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 trailer...at 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.