Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Jetman 40-41


In this one, Radeige reads some Superman comics and takes a gambit on there being some space rock that acts as the Jetman's Kryptonite. Since the others hate Toranza, they back Radeige on his mission. He succeeds in finding this mysterious, never-really-explained Anti-Birdonic Birdonite, making an ugly monster-of-the-week from it. The monster proceeds to really kick the Jetman's ass, and they have to be bailed out by...the Neo-Jetman!

One-upping the Dimensians two-parter by Inoue, sub-writer Araki brings us this two-parter with the Neo-Jetman, a really cool concept that FINALLY makes the Sky Force seem like an organization and not just Odagiri operating on her own in an office like a lone nutter. Really, thus far, the Sky Force has seemed like Blue Swat. Remember how the entire Blue Swat organization was wiped out in the first episode, so the remaining few started up their own, independent organization? That's not what was supposed to happen to the Sky Force, but that's how it's felt. (Only the Sky Ship was destroyed. Which, yes, was a big deal, in that it watched over the Earth. But that wasn't the entire organization.)

The Neo-Jetman show up and instantly upstage the Jetman, since the Birdonite doesn't work on them. They're cocky bastards, commanded by an even cockier commander, and it's their hubris that does them in. (Gotta love when the by-the-book, straight-laced Ryu eventually has enough of the commander and decks him.)

BTW, a good name for the Neo-Jetman would have been JAC Dengeki Tai, since all five of them are played by Japan Action Club actors. We have Geki (Yuuta Mochizuki) in the leader role, of course; Blue Swat's Mr. J (Ryuji Kasahara) as the Condor-ish cool one; Gator/Magu/Kiba Ranger suit-actor Minoru Watanabe as the short one; Ninja Blue suit actor Takeshi Miyazaki as the one you don't remember; and Toku Legend Miyuki Nagato as the bad-ass female member. (In a perfect world, Nagato would have gotten the chance to play a character like Black Condor, or a Kamen Rider.)


What I like most about this episode is the way it shows how far the five Jetman have come. Anybody who says they aren't good heroes needs to rewatch this episode. Because they put their necks out there, powerless. They show the Neo-Jetman what true heroism is. It's quite a sight to see Kaori, Raita, Ako and (especially) Gai just dive past the Neo-Jetman to take on the monster that's ready to break into the Skycamp's command center. The timid rich girl, the pacifist farmer, the loner thug, the high-schooler who initially wanted paid for her time -- all showing up professional soldiers.

Ryu's impressive here, too, beginning the episode by fighting unconsciousness in order to get one last attack from Jet Garuda in, successfully defeating the monster before falling to exhaustion. Unfortunately for them, Toranza revives the monster...

But the biggest enemy in the episode isn't exactly Toranza or the monster, but the Neo-Jetman's commander, Ichijou. He's a terrible, terrible man. And he flat out admits that what's driving him is that he's still bitter that Odagiri was chosen to lead the Jetman over him, even though he's clearly insane and should have been discharged years ago. (And actor Hideaki Tezuka plays him to the hilt. You really hate this character.) He not only lies about the Jetman's ability to regain their powers, he's not only a complete asshole to Odagiri, he not only puts his Neo-Jetman team at continuous risk, but he's also a complete hypocrite and coward.

Lucky for everyone, the Neo-Jetman played by Geki is the one who begins to see Ichijo for the person he is, and he drops the Neo-Jetman cockiness in order to mend the relationship between the old team and new. When the monster attacks the base and Odagiri, overriding Ichijo's orders, tells the Neo-Jetman to retreat, Tezuka seals all exits, so the monster doesn't reach him. This is when OUR Jetman team arrive, these "mere civilians" impressing the trained-soldier Neo-Jetman with their courage. The Neo-Jetman end up sacrificing their own power in order to return the Jetman's powers. Our heroes even arrive in the nick of time to save Ichijo as the monster manages to break into the command room, giving us a cool transformation-at-HQ scene. (If Inoue wrote these episodes, he'd probably have Ichijo be killed by the monster.)

These two episodes are packed, and just hit you non-stop, but I think it should have been prolonged for at least another episode. When the Jetman lose their powers, there was a missed opportunity to show the team contemplating their next move -- certainly a return to normalcy would have appealed to characters like Ako or Gai, and that would have been interesting to explore.

Random note: After Ichijo gives the powerless Jetman team the boot, taking the Cross Changers away, Ako saves the day by swiping the Corresponder portion of the brace in order to keep in touch with Odagiri. Without this, the Jetman wouldn't have arrived in time to save Odagiri and the Neo-Jetman in the Skycamp attack. Remember this the next time you call Ako useless.


  1. I can't imagine why anybody would call Ako "useless." She doesn't get many focus episodes, but she has a pretty extensive character arc and doesn't actively put the team in trouble (outside of throwing Pooh-tan away, but she had no idea about Trash Dimension). She shines throughout the show, and is probably my favorite blue warrior of the '90s.

    Is it bad that I like the neo-Jetman suits more than the main ones? Recolor them into a white/color-dominant design, use higher-quality materials, and you'd have a fantastic "dark sentai" look.

    1. A lot of people seem to think a character's worth is measured only by their screen-time, when there's plenty of examples of characters who hog screen-time and yet remain one-dimensional. I've often seen people complain that Ako just seems "there," when she's a pretty essential part of the team, IMO.

      I'd like the Neo Jetman suits more with a little more distinction and with less of an SD look. (Even if just the J on their helmets had been color coordinated, that would have helped.)