Friday, March 3, 2017

Green Warriors

Kenji Asuka/Mido Ranger

Poor guy's majorly overshadowed by the rest of the hero cast. When you've got two cool talents like Naoya Makoto and Risa Komaki and two big personalities like Hiroshi Miyauchi and Baku Hatakeyama, and you're playing the kid of the team, you've gotta make a big effort to let us know you're there. Kenji does not. (At least not that I remember.) I can't even remember much about him, other than having a bit of a complex about his young age, but that's something that many later Sentai put to better use.

Weird thing is, actor Yukio Itou goes on to play Kensaku, the first Battle Cossack, and I like him in that show -- he's more mature, confident, a bigger presence. Hard to believe he improved so much in just a few years. (I'm not bothering doing a post on Oranges, so that's my brief coverage of the first Battle Cossack!)

Bunta Daichi/Clover King

Has the distinction of starring in the first terrible, horrible-glimpse-of-goofy-things-to-come episode of JAKQ in which he investigates a fashion designer's murder (by a mannequin) by infiltrating a fashion show in drag. When caught, he's put in a loincloth and made to fight the robot of the week. Goofy, goofy episode...

At the other end, he's the focus of a pretty screwed up early episode, in which he befriends a girl who reminds him of his dead kid sister, and this girl goes on to be killed when Crime blows up the plane she's on. Early JAKQ, man. You youngsters who think Gaim is so great have no idea what toku that's actually dark and serious looks like, because you ain't willing to watch anything prior to 2006.

Overall, I like Bunta. He doesn't get a whole hell of a lot to do to make an impression, and the revamp of the show forces him into the peg of "the funny kid" character, but I still like him. I'd love JAKQ's cast if not for Yoshitaka Roboto as Goro. Damn, they needed someone better as Ace.


Tatsuya Midorikawa/Denji Green

Tatsuya's one of my favorite characters of the first few Sentai shows. He's the depressed, brooding guy, the quiet cool type. He uses the abilities he honed as a cop to benefit the team in their pursuit of Vader attackers. Actor Naoya Uchida is just awesome and does a great job. (He also contributes a couple of cool, mellow songs to the soundtrack.)

I also like that they bring in the Chieko character, a comedic character who knew him from work and brings out a different side to him so he's not ALWAYS such a downer.

Shingo Takasugi/Green Two (aka Gudeen Zuuuu)

I don't mind Shingo, but actor Takahiko Ohta isn't the greatest and he makes such strange choices that he makes Takasugi seem like a big weirdo, and not the capable second in command he's supposed to be. (They should have basically swapped Green and Blue's actors, IMO.)


Dai/Green Flash

As I've said plenty of times, Flashman kind of Xeroxes Changeman's heroes, but brightens them up. Dai's pretty close to Hayate -- the cool guy, the stand-up second in command, the fighter, the guy with the eye for the ladies -- but the main difference is that Dai seems kind of more innocent and sweeter, for lack of a better word. I attribute that to the Flashman heroes being kind of stunted, and because actor Kihachiro Uemura has a more easygoing nature.

In Yutaka Izubuchi's sketches for the Flashman's wardrobe, Dai's depicted as being a scowling Condor Joe looking type. It's easy to imagine Dai possibly being that kind of character, but the casting of Uemura changed that. That's not a negative, because the Flashman side of the show didn't need the angst, and Dai is good the way he turned out. Uemura's an action guy, so he makes Dai a convincing ass-kicker, but he's also just naturally likable, and a hero who you can have complete confidence in.

Fun story -- a few years ago, Kihachiro Uemura saved a guy who collapsed in Akihabara. As Akibaranger was still freshly aired at the time, and because Akagi's actor, Masato Wada, had been doing a lot of live events with people like Uemura, he saw the news item and dubbed Uemura "Akiba Green."

Jun'ichi Aikawa/Green Sai

C'mon. You know I like this guy as much as I do Black Bison. Jun'ichi himself...the kid of the team, so he just whines a lot. There's many reasons why Bison and Sai don't end up working in the show -- their bad actors just one of the reasons.

Daigo/Shishi Ranger

Ah, Daigo. Where to start with this guy. I ordinarily like the cranky, brooding characters, but Daigo never worked well for me. I don't hate him, and he doesn't break the show for me or anything, but he's just really unconvincing, and I think it's probably because actor Tatsuya Noumi seems like he's a jokester in real life, and probably better suited for a more comedic role. I think they basically cast him for his looks -- he looks like he should be a serious and tough dude, but he couldn't act like it.

Daigo's probably given the best of the recurring storylines with Kujaku, though. Yeah, I'd rank that over Ryou's storyline with Jin. While I think the Jin episodes are some of Dairanger's best...they make up a small amount of the series. Daigo and Kujaku are given more episodes and, more importantly, Kujaku has ties to the Gorma and the past conflict and so on.

Shouhei Yokkaichi/Oh Green

More than any other character, poor Shouhei's caught in the middle of Ohranger's tug-o-war identity crisis. He starts out as being the team elder, a strong brawler, but quickly becomes the goofball of the team. It's pretty much all up to actor Kunio Masaoka to make it work, and he does his best. He's good when he's serious -- and it's a shame he wasn't given more serious stuff to do -- but he also pulls of the comedy, with a style that harkens back to some traditional Japanese comedy.

And why wasn't he given the boxer mecha? Still a mystery.


Minoru Uesugi/Green Racer

The dude's insane, but you gotta love him. Major credit goes to actor Yoshihiro Fukuda, who brings so much comic frenzy and quirkiness to the role. (Thank goodness Carranger was so nutty and was able to cast someone like Fukuda, who probably ordinarily wouldn't get cast in a hero role.) Being from Osaka himself, I think he probably brought Minoru's comedically tinged Osaka origins to the role on his own, as well as influencing the writing. (Fukuda worships the Hanshin Tigers? Well, then, so does Minoru.)

The way Ohranger's Kunio Masaoka harkens back to an old style of Japanese comedy, Fukuda is really reminiscent to me of a very particular type of Japanese stand-up comedian. (I was surprised to find out Fukuda WASN'T a stand-up.)

Minoru's my favorite Carranger member, and is part of many of my favorite bits in the show. (A couple of which include: losing the Accel Changer while practicing victory poses, accidentally shipping the bazooka to an elderly woman who mistakes it for a toy she gives her grandson (where he and Signalman perform a comedy set to distract the kid from blowing the place up!) Good ol' Minoru.


Hayate/Ginga Green

Hayate's meant to be as cool of a breeze as the Earth power he possesses. Hayate's a good second in command...actually, he always seemed to me like he should actually be the leader of the team. He's certainly more experienced than Ryouma, but he even seems more qualified than Hyuuga to me. He's the stern guy who wants everything to run smoothly, but he's not stiff or without humor.

I liked his storyline of his love being lost to him, and his rivalry with Shelinda, but I thought both could have been expanded upon.

Shou Tatsumi/Go Green

I've always said Shou's my least favorite of the Tatsumi siblings. Some people think that means I hate Shou -- I don't hate Shou. I like a lot about him as a character, and I certainly like that he's the one Tatsumi sibling who doesn't let Mondo immediately off the hook for the crap he's pulled.

I think a lot of my problem with Shou is actor Atsushi Harada. He's not a bad actor, but he just kind of is always playing the same note. And it certainly doesn't help that he goes on to play the obnoxious, cowardly and useless Mihara in Faiz.

Shion/Time Green

Funny -- for all of my complaining about Timeranger, I never had much of a problem with Shion. The character has such a sad past, and he gets hung up about it, but he never seems as much of a joyless turd as the others can. He and actor Masahiro Kuranuki are just really sympathetic. Shion has a sadness to him in his isolation, while he's also extremely intelligent, but he's not closed off or snobby -- he's warm, he has a sense of wonder about pretty much everything. He's a nice character.

Sen'ichi "Sen-chan" Enari/Deka Green

Sen's a weirdo. I don't know if the actor's a weirdo himself or he's really trying to play up an eccentric genius and taking it too far, but Sen's almost Vul-Panthery in his weirdness. I would have liked Sen to be a little more serious, like he can't believe he's surrounded by such unprofessional idiots, but Dekaranger steered into the skid of comedy, so Sen becomes a quirky guy who's just constantly amused by his surroundings.

But I like Sen. I like a number of his episodes, like the one with the Most Dangerous Game criminals (where he pulls a Columbo "just one more thing" act), the one where he reveals his claustrophobia, the one where he reveals his feelings for Umeko by beating the shit out of that clown from Sailor Moon...

Makito Ozu/Magi Green

When Magiranger was on the air, I couldn't stand Makito and his rubber face mugging. I guess, in a toku world that's been destroyed by Den-O, that something like Yuuki Itou's performance starts to seem more subdued, because when I've tried to rewatch Magiranger lately, he doesn't bother me.

I'm disappointed that he's the eldest brother and such a goofball that nobody takes seriously. I don't know if that was the plan, considering he's the eldest and Red suit actor Hirofumi Fukuzawa was traded over to Green for the year, but that's where they went with the character. Kind of strange that Houka, the eldest daughter, is also such an idiot screw-up, while youngest Kai -- a hot head who doesn't know what he's doing -- is the golden child.

Mele

Ha-ha, joke's on you, sucker. She don't count. Nice try, those of you who try to argue this. "But Jan said she and Rio were like Geki Black and Geki Green!" Yeah, Jan's an idiot, and he was joking. He's probably also the one who started the whole "Gorenger" thing.

Hanto "Dokidoki Dipshit" Jou/Go-on Green

I don't understand the point of this character. The actor's awful -- probably the worst one in the show, and that's saying something. He's about 11 years old, he's pretty girly, but he's supposed to be some kind of chick magnet. He gains about 50 pounds when he transforms. His mecha's the most annoying one in the show, and that's saying something.

Chiaki Tani/Shinken Green

At the start of Shinkenger, I really liked Chiaki. I liked that he refused to brownnose Tono, he questioned everything, he was lackadaisical. He was the modern guy in a stuffy, outdated surrounding. And when Chiaki's dad showed up, he was pretty much the same, so the Tanis did things their way, which mixed things up. You get the sense they were ordinary folks when Takeru was pampered and someone like Ryunosuke seemed to have a privileged life...

When Chiaki mentioned early on that he wanted to surpass Takeru, I got bad flashbacks to Masumi/Bouken Black. The show never really remembered this motivation of Chiaki's -- thankfully -- but it did fall into the trap of having pretty much every Chiaki episode be about what a screw-up he was until his screw-upness narrowly saved the day and he learned his lesson to be better only until the next time it happened again. This repetition locked actor Shogo Suzuki into one note, and I started to get tired of Chiaki. But, as I've said, I came to like Shinkenger more once it was over and I could look over it as a whole and kinda ignore the lulls it had. They could have handled Chiaki better, but I liked him for the most part.

Magis/Gosei Green

What can you say about him? He's played by Deka Green. That's about it. You see Gosei Green's legs, you see Sen get killed. That's about it.


Don "Hakase" Doggoiya/Gokai Green

We all know that it's suit actor Yasuhiro Takeuchi who makes this guy great. Takeuchi makes hilarious and at times bizarre comedic choices that make Gokai Green stand-out. Actor Kazuki Shimizu could have studied Takeuchi and done more to match up with him. But Takeuchi was constantly making little additions to the scene as the character that stood out -- one that comes to mind is when the Gokaiger change into Turboranger, and they're in the pyramid pose and Green's (or Black Turbo's) knees are buckling.

But I like Don regardless. He's timid, practically cowardly. It takes him a while to find his inner hero, but it's in there. His reluctance isn't from a place of malice, but because he's weak and afraid -- and like the other Gokaiger, he's had a rough life trying to survive in a universe that the Zangyaku are constantly pwning. He's a brainy nerd, he doesn't have the guts of a Marvelous or Luka or the military training of a Joe -- he's had to get by in his own way.

I liked that Marvelous recognized what Don had to offer and his strength in areas that didn't include fighting, and recruited him on his team. And I like that Don was behind doing the team's repairs and a couple of the weapons. Gokaiger didn't perfectly explain everything, most importantly just how they came to use the Ranger Keys, but I like to think that Don looked into it and discovered the way to use the powers of the Keys and invented the Mobirates.

It's kind of silly of Aka Red to be like "Here's a trunk filled with some Keys, Marvelous. I'm about to go die Fist of Fury style. Bye-bye!" And that's it! He didn't explain shit to Marvelous. How did they realize the Keys had powers they could use? Doc Doggoiya, that's how.

Souji Rippuukan/Kyoryu Green

He's the only male character of the Kyoryuger team who didn't jump out of a loud, obnoxious anime, but I still don't like him. The actor's pretty weak and Souji wasn't given many episodes, IIRC. He certainly wasn't cool enough to have Dyna Black and Dyna Pink as his parents, I tell ya.

Hikari/ToQ 4

It was really hard to take Hikari seriously as the quiet, serious, smart guy when his character was supposed to be a kid. And ToQger was such a lazily written show, most of the characters didn't even have character. (I'm still astounded that this is a Yasuko Kobayashi show. She usually favors character over plot, and this show has neither.)

And if you're not going to bother writing anything, at least get performers who can carry the thing, and that's certainly not ToQ 4's actor. He's not horrible, but he's just not memorable. When it comes down to it, I'm pretty indifferent to the ToQ heroes (except for Tokkachi, who I hate, and Akira, who I like).
_____________________________________

And for the Green I'd pick to be on my team...

Are you ready?

You might be surprised...

Shion/Time Green! I really wanted to pick Dai, but if I ruled out Sara and the other Flashman because of the Anti-Flash, I ruled out Dai, too. I was going to pick Denji Green, but that's too close to the "Sentai Dream Team" I usually pick. (The "Dream Team" being the team you'd want to see in a special or movie, the characters you'd like to see interact; this game being forming a Seven Samurai-esque team of people you'd actually want to work with, whose skills you value, being the team you'd want to BE a part of and go on missions with.)

Shion's young, and while I ruled out a lot of characters -- like anyone from Megaranger -- for being too young, I don't think it applies to Shion since he's an alien, and obviously advanced. I wanted somebody super smart on my team, and figure he'd be a great asset since he has future knowledge AND alien knowledge. I considered Sen/Deka Green, since he, too, is smart, but I thought maybe his quirkiness could be irritating.

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Black Warriors


Shirou Akebono/Battle Kenya

Kenji Ohba is awesome. Everybody knows that. I'm an animal lover, so I like characters like Akebono who take animals seriously and talk to 'em and stuff. Ohba, who's such a big personality, is capable of taking a character like this and making it work. Akebono's a wild animal man, he's funny, but Ohba doesn't turn him into an obnoxious cartoon. And I still think it was kind of genius of Gekiranger to cast Ohba as Jan's dad. (Not only for being the crazy jungle boy of Sentai's past, the way Jan was the current iteration, but also since Ohba was Aka Ranger's suit actor in the later portion of Goranger, so he's kind of a Red, too. Also: that Ohba's an action guy playing an elite martial arts master.)

Kanpei Kuroda/Goggle Black

Jun'ichi Haruta -- don't bet against the JAC guys. He's like Ohba, you know you're guaranteed results when you cast someone like him. I like how professorial Kuroda is. He's the one member of Goggle V who I think you can really rely on and never doubt. Kuroda's super intelligent and about strategy -- teaching the shogi class at school -- but he's not unflappable.

It's an interesting combo that he's the scientific guy, the brains on the team, but also the physical and action guy.

I also like that he uses shogi pieces as shuriken. *laugh*


Ryuu Hoshikawa/Dyna Black

Haruta returns, and with a character completely unlike Kuroda. Hoshikawa's not exactly an idiot -- he's a scientist after all -- but since he's more comedic and not buttoned down like Kuroda, it's easy to dismiss him as a simpleton. (Comedic does not equal stupid.)

I, of course, love that Hoshikawa is a descendant of ninjas and is a practicing ninja, and JAC performers excel at ninja action. Haruta provides some damn awesome action scenes in this show de gozaru.


Shou Hayate/Change Griffin

The man. He was popular at the time the show was airing, but I feel like he doesn't get the respect he deserves. Gai Yuuki eclipsed him, but Hayate was the first cool Black, and without any of the social and mental disorders Gai has. Take that!

Shou joined the military to impress the ladies, and while he puts up a cool front, he's a decent, caring guy, an honorable guy. A good soldier in his own right, he has your back and will follow you into any hellish battle. Shou can be light, he can goof around, but he still keeps a cool image and maturity, and actor Kazuoki plays both sides perfectly. There's a lot of times a character in toku will be cool, but they'll like to make him goofy, but it sucks away the cool factor, but Kazuoki's one of the rare ones to make it all work. I think he's the one who gives additional coolness to Hayate.

I think Hayate could take on Gai, and I say that as Gai's number one fan. I imagine Hayate just kind of coolly deflecting any kind of punch or attack of Gai's, the way Ryu/Red Hawk should have. (Hey, Kazuoki as Red Hawk, there's an idea.)

Another cool thing about Hayate is the way actor Kazuoki reaches a point where he likes to do a lot of the action scenes on his own, which is something he continued to do in subsequent shows he appeared in (Metalder, Janperson). Kazuoki became buds with a lot of the JAC guys on Changeman's staff and went on to do a lot of plays with the JAC in the '80s -- I think it speaks to how impressively he handled action scenes that he impressed the JAC. I spent a lot of time just assuming he was a JAC actor, like Jun'ichi Haruta.


Kenta/Black Mask

Supposedly, Toei originally wanted Changeman's Kazuoki to play Kenta. I feel like that would have kind of been a step down after Hayate. Kenta's Hayate-like, but at that point Kazuoki was too mature for the role. Kazuoki was more suited for someone like Gai Yuuki at this point (hey, there's an idea).

Kenta has a more youthful vibe, he's lighter and can be a big a bit of a goof. I think actor Kouichi Kusakari is a better fit with the Maskman cast, and aces those sides of Kenta. Kenta's cool and laidback, but he'll be there for you when shit's falling apart.

A moment of Kenta awesomeness -- when the Mio ice-cube has been stolen by Kiros, and Takeru's feeling pretty hopeless about finding her, with Sugata being like "Tough luck," Kenta's like "It's OK, bud -- let's take my Masky Drill and go drilling all over Japan until we find her!" Kenta's just a good dude and friend to have on your side.

I also have to point out Kusakari's voiceovers. The dude goes NUTS, and it's great. He's yelling, he's shrieking. He sounds like he might hack up blood by the end of the day. (Sometimes, I'd love to see footage of toku actors recording their suit voiceovers.) It really fits well with just what a powerhouse they try to depict Kenta as as a fighter -- in suit and out, they always try to convey just what force is behind his hits.

Tetsuya Yano/Black Bison

This sonuva. As I've said before, I love the concept of Takuji and Mari's siblings stepping in as the new heroes. I like that Tetsuya is the hothead who has revenge on the mind and just wants to lay a beatdown on any Volt asshole he can get his hands on. But the show never really does anything interesting with him or Jun'ichi, which might be because the casting for the two knuckleheads is horrendous. Actor Seirou Yamaguchi is real stinkowiff, barking out his lines. By the time Tetsuya loosens up and even forgives Gou -- you know, that could have been a big moment, really touching, but Yamaguchi can't deliver.

HUGE missed opportunity.

Daiichi Yamagata/Black Turbo

I like Daiichi as a character, I think he has that strong second-in-command quality about him, and that he wants the best for his friends. He's supposed to be kind of like Kouichiro/Mega Black in that he's physically and mentally fit and just wants to do good and be the best person he can. And while actor Yoshiaki Ganaha is far from the worst actor the franchise has seen, there's just something off about him that doesn't make the character completely soar. Ganaha always look like he'd rather be ANY place but on the set.

I still like Daiichi, but would have liked an actor who might have WANTED TO BE THERE! It totally makes Daiichi NOT the smart, calm and collected one of the team when he looks like he wants a Turbo Laser to catch him in the head during the next battle.

And it doesn't help that he looks like Donnie Osmond.

Fumiya Hoshikawa/Five Black

Fumiya's OK as a character, but actor Ryouhei Kobayashi has a weird acting style where he's always just cringing throughout his lines, no matter what the character's mood. What the hell's that about? I can't explain it, but I reallllly can't picture this dude headlining his own Kamen Rider show like he was supposed to -- he barely cuts it as third banana in freaking Fiveman.

Even though it's crazy unbelievable, I always liked when the show put Fumiya's linguistics knowledge to use -- he has a surprising amount of knowledge of alien languages and can whip things together, like Hoshi Sato from Enterprise.

But I basically kind of feel like he and Ken are interchangeable, though, at once meant to be strong cool guys, yet often yukking it up. They cancel each other out, and are the weakest ones in the cast, so...I kinda think Fiveman would be cooler if it was just Gaku, Kazumi and Remi. (Shubarie proved that "Threeman" doesn't have a good ring to it.)


Gai "Forever 27" Yuuki/Black Condor

He's a legend. He's rock 'n roll. There's a reason why he's so popular, and that's because he's awesome. Jetman was coming along at a time when the mainstream was starting to take superheroes more seriously, taking a more "adult" approach -- thanks to Tim Burton's Batman -- and I feel like this was THE moment for Jetman writer Toshiki Inoue, as that falls completely in line with his style.

Jetman wanted to emphasize a Sentai team of truly random people being brought together. It's Sentai's core theme -- the strangers putting aside their differences and uniting as one. There were teams before Jetman who would butt heads, but would pretty much come to an understanding by an episode's end. Jetman wanted to be realistic, Jetman wanted to have heroes who weren't meant to be heroes, who didn't necessarily want to be heroes, and that included basically a criminal, Gai.

On the surface, you're immediately drawn to Gai because you haven't seen a Sentai hero like him before. He's rude! He's a cheat! He smokes! He drinks! He womanizes! He's a lone wolf who doesn't play well with others! He's a super pessimist. Even without Vyram, he thinks the world is fucked, so he wants a good reason why he should risk himself to save it. Initially sticking around just for Kaori, he eventually finds he's good at this hero thing, he finds a purpose, and begins down a road of redemption and ends the series as a genuine hero and not an antihero.

It's a great arc, it's a fresh character, a genuinely cool character, and it's the reason he's the breakout star of the show, and a fan favorite character to this day. Gai would not work out if not for actor Toshihide Wakamatsu, who's talented, who gets the character. We've seen Inoue try to recreate the Gai type in other shows, but bad casting ruined it. Gai would probably be as obnoxious and hateful of a character as Faiz's Kusaka if not for a performer with the talent, charm and presence of Wakamatsu.

Goushi/Mammoth Ranger

I want to like Goushi, but I think actor Seiju Umon is a freak. He sticks out like a sore thumb, not really meshing with the cast. His acting's odd, he sounds like he eats razor-filled pineapples whole, he's ten feet tall, he seems about twice the age of everybody else in the show. How'd he get cast?!

The aging helps when it comes time for Goushi to be the bookworm and answer man, but I get the impression Goushi is supposed to be the cool guy, too, and he's not that. (You don't get Naoki Oofuji for your suit actor right after Jetman if you ain't supposed to be the cool guy. It's weird to see Oofuji do Gai-esque mannerisms as guys like Five Black and Mammoth Ranger, indicating they're supposed to be tougher and cooler than they are. Also: Oofuji's a dwarf compared to Umon. You don't buy for a second it's Goushi in suit. It's a reverse Jiro Okamoto situation.)

Goushi ain't bad or nothing -- he's a likable dude, and his focus episode towards the end of the series was one of the only episodes of Zyuranger I really liked. But he's an oddball -- a genuine freak in a show that tried way too hard to be freaky.

And, for some reason, Umon reminds me of Judge Reinhold. That don't help. "Hope you had a hell of a piss, Geki!"

Jiraiya/Ninja Black

Remember when Kakuranger was new and it was so fun and cool to see a Sentai hero who was American and spoke English?

It's kind of amazing Jiraiya works at all -- I think he's one of those characters that's good at being cool and serious AND being a goofball -- when you take into account that Kane Kosugi wasn't accustomed to acting in Japanese. And when you consider how insane the world of Kakuranger is on top of that.

But Jiraiya IS cool, and I think the closest Kakuranger has to a traditional, serious hero. (Some would say Tsuruhime; yeah, initially. But it always seemed to me like the goofy knuckleheadedness of guys like Sasuke and Saizo eventually rubbed off on her.) Kane Kosugi, being son of martial arts movie star Sho Kosugi, was a neat get for the series -- actually American, but from a Japanese showbiz family, an action star at that. The show kinda lucked out with his casting.


Kouichirou Endou/Mega Black

Kouichirou's the appointed leader of Megaranger, and you most likely don't ask why. For being one of the accidental picks of the team -- he just happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time along with Shun, Chisato and Miku -- he was the one who most belonged on the team, and INET was extremely fortunate to get him.

Kouichirou's a bright guy, responsible, and a dedicated student -- he's supposed to be a stickler for rules and a total do-gooder nerd, but I never found him to be all that bad. He's pretty open-minded and puts up with a lot of bull from someone like Kenta. He wants to do his best as a student, person, citizen, superhero, and he's coolheaded about it. He's such a good guy that, when the Megaranger thought they were dying, he devoted what he thought was his final hours alive looking for a cure. (With help from Chisato, Megaranger's other ass-kicker.)

I'm always surprised to remember that actor Atsushi Ehara wasn't an actor at all. His background is in sports, but he tried to break into acting and Megaranger was about the only thing he did. But he does such a good job in the role, completely believable as Kouichirou.

Soutarou Ushigome/Gao Black

He's funny. I think it's funny that he's a wannabe sumo, I think it's funny the way he's babied by the younger Blue. He's supposed to be about the contrast, a big guy who's physically strong, but on the inside is a softy, but I don't think it's done here as well as in Gingaman with Gouki.

NEVER GIVE UP!

Asuka/Abare Black

I have to admit, I had some reservations about Asuka when Abaranger first started, because I like cool Blacks, and Asuka was completely different. He's depicted as being emotional and a softy. He's not afraid to just openly cry. So I was like "Man, what happened to Blacks?" But Asuka, as his story unfolded, eventually won me over.

Asuka's a softy, but he's not weak. His backstory is tragic, in that he's pretty much been a soldier his entire life. All he really had was Mahoro and her brother Mizuho, and they get turned against him. Asuka has his own child used against him. AND, in a moment of total desperation, he donned the Cursed Armor and unwittingly killed a lot of his allies. He's a guy who's been shit on, witnessed a lot of atrocities, but he never gave in and never gave up hope or his belief in people.

And, like I've often said and people have caught on to -- Asuka's relationship with Mahoro beats the Ryu and Rie storyline in Jetman. Sorry, Inoue, sorry Jetman worshippers -- you're deluding yourselves.


Masumi Inou/Bouken Black

The worst. Absolutely the worst. Another in a long line of failures for Boukenger, they wanted Masumi to be the second Gai Yuuki -- dark, mysterious, cool, dangerous,  possibly criminal -- but it's an absolute laugh how far off target they are. If Gai Yuuki is Frank Sinatra, then Masumi Inou is Michael BublĂ©.

Where to start with this twerp? First off, he's about 12 years old, but supposedly has a reputation as some dangerous tomb raider. He joins Boukenger mainly to try and compete with Akashi, who himself is unbelievable as a supposedly awesome, treasure hunting genius. Their rivalry is meant to recall Hawk and Condor's, but these two have nothing behind it, nothing going for them. Indiana Jones and Belloq they're not. They're two colossal dorks.

Such a doofus is Masumi that 1) he forgets he hates Akashi until he reminds himself one day when rereading his own journal and 2) Yami no Yaiba convinces him he's evil because, when he was a kid, he chose to hide from a Dark Shadow attack. And the dumb-dumb falls for it.

He's not close to being cool or threatening. He sucks, he's a dweeb. And the sad thing is, actor Yasuka Saito is a big Sentai fan. Saito seems like a likable guy in real life, and I could see him being better in another show, but Boukenger -- and Masumi in particular -- wasn't a good match. But the writing stinks and didn't help him.


Gunpei Ishihara/Go-on Black

One of the only things I like about Go-onger. The show was stupid and made every mistake possible, but somehow had the good sense to alter the character once they realized actor Kenji Ebisawa wasn't able to pull off the cool guy Gunpei was initially meant to be. And rather than just make him an idiot without explanation, they chose the funny route of having Gunpei not realize he's not as cool and mature and knowledgeable as he thinks he is. Ebisawa was more at home playing a goof, and at the same time, we got kind of a spoof of the serious, cool Black stereotype.

Aguri/Gosei Black

Probably the most generic, forgettable thing in a Sentai show full of generic, forgettable things. Really...I can't tell you a damn thing about Aguri, except that his actor looks just like Kamen Rider Wizard, only Wizard somehow has more personality, when he and his show are the Kamen Rider equivalent of Goseiger.

Ian Yorkland/Kyoryu Black

More like Ian Dorkland, amirite? He's like Go-on Black, if everyone involved with the show never realized how bad Ebisawa was at being cool. Kyoryuger seriously thinks Ian is cool! And he's, like...so far from cool that there isn't even a humorous comparison to make here.

And the Black I choose to be on my team...

Change Griffin. Once again -- he's Black Condor without any of the mental or social disorders. Meaning: he's cool and bad-ass, but won't be a pain in the ass.


Sunday, February 5, 2017

Grown Folks in Spandex Fake-Fighting


If you're reading this blog post, you might be a superhero nerd. I'm a superhero nerd. I'm a nerd of a lot of things; horror, sci-fi -- for better or worse, the Nerd Bug bit me quite a few times. Despite the absolutely hostile takeover of all things superhero or "geeky" in Hollywood and pop culture, society, journalist snobs and even Hollywood, as it pickpockets us, still feel the need to make you feel ashamed of your hobby, your passion. Some people embrace what they like; some feel the need to keep it at arm's length; some feel the need to "like" it in an ironic way, not wanting to admit they DO like this stuff on a genuine level. But I'm sure we've all felt that tinge of shame or embarrassment, when...why should we?

Society says you're immature or a loser or a nerd if you like superheroes. We've all heard our favorite heroes reduced to the obnoxious "people in spandex" or "guys in rubber suits punching other guys in rubber suits" description. Superheroes are "juvenile," comic books "for stupid people." Meanwhile, society expects -- demands, accepts -- that every man worship at the altar of professional sports. Sports, which are grown men in spandex. Sports, in which society pays these spandexmen millions to play a game played by kindergarteners. Sports, in which millions is made from merchandise that is A-OKacceptable to wear, to display. To show your team pride is admirable; a man of any age can wear a t-shirt of their favorite sports team and nobody will say anything, that person's personal life or worth will never be questioned. A man above a certain age wear a Superman shirt? Every third person will glare and every person will probably judge that man.

In a relationship, an adult is expected to discard "juvenile" hobbies -- like comic book reading or memorabilia collecting -- to "put away childish things" for the sake of their significant other. But a spouse will allow their partner to build shrines in their home to their favorite sports teams. Many people will force themselves to like sports for the sake of their SO, but will have a hard time tolerating a superhero or sci-fi fan. (I never understood this. Superhero stories, sci-fi stories, other genre works have a dramatic structure and narrative and offer multiple things to a viewer. Some people have such zero tolerance accepting a "geeky" thing, yet will feign enthusiasm and interest in sports when a lot of people know damn well the fact that nobody wants to admit: sports are mind-numbingly boring. Fun to play, yes. But if you're not a drinker, how in the FLYING fuck are you expected to watch four-hour games and not want to jump through a window?)

"[Sports] is a physical journey, a spiritual journey. It's the meaning of life." You're allowed to say this kind of shit about sports, with a straight face, and not get yourself laughed at by "normal" society.

So it's not really sports/physical versus nerd/cerebral. Because sports worship is a spectator, well, sport. Unless you count tailgating and screaming at referees.

A sports fan knows every minute statistic about each player; they can tell you who won the winning touchdown in the 1973 Super Bowl. These are "normal" members of society. If you know Green Lantern's oath? BURN THE NERD! So for every article that claims "the geeks have inherited the earth," there's many, many examples to show you that that's not the case, and we're still a looked-down-upon fringe.

And quite frankly, I just don't get why it's "OK" and "normal" to follow sports like a Deadhead will follow the ghost of Cherry Garcia, but it's "weird" to be geeky about nerd stuff. Is it a holdover from jock- and cheer leader-worship in high school? Now who's being childish?

Monday, January 23, 2017

Pinhead VS Power Rangers



I've said many a time before that I'm a big horror fan, and one of my favorite horror franchises is  Hellraiser. If you're not familiar with the Hellraiser franchise, here's a brief description of its craziness: they're movies about damaged, lost, broken, corrupt, depraved or just plain deviant people who, for varying reasons, seek out a mysterious puzzle box. The puzzle box, when solved, is said to open doors to other realms, with promises of pleasure. What it really opens is a door to Hell, in which monsters appear and torture the one who solved the puzzle box and opened the door. (Some are masochists who know very well what they'll get when they solve the box, which is why these monsters -- the Cenobites -- refer to themselves as "angels to some, demons to others.") The main villain of these movies is the character Pinhead...

So, Hellraiser: Inferno is the fifth movie in the franchise. Now, Hellraiser, like every other horror franchise, has some very terrible sequels, and Inferno is considered by fans to be one of the worst. (Franchise creator Clive Barker loathes it.) The movie is flawed beyond belief, but I like what it tries to do. (Spoilers ahead.) It's about a corrupt cop who finds and opens the box -- not knowing the consequences -- and his life turns into one unending nightmare of a case. He's racing the clock to find a child killer, and the suspected culprit is almost a myth in his means, his envasiveness and how well-guarded he is; known simply as "The Engineer," he's practically an urban legend amongst cops and the criminal world. The main character finds himself desperately trying to solve this unsolvable, supernatural case, one in which he's implicated, and one in which he betrays or loses everyone close to him. The Cenobites are about inflicting pain on people, and this movie emphasizes the psychological pain they cause the main character in damning him to relive this case.

Now, Hellraiser 5 isn't great, but it TRIES to have a serious, dark tone to it. It wants to be neo-noir, and I think it has a good idea in the Cenobites punishing this corrupt cop by making him relive this nightmarish case. Things are going along nicely and then, randomly, the movie gets stupid. More stupid than the time Pinhead goes to space, more stupid than the time a disc jockey was turned into a Cenobite and killed people by throwing CDs at them; the cop character goes to a remote, backwoods bar populated by hillbillies in order to get info about the killer he's after.

You know how this scenario goes: the bar's filled with people who won't talk to him, he says one too many things that rouses suspicion, and then he leaves. Shortly afterward, at the behest of a criminal at the bar, the cop is cornered and roughed up by goons. But not just any goons... He's roughed up by TWO KARATEKA ASIAN COWBOYS. Asian cowboys. Who do karate. Karate kicking Asian cowboys. In a goddamn Hellraiser movie. So long, noirish atmosphere, so long, gory Hellraiser murder mystery. It's an incredibly stupid scene, really horrible and goofy looking. It's so dumb, it's so random, so out of place! How in the...who the heck decided to have the movie make such a stupid detour!?! Who was behind this scene of shittiness?!?!



Oh. That explains a lot. And: whaaaaaaaa? How'd this happen? Who thought this was a good idea? The how and why this came about is a mystery worthy of Poirot. "Hmmm...say, you know this Hellraiser could use a little action. Let's get the guy that does all of that twirly, slow-mo dance-y crap on Power Rangers!"

It's like this brief scene captures what I don't like about Sakamoto: not only do I just dislike his style, but he just does what he pleases and forces his style onto the work, even if it doesn't fit. And, sure, in this case, it was up to the Hellraiser producers and director to look at his footage and nix it, but it doesn't change that Sakamoto just breezes in and does his usual thing when it doesn't belong. He doesn't take things seriously, he ignores his surroundings, and just pulls out his bag of same old same old tricks. He could be given a boxing movie to choreograph, and he'd turn it from being about fist-fighting into "Cirque du Soleil Presents: Bootleg HK Action With Slo-Mo Explosions!"

Your weekly reminder that I'm not a Koichi Sakamoto fan!

Sunday, January 15, 2017

Pink Warriors

Red is the most important color in Super Sentai, and Pink is just a shade of Red -- the Pink senshi is equally important to the franchise as Red. With that, and wanting to talk about more heroines, and feeling bad that Sean Akizuki requested this when I did the Reds TWO years ago, let's go!

Peggy Matsuyama/Momo Ranger

I don't know who decided it and why, but the legacy of Pink heroines started off incredibly strong with the casting of Japan Action Club member Risa Komaki as Peggy. She set a standard for kick-ass heroines in tokusatsu at a time when most of the female characters were stuck in Comic Book Land circa 1940s -- if they weren't a reporter, then their unofficial job was to be the love interest and/or worrier and/or food server of our heroes.


Karen Mizuki/Heart Queen

Karen's really kick ass. Like some weird cross between Doogie Howser and 21 Jump Street, she's an 18 year old ass-kicking member of Tokyo Vice. That's a little crazy, but Japan Action Club member Michi Love makes you believe she can lay a beating down on the thugs of Japan. She's a really cool, overlooked performer. I mean, she was handpicked by Sonny Chiba when he was recruiting people for the JAC in Okinawa. That's an impressive endorsement!

The problem with Karen is once the show starts getting "fixed" around in the teens. She loses a lot of her edge and attitude, and they start having her act stereotypically "girly." This is what I like to call a character being "kawaiiped," as in a forced cutesiness wipes out their uniqueness or coolness. I mean...maybe an action actress like Michi Love appreciated being able to show off a different side of herself like that, but it just doesn't seem honest to the character. She goes from being a powerhouse who's kicking the heads of criminals in to shrieking in fear at just the mention of the word "vampires," or they'll have her fetch the guys coffee or show her decorating their (crummy) base.

She at least gets to reclaim (some) past glory in the penultimate episode where a seriously wounded and bullet-ridden Karen breaks into Crime's island fortress in order to save Gorou/Spade Ace, nicely repaying his saving her life in the first episode.

Diane Martin/Miss America

I like Diane, I like her introduction to the show being so dramatic with her father being killed by Egos and her trying to lure out Egos; Diane's depicted as being hip and fun, but...thanks to the limitations of actress Diane Martin, Diane (the character -- they let the actress use her own name for her character!) is ultimately not in the show a lot. (And some people like to interpret her shopping obsession and stay-at-base "laziness" as some comment on America, but...that's probably more thought than Battle Fever J put into writing her.)

Diane's in the first half of the series, but there's stretches where she barely appears. Some say the actress had trouble adjusting because of the language barrier, some say it's because Martin had a hectic schedule as a model. For me, it's a little like Yuki Yajima in Bioman, where we kind of don't know the potential the character had. I don't want this to sound bad, but I at least like that Diane Martin (the actress) was actually American, that the show tried to get an American...

Maria Nagisa/Miss America

...but they then cop out by just getting a Japanese gal to replace her. The smart thing was having her backstory be that she trained with Diane's dad at the FBI, so she didn't feel so random (the way Kensaku's replacement, Jin, always did to me). As much as I like Battle Fever J, the show just seems to me like it's making up for Diane's lack of presence by having Maria shape-shifting to fit whatever the episode requires to be. So she just ends up without a clear identity and doesn't leave much of an impression.

Akira Momoi/Denji Pink

I don't really remember much about her. The only episode I remember of hers is the one with Hirohisa Nakata as a vampire, and that's just because I dislike Hirohisa Nakata. The show treats her like nothing but the token girl, into the cutesy stuff. And actress Akira Koizumi is a mannequin. Next!

Miki Momozono/Goggle Pink

She, like the rest of her team and show, are kind of generic. The show, being Hirohisa Soda's first as main writer, doesn't seem to want to tread all that far from what the Uehara years did. So, Miki's kind of the typical girly-girl, but what's added to her that makes her stand out more than a Denji Pink is just a real strong sense of justice and dedication and compassion. I like her, she's just stuck in a show that didn't want to take many chances.


Rei Tachibana/Dyna Pink

I wrote about her in my post on Dynaman, and will just copy/paste what I said there here.

"I feel like Sayoko Hagiwara is one of the more underappreciated tokusatsu actresses. While Rei can be a little cutesy at times, I never thought of her as being weak or as bad as SMILE-SMILE, and a lot of that is Hagiwara -- she looks like she's perfectly capable of smacking you upside your head and causing serious damage. She also goes nuts with her voiceovers. It's no wonder she was chosen to play the wicked Neferu three years later in Flashman. How unique that she played one of the only female Ultramen/Ultrawomen, a Sentai Pink and then a villainess? Nao Nagasawa receives 85% of the worship that should go to Hagiwara."



Hikaru Katsuragi/Pink Five

She's just real likable. I've made fun of her acting in the past, but it's hard to dislike the character when she's so caring. (And I started liking her more once actress Michiko Makino started popping up at fan events, seeming like a good sport.)

Hikaru starts the show pretty timid and weak, having to be bailed out of fights by Mika. But the dynamic changes once newbie Jun's on the scene, and Hikaru starts stepping up to the plate, getting more courageous, no longer taking a back seat to Yellow, but becoming more of a Dynamic Duo. I like that sense of growth for Hikaru.


Mai Tsubasa/Change Phoenix

The bad-ass. She can be a bad-ass, but she can also play comedy. I really think Mai Ooishi is underrated, and I think she was deserving of a better career. (A lot of the problem was timing; by the mid and late '80s, the style of action movies the JAC were doing were kind of dying off in favor of Hollywood imports.)

People have criticized the show for shortchanging Mai, and while it's true she doesn't have a whole lot of focus episodes, I never really thought she seemed to vanish in the crowd or seem under-developed, and I credit a lot of that to Ooishi and just what a committed performer she was and all that she brought to the role. She's like Shiro Izumi, in that she's always just ON and adding something to the character.


Ruu/Pink Flash

Poor Ruu. (I can't stand "Lou.") She gets really ripped off compared to the others, and it's a shame, because Mayumi Yoshida is really fun and likable and the last JAC Pink.

I feel like they just didn't really know what to do with her; she was the young one of the team like Blue, so she skewed more towards the lighthearted side. But even Blue got his share of more dramatic stories, and Ruu's only real solo dramatic story was that early one where the Juu-Senshi hatches and thinks she's its mom, which...could have been written for any of the Flashman characters, even one of the guys.


Momoko/Pink Mask

If you missed my previous post on her, it's new to you!


Haruna Morikawa/Pink Turbo

Another Pink who I think is really underrated. A lot of what I like about Haruna, though, and a lot of what makes her great to me is actress Yoshiko Kinohara. She just brings such a strong sense of caring, kindness and resolve. She's the most popular girl at school, and that could have made her seem snotty or unlikable, but she's not that at all. She's strong and shows a real consideration and kind-heartedness for her teammates or anyone wronged.

Haruna has two episodes that always stick out to me. One being the one where she pretends to defect to the Bouma in order to get the remedy for the monster's poison that's killing Youhei. (The one Ohranger rips off of.) The other, the one where she falls for the trap of trying to find a magical solution to end the Turborangers' fight with the Nagare Bouma. I like that she ends up realizing her mistake in thinking she could stop the fight, and that -- when their powers are on fumes -- the guys trust her enough to pool together all of their remaining power so she can make things right and defeat the monster. (That means: only Pink Turbo transforms and gets the final fight, even piloting the mecha on her own. Pretty cool.)

Kazumi Hoshikawa/Five Pink

I kind of wish the Fiveman team was just Gaku, Remi and Kazumi, because they're the best ones, IMO. (I know I poked fun at some of the stories they gave Gaku in my Reds post, but I still like him and Toshiya Fujii.)

Kazumi's mature and intelligent and supposed to be pretty analytical. As the eldest daughter, she fell into the trap of having to be the "mother" of her siblings, which actress Kazuko Miyata makes you feel sympathy for. Miyata makes the character, because she's just so sympathetic and kind-seeming. She's kind of unconventional casting for a hero, IMO -- kind of foreshadowing the casting of Jetman -- she's kinda short, often looks worried and like she's working out a math problem in her head, but, hey, doesn't that fit math teacher Kazumi?

Mei/Ptera Ranger

I've seen people try to act like Mei is cooler or stronger or more important than you think she is, but...c'mon. To me, she's kind of like Sigourney Weaver's character in Galaxy Quest -- her biggest contribution is usually just repeating some shocking information that's just been discovered or making some really obvious statement.



Rin/Houou Ranger

Poor Rin. I like her a lot, and she gets stuck with Kou. (I just cringed and balled up my hand like a bad silent movie villain just typing that little shit's name. You know, maybe Kou would be more tolerable with a different actor. Hisashi Sakai makes even Kid Burai suck.)

But I always liked Rin. Natsuki Takahashi is likable and is a light to the show. Rin just seems like a good person, she could hold her own in a fight -- Ei Hamura poked fun at Takahashi's voiceovers in an interview, saying she just always goes "Hai! Hai! Hai!" when fighting, so I really notice that now and it's distracting. Thanks, Shouji!



Momo Maruo/Oh Pink

Like the rest of the Ohranger cast (except for maybe Riki), a perfectly likable performer is pretty wasted. I think main writer Noboru Sugimura kinda had his eye on the door with this show, and that makes the writing suffer. Pile onto that the behind-the-scenes issues. Pile onto that that the show wanting to keep it about the job and the weird powers and not the characters' personal lives and you get...some bland and inconsistent characters.

Momo's the girly-girl who's cheery and positive about people. The ending credits show her doing Chinese boxing, but I don't think she EVER uses that in the show. Tamao Satou's likable and, yes, I admit that I used to have a thing for her, and that plays a part in why I like Momo. Momo -- maybe even Ohranger itself -- is pretty much only remembered for being played by Tamao Satou. You have to keep in mind how popular Tamao Satou was, she was basically the Japanese equivalent of Teri Hatcher at the time, who was the '90s equivalent of Megan Fox? for you Millennials.

Yoko Yagami/Pink Racer

What I like about Yoko is that she appears pretty normal on the surface, but she's supposed to be kind of vain and attitude-y behind the facade. Still, the rest of the team is so nutty that she still comes across as being more adjusted than any of the guys.



Miku Imamura/Mega Pink

Miku was a breath of fresh air when the show was new, and is still pretty much a rarity among heroines. She's like a mirror Kenta -- easygoing, lazy, gluttonous, not a great student -- but they're loyal to their friends and possess a strong sense of right. They have qualities that are seen as negative, but are still good people and heroes. Like Kenta actor Kunihiko Ohshiba, Mami Higashiyama is just perfect in the role, and a performer who I think should have been bigger.

Saya/Ginga Pink

I don't know why, but the show seems to go out of its way to ignore Saya. I don't feel like we get to know her well. She's just gentle and trusting and a hippie and actress Juri Miyazawa is at least likable, but...I don't have much to say about her, OK?! Gingaman wasn't named Gingaman just because it was a throwback, but because you weren't important if you didn't have a dong. (Maybe this is why Yasuko Kobayashi overcompensates with Yuuri/Time Pink.) Moving on... 



Matsuri/Go Pink

I really like Matsuri. She has a lot of the attributes and qualities of my favorite Pinks, rolled into one really nice, compassionate, heartfelt character. And she doesn't feel like a retread, either, she still manages to be her own character, and I love actress Kayoko Shibata for not only making the character sail, but bringing elements to the character that further layers her.

Matsuri falls into the trap of being the "mother" of her siblings -- even though she's the youngest -- but it doesn't seem as eyerolling or cliched as that trope can often be, because to me it not only fits in with what a big-hearted person she is, but goes back to her profession of medical worker. She believes in people, wants to help them, wants to save them. She has an amazing empathy. She's full of love, but is strong -- not action-hero strong, but she can hold her own, and she's strong in spirit, and I see her as an embodiment of the entire show's theme. Without her, without Kayoko Shibata, there would be a huge gaping hole in the series. Without Matsuri, the Tatsumi boys wouldn't get shit done.

Yuuri/Time Pink

Try-hard. They wanted her to be so tough, serious and cool, but thought the only way to accomplish that was just by having her be a stiff bit of asshole. And actress Mika Katsumura just couldn't pull it off, either. (For all my dumping on the Timeranger cast, I've actually liked Katsumura in other roles, but she's just too young and green in Timeranger to make the character work.)

Emiri "Emi-pon" Imanaka/Abare Pink

Before you say "She doesn't count!" I know. I'm including her for fun, and because it's my blog, and I want to do what I want to do.

Emi-pon was the super fan before Akibaranger were super fans. From the moment she saw dinosaurs and monsters rampaging through Tokyo, she knew she wanted in on that stuff, likening it to a monster movie. She's moral support, she's a cheering section, and before The Flash's obnoxious Cisco Ramon, she was the savvy nerd who gave everything a superhero name.

Abare Pink was a funny idea, a nice way of making Emi-pon's dream come true, I just think it could have been done in a slightly better way. I think of the Senshi Dan stepping in to become what I call "Black Swat" when the Changeman lose their power -- they were background players who felt screwed over, but wanted to do right and earn their stripes. Emi-pon whips up the Abare Pink outfit as a way to prove to her VERY obnoxious parents that she's valuable to the Abaranger team, by making it appear to them she's NOT valuable, since she has no abilities as Abare Pink. A good idea, a funny idea, but not a great demonstration for the character to make, and not a great depiction for the show. I still like it, though. C'mon, it's funny.

Koume "Umeko" Koudou/Deka Pink

I've said before how it took me a while to come around to Dekaranger, and it really took me a while to take a liking to Umeko. I used to think she was just so high-pitched, I couldn't stand it. She had some funny moments here and there, like pretending to be Jasmine and fighting with drunken fist, or negotiating with that backwards alien. But I just thought the show tried to emphasize her and Jasmine's cutesiness too much, the show tried a little too hard to get you to like those two.

But I got to liking Umeko more in the show's second half. Basically, in that episode when that dude from Sailor Moon is pretending to love her -- I felt bad for Umeko, and was kind of like "Holy shit. I feel bad for Umeko!" I also liked that episode where she threw herself into that nightmare world to solve a case. So, I came around to liking her. Guess the show's pushing her worked, maybe.

Houka Ozu/Magi Pink

I really like actress Ayumi Beppu -- I think she's funny, I think she's likable, I think she's a good performer and was capable of playing a more serious heroine. But I HATE Houka. She's everything I don't want in a Pink, and just in time for Sentai's 30th (year) anniversary!

She's a ditz, she's self-centered, she's rude, she meddles into everyone's business, she's loud, she has dozens of boyfriends who she seems to just string along. Houka's got issues, man.

Sakura Nishihori/Bouken Pink

The second coming of Yuuri, and yet somehow worse. It's like...Sakura's supposed to be the serious Pink I whined I want all during Magiranger, but Boukenger was so bad at what it does that Sakura was as sucky of a "serious" Pink as Houka was a "funny" Pink.

A lot of the problem is in the writing, because Shou Aikawa is terrible at his job, but the casting is off, too. Haruka Suenaga's take on "serious" is to just whisper all of her ridiculous lines about Preciouses and Hazard Levels. She's pretty lifeless to me, and the show actually tried to write that in as "No! It's that Sakura was raised as royalty and told to supress her emotions!" Nice try, jackasses.

Boukenger had a big problem with casting. If they weren't a terrible performer, they were too damn young. Suenaga's too damn young to be convincing as someone who rejected her family and joined the military and became pretty much a decorated soldier. Excuse me while I laugh for a bit...

OK. No, it's still funny. Hold on...

Now I'm ready. Another thing is, she's supposed to be so smart and on-the-ball, but she trusts and loves that psychopath Akashi! How smart can she be? What kind of judgment is that? Hold hands and jump into a volcano, you two.

I've always said -- and people have ripped this off -- that if you want a good look at a Sakura-type character done right, check out Sara in Blue Swat. Sara was a similarly stoic, professional officer who had a haunted background, but actress Yuka Shiratori was mature, good, and made it all work.

Mako Shiraishi/Shinken Pink

Mako's a much better take on a more serious Pink than Sakura, but she had her own problems. Sentai's fiction, I don't think it needs to be said. In the plethora of samurai stories that's told in Japan, there's not a lot of variety of roles for women in those stories. So, here's a rare chance at depicting a strong female samurai, and they make her dream and goal to be a housewife. That's just pretty lazy and predictable. And the joke is, ha-ha, she won't make a good housewife because she can't cook! Ha-ha, man! Ha. Ha. I think the show was trying to be "realistic" with her goals -- like she couldn't end the show being some weird ronin who wanders the country and kills for money -- but still disappointing.

Despite that, though, I like Mako. She's a toned down Ryuunosuke, a smarter Ryuunosuke. She's serious about what she does, she's loyal, she can be depended upon. Actress Rin Takanashi is great, you never doubt Mako's ability for a second.

Eri/Gosei Pink

Eri -- the reason why I stopped paying attention to those pre-show character breakdowns. The early magazine info said Eri was going to be like the big sister of the team, but they tailored the character more to actress Rika Sato and made her cutesily ditzy. She's not offensive, but not one of my favorites. The whole rumored scandals surrounding Sato's disappearance from the entertainment industry is more interesting than anything you'll find in Goseiger.

Ahim De Famille/Gokai Pink

I like Ahim, I like Gokaiger -- I'm one of the few people who hasn't turned on that show. Ahim's a bit of a more gentle and softer Pink than I'd like in an anniversary show, but she was likable and brought thoughtfulness and heart to the side of the heroes and kept them in check and prevented them from being bigger jerks than they could have been. Yui Koike really suited the role and brought more to it than you realize.

Amy Yuutzuki/Kyoryu Pink

Everybody in Kyoryuger is a real cartoon, so there's not much to say about them. I'd like to give Kyoryuger a rewatch, but when I tried, I stopped halfway through the first episode because I can't stand Kingoo. But Amy's probably the least offensive one to me.

Kagura/ToQ 5

She's disappointing in that she should have been such a fun, crazy, unpredictable character in that she was the one who was supposed to have the most imagination and sense of fantasy, but...they didn't really display any of that. They made her a weakling who would briefly imagine herself as, like, a ninja and wipe out some grunts. There was room for, well, a lot more imagination in this show, but it was content to just play it safe and go on cruise control.

I think the problem was basically that Kagura was undercut by the revelation that they were all kids. On a team of five grow'd up characters, a dreamer and someone with "the most" imagination WOULD stand out. But since the show liked to emphasize that only kids had imagination -- which I disagree with -- the ToQger were all treated similarly and were just there and all pretty interchangeable, if you ask me.

Kasumi Momochi/Momo Ninger

I know she was the fan favorite, but the actress just kind of bugs me. She always has the dopey expression and seems really impressed with herself. You're on the Ninninger team -- that ain't impressive.

_____

OK, so now who I'd want for my team. This was a toughie. I really wanted to pick Change Phoenix. She's a good fighter, her reconnaissance skills would come in handy. But then I thought Haruka might have reconnaissance expertise with her training as a ninja, so that might be redundant on my team.

I really liked the idea of Pink Turbo, but I think she's too young. I considered Five Pink for her knowledge, but was like..."C'mon, Fiveman." I would have loved to pick Momoko, but can't since I already picked Yellow Mask.

But I kinda knew, even before I began typing this, that Matsuri would be my pick. She has a lot of the best qualities in a Pink, she's brave, and it would probably help to have a hero who's a medic on the battlefield.

[If you're inspired by this post to write a similar one of your own and/or to paraphrase/quote any parts of it, first off thanks for liking it so much! But also please credit my blog and link back to this post.]

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Commanders, Mentors and Allies of Warriors

Rubberbabybuggybumper -- ha! I bet you didn't expect this curveball. Instead of doing another color, I'm going to talk about the commanders, mentors and (mostly robot) allies of the Sentai teams.

The Sentai mentors come in many shapes and sizes. Some shows remember Sentai's link to the military, and have them be basically army commanders. Sometimes, they're goofy robots who annoy you. Growing up, I had the likes of Changeman's Ibuki and Maskman's Sugata, who I consider to be two of the best commanders. I never saw Magu or Koron or Peebo as commanders, but just allies or helpers -- the Reds of those shows seemed more in charge. To me, the commander is a stern older dude. (My family misheard and didn't know the phrase when we watched these shows -- so instead of "chokan," we called these characters "joekans." Hey, that's not bad for a bunch of honkeys who didn't know Japanese.) A good joekan is crucial to a show. Here's my thoughts on 'em. (And they're annoying robot stand-ins, too.)


Gonpachi Edogawa

Honestly? Never really liked the guy. The whole "pretends to be a dunce, but is secretly the commander" thing kind of hurts the character, but it's also the actor -- the guy just acts like he's really, really tired or something. He makes him seem like a lazy boss from a sitcom, not a dependable military commander. How did the Goranger survive 84 episodes with this guy's leadership?

Daisuke Kujirai (Joker)

I like actor Hiroshi Tanaka, even though I've seen him play a ton of villains, so it's weird to see him be head of the heroes here. He's not given much to do, sadly, but is pretty cool in his last episode before being replaced by Big One -- infiltrating the bad guys' lair by dressing like one of the grunts. It's like what Big One ends up doing frequently, so it's sad they waited so long to give Joker something to do.


Tetsuzan Kurama

The Shogun. This guy's awesome. No-nonsense, stern, without a doubt in charge, knows his shit. He's the classic Sentai mentor, but actually does seem like a Shogun of old, so it's awesome that they got chambara star Chiyonosuke Azuma to play him. And it's awesome that they gave him a nice, big, epic sword fight showdown with Masashi Ishibashi's villain at the end of the series. (It's also a funny coincidence that, in such a pro-Japan show, that Azuma looks like one of the dudes on a yen bill.)

IC the Denji Dog

I'm an animal lover, so I think this is cute and all, but...what the hell, man? It doesn't make sense to me for Denjiman to have a (talking, robot) dog commander. (Is it an homage to Satomi Hakkenden?) You'd think that belongs more to an animal team. Whatever.

I want YOU for Taiyou Sentai!

Daizaburou Arashiyama

I like actor Shin Kishida a lot, he's awesome. But Arashiyama is probably one of two of the most overrated Sentai mentor/commanders of the franchise. If not for Kishida, I think he'd be kind of forgettable. Kishida deserved better.

Hideki "Who?" Hongou

Seriously, like, the most forgettable and useless of the commanders. He's there for the first two episodes and splits until the final episodes. Like "Here's your powers, I entrust you to the Comboy, see ya!"

Kyuutarou Yumeno

I love Dynaman, but Yumeno's always been weird to me. I like the character, how he embodies the show's dream theme. I like that they try to give him some importance by the end, in the villains trying to exploit one of his scientific discoveries. The problem for me is actor Junshi Shimada. The guy's just kind of bland and he always seems hammered to me -- look at that pink face. This was the character Shin Kishida should have played (had he not passed away shortly after Sunvulcan).

Peebo

I don't usually like counting the robot mentors. They're all mostly goofy to me, seeming more like assistants rather than mentors, guides or commanders. Peebo always bothered me as a kid, and I still have some of that feeling towards him. You watch the show and he's not exactly cutesy or overly offensive, but...eh, maybe it's the design or the voice.


Ibuki, the Chokan of Chokans

The best. He takes the best things about mentors past and is given such a strong arc and motivation that he beats what the shows do with most mentors. None of it would work as well without actor Jun Fujimaki, who was a real get for the show and took the role seriously, and with such an experience in the entertainment industry brought the character a professionalism, experience and wisdom.

We meet Ibuki and he's a hard-ass drill sargeant from hell. Move over, R. Lee Ermey, because your schtick is kinda comedic, anyway. Ibuki's the army instructor you don't want to piss off. Nobody escapes his wrath, and he wants nothing less than better than the best from you. So, his soldiers are pushed to the brink and kinda hate him for it, but there's a reason to his method and madness. (And I like that Changeman flips what was a Sentai cliche at that point; beginning with Goranger, they liked to have the commander/mentor feign this persona of incompetence, only to reveal that they're the hard-ass in charge, to everyone's surprise. Well, in Changeman, it's flipped so Ibuki is the hard-ass, but reveals himself to actually be thoughtful, considerate, kind, humane...much to everyone's surprise.)

Ibuki's so hard on the Changeman -- and so knowledgeable about space and aliens -- because he himself is secretly an alien, one whose planet was destroyed by Gozma, one who has seen countless planets conquered by Gozma. So, he knows what the Earth is facing, and isn't playing around in preparing his soldiers and getting them to harness and use the best offense they have against the Gozma, which is the Earth Force. I love those final episodes, when things are looking so bad for all of the characters, when Gozma is just on an all-out attack, that Ibuki steps in, fighting alongside the Changeman in his alien form. Ibuki brought Sentai commanders onto a new level, and was the prototype for the likes of Kaku and Doggy Kruger.

Magu

I like that Magu's a security guard robot of the Flash planet, and that the Flash aliens program him to help the team, but...again, he's just kind of cutesy, and Jin always seemed to me more of the head honcho. Jin's the mature one, the one with the answers, the team's guide. Magu's basically a secretary relaying info he Googles back at the Round Base. Sara could have whipped up the technology to have that transmitted directly to the Prism Flash. Was Magu needed?


Sanjurou Sugata

It's funny about Sugata. For a while there, he was my favorite commander. He has just such a presence and knowledge and really embodies all that you expect from a mentor. Hayato Tani's awesome...but, you watch the show, and Sugata's not in much, due to Tani's busy schedule. It's a shame, because you can sense they wanted Sugata to be more involved, but there's stretches of episodes he's barely in, and he's confined to base a lot, which just seems to me like they brought Tani in to shoot and got him out as fast as possible.

Sugata whips the team into shape, he guides them without holding their hands or seeming excessively harsh. I like when he bails them out of a jam by lending his own Aura Power to an attack of theirs, that he's spiritual -- the yang to Zeba's yin -- and anticipated the Tube. I kinda don't like that his background was saving a girl from being pulled into the ground in the exact same way as Mio was -- something revealed just an episode or two after X1 Mask had a similar background story -- but what can you do?

And, to be honest, I always thought the Sugata Racing cover was just about the strangest choice the writers could make for his cover. Just...wha? Don't be cutesy and make his cover, like, a yoga class or meditation temple, but...racing? And force Takeru to become a racer to maintain that cover, when it's Kenta who dreamt about being a racer? Further weirdness!

Naming him Sanjurou kind of makes me think of what Toshiro Mifune as a commander would be like...if Sentai could have afforded him, and if he would have done it. Maybe it was a pipe-dream of the Maskman staff to have Mifune as Sugata?


Koron

One of the few robot helpers that I like. While a nice combination of good suit acting, voice acting and design helps, Koron's just written better than Peebo or Magu. They give her a couple of those classic robot staple stories of trying to humanize her, best represented by the episode when Yuusuke coldly dismisses her advice and expertise, only to come around to realizing she's right. In that eipsode, she also places herself in danger for him, taking a severe hit from Kemp, making Yuusuke realize that, hey, maybe Koron does have feelings and a life, and that he does care for her as much as his human teammates.


Professor Dazai

Dazai, like the show he's in, often falls through the cracks, is misunderstood and under-appreciated. While I feel like he was kind of inspired by Doc Brown, I don't think Dazai is as weird and flaky-seeming as Doc could be. He's supposed to be somewhat eccentric, but actor Fujita Okamoto never makes him too weird or unreliable. He's solid back-up for the Turboranger. He's not stern, but not a pushover. He's smart and you could count on him to help out with advice or a new weapon. The show didn't use him as much as it could have, but I think that's because he's basically co-leader along with Shiron. (And Yamaguchi-sensei plays an important role, too! The show has three bosses.)

And here's where I have to go on a mini-rant. Dazai is shown and said to be a car nut. He loves cars, collects them, and is shown to make model cars. He has cars on the brain, so he designs the Turboranger suits, weapons and mechas around cars. That's more of an explanation than a lot of toku does for its aesthetic theme, yet Turboranger -- still, all these years later -- is always singled out. "Why are they cars? What sense does that make? How do you get cars out of fairies?" Well, why the fuck does samurai and warrior based Riders in Gaim wear fucking fruit? You're OK with that, you spent thousands on the Figuarts for all of those ugly fuckers, but Turboranger being cars is too much for you?

Turboranger's suits are a mixture of magic and technology -- not the first time Sentai's done it, certainly not the last. It's the fairy magic powering Dazai's suits, which he just happened to make resemble cars. You know what's weirder to me? The government in JAKQ deciding to have their dead cyborg spies dress like trading cards. And I know Carranger is often intentionally stupid, but...c'mon, they could have done better than car constellations. You're OK with Kurumagic, people? What the hell, man? Don't always give that show a pass just because it's goofy. Gingaman also has wonkier powers and themes.

And I have no idea if this is intentional -- I don't think it's the same in Japan, but whatever -- but I like to look at the car theme as just going along with the teenage theme of the show. Learning to drive, getting a car, represents growing up and freedom, it's an important thing for a teen. Maybe there's also some meaning behind these car and machine-armed youths versus ancient demons, kind of an industrialization versus the supernatural theme at work. *shrugs*

Turboranger being car-themed made sense to me. I never had a problem with it. But that's me, someone who took a liking to Turboranger from the first moment I saw it. It's just me and Kenta Sato out there waving the Turboranger banner.

Anyway, I like Dazai, so it's always a bummer to see actor the likable Fujita Okamoto, after playing the kindhearted Dazai, return to Sentai as Tatsuya's asshole dad in Timeranger.


Shiron

A character who could have been cloying -- although people act like she was -- but is really just such a sweet, good-natured, pure character, played perfectly by an immensely likable actress. (Mayumi Ohmura was pretty young at the time, too, which could have easily meant a weak performance, but she's perfect for the part.)

With Shiron being the last of her kind, doubled with Ohmura's performance, you can't help but just like Shiron and worry about her. Forget clapping for Tinker Bell, Tinker Bell was kind of a little shit -- but when Shiron put herself in harm's way to protect a powerless Turboranger, THAT had me worried.

I like Shiron, she's the heart of the show. If people didn't charge $400 for her doll, I'd probably buy it. (Don't laugh at me, you have Sailor Moon merchandise!)

Wait, it's EARTHER G6...? Get ready to edit Wikipedia, all you guys who insist it's GORENGER just because Toei spells it that way.

Arthur G6

I don't mind Arthur. I like voice-actress Rika Matsumoto, I like the design, and Arthur is actually important in that he protected the Hoshikawa siblings on that terrible day Zone broke up their family and was responsible for raising them at least until Gaku and Kazumi became old enough to start caring for the others. It makes Arthur seem like part of the family, and you care more about him than you do most other robots.

Aya Odagiri

I never liked her as much as most Jetman fans do. I don't DISLIKE her. I think the actress is too young to pull the character off. (It would probably surprise most people to learn that Mikio Maki was only 29 -- just a few years older than Hawk's or Condor's actors.) She tried a little too hard to convey a strong sense of authority and no-nonsenseness, and it just came across as forced to me because of the actress's young age. She seemed like she was an accidental commander the way four out of five of the Jetman were accidental senshi. They just definitely needed an older actress.

Barza

Barza's kind of useless, isn't he? He doesn't do much to help the team that Geki or Goushi doesn't already do, he's not the greatest magician, but worst of all...can be a complete asshole. The way he and Gnome act when that kid's trying to awaken Burai is something out of a latter-day Inoue script, behavior expected by a psychotic like Kusaka.

I don't mean to speak ill of the dead, but I never liked actor Jun Tatara's schtick of always seeming super weak and decrepit. And there's something about his acting style that makes him seem like a non-actor, so he's kinda weird, and Zyuranger already had too much off-putting weirdness.

Barza's best moment? When Power Rangers used a brief shot of him pretending like it was a pre-decapitated Zordon.

Kaku

(CCLemon99, skip to the next entry.)

The other overrated mentor I was talking about. It's like...the Japanese fans overrate Arashiyama, but everyone else overrates Kaku. I always thought he was a Sugata knockoff, but without the charm and presence of Hayato Tani. Kaku also comes across as more of a know-it-all prick. He treats the Dairanger horribly, and then there's his harebrained idea of joining the Gorma, which predictably blows up in his face and we're supposed to feel bad for him, but we don't. He also looks like he smells like stale crab meat wonton farts (if you've had crab meat wontons, you know how that smells) and acts like those farts don't smell.

Sandayuu? The Three Deus Ex Machina?

Kakuranger's kind of mentorless, isn't it? Sandayuu is too flighty for most of the show, and missing for a large chunk of it. The retconning of the mecha, where they're made to be Daizyujin Jr., kind of takes the role of mentor. I kind of don't like that, you know? They just totally made up at the last minute that the mecha were deities.

Naoyuki Miura

I love that it's Miyauchi playing the mentor here. It's a homecoming, he's more at home here than he was in the Metal Heroes he was mentor of. While the rumor that the part was written for Akiji Kobayashi fascinates me, you can't go wrong with Miyauchi. Miura, as written, feels like an afterthought for the most part, with Miyauchi doing all of the heavy lifting, but Miyauchi is good at that. If taking an underwritten part and making it awesome were an Olympic event, Miyauchi would have Gold Medals flying out of his ass like pachinko balls.

Like the Ohranger heroes, he's an actor who was deserving of a better, more serious show. (But of all of the Ohranger performers, Miyauchi is the best when it comes to bouncing back and forth between Ohranger's seriousness and goofiness. You know Miyauchi has a blast playing comedy.)

Miura's stand-out moment for me, though, is in Carranger VS Ohranger. The movie's perfect in having Miura playing it straight training the goofball Carranger team, but you can tell Miyauchi is having a lot of fun.


Dappu, dappu

Another cutesy character with the potential to be annoying, but Dappu is just fun and likable, dappu. Dappu has that tragic backstory which doesn't bring Dappu down, and you gotta love Dappu's spoofing a mentor character dying to spur on the team in the first episode, dappu.

Eikichi Kubota (aka Jouji Costanza)

Can'tstandya! No, really. I can't stand Kubota. A lot of that is actor Satoru Saitou, who I hate in just about everything. (The Ohranger episodes he's in are already pretty heinous, so throw him into the mix, and maybe you'll see why I think Ohranger is an atrocity.) I know Kubota's supposed to be kind of frustrated with who he has to work with as Megaranger, but Saitou plays it as being a judgmental, condescending ass. And I don't buy he ever comes to accept them or that he cares about his former friend being the villain. I just don't like this George Costanza-looking motherfucker (and I like the actual George Costanza!). He's a weak link in a show whose cast I happen to really like.

Mohku

Back in the day, people poked fun at Mohku. But he makes sense, with Gingaman's hippy, nature-loving spirit. A magical tree that keeps tabs on things by communicating with other trees...shut up, I like it! And voice-actor Rokurou Naya is perfect, giving the character such a soothing calmness and wisdom. My main complaint is...Toei, you could have done a better prop. You know you could. Mohku's not all that detailed, and he looks like something a kid made in art class and got a C on. (OK, D+.) It's a really cheap-looking and primitive set piece. Thank goodness the character and actor come through and save it all, though.

Mondo Tatsumi

Maybe the worst father in toku history? And I'm keeping in mind Shin Kamen Rider's dad, who secretly used him as a guinea pig, and the Gouraiger's dad, who was INSANE. Who else? Yellow Mask's mean dad who didn't let her have toys. White Swan's parents who were classist, condescending assholes. Burai's dad, who was a crazy reneger. (Here, you can have my son, Yamoto Prince Yoshinori Okamoto. Wait, how dare you take my son! Give him back and make my family, who has no claim, the Yamato royalty! WTF?) Ryu Ranger's dad, who was an HK knock-off of Darth Vader. Time Red's dad, an elitist, selfish prick. Abare Blue's dad, an elitist, selfish prick. Aka Ninger's dad's dad, an insufferable asshat. Emperor Aton, who openly wished his son dead. Doctor Man, whose son denounced him as a demon. Shadam, sadistic spouse and child beater. Jin Keisuke's dad, who was a distant, manipulative, judgmental, absentee jerk. The nutsack who sold Koutarou and Nobuhiko to Golgom. Otoya Kurenai, obnoxious idiot deluxe.

Just a whole list of terrible fathers in not only toku, but superhero stories in general. And Mondo's really up there. He walks out on his family and comes back one day and thinks THEY'RE the assholes for not jumping right on board with his insane GoGoFive plans. And he's never apologetic, he's always just smirking and self-satisfied and never feels like he's in the wrong. "Hey, kids! You haven't seen me in a decade. Well, that's because I've been building you all this stuff to use to fight against these dangerous demon dudes. Oh, yeah! One more thing -- I'm expecting you to fight against these dangerous demon dudes. I haven't seen you in a decade, but I assume you're well-adjusted and happy enough with life having two asshole parents who walked out on you that you won't mind risking your lives. Toodles!"

That's Mondo if you look at him logically and realistically. I don't know how, but actor Mike Maki makes him likable, and a kook, so you're kind of like "Oh, Mondo, you scamp."

Ryuuya

Asshole extraordinaire. People like to pretend like Ryuuya is this deep character, realistic in his flawed shades of grey, but I think he's just a sloppy, nonsensical mess of a bad writing complimentary of master of sloppy, nonsensical messes of bad writing Yasuko Kobayashi.

Ooh, Ryuuya, this shady guy who we're going to be cheap and just use the awful guy playing Time Red. He's in the shadows for most of the show while we think up what to do with him. Ooh, he's a descendant of the Red, and is coming to take back the powers! Ooh, he's pulling strings and is up to shady shit to ensure his safety. Ooh, one of our heroes kills him. Just...screw this guy. He made no sense. We're told he's so cold-hearted that he rewrites history in order to have people die in his place*, but he's just such a softy that he feels bad for the Timeranger and repeatedly saves them by sending their mecha, even though they need to die to further his agenda? What? Kobayashi Bullshit. Stupid.

(*I think that's an interesting sounding, villainous character, but Kobayashi sure couldn't pull it off.)

Tetom

I used to be hard on Tetom, because she's not exactly the strongest commander, she's not what you picture when you're thinking of a Sentai commander, but she's not supposed to be. She's supposed to be ethereal, and a hippy. She guides the team in her own way, she's not the military commander you expect. And the actress does a great job conveying all of that. I just kind of feel like...Tetom was meant to do and be more, but the show kind of lost itself in shenanigans and Silver trying and failing to be cool and brooding.


Mugensai Hinata

A cool hard-ass when he's himself, kind of a joke when he's a hamster. (What's that about anyway -- a kind of nod to Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles?) I like him, but not the team he's in charge of, so that sucks.

Oboro Hinata

She's the tech-head to Mugensai's more traditional style leader. But I always thought she was really funny and amusing and that actress Shoko Takada was pretty good. I liked that Oboro was smart and played by her own rules and always bailed the team out with a new invention. Sucky Bandai promotion, maybe, and it made the Hurricaneger look even more incompetent than they already did, but, hey, it made Oboro look good.

Asuka/Abare Black

Stay tuned for a post about the Black Warriors...maybe.

This one's for all the ladies.

Doggy Kruger/Deka Master

I still feel kind of torn about Doggy. I like him, I think he's awesome, but...I still kinda wish he was played by an actor in prosthetics or something. It's a bit of a shame that the coolest character on the show is a fuzzy piece of blue felt. Says a lot about the Dekaranger cast, eh? (And, no, Power Rangers fans, stop pretending like SPD's Doggy looked better. He didn't. He looked like an alligator and sounded like Dave Coulier's terrible impression of Jack Nicholson.)

Mandora Boy

Haaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa-haaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa! Haaaaaaaaaaaaaa! Haaaaaaaaaaaaaa-haaaaaaaaaaaaaa! Haaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa! Haaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa! Haaaaaaaaaaaaaa-haaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaAAAA! Ho...ho...hooo...whew...HAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA-HAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAH!

Mr. Voice

Stupid. Useless. A waste. And then to top it all off...Mr. Voice is secretly Alex Mack or something? Wha? Heh -- you just suck all around, don't you, Boukenger? Do you have a single redeeming quality?

Master Sha-fu

Sha-fu's OK, and I'm an animal lover and all, but...I don't know if it's the design or the voice-acting, but something puts me off of him. I don't dislike him, but he's not near the top of my list of awesome mentors or anything. A kung-fu cat mentor should be cooler than a dog cop, but Sha-fu ain't no Doggy Kruger. I've always preferred...


Miki Masaki

Kind of a return of an Oboro, but more serious (Oboro's sarcastic) and more kick-ass (Oboro's a techie, not a fighter). I like actress Kazue Itou and think she just brings such a cool presence to the character.

Another thing for if Shougo Ran Things: Sentai shows would be exploited in novel or comic form the way franchises like Star Wars or Star Trek is. The best shows have these little pockets and roads not traveled that would fit a novel perfectly. For Miki, it would be her past as one of Sha-fu's previous pupils alongside Gou and Rio. There's cool stories that could be told about that original triangle of Sha-fu's.

Bomper

Haaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa-haaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa!


Hikoma Kusakabe/Jii

Not really a mentor. Is he the first human who's basically the Peebo? Tono's in charge. Jii's the hand of the king. (The king shits, the hand wipes.) I like Jii a lot, though. Goro Ibuki's cool, and a veteran of a bunch of jidaigeki stuff. I like that he's the voice of reason for Tono and the disciplinarian for the others. I like his loyalty to Tono once he and Takeru are ousted as the kagemushas. Jii could have been given more. I would have liked to see him in the final battle or something like that.

Master Head

Typical Goseiger -- guy just seemed like an afterthought. Like "Oh, yeah, we need a mentor guy, that's what the other shows do. How about a giant one of their ugly, ugly henshin devices? OK, what can we name him? Gosei God? Nah. How about something that sounds like a mansion's commode?"

"Jiro, I gotta take a piss."

"Go down the hall, take a left -- you'll find the master head. Have a good piss, buddy!"

Takeshi Kuroki

I never liked Hideyo Sakaki in the stuff I saw him in prior to Go-busters, and I didn't like Kuroki. They wanted SO BAD for him to be a cool, throwback bad-ass, and he just wasn't. He was such a flop, man. It takes more than just forcefully whispering commands to seem like a cool, in-control commander. It was great when Jin came along and put a kick-me sign on Kuroki.

Torin

As with everything else in Kyoryuger, Torin's design put the "fucking ugly" in fugly. He was a dick. He wasn't cool. He was a wannabe Kaku, and didn't come close. (And look what I thought about Kaku!) Voice-actor was weak and tried too hard.

Conductor

Painfully unfunny. This actor acts like he never acted before. He's just terrible, really reeking of "This is a kids' show and I don't have to make any effort." Wrong! And that's why you suck. You're no Owner, man.

Tsumuji Igasaki

This character could be more sympathetic with a performer who was decent and likable. He's been overlooked, underestimated, treated like crap, but still does his best to guide the team. Instead you have a guy you hate because the actor is really silent film-like, and he looks like that Michael Gelman turdball.

Yoshitaka Igasaki

HATE this guy. Seriously hate him. I couldn't stand him on B-Fighter, either, but at least there he's just boring. Here, he's the most obnoxious character imaginable, a sociopath who just likes fucking with the minds and lives of his family and followers. He's supposed to be funny, quirky and endearing, but is far from it. Where's a shogun to command him to commit seppuku when you need one?

[If you're inspired by this post to write a similar one of your own and/or to paraphrase/quote any parts of it, first off thanks for liking it so much! But also please credit my blog and link back to this post.]