Wednesday, November 29, 2017
As weird as this episode is...I always liked it. It's one of only two good episodes of this show that Arakawa writes. And this is the first episode since episode 2 that Amemiya's directed. It's weird for a main director to handle an episode like this, which doesn't really play into Jetman's overall narrative, but I think it works out since Amemiya's into supernatural stuff. He brings a great sense of style to it, though, especially in the off-kilter visions Kaori has of her death in battle.
When Kaori makes the mistake of seeing a fortune-teller who has nothing but bad things to say, it's up to her butler, Jiiya, to save the day. I like that this is the first episode that gives Jiiya a bigger role than he's ever had before; he's the Alfred to Kaori's Bat(wo)man, pretty much raising her and instilling within her a set of values. And when Kaori's withdrawn in fright from the fortune-teller's words, Jiiya gets her to find her inner-strength, and she saves the day. (Well, Jiiya helps save the day, too.)
I think Amemiya kept this episode in mind when doing GARO, with Jiiya a prototype for Gonza. (Yeah, they're both Alfred knock-offs, but...hey, the Saejimas even live in Kaori's mansion!)
A lighthearted episode, and an episode really unlike Amemiya. But it's a fun one, if you're willing to go with the flow. And almost everyone gets some humorous moments in this one. (Particularly Ako, who at one point teases Kaori for being a runaway bride way back in episode 4. Continuity!)
Gai saves a girl whose sister was the recent victim of the latest Vyram monster's attack, which is to suck the loving hearts from women. (This is a Maria plan; she hopes it succeeds in the long term, in that heartless women won't marry and have kids and, thus, end mankind. This was a better opportunity to explore some deep-seated feelings of Rie, feeling like maybe she's been abandoned and forgotten by Ryu, but...why remember that one of your main villains is the main hero's girlfriend now?)
When the girl presents Gai with her theory of the monster attacks, and photographic proof, he doesn't buy it. I covered this in some of my Kamen Rider Black thoughts, but I frigging hate this cliche in tokusatsu. Jeezum Creezum, Gai -- you've fought sewing machine monsters who turned people into pirates. You've fought a vending machine monster that sold you evil juice. You've fought a giant fucking cup noodle. Why do toku heroes, who continuously experience strange, wacky, weird shit, always be so dismissive? This girl has proof! Meanwhile, in other episodes, a toku character will be talking to a room of seemingly normal scientists, but be like "Wait! He bowed just a centimeter away from what polite society demands. He must be working for Golgom!"
This is a fairly comedic episode, and I think Toshihide Wakamatsu deserves credit for playing Gai just right. It's a balancing act in an episode of this tone. So many shows will give the cool guy a comedic episode, and it either is to try to make him look uncool or the actor will just lose the character, trying too hard to show how funny they can be. (Sometimes an actor is unwilling to lose the cool image, to the point where you kind of roll your eyes at the character -- the actor will be trying so hard to be so cool all of the time, it's forced, and makes the character UNcool. Am I making sense? Too bad! But, to give you a couple of examples, think of Ren/Knight in Ryuki or Hiroto/Go-on Gold. Two guys who tried to act cool ALL the time, but rarely ever were.)
Wakamatsu handles lighter scenes in this show just right. He doesn't lose the character, he stays honest to the character, but also honest to the situation. He's not overly conscious about being cool ALL of the time. If there's a lighter situation, he'll have Gai react in an appropriate way. A lot of the comedy here comes from Gai's stubbornness and his irritation at the kid's persistence, but he comes around to liking her and gets that bad-ass fight scene after she falls victim to the monster. (Set to the song sung by Wakamatsu, with lyrics written by Inoue and music composed by MAKE-UP's guitarist, the late Hiroaki Matsuzawa. An awesome mix of people; unfortunately the song's not the rockin' or jazzy song that would suit Gai more. Nowadays, Hideaki Takatori would have probably composed his song, and gotten the feel just right.)
Random note: This episode is the first since practically the show's beginning that remembers the Jetman's super-strength! Gai uses just his hands to stop an oncoming vehicle from running over the girl. The Jetman have been punching a lot of ordinary people these past several episodes. Remember in episode two, when Gai's punch knocks a goon across an alley? And you can't say that the Jetman are like Superman, who's able to control his strength. Do you really think the Jetman have the discipline that Superman does?
Another lighthearted episode, written by Kenichi Araki just as the previous one was. I've gotta say, I enjoy more of Araki's episodes than I remember. I used to think his best and only good contribution to the series was the Neo-Jetman two-parter, but he has a lot of enjoyable ones. (And is probably the only sub-writer who keeps mostly in tune with Inoue.)
This episode could have easily become an eyerolling and hokey Captain Planet-styled preach-a-thon, but it's instead more about how quickly people dispose of stuff. It's more about good things going to waste than preaching about pollution or anything. It's more about the casual disposal of something with immense emotional attachment, in this case Ako's stuffed bear, which comes to life as part of the latest Vyram plot. (Unfortunately for Vyram; her bear being in the heap of garbage they bring to life is their plan's downfall, as the love Ako showed the bear all her life causes it to be a kind and innocent monster.)
As much as I complain about the monster designs in this show -- which can be lazy or incredibly dumb -- Garbage Jigen's design is pretty funny and clever. That detached eyeball gives it such a sad and pathetic look; I like the VHS tapes and beer bottles and cigarette cartons strewn across its body; and I especially like that its right leg is a stack of discarded magazines. It's a well thought out design. (And the fact that Rika Matsumoto gives the monster its voice is another good choice, because she makes it instantly endearing.)
Sunday, November 26, 2017
EPISODES 17 & 18
Episodes that could have been a four-parter, instead of a two-parter. These two episodes try to cover so much ground -- Gai's laying it all out for Kaori, his "death," the arrival of Vyram's leader, Radeige's being demoted to human... Juuza and Radeige's storylines certainly could have been expanded upon.
17 features the sorta controversial scene of Gai dragging Kaori away against her will, into an elevator, to confront her. It's impulsive and rude, but fans act like he knocks her down and kicks the shit out of her until she agrees to a date. He's there at the store, just kind of bottling up frustration, and when Kaori's parading out bikinis she wants to buy to impress Ryu, he decides it's time to just put all of his cards on the table. So he whisks Kaori away and confronts her. (It's not his fault the blackout causes the elevator to stop and lose power.) Kaori's uncomfortable, but not scared, so I think people read this scene wrong.
Finally frustrated at Kaori's attempt to play nice and spare feelings by not saying anything to Gai -- what she feels about either him or Ryu -- Gai finally just reaches a point where he'd even prefer she hate him rather than feel nothing. I always kind of wondered if Gai would have backed off if she DID say she hated him.
What's really ridiculous about this ordeal is that the remaining Jetman are stranded in another elevator, with Raita freaking out about what Gai might be doing to Kaori. He really overreacts more than the viewers of the scene. And, again, the show brings up that he loves Kaori, too, and you just roll your eyes. Raita even says that he knows he's not good enough for Kaori, so the best he can do is look out for her, so...yay, Satsuki! Know that Raita thinks he's lowering himself by settling for you!
But in this scene, Ryu shows how awesome he could be. He tells Raita he's overreacting, and that he thinks Gai's a better person than Raita thinks he is. Look at this from Ryu's perspective: Gai's been nothing but a colossal pain in the ass, but Ryu still sees the good in him and vouches for him. And it says something that Gai gets pissed when the team finally meet up and Raita's at the attack with accusations; he's NOT a shitbag who would harm Kaori.
The cause of the blackouts is from the arrival of Juuza, Empress of the Vyram empire. Radeige's in-tune or powerful enough that he senses her arrival. Even though they play it vague just who and how important Juuza is, she's a great addition to the show, with more of a presence and strength and intimidation factor than the other Vyram members. It's such a shame she's used for just two episodes, and ends up being so easily disposed of. (I would have also preferred for someone like Atsuko Takahata to have played her.)
When Radeige attempts to overthrow her, she attacks him and "punishes" him in the worst way she finds she can -- by turning him into a human. In the process, he loses his memory and is found on the beach. (Just like Shouichi Tsugami.) He's found and comes to befriend a terminally ill young woman, who he ultimately ends up betraying once his memory is returned and he goes full-on Radeige. For all of my complaints about Daisuke Tachi's performance as Radeige, he's better at playing the amnesiac version. (Maybe playing a serious villain isn't for him? Because he's also kind of funny as Mokumokuren in Kakuranger.) And because it's Inoue, there's just a cloud over his friendship with the ill girl, especially when his presence raises her spirits, and she's making wishes for his sake.
Jetman fans like this storyline for highlighting how vicious Radeige is. He's stopped by the girl, who sees him in the full Radeige outfit, trying to get through to any of the kindness he had, and he kills her. That the amnesiac Radeige was so kind, and that her words cause Radeige hesitation (and his face goes from blue to flesh colored as he hears her) says that, for what a evil piece of shit Radeige is, there has to be SOMEthing decent in him, deep down. Inoue loves blurring the lines between heroes and villains and he usually likes making villains a little more complex. But, for some reason, I never found the Vyram to be as deep or layered or shaded in gray as a lot of Inoue's other villains. This two-parter is the first time anything's been given to Radeige that wasn't just muttering your standard villain threats and condemnations.
And here's what I learned upon my latest rewatch of Jetman: the Vyram are atypical Inoue villains in that there's not much depth to them, at least for the early half of the series. There's always been something about the Vyram villains that never quite worked for me, but I always chalked it up to casting choices and weak designs. But when I thought about it on this rewatch, I realized they just don't have much going for them as characters, and not a compelling motivation for what they do. The Vyram don't feel united; they don't seem like they have a history, you don't feel anything for their little game. They're just not nuanced.
I think I'm just really spoiled by the villains in Hirohisa Soda's shows. He'd give his villains layers, and moments of sympathy or understanding, but he also remembered to make them interesting and alive and damned formidable. I always said Jetman had Maskman envy, and the Tube is a villain group that never gets the respect it should, so I'll use them as an example. Although he's mysterious, we learn who Zeba is, and come to understand the dark history that fuels his motivation. Igam's a proud warrior stuck between two lives, with a personal grudge against the usurper Zeba, the whole mess Ial made and a personal grudge against Red Mask for "corrupting" Ial. You can easily surmise Baraba's history, especially once his mother is introduced. You can feel the years of hostility between Igam and Baraba and their clans. Kiros! Kiros is great, working for the villains with the promise they'll let him have Ial, while also in a bitter battle with Red Mask for her love. There's interplay between the villains; personality clashes, disagreements over methods; there's a sense of shared history, you get quite an impression of Tube's underground world.
Or take a look at the officers of Flashman's Mes -- you don't exactly find out a lot about them, but it's easy to surmise since they're lab experiments, but they're also colorful, memorable, there's a unity to them, they're competent. They're made more memorable by good casting and high quality design work.
Now, what can you say about the Vyram members? Who they are? Where they come from? Their history, their individual personalities? Radeige's a megalomaniac; if you didn't know she was secretly Rie, what's to say about Maria?; Toran's just a typical Evile Brat; Grey's a robot, but isn't it cool he likes alcohol, cigars and music?! And they often feel just so disorganized -- I get that they're meant to be a sort of mirror to the Jetman team, but it's not entirely successful since we're meant to believe the Vyram have successfully conquered other dimensions. It's not really until the later episodes that anything of note is done with the Vyram, and even then it seems just so...small. And really not like Inoue. This is the guy who got the Kamen Rider The First gig and was like "Oh, reboot the original series? OK. Here's an entire movie about two Shocker monsters instead. Enjoy!" He's the guy who, in Kamen Rider 1's big anniversary movie, decided to have Jigoku Taishi fight alongside Rider, ending with Hongou letting Jigoku Taishi off the hook with a smile! The guy loves his villains!
My theory is that Inoue had to compromise on Jetman. He could either go as far as he was allowed with the Jetman's flawed, clashing heroes and the love triangle or have devious, dreadful villains, but not both, so he chose to go with the former. Which, hey, if that's the scenario, maybe he made the better choice. As I just said, Soda had explored villains more than any Sentai before his reign had. Inoue could have followed his footsteps or done something different, which in this case would be the hard lean into the team drama and love story.
And that's not to say I don't like the Vyram; they still beat most of the villain groups that come after them. (I don't feel like I should have to even say that; why is everything so one-sided these days? You can still like something and be critical of parts of it.) I'm just of two minds about the Vyram, in comparison to Soda's villains, in comparison to the way Inoue usually handles villains. And I'm just a little harder on the Vyram since they represent the last mainly-actor villain group in Sentai, before The Rubber Suits take over.
With that out of the way...what was I saying? Oh, yeah. Gai dies in this two-parter! So, that happened.
Friday, November 24, 2017
Inoue's back and he brought a weird episode with him! It certainly is a weird one, but I like it. It's an Agatha Christie type of strange mystery ON A BUS. Of the heroes, the episode focuses mainly on Kaori and Raita, returning from Japan's favorite past-time of dressing like Pinocchio and strolling through the mountains. And this time, they chose the wrong bus to ride...
The bus has a Dimension Bug placed on it, and it's a cool concept, like Odagiri's jet or the apartment building come to life. The whole bus being the monster, it begins picking off passengers one by one, each time the bus rides through a tunnel. We have the familiar types of paranoid people these kinds of stories require, from a cop who's seen too much (and one day from retirement!) to a jittery criminal to a paranoid business man to a suicidal woman played by Pink Flash.
Kaori really steps up and kicks ass in this episode, taking charge and not backing down from the threat, while Raita acknowledges his fear of the situation. The only thing I don't like is...it's obvious it's nobody on the bus killing the people, and when Raita wants to call in the other Jetman members, Kaori wants to hold off on bothering them. And it's like...what? If they had called the others, chances are the Dimension Beast would have shown itself sooner, and maybe a couple of the passengers could have been saved. It's insane that anybody on the bus thought it was another passenger killing people off, when the victims die by being turned into bubbly foam, which brings to mind the original Kamen Rider series, which is kind of neat. Obviously, it's a Vyram plot.
But I like how the episode focuses on just two members of the team, and the spectacle the show attempts in its depiction of the monstrous bus, tossing people around with tentacles and proving to be a pain even when Kaori and Raita get around to transforming. A strange, entertaining episode.
EPISODES 13 & 14
These episodes are brought to you in part by Aaron Spelling. This two-parter is good, but not as strong as the later episodes that deal with the Ryu-Kaori-Gai love triangle. These episodes are unfortunately a little too cliched. It's a lot of Gai being bullheaded about Kaori, upset that she works hard on birthday presents for Ryu, upset that she doesn't see that Ryu doesn't like her like that, upset that Ryu doesn't take Kaori's feelings into consideration. (I used to wonder why Gai gets mad when Ryu's insensitive towards Kaori, since it should work in his favor! But his getting so hurt on her behalf does show that his feelings for Kaori are genuine, even if it's detrimental to his wants.) It's a lot of Kaori running away in tears. Add on top of this that Grey starts taking a liking to Maria and her piano playin', with Radeige shooting the occasional dirty look, and you've got one soapy episode. (Two soapy episodes.)
This episode also, unfortunately, introduces the idea that Raita's into Kaori, too. Now, the terrible episode 26 goes hog-wild with this in a ridiculous way, but here it goes kind of unanswered -- Raita just makes a cryptic statement that Ako believes means he likes Kaori. With Ryu and Gai fighting about Kaori all of the time, Raita's just one too many, so I've always hated that they try to throw him into the mix, while it also robs his relationship with Satsuki of sweetness. And it's just, like...cripes, why not have Ako love her, too? Why stop there? Have Odagiri love her. Have Radeige love her. Grey. Maria. Not Toran, though, because he'd totally think she had, like, cooties, dude.
Random note: This two-parter is the debut of Fire Bazooka. I love the bit where Red Hawk -- the only surviving member of Jetman, since the four others are captured by the camera monster -- has to fire the bazooka on his own, the kickback of which flings him WAAAAY back. These are good episodes for Ryu; I really like when Gai's going off on him, and asks if he's ever even loved anyone before, and Ryu just kind of stops dead, stunned, thinking of Rie. That was a massive barrel of salt Gai throws into a gigantic wound there. Ryu's reaction here, a sadness that stills him, makes clear and sets up his shocking breakdown in the middle of the series.
And I like that the episode really highlights Ryu's professionalism, and how he dives into his work to bury his pain; the others are captured, Gai's of no help to him building Fire Bazooka. It's all up to Ryu, and he comes through.
The episode that answers the question everyone's had for 14 episodes now: "Hey, isn't Ako supposed to be in school?" I guess you're just supposed to assume that she's a delinquent always playing hooky, but it's a good question. It's a question that must have pestered this episode's writer, Mami Watanabe. Watanabe had written standalone episodes of Turboranger and Fiveman, and only contributes two episodes to Jetman, for some reason.
Megaranger's 37th episode owes a little to this episode, IMO. The monster goes around absorbing female voices, which threatens to totally ruin the recital Ako and her best friend are meant to sing at. People are quick to dismiss this episode as "filler," but I like how it shows more to Ako than just the wise-crackin' punk we usually see. Sayuri Uchida's just such a likable performer, she really sells it, and Ako's friendship with Kyoko is so genuine and believable. The episode does a good job of conveying how difficult it is for Ako to sneak off to Jetman duties, while juggling school life and hanging with her friends; how conflicted she is about lying to her friend, who she's promised to always be honest with. It's a shame we didn't see more of Kyoko.
Random note: I'm not surprised, not surprised at all, that Raita's irritating, high-pitched voice is what ends up destroying Voice Jigen, causing his voice-collecting meter to explode.
Random note #2: In this episode, Blue Swallow stands in the middle of the team, announcing the "Chojin Sentai" portion of their introduction. Now, I'm not 100% sure on this, but I *think* it's the first time in a Sentai a non-Red has done this. And Jetman only does this once more, in episode 19, with White Swan. It's interesting that Jetman breaks the rule with its two heroines.
This episode should have been a Liveman. It would have fit better there. While it's written by Kenichi Araki, I can easily imagine it being the sort of episode Kunio Fujii would have wrote for Maskman or Liveman. I like this episode, but it just doesn't work for me as a Jetman episode.
This is the one where Toran's plan involves a monster who can bring to life anything depicted in an image. Eventually, the painting of a girl is brought to life, and she ends up being one of the monster's weaknesses. The majority of the episode is focused on Ryu trying to reunite this Girl From the Painting with her painter -- a man in critical condition. The painting is of the man's deceased daughter, and Ryu thinks if he can get her to visit and play a tune on her ocarina, it will help the man pull through. But them crafty Vyram bastards just keep gettin' in the way!
Here's why I think this would have been a good Liveman episode: the characters believe that the painter poured his life into painting his daughter, giving the painting a sort of life, and that's why it's so effective as an art-piece AND why the girl appears to be more than any of the other images conjured up by Toran's monster. The belief that one can pour their own life and love into a creation, which gives that creation life, is an idea right up Liveman's alley. (The Liveman episode with the girl's living doll is close to this idea, though.) If this episode had been a Liveman, and had been a Jou/Yellow Lion focus, it would have worked damn well. Kazuhiko Nishimura would have sold it and conveyed all of the emotions required...
Because Jetman is stuck with Kotaro Tanaka. And, to try to be fair, it's not entirely his fault why this episode doesn't work. I mean, he's just kind of on auto-pilot and you don't even really know why Ryu cares so much about this basically ghost of a girl trying to save her dying dad. I don't think this episode would work with ANY of the Jetman heroes, except for maybe Kaori. With Kaori, we've already been told that her parents are kind of distant and always traveling for business reasons. So you could make the connection that she's helping a daughter reunite with her father, in a way making up for a connection she wants but is missing. So, it doesn't work with Ryu and it doesn't work with Tanaka's by-the-numbers performance.
And I think a lot of blame can be placed on the direction, with director Kiyoshi Arai focusing more on a dreamy, hazy visual look and the style rather than focusing on the emotions of the piece.
Which is a shame, because the girl is played by Hiromi Yuhara. I've written about her in my Kamen Rider Black write-ups, I think she's one of the more memorable guest-stars in toku. She guest-starred in a lot of late '80s and early '90s toku, often as the target of the villains, and I think she's just so likable and is easily sympathetic. (It makes her villainous turns in Turboranger and Ohranger that more shocking and unsettling.)
Tuesday, November 21, 2017
This is a weird episode with a resolution that I find doesn't make much sense. It's the first one so far not written by Inoue -- its writer is Kenichi Araki, who ends up doing a lot of episodes, the most of any of the sub-writers. What I like about it, though, is the unlikely, yet successfully compatible duo that Kaori and Ako make.
The plot of the day is that the Vyram place one of their Dimensional Bugs on a diamond with a bloody history, and people can lose their mind and rampage in a blind greed after looking at it. The Vyram are like the Vader Clan or Volt in that their plans go for more sadistic kicks and "punishing" society for things they don't like about it. The end result for Vyram is to destroy and take over the world, but they want to enjoy it -- the show makes it clear it's a game to them, which is a motivation A LOT of early '00s characters end up having, so Jetman was way ahead of them.
Kaori's a bit embarrassed to take Ako to a snobby jewel exhibition, but it results in the episode's best bit, which is when Ako politely asks Kaori for permission to go ahead and kick some possessed dude's ass, and Kaori just quickly grants it in a polite manner. There's quite a few moments of quick little interplay between the two like that that gives this episode more...
Because, otherwise, it's just kind of a bland Machineman-level plot. Ako gets possessed and the solution is for Kaori to buy out all Japan's jewels and just throw them at a greedy Ako, and when that doesn't work, a simple slap does the trick. Say wha? I guess, in keeping with being a Machineman-level of plot, it was a Catharsis Slap.
Random note: This episode's guest star, as the dude who's running the jewel exhibition, is Masaki Terasoma. When I first saw this episode, I was like "Who's this Hiroshi Miyauchi wannabe guy?" I had no idea at the time he was the voice of Shadow Moon, and Kintaros in that one terrible show that pretends to be a Kamen Rider.
This episode's written by Hiroyuki Kawasaki. Whoever he is, it's the only episode he does for this show. For the most part, the secondary/sub-writers will do episodes that aren't focused on the show's soapier elements. Inoue's main focus is on Gai, Ryu and Kaori (in that order), and the team's clashing. Other writers will focus on the other characters or just have them in a temporary truce to deal with that episode's dilemma.
This is a sweet episode, depending on your viewpoint. (For me, it doesn't completely work since I don't think Naruse is as likable as Raita's supposed to be.) The villain plan belongs to Toran, who brings to life a sewing machine that makes clothes that will cause the person who wears them to take on the attitude of the design. (Dress like a gangster? You're a gangster.) I can imagine a cheesy trailer voice being like "Someone's taken 'the clothes make the person' one step too far!"
The heart of this episode is Raita meeting up with a childhood friend, Satsuki. Satsuki was just a kind girl who treated him nice, and she holds a special place in Raita's heart, and he wants their reunion to run smoothly. The joke is both are pretending to be what they're not -- him a big spender who knows his way around town, and her a stylish city gal. But when she falls victim to Toran's plan, it's up to Yellow Owl to show his genuine self to wake Satsuki up, and she then is more honest with herself before going home. Satsuki ends up appearing in the finale (SPOILER ALERT!), which is a nice touch. She and Raita have a nice chemistry, so I like that the show is smart enough to remember her. This could have easily been a one-off, especially since it's from a one-time writer, but Inoue's smart enough to callback to it.
Random note: the guy in the bar who tries to hit on Satsuki by buying her a drink is hilarious in his trying-hard-to-be-cool-but-is-unintenionally-a-big-damn-dorkness. And what the hell drink does he buy her, anyway? It looks like NyQuil!
Ugh. I'm the one Jetman fan who doesn't like this episode. This episode marks Naruhisa Arakawa's Sentai debut. And Arakawa's one of my favorite writers, but...I really don't like a lot of his Jetman episodes, and he has a spotty record when he's not main writer.
I know a show needs to have the occasional all-out goofy episode -- I'm one of the only people who loves Flashman #26, a bonkers episode that proves that, no, I'm not a fanboy who wants "grimdark" all the time -- but so much of this episode is just stupid and the humor falls flat.
Vyram's winning plan is to show those "stupid" humans who dare rely on the speedy dependability of a good old cup noodle how stupid they are, by making an evil cup noodle monster who causes the people who eat its noodles to, like, go bonkers and become impatient, YEAH! Pfffffft. This is a goddamn Fiveman plot. Just dumb and low.
That's not getting into the way that Evil Big Cup Noodle finds a ramen otaku to do his bidding. That's not getting into the fact that this ramen otaku somehow knows Ako to be obsessed enough with her to name his creation after her. (All we're told is he's her sempai. But he's obviously not in school with her, because he's at home eating old ramen when she's seen leaving school with her friends. And he's also, like, a good 15 years older than her. This guy, who appeared in a Turboranger as the annoying dude whose face gets switched with Youhei's, looked 15-years-too-old to play a high schooler THEN, so two years later? Yeah, he can't be a classmate. So how do they know each other?)
There's some funny stuff once Raita gets taken over after pigging out on some Ako-brand ramen, but it doesn't come from Naruse, but instead Yellow Owl suit-actor Hirofumi Ishigaki, who does a real Yasuhiro Takeuchi-level of performance trying to sell the hell out of the situation. (The reveal that Yellow Owl's become so annoying in his impatience that the Jetman tie him up by the time they build Jet Icarus should have been hilarious, but so many of the jokes in this episode fall flat, especially when it's left up to Naruse to just keep screeching.)
Random note: The jingle in the Ako-chan Ramen commercial was composed by Toshihide Wakamatsu and sung by Rika Kishida. I always found that weird.
Random note #2: Gai comes across a woman who's under the influence of the Evil Ramen, and gets her to calm down but punching her in the gut. This is common not only in Jetman, but a lot of toku. But rewatching this episode, it was just the umpteenth reminder that the show has forgotten that the Jetman are supposed to have superhuman strength even out of suit. (There's been some civilian-hitting in the past couple of episodes.) So, while it's gross that that woman -- and anyone else who ate Ako-chan Ramen -- were eating pieces of Noodle Jigen, I think Gai could have easily punched right through her, so Noodle Jigen wasn't the only danger here.
Kunio Fujii's one script for Jetman. (And boy do I know why.) If you're familiar with me, you know I'm a big fan of Fujii's. He's done many-a great standalone episodes, but was sadly never given his own show to steer as main writer. I always thought he was similar to Inoue, but not as extreme or over-the-top as Inoue can be. His sensibilities should have meshed with Jetman perfectly. How he ends up turning in this one...
I get why the idea of having this nontraditional line-up of heroes on the team changing personalities would sound fun for a writer, but there's problems in the way it's executed here. First, it's a bit too early to do an idea like this. It reminds me of Star Trek's "The Naked Time" or TNG's "The Naked Now" -- those episodes were about characters having their personalities altered, and the episodes fell far too early in the show's run. We didn't know the characters as they were meant to be to understand or care about these drastically different depictions! Same with this episode, pretty much.
And the changes are just a little too vague to really tell you anything about the characters. Ryu becomes a slacker. Gai becomes a good soldier. Raita becomes a Gai imitator. Kaori becomes a spoiled brat. Ako becomes weepy. And then they eventually learn that it's not just a monster's spell causing them to act like this, but that these are traits they secretly harbor. Fujii can't just come in and write an episode like this. It's interesting to examine Gai or Ako in this way, but Ryu and Raita's not believable, and Fujii is way off in his assessment about Kaori. Inoue repeatedly tries to make the point about how everyone has Kaori pegged wrong, but in comes Fujii being like "Yeah...nah, she secretly loves being rich and materialistic and worshiped." And even if that's true -- and it's possible, to some extent -- the way it's depicted here is just lazy and obnoxious. And that's the case for the way they depict ALL five's personality flips. It's an episode that's trying to be serious in its examination of these flawed characters, but is played in a way that comes across as something Carranger would poke fun at. (I can easily imagine a similar scenario where Dappu shoves Kyousuke out of a helicopter to try and cure him of some Bowzock-caused suffering.) If anything, the point of the personality shake-ups should have been about the types of people the characters FEARED they could be, rather than saying it was a deeply buried part of their actual character. I guess people think the latter is more "complex," but...not in the manner it's handled here.
A sad misstep for Fujii, but I'm not surprised this ended up being his only episode of the show. He should have probably been given another shot, but maybe what he said about the heroes (especially Kaori) pissed off Inoue as much as it does me.
Random note: Not to be all Scott Evil, but the Vyram had the chance to bottle up bubonic plague or battery acid or the black goo from Prometheus or something, and stock the vending machine with THAT, but they chose to go with Gatorade that alters your personality? Bah!
Random note #2: I gotta try to stop complaining about Tanaka, but I can't stand him in this episode. First of all, he's acting like a bad comedian. Secondly, when the Evil Gatorade takes effect, the characters hiccup. Tanaka, for some reason, doesn't even hiccup; he does this thing where he acts like he's about to puke on whoever is in the scene with him.
Random note #3: People who complain about Ibuki in Changeman training them too harshly probably forget about Odagiri here. She not only pulls a gun on the mind-altered Ryu, but throws him out of a helicopter in the hope he'll come to his senses. Quite a gamble there, with the one guy who's actually supposed to be on the team and is irreplaceable.
I don't really think Odagiri's all that good at her job. She started off so strong and take charge, but at this point of the show, actress Mikiko Miki plays her like a big worrywart. Any time the Jetman start arguing with one another, she'll be like "Oh, no! At this rate, the team will disband!" When Ryu cowers in fright at her gun in this episode, she's like "I'd rather kill you than see you be a coward!" She just doesn't seem like a reliable chokan -- she especially doesn't seem like she has ANY control or authority of anyone on the team. Even Ryu acts like he outranks her, putting her on the level of a Peebo or Magu. I think Miki's age really is a problem; they definitely needed an older Odagiri who couldn't be overshadowed, who seemed to have some experience. (Miki's only a couple of years older than Tanaka and Wakamatsu.)
Sunday, November 19, 2017
Episodes 4 and 5
I like these episodes for the Kaori moments, and for the further building of the team. Kaori here is unable to handle piloting her mecha, which causes Ryu to berate her and mock her acting like a spoiled princess. She storms home and ends up meeting again with a childhood friend, Richie Rich, D.B. (douche-bag). She considers listening to him and getting married, where they can go off and live one obnoxiously classist life. This guy is a truly despicable piece of shit, and Gai tells him as much. They could have been a little more subtle with the guy, especially with casting -- while the actor really captures the guy's obnoxiousness, he just takes it too far. Maybe that's a good thing for some viewers. Maybe he's good at his job -- I'm pretty sure I've seen him elsewhere, and because of his appearance here, I hate his guts there. He looks like he could be Nobuhiko Akizuki's nerdy older brother.
Anyway, Kaori shines here. She kinda steps back and looks in on herself, really listening to how horrible the guy is. Anybody who dismisses Kaori as being some spoiled, whiny princess doesn't pay attention to the show, because the words coming from Sojiro disgusts her and nearly bring her to tears, and strengthens her resolve to do her best as a hero. There's more to it for her than her initial claim that she wanted to be a Gentleman to escape her daily routine; she has a heart, is a good person and wants to help. Also: she kicks Nerdy Nobuhiko in the nuts and leaves him at the altar. That instantly makes the episode a four-starrer.
These two episodes really drive home the Vyram's ultimate motivation: shits and giggles. They've conquered other worlds -- although it's hard to believe petty Radeige, kid Toran and RoboBoozer, with all of their snide remarks and infighting, had their act together enough to do so -- and make a friendly wager that whoever defeats Jetman first gets to rule Vyram. What a booby prize. They go on about their plans, their attacks being "games." This is something that went on to be an undying trope in early '00s tokus -- from Kuuga to Ryuki to Abaranger -- and I'm still tired of it.
But I like here that all of the Vyram stage their own attacks on the team. We have Radeige still sending a monster of the week after them, but Toran shows up to torment Red, Yellow and Blue while Grey stalks Gai and Kaori like
And why wouldn't he dismiss it? Because it makes no sense for the Vyram to have taken Rie! So he has no reason to believe it could, somehow, be her. Maria's one big, glaring, jumble hole the show always had for me. Now, you're going to tell me that it's NOT meant to make sense -- it's keeping with Vyram's shits-and-giggles, everything's a game outlook. But...what sense does it make for them to take Rie? She's sucked out of the Skyship and they're sitting in their ship like "Yeah, let's grab on to her. She can be our new member." And then they turn her into Maria, and she struts out acting like she's always been some Vyram big-shot and...they're OK with this? Why add another competitor to their stupid game? Why kidnap an Earthling they despise?
They don't know her connection to Ryu, so that point's moot, and something never used to their advantage. No, they capture her because...Inoue knows it will bring some drama down the road. They capture her because the writer told them to. That's it.
I love the concept of the monster of the week in this one; a Dimensional Insect is placed in an apartment complex and the whole complex becomes the monster. Not only do you get pretty cool scenes like monstrous tentacles attacking people and pulling them into a dimension, but you get Radeige pulling Ryu into that dimension for a showdown.
But I'd like to take this time to complain about the Jetman monster designs. They're done by the late Ryu Noguchi, who also did designs of the Denjiman villains and a lot of early Metal Hero villains. Fans love the guy's work, but I've never really liked his designs. Especially the monsters that are just ordinary objects, which is every Jetman monster. I always assumed the idea behind the Vyram monster designs was meant to be more realistic, they're animating inanimate objects -- while also serving as a throwback to older kaijin designs of the '70s and early '80s -- but it just doesn't work with what Jetman's trying to do. Noguchi's inclination is to make the monsters far too silly, and most of them are cutesy in the end. These are monster designs more suited to Fiveman. (I've never been too crazy about the Vyram designs, either, which are reminiscent of the Vader villains' designs.) I always thought Fiveman had better villains, villain designs, villain actors and monster designs than it deserved -- swap them around with Vyram and THEN we'd be talking. (Imagine the Billion actor as Radeige! Awesome.)
This episode has a fun concept, but it also shows that there's more to Gai than meets the eye. He's bothered that Ryu goes missing after he rescued him. He dives into the other dimension to save Ryu in return. If Gai was the piece of shit that modern fans like to paint him as, he wouldn't have bothered.
Some of Inoue's favorite things: tennis, arranged marriages, characters losing hands, booze, heroes swapping powers or heroes going bad. This episode includes the first two, and is a mostly lighthearted standalone episode after the jam-packed and serialized first six. (And begins a block of similar episodes.)
Ryu's grandmother arrives, fixing him up with a woman from his hometown who she thinks would make a fine bride. In this we learn Ryu comes from a small humble farm life from Kyushu. This, along with the idea of Ryu marrying anyone not Kaori, tickles Gai. But more importantly, this episodes lets Kaori's interest in Ryu out of the bag, after Gai only suspected it in episode 4. That it's immediately picked up by Ako, to the three's embarrassment, is pretty funny.
I used to think Kaori's interest in Ryu happened a little too fast in the series, but it obviously goes back to episodes 4 & 5, when she was injured and he was the one who didn't baby her. It angered her at first, but the whole Jetman thing has put Kaori out of her comfort zone, which was her initial motivation for jumping aboard. And, in that situation, Ryu treated her in a way she's probably completely unaccustomed to being treated. He didn't kowtow to her based on her status or who she was. He treated her like an equal, based on her own actual abilities and merit. She's in this thing to prove her worth, and he's judging her solely on that. Compared to even Gai, who's still kind of coddling in his treatment of her. Even though Gai comes to like her for who she is, I definitely always thought his initial interest in her was just to prove he could woo any woman, no matter how out of his league she might be or in a different social stratosphere.
And while Kaori's becoming romantically interested in Ryu, he's meant to just be professional and still stuck on Rie. Even when Ako brings up the burgeoning love triangle, he has no reaction. It seems like a thought that hasn't formed in his mind at all. Is he in denial? Simply loyal to Rie? Not interested? The pro that he is? Is it too hard for him to see anything in Kaori, when she's in what would have been Rie's position on the team? (SEE?!? Ryu's working on layers that a stronger actor would hit.)
What's funny about this episode is the way the bad guy plot of the week takes a backseat to...our heroes instead devoting their time to trying to get Ryu out of his meeting with the woman he's been set up with. There are funny moments in this episode that don't completely fly or aren't taken as far as they could. Raita pretending to be a sleazy thug trying to get Ryu to pay? Tomihisa Naruse does nothing with that scenario. And Tanaka's just blank-faced throughout. Also, the woman playing the grandmother -- who's supposed to be brassy and funny -- is such a big caricature, she ends up NOT being funny. (So when Gai is like "What a funny lady," you're just like...no, Gai. Put down the booze.) She's so broad and stereotypical that I'm surprised it's not a young dude in drag playing the part.
Friday, November 17, 2017
EPISODES 1, 2, 3
The Toei Hero Club edit was impressive, but cut out a couple of crucial scenes from these episodes, like Ryu and Odagiri's initial failure at recruiting Gai and the heroes laying eyes on the Vyram at the end of episode 3.
These episodes are impressive at setting up the hero side of things, but not so much the Vyram, who just kind of come out of nowhere and have unclear motives. (The biggest being...why turn Rie into Maria?!?!? One of the franchise's biggest mysteries, IMO.) Their big showing is targeting the Sky Force's Skyship, which is meant to be more impressive than it comes off. (It's basically like the Justice League's Watch Tower, but with random Sky Force guys instead of the Justice League.)
I mean, compare it to Gozma's show of force in Changeman's premiere, how brutal their assault on the military was, until Japan's troops-in-training was whittled down to five. And the Sky Force just seems unprepared and unprofessional -- they take the hits, jump ship, and lose control of their important Force Gun, which held the Birdonic Wave.
It always seemed strange to me how unclear the show is about the Sky Force. A lot of people escaped the Skyship, and that surely didn't hold every member. So why does the show act like only Odagiri and Ryu survived, with Skycamp their only location? Changeman did it better by having their base seem fully staffed by the Soldier Group. And the Sky Force is obviously a bigger organization than, say, what Maskman's Sugata was working with. Sugata and the Maskman had government-backing, but they were obviously small-scale for secrecy's sake.
While it does make things seem dire for our heroes, I don't think Ryu and Odagiri seeming so cut off and isolated is intended. However, the Force Gun breaking and sending the Birdonic Waves out at random does create a nice feeling of being backed-against-the-wall for our heroes. I like how downtrodden and out of it Ryu is at first; when he's recruiting Kaori, he ain't making a convincing case, thinking mainly of Rie and being constantly kept in check by Odagiri. I think it takes Gai to get Ryu out of his despondence; hearing Gai's pessimism, his whole "Who cares about the Earth? People are horrible" speech shakes Ryu out of it, and reminds him of what's at stake and what's important. That Gai's a total time-consuming pain-in-the-ass to recruit also likely gives Ryu less time to mope; the way I see it, Gai's stubbornness in being recruited distracts Ryu enough to get his mind off of Rie and begin leading the team that desperately needs leadership.
'Cause they need all the help they can get. Kaori's just looking for something to do. Raita's rude and turns them down. Ako needs to see some green to get properly motivated. And Gai's a nightmare. But they're all decent people, deep down. I like that Kaori and Raita get on board fairly quickly with becoming heroes, but they're really not prepared, they're not confident, they don't know what they're doing. Ako realizes mid-battle that she's in something bigger, a part of something important, so she doesn't want a payday. Gai's initial transformation is for the sake of saving his ass, and getting revenge on the monsters who attacked him. I like how confident and capable Red Hawk is in battle; he's instructing everybody on what to do, what move to make, what weapon to use. And he's a one-man army in himself, taking down grunts and giant monsters. Ryu also benefits from having Kazuo Niibori in suit, but that's a given. Because, thanks to Tanaka, Ryu needs all the help he can get.
I really like the character of Ryu. As written, he's one of my favorite Reds. Inoue gave us a traditional hero who's a genuinely good person, who is moral and believes in right and all of the things a good hero should. He's shown on his early mission with Rie as being a hotshot bad-ass who will throw himself into the eye of the storm to save the day. He's supposed to be cool, command respect. Part of what Gai hates so much about Ryu is how GOOD he is -- good at his job, good as a person. I think that Ryu is cooler than Gai; he always bests Gai. On the surface, Ryu might look like a generic Red or typical hero. But Ryu is hiding a lot of pain, and yet he soldiers on. He's haunted. In typical Inoue fashion, he's flawed. His world's fallen apart. And yet he soldiers on, he has to. And he's dealing with a team of bickering amateurs on top of it!
I think Ryu's a rich character, who would been one of the all-time greats if they had a performer who could hit all of those notes. I still stand by my casting choice of Hiroshi Watari. HE'S a guy who you can believe is an elite soldier, who's smart, knows his shit, inspires confidence. (Tanaka is so bland and has no real presence; therefore, he doesn't exactly inspire confidence.) And by having seen him in so much toku, it would be a shock to see someone like Watari, as Ryu, when he eventually loses it and caves in to his depression in the middle of the series. If Jetman was going to be the last Sentai, think of how cool it would be for Ryu to have the stunt-casting of a Watari-like performer.
And I don't want to beat a dead horse about Kotaro Tanaka, but he's just weak. I tried, Ringo, I tried real hard to keep an open mind about him and pay attention to his performance on this rewatch. (Same with Tomihisa Naruse, and same with Daisuke Tachi.) And you know what? He has good moments which I'll acknowledge, but he's still, for the most part, just off of the mark. The only thing he really brings to the part is a sense of maturity and seeming like an average dude, an Everyman, which works for Jetman's attempt at wanting to be more dramatic and realistic in its depiction of the heroes. Viewed in that way, I can SORTA let Tanaka off the hook more. Also, if Jetman really was trying to evoke the feel of a trendy drama, Tanaka's totally reminiscent of the types of bland leads a lot of those shows had. (Like a Yousuke Eguchi, for example.)
The big, big problem with Tanaka -- other than just not playing all of the layers Ryu's working on, which is obviously huge -- is the way he plays Ryu often makes the character come across as a simpleton. He'll at times be aloof or he'll make goofy faces or have a strange and dorky reaction in a scene. Ryu's not supposed to be foolish or unintelligent. And it's something that ends up working against the character in that people will misconstrue Inoue's intentions and think he's making a statement about traditional heroes and their values being stupid. That's definitely not the case here. Ryu's supposed to the head honcho, the guy with all of the answers who can always be depended upon. (Which is why it's meant to be so scary when he loses it to the point where even Gai feels bad for him.)
While I think there are some later characters of Inoue's who are meant to be the big-hearted hero, but because Inoue became cynical over time or because he just didn't write them well, the character will seem insincere or disingenuous. (For example: In The First, Hongo feels really phony to me. His speeches about snowflakes, his answer in class that life is the most beautiful thing. It just doesn't seem genuine. Likewise with Faiz's Keitaro, who's meant to be earnest, and the heart sandwiched between two cynical grumps -- who ridicule what they see as his being naive -- but the actor's weak and turns Keitaro into a cartoonish blockhead.) But Ryu, and certainly a character like Shouichi Tsugami, are meant to be genuine and from the heart. Agito lucked out with Toshiki Kashuu being good (and supposedly a lot like Shouichi in real life). Jetman wasn't so fortunate.
Like I've always said -- Tanaka's not the worst actor to play a Red. But Ryu desperately needed someone stronger. If Tanaka had played a blander, one-dimensional Red like Gaku Hoshikawa or Goro Hoshino, an eye wouldn't be batted. But he got a great Red role and didn't have it within him to make it soar. Since he does have some moments throughout the series where he can be good, and will be unpredictably hit-or-miss, I've come to the conclusion he just didn't take the role seriously, not understanding -- or deserving -- of a special Red role like Ryu or a show like Jetman.
BTW, I need to make a minor correction here to a couple of my past posts. For YEARS, I remember reading on a Jetman fan site that Kotaro Tanaka was a member of the Japan Action Club. (You could obviously see that with how much action he does in the show.) So, I repeated that he was a member of the Japan Action Club. And then, years down the line, I saw people say he wasn't, that he was never listed as a member of the JAC -- that he trained with them early on, but was never a member. So, I had to go correct myself, and have stated that Zyuranger's Yuuta Mochizuki was the first JAC to play the star of a Sentai. But, no, apparently Tanaka WAS a member of the JAC, making him the first JAC to play a Red out of suit, so...thanks for the mess you made, internet wannabe know-it-alls! (Don't you hate them?)
Random note: The very first lines of the first episode belong to the narrator, telling us the show takes place in 199X. Remember that. Because the show won't. (Including: two minutes later, when one of the monitors displays the date as being from late 1990. See also: Posh Boy Ryu's jacket, which says 1991.)
Saturday, November 11, 2017
Jetman. We all know its reputation. For Toei, for a lot of Japanese fans, it's the Golden Child. For a long, long period in the English-speaking fandom, it was the Golden Child, as well. But opinions among that last group have changed over time; a lot of people have turned on it, and a lot of the new eyeballs the show attracts finds that it doesn't live up to the hype. There's still a devoted fan base, but Jetman's taken some beatings. (It's only right for it to be taken down a couple of pegs; but I hate when it's trashed because of it being an Inoue show, and the popularity of trashing him. The guy used to be good! Just 'cause Faiz and Kiva are weaker works doesn't erase his good shows! And, at this point, Faiz and Kiva look more Kamen Rider-like than anything in the post-W world.)
Jetman used to be really close to my heart. My introduction to it was a Hero Club video that edited together the first three episodes -- I was blown away by it. After sampling around some of the '90s Sentai shows I thought were weird, to see Jetman was a treat, because it felt so close to the Sentais I had grown up with. But it also had some stuff you didn't see in those shows -- especially, of course, Gai, who was kind of like...if Denis Leary was a member of the Justice League. And I was drawn into just how unprepared the heroes were, how much they screwed up initially, how they were shown figuring everything out.
I finished Jetman all scattershot -- it was expensive to buy lousy quality VHS tapes from sellers, so I'd hop around -- and really liked the show, it was in my top five at one point. I liked its seriousness, the drama. It so influenced me, that when I tried doing my own Sentai fan-fic in the late '90s, it turned into such a whiny emo-fest that it made Jetman look like Goggle V.
But the more I'd go back to the show, and the older I got, and the more I saw of all of the older Sentai shows -- once I watched all of them in their entirety -- I became more and more...disillusioned with the show, I'll say. Like, I've written why I think Ryu's such an interesting character on page, but he never was at the top of my favorite Reds. Once I was older, I recognized that Koutarou Tanaka's limits as an actor is the reason Ryu never made my list of favorite Reds. Similarly, I liked the idea of Raita, but actor Tomihisa Naruse would start to bug me the more I watched the show and picked up on little things he'd do that made the character not the good-natured guy he was meant to be.
I liked how cruel the Vyram were, but came to notice how weak Daisuke Tachi was as Radeige -- often making what's (supposed to be) a vicious character laughable. Yeah, even when I loved the show, I always had a problem with Vyram. More on that story as it develops...
The last time I felt a ton of love for the show was when it hit DVD for the first time, in '05, and my family bought it for me as a gift. (I got volume 1 as a birthday gift that year, along with a Cross Changer. It was awesome.) It was the first Sentai show that I loved and cared about to hit DVD, and I was REALLY excited about it. My tapes were mostly awful quality, so it was also great to watch the show with a crisp picture.
After that, though, Jetman kind of slipped for me. Whenever I'd try to rewatch it after that, I'd get bored just several episodes in, or think of how much better I'd find the show with some recasting, or I'd just keep thinking of the ludicrous and infuriating finale. I never fully turned on it, the way a lot of fans did, but it kinda made me sad that I found my love for it so diminished. I'd really like to like Jetman as much as I used to. Even so, I've still taken some lumps defending the show.
There's still so much that Jetman does that I like, and it -- along with a lot of Inoue's other shows -- falls in line with a lot of my sensibilities. And Jetman always felt like the end of an era to me -- going from the militaristic, villain-heavy shows to the nuttiness Sugimura brings to the franchise with his run, and then the Power Rangers influence. (Little did I know that Jetman WAS close to being the end of an era -- the end of Sentai, period.)
And even though Jetman owes a lot to some of its predecessors -- especially Denjiman, Changeman, Maskman, Liveman -- it still brings a lot of new things to the table. Namely, it was the first Sentai to focus on such an unprofessional, rag-tag group of heroes. The generic summary of a Sentai team will usually mention "five strangers from all walks of life." And while that's usually true, pretty much every hero prior to Jetman was either a professional soldier, a scientist, a martial-arts master, or someone disciplined in some sport. (Sometimes, you got a Gary Stu who was practically all of the above!) Jetman gave us a high-society type who wasn't used to doing things on her own; a bratty high-schooler (who hated phys-ed); a stocky, pacifist farmer; and a street-brawlin', pessimist thug. The only professional soldier, the only one meant to be there was Ryu/Red, and even he had issues.
There's just been so many Sentai shows, so many toku shows since, that I think it's been kind of lost on younger fans just how innovative and fresh Jetman was at the time. A lot of subsequent shows enviously want to be it, a lot of people have tried to duplicate it -- including Inoue -- and never quite reached what it did. With my rewatches of Liveman and Black, I wanted to try to work through some mere frustrations. Jetman's fallen more out of favor with me than either of those shows, so I started a rewatch in hopes of truly rediscovering my love for the show, but also hoping to point out where it soared and where I think it legitimately went wrong. Let's go (tobidase)!
But before I start, a complaint -- already. Since I just quoted it, I have to talk about the OP theme. I've said before why I don't like it. But I wrote that post before I found out that producer Takeyuki Suzuki, Toei and the show's staff was pushing for "Toki o Kakete" to be the OP, while Hironobu Kageyama and Columbia pushed for the OP we got. I'm surprised they won over Toei, but it's unfortunate they did. Not only do I find "Toki o Kakete" to be the best song from Jetman, but it would have made for an AWESOME opening theme. It would have been one of those curveball choices like Metalder's OP or Blue Swat's OP, in that it's atypical for an OP, but unlike those songs, it's actually fast-paced, but has a sound which suits the show far greater than the fluffy OP we ended up with. (I've watched the Jetman credits set to "Toki o Kakete" and it's awesome. BTW, Toei's wanting it for the OP is supposedly the reason it plays during the show's first promo instead of an instrumental of the OP.)
TO BE CONTINUED...