Sunday, May 25, 2014

My current Super Sentai rankings

Since I did a Rider list, I'm going to hammer out my Sentai list now. At the time of this post I have finished Gekiranger, Magiranger, Gokaiger, Gobusters, Dekaranger, and Kyoryuger. I have seen 3/5 of Liveman, 10 episodes of Jetman, half of Dairanger, half of Shinkenger, 3 episodes of Hurricanger, 1 episode of Zyuranger, 2 episodes of Go-onger, and 1 episode of Goseiger. Jetman, Zyuranger, Hurricanger, Go-onger, and Goseiger will not be ranked on this list as I haven't seen at least half of those particular series. I've seen 6 or 7 of ToQger but it will not be on the list since I'm behind and it is too early to discuss it. Like the rider list, only the series I have finished will actually be numbered. I will likely do an updated list at some point once I finish more Sentai.

6. Tokumei Sentai Gobusters:
I don't know why but this show never really clicked for me. Its not that I think its bad, I was just bored with it for the most part. I was never left with the feeling that I had to watch it week after week. It got to the point where I would put off watching it for a few weeks and let the episodes pile up and then I'd blow through them with a marathon. I ended up doing that three separate times for this series. The ground fights were awesome though but that was about it. I liked Enter more at the beginning of the series because he would usually show up in some sort of disguise and that helped add some flair to the character. My favorite disguise is the panda suit from the amusement park episode. My favorite character in this show is Gorisaki. The mecha fights were ok for the most part though Great Gobuster's fights were just lazy and mostly involved it taking a few punches then poking the enemy with a spear to win. I wish they had elaborated more on the downside of their abilities though because Ryuji's weakpoint seemed like it could actually be fatal to him due to him over-heating faster and faster as the series progressed. By far the most infuriating episode in this show was episode 36 aka the Buddyroid Strike. That episode made absolutely no sense and had no reason to take place when it did. I really enjoyed its opening (well except for the 2nd one) and ending theme. The suits are some of my favorites because the leather creates a nice combination with the colored visors.

5. Zyuden Sentai Kyoryuger:
This show is just meh and it never really wow-ed me. I don't like it but I certainly don't hate it either. I ended up doing separate marathons for it ever since episode 10 came out. My main gripe with the show is Daigo. Its a Daigo-centric show yet it honestly didn't feel like Daigo was important to the overall plot until the final arc. He also gets played off as perfect and can quite literally do no wrong. The show essentially tries to tell me that I should like the guy but all it did was make me dislike him more. My favorite character in the show is Ian as he at the very least can function with Daigo gone. While his rivalry with Aigalion wasn't touched on much, its climax was decent enough. I wasn't able to get invested in anyone else. Rameirez and Tessai's entire character arc should have been about finding successors and Sanjou should have replaced them sooner instead of doing it right at the end since he wanted to bring in Shinya and Yuuko. I don't usually mind the collectible gimmicks but the batteries tend to break the flow of fight scenes and slow them down too much for my taste. Other than that, the fight scenes were alright. I actually like the suits, especially the visors since they give the illusion of a wide-open dinosaur mouth. Though I don't understand why KyoryuSilver's helmet has fangs on it since a Brachiosaur is a herbivore. I also enjoy the theme song. The overall plot is slow and a lot of it feels like filler. I think Sanjou really needs a break from writing since he wrote this entire show by himself. He might be burned out.

4. Mahou Sentai Magiranger:
This was a fun and enjoyable show. Just about every episode is character development for the main five Magirangers with a bit of MagiShine's development thrown in and in my opinion the show does a decent job of fleshing out the siblings. My favorite of the siblings is Makito. For some reason I usually tend to gravitate toward the older brother type of character. I liked Wolzard/Blagel's plot-line and how honorable he was. His concept of honor still shined through N Ma's dark magic. I felt the focus on the theme of family was done well enough and its concept of magic coming from courage was great. It was a lot more interesting to me than Wizard's. It is a perfect catalyst for character development to me as I consider magic to be more of an inner strength that grows with the person using it. The best use of this would have to be in the lead-up to them acquiring the Legend powers. That arc had some great character growth for each of the siblings and showed why each of them were worthy to obtain that power. It also has the most detailed world out of all the Sentai I've seen so far. It had a nice mix of practical effects and CGI. As I said in my "top mecha control system list", I really like the way the main five control their mecha like a chess board and it is my favorite control method I've seen thus far in Sentai. Normally, I will skip through the opening and ending songs after the first few episodes to save some time but for some strange reason I just couldn't bring myself to skip through Magiranger's opening and ending themes. Its ending theme is also my favorite Sentai ending theme.

3. Tokusou Sentai Dekaranger:
It is a really fun show. It is more episodic in nature like a traditional cop show and lacks a traditional main villain for the most part. Not having a traditional main villain actually works well for the show as does its episodic nature. The only consistent villain is Agent Abrera who basically acts as a weapons dealer. He doesn't exactly want to takeover the world and his entire grudge against the Dekarangers is because they are getting in the way of his business. I think not having the Alienizers grow into giants for the most part and instead using their own giant robots during the mecha fights was a great idea. The enemy robots have some really nice designs as well. The mecha fights are nicely choreographed even though they have to use CGI to pull off some movements. The Alienizers have some great variety in terms of design, powers, and even motives for why they're doing what they do. My favorite of the main six is actually a tie between Umeko because she gets the best comedic scenes in the show and Sen because of his creative approach to the cases. All of the heroes get some great character moments. A nice touch is that they have to get permission to use lethal force like actual cops. Its opening song is great and really helps you get pumped up while its ending theme is soothing and has a great jazz feel to it.

2. Kaizoku Sentai Gokaiger:
I really enjoyed Gokaiger. The cast was a lot of fun, they had some great chemistry, and I enjoyed seeing Gai nerd out during the show. Out of the crew my favorite character is a toss up between Don for his funny and creative fighting ability (which is something I was really disappointed that they changed about him in Gobusters vs Gokaiger) and Gai for his enthusiasm and fanboy-ness. Junya Ikeda did really well with the role of Gai and you could tell that he had a lot of fun with it. Marvelous' rivalry with Basco was awesome and he is one of my favorite villains in Sentai. I really like how the mecha Grand Powers were applied to Gokai-Oh. Their designs were brilliant to me because the mecha Grand Powers never over-shadowed the Gokai-Oh's original design (with Kanzen Gokai-Oh being an obvious exception) and you could always tell it was the Gokai-Oh even from far away no matter what got added to it. It was a lot of fun to see actors return even if I didn't have any experience with a lot of the seasons and couldn't tell you some of the returning character's names outside of their team and color. It never felt like I was missing something while watching this show. Even without any nostalgic connection to most of the actors, it still felt like an anniversary caliber season while still keeping consistent quality with the other Sentai I had seen at the time.

1. Jyuken Sentai Gekiranger:
I'm a sucker for martial arts related stuff so this series was right up my alley. From the music to the characters this show hits the sweet spot for me. The fight scenes are excellent, nicely choreographed, and have a great flow to them. The various martial arts styles used in the show make each fight scene fun and have some nice variety. I really enjoyed the rivalry between Rio and Jan. The show has really memorable villains including my all-time favorite Sentai villain: Long. Long is just a joy a to watch on screen and the actor really knows how to creep you out. Long is also one of the few destruction obsessed villains I like because he plans everything out and does it all out of boredom. My favorite character in this show is Mele because she was arguably the most pivotal character in Rio's development. Mele is that type of honorable character that I can respect a lot. It is also really awesome how the show goes so far to explain the origin of GekiJyuKen and RinJyuKen. I like the 7 Kensei and how two of them are references to real life marital artists. GekiTouja's design is one of my favorite mecha designs in the franchise and I like how its operated via motion control. It is one of the more agile mecha in my opinion. As for the suits, they do a nice job of representing each character's animal with my personal favorite suit in the show being Rio's lion armor.

Series I haven't finished yet: Since I haven't finished them yet, these are just my thoughts on them at the moment so they have no official spot in my rankings yet.

Chojuu Sentai Liveman:
This series is awesome! I really like this series because the villains have such a deep relationship with the heroes. They were friends, students, colleagues, and in the case of Megumi and Mazenda even roommates so the fight is very personal for the Livemen. I love how the show starts out with the first 3 Livemen just fighting for revenge against Volt and how they learn that revenge shouldn't be their only reason for fighting, they should fight to protect people. Though I do like that the revenge motivation isn't dropped entirely and its the entire reason Bison and Sai join the team. The villains are really great especially Kemp and Mazenda. Mazenda was the star of a really heart-breaking two episode arc in the first half of the show (that arc is my favorite at the moment). Ashura has also become one of my favorites. One of my favorite episodes in Liveman is the episode with Megumi's father. I love the way their actors played off each other. As for the suits, they have some nice detail on the helmets especially Yellow Lion's and I really like the colored glass in the belts. They are a nice aesthetic touch.

Samurai Sentai Shinkenger:
This was my first Sentai series but I still haven't actually finished it. I got about half way into Shinkenger but had to stop because at the time youtube was going through a toku purge and I forgot to pick it up again once I found new sources. The Shinkenger suits are among my favorite designs in the franchise. I absolutely love the sword-play used in the show because I'm a sucker for a good sword fight. Ryunosuke's dramatic reactions kind of annoyed me at first but he quickly won me me over with his sense of loyalty. I like the rivalry between Juzo and Takeru. I'm going to have to set aside some time this year to finish Shinkenger though I'll most likely have to start from scratch since I'm having some trouble remembering exactly what was going on when I left off.

Gosei Sentai Dairanger:
Another martial arts sentai and I'm about halfway through this series. I really like the suits and the mecha designs with Won Tiger being my favorite mecha design. The fight scenes are amazing and really well done, even the wire-works look completely natural in the show. Out of the Dairangers, Kou is my favorite even if I occasionally want to smack the kid for being a bit pervy. I really like the romantic sub-plot with Daigo and Kujaku along with Kujaku's story of revenge as well as how the battle against the Gorma has been going on for centuries. It really helps give weight to the struggle. I think I left off with the premier of Won Tiger or something close to that. Like Shinkenger, I'm going to have to set some time aside to finish this show.

That is my sentai list. If a show you liked got ranked really low on the list, it just means that it wasn't my kind of show or I couldn't get into it.

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Toku Injustices: The Death of Birugenia in Kamen Rider Black

Hello everyone and welcome to the beginning of a series of opinion pieces called “Toku Injustices.” The main topic of these opinion pieces is that I look at something that happened in a Toku show (whether good or bad it doesn’t matter) and basically talk about why I found it either unfair, confusing, or just something that shouldn't of happened at all. 

(What's the deal...)
In this post I will talk about something that happened in one of my favorite kamen rider series of all time, Kamen Rider Black.  Now this post will contain some spoilers so for those who haven’t seen and Kamen Rider Black yet and don’t want to know some things I suggest that you stop now, unless you are interested.  In that case read at your own risk.

Now let me start by saying I really love Kamen Rider Black I find it to be one of the best examples of what Kamen Rider should be about.  It has a very appealing protagonist in Kotaro Minami who we instantly feel sorry for and root for as he not only battles the Gorgom but also has to fight his brainwashed stepbrother Nobuhiko Akizuki aka Shadow Moon.  I enjoyed the Gorgom a lot as not only do they have a lot of history but also it’s the cult like structure of them, the mixture of magic and technology, that not only makes them frightening to look at but interesting as well.  

(All of this I love so much)

As the series progressed the Three Priests weren’t getting the job done, so the Century King being impatient and running out of options decided to release a threat to not only Kotaro but to the Gorgom themselves.  That threat being Birugenia the warrior of 30,000 years ago who like Nobuhiko and Kotaro was born on a solar eclipse but unlike them was not given a Kingstone.  That rejection made him angry and want to revolt against the Century King and the Gorgom, this action was the reason for him being sealed.
(Holy crap who are you?)
Birugenia was always an interesting and dangerous villain because he had his own motives and agenda.  He wasn’t really a team player with the Gorgom High Priests and would even interfere with their plans just for his own benefit.  His own benefit being wanting to kill Kotaro and take his Kingstone for himself.  Birugenia would also attack Kotaro where it hurt the most, the people close to him.  That made Birugenia a terrifying presence in Kamen Rider Black and character the show needed in my opinion to provided a surge of energy and potential.  However it is with this character that an injustice occurred.

The injustice is that he died in Episode 35 at the hands of the resurrected Shadow Moon anti-climatically.  
(Just Like that he is gone...wait what?)

What?  Why do this?  Birugenia was doing awesome as a villain.  Birugenia did so much in the show in the 18 episodes he was in that to simply kill him off so easily was disappointing.  Some of the things Birugenia did were as I said before  personal attacks against Kotaro, kidnapping the creator of Kotaro’s Road Sector to make his own version of the bike, the Hellshooter (yes he gets his own rider bike!), to stealing the Satan Saber.  
(Birugenia with Hellshooter)
I understood the purpose of Birugenia’s death was to show how strong Shadow Moon was and how the threat level has increased.  Which  is fine, however to simply kill off the only main villain who was active enough to actually confront Kotaro head on and how easily he was killed is unsatisfying  and took away some interesting story lines that could of been pursued.  The way I would of done showing how powerful Shadow Moon’s presence is and also keeping Birugenia around they could have had Shadow Moon beat the crap out of Birugenia having the prideful warrior on his knees.  Sort of like what Tranza did in Jetman to Radiguet.  

(Something like this could've happened.)
Why couldn’t they have kept Birugenia on the show and have him interact with Shadow Moon another person with a Kingstone.  Wouldn’t of that been interesting to watch, every moment Birugenia would be on screen would be tense because at any moment something could happen.  Birugenia always wanted a Kingstone, it doesn’t necessarily have to be Kotaro’s Kingstone, it could have been Nobuhiko’s Kingstone as well.  With Birugenia still on the show with Shadow Moon, you would have a lot of story possibilities, like Birugenia sabotaging plans Shadow Moon would have, working in the background plotting a Coup d'├ętat, maybe even have an episode where after confronting Shadow Moon Kotaro is beaten badly and in his moment of weakness is being hunted down by Birugenia after his Kingstone, have Birugenia’s Coup d’├ętat fail and in his last moment of desperation fight Kotaro for his Kingstone, or even when Black does beat Shadow Moon and in Shadow Moon’s moment of weakness Birugenia kills him and steals his Kingstone.  Those are just some ideas that Kamen Rider Black could've done with Birugenia. 
(Hope nothing bad happens to you Shadow Moon like...)
(Kingstone Birugenia?)

            For me personally I loved Birugenia, loved what he brought to the table, loved what he did, loved how well his actor, Jun Yoshida portrayed him (for more info on how awesome Jun Yoshida is check out
this blog post by Shougo B’Stard), and I wish he had stayed around to be the final villain or even just one of the final big bads Kotaro had to face before fighting Shadow Moon.  Something along those lines I think would have brought Kamen Rider Black to its full potential.  Now despite what I wanted Birugenia dying isn't the worst thing to happen in Tokusatsu.  Despite me sounding harsh and bitter towards the death I was okay with Birugenia dying, it didn't ruin the series it was just not the approach that I would of taken. I still love Kamen Rider Black from beginning to end but the death of Birugenia is one of the missteps the show took and turned the show from amazing to great.  Had Birugenia still been alive I feel the show and the conflicts would of been a lot more interesting to watch because now we have the two Century Kings and the wild card the rejected Century King all having their battles.  On the injustice scale, Birugenia's death is just a meh, it wasn't what I think Kamen Rider Black should've done but I am overall okay with it.

What does everyone else think of Birugenia, do you agree with my “injustice” towards the character, okay with what happened, or disagree overall with my thoughts?  Leave a comment below with your thoughts.  Also comment if you would like this to be a reoccurring series of opinion pieces that you would be interested in seeing.