Monday, December 25, 2017

Thoughts and Opinions: After Hours Vol. 1

So unsurprisingly there was a lot of books that didn't make it onto the recommended reading list for 2017. Many stories ended up being left out due to them being ongoing series, stories I read but didn't care for, or there just weren't enough volumes released for me to get a feel for the series. As such I figured I would try something new. This will be the first in a series of posts in which I will give my thoughts a series I am currently reading. My hope is that doing so will help motivate me into doing more posts as well as give the opportunity to go into detail about the issues I have with some series. I will do my best to avoid spoilers though some stories will require me to go into more detail than others.

After Hours is a yuri manga written and drawn by Yuhta Nishio and published by Viz Media. The story follows a woman named Emi Ashiana who has been dragged to a night club by a friend that soon ditches her. While trying to find her she is hit on by some random guy only to be saved by Kei the DJ for the club and one the hosts for the evenings party. After following Kei back to her apartment the two end up spending the night together. Soon afterwards Kei begins to introduce Emi to music and the world of club performances, eventually Emi ends up joining Kei's circle of friends and even helping them with performances. 

As stated in a previous post this is one of the stories that marks Viz Media's entry into the yuri fandom. Overall the story is decent. The vast majority of this volume is about Emi and her introduction into Kei's world and the world of music. It does on alright job of introducing the characters and building the world around  them. The interaction between Emi and Kei is decent though the romance between the two is a bit lacking. The art work, while nothing special, is passable with the author going for a more mature take on typical moe designs. Honestly this really reminds of a manga called Octave (I recommend it.) that I read a few years ago in which a former idol ends up having a one night stand with a musician. One of the things I like about this story is how the romance is handled. A lot of the yuri genre revolves around young love and a lot of they time they end up keeping their feelings from each other. That is not the case with this one as both Emi and Kei are quite accepting of each other though the relationship comes off as more of a 'friends with benefits' type deal. As stated before the romance between the two is barely touched on aside from the one night stand and a few other moments but the characters and story are still being worked on so that is a minor complaint. I like how it explains some of the concepts off the club performance scene though as I am not apart of that scene I have no idea if it is accurate. This in my opinion is a decent start for the series and while it's too early to tell if the story will really grab me I am interested to see how it will continue to develop. If you can find it for cheap give it a shot as there is much worse out there.

As of the time of this post only the first volume is available for purchase with no release date stated for volume 2.

Kamen Rider Amazons Season Two Review

Yeah you knew this was coming. I despised season one so I was really hoping this would be better. Normally I'd wait until the end to say this but...this was brutal, it was rough to get through. I literally only watched this season because a friend was willing to riff it with me. With that being said, what do I think about it in detail? Just how bad do I think it is? Read on and find out. Its only 13 episodes so...MASSIVE SPOILERS AHEAD.
Five years have passed since the season one finale. In that time a strange outbreak has been occurring: Humans are now becoming Amazons. We're thrown right into things and introduced to a blue Amazon...Amazon Neo. Yeah thats basically all the setup we get in the first episode. I was legitimately confused at what was going on for the first two episodes because of the time-skip. There are a lot of plots going on this season so I'll just cover the major ones.
Lets get right down to it...I HATE this season. Its worse than season one for me. It took what little I liked about season one and ripped it to pieces. It flat-out ruined the happiness I got from the extermination squad's plot in season one. Mamoru turns evil during the time-skip. He has actively helped in cultivating a new species of Amazons. At first the show plays it up like he is just doing to it to swell his group's numbers so they can defend themselves. Thats understandable given the situation even if it puts the character in a bad light. However, then the show outright admits that Mamoru turned out like this because the extermination squad let him leave. Thats about as cynical as you can get as far as I'm concerned. To top it all of, the end of his plot-line is pretty anti-climactic. Instead of this big dramatic fight with the rest of the squad, the squad ends up killing him accidentally while trying to shoot another Amazon. The show even telegraphs his heel-turn because his first appearance in season two has him wearing all black. I should be heartbroken seeing my favorite character in the show die but all this did was make me angry. This is worse than Kiba's heel-turn in Faiz for me. At least I sort of understood why Kiba turned evil and got to see the transformation on-screen.
I'm gonna come right out and say it, I don't like Jin. However, he did not deserve a single thing that happened to him this season. This was the equivalent of kicking someone in the stomach while they're already laying on the ground. His entire plot this season just has this air of cruelty around it. The man has to butcher his own family in order to stop this outbreak. It would've been merciful if Jin died at the end of this season but sadly, this show does not know the meaning of the word mercy. Jin's actor is also way too good for this show. The show isn't very well written but both Jin and Hiroki's actors give it their all when they're on-screen. I honestly wish the show was better because it feels like the show wasted their performances. Haruka himself really doesn't add much to this season so I can't really say much about him other than that he is back to just hunting Amazons that harm humans. He just kind of shows up to help hunt down the sources of the outbreak. He feels like he was included just because he is supposed to be the overall hero of Amazons...granted I'm using the word hero loosely.
I really don't care about Chihiro and Iyu's plot-line. It doesn't feel like it adds much to me. Not to mention once the show reveals that Chihiro is not only Jin's son but also one of the sources of the new Amazon outbreaks, this plot-line becomes irrelevant as far as I'm concerned. At the end of the day, they both HAVE to die to end this outbreak. Both leads of season two absolutely cannot survive because if they do, more people will die. I know I said Jin didn't deserve what happened to him but neither does Chihiro...he has to die simply because he exists. I don't even like Chihiro and this bugs me.This and the Mamoru stuff makes this entire season even more cynical than season one for me. However, I do get it, both this and Mamoru's plot-line are trying to be complex and offer no easy answer, I just wish the show had handled these two plots better. There isn't a single ounce of happiness in this season to make up for it as far as I'm concerned. Even the final battle of this show just feels like a cruel joke. I'll get to that in a little bit...but for now, lets talk about the visuals.

This season does actually have some practical effects but there honestly isn't enough of them compared to the CGI. The CGI is even more awful than season one. There is a five minute massacre where Chihiro goes berserk and butchers an entire squad. There is so much bad CGI in that scene that it took me and a friend of mine more than 15 minutes to watch it because we kept pausing and laughing at the CGI. My favorite bad effect though is that there is a weapon that can obliterate any Amazon that it hits. The effect is so bad that it looks like it turns them into orange juice. These effects are so bad that I legitimately have to ask who on the staff looked at them and said "thats good enough, use it".
The Amazon Neo suit is meh. Its a nice shade of blue and I do like the contrast with the red highlights but thats about it. It looks slightly like a mix of of Alpha and Omega but it still looks a bit too cybernetic so it doesn't read as an Amazon suit at first glance. I also don't care for how the driver looks. Sadly Neo also relies on a sword to cut and slash when he should be using his claws so the cybernetic aspect kind of takes away from the impact of the show for me.
The New Omega suit is just awful. You know what I think when I think Amazon? Cybernetics and no. This takes my problem with the default Omega suit and just doubles down on it. The silver, green, red, yellow, and black don't blend very well. The driver also looks a little distracting on this suit to me. It might look better if the driver was a shade of green or silver. The form itself is also utterly useless to the show's story. I'd understand it if the belt makes him stronger but it doesn't feel like it. I don't even understand why Omega is the one to get the new form when its not even remotely his story this season. This is the worst design in all of Amazons as far as I'm concerned.
Despite all my complaining, I do have one positive for this season other than the hilariously awful CGI. Its the Rose Amazon. His design is actually pretty good and his story is pretty solid as well. He fights solely by decapitating people. I like his story because he was having his girlfriend bring him victims so he could control his urge to eat her. Its actually pretty heartbreaking for me because for one moment, we see the full extent of this effect from the Amazon's point-of-view. His girlfriend gets mortally wounded and she lets him eat her before she dies. We do actually get some interesting tactics used by some of the Amazons this season in general.

The action in the show is underwhelming to say the least. I don't actually remember very many of the moves in most of the fights. Its also not edited very well. In one fight scene there are legitimately 10-12 different cuts of Omega throwing a single punch. I do not envy the editor for this show. The fight physics are also kind of iffy during one of Chihiro's rampages...blood spatter doesn't line up with the angle of how he cut them. In one instant, a soldier he slashes also flies in a direction thats physically impossible given how he hit them. Though I will give the show a bit of credit. Jin got blinded by Haruka during the time-skip so he sort of fights like a blind man. Now for the final battle in the show...
Hope you like that picture cuz thats seriously all you get from that fight. The final battle of the season, the showdown its been building to...happens off-screen. We don't even get to see Chihiro die despite him being the main character this season. I sat through this season thinking that at the very least I might enjoy the final battle and This was beyond disappointing and its the most anti-climactic thing I've ever seen.

This was even less fun than season one. I just...felt sad, angry, and empty after watching it. I shouldn't feel like this after watching tokusatsu. I went into this season expecting it to be bad and cynical...but not this bad. It doubled down on the depressing tone of season one. If I wasn't riffing it with a friend, I probably wouldn't have even watched it. The friend who was riffing it with me sounded like I did when I finished Megaforce. This season had so many plot-lines that I couldn't even cover them all in this review. Now, all my complaining aside, I am up for seeing the movie for two reasons: 1. I'm always up for shredding horribly written cynical shows and 2. I've seen the first two parts so I might as well see how it ends. Overall, this is still my list favorite rider show and I still dislike it more than Faiz.

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Legendary J's Recommended Reads: 2017 the Year of Yuri.

For those of you unaware I am a fan of the yuri genre which is a subsection of the romance genre that primarily focus on a romantic relationship between two or more female characters. Why bring this up? Well it just so happens that this year there are many series coming out as well as multiple on going series that are getting updated and one series that I have been waiting seven years for it get a physical release. With so much coming out I figured that I might as well give my opinions. So without further delay here are my recommended reads based off everything I have read. Also I am a firm believer that the 'journey' is just as important as the 'ending' and since a lot of these stories are mainly about how the characters interact with each other I will do my best to avoid spoilers.

The Kase-san and series:

I have a particular fondness for slice of life type shows/ manga. what can I say I am sucker for likable characters and character interaction. It is written and drawn by Hiromi Takashima and published by Seven Seas Entertainment ( the publisher is a pretty big name in yuri fandom). The Kase-san series basically a compilation of one-shot chapters revolving around the characters Kase and Yuma. Yuma is a member of the Greenery Committee while Kase is the star of the schools track team. As stated before each volume is a compilation of one-shots as such there is nothing I can really say about this as the main meat of the story is their interactions with each other in each chapter.

Overall I really like the interactions between the two and the comedy mainly revolves events in life such as days at the beach and picnics. The two are very likable. The art work is nice and the exaggerated style really helps to complement the happy and goofy nature of some of the chapters. This is a series that helps me feel and an makes me smile.

As of the time of this post there are three volumes of this series and I think a few OVA's as well.

Secret of the Princess:

This was quite possibly the most surprising story I have read this year (with the exception of a series that I will talk about later.) This story is both written and drawn by Milk Morinaga ( Girl Friends; Kisses, Sighs, and Cherry Blossom Pink; and a ton of other works that I can't possibly list due to the sheer number of them.) and published by Seven Seas Entertainment. Interesting fact: this was the first writer I followed when I got into reading yuri manga and I do enjoy a majority of her works.

The story follows Miu, an average high school student who from a young age was raised to always look her best in case she meets her 'prince'. After witnessing Fujiwara, the captain of the volleyball team, accidentally break one of the principles most prized possessions she agrees to keep it a secret... On the condition that Fujiwara go out with her so that she can get some experience dating. Throughout the story Miu starts to feel bad for blackmailing Fujiwara and starts to develop actual feelings for her.

Overall this story is alright. It's pretty much par for the course with most of  the authors work though it stands out as for the most part both parties are open about what they want and don't try to hide their feelings for each other. Once she realizes her feelings Mui tries to pursue these feelings while Fujiwara is fully accepting of them and trying to make the arrangement a pleasant experience for Miu. The art work is alright, its standard fare for Morinaga as its fairly consistent with her other work except for her early stuff. If you can find this for a cheap price its worth a look and if you have never read/ seen yuri before you could do worse.

Sweet Blue Flowers: 
Just look at the water colors on this cover.
It's gorgeous.

This is the series mentioned at the start, the one I have been waiting seven years for it to be released. Now before I go any further I will admit right now that I am biased towards this book because I am a fan of the anime that spawned from it. The anime itself never got finished. This is a series for which not only did I buy the anime on DVD but I went out of my way to avoid scanlations and spoilers. That's right I was willing to wait years for this to get an official English release so that I could support it to find out the ending. As such I was hyped as hell for this series because I finally get to see the ending.

Sweet Blue Flowers (Aoi Hana) is written and drawn by Takako Shimura (Wandering Son) and Published by Viz Media. It follows a girl named Akira Okudaira who is a high school student starting her first year at Fujigaya Woman's Academy. While one the way to school she meets a childhood friend, Fumi Manjome, who she wasn't seen in years  and the two start to rekindle their friendship. Though technically the story starts off with Akira the first volume is more about Fumi then anyone else. At the start of the story it is made clear that Fumi is going through some issues. Basically she is dealing with her sexuality and the fact that not only was her first love another woman but said woman is also getting married. As such a majority of the first volume is her trying to overcome these issues and live her life while Akira tries to help her cope as best she can. I know this one is vague but I don't want to spoil this for anyone as I recommend others read this story.

Overall I do like this story, Fumi is a very sympathetic character and her plight really helps the reader connect with her. Akira is likable enough though as stated this volume is mostly about Fumi. Be warned though if you have seen the eleven episode Aoi Hana anime then you basically know what will happen in this volume.

As of this post only the first volume is out though volume too will be out soon and the third and final volume will be available in March of 2018.

This story and another , After Hours (which I will talk about later), mark Viz Media's entry into the yuri genre and if these are an indication of the work they are planning on releasing, they are coming out strong.

Cover from the first volume of Sunstone,
Drawn by Stjepan Sejic
(Lisa left, Ally right)
Ok I know this is technically cheating as this is neither a manga nor did this come out in 2017. That being said the reason that it is on here is because I didn't find out this series existed until the beginning of this year ( saw it on one of Linkara's unboxing videos and decided to give the series a shot.) and it also is getting re-released in two hard cover volumes this year so technically it counts.

Sunstone is a lesbian romance comic created, written, and drawn by Stjepan Sejic and published by Image Comics and Top Cow Productions. The story follows Lisa and Ally, two women who meet on a BDSM forum. Lisa is a submissive who is an aspiring writer trying to make ends meat being a waitress and writing smut fiction. Ally is a dom who, when not planing out scenarios, is a programmer with a penchant for spending tons of money on fetish gear and related products. The two find each other through the forum and bond over Lisa's stories and eventually decide to meet up in person to help each other "scratch" their respective itches so to speak. As the two spend time together they proceed to learn more about each other and develop deeper feelings for one another.

As someone who mainly reads stories about young love and first time romance this story was a nice change of pace. Most of the yuri genre revolves around first time love and usually involves young adults as such the genre has certain tropes that when seen over and over can get a little grating. One of the tropes for instance is when one character will hide their feelings for the other. Though that happens to some extent in this story for the most part they are quite open with each other about what they want and it feels kind of like watching two friends hangout. Both Lisa and Ally compliment each other very well and the romance itself feels very genuine. The two have great chemistry and the interactions with each other are both amusing and adorable. The artwork is just gorgeous (see image above). One of the things I like about this book is that while sex and sexuality is considered a major part of their relationship in the story for the most part the sex is pushed to the background and a lot of emphasis is given to their interactions between each other and their group of friends. Given the subject matter there are many instances of nudity throughout the book but nothing too graphic and they are tasteful.

Overall I personally liked this series and I highly recommend it as it's probably the best story I have read this year. Though series itself has already finished there are plans for a few sequel series focusing on some of the side characters and I think as of this post part of the first sequel series is up on Stjepan Sejic's deviant art account.With all that being said, due to the amount of nudity and the mature content/ subject matter I feel I have to issue the following statement: DO NOT READ UNLESS YOU ARE OVER 18 YEARS OF AGE!

So yeah, that's my recommended reading list/ personal favorites that came out this year. Its not everything as there are some updates to on-going series, some stuff I haven't read, and some stuff I have read but didn't care for.

Also an honorable mention to the comic Wayward. The story was created by Jim Zub and Steve Cummings and published by Image Comics. I have no idea if the main female leads are going to end up getting together but given some of the stuff that happened in volume 4 I have a hunch they will. And even if it's not yuri check it out anyway it's damn good. 

The story follows Rori Lane a girl of Japanese- Irish decent who moves to Tokyo to live with her mother. After arriving and meeting with her mother she decides to got out and explore her new home. While exploring the city she finds herself in a back ally and is attacked by Kappa disguised as humans. With the help of a mysterious girl named Ayane she is able to hold them off and escape. As the story continues she learns of the existence of yokai and that she is connected to something called the 'Weave of Fate', something that the yoaki have been using to control the world from the shadows.

One of the things I like is that at the end of each volume there is a compendium of the yokai that are  shown in the volume. It lists what each monster is, some of their lore and origins, and some history associated with them. Overall as a fan of Japanese lore and history, I recommend you check out this series.

Monday, December 11, 2017

My Kamen Rider Concepts

Sorry for not posting for a while, I had a lot of issues with my laptop these last 6 months. Anyway, thats not the point. Naturally when you're watching something, you tend to get influenced by it. Sometimes those influences spiral out into ideas. Before you know it, you're bringing those ideas together and creating your own show/character concepts. I tend to take inspiration not just from toku but from anime as well. I'd like to share some of toku concepts with you all. I'll give the basic description of the premise and then list their powers.

Kamen Rider Transer (placeholder name): The Oroboros Council is dedicated to researching the Philosopher's Stone. Their research has pretty much led them down a dark road. To try and further their research, they kidnap a man for one specific purpose: They want to see if human transmutation will lead them to the stone. They kill him and use alchemy to bring him back thinking that at the very least they'll get a new servant out of it. However, something went wrong with the transmutation and he ended up keeping his free will and gained the ability to use alchemy himself. He is a homunculous and due to the partial failure of the transmutation, his body is slowly disintegrating. He has to seek out the stone himself to trying and repair his body. His final form uses the power of the stone and uses his own body as fuel for the transformation, effectively speeding up the breakdown.

His main weapon is a spear that is basically transmuted from whatever material is on-hand and it fades when the transformation is undone. He can change the composition of the metal to give it different properties. Essentially the overall theme I'm going for here is what it means to be human. There is no secondary rider for this concept at the moment because I couldn't think of a way to implement one. I'm thinking of making the council's monster forms rider-like. If you haven't guessed yet, this one was primarily inspired by Fullmetal Alchemist.

Cop Rider (no actual name at the moment): This was sort of inspired by the detective aspect of W. This one is essentially just a cop rider and his team investigating a mafia-like organization called the Helix Syndicate. Helix's whole deal is that they alter their genetic structure to make it easier to commit crimes. This one doesn't have a gimmick since I wanted to take a page from Faiz and have him be more gadget based. His support staff studies the data from the monsters he fights and makes counter-measures for them. His main weapons are a lazer pistol and an electrified nightstick. His fighting-style is more active and melee intensive (cuz I'm a big Dekaranger fan). He basically uses the nightstick like a tonfa to block attacks and counters with a few shots from the lazer pistol or pistol-whipping them. His second form is basically a crowd control form accessed through a brace called the Riot Buster. It basically generates a riot shield for him. His final form is an armored SWAT/high firepower form. It is something along the lines of G3 from Agito and needs a power source separate from the belt. The secondary rider is called Mimic. He is basically an undercover cop infiltrating Helix and he uses their splicing technology to make his belt. I can't think of a good name so feel free to pitch one in the comments. As for Helix, the regular members splice themselves to gain the powers of animals while the higher-ups have elemental powers. I can't think of a name for this rider at the moment so if you have a suggestion, please leave it in the comments.

Kamen Rider Grim: This one basically spawned from a simple thought: A scythe is a cool weapon. It spiraled out from there. As the name suggests, he basically acts as a grim reaper. He ferries the souls of the dead to the next world while dealing with corrupted/evil spirits that threaten the living. My plan is to introduce 3 other riders, each one based on different concepts of death from other countries so there will be others showing. Each rider's powers and weapon changes depending on the reaper. For the reapers, there will be a chinese-inspired one whose weapons are bladed fans and there is a gunslinger whose powers manifest twin revolvers that fire purple flames. Strangely Grim is the first rider in centuries whose powers manifest a scythe. There is no gimmick for this rider. I've actually got a henshin sequence planned out for this rider. He puts the Skull Driver on and hits a button on the side. The skull's mouth opens and shoots out purple flames. The flames engulf his body and cool to form the suit. He holds out his hand and the smoke from the flames forms the scythe. I unfortunately don't have any forms planned for this rider at the moment, if you can think of any please suggest them in the comments.

Kamen Rider Pantheon: This is my most developed one so pardon me if this gets a little long. Centuries ago, Hades led the Titans in a war against the Greek Gods. In order to end the war to protect mankind, the gods summoned all their powers to seal away Hades and the Titans. This came with a great cost. The gods were stripped of their powers and their powers crystallized into gemstones. Fearing the Titans would return, the goddess Athena had Hephaestus forge a weapon to combat them: The Pantheon Driver. The man rider is a man haunted in his dreams by memories of lives he is not sure he has even lived. He finds a red gemstone and hears a voice calling out to him. He gets attacked by a Demi (human corrupted by the Titans and given the powers/forms of monsters from greek myths). Before the monster can kill him, he is transported to a room filled with white light. There Athena gives him the Pantheon Driver.

His forms are based around the four elements: Apollo (Fire), Poseidon (Water), Gaia (Earth), and Aeros (Wind). His final form is of course accessed through the Zeus gem and gives him power over lightning. Apollo gives him control over fire. Poseidon form lets him control water and gives him a trident that lets him freeze it. Gaia form is kind of heavy and hard to move in so he has to manipulate the ground underneath him to fight more effectively. Aeros form lets him fly and fire blasts of compressed air or use it to enhance his punches/kicks. This form is a little weaker physically than the others but its mobility makes up for that. Zeus is his most powerful form and it basically electrifies his punches and kicks. Its basically a hand-to-hand combat form. Its so powerful that every time he uses it, it electrocutes him if he uses it for too long. There are two secondary riders, one empowered by the Ares gem and one empowered by the Athena gem. Ares has enhanced strength and fights with a sword while Athena can glimpse echoes of the future and fights with a shield. The over all idea with these two is that they fight as a team. The Titans' powers have diminished over the years. They're seeking out the gemstones themselves to restore their lost power. There is also a dark rider empowered by the Hades gem. He basically has power over black flames.

Those are all I have so far. I do have a few more but they're not developed enough to warrant mentioning at the moment. I may do a post on the full Pantheon concepts. If you've got your own riders, I'd love to see them so feel free to post them in the comments.

Sunday, April 9, 2017

Power Rangers 2017 Movie Review

If you've read my posts regarding the news surrounding this movie, you know I went into this movie with massive reservations. Somehow I managed to separate my critic-side from my PR fan-side while watching this movie. Surprisingly, it wasn't as bad as I thought it would be. With that being said, I do have some issues with the movie How do I feel about it? Well read on and find out. I can't really talk about this much without doing spoilers so: SLIGHT SPOILERS INCOMING!
I've already complained about the visuals plenty in the past so lets dive right in: I'll sum it up here and say that I still don't care for how this movie looks. Oddly enough, I went through this film with this calm feeling. It didn't bring out the same instinctual rage that the news and trailers did. I do actually like that they gave the rangers more character. However, I still don't care much for the problem child setup for most of them. Its something that bugs me because it feels a bit too cliche to me at this point. I liked Zack's backstory about him being the way he is to take his mind off his mother's illness. Though before he mentioned that, he sort of just came off as an adrenaline junkie to me. Kim's secret is something I'm very iffy on as its something that someone who is worthy to be a ranger should never do. It feels like its just there to make the movie feel more "real". I actually like how they handled the reveal that Trini is a lesbian. The movie doesn't actually treat it as all that big of a moment but its handled really well imo. It comes up during the camp fire scene and the other rangers acknowledge it and just move the conversation forward. It felt pretty natural. Billy's autism sort of felt a bit jokey at first but they ironed that out pretty quickly once the rangers show up. I do not care at all for Jason being "a jock who ruined his one-shot". Its just so boring in a movie like this. They literally could've picked anything else for him and I'd have probably liked him more.

This is probably going to sound odd since I just complemented the movie for adding more character to them but, I think the movie focuses too much on the teen drama in the beginning. It made the first half a bit of slog for me to get through. Its a movie based on a show about 5 people in bright spandex whose daily lives include fighting monsters and I think that should've been the main focus throughout the movie. I'd much rather get to know the heroes while they're out there being heroes. Now with that being said, I really love the scene where the rangers are sitting around the camp fire and telling each other about themselves. Its a nice little scene that tells you that these guys are growing closer as friends.
My biggest issue besides the visuals is actually Zordon. The dude was kind of being a jerk and he even insulted the rangers for not mastering powers they just got. I get wanting to give Zordon another character trait alongside "wise mentor" but Zordon shouldn't be insulting the rangers. It irks me that "just make him a jerk" is Hollywood's go-to method of giving more character to someone. I don't care if its a reboot, Zordon doesn't do that. I also unfortunately don't care much for Alpha's voice. Its kinda forgettable and didn't leave much of an impression on me. I mentioned this in the concerns post but I'm gonna mention it again here, why does Alpha need eyes? Its a bit distracting.
Rita was actually handled decently enough and the actress did well. Unfortunately, I don't find her all that frightening. She is creepy but she definitely isn't frightening to me. She was also a little too gollum-y  for my tastes in the beginning but they sorted that out rather quick. She plays up creepy rather well but the most uncomfortable feeling thing she did was swallow gold necklace whole and force the gold through her skin to add to her outfit. It was also an unintentionally hilarious scene. One detail I really like is that she steals some dude's gold teeth in a scene and in all the close-ups on her staff, you can see the teeth embedded in it. Her "I've killed rangers before" line from the trailer actually works better given the way the movie opens. I won't say what it is here but the change to her connection to Zordon is something I actually like about the movie.

The music for the movie doesn't fit imo. There is a little too much pop and rap in the movie for me. Its off-putting because rock and roll feels more natural for Power Rangers to me. Its a minor thing for me but its kinda distracting for me to hear rap in something related to Power Rangers. I didn't care for it when Mystic Force or Overdrive did it either. I absolutely can't stand the Kanye West song they used in the trailers. I can't even remember if it was actually in the movie. Maybe it was and my brain blocked it out. It really doesn't help that the music doesn't feel like it has any power to me.

The product placement is so blatant that I'd swear it was a parody if I didn't know better. Krispy Kreme donuts are a plot-point in the movie. There is even a scene during the climax where Rita walks into a Krispy Kreme and eats a donut while the camera zooms in on her face. Seeing Rita eating a donut while the city is being destroyed is surreal. A friend of mine is also fascinated by that scene because its so weird to him. Its that sort of thing that the scene from the Wayne's World was making fun of. There is actually a line where Rita asks if Krispy Kreme is the source of life. It is a gloriously stupid line.

I keep seeing people say that this movie is "serious". I unfortunately don't see it. The tone flip flops too much for my tastes. I can't really call it serious when the movie features masturbation jokes, Rita eating a donut during the climax, and Rita swallowing a gold necklace. I was expecting juvenile humor but not that juvenile. I also couldn't help but roll my eyes at the drug test joke after Trini tells her parents. Some fans have told me that its not supposed to be a joke but the scene ends on that line and cuts to other stuff. Neither it or the masturbation jokes belong in a movie that calls itself Power Rangers imo.
The action is ok but sort of forgettable. It really doesn't help that the one in-suit fight scene is so short. It happens during the climax of the movie and its only a couple minutes long. After that the rangers just summon the zords and run toward Angel Grove. The ranger suits look slightly better in motion. The suits unfortunately look CGI in some shots. That is probably due to the lighting of the fight scene along combined with the CGI over-layed on the glowing portions of the suits. The mecha fight is purely CGI which is what I was expecting. The individual zord portion of the fight is enjoyable enough. Unfortunately, it feels off when they form the Megazord. It doesn't feel like it or Goldar have actual weight to them during their fight. I actually enjoy the training montage. I'm always a sucker for those and I actually got a chuckle from Trini kicking a Putty hologram in the groin.

I'm going to have approach this in a different way than I usually do. In each of my concerns posts, I posed a question that I'm going to reiterate here: Is it a Power Rangers movie? Unfortunately, it doesn't feel like one to me. The basic elements are there but I don't think the movie is meshing just quite right imo. I can't exactly point to why its not meshing though. There is only one scene in the movie that feels like Power Rangers to me. It is a brief scene where the zords are running toward Angel Grove while Go Go Power Rangers blasts in the background. I had a big ol' smile on my face at that moment. However, that was far too short and I think they should've let the song continue to play during the mecha fight. Now, with that being said, is it a bad movie? No. Its not a great movie but I don't hate it. It is simply ok for me so it gets a pass. Do I recommend it to non-PR fans? Definitely, its enjoyable enough that you'll probably get your money's worth at a matinee. Do I recommend it to Power Rangers fans? Sort of. There isn't actually much here for actual PR fans except a few easter eggs but they're all "blink and you miss it" style easter eggs. I can't recommend it at full price but if your theater has bargain days like my theater does, go for it. Its definitely worth it if you can get the tickets for cheap or a rental when it hits dvd. I hope it gets a sequel because it honestly needs one. It feels a tad incomplete since its simply an origin story. I enjoyed it enough so I'll probably be in the theater to see it.

Friday, March 3, 2017

Power Rangers Ninja Steel First Impressions

Its that time of year again folks, a new Power Rangers season just started. Despite the bumps in its execution, I enjoyed Dino Charge/Supercharge enough for both halves to get a pass from me. Why did I start out by mentioning Dino Charge? Well, its because I legitimately don't know how to feel about Ninja Steel at the moment. Is that a good or bad thing? Well read on and find out how I felt about the first five episodes.
Ok first, we gotta talk about the theme song. Its generic, extremely generic. You could remove the words Ninja Steel from the lyrics, put it in front of any PR season, and it would still fit. Other than that, its just there and doesn't really have any oomph to it. There also isn't anything memorable about outside of the opening riff.

Episode 1 of Ninja Steel was perfectly fine well, except for one thing: They kept repeating what happened to Brody's dad. They reminded us what happened to his father 4 times in a 30 minute episode. The first time they reminded us, it wasn't even two minutes after the prologue. It felt like they needed something to fill out the run-time. Other than that, it introduced Brody, Preston, and pink will enough. It also set up the show decently however, there is another problem with that which I'll talk about when I mention episode two's problems since its a two part premier.

Episode 2 was alright and was a nice intro for Calvin and Haley. Its the second half of the premier and it being a two parter is kind of a problem for me. Given Nick's scheduling, I don't think they have the time for two part premiers any more. With that being said, the tail-end of the episode is a problem for me as well. They noticed that the gold power star was already missing when Calvin and Hayley got their power stars. That could've been a nice mystery but they killed the mystery two minutes later by revealing that one of the villains somehow got their hands on it off-screen. That is a big deal, you don't do something like that off-screen that soon after you've pointed out the object is missing.

The main plot for episode 3 was ok. Basically it was just to teach Brody about teamwork though I have to ask what the point was of introducing his wrist watch and using it to find out monster weaknesses when they were just gonna ditch it three episodes in. The subplot for the episode however was just stupid. This idiotic jock named Victor Vincent is upset about the rangers being more popular than him so he decides to fight a monster. The subplot is only there to explain why Brody can't use his wrist watch, because he lost it and Vincent found it.

Episode 4 was ok. It was a decent episode for Preston. Its probably the best episode out of these five. Even Victor and Monty didn't annoy me. Episode 5 however, is probably the worst so far. Calvin's lesson is fine on its own but his fear of driving really should've been introduced in an episode where a new zord was supposed to premier. The Rumble Tusk zord effectively comes out of nowhere because the focus was promoting the bike. With that being said, its the subplot for Victor and Monty this episode that really gets on my nerves. Its all one big, unfunny fart joke.

These first few episodes are ok so far with a few missteps. My biggest problem so far is without a doubt Victor and Monty. I think the franchise is a dipping a little too much into the nerd/jock cliches for those two though at least Victor isn't exactly a bully. It feels like the show is trying to make them the new Bulk and Skull. Its really not working for me. I'm not gonna lie, if I had to go out of my way to watch this, I'd have likely dropped it for the time being. It hasn't given me the urge to keep watching. As it stands right now, I'm going to continue watching simply because all I have to do is turn my tv on.

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Jyuken Sentai Gekiranger Review: Part 3 GenJyuken

Now we come to another group of enemies in the show who pretty much make up the final couple of arcs. The GenJyuken users are the final group of enemies in the show and their fighting styles are based around mythical creatures. Unlike GekiJyuken and RinJyuken, they aren't actually a school. Each of the generals represents one of the four big beasts in Chinese mythos that represent the four directions with Mele becoming the Phoenix once she gains the power of GenJyuken. Each of the GenJyuken generals have their own MOTW.

Long represents the dragon and he is my all time favorite Sentai villain. He terrifies me so much that just hearing his name sends a chill down my spine. He is always calm, cool, and collected, rarely letting his anger show through. However, above all else Long is patient. He is one of those villains where the main threat isn't just what he is doing right now, it is also what he could do later. This dude is directly responsible for Rio turning to RinJyuken. The theme of three is shows up here because he, Rio, and Mele are the only villains in the show to have a human form. His first appearance in the show is terrifying because the first thing he does is literally liquefy Rageku. His main reason for sending Rio down the path of darkness is to turn him into a god of destruction. He tried to do the same thing with Maku but Maku's defeat in the RinJyuken Rebellion kind of squashed that plan. The actor is fantastic and really sells the role with the way he moves. He also plays up the creep factor by constantly popping up out of nowhere and getting uncomfortably close to people's faces.

Sanyo is a master of the basilisk-ken. With that being said, his overall appearance is a turtle so he basically represents the black tortoise and snake of the four beasts. He has a habit of running his mouth a lot and some of the stuff he says pretty much clues Mele into the idea that Long might not be on the up and up. He is pretty much immortal, which is something brought up near end of the series. He is actually a part of Long and when Long reabsorbs him, he gains that immortality.

Suugu is a master of the chimera-ken which is basically an amalgamation of different fighting styles so he has access to the techniques of RinJyuken users. His overall motif is a white tiger so out of the four beasts, he represents that one. He was basically created by Long using the geki soul of Jan's father, Dan, hence the white tiger look. Its a rather heart-wrenching story because once Dan's consciousness starts taking over, Jan is forced to kill him so his father can pass on. In a way it helps show how demented Long is even more since he used someone's very soul as a means to achieve is his own goals. When Dan was alive, Rio actually saw him as a rival or an obstacle to overcome. In a sense, Jan is taking his father's place in finishing off the rivalry. Plus Jan's father is played by Kenji Oba so that works out really well. Despite Dan himself being dead at the time, you get a nice feel for his power just from Rio's memories of him.

Music: The music for the show is nice. It really helps capture the kung fu movie feel of the show so much that it feels like I've heard the music in actual kung fu films. The opening song is great and it really helps you get pumped for the show. My favorite bit is probably the chinese violin at the start of the song. The singer puts a ton of energy into the song and its really contagious. The ending theme is awesome and as usual Ichiro Mizuki does really well. Its actually more addictive for me than the opening theme. I'm unfortunately not too big on the Super Gekiranger theme. Its not a bad song but it really doesn't do anything for me. I will say that it feels a bit uplifting and gives off a sense of growth. The music for the villains is great and it gives off a real sense of dread, fore-boding, and unease.

Final Thoughts: I absolutely love this series. It handles CGI in a way that feels appropriate. It mostly uses the CGI represent the Ki or energy flowing from them so it comes as sort of a natural thing. The fight choreography is great, especially when you realize that a lot of the fighting styles in the show are based on actual martial arts. The show also has a lot of training montages which is always great to see and its really appropriate for a martial arts Sentai. It even shows Jan, Retsu, and Ran training to fire their cannon faster after they get it. Even when its not shown on screen, it is implied that the Gekirangers are always training to get better. Its that sense of progression that makes each victory feel earned instead of the problem simply being solved by a new weapon. The constant training is even applied to Rio and Mele as Rio especially wants to get stronger and stronger. This really helps keep the threat feeling strong. I've seen complaints regarding how Gou and Ken get sidelined for Jan, Retsu, and Ran. I honestly don't mind that because the Triangle is one of the core themes in Gekiranger. Plus Gou and Ken still get their own awesome moments so I think it evens out.
Gekiranger is one of those shows that I simply can't recommend enough, especially if you like martial arts movies. Even to this day, I'm noticing things about this show that I didn't catch before. For example, they pretty much foreshadow Long in the first episode because the shadow creature in Rio's dreams is dragon shaped with shining gold eyes. I'm actually rather curious if the writer for this show is a fan of martial arts films. The show seems to demonstrate a love for the genre given all the little nods and references. This is without a doubt my favorite Sentai series and will likely remain my favorite for a while.

Jyuken Sentai Gekiranger Review: Part 2 RinJyuken

Now that we've covered GekiJyuken, we get to the other school in the show. The RinJyuken school follows a survival of the fittest mentality. Your worth is determined solely by how strong you are. Due to that, there are a few power struggles within the group. It is a school dedicated to gaining strength usually by inducing fear and despair. The survival of the fittest mentality is shown really well in episode 3 because the Rinshi have to fight each other to do death in order to be promoted and gain their monster forms. There are a lot of Rinjyuken members so I'll mostly just cover the big name ones.

Rio is the leader of the RinJyuden for most of the series. He trained with Miki and Gou under Sha Fu before pursuing the path of RinJyuken in order to become stronger. His desire for strength comes from having seen his family slaughtered in front of him by a monster as a child. In the beginning of the series, he sought to revive the Kenma in order to learn from them and become the RinJyuken King. Through the first two he learns to channel his hatred and jealousy, though the third Kenma proved to be more problematic for him. He pretty much forces himself to become stronger to overcome the third Kenma. When he becomes a Genjyuken user, he gains the power of the griffon.

Mele is Rio's second in command and she loves him deeply. She is unquestioningly loyal during most of the series. When Braco tried to betray Rio, she took several blasts from the Gekirangers' cannon to develop a way to counter Braco's attacks. She killed Braco without hesitation. She is so loyal that she threw away an offer to make her live again because it would've required her to betray Rio. While she seeks to help him grow stronger she does fear for his safety. When she thought Kata's training was too dangerous, she revived Rageku in the hopes that Rageku would train him instead. When she becomes a Genjyuken user, she gains the power of the phoenix. I'll cover the significance of that when I cover Genjyuken in Part 3.

The Five Venoms:
This is my favorite scene of them.
These guys are some of my favorites. They're nice power-house villains and they make for a great first arc for the series. All five of them got involved in their introduction fight. It was a really tense moment and the heroes barely won. Their arc provides some great character moments for Jan, Retsu, and Ran early on in the series. With Braco, we get our first power struggle in the show. Though he works for Rio, Braco's loyalty isn't actually to him. He tries to stage his own takeover of the RinJyuden alongside a revived Kademu and Moriya near the end of the first arc. Needless to say, this does not go well for them. Their fighting styles are a reference to the classic kung fu film Five Deadly Venoms. It goes further than that as their introduction in episode 4 is a direct reference to the sequence in the film where the master talks about his most successful and dangerous students. The set designer for Gekiranger even recreated each Venom's chamber from the film. The end of their arc leads right into the Kenma arc.

The Kenma: Like the Kensei, they are former pupils of Brusa Li, the founder of Jyuken. They were the instigators of the RinJyu rebellion and founded the RinJyuken school. Sha Fu and the other Kensei trained with them for many years so it makes their betrayal cut all the more deeply. The theme of three continues with them so I like to call them the Triangle of Hatred, Jealousy, and Anger.  They teach Rio to grow stronger by channeling those dark emotions. They also present the sky, sea, and land and their RinRinShi are also themed around that as well. I absolutely love their designs. Each of them has tons of detail on the suits and it captures the look of their animals really well.
Kata is the Kenma of the Sky and gains his power through hatred. His RinRinShi are themed around birds. He is the first Kenma revived and pretty much teaches Rio to grow stronger through hatred. His training was very dangerous for Rio. Thats pretty much all he does in the grand scheme of things. With that being said, he does feel like a heavy-hitter when he fights the Gekirangers and its usually a really tense fight so he does actually justify is his presense in the show. Out of the Kenma, he probably has my favorite design.
Rageku is the Kenma of the Sea and gains her power through jealousy. Her RinRinShi are themed around sea creatures. She joined the RinJyuken Rebellion because Sha Fu spurned her love for him. She is actually the most sadistic of the Kenma. Her training was actually a lot more dangerous than Kata's. She actually trains Mele as well as Rio. Her death in the show probably the most brutal of the Kenmas. Long pretty much liquifies her and its a rather fitting end for her given her sadistic nature.
Maku is the Kenma of the Land and gains his power through anger. His RinRinShi are themed around mammals. Maku is very prideful and it was that pride that lead to the RinJyuken Rebellion. When Brusa Li named his successor, he chose Sha Fu but Sha Fu asked him to choose Maku instead. Being chosen based on someone else's word rather than his own power really wounded his pride. Kata and Rageku were terrified of him being revived and for good reason. He is the strongest Rinjyuken user and he took control of the RinJyuden from Rio and banished him after Rio revived him. This pretty much causes Rio of force himself to get stronger so he can take on Maku.

Rio's suit is probably my favorite suit in the entire show. That includes the Gekiranger's suits as well. There is a massive amount of detail in this thing. The sculpting on the chest-plate is great and you can see each individual tooth in the lion's mouth. The black and gold color scheme works really. My favorite part is probably the mane of blades on the side of the helmet. I love the Rinjyuden emblem on the belt and the silver blends really well with the gold and black.
Mele's suit looks great and it has a lot of detail. The green and purple work really well with the yellow highlights. It highlights the chameleon look really well. The sculpting for the chameleon head on the chest-plate is nice and I particularly like the red chameleon tongue coming down from it. The suit overall has this really nice scale pattern to it. The Rinjyuden emblem looks great on the belt.

Jyuken Sentai Gekiranger Review: Part 1 GekiJyuken

I've talked a lot about my love of tokusatsu in the past but there is one aspect of myself I probably haven't really talked about much. That would be my love of Kung Fu films. Its where I first started developing an eye for fight scenes and learned the importance of movement in a fight. So why not cover a series that manages to brings together aspects of both fandoms? Its my all time favorite sentai and it manages to tell a classic martial arts story in the form of a Sentai. It really hits the sweet spot for me. Since I'm going-depth to celebrate the anniversary, my no spoiler policy is out the window. In other words: MASSIVE SPOILERS AHEAD! READ AT YOUR OWN RISK! There is a lot of stuff to cover so for this part, I'll just talk about the GekiJyuken side of things in this part.
The story features the battle between the GekiJyuken and RinJyuken schools (I will go more in-depth in part two when I cover RinJyuken). GekiJyuken is dedicated to training in Jyuken for justice while RinJyuken is dedicated to using Jyuken to obtain strength and power usually by invoking fear and despair. Its a classic story but it translates pretty well to a Sentai. It also makes the fight feel really personal once we find out the origins of the RinJyuken school.

Throughout the show there is a theme of three that pops up quite a few times. The show refers to it as the Triangle. It shows up in more ways than one but for now, lets talk about how it shows up in regards to the characters. It is referenced a lot in regards to Jan, Retsu, and Ran so we might as well start by looking at them and the current Triangle of Heart, Body, and Technique. I'll cover the other times the theme shows up as they appear.

Jan Kandou/GekiRed:
Jan represents the Body of the Gekiranger Triangle. His preferred fighting style is Tiger-ken. Jan was raised by animals in the jungle. The show makes his reactions to civilization feel really natural. Due to his position in the Triangle, he is a lot more durable than Ran or Retsu. When the team gets their cannon, it is up to him to buy time while Ran and Retsu charge it. He can be somewhat impatient as shown in the cannon's introduction episode but he learns to be patient. I've occasionally seen the phrase "chosen one" be thrown around in reference to Jan because of a lot stuff revolving around him in the show. I don't think thats an accurate take on Jan. Yeah, he had a lot of talent and learned quickly but he still had to work and train just to reach Retsu and Ran's level in the first arc. Throughout the entire show he and the other Gekirangers are constantly getting stronger. Thats something I'll talk more about later since I like how the show handles its power escalation. He gets a rather heart-wrenching moment with Suugu near the end which I'll cover in the GenJyuken section. Even though at its core, the story does essentially revolve around him and Rio, the other Gekirangers get some nice moments to themselves. During the Kageki arc, he faces off against Gorie Yen in a coin stacking competition to test his "heart".

Ran Uzaki/GekiYellow:
Ran represents the Heart of the Gekiranger Triangle. Her preferred fighting style is Cheetah-ken. She is the team's leader and is the one responsible for coordinating their training. They also refer to her as "Captain". In a sense she is the glue that holds the team together. Her being the leader and heart of the team makes sense given her designation in the triangle. She is extremely dedicated to training in order to make sure she is not only fast but accurate. It is a point made very clear when she faced off against Kademu of the Five Venoms. She can be a little uptight at times but through learning how to use the Geki Hammer from Elehung, she learns to cut loose and relax a little more. During the Kageki arc, she faces off against Michelle Peng in a skate-boarding competition to refine her technique.

Retsu Fukami/GekiBlue:
Retsu reprsents the Technique of the Gekiranger Triangle. His preferred fighting style is Jaguar-ken. The dude has a lot of talent. For him, winning in and of itself is not enough. Instead of just fighting to win, its the challenge of constantly trying to improve himself that drives him. That actually sums up his place in the Triangle rather well. He is even skilled enough to fight while drunk. He is Gou's younger brother and he pretty much took up Jyuken in honor of his brother when Gou disappeared and was thought to be dead. We get some wonderful interactions between him and Gou after Gou joins the team. Its a nice family dynamic that I always like to see in tv shows in general. He trains in the bat-ken with Bat Li to further refine his techniques and he learns to enter a trance. His position in the triangle and dedication to beauty puts him at a disadvantage during the Kageki arc since he has to fight Pyon Piao in an endurance match for his trial as he sort of lacks stamina.

Gou Fukami/GekiViolet:
Gou is Retsu's brother and studied Jyuken alongside Miki and Rio. He sort of feels guilty for not being able to stop Rio from defecting. Due to that, he sort of feels like its his job to put a stop to Rio and sort of sees himself as Rio's rival. He however eventually realizes he isn't simply strong enough to defeat Rio so it leaves it to Jan to handle. I've seen a few people complain about that but Jan and Gou are written well enough that I don't mind it. It feels natural because Gou himself is the one to come to that conclusion. It makes a lot of sense considering him trying to stop Rio in the past led to him using an extremely dangerous technique that backfired and caused him to go missing. When he came back, he was also kinda irritated that Retsu took up Jyuken as well because he felt fighting was too dangerous for his younger brother. Naturally Gou comes to terms with Retsu's decision. He starts out as one of those lone wolf characters but his reason makes a lot of sense. He wanted to work alone because he didn't want to risk throwing off the balance of Jan, Ran, and Retsu's triangle and didn't want to interfere with their ability to work together. His wolf-ken is actually an off-shoot of normal wolf-ken that he created himself.

Ken Hisatsu/GekiChopper:
He is pretty much a love-able goofball. I like the dude but out of everyone else on the team, he kinda gets lost in the shuffle character-wise given when he is introduced. He gets introduced while the Kenma arc is wrapping up and Long starts showing up around that time as well. Even under those circumstances, he still gets his time to shine and I can't really imagine the team without him. His best moments are easily the lead-up to the end of the Kenma arc. I particularly like his introduction into the show. The first time he meets Jan, they get into an argument over a pastry and the situation snowballs into him trying to run Jan over with a garbage truck. He is a master of Rhino-ken which is the same style that the founder of Jyuken used.

Miki Masaki:
She runs SCRTC which is the company that funds the Gekirangers and provides them with their equipment. She also serves as a sort of secondary mentor to the team. She plays off of Sha Fu rather well and she helps Jan and the others interpret the nuggets of wisdom he provides. Its a rather nice dynamic that she and Sha Fu have. It feels sort of like the dynamic Kruger and Swan had in Dekaranger just without the romance sub-plot. She also has a daughter who Jan actually strikes up a rather nice friendship with and its kind of sweet seeing her and her daughter interact. She was a student of Sha fu at the same time Rio and Gou were. She is a master of Leopard-ken and she even gets to show off her fighting skills here and there despite not being a Gekiranger herself.

Sha Fu:
The mentor of the team and one of the Kensei. He is a big believer in the concept of the Triangle which is visually represented by him carrying a triangle with him. He is one of my favorite mentors in Sentai. He perfectly exemplifies the archetype of the old-wise kung fu master who speaks in philosophy. He and the other Kensei took a vow to not fight after the RinJyu Rebellion but he still manages to show his skills by blocking and dodging pretty much every attack Rio throws at him in episode 4. He was originally chosen to be Brusa Li's successor but he turned it down and suggested another pupil (Maku) be chosen instead. I'll go more in-depth into the ramifications of that once we get into the RinJyuken side of things. Oddly enough, he and Miki have the same mentor dynamic as Kruger and Swan from Dekaranger just without the romance subplot.

The Other Kensei: The Kensei are all pupils of the founder of Jyuken: Brusa Li. Originally Brusa Li had ten students, seven became the Kensei and the other three rebelled. Those three became the Kenma, RinJyuken's founders. There is also a Triangle among the Kensei which is introduced during the Kageki arc. Its the original Heart, Body, and Technique Triangle formed by Gorie Yen (Heart), Michelle Peng(Technique), and Pyon Piao (Body). Jan, Retsu, and Ran have to undergo Gorie, Michelle, and Pyon Piao's trials in order to gain access to Kageki. The Kageki arc is great because we get to see the Jan, Ran, and Retsu take on each of their weaknesses by facing off against the Kensei triangle. The Kensei's names are all references to martial arts film actors. I particularly love how the show keeps bringing these guys up even after their introduction. Even though they're technically side characters, they still feel like a major part of the show and they even have a major impact near the end.

Suits: This is going to work a little differently since its a three part review. I'll cover the Gekirangers' suits here and cover Rio and Mele's suits in the RinJyuken portion of the review.
I love these suits. They fit the martial arts and animal motifs rather well. The black highlights work well on all five suits The black and white portions of GekiViolet's suit work really well together and make the violet pop. The orange on GekiChopper's suit works really well with the black and both colors compliment the white rather well.

Jan, Retsu, and Ran get Super Gekiranger modes that are accessed through using the Super Geki Claw developed by SCRTC alongside channeling their Kageki. The torsos become white and the claw insignia turns into each of their colors. The spots and stripes on their suits turn into jets that allow for flight. The helmets also get these nice white highlights on them. I really love the color balance on these suits and the white complements them really well.

Mecha: There are quite a few mecha in this show. However, a lot of them are auxiliary GekiBeasts so I'll just cover the main mecha combinations to keep this from running on too long.
I love the Gekiranger mecha and GekiTouja's design is great. Its transformation sequence is rather simple but it works. Its oddly one of the more agile mecha I've seen in the franchise even if some of it aided by sort of questionable cgi. The basic GekiTouja looks great and balances red, blue, and yellow rather well. It can combine with the bat, elephant, and shark GekiBeasts as well. Gou can even summon GekiTiger and GekiJaguar to make his own version aptly named GekiTouja Wolf.
The Super Gekiranger mode gives them access to three new GekiBeasts: GekiGorilla, GekiPenguin, and GekiGazelle. These combine together to form GekiFire. GekiFire continues the red, blue, and yellow color scheme of GekiTouja but adds more black in there along with some white plus I'm a bit of a sucker for the fire design near the fists. Like GekiTouja, it can combine with GekiBat, GekiElephant, and GekiShark.
Unlike the other Gekirangers, Ken doesn't summon a GekiBeast to create his mecha. His mecha SaiDaiOh is basically formed from a giant rhino statue that holds the soul of Brusa Li. I love SaiDaiOh's design. It looks like a powerful warrior. The head looks great in red with gold spikes on both sides. The white compliments the blue perfectly and both work really well with the gold.

Thursday, January 26, 2017

My Concerns For The Upcoming MMPR Movie: Part 3

Yes there are more now...I'm really getting tired of doing these. Every time something new for this movie gets revealed, I lose more and more hope of this actually being a Power Rangers movie. do you mess up this badly just trying to update the visuals? HOW?!
The rangers' zords just...ugh...they look terrible. Why does the Mastodon have eight legs? Going by the toy, it also throws webs. At that point its not the Mastodon, its a spider! Furthermore, why does the Triceratops have six legs? For some reason the T-Rex has cannons where its arms should be. It even has two cannons on one "arm". It looks lopsided and it would probably look better if they lengthened the tail and made that a bladed cannon instead. This is what I was afraid of when the zord teasers came out. Like with the ranger suits and Rita's design, they overdid it to a major extreme. I get why they changed the designs but they've taken it too far.
The movie megazord wow. It looks so generic. It doesn't even remotely resemble the original design. It also doesn't feel like the megazord and it doesn't even look like its made of multiple zords. As someone on twitter put it "You've messed up when the robot for a movie made in 2017 looks more like a guy in a suit than the robot from the 90's that was an actual guy in a suit.". It looks slightly worse in the new trailer than it does as a toy.
The movie design for Alpha, I'm not a fan. It looks off and looks like it will be entirely CGI. Unfortunately, the CGI will probably be extremely obvious. Why didn't they just build a suit? Its looks too alien and not robotic enough. Pretty much the only positive I have for it is that it at least resembles Alpha. I can't really say that for pretty much every other design in the movie. Its actually kind of sad that even Alpha looks the closest to the original look, they still messed it up just trying to make it "modern". I'm not a fan of the voice but I'll probably get used to it. The design definitely doesn't need the eyeballs. I'm not giving the movie credit for not messing up Zordon because its kind of hard to mess up a floating bald head.

The movie Goldar is no. It looks like the Megazord just dipped in molten gold. Thats taking the name way too literally. I might actually be more irritated by that than any of the other designs in this movie. It just looks so lazy. I mean really, they couldn't come up with something more creative? It looks even worse in the trailer than it does as a toy.

Apparently they're also cutting out the blasters and the other 4 rangers' weapons. Why? Whats the point of redesigning the Power Sword if you're not gonna give the other rangers weapons as well? I'd have to guess that its because they've spent so much money redesigning everything else just to be "modern". Its probably a minor thing to complain about after they've changed so much, I expected them to at least keep all the Power Weapons in this thing.
The second trailer is better than the first though thats not saying much. They brightened up the colors which is actually something I'm happy about. You have no idea just how much bright colors can help the feel of a superhero movie. The music choice however was extremely predictable and it feels like they just wanted a recent-ish song that has the word "power" in it. The banter unfortunately doesn't work for me in the trailer. I also didn't care for the drug test joke with Trini...I'd have just assumed she was screwing with her mother, not that she was high. Gotta ask...why is something like that even in a Power Rangers movie? With that being said, it looked a bit more fun so I have a little more hope that this won't be a complete trainwreck. I'm still not holding my breath regarding it being an actual Power Rangers movie.

There is something I've been turning over in my mind since the first trailer was released and the zords/megazord sort of reinforce this thought for me. Between the visuals and the trailer, it feels like Lionsgate is outright ashamed to be making a Power Rangers movie. It doesn't look like there isn't going to much here for Power Rangers fans. They've downplayed what makes Power Rangers feel like Power Rangers to pander to people who likely don't care about the franchise. These people will likely forget about the movie after it comes out. I may have said this in one of the other posts about the movie but I simply don't care that this is supposed to be a reboot/reimagining. A reboot/reimagining has to resemble what its rebooting and they've changed so much just for the sake of being modern. Its lost that Power Rangers feeling in my opinion. At this point these are being less concerns more me just venting about this thing. The plot for this movie better be good because I'm not liking everything else so far.

Thursday, January 5, 2017

Power Rangers Dino Supercharge Review

Sadly, I'm not impressed with Dino Supercharge. There is a very notice-able difference in quality between this and Dino Charge. It just feels like a completely different show compared to Dino Charge. With that being said, do I necessarily think its bad? Well read on and find out.
The rangers are still simply ok. They're not bad but they're also nothing to write home about and my opinions of them haven't really changed since the first half. I'm honestly a bit disappointed that Graphite and Aqua aren't used that much despite all of their appearances being American footage and Saban Brands having the suits on hand. It just seems like a waste to me. Due to that, we don't really get a feel for Prince Philip and Tyler's dad this half. Its especially disappointing for Prince Philip since he was introduced in Dino Charge. Kendal also hasn't fought much in this half. Given that and Aqua and Graphite not showing up much, I can't help but think that Dino Charge went over budget in its first half. Granted thats just speculation on my part but I feel its worth mentioning because there was a lot more stock-footage used in ground fights this time. Now some people have had issues with Tyler's father just going into hiding after bonding with the aqua energem, but I don't mind it. His reasoning is sound enough in my opinion. Yeah he did have to abandon his son but the only other option was putting him in the line of fire if Fury ever tracked him down again. Unfortunately, I don't have much to say regarding Zenowing since I missed his introduction episodes and haven't had the time to watch them. From what I did see of him, he was just kind of there.

Writing: The writing this time around leaves something to be desired. Its a massive step-down from Dino Charge's writing. It sets things up but there isn't really much pay-off to the setups. One of the big pitfalls is the mystery of what happened to Tyler's dad. They practically give away the reveal the episode before it happens. It had all the subtlety of a sledgehammer to the face. They did everything but have his father's friend look at the camera and say "Hey audience, his dad found an energem too!". Its a case of them underestimating the audience's intelligence. It also drops the ball with Heckyl but I'll get to that in a bit. The subplots for certain episodes are down-right stupid and it really drags the show down at points. Like when Arcanon showed up and started controlling their zords, the sup-plot about Chase learning to bake a desert was entirely irrelevant and took focus away from the action. It was all just away to hand-wave them figuring out how to make a new megazord. It was a lot more work than they needed to do because all the rangers had to do was say "Hey, maybe we should try using the Titanozord.".

Yeah, the villains in this half are kind of lacking. There were quite a few missteps with Heckyl/Snide. He had a rather interesting plan during first couple episodes that just gets dropped suddenly. He was cozy-ing up to the rangers to steal their energems. The sad thing is that it was kinda working until he screwed up in a way that felt really forced. He engineered a situation that resulted in the rangers being awake for days and even got everyone but Shelby's energem. Then for some reason, he left the energems sitting on a table by entrance to the cafe. Shelby showed up and caught him in the act. That seems like a slip-up thats out of character for Heckyl. Once Arcanon shows up, they build up the Heckyl/Snide has with Arcanon and they kinda drop the ball there too. Snide really doesn't end up doing much on his own. He pretty much starts working with Sledge, steals the dark energem, and goes out with a whimper. The weirdest part is that it feels like Heckyl's plot-line was leading up to him becoming a ranger. That doesn't happen but for some reason they built up to it. They even had the Spino zord end up where he was camping. If I had to guess, he was intended to become one but it might have been scrapped for budget reasons.
Singe has absolutely no presence whatsoever. He felt so much like nothing that I forgot he was even in the show each week. He also doesn't even add much to the show. He is little more than a generic goon. He doesn't even feel that strong so its kinda weird to see the rangers struggling against him. Arcanon isn't much better either. Heck when Sledge came back and killed Singe and Arcanon, I forgot they were dead after the episode ended. Like Snide, they both went out with a whimper. I legitimately had to ask a friend what happened to them because I couldn't remember.
Ironically, the biggest plus I have for Dino Supercharge is Poisondra. By that I mean the lack if Poisondra. Its like the writers realized that Sledge was the only reason she had to be in the show. Unfortunately, they decided to reveal Sledge was alive just so they could close her plot-line. Some people have asked my why I hate Poisondra so much. Its because she is utterly irrelevant to anything other than Sledge. She is the only villain I've ever seen whose goal can be accomplished by literally doing nothing at all. I can only actually remember a single episode out of Dino Charge and Supercharge where she did anything other than get in the way. It was the episode "Catching Some Rays" which is an episode I'll talk about later. Basically while the rangers were on vacation, she tried to party with them so she could swipe their energems. I thoroughly enjoyed seeing her get sent into the sun in the finale. It was fitting end for such an annoying character. The rest of Sledge's crew don't feel like much this time around since they get down-played in favor of Heckyl. Even Fury takes a backseat to the new guys.

Worst Episode: I have disliked quite a few episodes of Dino Supercharge for various reasons, however, the one I dislike the most is definitely the episode "Catching Some Rays". Not only is it the worst episode out of this half, its one of the dumbest PR episodes I've ever seen. It is filler in every sense of the word. Basically, all that happens is that Koda accidentally unleashes an ancient monster whose power is to make people go on vacation. There is virtually nothing to the threat because the episode doesn't show the consequences of people just dropping whatever they're doing to relax. Granted there is the stuff about Poisondra partying with them so she can steal the energems but Poisondra was never a threat herself so I really don't care that she tried this. Out of all the Kyoruger episodes they had left at that point, why did they choose to adapt the vacation episode?

The Ending:
I don't really mind the ending and I don't think its all that bad. It carried a heavy consequence to destroying the dark energem. I give it props because the obvious choice ended up being the worst possible choice they could've made. Plus it sufficiently justified bringing in time travel as the ultimate solution in my opinion. I get people's frustration with the idea that Dino Thunder could be non-canon now however, unless they say otherwise, Dino Thunder is still canon. However, what this technically means is that Dino Charge itself never happened since the fight took place before the energems were scattered. I do sort of find it odd that some are angry that Dino Charge might be in its own separate universe. I get why they're annoyed but I don't mind it as its not really a big deal in the grand scheme of the franchise. I sort of like the idea of a PR multiverse. I do like that Koda and Ivan get to go back to their original times.

Final Thoughts: I had a feeling the quality would sink this half. Its why I went in with so many reservations and didn't just go with it just because Judd Lynn is the producer. Its a shame because Dino Charge's first half was so consistent and gave this half so much potential. While I still enjoyed it here and there, it was kind of a let down. Though I still sort of get a chuckle out of hearing people say its worse than Megaforce and Super Megaforce. This half and Dino Charge overall didn't hit that level of bad or laziness. It is gonna take a complete train wreck for me to say something is worse than that season. Overall, I don't think its necessarily good, but its not bad either. It hits square in the middle for me with a lot of wasted potential.