October 1st the Kickstarter campaign for the Keiji Inafune directed game "Mighty No.9" has concluded and the end result couldn't be any better for the game.  The Kickstarter campaign started on August 31st and had the initial goal of $900,000.  By October 1st "Might No.9" had received over 400 percent of what it was asking for, it gained over 4 million dollars in fundraising, $3,845,170 from Kickstarter and $186,380 through PayPal.

So with over 4 million dollars raised for this game what does it all mean?  As shown through it's Kickstarted campaign, whenever a milestone in money was reached, a new stretch goal was achieved. Here are the stretch goals "Mighty No. 9" achieved through Kickstarter.

So what we can expect for the game is two more stages, a MAC/LINUX version, new game plus and turbo mode, a documentary about the making of the game, a boss rush mode, a PS3, Xbox 360, and Wii U version of the game, a challenge mode, online co-op challenge mode, intro stage and boss, support characters, a PS4 and XBox One version, PS Vita and 3DS version, a single player call stage and boss, an optional retro-style chiptune soundtrack + FX, and an on-line battle race mode.

People Involved
All this was because of fans who donated their money to support this project.  For many fans it was because of Keiji Inafune who was one of the creators of the Megaman or Rockman series and they see "Mighty No. 9" as the spiritual successor to the Megaman because of the design of the character Beck and the side-scrolling action gameplay.

The story of "Mighty No. 9" is about Beck the ninth creation in a line of combat robots called the Mighty Number.  After a strange computer virus infects the other robots of the Mighty Numbers as well as machines around the world, Beck must step up to the challenge.  He must defeat the rouge robots and discover who caused these events and save the world. 

"Mighty No.9" is a game development by Comcept known for such titles as "Soul Sacrifice", "Soul Sacrifice Delta" and "Yaiba: Ninja Gaiden Z" and Inti Creates best known for the Mega Man Zero series and Mega Man ZX series.  

The expected date of release for the "Mighty No.9" is Spring 2015. 

For more information about the game such as a more detailed description of the stretch goals and the other people involved in the project you can check out the Kickstarter page and the official site.  You can also follow the "Mighty No. 9" on Twitter and like it on Facebook.


Mega Charizard X Revealed!

No you are not misreading this, it has been announced today via Pokemon Youtube channel and, that Charizard will indeed have another Mega Evolution, Mega Charizard X!

Here is the information we have about Mega Charizard X.  It Mega Evolves through holding the item Charizardite X.  When Charizard becomes Mega Charizard X it becomes a Fire- and Dragon type pokemon.  Charizard gets an increase in its attack stat and it gains the ability of Tough Claws which increases the attack of moves that make direct contact.  It also only exclusive to Pokemon X.

And also a note of interest is that Mega Charizard X also appears in the Pokemon Origins anime special, where the information about Mega Charizard X was first revealed. 

 Here are some screenshots of Mega Charizard X from the trailer. 

Pokemon X & Y will be released on October 12th for the Nintendo 3DS.

For more information on Mega Charizard X and Pokemon X & Y follow the links below.

Pokemon Youtube channel
Pokemon Website