Sunday, November 27, 2016

Yellow Warriors

I previously did the Reds and the Blues, so I wanted to next cover the Yellows, since Red, Blue and Yellow are the classic colors of Sentai Trios.

Daita Ooiwa/Ki Ranger

I'm going to be completely honest here -- when I first saw Goranger, I couldn't stand Daita. He talked weird, he sounded weird, there was a limited mileage on his whole curry-obsession and feud with Gon shtick. But, like Goranger the show itself, I got used to him and grew to like him. I think he has some backstory touched upon about his family being poor, and his taking multiple jobs to help them...? That makes you feel bad for him, just as actor Baku Hatakeyama's real life tragic story makes me feel bad for him, which I admit is one of the things that started warming me up to the character.

Daigorou Kumano/Ki Ranger

I remember absolutely HATING Daigorou. He's whiny, he's a weak actor. The show ONLY made me feel bad for him in his last episode, which is just the sign of crap writing to me. You should have been making me feel something for him all along, you know? Don't make him obnoxious, don't have him take over a fan favorite character and be irritating and then correct it in the last episode just to extract some sympathy.

I haven't watched Goranger for a while, but there's of course been stories of the hardships Ki Ranger's SECOND actor has gone through, too, so maybe that would change my opinion on him upon a rewatch. It's sad; I like those final twenty-something episodes of Goranger when Junji Yamaoka and the JAC take over the action, but I always kind of peter out well before then when I try to rewatch the show.

Jun Kiyama/Denji Yellow

Memory is fuzzy on Denjiman. It's a show I didn't expect to enjoy so much, so I've kind of been afraid to ever rewatch it. Sometimes you enjoy a show, but it's because it was entertaining at the time, or you wanted something new, but if you ever rewatch it, you find out that maybe it sucks or the cracks really show. I don't want that to happen with Denjiman.

But I don't remember Jun ever doing much. I remember it being cool that he put his intellect and scientific knowledge to use in helping crack Vader cases, but I remember the show kind of not keeping up with that. I thought it was something unique, to have Jun's science background and Tatsuya's cop background be put to use in such a way, but the show eventually just slipped into tokusatsu norm.

Asao Hyou/Vul Panther

Weirdo. OK, the first couple of times I watched Sunvulcan, I enjoyed Hyou -- he was the goofy guy. Even though actor Asao Kobayashi makes the most bizarre choices, he came across in a sort of Nicolas-Cage-so-weird-it's-cool way, but after Kobayashi got busted for being an alleged rapist, it's hard to watch the weird sonuva. His off-the-wall behavior and detachedness already made him an oddball, and then you read that news and the weirdness becomes creepy. You squirm when Hyou takes a liking to a girl, especially when it's a younger girl. It was mighty weird to watch footage of this ex-TV Asahi hero being arrested on TV Asahi. And despite one of its three members being a criminal, the Japanese still worship Sunvulcan.

Sorry if I made this too much about the actor, but it's not like Hyou had much going for him as a character, they relied on the actor's quirkiness so much. Oh, hey, it's the fifth Sentai, so he's given a love for curry just like Ki Ranger. Thanks for making that a thing, Toei.

Futoshi "Fatoshi" Kijima/Goggle Yellow

Fat guy. Likes food and animals. Food because he's fat, animals because they can be cooked and made into food, because he's ffffffffat.

In case you missed it, Goggle V tells you all you'll ever know about its heroes in the opening credits. That's what Yellow's portion tells you.

Seriously, though, actor Sanpei Godai is a likable guy -- and a toku vet, having made numerous appearances in '60s and '70s shows as a child actor and as a regular hero in Ninja Captor. I take a lot of pot shots at Goggle V, but I still find it to be a fun show. Goggle V's generic, but entertaining, and I didn't want to kick my TV over, rampage, and jump off a building while watching it the way some other tokus made me feel.

Kousaku Nangou/Dyna Yellow

Nangou's the goofy guy, so he gets stuck with a lot of the lighter plots or the kid-guest-starring episodes or having his youthful naivety used against him by bad guys. What makes him work is actor Tokita, who has a lot of fun in the role; he utilizes a lot of classic Japanese stage and slapstick styles, but is never annoying in the way some performers who attempt these styles can be. Tokita can also be serious and believable -- I think he could have been a good Red.

Mika Koizumi/Yellow Four

(For more on Mika, I've written previously about her here.)

Franchise producer Takeyuki Suzuki has said, at one point, he considered making Bioman a team of five guys. But then he had an idea -- not only have a heroine, as usual, but what if we add a second one? It hadn't been done before, and he said it opened up the possibilities for new storylines.

And so Bioman gives us the template that the franchise still puts to use, and people mock -- when it was actually forward-thinking of Suzuki at the time -- and that is the two-heroine Sentai team, where the one heroine is usually a "tough tomboy" and the other the "girly" one. But I think it's kind of lazy to write off so many Sentai teams like that. And when you look at the casting of some of those earlier heroines, like Risa Komaki and Michi Love, they were JAC ass-kickers! So, Sentai had already had some tough heroines.

But Mika was going to be new because writer Hirohisa Soda said he intended to make her a co-lead in the show, alongside Red. He had planned for her to play an important part in the show. It's unknown exactly what he had planned, but actress Yuji Yajima didn't stick around to find out.

It's sad, because Mika was cool. She was the first Sentai hero who was initially "No, thanks" to being made a hero, a prototype to Black Condor. Mika was moody, she was a brawler. Yajima was a JAC bad-ass, so she would have had no problem pulling off a female Black Condor. As disappointing as her final episode is, the writers made the best of the situation, and at least made Mika go out with honor -- she kept taking hits intended for her teammates. She's a character whose potential we have no idea of, but her departure made way for...

Jun Yabuki/Yellow Four

...who is awesome. Played by another JAC actress, Sumiko Tanaka, Jun brings the kick-ass action to the show, but also a funny, smart-alecky sense of humor. Whereas Mika always had to kind of bail out and protect Hikaru/Pink Five, being a replacement makes Jun seem kind of an equal partner, and brings out a sense of strength to the Hikaru character that hadn't been there with Mika.

Sara/Yellow Flash

I always thought Soda put his "Yellow will be a big part of Bioman" plans to Flashman, because Sara ultimately ends up being the center of the series. The tricky thing with Flashman is that they wanted to keep things a mystery for so long, sometimes felt they were just cruelly jerking the characters around, in not letting them find their families or find out which one of them was related to the Tokimuras.

I know some viewers find Flashman frustrating in that regard, but I think it did as good of a job as it could have considering. Consider the way Spielban tied up its mystery of Spielban hunting for Ben and Helen near the halfway point or the way Kamen Rider Black can eat its own tail prolonging its Nobuhiko reunion. I think Flashman is way above either of those shows. Flashman has a lot of balls in the air, and it doesn't have many stumbles, let alone any dropped balls.

Sara's the heart of the show, an important character, and I really like actress Yoko Nakamura. Sara's intelligent and can fight, but she's also kind of dour. Nakamura makes Sara cool and calm, but also brings the character a sad quality. Sara's one of those characters you want to help and save. Along with Bun, I think she's the one most affected by the team's situation, and feels the isolation the most.

Sara's also the centerpiece to a huge part of the series; in the finale, Keflen offers to save the Flashman in exchange for being left alone. I always thought that was such a great, brilliant turn for the episode to take. Keflen COULD have most likely saved them. And while the team is frozen by this proposal -- are they considering it, are they horrified by it? -- Yellow Flash takes it upon herself to destroy Keflen's gene synthesizer, which would have made the procedure possible. She didn't like the moral implications of it. And you might think "Easy for her to do, she's the only one who met her parents." But she didn't, really. She never got to sit down with the Tokimuras with the knowledge they were her family...

The team spent most of the show under the impression one of the guys was the Tokimura; when Setsuko regains her memory that it was a daughter they lost, Sara and Ruu get little time to enjoy the thought before the fight with Mes gets out of control. The Flashman are down to about ten hours of being able to say on Earth by the time Sara confirms she's the Tokimura, and she goes immediately into that last battle. The Flashman try really hard to finish that final battle and leave Sara some time to meet the Tokimuras before they go, but Ra Deus' final form was just too tough of an opponent.

Haruka/Yellow Mask

Haruka's unfortunately not given a lot of episodes, but I still think she's really cool and an underrated heroine. (Probably the only serious ninja character in a Sentai so far. Everyone else is a goofball!)

Haruka was raised by a strict dad in the ways of ninjitsu, and that provides an interesting take on a heroine who's challenging gender stereotypes. Haruka's tough and can kick-ass and looks tomboyish, but there's that episode where she really has her heart set on buying back that doll she had as a kid that her dad made her get rid of. There's always a lot of criticism over female characters who the writers will try too hard to make "badass" at the expense of their femininity, and I think Haruka's a good example of how to try to pull it off. She doesn't get many of her own episodes, but she's a solid character played by a likable, fearless actress. (Take a look at that jump in the opening credits. Awesome.)

Jou Oohara/Yellow Lion

If Yuusuke is the team's courage and Megumi the brains, then Jou's the heart of the team. He has the biggest heart, putting faith in Gou, Senda's clone Rei, robots, aliens... He goes to the mat and takes a lot of beatings for his friends or anyone he places trust in, and that faith eventually benefits the Liveman's goal in alliances formed with characters like Gou and Arashi.

Shunsuke Hino/Yellow Turbo

The likable goofball of the team, played by an actor who just looked like he enjoyed his time on the show and was as likable as his character. Shunsuke's the funny one, but gets moments to shine in more serious episodes, like the Toshiki Inoue-penned episode where he tries to reunite Bouma siblings on the anniversary of his own brother's death.

Remi Hoshikawa/Five Yellow

The best member of the Fiveman team. While she's shown teaching weird and untraditional (and goofy) music classes, don't let that fool you -- she might not have the most superheroic of school subjects, but Remi's an ass-kicker. Actress Keiko Hayase (or Megumi Sakita or Ryou Narushima, depending on different times of her career) was a member of Yasuaki Kurata's talent agency AND the Japan Action Club, and was truly the Last Action Heroine of Super Sentai.

Let us not forget that instant classic episode where Remi gets hammered in order to fight that monster using the drunken boxing style. (Eventually piloting Five Robo drunk in order to do the same thing.)

Raita Ooishi/Yellow Owl

It's weird -- this guy didn't used to bother me. But the last few times I've rewatched Jetman...yeesh.

Raita's supposed to be the Everyday Jiro, the lovable regular dude. He's an average farmer, he's a pacifist, he just wants to be left alone and plant his vegetables and live a normal life. He's not a fighter, he's not the most athletic, but here is he, forced to fight a war he's been shoved into. Like Ryuu, it's a good character on paper, but, like Ryuu, they needed a better actor, because...

Tomihisa Naruse tanks it. He plays Raita as having this attitude about him, this kind of chip-on-the-shoulder air, and he WHINES every single one of his lines, in that godawful voice of his, and he makes Raita hard to take and hard to like. Really, you want Raita to be the one who is senselessly murdered in the finale.

Raita barely gets any focus episodes, but two of the episodes he's given are some of the worst episodes of Jetman, so he has even more going against him. The first episode is that one where the writers decide to go beyond the limits of their own ridiculousness and have Raita randomly decide that he, too, is in love with Kaori. As if that's not bad enough, he then goes back in time and falls in love with Kaori's cavegirl doppelganger, marrying her, and ickily getting to live out his twisted fantasies with this poor Kaori Cave Nug. (He also fucks with history by going down in folklore as a god-like owl hero on top of it.)

The second scoop of poop on the Raita shit sundae is the Tomato King episode. A lazy "eat your veggies, kids!" episode that's out of place in Jetman, done in such an eyerolling and horribly stupid way that Fiveman would have rejected it.

But...that voice, man. It's like if microphone feedback could talk, had a sinus infection and was then kicked in the testicles.

Boi/Tiger Ranger

Like the other members of the Zyu team, Boi skates by mainly on the likability and talent of his actor, Takumi Hashimoto. It's funny to see the little brother from Jiraiya grow up to be a hero -- and then there's that funny little homage when Boi studies ninjitsu, in an episode written by Jiraiya main writer Susumu Takaku. That's probably Boi's best episode, because I seem to remember him getting a lot of the goofier episodes.

Boi gets points for using his Dino Buckler as a makeshift brass knuckles, though, and for having Hashimoto bring some nice out-of-suit action.

Kazu/Kirin Ranger

Despite not liking the Tsuchiya brothers, Keisuke fits this role, so he's not entirely bad here. The Tsuchiyas are too bland for leads, but Kazu's not a lead. (Dairanger avoided disaster by swapping him with Keiichi Wada, but B-Fighter wasn't able to avoid disaster since they cast Daisuke as the lead hero. Look where that got them -- a show that could have been a good throwback to the early Metal Hero style, but was dull and made worse by a dull lead.)

Oh, yeah, Kazu. He's not really given much. I like his backstory in that he puts on the air of being a cool and unflappable guy, but it's a cover -- he's a country bumpkin masquerading as a hip city guy. They could have gotten some good character moments out of that, but they leave it, and it's the most we learn about Kazu as a person. He's just pretty much back-up, the Dandy who uses Drunken Fist, and then he winds up saddled with stories related to the whiny Kameo. He's a bit of a bastard to Kameo, which might bother some viewers, but not this one.

Seikai/Ninja Yellow

Saizo done right. Meaning, he's actually funny, his actor's actually capable. I guess the big difference between the two is that Saizo's a dummy, but kind of well-intentioned, and Seikai's a bit more of a jerky punk.

Seikai's the smart-ass slacker of the team; it's kind of amazing they even talked him into being on the team. The guy's more disagreeable than Black Condor! Gai whined about being a Jetman, but you know deep down he loved the glory. Seikai doesn't give a shit about that, he just wants to pig out, play his games, ogle the ladies and go about his business.

Juri Nijou/Oh Yellow

As with most of the other Ohranger members, Juri really suffers as a result of the show's schizophrenia. She's initially a tough character who has no time for BS or Momo's excessive girlishness. If every Sentai team has a "strong man" on the roster, then Juri seemed to me like the first "strong woman" -- look at how she beats Youhei/Green at arm-wrestling in the ending credits, Green often being the "strong man" member -- but the show just goes all over the place and she's given stupid shit to do like exercise with the mecha and fight her brainwashed teammates by getting naked. Whatever, Ohranger, you schizo nutcase.

Natsumi Shinohara/Yellow Racer

Probably the only dependable member of the Carranger team. She has her own issues, but she'll be there for you in a fight, ready to dismantle villain vehicles with her tools.

Chisato Jougasaki/Mega Yellow

The show really lucked out in casting Eri Tanaka, because I think she takes Chisato higher than the character might have gone. She gives the character just this upstanding strength, warmth and intelligence, but she also still seems her age. She's compassionate and a moral compass. Definitely someone you'd want on your team.

Hikaru/Ginga Yellow

Gingaman, wanting to be a kind of throwback, gives us the first "youngster of the team" in several years. I like Hikaru, but he's unfortunately not given much. Even with past "kid" team members, if they weren't given many episodes throughout the show, you could at least count on them for comedic effect, or to drum up some tension when clashing with an older member. But Hikaru kinda just slips into the background.

Daimon Tatsumi/Go Yellow

Meet the cop who cannot be stopped. Daimon's a madman, I honestly don't know how he became a cop. The city was obviously in a situation similar to Police Academy where they opened the doors to anybody who came along.

I like Daimon and actor Kenji Shibata, but his craziness undermines that Daimon is supposed to be the naive little brother of the team. Like, I think the episode where a kid is caught in Go Yellow's line of fire is one of the better renditions of that trope, but it's also kind of like...duh. Daimon's insane, of course he's just going to shoot around indiscriminately. If Daimon's reaching for a firearm, it's your fault that you stood around to find out how that was going to turn out, fool.

What kind of siblings were the Tatsumis that they never made sure Daimon was on his meds?

I kid. I like Daimon, I think he's a lot of fun. And there's another sad Yellow story in actor Kenji Shibata's health crises (he's had brain tumors and one of the surgeries left him paralyzed on his right side).

Domon/Time Yellow

I've gone on about how little I like the Timeranger cast. Domon bothers me the least, but then he gets saddled with that Honami stuff. Honami is irritating as shit and the whole thing with him knocking her up and going back to the future gives me the willies and probably fucks up timelines more than ANYTHING the Londarz did. While I was impressed that Gokaiger worked Honami and their Bastard Out of Time into the Timeranger episode (although they ditched the name Domon Jr.), it still creeped me out, so it wasn't as touching as they thought it was.

Gaku Washio/Gao Yellow

This guy's awesome. I mean, I've always questioned why he went from a pretty hard-ass, strict, no-nonsense character to a mainly comedic one. The heroes needed someone serious and the show suffered for the change, but actor Kei Horie makes it work. I think it's obvious how much fun the five had making the show, so I think that just started to come through. I don't think it was a Go-on Black scenario where the actor couldn't pull off being serious, so they made him a joke. Horie reminds me a bit of Changeman's Kazuoki in that he can be funny, but can still be the cool guy with equal skill. Think of Daigo in Dairanger in that they tried so hard to make him serious that when he was supposed to be funny he couldn't pull it off. Horie, Kazuoki, Liveman's Nishimura, these are guys who could accomplish both and be believable.

It's sad that Gaku's never really given his own strong storyline, though. The main five share the show and it's all about their Pokemon mission of collecting animals. No matter what point of the series, though, Gao Yellow's considered the cool guy -- look at how he shares the screen with Red Falcon in Gaoranger VS Super Sentai -- but his big time rival is freaking Yabaiba?

Kouta Bitou/Hurricane Yellow

The least annoying of the Hurricaneger, but what's that say? Look how annoying the other two must be when you take into consideration Kouta's Incredible Hulk wig and a voice so high-pitched, he sounds like a tweenage Quentin Tarantino. I'd tell you more about him, but I have no idea about him, because only dogs can hear this dude.

Ranru Itsuki/Abare Yellow

I remember at the time liking Ranru for being presented as being competent and for at least being older than a couple of her predecessors had been. (After the Hurricane kids and young Gao White and should-have-been-older Yuuri, it was nice to have a more mature seeming and looking heroine.) I kind of didn't like those moments when they wouldn't be honest to the character, though. She was meant to be a tough, tomboyish tech-head, and then they reveal she was a failed idol. Like, what? Get the hell out of here.

But, whatever, Ranru's still cool and has a lot of shining moments. One of my favorite parts is in the finale, when Ranru takes it upon herself to raid the Evorian's lair in hopes of finding Black and Mahoro, who are impaled by Dezumozoria and basically kind of giving up. They had been questioning whether Mahoro's child is really Asuka's or actually Dezumozoria's. Ranru/Yellow shows up and is fighting against the odds and tries to reach through to them and describes how she thinks the baby shares features with Asuka. It's a nice little moment that pulls Asuka and Mahoro out of darkness.

Ranru kind of reminds me a little of Natsumi/Yellow Racer; Ranru's more layered than her, but I think Natsumi's a little cooler. How cool is Natsumi? That she's a member of a team like Carranger, but can still be cool.

Marika "Jasmine" Reimon/Deka Yellow

As much as I've come to like the show, I still have some issues with the cast -- I think a better cast would have really elevated the show. Ayumi Kinoshita is OK in the role, although she's overrated, but Jasmine could have been really cool with a more skilled actress. You have Jasmine's oddness, in the way she uses a really geezery way of speaking; you have the mysteriousness of the character, in that she has powers and was hinted at being an alien(izer); you have the character's tortured background, in the way she was tortured by her abilities and saved by the SPD.

There's a lot of cool stuff going on for this character, but Kinoshita doesn't hit all the notes, and because of her, the show just ends up treating Jasmine like nothing more than window dressing. It doesn't help that the show ends up not taking anything seriously, of course, but Jasmine's bar was already lowered by the casting of Kinoshita.

Tsubasa Ozu/Magi Yellow

I like the character of Tsubasa; the middle kid with the attitude problem, who's actually more caring deep down than you'd think. The problem, as is the case with a lot of Magiranger, is in the performance. Hiroya Matsumoto is just awful here; he makes bizarre faces, he yells every line, he makes a lot of gestures that never match what he's saying. You know what's magical? That Matsumoto eventually improved, because he's awesome in Go-busters, and only after Go-busters can I watch Magiranger and kind of give his goofy performance a pass.

Really, how did he improve? You know how many shit actors there are out there that NEVER improve? Bill Paxton has been atrocious for a few decades now, but has never improved AND still gets work. Weird.

Natsuki Mamiya/Bouken Yellow

I grew up with action specialist heroines like Yellow Four, Change Phoenix, Pink Flash, Yellow Mask, Diana Lady... I like heroines who can kick ass and are cool and competent. So when the cutesy or ditzy heroines come along, I roll my eyes.

The big 30th anniversary series, the one with the return of a "serious" Red and a human villain! Surely, this show will break the recent trend of cutesy and/or ditzy heroines, right? Wrong!

I will say that at least Natsuki has a kind of explanation for the way she acts -- her being another race and with stunted growth or whatever her deal was. But I think they could have still made her cute or funny or whatever WITHOUT having her be a total lobotomized goof. "The Strong Adventurer." Sure. Imagine how fun a character with that moniker could be if she were a kind of comedic character who wasn't aware of her own strength or ability. She didn't need to be a dummy!

Ran Uzaki/Geki Yellow

I like Ran a lot, but there's a lot of times where it just seems to me like the show didn't know what to do with her, so they tried to make her all things. She was the isolated grump at first, then a dedicated bad-ass, then she's supposed to be cute and a princess and... It definitely seemed to me like Gekiranger kind of regretted having just one heroine, so they forced various personalities onto her. But Gekiranger's a big cartoon and actress Mina Fukui is good and really likable, so it never felt like much of a distraction or that the character was too schizo, but Fukui deserved a more solid characterization. She's one of the last toku actresses who really could pull off a cool, rough fighter type. She seemed like a heroine, and not a vacuous idol who's trying to break into the industry.

Saki Rouyama/Go-on Yellow

Remember what I said about liking heroines who can kick ass? I remember complaining a lot about Saki and thinking she was a disgrace, but...

Everyone's a disgrace on the Go-onger team. OK, that's no excuse. But it would have helped to keep in mind that she's really, really young. So, I should have cut her some slack, instead of wanting to punch her in the face every time she did that "Smile, smile!" shit. But it's hard to try to give her some slack when she's followed by...

Kotoha Hanaori/Shinken Yellow

A much better way to do a young heroine than Saki. (I know I shouldn't compare Shinkenger to Go-onger, since Go-onger is a cartoon and Shinkenger is an actual show, but I do think a lot of Shinkenger is a reaction to Go-onger.) Kotoha's young, she's a bumpkin, she's a little in over her head since she's not even supposed to be on the team, and that just makes you want to root for her even more. There's also these hints that Kotoha, when she's at her best, has the potential to be the best one on the team, which is cool.

Kotoha brings a lot of heart to the show. And actress Suzuka Morita is extremely likable in the role, making Kotoha even more endearing, which is one reason why it's such a disappointment to see her wasted in the awful new Space Sheriff stuff. It kind of puts a mar on her, IMO.

Moune/Gosei Yellow

Actress Mikiho Niwa got on my nerves a little, and the character's inconsistent. She was supposed to be tough, but Niwa couldn't pull it off, so they made Moune a generic goof like Eri. So, they wanted Moune to be Five Yellow, but she ended up being more like Go-on Yellow.

Ruka Millfy/Gokai Yellow

The actress can be a bit of an oddball -- and she reminds me too much of the lead actress from the Chinese horror movie Dream Home for comfort -- but I like Ruka and her no BS-ness. Of the three "cool" Gokaiger -- the ones in the classic Sentai Trio colors of Red, Blue and Yellow -- she seemed to me the most like a pirate. It's easy to picture Ruka on a bunch of adventures across space, kicking ass, stealing treasure, and out-drinking any Poseur Space Badass like the Guardians of the Galaxy bunch.

Yumeria Moegi (Youko Yamada)/Akiba Yellow

Hilarious in her devotion to her hobbies. And terrifying in the way she'd turn into a death metal singer whenever something wouldn't go her way.

I've mentioned before that I was skeptical about Akibaranger when it was announced. They said some things about the heroines that gave me the impression it was going to be a sleazy piece of shit like Lion Maru G. And I thought a character who was constantly cosplaying, especially as a cat, had the potential to be grating. But she won me over from the first moment in the opening credits, the horrified face she makes when the wind blows her costume away. And that's nothing compared to what this character has in store for you.

You know how, with Batman, they're always going to that well of "Bruce Wayne is the mask, Batman is the true identity"? That's truer of Yumeria. By day, she's an average office worker, one who in season two is married into a rich family. By night, she's her true freaky, geeky self. Youko's the mask, Yumeria's her true self.

Yumeria's also the focus of what's perhaps Akibaranger's only genuinely touching episode, when she honors her deceased mother by bringing her back with the power of her imagination. It's a funny episode (guest star Rika Matsumoto has a blast as the mom), it's a sad episode, and it's probably one of the best tokusatsu episodes in recent memory.

Youko Usami/Yellow Buster

She's a weird one. But, like Red Buster, I think her actress is just too young and too sucky to really pull off the character. Again, Go-busters might have turned out differently if the casting had been better.

Mio/ToQ 3

She's just kind of there to me. Can't say I like her, can't say I dislike her. It seems like the Japanese fans love her, though, and I have no idea why.

Nagi Matsuo/Ki Ninger

Who-gi Whats-uo?

Now, once again is the part where I choose which Yellow I'd want on my team. My first thought was Jou/Yellow Lion, but I have the rule not to use more than one member from a team. (Since Blue Dolphin was my first pick for Blue, it made me see just how much I love the three original members of Liveman. How awesome are they?)

Then Sara/Yellow Flash popped in my head. I really wanted her on my team. She's smart, she's strong. She'd be a good pick -- but I sadly rule out any Flashman member because of the Anti-Flash syndrome. (Although if there's a person to find a cure, it's Sara.)

I really liked the idea of Chisato/Mega Yellow and came close to picking her until I realized what an asset Haruka/Yellow Mask would be to a team. She can kick ass, but is fun, she's a dedicated warrior and her ninja skills would really come in handy. She shamed three of Tube's supernatural ninjas and has the reliable old ninja ability to self-clone, giving you an army within your Sentai army.

Monday, November 7, 2016

Super Sentai spirit, crushed again

Over the weekend, the latest Super Sentai Spirits concert was held. The tenth edition of these concerts, dating back to 2004, lands on the franchise's 40th anniversary, and sees franchise favorite Daisuke Shima participating for the first time, performing his Liveman themes.

These concerts started out as just one show, held every other year. They eventually started doing them yearly, the set list growing so much they had to split the concerts into TWO main shows a year -- one covering the 20th century shows, one covering the 21st. They've only released the first two concerts, from 2004 and 2006, on DVD. It's surprising they decided to release that second one, because it had virtually the same set list as the first one; the biggest of the new additions were the Fiveman themes, and the themes for the two newest shows that aired in between both concerts, Magiranger and Boukenger.

I kinda blame them releasing this second concert for why they haven't released one since, and yet...the concerts have grown. They've gotten more of the older performers over the years (Denjiman's Ken Narita appeared once; Ohranger's Kentarou Hayami and Megaranger's Naoto Fuuga began to make frequent appearances.) Not to mention we've had TEN years of new shows to add, so the set list would be quite different from the first two.

Not to mention...the upgrade in recording equipment. Or that there's a new video format that's taken over since 2006 (Blu-ray would make it easier to slap on both the 20th and 21st Century would fit one disc and they could have jacked the price up to whatever they wanted.)

But...they didn't film the latest concerts, either. I thought for sure that, with a name like Shima's and considering the popularity of Liveman and his Sentai character, they would have filmed at least 2016's 20th Century concert. (There's a couple of rare instances where they'll film portions of one of these concerts to air on TV or pay-per-view, but they didn't film this one -- period.) It's a big mistake, in my opinion. They waste time filming and releasing all of those lackluster Masked Rider x Super Sentai Live & Shows -- which ARE pretty much the same damn thing over and over again, except for the latest crap (it's always Reeky and the Rider Chips, Kamen Rider Girls, latest crap) -- but have skipped taping and selling about a dozen Super Sentai Spirits concerts, which are the superior concerts.

What I like about the Super Sentai Spirits concerts is the atmosphere. It's a smaller crowd, it's an adult crowd, the performers are performing for adults (not dumbing it down or sugaring it up for a crowd of kids) and there's the crowd participation that's fun. (One thing I love at the Super Hero Spirits concerts: when Ichirou Mizuki performs the Zubat OP, the crowd yells out "Asuka!" at the moment Hayakawa does in the credits. It's hilariously awesome.) They're a totally different feel from the Live & Shows or seeing the performers do glorified karaoke on the terrible Anipara program or bootleg performances from them performing in a foreign country where the crowd is singing along and drowning out the dude they've paid to see perform the song they can't even hear because they're singing over him.

Oh, and another thing. The Rider/Sentai Live & Shows are HEAVILY Rider biased. The Rider portion of the concert gets to leisurely perform the entire song, while the Sentai guys have to look bad by rushing through a medley of just the TV size themes. (This year's Live & Show's going to be a mess with Project.R covering TV size versions of ALL 40 Sentai OP themes. Really, no matter what your opinion is of any of the Project.R performers, they all sound bad being so rushed at these medleys.)

The Live & Show's usually all of the same Sentai people -- Project.R, meaning it's going to be nothing but Hurricaneger up through the newest show. Once in a while, they'll get an older guest -- one year had Kushida showing up to do Gavan (of fucking course) to plug one of the shitty new Gavan movies, while the latest concert inexplicably had Yukio Yamagata to do the Gaoranger OP. I was at least hoping, since Daisuke Shima just came out of retirement, that they'd get him for this year's Masked Rider/Super Sentai Live & Show's bonus non-Project.R guest, but, nope. It's Halko Momoi to squeak out the Akibaranger OP.

I was really wanting to see Shima, Hayami and Fuuga. There's also the fear that some of the older performers are going to retire. I thought the tenth concert for the 40th anniversary would be perfect to film and release, but the fools didn't. And I kinda don't expect them to ever film them again. It's like people have taken the various "Spirits" concerts -- Super Hero Spirits, Super Anisong Spirits, Super Sentai Spirits -- for granted. They've done far more concerts than they've released, and it's not like it's something they've always done. These things really started up with regularity in 1999, so it's a newish concept that everyone kind of assumes is just a thing that's always happening and filmed and takes for granted.