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.

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