Monday, January 23, 2017

Pinhead VS Power Rangers

I've said many a time before that I'm a big horror fan, and one of my favorite horror franchises is  Hellraiser. If you're not familiar with the Hellraiser franchise, here's a brief description of its craziness: they're movies about damaged, lost, broken, corrupt, depraved or just plain deviant people who, for varying reasons, seek out a mysterious puzzle box. The puzzle box, when solved, is said to open doors to other realms, with promises of pleasure. What it really opens is a door to Hell, in which monsters appear and torture the one who solved the puzzle box and opened the door. (Some are masochists who know very well what they'll get when they solve the box, which is why these monsters -- the Cenobites -- refer to themselves as "angels to some, demons to others.") The main villain of these movies is the character Pinhead...

So, Hellraiser: Inferno is the fifth movie in the franchise. Now, Hellraiser, like every other horror franchise, has some very terrible sequels, and Inferno is considered by fans to be one of the worst. (Franchise creator Clive Barker loathes it.) The movie is flawed beyond belief, but I like what it tries to do. (Spoilers ahead.) It's about a corrupt cop who finds and opens the box -- not knowing the consequences -- and his life turns into one unending nightmare of a case. He's racing the clock to find a child killer, and the suspected culprit is almost a myth in his means, his envasiveness and how well-guarded he is; known simply as "The Engineer," he's practically an urban legend amongst cops and the criminal world. The main character finds himself desperately trying to solve this unsolvable, supernatural case, one in which he's implicated, and one in which he betrays or loses everyone close to him. The Cenobites are about inflicting pain on people, and this movie emphasizes the psychological pain they cause the main character in damning him to relive this case.

Now, Hellraiser 5 isn't great, but it TRIES to have a serious, dark tone to it. It wants to be neo-noir, and I think it has a good idea in the Cenobites punishing this corrupt cop by making him relive this nightmarish case. Things are going along nicely and then, randomly, the movie gets stupid. More stupid than the time Pinhead goes to space, more stupid than the time a disc jockey was turned into a Cenobite and killed people by throwing CDs at them; the cop character goes to a remote, backwoods bar populated by hillbillies in order to get info about the killer he's after.

You know how this scenario goes: the bar's filled with people who won't talk to him, he says one too many things that rouses suspicion, and then he leaves. Shortly afterward, at the behest of a criminal at the bar, the cop is cornered and roughed up by goons. But not just any goons... He's roughed up by TWO KARATEKA ASIAN COWBOYS. Asian cowboys. Who do karate. Karate kicking Asian cowboys. In a goddamn Hellraiser movie. So long, noirish atmosphere, so long, gory Hellraiser murder mystery. It's an incredibly stupid scene, really horrible and goofy looking. It's so dumb, it's so random, so out of place! How in the...who the heck decided to have the movie make such a stupid detour!?! Who was behind this scene of shittiness?!?!

Oh. That explains a lot. And: whaaaaaaaa? How'd this happen? Who thought this was a good idea? The how and why this came about is a mystery worthy of Poirot. "Hmmm...say, you know this Hellraiser could use a little action. Let's get the guy that does all of that twirly, slow-mo dance-y crap on Power Rangers!"

It's like this brief scene captures what I don't like about Sakamoto: not only do I just dislike his style, but he just does what he pleases and forces his style onto the work, even if it doesn't fit. And, sure, in this case, it was up to the Hellraiser producers and director to look at his footage and nix it, but it doesn't change that Sakamoto just breezes in and does his usual thing when it doesn't belong. He doesn't take things seriously, he ignores his surroundings, and just pulls out his bag of same old same old tricks. He could be given a boxing movie to choreograph, and he'd turn it from being about fist-fighting into "Cirque du Soleil Presents: Bootleg HK Action With Slo-Mo Explosions!"

Your weekly reminder that I'm not a Koichi Sakamoto fan!

Sunday, January 15, 2017

Pink Warriors

Red is the most important color in Super Sentai, and Pink is just a shade of Red -- the Pink senshi is equally important to the franchise as Red. With that, and wanting to talk about more heroines, and feeling bad that Sean Akizuki requested this when I did the Reds TWO years ago, let's go!

Peggy Matsuyama/Momo Ranger

I don't know who decided it and why, but the legacy of Pink heroines started off incredibly strong with the casting of Japan Action Club member Risa Komaki as Peggy. She set a standard for kick-ass heroines in tokusatsu at a time when most of the female characters were stuck in Comic Book Land circa 1940s -- if they weren't a reporter, then their unofficial job was to be the love interest and/or worrier and/or food server of our heroes.

Karen Mizuki/Heart Queen

Karen's really kick ass. Like some weird cross between Doogie Howser and 21 Jump Street, she's an 18 year old ass-kicking member of Tokyo Vice. That's a little crazy, but Japan Action Club member Michi Love makes you believe she can lay a beating down on the thugs of Japan. She's a really cool, overlooked performer. I mean, she was handpicked by Sonny Chiba when he was recruiting people for the JAC in Okinawa. That's an impressive endorsement!

The problem with Karen is once the show starts getting "fixed" around in the teens. She loses a lot of her edge and attitude, and they start having her act stereotypically "girly." This is what I like to call a character being "kawaiiped," as in a forced cutesiness wipes out their uniqueness or coolness. I mean...maybe an action actress like Michi Love appreciated being able to show off a different side of herself like that, but it just doesn't seem honest to the character. She goes from being a powerhouse who's kicking the heads of criminals in to shrieking in fear at just the mention of the word "vampires," or they'll have her fetch the guys coffee or show her decorating their (crummy) base.

She at least gets to reclaim (some) past glory in the penultimate episode where a seriously wounded and bullet-ridden Karen breaks into Crime's island fortress in order to save Gorou/Spade Ace, nicely repaying his saving her life in the first episode.

Diane Martin/Miss America

I like Diane, I like her introduction to the show being so dramatic with her father being killed by Egos and her trying to lure out Egos; Diane's depicted as being hip and fun, but...thanks to the limitations of actress Diane Martin, Diane (the character -- they let the actress use her own name for her character!) is ultimately not in the show a lot. (And some people like to interpret her shopping obsession and stay-at-base "laziness" as some comment on America, but...that's probably more thought than Battle Fever J put into writing her.)

Diane's in the first half of the series, but there's stretches where she barely appears. Some say the actress had trouble adjusting because of the language barrier, some say it's because Martin had a hectic schedule as a model. For me, it's a little like Yuki Yajima in Bioman, where we kind of don't know the potential the character had. I don't want this to sound bad, but I at least like that Diane Martin (the actress) was actually American, that the show tried to get an American...

Maria Nagisa/Miss America

...but they then cop out by just getting a Japanese gal to replace her. The smart thing was having her backstory be that she trained with Diane's dad at the FBI, so she didn't feel so random (the way Kensaku's replacement, Jin, always did to me). As much as I like Battle Fever J, the show just seems to me like it's making up for Diane's lack of presence by having Maria shape-shifting to fit whatever the episode requires to be. So she just ends up without a clear identity and doesn't leave much of an impression.

Akira Momoi/Denji Pink

I don't really remember much about her. The only episode I remember of hers is the one with Hirohisa Nakata as a vampire, and that's just because I dislike Hirohisa Nakata. The show treats her like nothing but the token girl, into the cutesy stuff. And actress Akira Koizumi is a mannequin. Next!

Miki Momozono/Goggle Pink

She, like the rest of her team and show, are kind of generic. The show, being Hirohisa Soda's first as main writer, doesn't seem to want to tread all that far from what the Uehara years did. So, Miki's kind of the typical girly-girl, but what's added to her that makes her stand out more than a Denji Pink is just a real strong sense of justice and dedication and compassion. I like her, she's just stuck in a show that didn't want to take many chances.

Rei Tachibana/Dyna Pink

I wrote about her in my post on Dynaman, and will just copy/paste what I said there here.

"I feel like Sayoko Hagiwara is one of the more underappreciated tokusatsu actresses. While Rei can be a little cutesy at times, I never thought of her as being weak or as bad as SMILE-SMILE, and a lot of that is Hagiwara -- she looks like she's perfectly capable of smacking you upside your head and causing serious damage. She also goes nuts with her voiceovers. It's no wonder she was chosen to play the wicked Neferu three years later in Flashman. How unique that she played one of the only female Ultramen/Ultrawomen, a Sentai Pink and then a villainess? Nao Nagasawa receives 85% of the worship that should go to Hagiwara."

Hikaru Katsuragi/Pink Five

She's just real likable. I've made fun of her acting in the past, but it's hard to dislike the character when she's so caring. (And I started liking her more once actress Michiko Makino started popping up at fan events, seeming like a good sport.)

Hikaru starts the show pretty timid and weak, having to be bailed out of fights by Mika. But the dynamic changes once newbie Jun's on the scene, and Hikaru starts stepping up to the plate, getting more courageous, no longer taking a back seat to Yellow, but becoming more of a Dynamic Duo. I like that sense of growth for Hikaru.

Mai Tsubasa/Change Phoenix

The bad-ass. She can be a bad-ass, but she can also play comedy. I really think Mai Ooishi is underrated, and I think she was deserving of a better career. (A lot of the problem was timing; by the mid and late '80s, the style of action movies the JAC were doing were kind of dying off in favor of Hollywood imports.)

People have criticized the show for shortchanging Mai, and while it's true she doesn't have a whole lot of focus episodes, I never really thought she seemed to vanish in the crowd or seem under-developed, and I credit a lot of that to Ooishi and just what a committed performer she was and all that she brought to the role. She's like Shiro Izumi, in that she's always just ON and adding something to the character.

Ruu/Pink Flash

Poor Ruu. (I can't stand "Lou.") She gets really ripped off compared to the others, and it's a shame, because Mayumi Yoshida is really fun and likable and the last JAC Pink.

I feel like they just didn't really know what to do with her; she was the young one of the team like Blue, so she skewed more towards the lighthearted side. But even Blue got his share of more dramatic stories, and Ruu's only real solo dramatic story was that early one where the Juu-Senshi hatches and thinks she's its mom, which...could have been written for any of the Flashman characters, even one of the guys.

Momoko/Pink Mask

If you missed my previous post on her, it's new to you!

Haruna Morikawa/Pink Turbo

Another Pink who I think is really underrated. A lot of what I like about Haruna, though, and a lot of what makes her great to me is actress Yoshiko Kinohara. She just brings such a strong sense of caring, kindness and resolve. She's the most popular girl at school, and that could have made her seem snotty or unlikable, but she's not that at all. She's strong and shows a real consideration and kind-heartedness for her teammates or anyone wronged.

Haruna has two episodes that always stick out to me. One being the one where she pretends to defect to the Bouma in order to get the remedy for the monster's poison that's killing Youhei. (The one Ohranger rips off of.) The other, the one where she falls for the trap of trying to find a magical solution to end the Turborangers' fight with the Nagare Bouma. I like that she ends up realizing her mistake in thinking she could stop the fight, and that -- when their powers are on fumes -- the guys trust her enough to pool together all of their remaining power so she can make things right and defeat the monster. (That means: only Pink Turbo transforms and gets the final fight, even piloting the mecha on her own. Pretty cool.)

Kazumi Hoshikawa/Five Pink

I kind of wish the Fiveman team was just Gaku, Remi and Kazumi, because they're the best ones, IMO. (I know I poked fun at some of the stories they gave Gaku in my Reds post, but I still like him and Toshiya Fujii.)

Kazumi's mature and intelligent and supposed to be pretty analytical. As the eldest daughter, she fell into the trap of having to be the "mother" of her siblings, which actress Kazuko Miyata makes you feel sympathy for. Miyata makes the character, because she's just so sympathetic and kind-seeming. She's kind of unconventional casting for a hero, IMO -- kind of foreshadowing the casting of Jetman -- she's kinda short, often looks worried and like she's working out a math problem in her head, but, hey, doesn't that fit math teacher Kazumi?

Mei/Ptera Ranger

I've seen people try to act like Mei is cooler or stronger or more important than you think she is, but...c'mon. To me, she's kind of like Sigourney Weaver's character in Galaxy Quest -- her biggest contribution is usually just repeating some shocking information that's just been discovered or making some really obvious statement.

Rin/Houou Ranger

Poor Rin. I like her a lot, and she gets stuck with Kou. (I just cringed and balled up my hand like a bad silent movie villain just typing that little shit's name. You know, maybe Kou would be more tolerable with a different actor. Hisashi Sakai makes even Kid Burai suck.)

But I always liked Rin. Natsuki Takahashi is likable and is a light to the show. Rin just seems like a good person, she could hold her own in a fight -- Ei Hamura poked fun at Takahashi's voiceovers in an interview, saying she just always goes "Hai! Hai! Hai!" when fighting, so I really notice that now and it's distracting. Thanks, Shouji!

Momo Maruo/Oh Pink

Like the rest of the Ohranger cast (except for maybe Riki), a perfectly likable performer is pretty wasted. I think main writer Noboru Sugimura kinda had his eye on the door with this show, and that makes the writing suffer. Pile onto that the behind-the-scenes issues. Pile onto that that the show wanting to keep it about the job and the weird powers and not the characters' personal lives and you get...some bland and inconsistent characters.

Momo's the girly-girl who's cheery and positive about people. The ending credits show her doing Chinese boxing, but I don't think she EVER uses that in the show. Tamao Satou's likable and, yes, I admit that I used to have a thing for her, and that plays a part in why I like Momo. Momo -- maybe even Ohranger itself -- is pretty much only remembered for being played by Tamao Satou. You have to keep in mind how popular Tamao Satou was, she was basically the Japanese equivalent of Teri Hatcher at the time, who was the '90s equivalent of Megan Fox? for you Millennials.

Yoko Yagami/Pink Racer

What I like about Yoko is that she appears pretty normal on the surface, but she's supposed to be kind of vain and attitude-y behind the facade. Still, the rest of the team is so nutty that she still comes across as being more adjusted than any of the guys.

Miku Imamura/Mega Pink

Miku was a breath of fresh air when the show was new, and is still pretty much a rarity among heroines. She's like a mirror Kenta -- easygoing, lazy, gluttonous, not a great student -- but they're loyal to their friends and possess a strong sense of right. They have qualities that are seen as negative, but are still good people and heroes. Like Kenta actor Kunihiko Ohshiba, Mami Higashiyama is just perfect in the role, and a performer who I think should have been bigger.

Saya/Ginga Pink

I don't know why, but the show seems to go out of its way to ignore Saya. I don't feel like we get to know her well. She's just gentle and trusting and a hippie and actress Juri Miyazawa is at least likable, but...I don't have much to say about her, OK?! Gingaman wasn't named Gingaman just because it was a throwback, but because you weren't important if you didn't have a dong. (Maybe this is why Yasuko Kobayashi overcompensates with Yuuri/Time Pink.) Moving on... 

Matsuri/Go Pink

I really like Matsuri. She has a lot of the attributes and qualities of my favorite Pinks, rolled into one really nice, compassionate, heartfelt character. And she doesn't feel like a retread, either, she still manages to be her own character, and I love actress Kayoko Shibata for not only making the character sail, but bringing elements to the character that further layers her.

Matsuri falls into the trap of being the "mother" of her siblings -- even though she's the youngest -- but it doesn't seem as eyerolling or cliched as that trope can often be, because to me it not only fits in with what a big-hearted person she is, but goes back to her profession of medical worker. She believes in people, wants to help them, wants to save them. She has an amazing empathy. She's full of love, but is strong -- not action-hero strong, but she can hold her own, and she's strong in spirit, and I see her as an embodiment of the entire show's theme. Without her, without Kayoko Shibata, there would be a huge gaping hole in the series. Without Matsuri, the Tatsumi boys wouldn't get shit done.

Yuuri/Time Pink

Try-hard. They wanted her to be so tough, serious and cool, but thought the only way to accomplish that was just by having her be a stiff bit of asshole. And actress Mika Katsumura just couldn't pull it off, either. (For all my dumping on the Timeranger cast, I've actually liked Katsumura in other roles, but she's just too young and green in Timeranger to make the character work.)

Emiri "Emi-pon" Imanaka/Abare Pink

Before you say "She doesn't count!" I know. I'm including her for fun, and because it's my blog, and I want to do what I want to do.

Emi-pon was the super fan before Akibaranger were super fans. From the moment she saw dinosaurs and monsters rampaging through Tokyo, she knew she wanted in on that stuff, likening it to a monster movie. She's moral support, she's a cheering section, and before The Flash's obnoxious Cisco Ramon, she was the savvy nerd who gave everything a superhero name.

Abare Pink was a funny idea, a nice way of making Emi-pon's dream come true, I just think it could have been done in a slightly better way. I think of the Senshi Dan stepping in to become what I call "Black Swat" when the Changeman lose their power -- they were background players who felt screwed over, but wanted to do right and earn their stripes. Emi-pon whips up the Abare Pink outfit as a way to prove to her VERY obnoxious parents that she's valuable to the Abaranger team, by making it appear to them she's NOT valuable, since she has no abilities as Abare Pink. A good idea, a funny idea, but not a great demonstration for the character to make, and not a great depiction for the show. I still like it, though. C'mon, it's funny.

Koume "Umeko" Koudou/Deka Pink

I've said before how it took me a while to come around to Dekaranger, and it really took me a while to take a liking to Umeko. I used to think she was just so high-pitched, I couldn't stand it. She had some funny moments here and there, like pretending to be Jasmine and fighting with drunken fist, or negotiating with that backwards alien. But I just thought the show tried to emphasize her and Jasmine's cutesiness too much, the show tried a little too hard to get you to like those two.

But I got to liking Umeko more in the show's second half. Basically, in that episode when that dude from Sailor Moon is pretending to love her -- I felt bad for Umeko, and was kind of like "Holy shit. I feel bad for Umeko!" I also liked that episode where she threw herself into that nightmare world to solve a case. So, I came around to liking her. Guess the show's pushing her worked, maybe.

Houka Ozu/Magi Pink

I really like actress Ayumi Beppu -- I think she's funny, I think she's likable, I think she's a good performer and was capable of playing a more serious heroine. But I HATE Houka. She's everything I don't want in a Pink, and just in time for Sentai's 30th (year) anniversary!

She's a ditz, she's self-centered, she's rude, she meddles into everyone's business, she's loud, she has dozens of boyfriends who she seems to just string along. Houka's got issues, man.

Sakura Nishihori/Bouken Pink

The second coming of Yuuri, and yet somehow worse. It's like...Sakura's supposed to be the serious Pink I whined I want all during Magiranger, but Boukenger was so bad at what it does that Sakura was as sucky of a "serious" Pink as Houka was a "funny" Pink.

A lot of the problem is in the writing, because Shou Aikawa is terrible at his job, but the casting is off, too. Haruka Suenaga's take on "serious" is to just whisper all of her ridiculous lines about Preciouses and Hazard Levels. She's pretty lifeless to me, and the show actually tried to write that in as "No! It's that Sakura was raised as royalty and told to supress her emotions!" Nice try, jackasses.

Boukenger had a big problem with casting. If they weren't a terrible performer, they were too damn young. Suenaga's too damn young to be convincing as someone who rejected her family and joined the military and became pretty much a decorated soldier. Excuse me while I laugh for a bit...

OK. No, it's still funny. Hold on...

Now I'm ready. Another thing is, she's supposed to be so smart and on-the-ball, but she trusts and loves that psychopath Akashi! How smart can she be? What kind of judgment is that? Hold hands and jump into a volcano, you two.

I've always said -- and people have ripped this off -- that if you want a good look at a Sakura-type character done right, check out Sara in Blue Swat. Sara was a similarly stoic, professional officer who had a haunted background, but actress Yuka Shiratori was mature, good, and made it all work.

Mako Shiraishi/Shinken Pink

Mako's a much better take on a more serious Pink than Sakura, but she had her own problems. Sentai's fiction, I don't think it needs to be said. In the plethora of samurai stories that's told in Japan, there's not a lot of variety of roles for women in those stories. So, here's a rare chance at depicting a strong female samurai, and they make her dream and goal to be a housewife. That's just pretty lazy and predictable. And the joke is, ha-ha, she won't make a good housewife because she can't cook! Ha-ha, man! Ha. Ha. I think the show was trying to be "realistic" with her goals -- like she couldn't end the show being some weird ronin who wanders the country and kills for money -- but still disappointing.

Despite that, though, I like Mako. She's a toned down Ryuunosuke, a smarter Ryuunosuke. She's serious about what she does, she's loyal, she can be depended upon. Actress Rin Takanashi is great, you never doubt Mako's ability for a second.

Eri/Gosei Pink

Eri -- the reason why I stopped paying attention to those pre-show character breakdowns. The early magazine info said Eri was going to be like the big sister of the team, but they tailored the character more to actress Rika Sato and made her cutesily ditzy. She's not offensive, but not one of my favorites. The whole rumored scandals surrounding Sato's disappearance from the entertainment industry is more interesting than anything you'll find in Goseiger.

Ahim De Famille/Gokai Pink

I like Ahim, I like Gokaiger -- I'm one of the few people who hasn't turned on that show. Ahim's a bit of a more gentle and softer Pink than I'd like in an anniversary show, but she was likable and brought thoughtfulness and heart to the side of the heroes and kept them in check and prevented them from being bigger jerks than they could have been. Yui Koike really suited the role and brought more to it than you realize.

Amy Yuutzuki/Kyoryu Pink

Everybody in Kyoryuger is a real cartoon, so there's not much to say about them. I'd like to give Kyoryuger a rewatch, but when I tried, I stopped halfway through the first episode because I can't stand Kingoo. But Amy's probably the least offensive one to me.

Kagura/ToQ 5

She's disappointing in that she should have been such a fun, crazy, unpredictable character in that she was the one who was supposed to have the most imagination and sense of fantasy, but...they didn't really display any of that. They made her a weakling who would briefly imagine herself as, like, a ninja and wipe out some grunts. There was room for, well, a lot more imagination in this show, but it was content to just play it safe and go on cruise control.

I think the problem was basically that Kagura was undercut by the revelation that they were all kids. On a team of five grow'd up characters, a dreamer and someone with "the most" imagination WOULD stand out. But since the show liked to emphasize that only kids had imagination -- which I disagree with -- the ToQger were all treated similarly and were just there and all pretty interchangeable, if you ask me.

Kasumi Momochi/Momo Ninger

I know she was the fan favorite, but the actress just kind of bugs me. She always has the dopey expression and seems really impressed with herself. You're on the Ninninger team -- that ain't impressive.


OK, so now who I'd want for my team. This was a toughie. I really wanted to pick Change Phoenix. She's a good fighter, her reconnaissance skills would come in handy. But then I thought Haruka might have reconnaissance expertise with her training as a ninja, so that might be redundant on my team.

I really liked the idea of Pink Turbo, but I think she's too young. I considered Five Pink for her knowledge, but was like..."C'mon, Fiveman." I would have loved to pick Momoko, but can't since I already picked Yellow Mask.

But I kinda knew, even before I began typing this, that Matsuri would be my pick. She has a lot of the best qualities in a Pink, she's brave, and it would probably help to have a hero who's a medic on the battlefield.

[If you're inspired by this post to write a similar one of your own and/or to paraphrase/quote any parts of it, first off thanks for liking it so much! But also please credit my blog and link back to this post.]

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Commanders, Mentors and Allies of Warriors

Rubberbabybuggybumper -- ha! I bet you didn't expect this curveball. Instead of doing another color, I'm going to talk about the commanders, mentors and (mostly robot) allies of the Sentai teams.

The Sentai mentors come in many shapes and sizes. Some shows remember Sentai's link to the military, and have them be basically army commanders. Sometimes, they're goofy robots who annoy you. Growing up, I had the likes of Changeman's Ibuki and Maskman's Sugata, who I consider to be two of the best commanders. I never saw Magu or Koron or Peebo as commanders, but just allies or helpers -- the Reds of those shows seemed more in charge. To me, the commander is a stern older dude. (My family misheard and didn't know the phrase when we watched these shows -- so instead of "chokan," we called these characters "joekans." Hey, that's not bad for a bunch of honkeys who didn't know Japanese.) A good joekan is crucial to a show. Here's my thoughts on 'em. (And they're annoying robot stand-ins, too.)

Gonpachi Edogawa

Honestly? Never really liked the guy. The whole "pretends to be a dunce, but is secretly the commander" thing kind of hurts the character, but it's also the actor -- the guy just acts like he's really, really tired or something. He makes him seem like a lazy boss from a sitcom, not a dependable military commander. How did the Goranger survive 84 episodes with this guy's leadership?

Daisuke Kujirai (Joker)

I like actor Hiroshi Tanaka, even though I've seen him play a ton of villains, so it's weird to see him be head of the heroes here. He's not given much to do, sadly, but is pretty cool in his last episode before being replaced by Big One -- infiltrating the bad guys' lair by dressing like one of the grunts. It's like what Big One ends up doing frequently, so it's sad they waited so long to give Joker something to do.

Tetsuzan Kurama

The Shogun. This guy's awesome. No-nonsense, stern, without a doubt in charge, knows his shit. He's the classic Sentai mentor, but actually does seem like a Shogun of old, so it's awesome that they got chambara star Chiyonosuke Azuma to play him. And it's awesome that they gave him a nice, big, epic sword fight showdown with Masashi Ishibashi's villain at the end of the series. (It's also a funny coincidence that, in such a pro-Japan show, that Azuma looks like one of the dudes on a yen bill.)

IC the Denji Dog

I'm an animal lover, so I think this is cute and all, but...what the hell, man? It doesn't make sense to me for Denjiman to have a (talking, robot) dog commander. (Is it an homage to Satomi Hakkenden?) You'd think that belongs more to an animal team. Whatever.

I want YOU for Taiyou Sentai!

Daizaburou Arashiyama

I like actor Shin Kishida a lot, he's awesome. But Arashiyama is probably one of two of the most overrated Sentai mentor/commanders of the franchise. If not for Kishida, I think he'd be kind of forgettable. Kishida deserved better.

Hideki "Who?" Hongou

Seriously, like, the most forgettable and useless of the commanders. He's there for the first two episodes and splits until the final episodes. Like "Here's your powers, I entrust you to the Comboy, see ya!"

Kyuutarou Yumeno

I love Dynaman, but Yumeno's always been weird to me. I like the character, how he embodies the show's dream theme. I like that they try to give him some importance by the end, in the villains trying to exploit one of his scientific discoveries. The problem for me is actor Junshi Shimada. The guy's just kind of bland and he always seems hammered to me -- look at that pink face. This was the character Shin Kishida should have played (had he not passed away shortly after Sunvulcan).


I don't usually like counting the robot mentors. They're all mostly goofy to me, seeming more like assistants rather than mentors, guides or commanders. Peebo always bothered me as a kid, and I still have some of that feeling towards him. You watch the show and he's not exactly cutesy or overly offensive,, maybe it's the design or the voice.

Ibuki, the Chokan of Chokans

The best. He takes the best things about mentors past and is given such a strong arc and motivation that he beats what the shows do with most mentors. None of it would work as well without actor Jun Fujimaki, who was a real get for the show and took the role seriously, and with such an experience in the entertainment industry brought the character a professionalism, experience and wisdom.

We meet Ibuki and he's a hard-ass drill sargeant from hell. Move over, R. Lee Ermey, because your schtick is kinda comedic, anyway. Ibuki's the army instructor you don't want to piss off. Nobody escapes his wrath, and he wants nothing less than better than the best from you. So, his soldiers are pushed to the brink and kinda hate him for it, but there's a reason to his method and madness. (And I like that Changeman flips what was a Sentai cliche at that point; beginning with Goranger, they liked to have the commander/mentor feign this persona of incompetence, only to reveal that they're the hard-ass in charge, to everyone's surprise. Well, in Changeman, it's flipped so Ibuki is the hard-ass, but reveals himself to actually be thoughtful, considerate, kind, humane...much to everyone's surprise.)

Ibuki's so hard on the Changeman -- and so knowledgeable about space and aliens -- because he himself is secretly an alien, one whose planet was destroyed by Gozma, one who has seen countless planets conquered by Gozma. So, he knows what the Earth is facing, and isn't playing around in preparing his soldiers and getting them to harness and use the best offense they have against the Gozma, which is the Earth Force. I love those final episodes, when things are looking so bad for all of the characters, when Gozma is just on an all-out attack, that Ibuki steps in, fighting alongside the Changeman in his alien form. Ibuki brought Sentai commanders onto a new level, and was the prototype for the likes of Kaku and Doggy Kruger.


I like that Magu's a security guard robot of the Flash planet, and that the Flash aliens program him to help the team, but...again, he's just kind of cutesy, and Jin always seemed to me more of the head honcho. Jin's the mature one, the one with the answers, the team's guide. Magu's basically a secretary relaying info he Googles back at the Round Base. Sara could have whipped up the technology to have that transmitted directly to the Prism Flash. Was Magu needed?

Sanjurou Sugata

It's funny about Sugata. For a while there, he was my favorite commander. He has just such a presence and knowledge and really embodies all that you expect from a mentor. Hayato Tani's awesome...but, you watch the show, and Sugata's not in much, due to Tani's busy schedule. It's a shame, because you can sense they wanted Sugata to be more involved, but there's stretches of episodes he's barely in, and he's confined to base a lot, which just seems to me like they brought Tani in to shoot and got him out as fast as possible.

Sugata whips the team into shape, he guides them without holding their hands or seeming excessively harsh. I like when he bails them out of a jam by lending his own Aura Power to an attack of theirs, that he's spiritual -- the yang to Zeba's yin -- and anticipated the Tube. I kinda don't like that his background was saving a girl from being pulled into the ground in the exact same way as Mio was -- something revealed just an episode or two after X1 Mask had a similar background story -- but what can you do?

And, to be honest, I always thought the Sugata Racing cover was just about the strangest choice the writers could make for his cover. Just...wha? Don't be cutesy and make his cover, like, a yoga class or meditation temple, And force Takeru to become a racer to maintain that cover, when it's Kenta who dreamt about being a racer? Further weirdness!

Naming him Sanjurou kind of makes me think of what Toshiro Mifune as a commander would be like...if Sentai could have afforded him, and if he would have done it. Maybe it was a pipe-dream of the Maskman staff to have Mifune as Sugata?


One of the few robot helpers that I like. While a nice combination of good suit acting, voice acting and design helps, Koron's just written better than Peebo or Magu. They give her a couple of those classic robot staple stories of trying to humanize her, best represented by the episode when Yuusuke coldly dismisses her advice and expertise, only to come around to realizing she's right. In that eipsode, she also places herself in danger for him, taking a severe hit from Kemp, making Yuusuke realize that, hey, maybe Koron does have feelings and a life, and that he does care for her as much as his human teammates.

Professor Dazai

Dazai, like the show he's in, often falls through the cracks, is misunderstood and under-appreciated. While I feel like he was kind of inspired by Doc Brown, I don't think Dazai is as weird and flaky-seeming as Doc could be. He's supposed to be somewhat eccentric, but actor Fujita Okamoto never makes him too weird or unreliable. He's solid back-up for the Turboranger. He's not stern, but not a pushover. He's smart and you could count on him to help out with advice or a new weapon. The show didn't use him as much as it could have, but I think that's because he's basically co-leader along with Shiron. (And Yamaguchi-sensei plays an important role, too! The show has three bosses.)

And here's where I have to go on a mini-rant. Dazai is shown and said to be a car nut. He loves cars, collects them, and is shown to make model cars. He has cars on the brain, so he designs the Turboranger suits, weapons and mechas around cars. That's more of an explanation than a lot of toku does for its aesthetic theme, yet Turboranger -- still, all these years later -- is always singled out. "Why are they cars? What sense does that make? How do you get cars out of fairies?" Well, why the fuck does samurai and warrior based Riders in Gaim wear fucking fruit? You're OK with that, you spent thousands on the Figuarts for all of those ugly fuckers, but Turboranger being cars is too much for you?

Turboranger's suits are a mixture of magic and technology -- not the first time Sentai's done it, certainly not the last. It's the fairy magic powering Dazai's suits, which he just happened to make resemble cars. You know what's weirder to me? The government in JAKQ deciding to have their dead cyborg spies dress like trading cards. And I know Carranger is often intentionally stupid, but...c'mon, they could have done better than car constellations. You're OK with Kurumagic, people? What the hell, man? Don't always give that show a pass just because it's goofy. Gingaman also has wonkier powers and themes.

And I have no idea if this is intentional -- I don't think it's the same in Japan, but whatever -- but I like to look at the car theme as just going along with the teenage theme of the show. Learning to drive, getting a car, represents growing up and freedom, it's an important thing for a teen. Maybe there's also some meaning behind these car and machine-armed youths versus ancient demons, kind of an industrialization versus the supernatural theme at work. *shrugs*

Turboranger being car-themed made sense to me. I never had a problem with it. But that's me, someone who took a liking to Turboranger from the first moment I saw it. It's just me and Kenta Sato out there waving the Turboranger banner.

Anyway, I like Dazai, so it's always a bummer to see actor the likable Fujita Okamoto, after playing the kindhearted Dazai, return to Sentai as Tatsuya's asshole dad in Timeranger.


A character who could have been cloying -- although people act like she was -- but is really just such a sweet, good-natured, pure character, played perfectly by an immensely likable actress. (Mayumi Ohmura was pretty young at the time, too, which could have easily meant a weak performance, but she's perfect for the part.)

With Shiron being the last of her kind, doubled with Ohmura's performance, you can't help but just like Shiron and worry about her. Forget clapping for Tinker Bell, Tinker Bell was kind of a little shit -- but when Shiron put herself in harm's way to protect a powerless Turboranger, THAT had me worried.

I like Shiron, she's the heart of the show. If people didn't charge $400 for her doll, I'd probably buy it. (Don't laugh at me, you have Sailor Moon merchandise!)

Wait, it's EARTHER G6...? Get ready to edit Wikipedia, all you guys who insist it's GORENGER just because Toei spells it that way.

Arthur G6

I don't mind Arthur. I like voice-actress Rika Matsumoto, I like the design, and Arthur is actually important in that he protected the Hoshikawa siblings on that terrible day Zone broke up their family and was responsible for raising them at least until Gaku and Kazumi became old enough to start caring for the others. It makes Arthur seem like part of the family, and you care more about him than you do most other robots.

Aya Odagiri

I never liked her as much as most Jetman fans do. I don't DISLIKE her. I think the actress is too young to pull the character off. (It would probably surprise most people to learn that Mikio Maki was only 29 -- just a few years older than Hawk's or Condor's actors.) She tried a little too hard to convey a strong sense of authority and no-nonsenseness, and it just came across as forced to me because of the actress's young age. She seemed like she was an accidental commander the way four out of five of the Jetman were accidental senshi. They just definitely needed an older actress.


Barza's kind of useless, isn't he? He doesn't do much to help the team that Geki or Goushi doesn't already do, he's not the greatest magician, but worst of all...can be a complete asshole. The way he and Gnome act when that kid's trying to awaken Burai is something out of a latter-day Inoue script, behavior expected by a psychotic like Kusaka.

I don't mean to speak ill of the dead, but I never liked actor Jun Tatara's schtick of always seeming super weak and decrepit. And there's something about his acting style that makes him seem like a non-actor, so he's kinda weird, and Zyuranger already had too much off-putting weirdness.

Barza's best moment? When Power Rangers used a brief shot of him pretending like it was a pre-decapitated Zordon.


(CCLemon99, skip to the next entry.)

The other overrated mentor I was talking about. It's like...the Japanese fans overrate Arashiyama, but everyone else overrates Kaku. I always thought he was a Sugata knockoff, but without the charm and presence of Hayato Tani. Kaku also comes across as more of a know-it-all prick. He treats the Dairanger horribly, and then there's his harebrained idea of joining the Gorma, which predictably blows up in his face and we're supposed to feel bad for him, but we don't. He also looks like he smells like stale crab meat wonton farts (if you've had crab meat wontons, you know how that smells) and acts like those farts don't smell.

Sandayuu? The Three Deus Ex Machina?

Kakuranger's kind of mentorless, isn't it? Sandayuu is too flighty for most of the show, and missing for a large chunk of it. The retconning of the mecha, where they're made to be Daizyujin Jr., kind of takes the role of mentor. I kind of don't like that, you know? They just totally made up at the last minute that the mecha were deities.

Naoyuki Miura

I love that it's Miyauchi playing the mentor here. It's a homecoming, he's more at home here than he was in the Metal Heroes he was mentor of. While the rumor that the part was written for Akiji Kobayashi fascinates me, you can't go wrong with Miyauchi. Miura, as written, feels like an afterthought for the most part, with Miyauchi doing all of the heavy lifting, but Miyauchi is good at that. If taking an underwritten part and making it awesome were an Olympic event, Miyauchi would have Gold Medals flying out of his ass like pachinko balls.

Like the Ohranger heroes, he's an actor who was deserving of a better, more serious show. (But of all of the Ohranger performers, Miyauchi is the best when it comes to bouncing back and forth between Ohranger's seriousness and goofiness. You know Miyauchi has a blast playing comedy.)

Miura's stand-out moment for me, though, is in Carranger VS Ohranger. The movie's perfect in having Miura playing it straight training the goofball Carranger team, but you can tell Miyauchi is having a lot of fun.

Dappu, dappu

Another cutesy character with the potential to be annoying, but Dappu is just fun and likable, dappu. Dappu has that tragic backstory which doesn't bring Dappu down, and you gotta love Dappu's spoofing a mentor character dying to spur on the team in the first episode, dappu.

Eikichi Kubota (aka Jouji Costanza)

Can'tstandya! No, really. I can't stand Kubota. A lot of that is actor Satoru Saitou, who I hate in just about everything. (The Ohranger episodes he's in are already pretty heinous, so throw him into the mix, and maybe you'll see why I think Ohranger is an atrocity.) I know Kubota's supposed to be kind of frustrated with who he has to work with as Megaranger, but Saitou plays it as being a judgmental, condescending ass. And I don't buy he ever comes to accept them or that he cares about his former friend being the villain. I just don't like this George Costanza-looking motherfucker (and I like the actual George Costanza!). He's a weak link in a show whose cast I happen to really like.


Back in the day, people poked fun at Mohku. But he makes sense, with Gingaman's hippy, nature-loving spirit. A magical tree that keeps tabs on things by communicating with other trees...shut up, I like it! And voice-actor Rokurou Naya is perfect, giving the character such a soothing calmness and wisdom. My main complaint is...Toei, you could have done a better prop. You know you could. Mohku's not all that detailed, and he looks like something a kid made in art class and got a C on. (OK, D+.) It's a really cheap-looking and primitive set piece. Thank goodness the character and actor come through and save it all, though.

Mondo Tatsumi

Maybe the worst father in toku history? And I'm keeping in mind Shin Kamen Rider's dad, who secretly used him as a guinea pig, and the Gouraiger's dad, who was INSANE. Who else? Yellow Mask's mean dad who didn't let her have toys. White Swan's parents who were classist, condescending assholes. Burai's dad, who was a crazy reneger. (Here, you can have my son, Yamoto Prince Yoshinori Okamoto. Wait, how dare you take my son! Give him back and make my family, who has no claim, the Yamato royalty! WTF?) Ryu Ranger's dad, who was an HK knock-off of Darth Vader. Time Red's dad, an elitist, selfish prick. Abare Blue's dad, an elitist, selfish prick. Aka Ninger's dad's dad, an insufferable asshat. Emperor Aton, who openly wished his son dead. Doctor Man, whose son denounced him as a demon. Shadam, sadistic spouse and child beater. Jin Keisuke's dad, who was a distant, manipulative, judgmental, absentee jerk. The nutsack who sold Koutarou and Nobuhiko to Golgom. Otoya Kurenai, obnoxious idiot deluxe.

Just a whole list of terrible fathers in not only toku, but superhero stories in general. And Mondo's really up there. He walks out on his family and comes back one day and thinks THEY'RE the assholes for not jumping right on board with his insane GoGoFive plans. And he's never apologetic, he's always just smirking and self-satisfied and never feels like he's in the wrong. "Hey, kids! You haven't seen me in a decade. Well, that's because I've been building you all this stuff to use to fight against these dangerous demon dudes. Oh, yeah! One more thing -- I'm expecting you to fight against these dangerous demon dudes. I haven't seen you in a decade, but I assume you're well-adjusted and happy enough with life having two asshole parents who walked out on you that you won't mind risking your lives. Toodles!"

That's Mondo if you look at him logically and realistically. I don't know how, but actor Mike Maki makes him likable, and a kook, so you're kind of like "Oh, Mondo, you scamp."


Asshole extraordinaire. People like to pretend like Ryuuya is this deep character, realistic in his flawed shades of grey, but I think he's just a sloppy, nonsensical mess of a bad writing complimentary of master of sloppy, nonsensical messes of bad writing Yasuko Kobayashi.

Ooh, Ryuuya, this shady guy who we're going to be cheap and just use the awful guy playing Time Red. He's in the shadows for most of the show while we think up what to do with him. Ooh, he's a descendant of the Red, and is coming to take back the powers! Ooh, he's pulling strings and is up to shady shit to ensure his safety. Ooh, one of our heroes kills him. Just...screw this guy. He made no sense. We're told he's so cold-hearted that he rewrites history in order to have people die in his place*, but he's just such a softy that he feels bad for the Timeranger and repeatedly saves them by sending their mecha, even though they need to die to further his agenda? What? Kobayashi Bullshit. Stupid.

(*I think that's an interesting sounding, villainous character, but Kobayashi sure couldn't pull it off.)


I used to be hard on Tetom, because she's not exactly the strongest commander, she's not what you picture when you're thinking of a Sentai commander, but she's not supposed to be. She's supposed to be ethereal, and a hippy. She guides the team in her own way, she's not the military commander you expect. And the actress does a great job conveying all of that. I just kind of feel like...Tetom was meant to do and be more, but the show kind of lost itself in shenanigans and Silver trying and failing to be cool and brooding.

Mugensai Hinata

A cool hard-ass when he's himself, kind of a joke when he's a hamster. (What's that about anyway -- a kind of nod to Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles?) I like him, but not the team he's in charge of, so that sucks.

Oboro Hinata

She's the tech-head to Mugensai's more traditional style leader. But I always thought she was really funny and amusing and that actress Shoko Takada was pretty good. I liked that Oboro was smart and played by her own rules and always bailed the team out with a new invention. Sucky Bandai promotion, maybe, and it made the Hurricaneger look even more incompetent than they already did, but, hey, it made Oboro look good.

Asuka/Abare Black

Stay tuned for a post about the Black Warriors...maybe.

This one's for all the ladies.

Doggy Kruger/Deka Master

I still feel kind of torn about Doggy. I like him, I think he's awesome, but...I still kinda wish he was played by an actor in prosthetics or something. It's a bit of a shame that the coolest character on the show is a fuzzy piece of blue felt. Says a lot about the Dekaranger cast, eh? (And, no, Power Rangers fans, stop pretending like SPD's Doggy looked better. He didn't. He looked like an alligator and sounded like Dave Coulier's terrible impression of Jack Nicholson.)

Mandora Boy

Haaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa-haaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa! Haaaaaaaaaaaaaa! Haaaaaaaaaaaaaa-haaaaaaaaaaaaaa! Haaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa! Haaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa! Haaaaaaaaaaaaaa-haaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaAAAA! Ho...ho...hooo...whew...HAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA-HAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAH!

Mr. Voice

Stupid. Useless. A waste. And then to top it all off...Mr. Voice is secretly Alex Mack or something? Wha? Heh -- you just suck all around, don't you, Boukenger? Do you have a single redeeming quality?

Master Sha-fu

Sha-fu's OK, and I'm an animal lover and all, but...I don't know if it's the design or the voice-acting, but something puts me off of him. I don't dislike him, but he's not near the top of my list of awesome mentors or anything. A kung-fu cat mentor should be cooler than a dog cop, but Sha-fu ain't no Doggy Kruger. I've always preferred...

Miki Masaki

Kind of a return of an Oboro, but more serious (Oboro's sarcastic) and more kick-ass (Oboro's a techie, not a fighter). I like actress Kazue Itou and think she just brings such a cool presence to the character.

Another thing for if Shougo Ran Things: Sentai shows would be exploited in novel or comic form the way franchises like Star Wars or Star Trek is. The best shows have these little pockets and roads not traveled that would fit a novel perfectly. For Miki, it would be her past as one of Sha-fu's previous pupils alongside Gou and Rio. There's cool stories that could be told about that original triangle of Sha-fu's.



Hikoma Kusakabe/Jii

Not really a mentor. Is he the first human who's basically the Peebo? Tono's in charge. Jii's the hand of the king. (The king shits, the hand wipes.) I like Jii a lot, though. Goro Ibuki's cool, and a veteran of a bunch of jidaigeki stuff. I like that he's the voice of reason for Tono and the disciplinarian for the others. I like his loyalty to Tono once he and Takeru are ousted as the kagemushas. Jii could have been given more. I would have liked to see him in the final battle or something like that.

Master Head

Typical Goseiger -- guy just seemed like an afterthought. Like "Oh, yeah, we need a mentor guy, that's what the other shows do. How about a giant one of their ugly, ugly henshin devices? OK, what can we name him? Gosei God? Nah. How about something that sounds like a mansion's commode?"

"Jiro, I gotta take a piss."

"Go down the hall, take a left -- you'll find the master head. Have a good piss, buddy!"

Takeshi Kuroki

I never liked Hideyo Sakaki in the stuff I saw him in prior to Go-busters, and I didn't like Kuroki. They wanted SO BAD for him to be a cool, throwback bad-ass, and he just wasn't. He was such a flop, man. It takes more than just forcefully whispering commands to seem like a cool, in-control commander. It was great when Jin came along and put a kick-me sign on Kuroki.


As with everything else in Kyoryuger, Torin's design put the "fucking ugly" in fugly. He was a dick. He wasn't cool. He was a wannabe Kaku, and didn't come close. (And look what I thought about Kaku!) Voice-actor was weak and tried too hard.


Painfully unfunny. This actor acts like he never acted before. He's just terrible, really reeking of "This is a kids' show and I don't have to make any effort." Wrong! And that's why you suck. You're no Owner, man.

Tsumuji Igasaki

This character could be more sympathetic with a performer who was decent and likable. He's been overlooked, underestimated, treated like crap, but still does his best to guide the team. Instead you have a guy you hate because the actor is really silent film-like, and he looks like that Michael Gelman turdball.

Yoshitaka Igasaki

HATE this guy. Seriously hate him. I couldn't stand him on B-Fighter, either, but at least there he's just boring. Here, he's the most obnoxious character imaginable, a sociopath who just likes fucking with the minds and lives of his family and followers. He's supposed to be funny, quirky and endearing, but is far from it. Where's a shogun to command him to commit seppuku when you need one?

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