Saturday, September 12, 2015

Mirai Sentai Timeranger First Impressions

Yes I have decided to check out the first few episodes of another Sentai series. Alongside Bioman and Maskman, I had an itch to scratch with Timeranger's first few episodes, I ended up watching the first seven. A lot of stuff happened so lets get right into it. Spoiler warning for this one since I'm going to cover their first character episodes as well. All in all, I saw the first seven episodes.
The series opens with a beautifully done shot of a city in the year 3000. We are then introduced to a batch of new recruits being given a lecture on the history of time travel and why it is banned. Shortly after we see a nice setup with Don Dornheirno about to be put into cryo-stasis and stored with other prisoners. A break out orchestrated by his right-hand man Gien occurs and the two actually managed to impress me with their creativity. They actually trick the Timerangers into thinking they had jumped into the past so they can have the time ship knock them and their prison into the past when they tried to chase after them. Heck to even make sure that the plan works, they had Lira go undercover as the commanding officer of the group of recruits the Timerangers were apart of. I can definitely say this group is competent. Dornheirno is interesting as just destroying things or taking over the world isn't his main goal. Its all about the money with him. In episode 6, he basically told Gien not to send in monsters to destroy the Timerangers because it wasn't going to make them any money.
Aesthetically, the main members Londarz family (something they named themself after they escaped into the past) are nicely designed with lots of bright colors. Dornheirno looks like a big, intimidating space frog. Gien looks rather creepy with his robotic skeleton being covered up on only one side. The sculpting on Lila's chestplate has some nice detail. The pink hair really fits the rest of the suit.
Time Robo is an interesting case for a main mecha. It has two forms: Time Robo Alpha for general ground combat and Time Robo Beta for long range combat. Alpha's design looks nice with all the red being balanced with silver and black. That really makes the green portion of the chestplate pop out. Its major weapons are a sword and shield.
Beta's design is nice as well though the fins on the shoulder pads are a little distracting to me. Otherwise, the blue balances nicely with the silver. The time flyer becomes a gun for the mecha. Its interesting to see a mecha that can flip between the two on the fly. It shows its versatility rather well. I honestly hope we see another mecha like that at some point.
There is a third form called Gamma but it isn't exactly a robot mode. All the time jets combine into an even bigger Time Jet. It was mainly brought out to counter long ranged opponents so its a lot more agile and mobile than the other two.
The Timeranger suits are very nicely designed and they've all got the colored visors which is something I always like to see. The black surrounding the visors looks great while the white going across the chest complements the each color. I especially like that the Chrono Changers don't vanish when they henshin. They get added into the sides of the gloves. The sculpted silver mouth pieces are usually distracting for me but they really work well here. The belt buckles are nicely designed. Its one of those unique designs where you can immediately tell what team it is from without seeing the rest of the suits.

The Timeranger's themselves seem interesting. I like Tatsuya's dilemma with his father in episode two. Parents who plan their children's future for them usually strike a nerve for me so I really felt Tatsuya's need to get away from his father's influence. He makes a great speech about how even if they can't change history itself, they can still change their individual futures. Their reasons for joining the Timeranger's seem interest with Yuri being a cop in honor of her dead family, Ayase formerly training to be stock car racer, Domon being a disgraced fighter, and Shion being an alien. Ayase in particular seems to have more to him than the show is letting on. Episode 3 was a great bonding moment between him and Tatsuya. Shion potentially being the last of his kind and raised in a lab is a nice way to explain his overly naive outlook and it makes him all the more endearing to me. Yuri's tale of losing her family was a tearjerker and it made her capturing the Londarz responsible extremely satisfying since he was outright shown to be scumbag. Out of everyone, Domon seems to be the one most affected by the prospect of being stuck in the past. I feel sort of bad for the guy, feeling trapped in a strange place and the sadness that comes with it is a terrible thing. It isn't often a show makes me care for everyone so quickly but this is one of the shows that managed to pull it off.
The beginning of this show is packed with so much its was exhausting to watch, but in a satisfying way. It was time well spent. One of my friends wasn't kidding when he said it was dialogue heavy. I had to rewind a few scenes two or three times to catch everything they said but in the grand scheme of things, that isn't a big deal. The action was well paced and well handled despite some speed blur in the first episode but that is more of a minor complaint. The model city in episode two got some real use. It is one of the few times that I've seen a monster pick up part of a building and throw it at the heroes. These first seven episodes were great and I look forward to picking the series back up once most of it is subbed.

Monday, September 7, 2015

Hikari Sentai Maskman First Impressions

In addition to Bioman's first two episodes, I also watched Maskman's first 4 episodes. Like with Bioman, I normally wouldn't do this since its not a currently airing show but man did it give me a lot to talk about. Lets get right into it.
One thing I really enjoyed is that the series wastes no time in throwing you right into the action. The very first scene with Tube is them declaring war on the surface world and causing massive damage with an aerial strike. Like Bioman's first episodes, doing that really helps establish the threat and cranks up the stakes. Its been a while since I've seen villains that don't screw around in their first outing. Heck, at the end of episode 2, they do something that feels like the end game moves you would normally see for series finales. Also, I love the way Tube handles traitors. Instead of death, they get subjected to eternal sleep and dreams filled with their worst nightmares. They also feature a very nice variety in designs. A majority of the main members are human looking villains which as I said in the Bioman post is something I miss nowadays.
The flashbacks showing Mio and Takeru's budding relationship was a nice touch. Normally, I'd roll my eyes when I see something like that in the beginning of a series but the show does a nice job of making the relationship known. I honestly feel bad for the guy and I want to see him get her back.

One thing that really surprised me was when they were training to unlock Aura Power in episode 3. Takeru got distracted because he was thinking about Mio during meditation. That caused an energy feedback that threw them all over a cliff and no one tried to punch him for messing up. I'm not even kidding, I expected Kenta to slug him once they got back on their feet. Its a sad thing that I'm just so used to modern styles that I instinctively expected the heroes to be jerks to each other early on. Heck they even followed Takeru when they heard Mio's voice. It was really rather refreshing to see. It really shows solidarity in the team and that everyone understands what Takeru is going through. The training itself was nice to see. I'm always a sucker for training montages.
I like the prop-work for their individual mecha. They are really well made. I'm almost convinced that Red Mask's fighter jet is remote controlled since the way it flies, turns, and dives seems a bit too complex for it to just be done with wires. I like Great Five's transformation sequence. Its rather simple and the details on the models are excellent. The suit itself is very nicely sculpted and all the colors mesh pretty well.
I like the suit designs. They're all simple and sleek yet very easy to identify at first glance. I don't usually comment on the designs for the visors but they have a nice variety for just being one team. The white portions of the suits really complement each color and I like the big 5 logo on the chests. I find it a strange yet nice detail that Pink Mask and Yellow Mask's helmets have earrings attached to them.
Overall, I enjoyed these 4 episodes. It gave a great first look at its concepts while also managing to make the characters endearing right out of the gate. Mio and Igam being played by the same actress is a nice touch since the characters are twins. The show does a nice job of shooting around that by doing over the shoulder shots when both characters share a scene. The theme song is nice and energetic and the ending theme is enjoyable. The action was well handled. The episodes themselves manage to squeeze in a lot in a short amount of time. The episodes don't even feel that long. I can tell that I've got a lot to look forward to in this series. I'm going to put this on my watch-list for after Gingaman and Jetman.

Thursday, September 3, 2015

Choudenshi Bioman First Impressions

On a whim, I checked out the first two episodes of Choudenshi Bioman. Normally, I wouldn't do a first impressions post for something that isn't currently airing but the first two episodes really gave me a lot to talk about. Lets get right into it.
This was an extremely strong opening for the series. We get introduced to the villains first and man do they look awesome. Doctor Man's make-up is amazingly effective during the lightning flashes. It nearly made me jump out of my seat. They do a great job with all of the villain designs. A bigger plus is that they are all mostly human villains instead of talking suits with is something I always like to see.
The New Gear Empire wastes no time invading Earth and I mean it when I say they are brutal. One of the first attacks we see is a group of foot soldiers capturing a group of scientists and letting loose with a machine gun. Its a really strong first outing for the villains and really establishes the threat. They don't even bother sending in a single monster, they just sent in a general and a giant mecha. The enemy mecha actually remind me a lot of Dekaranger.
During the invasion, Bio Robo activates and then starts recruiting people to become the Biomen. It looks bulky but it is actually very move-able. It seems as if movement was the major thought for the designers back then. I'm still impressed that the mecha can kick like that. However what impresses me the most is that they actually built a giant prop hand just to pick up the Biomen. Heck in the first two episodes we even get to see inner panels in other parts of the mecha as opposed to just seeing the cockpit. Its also a nicely designed mecha. The sculpting is great, especially on the head. I particularly like the helmet-esque look the head has. The black contrasts nicely with the silver while also balancing with the red and yellow.
These episodes do a nice job of showing what the suits can do without it feeling shoved in. To show that the suits are bullet-proof they get shot at with machine guns after transforming and the bullets just stop when they hit them. The suits enhance their physical strength and its not afraid to show it. They can really cut loose since the foot soldiers aren't human and it is brutal. After these two episodes, I can officially say that I've seen one get its head punched clean off by Red One, one get its throat slit by Yellow Four, and one get stabbed right in the spine by Blue Three. I really did not expect it to go there but I am so glad it did. A lot of toku nowadays need at least one moment like that. Each suit also has a super computer in its helmet that lets them do a variety of things. So far I've only seen two use it: Red One has a radar in his that lets him calculate angles and Yellow Four's produces a holographic display. These computers also give them instructions for how to pilot Bio Robo. The suits themselves are nicely designed. They have a nice hi-tech look to them thanks to the circuit board-like pattern across the chest and the panels on the helmets. The silver bands over the visors help add a space age feel to them and the sculpted silver mouth-pieces are a nice touch.

The special effects are fantastic, even compared to today's effects. There was a ton of effort put into them and it really shows. The blades of their laser swords are actually colored neon light tubes which is why they are able to glow like that. However, my favorite effect so far is Red One's sword finisher because the sword is actually on fire. That sort of thing always manages to impress me whenever I see or hear about it. I was slightly disappointed that Red One shooting his gun in both episodes is the same shot but I can let that slide given the era and the other practical effects.
Overall, I enjoyed these two episodes a lot. It managed to introduce a lot in a short time. The brisk 20 minute pace of the episodes worked in its favor because it kept the action going. Speaking of the action, I enjoyed Farrah Cat's fight with Mika because its both actresses doing their own stunt work. Its also been a while since I've seen a villain use nunchaku in a fight. The techno brace is a simple yet effective wrist-watch. I also like the hand-drawn commercial bumpers they used back then, I think Toei needs to bring those back. I'm actually a bit surprised that I didn't see some of the brutality coming since I saw similar levels of brutality in Liveman's premier. Since it isn't fully subbed, I'll piece out what is left in between different series.