Sunday, September 4, 2016

Black Knight: Kamen Rider Black episodes 26 - 30

26 - This episode has a mixed message; a dad's pushing his daughter to be stronger, to keep up with the boys in this ever changing world, and she wants to be strong, but she's, like, just no good at them sports the way boys are, because girls can't play sports! So, she's ripe pickin' for Golgom, who sends Dyna Blue to possess her and give her super-strength to the point where she's pwning boys at every sport, and also Koutarou. Then, when she's freed, her dad's all bawling like "I'm sorry for pushing you to do the impossible!" Bah.

Despite that, I like this episode, and that's because of guest star Hiromi Yuhara as the girl. When I first saw this episode, I was like "What, is she some kind of JAC kid or something?!" Because she's awesome, she cuts loose, man -- she's throwing stuff around, taking crazy falls, beating the crap out of Koutarou and Black. Yuhara's actually a pretty good actress for her age -- check out how well she pulls off playing bad here, but also the normal girl trying to fight through the Golgom monster's possession. Yuhara's popped up in A LOT of toku stuff in the '80s and '90s (my favorite role of hers is Rin in Turboranger). She's often the target of villains, and she's a really sympathetic performer, with a sorrowful look to her. I would have liked to see her mature and become a Sentai heroine or something, but her last appearance was as Malteua's human form in Ohranger. She was good in that, but needed a better send-off. (Yuhara actually was also in the first Black movie, as one of the kidnapped kids.)

27 - I like this episode, but it's a bit of a knock-off of that one Ultraseven episode. I mean, toku is filled with episodes where the hero is cheering up a hospitalized kid, but this one -- like Ultraseven -- is about the hero racing the clock to restore power to the hospital because a kid's undergoing emergency surgery. The monster drains energy, so Koutarou's held up from transforming and takes quite a beating, the way Dan did in that Ultraseven, too. Well, I guess if you're going to rip off of something, rip off of something good.

Unintentional moment of laughter -- Koutarou is pinned down by the monster, who's trying to rip the King Stone from his body, and Koutarou escapes this by poking the monster in the eyes with his first two fingers like Moe Howard.

28 - Fan favorite writer Naruhisa Arakawa makes his tokusatsu debut with this episode! It's the first and last episode of Black he writes, because it's terrible. I really like Arakawa, he's one of my favorite toku writers, he's written some great, classic stuff, but he can turn around and write some absolute junk. This episode is junk.

It's not a terrible idea to have the villains try to get the hero to lose faith in people and fall into despair, but this possibly the stupidest way you could have gone about the idea. And it's not only just a stupid episode, but it's another episode that makes the characters look dumb. Birugenia, who's been great all of his time in the show, especially in the way he shows up JUST to mock the Golgom trio's plans of the week, is finally shown giving a plan of his own,'s dumber than anything he mocked the trio for. So, it sorta makes him look bad. He has the latest monster unleash golden insects all over Japan, which basically shit gold, and it becomes all of the rage in Japan, a Pokemon for adults, and this is supposed to make society collapse into greed and laziness.

The Golgom trio eat this shitty plan up, but Birugenia's real goal is to get people to turn on Koutarou and have him lose faith. (Which redeems him from looking completely stupid for hatching this plan, at least.) Once his new kid friend of the week's family is being torn apart by this gold-shitting bug shit, Koutarou begins a quest to tour Japan and break into people's houses and destroy their gold-shitting bug collections. Kind of an asshole move, and all kinds of illegal, but nobody calls the cops on him -- they just throw him out or throw a bucket of water on him to chase him off. About this: people are said to have been quitting their jobs and cashing in their savings to buy these bugs with plans to breed them and make more, which means more gold shit. So, when Black ultimately foils this plan, that leaves a lot of penniless and presumably homeless people throughout Japan, including Koutarou's latest kid buddy he's trying to "help."

Anyway, Koutarou plays along like he's lost faith in humanity and lures out Birugenia and gives us this episode's only saving grace, which is a cool fight scene.

The previous episode was a knock-off, and this one sort of is, too. It reminds me of that Flashman episode where Kaura -- the outsider villain -- heads up his own plan of unleashing gold-shitting bugs on Japan. That episode's real plan ends up being that the bugs will explode or something, but it's the same thing with appealing to people's greed. Also: that Flashman episode is known for showcasing the villain actors without make-up, as they go undercover to peddle the insects. This episode has Birugenia's actor sans make-up, posing as a guy who is using a story of his own good fortune with these gold-shitting bugs to make people want them.

Yeah, screw this episode. Sad thing is, I'm planning on rewatching RX, but that entire series feels like the gold-shitting bug episode -- without the cool fight.

29 - A good episode with a lot of crazy action for everyone. Of course, it's awesome that Change Mermaid is a guest-star -- she's one of four astronauts who Golgom kidnap and replace with copies so they can actually crash the space shuttle and screw with mankind's desire to explore space. (It's mentioned that Hiroko Nishimoto's character would be the first female Japanese astronaut in space. Nishimoto's been to space a couple times already, pal.)

Katsumi gets some of the spotlight since she's friends with Nishimoto's character, Himeya. There's a pretty cool and tense scene later on when Katsumi and Kyoko are trapped in a small hospital room, fending off an attack from the Himeya clone. (Kyoko gets a few hits in; so they're not just hiding in a closet and yelling for Koutarou. Koutarou doesn't end up saving them directly, either.)

Katsumi is actually captured by Golgom and taken to their lair, where Darom nearly shits himself when he recognizes her as Shadow Moon's girlfriend. He plans to use this to their advantage, but Birugenia, like a true renegade Sixth Villain, lets her go to further his own plan -- which is to lure Katsumi into a false sense of security with Himeya and help free her and the other astronauts, who actually turn out to be the clones. There's yet another cool fight between Koutarou/Black and Birugenia, and once again Koutarou sucker punches Birugenia with Road Sector (he warns him to take a look behind him this time, it's hilarious).

The episode ends with Katsumi saying she felt like she was near Nobuhiko when she was captured, which is our Nobuhiko update... We know now that Shadow Moon's coming up shortly, so she shouldn't be so happy about that.

30 - A disappointingly scattered episode. There's not even much of a plot to it; Baraom manipulates a Hawaiian -- who is said to belong to an island clan and has a supernatural power to repel grasshoppers -- into traveling to Japan and killing Koutarou. Masaki Kyomoto is wasted, his return as Taki pointless, as he tries to lend a hand, but mostly gets his ass kicked and must just run away with the Hawaiian and guard her until Black gets there to do the real savin'. Really, it's like the producers realized they could use Kyomoto one more time and just shoved him into an already existing script; you can picture the episode without Taki and it plays just the same.

Not much to this episode except luring Koutarou into a trap and attacking him. The episode takes a strange turn when Birugenia steps in to block the monster's attack -- which was working pretty well -- and essentially saves Koutarou by attacking him with his Dark Storm move, throwing him across town, all as a way of preventing Baraom from killing Koutarou, leaving that job for himself. That's not the weird part, though, the weird part is that Koutarou lands in a park and randomly has amnesia. Some kids kick a soccer ball in his direction and he returns it, smashing apart a bench it hits, because he doesn't remember he's a cyborg. Koutarou ends up regaining his memory because he sees the soccer ball and it reminds him of Taki. Yeah, right. GTFO.

Birugenia then shows up and the episode is so unremarkable that it fails to give us even an entertaining fight! It's a really clumsy, awkward, cheap fight in this park where the same bench keeps getting destroyed (by either Birugenia's sword or Koutarou's fat-ass as he falls onto it) with Birugenia hacking down a lot of trees in missed attempts at hitting Koutarou. I don't know why, but from here out, this show LOVES to have characters fall and break benches.

Episode's just weak. And it ends with a narration that's like "But Koutarou's fate is about to change...!" and they cut to the cocooned Nobuhiko, still looking like the Hopper Man Koutarou first transformed into in episode one. The episode then ends with the old TSUZUKU, and I'm guessing a ton of people were pissed off once they waited through the commercials, sat through the ending credits, and saw that the next episode's preview contained jackshit about Nobuhiko or his transformation. In fact, it had to be a HUGE middle finger that it was a preview for an episode about Koutarou going into a video game to save kids. (It ends up being a fun episode, but, c'mon...a huge letdown when you're teasing that the Shadow Moon stuff was going to get rolling.)


  1. Man, I don't remember any of these episodes. I suppose they were at that magic point in the series where they were just burning off scripts. You did bring up a good point, though. I *hated* the wait for Shadow Moon. Was Birugenia popular enough to delay his arrival? There could only be one... I'm kinda torn... I liked Birugenia, but waiting around for Shadow Moon was kind of a chore.

    So wait, you *are* rewatching RX? Heh. Man, I'd love to see those reviews. I thought there were a handful of excellent episodes and about 38 episodes of crap. Episode 40 is about as far as I usually get. I really liked that one for it's overall creepiness.

    1. If you ever notice, the 20s of a toku show are often either generic, forgettable or just plain awful. You can pretty much always find the worst episode of a series in the 20s. I think the timing must coincide with vacation time or something.

      I doubt the wait was due to Birugenia's popularity -- we're seriously the only Birugenia fans. I think you can blame the delay on the shuffling around of writers. I'd still love to know what Shozo Uehara had planned -- he's a guy who could drag things out, but I still think we'd have a very different show if he stayed on board. And I think the Shadow Moon thing would play out a little like the Hellvira and Dr. Bio story in Spielban, where there was a kind of mini-resolution in the 20s to satisfy you before eventually being settled later on.

      The RX, that's the problem with having these summaries written four months ago. At the time of writing that episode summary, I was totally thinking "You've sat through stupid stuff like Den-O and boring stuff like Wizard, just suck it up and rewatch RX!"

      But, like I just pointed out in a previous comment, I've since made the attempt, and can't get past episode 10. If the show was just generic, it would be one thing, but it's offensive in its stupidity and obnoxiousness. When I think of RX, I don't even think of Kotaro or RX or the awesome soundtrack or a cool fight or anything -- the first image that comes to mind is the "funny" shenanigans of the screeching Sahara family as they pointlessly eat up so much screen time. They're intolerable. Did they need to be that way?

    2. Ahhh I kinda figured that was the case with the RX re-watching. It is kinda funny how RX has (IMO) better songs, music, designs (unpopular opinion, I know), and more mobile villains who are cool in theory (I kinda liked Crisis for their individual tribe allegiances)...but the whole damn thing is ruined by it being the guy from the previous series. If this was a glimpse into Kotaro's future, we were all better off letting Golgom win.

      Maybe that's what always drew me to Kakuranger. Hitting the reset button in the mid-20s was a brilliant move that minimized the slog. Even the episodes leading up to it weren't bad...I kinda liked the weird filler episodes like the Sarugami one (Saizo episode...your favorite!).

  2. I feel the same way as you do with ep 26. A bit of a mixed message. But I just love how the actors perform their roles in this ep. It just wins me over.

    Ep 27 is a lot of fun too. This is the only other ep besides the first one to have the 3 Golgom Priests hunt Koutarou down. I always loved that, and wished the series tried that a bit more. There's always been something about the Priests which I found really unsettling. Much more than the Mutants themselves. These are a trio you really don't want to cross paths with. I think it's the way they move and glide around.

    Man, ep 28 is one I always wanted to love more. But I admit, there's a lot about it which always made me feel uncomfortable when watching it. For many of the reasons you brought up. Just.... ugh.

    BUT! Indeed the battle with Birugenia in the end was amazing. I mean, this is the first time when Koutarou actually one-on-one beats him in a fight! Just a shame this fight scene couldn't be in another ep.

    But thankfully ep 29 is a good ep which makes up for it!

    Yeeesh, I'm kinda reminded how around this point I was starting to lose patience waiting for Shadow Moon in the 20s. And it was especially bad during the suckage of the early 30s.