Friday, March 3, 2017

Green Warriors

Kenji Asuka/Mido Ranger

Poor guy's majorly overshadowed by the rest of the hero cast. When you've got two cool talents like Naoya Makoto and Risa Komaki and two big personalities like Hiroshi Miyauchi and Baku Hatakeyama, and you're playing the kid of the team, you've gotta make a big effort to let us know you're there. Kenji does not. (At least not that I remember.) I can't even remember much about him, other than having a bit of a complex about his young age, but that's something that many later Sentai put to better use.

Weird thing is, actor Yukio Itou goes on to play Kensaku, the first Battle Cossack, and I like him in that show -- he's more mature, confident, a bigger presence. Hard to believe he improved so much in just a few years. (I'm not bothering doing a post on Oranges, so that's my brief coverage of the first Battle Cossack!)

Bunta Daichi/Clover King

Has the distinction of starring in the first terrible, horrible-glimpse-of-goofy-things-to-come episode of JAKQ in which he investigates a fashion designer's murder (by a mannequin) by infiltrating a fashion show in drag. When caught, he's put in a loincloth and made to fight the robot of the week. Goofy, goofy episode...

At the other end, he's the focus of a pretty screwed up early episode, in which he befriends a girl who reminds him of his dead kid sister, and this girl goes on to be killed when Crime blows up the plane she's on. Early JAKQ, man. You youngsters who think Gaim is so great have no idea what toku that's actually dark and serious looks like, because you ain't willing to watch anything prior to 2006.

Overall, I like Bunta. He doesn't get a whole hell of a lot to do to make an impression, and the revamp of the show forces him into the peg of "the funny kid" character, but I still like him. I'd love JAKQ's cast if not for Yoshitaka Roboto as Goro. Damn, they needed someone better as Ace.

Tatsuya Midorikawa/Denji Green

Tatsuya's one of my favorite characters of the first few Sentai shows. He's the depressed, brooding guy, the quiet cool type. He uses the abilities he honed as a cop to benefit the team in their pursuit of Vader attackers. Actor Naoya Uchida is just awesome and does a great job. (He also contributes a couple of cool, mellow songs to the soundtrack.)

I also like that they bring in the Chieko character, a comedic character who knew him from work and brings out a different side to him so he's not ALWAYS such a downer.

Shingo Takasugi/Green Two (aka Gudeen Zuuuu)

I don't mind Shingo, but actor Takahiko Ohta isn't the greatest and he makes such strange choices that he makes Takasugi seem like a big weirdo, and not the capable second in command he's supposed to be. (They should have basically swapped Green and Blue's actors, IMO.)

Dai/Green Flash

As I've said plenty of times, Flashman kind of Xeroxes Changeman's heroes, but brightens them up. Dai's pretty close to Hayate -- the cool guy, the stand-up second in command, the fighter, the guy with the eye for the ladies -- but the main difference is that Dai seems kind of more innocent and sweeter, for lack of a better word. I attribute that to the Flashman heroes being kind of stunted, and because actor Kihachiro Uemura has a more easygoing nature.

In Yutaka Izubuchi's sketches for the Flashman's wardrobe, Dai's depicted as being a scowling Condor Joe looking type. It's easy to imagine Dai possibly being that kind of character, but the casting of Uemura changed that. That's not a negative, because the Flashman side of the show didn't need the angst, and Dai is good the way he turned out. Uemura's an action guy, so he makes Dai a convincing ass-kicker, but he's also just naturally likable, and a hero who you can have complete confidence in.

Fun story -- a few years ago, Kihachiro Uemura saved a guy who collapsed in Akihabara. As Akibaranger was still freshly aired at the time, and because Akagi's actor, Masato Wada, had been doing a lot of live events with people like Uemura, he saw the news item and dubbed Uemura "Akiba Green."

Jun'ichi Aikawa/Green Sai

C'mon. You know I like this guy as much as I do Black Bison. Jun'ichi himself...the kid of the team, so he just whines a lot. There's many reasons why Bison and Sai don't end up working in the show -- their bad actors just one of the reasons.

Daigo/Shishi Ranger

Ah, Daigo. Where to start with this guy. I ordinarily like the cranky, brooding characters, but Daigo never worked well for me. I don't hate him, and he doesn't break the show for me or anything, but he's just really unconvincing, and I think it's probably because actor Tatsuya Noumi seems like he's a jokester in real life, and probably better suited for a more comedic role. I think they basically cast him for his looks -- he looks like he should be a serious and tough dude, but he couldn't act like it.

Daigo's probably given the best of the recurring storylines with Kujaku, though. Yeah, I'd rank that over Ryou's storyline with Jin. While I think the Jin episodes are some of Dairanger's best...they make up a small amount of the series. Daigo and Kujaku are given more episodes and, more importantly, Kujaku has ties to the Gorma and the past conflict and so on.

Shouhei Yokkaichi/Oh Green

More than any other character, poor Shouhei's caught in the middle of Ohranger's tug-o-war identity crisis. He starts out as being the team elder, a strong brawler, but quickly becomes the goofball of the team. It's pretty much all up to actor Kunio Masaoka to make it work, and he does his best. He's good when he's serious -- and it's a shame he wasn't given more serious stuff to do -- but he also pulls of the comedy, with a style that harkens back to some traditional Japanese comedy.

And why wasn't he given the boxer mecha? Still a mystery.

Minoru Uesugi/Green Racer

The dude's insane, but you gotta love him. Major credit goes to actor Yoshihiro Fukuda, who brings so much comic frenzy and quirkiness to the role. (Thank goodness Carranger was so nutty and was able to cast someone like Fukuda, who probably ordinarily wouldn't get cast in a hero role.) Being from Osaka himself, I think he probably brought Minoru's comedically tinged Osaka origins to the role on his own, as well as influencing the writing. (Fukuda worships the Hanshin Tigers? Well, then, so does Minoru.)

The way Ohranger's Kunio Masaoka harkens back to an old style of Japanese comedy, Fukuda is really reminiscent to me of a very particular type of Japanese stand-up comedian. (I was surprised to find out Fukuda WASN'T a stand-up.)

Minoru's my favorite Carranger member, and is part of many of my favorite bits in the show. (A couple of which include: losing the Accel Changer while practicing victory poses, accidentally shipping the bazooka to an elderly woman who mistakes it for a toy she gives her grandson (where he and Signalman perform a comedy set to distract the kid from blowing the place up!) Good ol' Minoru.

Hayate/Ginga Green

Hayate's meant to be as cool of a breeze as the Earth power he possesses. Hayate's a good second in command...actually, he always seemed to me like he should actually be the leader of the team. He's certainly more experienced than Ryouma, but he even seems more qualified than Hyuuga to me. He's the stern guy who wants everything to run smoothly, but he's not stiff or without humor.

I liked his storyline of his love being lost to him, and his rivalry with Shelinda, but I thought both could have been expanded upon.

Shou Tatsumi/Go Green

I've always said Shou's my least favorite of the Tatsumi siblings. Some people think that means I hate Shou -- I don't hate Shou. I like a lot about him as a character, and I certainly like that he's the one Tatsumi sibling who doesn't let Mondo immediately off the hook for the crap he's pulled.

I think a lot of my problem with Shou is actor Atsushi Harada. He's not a bad actor, but he just kind of is always playing the same note. And it certainly doesn't help that he goes on to play the obnoxious, cowardly and useless Mihara in Faiz.

Shion/Time Green

Funny -- for all of my complaining about Timeranger, I never had much of a problem with Shion. The character has such a sad past, and he gets hung up about it, but he never seems as much of a joyless turd as the others can. He and actor Masahiro Kuranuki are just really sympathetic. Shion has a sadness to him in his isolation, while he's also extremely intelligent, but he's not closed off or snobby -- he's warm, he has a sense of wonder about pretty much everything. He's a nice character.

Sen'ichi "Sen-chan" Enari/Deka Green

Sen's a weirdo. I don't know if the actor's a weirdo himself or he's really trying to play up an eccentric genius and taking it too far, but Sen's almost Vul-Panthery in his weirdness. I would have liked Sen to be a little more serious, like he can't believe he's surrounded by such unprofessional idiots, but Dekaranger steered into the skid of comedy, so Sen becomes a quirky guy who's just constantly amused by his surroundings.

But I like Sen. I like a number of his episodes, like the one with the Most Dangerous Game criminals (where he pulls a Columbo "just one more thing" act), the one where he reveals his claustrophobia, the one where he reveals his feelings for Umeko by beating the shit out of that clown from Sailor Moon...

Makito Ozu/Magi Green

When Magiranger was on the air, I couldn't stand Makito and his rubber face mugging. I guess, in a toku world that's been destroyed by Den-O, that something like Yuuki Itou's performance starts to seem more subdued, because when I've tried to rewatch Magiranger lately, he doesn't bother me.

I'm disappointed that he's the eldest brother and such a goofball that nobody takes seriously. I don't know if that was the plan, considering he's the eldest and Red suit actor Hirofumi Fukuzawa was traded over to Green for the year, but that's where they went with the character. Kind of strange that Houka, the eldest daughter, is also such an idiot screw-up, while youngest Kai -- a hot head who doesn't know what he's doing -- is the golden child.


Ha-ha, joke's on you, sucker. She don't count. Nice try, those of you who try to argue this. "But Jan said she and Rio were like Geki Black and Geki Green!" Yeah, Jan's an idiot, and he was joking. He's probably also the one who started the whole "Gorenger" thing.

Hanto "Dokidoki Dipshit" Jou/Go-on Green

I don't understand the point of this character. The actor's awful -- probably the worst one in the show, and that's saying something. He's about 11 years old, he's pretty girly, but he's supposed to be some kind of chick magnet. He gains about 50 pounds when he transforms. His mecha's the most annoying one in the show, and that's saying something.

Chiaki Tani/Shinken Green

At the start of Shinkenger, I really liked Chiaki. I liked that he refused to brownnose Tono, he questioned everything, he was lackadaisical. He was the modern guy in a stuffy, outdated surrounding. And when Chiaki's dad showed up, he was pretty much the same, so the Tanis did things their way, which mixed things up. You get the sense they were ordinary folks when Takeru was pampered and someone like Ryunosuke seemed to have a privileged life...

When Chiaki mentioned early on that he wanted to surpass Takeru, I got bad flashbacks to Masumi/Bouken Black. The show never really remembered this motivation of Chiaki's -- thankfully -- but it did fall into the trap of having pretty much every Chiaki episode be about what a screw-up he was until his screw-upness narrowly saved the day and he learned his lesson to be better only until the next time it happened again. This repetition locked actor Shogo Suzuki into one note, and I started to get tired of Chiaki. But, as I've said, I came to like Shinkenger more once it was over and I could look over it as a whole and kinda ignore the lulls it had. They could have handled Chiaki better, but I liked him for the most part.

Magis/Gosei Green

What can you say about him? He's played by Deka Green. That's about it. You see Gosei Green's legs, you see Sen get killed. That's about it.

Don "Hakase" Doggoiya/Gokai Green

We all know that it's suit actor Yasuhiro Takeuchi who makes this guy great. Takeuchi makes hilarious and at times bizarre comedic choices that make Gokai Green stand-out. Actor Kazuki Shimizu could have studied Takeuchi and done more to match up with him. But Takeuchi was constantly making little additions to the scene as the character that stood out -- one that comes to mind is when the Gokaiger change into Turboranger, and they're in the pyramid pose and Green's (or Black Turbo's) knees are buckling.

But I like Don regardless. He's timid, practically cowardly. It takes him a while to find his inner hero, but it's in there. His reluctance isn't from a place of malice, but because he's weak and afraid -- and like the other Gokaiger, he's had a rough life trying to survive in a universe that the Zangyaku are constantly pwning. He's a brainy nerd, he doesn't have the guts of a Marvelous or Luka or the military training of a Joe -- he's had to get by in his own way.

I liked that Marvelous recognized what Don had to offer and his strength in areas that didn't include fighting, and recruited him on his team. And I like that Don was behind doing the team's repairs and a couple of the weapons. Gokaiger didn't perfectly explain everything, most importantly just how they came to use the Ranger Keys, but I like to think that Don looked into it and discovered the way to use the powers of the Keys and invented the Mobirates.

It's kind of silly of Aka Red to be like "Here's a trunk filled with some Keys, Marvelous. I'm about to go die Fist of Fury style. Bye-bye!" And that's it! He didn't explain shit to Marvelous. How did they realize the Keys had powers they could use? Doc Doggoiya, that's how.

Souji Rippuukan/Kyoryu Green

He's the only male character of the Kyoryuger team who didn't jump out of a loud, obnoxious anime, but I still don't like him. The actor's pretty weak and Souji wasn't given many episodes, IIRC. He certainly wasn't cool enough to have Dyna Black and Dyna Pink as his parents, I tell ya.

Hikari/ToQ 4

It was really hard to take Hikari seriously as the quiet, serious, smart guy when his character was supposed to be a kid. And ToQger was such a lazily written show, most of the characters didn't even have character. (I'm still astounded that this is a Yasuko Kobayashi show. She usually favors character over plot, and this show has neither.)

And if you're not going to bother writing anything, at least get performers who can carry the thing, and that's certainly not ToQ 4's actor. He's not horrible, but he's just not memorable. When it comes down to it, I'm pretty indifferent to the ToQ heroes (except for Tokkachi, who I hate, and Akira, who I like).

And for the Green I'd pick to be on my team...

Are you ready?

You might be surprised...

Shion/Time Green! I really wanted to pick Dai, but if I ruled out Sara and the other Flashman because of the Anti-Flash, I ruled out Dai, too. I was going to pick Denji Green, but that's too close to the "Sentai Dream Team" I usually pick. (The "Dream Team" being the team you'd want to see in a special or movie, the characters you'd like to see interact; this game being forming a Seven Samurai-esque team of people you'd actually want to work with, whose skills you value, being the team you'd want to BE a part of and go on missions with.)

Shion's young, and while I ruled out a lot of characters -- like anyone from Megaranger -- for being too young, I don't think it applies to Shion since he's an alien, and obviously advanced. I wanted somebody super smart on my team, and figure he'd be a great asset since he has future knowledge AND alien knowledge. I considered Sen/Deka Green, since he, too, is smart, but I thought maybe his quirkiness could be irritating.