Thursday, December 22, 2016

One-Punch Man First Impressions

Yeah I'm kinda late to the party on this one. I've been watching One-Punch Man lately on Toonami. I'm actually rather enjoying it so far. Its fun and hasn't managed to disappoint me action-wise. This one is gonna be shorter than my usual posts like this.
I'm not going to give a basic overview of the setup like I usually do since I think a lot of superhero/toku fans have likely seen this show by now. Essentially monsters and supervillains have started showing up so heroes have arisen to combat them. The strongest of them by far is a man named Saitama.

I like the idea of the Hero Association. As much as I love Tiger and Bunny, the Hero Association in One-Punch Man is more what something like that would realistically be like. Anyone can be a hero provided they pass the written and physical tests. The heroes are also ranked and scored based on their activity and ability. A nice detail I like is that the C-class heroes get kicked from the Association if they're inactive for a week. The show also manages to make each of the heroes and villains memorable in one way or another. If I were to pick my character favorite so far, its probably either Genos or Speed of Sound Sonic (yes thats actually his name). Genos is basically a cyborg who admires Saitama's strength and wants to become stronger so he becomes Saitama's student. He keeps trying to figure out how he got that strong and doesn't believe Saitama did it through regular training. He is a lot more serious-minded about being a hero than Saitama. Sonic is a ninja that just wants to fight Saitama as Saitama was the first person to ever beat him so he wants to prove that he is stronger.
This show is so close to One Piece levels of weird for me. Its sort of so odd feeling that I can't put it into words. I can definitely say this much about it though: Its fun. It also doesn't take itself too seriously. I particularly like how no one believes that Saitama got this strong just by doing strength training. You've got all these special beings just assuming that Saitama has superpowers just because he is strong enough to blow pretty much anything away with one punch. The show is pretty fun in terms of its action. I was actually rather invested while watching a simple training fight between Saitama and Genos.

I was sort of hesitant to watch this because of all the hype. I was worried it would end up like Attack On Titan and that I'd run into particularly militant fans if I didn't like it. Unlike Attack On Titan, I totally see how this got popular. It honestly deserves ever bit of praise I've seen it get. I'm definitely enjoying myself with this show. I particularly like how Saitama doesn't make a big deal about his strength while everyone else is going nuts trying to figure out how he got that strong. Thats really all I've got to say about this show so far. On the off-chance you haven't seen it yet, check it out, you'll probably enjoy it.

Monday, November 28, 2016

My Favorite Sentai Suits: Team Looks

Since I did a post for the individual suits, I'm going to do one for team looks now. How a suit looks by itself is important but equally important is how it looks next to the other members of its team. Due to this being based on visuals, I'll be including suits from series I haven't finished yet. I couldn't think of a good order for these so they will not be ranked. Note: these are not actually all of my favorite suits because this would be far too long if I were to list them all.

Hikari Sentai Maskman:
These are probably my favorite Pre-Zyu sentai team suits. They're rather nice and simple looking. They're also very sleek, stream-lined and easy to identify at first glance. The white portions of the suits makes all five colors pop really well. I particularly like the white streaks on the boots. The big 5 logo on the chest looks great. Sentai has used white gloves for a lot of teams but they really work well here. Its probably because of the colored guards on the back of the hands. I absolutely love the different designs on the helmets. Another detail I really like is that Yellow Mask and Pink Mask's helmets have earrings on them.

Kyoryu Sentai Zyuranger:
Nice and simple yet hard to forget. They have a very classic look to them. The white portions really complement all each member's color. The helmets have a lot of nice detail to them. I especially like the trunk pattern and tusks on Goshi's helmet. I love the belts for the Zyurangers. Something about the henshin device being their belt buckles really clicks with me. Out of all six, Burai's suit is probably my favorite. The gold works really well with the green and the gold Dino Buckler completes the look.

Kaizoku Sentai Gokaiger:
These are probably my favorite of the most recent sentai suits. I love the pirate hat sculpting on the helmets. It works really well with the jackets. The black spandex complement the colors for all six really. The gold stripes and belts work really well with all six colors. These suits really sell the pirate motif at first glance. My favorite suit out of these six is probably GokaiSilver's. I love the anchor design on the top of the helmet and the colored visor looks great alongside the silver suit.

Gosei Sentai Dairanger:
The gold portions of the helmets look great and have some really nice detail to them. The white portions of the main five's suits work really well with the gold trim and complements their colors rather well. I love the way the Dairanger emblem looks. Kibaranger's suit looks great. The black and gold chest-plate complements the white really well. I also like how the gold bands are outlined in black. I especially love the gold belts on all six suits.

Bakuryu Sentai Abaranger:
These suits look great together. The white spike patterns on Ryouga, Yukito, and Ranru's suits complement their colors rather well. The gold spike patterns on Asuka's suit complement the black really well. The black spikes complement Mikoto's white suit really well and I particularly like the gold trim on the chest-plate. It looks just different enough from the other 4 to stick out while looking just similar enough to feel like it belongs with them.

Choushinsei Flashman:
Seeing these suits in Gokaiger was what made me originally want to watch Flashman. These suits have a very nice space-age and hi-tech feel to them while managing to look simple. The black on the sides of the suits really help complement the each of their colors and I particularly like the darker shade of green for Green Flash. The helmets pretty much scream "This is alien tech!". Like the stripes on the sides of the suit, the black outlines on the top of the helmets help complement the colors as does the white. A detail that I really love is that the visors are actually retractable. The design of the emblems are nicely done.

Mirai Sentai Timeranger:
I absolutely love the colored visors and its something I'd like to see done more. The black on the helmets really help the visors pop. The white on the suits complements each color nicely. The sculpted mouth pieces really suit them well. I like how the braces don't vanish when they're transformed and are actually worked into the arm-piece of the suits. The silver arm-pieces and belt buckle look great with the black on them. I love the design of the belts.

Choudenshi Bioman:
Like the Flashman suits, the Bioman suits manage to look simple yet hi-tech at the same time. The white really complements each color. I like the Bioman emblem, its nice and simple. It being integrated into the belt works rather well. The emblem looks great with the black on the belt. The helmets look really hi-tech thanks to the domes on the head with visible circuits. The circuit board pattern across the chest helps sell the look as well. The sculpted mouth-pieces on the helmets really mesh well with the rest of the suits.

Tokusou Sentai Dekaranger:
These suits look great together and they just might have my favorite overall look. The silver highlights on the main five's helmets work really well. I think the main five having one black arm is a nice look. I like how each Dekaranger's number is plastered on their chests. Despite the differences from the main six, DekaMaster and DekaSwan's suits compliment the over-all look of the group very well. They also look like a natural evolution of the main six's suits. Those two also happen to be my favorite suits out the Dekaranger suits. I especially love the more armor-like look they have. DekaBreak's suit is probably the best in terms of overall color combination. The blue, gold and white complement each other very well.

So yeah, those are just some of my favorite suits. There are more that I absolutely love but I didn't want the list to run too long. These are simply the first suits that came to mind when I decided to do this list. In all honesty, there really aren't that many suits in Sentai that I don't like.

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Legend Heroes First Impressions

I've been broadening my toku horizons because a  friend of mine on Twitter was posting screen caps of this series. They sort of peaked my interest so I decided to give it a shot. What resulted was a relatively weird show in my opinion. I've seen Japanese and American toku but this is my first experience with Korean toku. How did the first 6 episodes fare for me? Read on and find out.
The show is basically Romance of the Three Kingdoms told in a way similar to Kamen Rider Ryuki so far. Its pretty much only lacking Mirror World and the body count. The tone is also lighter than Ryuki. There is another difference but I won't say what it is here. I'll just say that its something I find to be a bit of an interesting twist on this type of setup.
Liu Bei (they go so far as to give characters names from the story) is a student of the Flying Dragon Fist. He saves a girl who turns out to be an angel and once he tells her his name, she tells him of the Dream Battle and gives him the hero piece Guan Yu. You need to have the name of a legendary hero to qualify for the Dream Battle. If someone were to win the Dream Battle they can have a single wish granted. What basically follows is him fighting for his dream to master the Flying Dragon Fist.
The fight scenes are enjoyable enough and actually feature a nice variety in movements. I was actually rather impressed with Zhang Fei's fighting style in eps 3 and 4. It played up the fact that his weapon had a shield and axe mode well enough. However, the one that really sticks in my mind so far is this cat-themed Legend Hero who shows up at the start of episode 5. His fighting style basically involves chucking needles at his opponent and using acupuncture to keep them in place. Its actually something I want to see done more in tokusatsu in general.

The show also features mecha battles and unfortunately I'm not a fan of how the show does them. Each mecha fight is done in two parts: It starts as a vehicle fight and then they transform into giant robots. The vehicle parts of the mecha battles are done in really bad CGI. The giant robot parts of the mecha battles leave a lot to be desired as well. They are very obviously shot in a studio. The miniatures are also not that detailed and the painting of the sky isn't that convincing. Some of the designs are ok but the mecha fights are easily the show's weakest point so far.
The comedy so far is kinda of hit or miss however some of it had me at a loss for words. The villain for eps 3 and 4  and his cronies are meant to be more comedic. His introduction in the show involves them singing and dancing while talking about their dream of taking over the world. To top that off...they're some of the biggest dorks I've ever seen and I mean that in a good way. Some of the slapstick can be kinda cringe-y at times. The show definitely lends itself really well to out of context screen-shots.

The dramatic bits so far are ok. I did like Liu Bei's reaction when realizes just what the cost of losing the Dream Battle is after he beats He Jun. I enjoyed his moments with Gonsun Zan (his adoptive sister) in eps 5 and 6. I'm a bit of a sucker for family dynamics in tokusatsu. Liu Bei looks like my kinda of protagonist because the dude wants to make people happy. He is also willing to avoid a fight if possible.
This is my favorite suit in the show so far
The suit designs are nice and have a good variety to them. Judging by intro to the show, there are going to be a lot of suits in this show. Each of the suits so far have a nice amount of detail on them. I'm looking forward to seeing them all in action. The Hero Pieces themselves are sentient and CGI. I don't mind the CGI used for them since they're pretty small so it doesn't look out of place. The show feels a lot like Kamen Rider Ryuki only more comedic. There is also a lot of other stuff I've seen mixed in there as well. The odd thing is, I can't pin down exactly what it reminds me of other than Ryuki. Overall, I do actually recommend trying out the first couple eps. Its enjoyable enough and kinda charming so far even if its kinda goofy.

Monday, October 17, 2016

Ultraman Mebius First Impressions

I had some time to kill so I sat down and watched the first arc of Ultraman Mebius. Not really sure if it counts as a first impressions at this point. Originally, my cut-off for this post was episode 6 but the show planted the seeds for this arc in episode 5 so I decided to continue until I was done with the arc which was ep 11 but I watched ep 12 just to be safe. I should probably mention now that this is only the second Ultraman series I've seen. My first one being Ultraman Nexus so yeah, this is a franchise that I don't really have much experience with.
The first episode opens up with a conversation between Father of Ultra and Mebius about him going to Earth. Over on Earth we learn that they've been going through an era of peace as far as monster attacks go. Needless to say that ends as soon as the show starts. The first episode really establishes the stakes by having the entire Japanese branch of GUYS all but annihilated while trying to fight off the monster. Its a really nice action packed episode and introduces the crew we'll be following for the show.
The monster designs are nice and creepy. They actually manage to look pretty natural yet alien at the same time. If between this and Nexus' monster designs, I guess that something the Ultraman series do rather well. Bogal is a great first arc villain. Its just a monster with the desire to consume to the point where it attracts other monsters to the planet so it can eat them. Its final design is great nightmare fuel.

The new GUYS crew has a nice variety of skills and backgrounds. Other than Mebius and Ryu (a surviving member of the Japan branch of GUYS), we have Konomi (a preschool teacher), George (a star soccer player), Teppei (a medical student), and Marina (a champion bike racer). Episode one shows off Marina and George's skills rather well. Marina can hear the monster's sonic attack before it hits and George can see and react to it. It also shows them all being willing to risk their lives and rescue some rabbits at Konomi's preschool for the kids. Those 4 officially join GUYS in episode 2. Episode 3 is a nice and tense episode and it shows that Teppei actually has some knowledge regarding some of the monsters and he shows interest in researching what they're fighting. Episode 4 is a nice introduction to Konomi's character as it shows her motherly nature by having her tame a monster. Episode 5 is a nice episode for George as we learn a little bit more about his past. Episode 6 is a Marina episode and it basically reveals the downside of her hearing abilities since she can hear the subtle changes in their equipment. It sort of makes her nervous but she learns to trust their equipment in the end. The Tsurugi stuff was heart-wrenching just because of how it affected Ryu and episode 11 makes a nice parallel because he started acting like Tsurugi when he sees the same type of monster that killed Captain Serizawa.
I liked Tsurugi/Ultraman Hikari's introduction arc where he is basically trying to avenge the inhabitants of a planet he idolized. It does a great job of showing a man consumed by his hatred. It goes so far that he is willing to let people die if he can just stop Bogal. Its a story that I'm usually a sucker for. Admittedly though, I kinda liked his design as Tsurugi more than I did when the armor went away. He first shows up at the end of ep 5 and his arc lasts until ep 11.

I really like how the show features a database that has basic entries on the monsters they fight. It really makes Mebius accessible to newcomers like myself. The action is fantastic so I really have to major props to the suit actors for Mebius, Hikari, and the Kaijuu. The miniatures and model sets were very well design and had some great detailing. My personal favorite model set was the town on the shore-line from episode 3. Overall, I enjoyed the first arc of Mebius.

Monday, October 10, 2016

My Concerns For The Upcoming MMPR Movie: Part 2

I honestly thought I wouldn't be doing another post like this about the movie. However, more information on the movie has come out...and well I'm not impressed...and thats putting it mildly.
The mecha teasers are unfortunately what I expected. So far, they look very much like Michael Bay's Transformers. If you removed the colors, you couldn't tell which ranger they belong to at first glance. It actually took about an hour after looking at the T-Rex zord's teaser to realize Jason was sitting on the tail and not the head. I had a similar issue with the Mastodon zord since I couldn't tell whether Zack was sitting on the trunk or tusk. Granted these are just partial shots of the zords so hopefully the full versions will look better. With that being said, of the 5 mecha so far, Billy and Trini's posters look the best since its easier to make out than the other 3.

Oh boy did they miss the mark with the red ranger's power sword. How much do you have to overthink in order to mess up modernizing a sword of all things? There isn't even a defined handle on it. I've seen people say that the sword will be held the same way Zhane held the Silverizer in In Space. Thats forgetting that Zhane held it that way because it was a gun with a sword mode. Thats why the guard for the Silverizer wrapped around his wrist. I don't think the new power sword will have that functionality. In a way, it sort of sums up my issue with most of the visual updates for the movie so far. A lot of them feel pointless and like they were changed merely for the sake of changing them.
I knew I wasn't going to like that trailer. I knew exactly what they were going to do and how it was going to play out as soon as the movie was announced.Why are the colors so dark? It felt like a generic teen movie trailer to me. They even pulled out the"problem teenager" set up in the trailer. I'm iffy on Angel Grove high being portrayed as a school for problem kids. Yeah its a bit more realistic than the uber-happy, no-drama, high school in MMPR but its a border-line cliche at this point. New takes on MMPR is fine but this one isn't exactly new, its doing something simply because it helped sell other movies. Yes its just the first trailer and there will probably be others but its a bad first impression. Its a well cut trailer but thats about it. I actually don't mind them getting civilian powers but I just wish Jason and Billy had displayed different powers. As of right now, my expectations are lower than what they already were. With that being said, if there is one major thing I can take solace in regarding this least it probably won't be like Power/Rangers.
I hate being negative about a Power Rangers movie of all things but so far, I'm really not seeing anything to get excited about. Yes its something extra the fandom is getting alongside the tv show but that doesn't necessarily mean we have to be happy when it looks nearly un-recognizable as Power Rangers. This looks like a nostalgia cash-in meant to be sold on name recognition in my opinion. So much has been changed at this point that I honestly think they should've just made this its own separate thing instead of slapping the name Power Rangers on it. I don't see this movie failing at the box office but I would prefer to have an actual good movie more than anything else. Sure, I might be wrong and the movie may actually be good but given how Hollywood treats nostalgic properties and what they've released so far about the movie, I don't think thats likely. My objections aren't coming from a place of nostalgia, it just feels like they've missed the point and feel of Power Rangers. Of course I'm still gonna see it because I'm a Power Rangers fan and I want to see if I'm wrong.

Friday, September 16, 2016

My Updated Kamen Rider Rankings

Since I did an updated list for Sentai, I figured its time to do an updated one for Kamen Rider. Keep in mind that I've been more into Sentai than rider. So there probably isn't gonna be as many new series on this list. With that being said, there has been a slight shift since last time so I guess a new list is warranted. Since the last one, I've finished Gaim and Amazons. Drive and Ghost will not be talked about because I dropped both of them before the 25 episode mark. Den-O will not be mentioned even though I saw half of it since I haven't seen any more of it since the last list. With that out of the way, lets get right down to it.

7. Kamen Rider Amazons:
It took a while but I finally found a series I dislike more than Faiz. Yes, that is a big statement to make since only season one is done and its only 13 episodes. It tries so hard to be dark, edgy, and serious that it ends up being overly angst-y. I don't tend to like the "Life sucks, deal with it!" mentality in superhero shows unless its done really well. It got to the point where I was only watching it to riff it with a friend. Pretty much the main positive I have for this series so far is Alpha's suit. Omega's bike is the most irritating bike I've seen so far. It will not stop roaring whenever its on screen. After a while, my friend and I were constantly telling it to shut up whenever it showed up. Its also this extremely generic lion roar even though the bike is lizard themed. The fight scenes were outright boring and lacked any sense of brutality which is pretty bad for a modern take on Amazon. It doesn't really feel like the show has any weight to it. I legitimately don't expect Mamoru to survive season two and I'm honestly a bit surprised he survived season one given how bleak the tone was.

6. Kamen Rider Faiz, Decade, and Kiva:
Yeah, all three share the same spot but I'll start with Faiz. I've actually softened up a bit on it this series since the last list. It does have some good ideas but the execution makes some of them frustrating. The drama built around misunderstandings or mis-communications still annoys me because it can be solved so easily. I still love the rider suit and monster designs. I love all the little gadgets that the belts have. I get what they were trying to do with Kiba's heel-turn near the end but it really could've been handled better. It comes off as a bit annoying and its placed at a bit of a bad spot for me given everything that happens near the end. I like the Orphenocs in concept but the execution was kind of lacking. I also kind of wish they had a little more variety in their color scheme.
I still don't like Decade and my thoughts on it haven't changed much from last time. I still think it gets lost in all the world hopping to the point where it forgets the driving force of the show. It also doesn't help that the show doesn't have a concrete ending. Due to that, it left so many questions unanswered. In a way, thats good because it means an infinite number of stories to tell and its a way to always bring Tsukasa back for cameos. However, the downside is that those stories can be kinda tainted because well its Decade. Any questions that the Decade movie and the crossover with W answer vary between the two. So we really don't get to know a lot regarding Decade. I still have no idea what Narutaki is.
I'm about 2/3 of the way through Kiva. So why is it being ranked? Its because I don't think the last third is going to be able to change my opinion of the show all that much, especially given what I've heard happens near the end. It falls into a lot of the same pitfalls as Faiz. So much so that an entire love triangle is built on miscommunication. I can't stand Otoya and he is probably going to end up on my least favorite rider character list whenever I redo it. Pretty much the only things I like about it at this point are the suits and the music. With that being said, Kiva's default suit should've been sent back to the drawing board. I like its design but its the weight thats the problem. It apparently caused the suit actor to have back problems because most of the weight is in the chest. I absolutely love the stained glass look for the Fangires.

5. Kamen Rider Wizard:
I'm still very mixed on this series. I liked the aesthetics, particularly the designs for most of Wizard's forms, and some of the background music. The battle music sounds, for lack of a better phrase, like a magical symphony. The main form I don't like design-wise is Infinity due to it looking too plastic-y. There are some nice ideas in the show but the execution is questionable. Its one of the few shows I've seen where a villain reveal has shattered one of the fundamental rules of its universe and nearly made the plot collapse in on itself. I don't really remember much action-wise outside of some sword-play. Also if you notice, Wizard never actually throws a punch in his fight scenes. I'm guessing its because they didn't want to break the rings on his hands.

4. Kamen Rider Gaim:
I like this show, not as much as I did when I first finished it but I enjoyed it for what was. I'm indifferent on the suits with the exception of Pineapple Arms. The flopping shoulder pads can get distracting. Other suits have that problem as well but it is a lot more noticeable on pineapple arms. At one point, Pineapple Arms shoulder pads swung and bounced off the chest-plate of the suit. With that being said, I think the shoulder pads for Ryugen Grape Arms look good. The dueling philosophies are a nice touch but unfortunately, some don't get touched on much. The other downside is that due to the number of riders, some get shoved to the side. I'm actually one of the people in the fandom who is glad Micchi didn't die. In my opinion, it would've been him getting off too easy. He has to live with what he has done and with his friends no longer trusting him. The show flat out admits that he burned a few bridges that he might never be able to repair.

3. Kamen Rider W:
I enjoyed this show a lot and my opinions of it haven't actually changed much from the last list. I love the detective style it has to it. The Dopant designs are great and they are able to capture some of the more abstract concepts will in their designs. Some of them have a nice of nightmare fuel to them. The action is absolutely fantastic. I still love the mix and match ability for the form changes. Luna Trigger is still my favorite out of all W's forms. Museum is probably one of my favorite villain organizations. Weather Dopant is probably my favorite villain in the show. The dude manages to hit Long levels of creepy for me. Shotarou and Philip play off of each other rather well and I liked Accel's subplot. Philip's search pose has actually become my thinking pose. The rider suits for the show look great, especially all of W's forms. They really made sure the colors for all W's forms worked regardless of combination.

2. Kamen Rider Ryuki:
One of the more divisive early heisei series but I like it. I will admit its a heavily flawed show and I don't really defend its flaws that much. So why is it ranked this high for me despite being so flawed? Honestly, I can't put my finger on why I like it that much. Something about the show just speaks to me. I just can't help but look back on it fondly even knowing all its problems. I like the mirror beasts designs. I like that it shows what happens when people the wrong people get a hold of this kind of power which is honestly an interesting idea even if it likely wasn't the show's goal. I still like how each episode ends on a cliff hanger and leads directly into the next episode. Granted it does making marathon-ing it rather difficult since there really isn't a clear point to take a break from it. I'm still indifferent to the ending. I like all the rider suits except for Zolda's which is hilarious because he is actually my favorite rider in Ryuki.

1. Kamen Rider Fourze:
Yeah this one has over-taken Ryuki since last time. This show just hits that sweet spot for me and it really makes me happy. I know a lot of people in the fandom will say that it lays on the friendship stuff too thick. At its core however, I see it as a show about how one person can help people through their problems. I think the high school setting works well with that as well. The Kamen Rider Club is probably my favorite group of characters out of all the rider series I've seen so far. I love the designs for the Zodiarts with Sagittarius being my favorite of them. I like the rider suits in the show with Meteor Storm being the main exception. The helmet looks so weird to me that while watching the show I began referring to Meteor Storm as "Pikachu States". Cosmic States is still my favorite rider final form because I like how it ties all the switches together and sums up Gentaro's personality.

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

My Updated Favorite Sentai Villains List

What makes a good villain? Is it their plan and schemes? Is it their presence and personality? Does the mere mention of their name send a chill down your spine? Throughout the years, Sentai has created an amazingly diverse cast of villains. Yeah there will be some duds in the mix but a good challenge for the heroes can really help the perception of a show. There are quite a few new additions to this list and some of the old ones have been removed for one reason or another. So with that being said, lets see which villains made the cut this time.

8. Basco:
Of course he'd still make the list. This dude is hands down the best villain in Gokaiger and a major obstacle for the Gokaigers. He is one of those villains that manages to get under my skin really well. He can even use the ranger keys against the Gokaigers. He even plays the Zangyack Empire for fools so he can hunt the Sentai's grand powers as well. His rivalry with Marvelous is excellent and really adds some nice tension to the show. He is one of those villains that keeps pushing the heroes and makes it really awesome when you see him get beaten in the end.

7. Bandora:
Bandora is actually rather deceptively threatening and creepy. On the surface, she really doesn't seem all that threatening but her plans actually have this disturbingly subtle edge to them. The sneezing powder plot is a nice example of that. Granted some are outright dangerous at first glance like her having Dora Sphinx trap kids in trees that are about to be cut down. In one episode, she even synchs up kid's nerves to a Dora Monster. Her reason for being evil is actually a rather tragic one. She actually gets a happy-ish ending and well given the finale, she kinda needed that. Overall, I find her to be really fun.

6. Rio and Mele:
I like the dynamic these two have so they share the same spot on this list. I'm going to talk more about them in a later post so I'll keep it brief here. I'll talk about Rio first. He leads the Rinjyuken school and is obsessed with being the strongest. Its kind of generic as far as a villain motivation is concerned but it works out nicely in my opinion. His desire for strength comes from seeing his family slaughtered in front of him. His rivalry with Jan was fun and it leads to some really tense moments. It also makes it kind of sad once everything gets revealed near the end of the show.
Mele is probably my favorite out of the two of them. Most of it is due to her loyalty to Rio and her drive to help him become stronger. She is so loyal to Rio that even when she was offered a chance to live again, she threw it away simply because Rio was her reason for living now. She does however worry about Rio's safety as well. She even revives another Kenma because she is so worried that Rio's training at the time was too dangerous. She is actually the reason Rio turns against Long. She is also rather honorable as villain which I usually tend to like. The fates of both her and Rio at the end of series managed to steal a tear from me.

5. Dr. Man:
After seeing only 11 episodes of Bioman this dude is already one of my favorites. He absolutely does not mess around. Early on in the series he identified BioRobo as the biggest threat and immediately came up with a plan to try and disable it. He even engineered a situation where the Biomen had no choice but to fall for his trap because otherwise he'd have wiped out an entire region. He is also rather smart because when he had one of them trapped, he opted to study them as opposed to outright killing them. He has a ton of presence and I was actually kind of scared of him in the very first episode. I can already tell that I'm going to enjoy what this dude has in store for the rest of the series.

4. Abrella:
This guy is pretty cool imo. The dude is pretty much a weapons dealer and his entire reason for fighting against the Dekarangers is because they're getting in the way of his business. He has this constant calm demeanor and manages to keep himself under control even when he is angry. Yeah he doesn't fight them directly that much but he manages to keep up the tension by giving his clients new weapons and mecha when he shows up. The suit actor's performance is great and it adds even more to the character. He is also actually rather smart. He essentially does an entire season's worth of planning just for the final few episodes.

3. AbareKiller:
This dude kinda scares me. Everything he does is to get rid of his boredom and man that makes him a big threat. The dude doesn't even care for his own safety. He tried to crash a planet into the Earth while he was still on it simply because he thought it would be interesting. He adds a nice bit of tension to the show and I enjoyed his rivalry with Ryouga a lot. The man just loves to push people's buttons and he particularly likes to mess with Ryouga's faith in humanity. This usually results in Ryouga giving speeches about his belief in humanity and leads to a righteous butt-kicking. He isn't above cheating if he thinks it will make his games more exciting.

2. Jeanne:
It took me a while to be figure out who I liked more out of the Abaranger villains, her or AbareKiller. She beats out AbareKiller but it was a really close call. She is definitely my favorite villain out of the Evolians. The actress really sells the role. She makes a great rival for Asuka and the drama of her being Mahoro makes her fighting him all the more heart-wrenching. She goes through just as much during the show as Asuka. Its some heavy stuff and it really makes you hope for a happy ending for them both.

1. Long:
Yeah this dude is still my all time favorite Sentai villain. Just the mere mention of his name sends a chill down my spine. He cranks up the creep factor but popping up out of nowhere and getting uncomfortably close to people. The actor just eats the role up. He is a cold, calm, and calculating villain. It makes sense because the dude is basically immortal so he has nothing but time on his hands. That adds another level to the threat because it becomes a question of what he is going to do after you stop his current plan. I have yet to see a post-Gekiranger Sentai villain who inspires the same type of fear in me or one that has the same level of presence Long exudes.

Friday, July 1, 2016

Kamen Rider Amazons Season One Review (Episodes 1-13)

When this was first announced, I was hyped because I loved what I saw of the Showa Amazon. I thought Alpha's suit was awesome when it was revealed but didn't care at all for Omega's suit. Then I saw the trailer and my first thought was "This feels like Kamen Rider The First and The Next". Not a good first impression. How did the show actually turn out for me? Read on and find out. Since its only 13 episodes, I will have to do spoilers. So with that said: SPOILERS INCOMING!
This show lacks color. Everything looks so muted because of the grey filter they put on the footage. I get that the filter is supposed to make it look like an early heisei series but even in those early series we had lots of bright color. Its makes the show sort of uninteresting to look at. The color palette is also too limited, mostly featuring red, green, grey, and black. I can't tell you how happy I was to see some blue because of how badly the filter muted everything. It also mutes certain details on the Amazons because of the color of the suits in certain shots. The picture below is the best example I could find. The Amazons in the background are missing a lot of details compared to the ones in the foreground because of the way the filter shows the color black. The Amazon in the middle of the picture actually has purple on her chest-plate but you can't see it outside of close-ups because of the filter.
A couple of weeks ago, I stumbled across some magazine scans of the show. The difference between those scans and the show is astounding. The scans made the show look so bright and lively. This is a tokusatsu and I expect to see lots of colors like that.

The show itself is depressing, more depressing than Faiz for me. The show is also so edgy its not even funny. It feels like its so wrapped up in trying to be dark and mature that it actually ends up being kind of childishly angst-y. Early on it kept repeating that its impossible for Haruka to live without killing someone. This is despite the fact Haruka's own backstory shows that is possible. Its just done to reinforce that fighting is the only logical thing to do in this show. It also really doesn't help that the show takes every chance to throw Haruka's naive outlook back in his face. To make matters worse, in the season finale, Haruka basically admits that Jin is right about needing to kill to survive. Then he immediately says that Jin might be wrong and there might be another way. So he basically went right back to where he was when he first got his powers. I can handle a dark show if its done well and gives me some moments of happiness and admittedly, Amazons did indeed give me a couple. It gave me one in episode 11 but then it snatched it away from me at the very end of the episode. Mamoru basically goes feral because of an accident that happened in episode 9 and its only revealed via flashback after a legitimately happy moment. I'll get more into that in a bit. The finale did give me a nice moment of the extermination squad being brought back together but I've got a feeling season two is going to snatch that moment away as well. Its far too cynical of a show in my opinion. I get that its trying to be realistic but the lack of optimism is staggering. Its essentially ignoring that not everyone in the real world is so cynical and beaten down.
The show has brought up a comparison between the humans and amazons quite a bit and well the comparison doesn't exactly work. It outright fails in episodes 7 and 8 because they draw the comparison with a human who is a serial killer and an Amazon who merely can't control himself. The Amazon even regrets that he is starting to lose control of himself while the human takes joy in outright murdering people. It falls apart when they kill the Amazon but let the human serial killer get away with no consequences whatsoever. They outright say that the only reason he gets to live is because he is human. This was after he nearly beat a member of their team to death. If that is the justification for letting him live then there was no point in contrasting the two characters in my opinion. The show is trying to sound much more deep and profound than it actually is. Its particularly evident whenever the show brings up the aquarium metaphor in regards to Haruka.

I can't get into the action of the show. Not only is the fight choreography sub-par but it doesn't feel like there is any power behind the hits. Most of the fights in the show just look off because of that. There are also spots where the timing for the impact sound effects is off. At certain points it doesn't even look like a hit connects. If you've got an eye for fights, noticing stuff like that can get distracting. Normally the camera work is supposed to hide stuff like this. It doesn't help that the show isn't even that brutal and it actually avoids a lot of the gore. It goes out of its way to hide the brutality a lot of times by having the camera cut somewhere else or zoom out so you can't see it. Even worse though, what gore it does show is done in unconvincing CGI so I can't really count it as gore because it doesn't feel or look like its really there. Its effectively based on the Showa Amazon, one of the most brutal shows I've seen and yet Amazons lacks the bite the original show had to it. I get that its not a show made as a tv production but I was expecting more practical effects in the fights.
The Sigma stuff pretty much amounts to nothing in my opinion other than just to be there for a twist. The show tries to play up how important he was to the team when he was alive without actually showing how important he was to the team. It really doesn't help that the scene they keep showing in flashbacks is his death in episode 2. Sigma's whole chess metaphor didn't work for me either. The metaphor would've worked out better if he was out-thinking his opponent instead of just over-powering them imo. I like Mamoru but he started annoying me during the Sigma stuff. Granted, it did lead to a legitimately happy moment of Mamoru using the teams motto of working for whoever pays them to get them to fight alongside Omega again. It was a rather nice moment in my opinion. Then they undercut that with the flashback I mentioned earlier. He basically ate a burger made of human meat during a fight at an Amazon restaurant in episode 9 thinking it was a regular burger. It felt like a really forced way to add more drama. It would've worked a little better in my opinion to have his armlet run out.

This season felt padded and I honestly don't think the corporate side of things added all that much. Even though it was half the show, it felt like it was there just to provide a justification for the Amazons existence. It plays out almost exactly like you'd expect, right down to Haruka's backstory and it essentially being revealed that its not an accident that the Amazons got released into the city. I'd have personally down-played the corporate aspect and focused more on the extermination squad. The season's run time also diminished drastically going from around 45 minutes to roughly 30 minutes over the course of 13 episodes. Granted it went back to 40 minutes in the season finale. Even with the cuts to the run-time, it still felt padded. I really don't think they knew what to do with all that time.

Now for the visuals. I find most of the Amazons suits uninteresting to look at. They do capture their animals decently but again, the filter and lack of variety in the color palette hurt the look of the suits. Lots of red, green, brown, and black. As I said before, the filter they're using really doesn't do this color palette many favors. As for the rider's suits, I don't care for Omega or Sigma that much.
My main problem with Omega's suit is that it looks too sleek and robotic. It feels too much like a modern rider design. It doesn't look animalistic enough for me which is kind of a problem. It lacks that whole "be afraid" vibe. I think they over-shot the mark while to modernize the Amazon suit. I get the in-story reason why it looks like that and I get that its supposed to show the personality contrast between him and Alpha. It just doesn't feel like an updated Amazon. It feels more like a current Heisei rider.
Alpha's look is probably the best of the three rider suits. I can easily look at this and immediately get that its an updated Amazon. It has this nice savage and scarred appearance. Using the SIC design was a great idea. I particularly like the green scars and they compliment the red scales nicely and so do the green eyes.
Sigma's suit is meh overall. The bone-y scales are an ok touch and I do like the purple eyes. My major problem with it though is the color scheme. The silver would be nice on its own but the way it fades into the red looks off to me and I can't quite figure out why. I do like that it has a visible mouth on it and it may have been slightly move-able. With that being said, I don't care for it being a repainted version of Omega's original Amazon form. I've got this weird feeling that Sigma wasn't actually planned from the beginning. Not shown in the picture but the filter reacts weirdly with his suit as it makes the silver look green-ish in some shots.

This season was not fun. It was boring, annoying, and depressing. Its one of those times where I probably should've listened to my gut feeling. I'm not even kidding when I say that the only reason I kept watching was because I had friends who were willing to watch with me. I was also able to call most of the twists by episode 3. Its a problem for me because I'm kinda dense when it comes to tv shows. If I can figure it out that soon, it means the show isn't hiding its mysteries that well. If other people enjoy it, more power to them, I just can't stand the show as it stands right now and I hope it improves during season two. I also hope they drop the grey filter next season. My overall verdict for this season: Predictable, boring, depressing, and overly cynical. With season one having ended, I think I might actually dislike this show more than Faiz.

Friday, June 10, 2016

My Concerns For The Upcoming MMPR Movie

Yeah, I know I'm retreading some old ground here. We are in an era where Hollywood has been capitalizing more and more on nostalgic properties. Most people know how Hollywood and Michael Bay have treated Transformers and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. What exactly could this mean for the MMPR movie? Bear in mind that I have been avoiding any plot-related news so as to not influence my opinion before it even comes out.
Let me just begin by saying that Power Rangers nostalgia is a little different for me. My nostalgic attachment has to do more with the franchise as a whole than a single season. I started watching when MMPR first aired and I was two years old at the time. I grew up with the franchise and in a sense, it has been a part of me my entire life. Even now I get this sense of child-like wonderment and excitement when a season of Power Rangers gets announced. Its sort of why Megaforce and Super Megaforce were such a big blow for me. Its why it made me question my place in the fandom. That is to give you a decent idea of where I'm coming from with this post.

With that being said, lets get into the real meat of this. In my opinion, there are two main hurdles in adapting a nostalgic property. One is modernizing it for the current audience. The other is which audience do you try the most to appeal to: The mainstream audience or the fans? Mighty Morphin Power Rangers is a very 90's show. I don't think it would've honestly worked if it hadn't been made then. They definitely need to change up some stuff to appeal to a modern audience. There is also a high chance that they'll try to appeal more to the mainstream audience as well because that is where the big money is. This is unfortunately where my fears start to creep in. I'm sort of worried that they'll try to water down an already basic show like MMPR to be consumed by a more mainstream audience.

Ok so once you've got the audience in your sights, what do you do now? You find ways to reel in some of the fans which in this case is probably going to be anyone who was born or grew up in the 90's. Reportedly, the tone of the movie is going to be "mature yet playful". That worries me because I know Hollywood's definition of mature, I know the mainstream's definition of it, and I've got a gut feeling what the definition of it is for some of the fans they'll try to pull in. The fans I'm referring to make up a decent amount of those who stopped watching after MMPR. In other words, a good chunk of the fans that Power/Rangers appealed to. The ones who want to see the show become dark and gritty. Yeah that is kind of an extreme example but I sort of get the feeling that it will be similar. Its that place where I think there is a little bit of overlap between the two audiences. It worries me because well, I don't think Power Rangers is that suited to going that route. I loved RPM but even it had enough light-hearted moments to balance out the backdrop of the show.
Now for the visuals that have been released so far. I'm particularly referring to the new Rita design and the movie ranger suits. I'll talk about Rita's costume first. I think they over modernized it to the point where I'd see it in a generic fantasy movie. Yeah I get that the reasoning behind it is probably to tie it into the green ranger stuff but it feels off to me. Though I do like the finger-blades and the make-up around the eyes. They really sell the "evil witch" idea.
This was the best image I could find.
The ranger suits however, I think they missed the mark a bit. They looked a little too Ironman-ish for my tastes at first. The set photos however look a lot better because you can actually see the detailing but its a shame that the white portions will probably be over-layed with CGI. Overall, I still think they are a little too detailed and they look too much power armor-y but its not as bad as that first photo to me. Though I am sort of dreading what an updated Alpha will look like, assuming they don't cut Alpha from the movie altogether.

With all that being said, the worst case scenario I can see for this is that it ends up like Bay's Transformers. In other words, a bland or boring dark-ish action movie with lots of explosions. I don't think Bulk and Skull as we know them will be in the movie as their style of comedy doesn't fit the tone the movie is going for. If they are in the movie, the worst-case scenario is Michael Bay style comedic relief. They will probably be using some nostalgia bait to bring in the actual fans. Though another cause for concern I have is that Lionsgate is already considering 5 to 7 sequels. The movie isn't even close to being out yet. They should probably have waited to see how it does before this. Power Rangers is a niche tv show that hasn't had a movie in over 20 years. I don't exactly see this movie failing at the box office because nostalgia is a big seller and targeting the mainstream is a good way to make the budget back. However, if it does somehow fail, it could sink their current plans and maybe sink the idea of a Power Rangers movie franchise in general. Even though I'm going into this with so many reservations, I really hope the movie isn't bad because well, I'd honestly like to see more Power Rangers movies down the road.