Saturday, June 1, 2013
The Sixth Sense
I've never really cared for sixth heroes. A lot of times, the new cast member throws off the balance and rapport of the other cast members, and a lot of times their stories bring the show to a screeching halt. Like the addition of a new mecha, you can smell the formula of a new hero's arrival, and you know the next several episodes will be devoted to trying to get you to like them, trying to get them to fit in, and trying to get you to want to buy all of their toys. So, I just wanted to talk about the sixths hero, which ones I like, which ones I think suck, and which ones whose inclusion makes me scratch my noggin. (I'm going to ignore those ones like Ninjaman, Signalman and Gosei Knight for now. It's weird that Gokaiger counted Gosei Knight as a sixth, as proven by Gokai Silver's Golden Shield of Ugliness pictured above, when he's just a Ninjaman type.)
Even though I like Ryou/X1 Mask, who's not only the prototype sixth hero, but pretty much the prototype for Black Condor, he's not counted as a sixth hero, which is still kinda BS to me. It's kind of weird to imagine how Maskman would have been affected had he been a regular, though. I assume he'd throw things off the way Bison and Sai did in Liveman, but it's something to think about...
We all know the first sixth hero is Burai/Dragon Ranger. He's one of the only few sixth heroes I really like. Zyuranger is one of my least favorite Sentai shows, but it definitely needed an active antagonist -- and Burai was it. Even if he was only villainous for a handful of episodes, he came at a time the show really needed shaken up like that, and he brought pretty much the only interesting shades to the hero side of the show. The Zyuranger heroes always seemed like guests in their own show to me -- they're just there. If not played by a unique group of cast members, I think you'd be unwilling to follow those characters and hard pressed to like them. But Burai had shit going on, he was on borrowed time. He makes Geki more interesting, so he's a helpful addition to the show. And it also helps that he's played by Change Pegasus, but I'll be honest...I still think it's a bit of a bizarre casting choice. The show has such a wonky, comedic vibe to it that you can tell he holds back from being fully villainous, but it's still difficult to see goofy old Yuuma Oozora in this kind of role. Change Griffin? He plays as many villains as he does heroes, so him I could imagine in the role. How'd they come up with Pegasus? I know Izumi was popular, but I still think it's weird, man...
Hate this kid. He's shrill, he's obnoxious. He's introduced and given, like, 12 straight episodes of focus. They spend these introductory episodes establishing him as an unlikabe little shit, and then try to make you care about him. I don't care about him. Akomaru was more likable, and he was a vicious little bastard. Next.
I like Riki's storyline, it's neat to have a hero who has previous experience with the villains. But the kid they cast? Oof. He'd have been at home on Power Rangers. Crummy acting, grating voice. When King's introduced, they have Zyuranger's Takumi Hashimoto dubbing him, which just makes you wonder why they just didn't cast Hashimoto as Riki. That would have so much better...
I've come to like him a little more over the years, but I still have clinging memories to how much I used to hate him -- I remember being a little pissed off that the hero who was so much older than the others, who was supposed to be so high-ranking at INET, was the stupidest, most goofiest character in the show. What's funny is how much time the show spends with him early on, when he can only be transformed for a brief moment, and then when he solves the problem? The character practically disappears from the show!
I tend to gloss over Black Knight when I'm thinking of Gingaman. If I say "I like the Gingaman heroes," chances are I'm talking about the core five and not Hyuuga. It's not that he's bad or anything, but he's brought into the show in such a bizarre way -- they make the character both an extra nobody AND a sixth. They establish Bullblack as the sort of Ninjaman sixth, and then turn it into being that Bullblack has absorbed Hyuuga, so they can still have a traditional sixth who's human, but...it just doesn't work for me. At least give him a different design to differentiate from Bullblack, who's an alien who's supposed to look like that fugly design, from Hyuuga, who's...using that alien's body as armor? I remember when Gingaman aired, right at the first episode, people were like "Ninja Red is playing the brother, I guess we know who the sixth hero is," so Toei likely concocted this fake out attempting to avoid predictability which was the fault of their own casting decision, but something about it just never worked for me.
I'm tired of complaining about Timeranger, so I'll condense it: I could never really get into the show because I think the five cast members are so cold and unlikable, when they're only initially supposed to be that way, but actually become great, great friends. The five actors have this air of "we're too cool for this shit," and I don't like 'em. Naoto's a good character for a viewer who feels that way. Naoto has a beef with Tatsuya because he just sees a spoiled brat; Naoto wants to prove himself to all of those people who kept him down. He's kind of a sad character in that he comes from nothing and has to earn his way, but he's so driven that he unknowingly plays right into Ryuuya's hands. I think Shinji Kasahara's a good actor who toku should have kept around.
An interesting storyline, the awesome Naoki Oofuji killing it in suit, but it's all for nothing because Tetsuji Tamayama is horrid. Just a total zombie. But it also doesn't help that I really liked the five Gaoranger actors and thought they were easygoing and had good chemistry and were such a fun bunch, that Silver and his mopeyness threw out of whack. I still think Abaranger improved upon the Loki/Silver storyline with Asuka and the Legendary Armor of Darkness, though. Gaoranger is when the sixth's storylines start getting pretty tedious, in my opinion -- they always seem to be brought into the show in the same way, at the same point as Gaoranger did it.
Great gimmick with the changing faces, but the show needed to reveal a final one that wasn't a CGI silhouette, because I always kind of just disregard Shurikenger as a real hero. He's practically like a Bullblack or White Racer to me, or like a cartoon character inserted into a live action show. And what the hell was the thinking behind getting Taiki Matsuno as the voice? He's funny, but such a total weirdo.
Sucks, I hate him. The actor looks and sounds 12, but is supposed to be from the Major Case Squad? Not only that, but he's introduced as being cool, and then after spending two episodes with the Dekaranger, becomes dumber than any of them. He's one of the major weak links of Dekaranger I could never get over, but at least we got those awesome two episodes with Mie Nanamori's Deka Bright coming to scold him for being such a nincompoop. SHE should have been the sixth one on the team.
I like the idea of the character, but he never really did anything to wow me. Plus Shine's design is quite possibly one of the worst hero designs the franchise has seen. And he has an awful, eardrum-busting Psychic Lover theme. Toei wasn't making it easy to like this guy, when he should have been pretty cool.
Can't stand anything about the show to even care. Super fugly design, though. Eiji just doesn't fit in, except as a "Hey, Inuyasha's popular, squeeze that into the show." I suppose they wanted to avoid the standard "the sixth is better than all the others" thing so they wouldn't overshadow Cheefoo, so they came up with this flimsy storyline, but...they so badly botched their attempt at making Akashi "cool" and "old-school," anyway, what did it matter?
Hiroto/Go-on Gold & Miu/Go-on Silver
If only they were the calm, cool, pro bad-asses they pretended they were...
HATE this guy. No, like, REALLY hate him. He thinks he's hilarious and mugs more than the washed-up, unfunny Jim Carrey. (So, post-Liar Liar Jim Carrey.) He's about as funny as sitting on your balls. The most pointless addition to a Sentai, period. The Shinkenger didn't need him at all. We had the comedic member in Ryunosuke; that Genta was Takeru's childhood friend wasn't explored, so it ultimately made no difference. He's simply the hero Bandai needed. So far, he's my least favorite sixth hero.
The actor could be pretty damned obnoxious and go way overboard, but I liked Gai as a character. The brooding hero? The girl crazy hero? Every Sentai team can have one of those. Not every Sentai team can have a hero who's a Sentai fan, who's knowledgeable about Sentai. While I feel like Akibaranger's Nobuo Akagi made Gai obsolete, that's still a cool character trait, and something that makes Gai one of a kind as far as the official series goes.
I'm really not liking Kyoryuger, so it shouldn't be a surprise that I don't care for Gold. Kyoryuger is just scraping, man, in its desperation to get you to forget the Go-busters misfire. It's taking an idea from every single Sentai show and shoving together and hoping it works, when it just reminds you of all of the shows that did it better and/or less obnoxiously. So, Utsusemimaru is basically just Mega Silver, Gao Silver and Deka Break shoved together. The show could have used a sane member to make fun of the five cartoon idiots the show calls heroes, but he's instead just a fake -- secretly a dope who's just as stupid as the rest. Points for getting Naoki Oofuji back to play him in-suit, though. Poor guy.
Sixth heroes -- do we even need them? When they're done right, which is a rarity, they can be a jolt that's beneficial to a show. But, back in my day, the shows had new VILLAINS to do that, and I think that can be more interesting. But a hero is what moves toys. Hoping for a new Sentai show to have just five members is like hoping for a new Rider series with just one Rider. Fine, Toei -- but just drop the goddamn "Go" titles and puns already, when you have no intention to sticking to "five" of anything.