Monday, April 29, 2019
This episode marks the debut of Kyoko Matoba, a teen girl whose parents are killed by Crisis, so she decides to try to develop The Force in order to get her revenge. Seriously! And Reiko and Koutarou encourage this madness. I'd probably hate this story and gripe more, but the girl is played by a likable and sympathetic actress who I've seen in other stuff and thought she was good in. (For toku fans, she played Jiban's waaaaaaaaay underage girlfriend in Jiraiya.)
Dasmader -- for the moment -- has encouraged Crisis to NOT be stupid for a change, and they're all kinda working together towards another plan that's half-Bond villain, half-Dr. Evil -- that is, they destroy a ton of water plants, taking water for the Empire while also controlling what the Earth gets, which creates some Pro-Crisis people just out of necessity. I've read too many terrifying articles about the threats of droughts and water shortages, so I find plans like this actually good and diabolical.
The Padawan girl's father was in charge of one water facility and gets killed in one of Crisis' attacks. There's a lot of scenes of dead factory workers -- at one point, Reiko joins Koutarou as he's surveying the damage, snapping pictures to his horror. She replies it's her job and she needs to show people how evil Crisis is. Sumikawa's performance here is really good, as she at first can't even look at the bodies, but then summons the will to photograph them, tears in her eyes.
This episode ends with RX randomly and suddenly untransforming in front of Reiko (and new pal Kyoko). Reiko has one of those typical "I kinda always knew" reactions, but...eh, if you're going to have a hero hide their identity from their girlfriend, be writing towards something that will pay off. On one hand, it's nice that it's now in the open, on the other, though, we could have been spared some stupid episodes with some stupid contrivances if he had just 'fessed up earlier. So, Reiko vows to join the fight and it's, like, finally! Too bad we know the show's still going to shortchange you, though, Makoto Sumikawa.
And also, the biggest shock of the show, is that the Sahara parents appear in this episode and AREN'T cartoonish or annoying...! How'd they manage that? They appear with other panicked crowds trying to get water, and rather than force in some comedy or exaggerated acting as usual, they act...normal.
While I like Kyoko and actress Megumi Ueno, I'm watching this episode and wondering why they wouldn't just bring back Yuuko from episode 8? I know she was meant to max out her powers when RX told her to attack him, but she already at least has had special powers, AND she has ties to Crisis. It's strange to me to bring in this ordinary girl who's trying, pretty much out of nowhere, to develop powers for the sake of revenge, and nobody bats an eye at how strange that is. Have it be Yuuko trying to get her powers back to help or something. I get what they're going for with Kyoko, but...maybe just depict it in a less weird, rushed and silly way. She wants revenge, fine. Have her train or something. Have her be like one of the reckless '70s Riders and let herself be captured and transformed by the villains and escape before the brain surgery.
Or maybe...have it be Reiko who loses someone and decides to become more active and have a bigger role? I'm not letting go how disappointed I've always been at them misusing Makoto Sumikawa! (I guess I should take this time to say: yes, I know in RX she goes by the stagename Jun Kouyamaki. But she's mainly always been known as Makoto Sumikawa, and even now goes by that when she's making public appearances.)
A continuation of the previous episode. Kyoko continues to try to develop special abilities for the sake of revenge. Again, Koutarou and Reiko just stand by and cheer her on and...what?! I can picture this scenario working. It's sweet that the girl wants to develop powers to avenge her family, but we -- and the other main characters -- should probably doubt her. It sounds crazy. But then, to everyone's surprise, she does! I mean, done well, that could be kinda cool. But, no, here's Kyoko standing there, holding her arm out, trying to raise the X-Wing from Yoda's septic tank, while Koutarou and Reiko encourage her. Such is RX.
Despite the incredible odds, Kyoko shows promise -- she telepathically tears some leaves from a tree and cracks open the ground as if she's calling a Shugouzyu. But that's not good enough for her, dammit! She wants more power, ARGH, ARGH, ARGH! So she continues to just hold her hand out and see what happens. She begins praying to her deceased dad for power, and a power that has something to do with the water he was proud to have a job of overseeing, and she finally develops an ability to summon water! Now that she can make water from nothing, she offers it to the citizens who were ready to deal with Crisis, which tanks Crisis' plan of lording water over the desperate townspeople.
As she walks town to town to give people water, Maribaron is accompanied by an odd little group of masked jesters and dancers. In the hopes he can follow them to their secret lair, Koutarou knocks out one of the masked clowns and takes his place. Maribaron immediately sees through this, so it was all pointless, and I feel like just another way the show's trying to damage Koutarou's image. He has a full-on fight while still dressed as this ridiculous soldier/clown thing. It just seems so unlike Koutarou, so far from the character and Black. It's the kind of dopey thing befitting a comedic Kenji Ohba character, but just isn't Koutarou.
Reiko shows up during the fight and tries to attack Maribaron, but isn't successful. We later get a montage of her karate ass-kickin' in a forest, training, and she's later able to successfully fight off a couple of those Jason grunts and guard Kyoko. The episode ends with Kyoko and Reiko offering to join Koutarou in his fight against Crisis, and I'll commend the show for having him just immediately accept them, no questions or protests made. Just a few Rider shows ago, we would have gotten some patronizing "Women don't belong in battle" speech, while an ossan fills his pipe, but, no -- here, Koutarou accepts them as comrades and warriors.
Which brings me to something. Now, I don't remember this show well, so it might change from when I'm typing this and hit those episodes. But...I don't remember the show making much use out of either Reiko or Kyoko, in terms of taking on Crisis. For all of my griping of how they've misused action actress Makoto Sumikawa, I like the idea of building towards her becoming more involved, but it would have been nice if the show had built towards this from the start, and if it was something that had happened a dozen episodes sooner. The show right now is in the weird transitional phase of trying to set up its end game. We got the new villain who's lighting a fire under the other villains' asses, their plans are meant to be stepping up and Koutarou's become more exposed, but he has gained new allies. He has Joe, Reiko, Kyoko, possibly Sela, if she returns. He has a neat little team backing him up... (I now understand why Black Fang referred to them as Koutarou's Bat Family in a comment on one of my Black posts. I'll just refer to them as the RX Squad.)
I don't remember them doing anything with that, though. And I'm guessing it's because they decide to bring in the old Riders for the final arc, which I always thought was a huge, huge mistake, even before this latest realization of mine that they were replacing a team of Koutarou's own that the show was building. I guess it's something I'll get into more when I hit those episodes...if I hit them. Pretty much every time I finish an RX episode, I'm like, "Ugh. I can't do it anymore!"
Robo Rider refers to himself in this episode as "The Prince of Flames." Why the change? And -- what?!
Friday, April 26, 2019
I REALLY do not remember this show well, and I didn't remember this episode much at all. It's pretty pathetic, like the PTA wrote in and told Toei how to wrap up that too damn scary, violent and disturbing Shadow Moon storyline.
Shadow Moon reappears, messing up Crisis' Dr. Evil plan of causing a volcano to erupt and cover the city in liquid hot mag-muh. He takes control of their monster and gets back to his go fight RX plan. The episode's just a lot of padding until RX and Shadow Moon finally fight, with RX stabbing him through the belt and winning. That's not the bad part...the bad part is, once RX wins, Shadow Moon compliments him, fills him in on Crisis' plan, urging him to stop it AND he offers to go help save the two kids who are inexplicably brought into the story to add some victims for our hero to save...and that hero ends up being Shadow Moon! EEEEEEEEEEEEEEEHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH?!?! I can't, show.
The episode ends with Koutarou carrying (the empty suit of) Shadow Moon, who then reverts back to human. (Fake Shemp Nobuhiko alert.) Koutarou's at peace feeling like Nobuhiko came through at the end. What the hell is this cop-out nonsense? Not only do I feel like the PTA complained, but also some new nerd in charge of the network or something. Or maybe it was RX staff who was jealous that they brought back the better villain from the better show, so the ultimatum was given to not only write Shadow Moon out, but have him go Magoo in the end. Lame. They could have easily had him pop up again, being a kind of Birugenia or Sixth Villain the show could use. What a waste.
Speaking of Sixth Villains...this episode marks the debut of RX's Sixth Villain, Dasmader. Dathmader? Darth Madder? Doesnmatter? Whatever. It's a really forgettable, dare I say filler-y episode, so I'm puzzled why they choose to debut a new villain in such an episode. The episode's written by Kyoko Sagiyama, not even the main writer! So, it's a weird choice. But it's about the only thing to note about this episode, because it's sooooooooooo. Damn. Boring. I kept checkin' out throughout it.
Crisis' latest scheme is to turn some of their soldiers into butterflies that can possess people to be used for Crisis. A boy's family is among those possessed, and we spend too much time with his bawling ass. Brutal.
And then there's Dasmader. I've never liked this guy. His design is just wretched, and it looks like a homemade costume. Also? I think he's miscast. Actor Tetsuya Matsui looks like he's 14 years old and four feet tall. While the character is meant to be the inspection man of the Crisis Emperor (why can't this character have a name? It would be so much easier to type "Bob," instead of "Crisis Emperor"), we know he ends up being more, and Matsui's an action actor, and he gets into a fight immediately with RX. So...he's meant to be a BIT formidable, so he shouldn't look like a goddamn kid wearing the General Black costume his meemaw made him for Halloween. He's such a short twerp. He has no authority. He's like Dark Helmet.
Can you tell I'm tired of this show yet?
Wednesday, April 24, 2019
This episode combines elements from nearly each one of my least favorite filler plots. Asinine horseshit of people being turned into animals? Check. A bullied kid needing to learn confidence? Check. The bullied kid finding the bad guy tech and using it for his own gain? Check.
It again highlights the incompetence of Crisis, as they mess up their own evil doohickey and must be sent a replacement -- and that replacement falls into the hands of a kid because that kid kicks a soccer ball which hits the car of the Crisis goons delivering the part, causing it to crash. I mean...cripes, are there any more pathetic toku villains? These guys are damn close to Rita Repulsa levels of non-threatening, incompetent dunderheads.
We actually get a scene where the bad guys buy that someone used the device to change Koutarou into a pig. This entire show's not shameful enough, but they actually made Tetsuo Kurata suffer the indignity of putting on a pig mask and crawl around squealing. And this ends up being a trick, it's actually a disguised Joe, in what's the worst physical match-up until John Travolta and Nicolas Cage swapping places in Face/Off. The stupidity is astounding.
Dumb episode. People got paid for this.
1) One of the henchmen delivering the replacement device is Jiro Okamoto, who provides this episode's only true moment of amusement as a comedically cigar-chompin' thug. He's the human form of one of Crisis' grunts, those Jason-Voorhees-if-he-was-playing-laser-tag looking guys. I think those skull mooks are better, but they're just randomly used. I used to think they were Maribaron's personal grunts, but I think they popped up in an episode that was meant to be one of the other generals' plans, so...*shrug* The grunts, by the way, are called "the Chaps." *throws up hands*
2) Of all of the Crisis villains, Bossgun's the only one I come close to liking. He has the most personality in that he's a snob, and I like how reserved he is. Suit actor Yoshikatsu Fujiki plays the part well, moving with a real calm and self-assuredness, and I like just how subdued voice-actor Shozo Iizuka is -- it's really unlike most of his other toku roles. Fujiki's also just a tall, imposing dude. I bring up Bossgun because this episode is his plan, and it makes him look stupider than he's usually made to look. This is more of a Gedorian plan.
This episode is called "Papa is Dracula." That tells you all you need to know, and the quality you're going to be getting.
Crisis sent a spy to Earth ten years ago, and the guy ended up falling in love and starting a family instead of whatever the hell Crisis wanted him to do. (Which probably WAS to betray them by falling in love and starting a family, because these aren't good bad guys, guys.) A vampiric Crisis monster turns him into a vampire, controlling him so that he'll turn other people into dimestore vampires. B-movie chaos ensues... An unessential episode...
But there's a couple of things in its favor.
1) The episode begins with Papa Dracula's young son trying to drive a stake in his heart. Not the expected way to begin a show as sugar-coated as this one.
2) Yoshinori Okamoto plays a businessman-turned-vampire.
3) RX uses the Revolcane, in lieu of a wooden stake, to pierce the Crisis vampire monster's heart. That was pretty cool. In part vampire, part toku tradition, it frees everyone of being a vampire.
4) The kid playing Papa Dracula's son is pretty good, and just goes for it, giving zero shits. He's blubbering half of the episode, he's always got tears going, he's really sad. And he gives some great shocked reactions like this:
5) I'm ashamed to admit that I found Joe a little funny in this episode. When he's ganged up on by vampires, he gives them a warning: "I'm not a regular human, I won't taste good! I WON'T TASTE GOOD!"
In this episode and the previous one, we learn that Joe's a blunt guy. He got yelled at by Koutarou in the last episode for just flat out spilling to the gorilla kid that the animal people have a short life, and here he's laying into the bawling kid who won't spill the details about his vampire dad. Joe doesn't waste time, he doesn't sugarcoat shit. That's kinda refreshing for a toku hero. I don't want to come out of this rewatching a Kasumi no Joe fan, dammit!
6) This episode marks the debut of the song "Kuroi Yuusha," the only song on the soundtrack sung by Tetsuo Kurata. I...kinda like this song. It's an action-y song that sounds like something that could be used in the training montage of a Rocky movie.
A nutty mess of an episode. There's boring conniving amongst Crisis members, and there's the plot to kidnap brides who are Scorpios in order to sacrifice to the Crisis Emperor. This leads to a plot where Reiko, a Scorpio, decides to go along with Joe and stage a mock wedding to Koutarou in order to trap Crisis. Koutarou acts realllllllllly weird when he hears this suggestion. Like, it's supposed to be funny, but he just goes overboard and seems like a mental patient, the idea of marrying Reiko just tooooooooooo crazy to contemplate, LOL!
It's sad. Black would have played this scenario straight, and probably had Koutarou already engaged to Reiko and their wedding actually be taking place during Crisis' kidnappings, so it would have been a real threat. Instead, this thing is played for laughs, with Koutarou going through with the mock wedding, but switching Reiko out with Joe in a dress at some point. (It's sad to say: when the monster is hauling Bride Joe off and Joe's stumpy, hair legs flop out and it horrifies the monster...I actually found it kinda funny. The monster's reaction and Joe's reaction back... I don't want to be a Joe fan, dammit!)
Bossgun still manages to grab Reiko, though, after a neat scene where she's hiding in a car and Bossgun carves the car up like it's tofu with his super special sword. (The super special sword which, after Bossgun spends a scene boasting about its strength, ends up being easily karate-chopped in half by Robo Rider. That was pretty cool.)
Eh. This episode has a wonky tone, but I didn't mind it. Cool fight scenes, nice filming. The more the show remembers to use Makoto Sumikawa, the better. It's really sad how misused she is, though; it's a shame they don't treat Reiko more seriously or respectfully. She's there for comedic purposes or to saved. With someone as awesome as Sumikawa, it's just such a shame that the relationship with Reiko's not taken more seriously. "Little boys don't want that shit in their karate-chopping bugman show," I can already hear some whine. Shaddap! If I saw RX when I was a kid, I'd certainly be disappointed at how the actress-formerly-known-as-Diana was used. It's even worse than what happens to Kazuoki Takahashi, going from super-cool Change Griffin to goofball sidekick Kita in Metalder.
In today's adventure, Bossgun is still gunning for Jackie's position and decides to get a fancy new sword to go take on Koutarou. His plan is to target all of those closest to Koutarou. Joe, being a kaizo ningen, easily escapes his attacker by just jumping out of a window, in classic kaizo ningen tradition. Reiko's in a nasty car wreck and hospitalized. The monster threatens the Sahara mother to cut ties with Koutarou, which she does, but Shigeru and Hitomi don't listen to her and go off to find Koutarou.
Villains going after a superhero's loved ones is a common storyline. It's why a lot of superheroes keep their identities secret. Yet, Koutarou -- and a lot of other heroes -- keeps his a secret, and it still happens. It's something that's been beaten to death and continuously forgotten on CW's The Flash. Barry/The Flash constantly gets loved ones in trouble by hiding he's the Flash and always has to learn that it's better to be open and give the other person the choice to still be around him, give them the warning that they might be in danger, too. A secret identity is damn near useless when your villains know who you are. So, enough comedic shenanigans, Koutarou -- just be honest with people. But there's still too many episodes left and we know that's not what the show will do.
The monster of this episode chomps on RX's face and blinds him, which is how Koutarou ends up screwing up so much -- first Shigeru and Hitomi are kidnapped and then Joe has to fight extra hard in Koutarou's place, taking a serious wound in a duel with Bossgun.
And it's this episode where I realized that Makoto Sumikawa should have played Joe. No, I don't expect her to always be the spunky and kick-ass Diana, but...why'd they even cast an action actress for what little Reiko does? Meanwhile here's Joe, a fellow cyborg, who DOES get in on a lot of action, and yet is played by a regular actor who CAN'T do action and...what sense does that make? Well, I guess that's just RX. If it doesn't make sense, it's RX.
You could have kept that Koutarou felt a sibling love for a Sumikawa-Joe. Not only by fighting alongside her, not only in that they're both cyborgs, but Koutarou could have still looked at her as the new Nobuhiko and not only that, but she could also remind him of Kyoko Akizuki, as well. WHY AM I THE ONLY ONE WHO REMEMBERS OR CARES ABOUT KYOKO? #justiceforkyoko
Monday, April 22, 2019
This episode's written by Jun'ichi Miyashita. It's not the first episode of RX he's written, but it might be the first one that matters. Of ALL of the writers working on RX, he's the most qualified to be working on it, because he handled a heavy load of Black episodes. Why doesn't he do more RX?! Why isn't he the main writer?! Why's the main writer instead a guy who had ZERO to do with Black? Ezure was previously main writer of Super 1, which was super kid-friendly and barely a Rider show (it's a proto-Uchuu Keiji), and a couple Fushigi Comedies. Well, what's RX if not a Metal Hero-seeming, kid-friendly, barely Rider crossed with a Fushigi Comedy? Ugh.
This episode begins with Koutarou and Joe palling around playing soccer, which -- of course -- stirs up thoughts of Nobuhiko for Koutarou, since that's apparently one of the only things Koutarou can remember about his brother. (That, and that he likes to laugh on boats.) The narrator refers to Nobuhiko as Koutarou's one and only friend, so...sorry, Kenta Satou! I knew it was fishy that you claimed to be Koutarou's childhood friend and saved him from a bear trap and stuff. (Ezure, of course, wrote that episode. I like to think this line is Miyashita's way of being like "Wrong! Nobuhiko was Koutarou's best and only friend.")
Although Joe's only been around for a few episodes, Koutarou notes that he's grown as close to Joe as he was Nobuhiko, and that gives Koutarou a kind of dread. When Joe's fiancée, Sela, crosses over from Crisisville, Koutarou senses something off about her and Joe turns on him in an instant, which really makes you dislike the character. Before Koutarou can get a word out what exactly he's sensing, Joe's going off on him and storms off. And, of course, Koutarou ended up being right, and even when Joe's apologizing to him later, it doesn't quite make up for how much he overreacted. But Koutarou takes the blame! He blames himself for letting Joe storm off in anger with Sela, because he was having traumatic flashbacks of Nobuhiko. Koutarou's too damn nice to the annoying people who surround him...
Sela, surprisingly, doesn't end up being a Crisis spy or anything, she just unknowingly has a monster of the week attached to her. (It lives within her shadow, which is kinda neat, but not done as coolly as the similar Space Beast Soldier Kaage in Changeman.) The plot of this week is that Sela has a list of all of the Crisis refugees hiding out on Earth that Crisis wants so they can preemptively stop a potential uprising. It's just weird to me that there's apparently SO many people who have crossed over from Crisisbama, but nobody's heard from them. How long's this been going on? What exactly has the Crisis Empire been doing? Why wait until they did to invade -- were they waiting for Golgom to bite it? Why am I asking more questions than this show intends to have asked about it, and certainly more questions than they intend to answer? Do I even care at this point? Let's move on to the next paragraph.
The backstory with Joe and Sela is that Joe had escaped from Crisis' clutches and was saved by Sela and her tribe, and that they fell in love. So when Crisis found him, he willingly turned himself in to Crisis, willingly walking right back into the cyborg operation he had managed to escape, just so Sela and her tribe wouldn't be punished by the empire. So, Joe's actually a cool sounding character, and Rider-y, but the problem is that they make him a comedic sidekick, and he IS a sidekick, and to someone who casts a large shadow like Koutarou. Joe probably should have been a second Rider in the show, but I guess they didn't have the guts to do that at the time. A second Rider would have been better than giving Koutarou those random and ugly forms that don't fit or make sense, IMO. (Imagine if Joe debuted and he was Robo Rider -- that'd fit more than Koutarou becoming "the prince of sorrow" out of nowhere.)
This episode ends with a tease of Shadow Moon appearing on a mountaintop, doing a pre-cursor to the Kamen Rider J ending credits. The references to Nobuhiko at the top of the show were nice, the show finally acknowledging SOMEthing about the show it's supposed to be a part of. But I imagine this little tease had to have blown people's mind at the time -- that is if it hadn't already been spoiled by something like TV Magazine, which it probably, certainly, was. Even though it kinda wrecks how the show ended, Shadow Moon's return was probably predicted by a lot of viewers. But after sitting through 20 episodes of gnomes and moth parasites and poison satellites and kids trapped in bicycles and cactus girls and squirrel vampires, it was probably an absolute shock to see Shadow Moon again, something that actually pertains to the show it's purportedly a sequel to. Something that promises to be about something, momentous. You had to know it was going to be disappointing, though. C'mon. Forget it, Jake. It's RX.
Shadow Moon returns and...it's a disappointment. There's no real reason for him to come back -- they couldn't have written there was, like, a big earthquake that shook him loose or something? That General Jack purposely brought him back? No, he's just up and walking around. We're told he doesn't remember his past, he's just following an instinct to kill RX. So, he's just Michael Myers now. And although he's spent his time since Black dead and buried, he somehow knows his old foe Black is now RX.
But since Crisis said in the premiere that they researched all about Koutarou/Black, it's easy to connect that they had to know about Shadow Moon, so once Shadow Moon appears, Jark does show interest in getting his help. This causes the other Crisis generals to fear they'll be replaced, and it gets into some behind-the-back scheming that's not all that interesting with these particular, under-underwritten characters. Seriously, this group of villains is just so uncompelling. Shadow Moon's the draw here, this just needed to be focused on him and unrelated to Crisis. Have one itty bitty scene where Jack's trying to recruit him but he refuses and have that be it for Crisis' involvement in the story.
This episode could have been better, it needed to be bolder and not afraid to show how traumatized Koutarou could possibly be. Shadow Moon killed him! And then he mortally wounded and left Shadow Moon -- his brother -- to die in Golgom's lair. But Koutarou quickly makes up his mind that this isn't truly Shadow Moon, but just basically a zombie; he looks at him as being no different than the latest Crisis clown. (We could have been shown his transition from Black to RX, how he got over his trauma so that this new skirmish didn't affect him so much, but, no.) So, there's just no real meaning or impact behind this new battle. It's a gimmick match. You're just further injuring us by trying to give us a taste of Black, but screwing it up in the way that's been the norm for RX. This episode could have been a good opportunity to close the door on Black, since that's what they want to do, and could have been character-focused -- tightly focused on Koutarou, his trauma, completely getting over his trauma/how he recovered in the first place, and really have finally tied up loose ends. But it's all just a pointless gotcha.
I think it's sad to pass up the opportunity of looking at just how kind of unfair life has been for our hero, how dumped on he is. Look at all Koutarou went through in Black -- Golgom tore his family apart. They cut Koutarou down in the prime of his youth. They irrevocably damaged his life, his hope for a normal life. He had to kill his brother. His battle with Golgom was incredibly personal, and when it was over, he tried to move on. Despite the odds, he found a place to live, he found SOME happiness. (Imagine if the Sahara parents weren't so annoying -- how stronger it would be if Koutarou found a nice, loving family to have as his surrogate family in this new place of peace.) But he's targeted by Crisis and pulled into a completely new battle that he has nothing to do with. But because he is who he is, and such a good person, he stands up against Crisis and fights them. But now this important figure from his past reappears that he has to contend with. It should all be so much bigger and emotional, but Shadow Moon's a glorified monster of the week here. We're meant to ooh and ah just because he's Shadow Moon, and a tie to the previous show, but the effort's not put into it.
1) How cool would it have been if Shadow Moon had flat-out killed Gedorian when he was aboard the Crisis ship? Not only would it have been a nice homage to his instant-killing Birugenia, but...Gedorian was asking for it. He's such an obnoxious, coked-up pest that he's always asking for it, so wouldn't it have been nice for Shadow Moon to just kill him here? Neither characters nor audience would have missed him.
2) A Sahara-free episode! Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh, so refreshing. Now if it could have just been Crisis-free, as well.
3) Actually, for the previous episode's setting up having Koutarou look at Joe as his new brother, this episode doesn't bother following that up in anyway; Shadow Moon possesses Joe for a scene, and rather than do anything with that, it's just quickly brushed aside. And Miyashita wrote this episode, as well, so I definitely feel like he had intended for there to be more of a comparison there, like maybe the whole episode it had been intended for a Shadow Moon-possessed Joe to fight Koutarou, so he's reliving his nightmare, but since RX is so damn soft, it had to be changed into the generic, uneventful BS we were presented. Joe gets knocked out and spends most of the episode unconscious at the RX Cave -- Shadow Moon only possesses him to issue Koutarou a challenge. Pointless.
4) Shadow Moon survives this episode -- the Crisis generals interfere with the battle, so he lets Black off on one of those techniques found in Wolzard's Wussy Rules of Battle, which is that they'll resume the battle when Black heals. Get outta here. Shadow Moon doesn't have his remaining sliver of humanity or pride -- he's meant to be a revenge machine here, so it's not believable he'd just let RX off. The showmakers just want to keep teasing and tormenting the fans of Black by prolonging this. And we know the next appearance will be just as disappointing.
I mean...the show's hitting the halfway point. It's been mostly a pile of turd. It's torn down everything Black accomplished. Imagine if they had taken this opportunity to course correct. Like, "Hey, we're bringing back Shadow Moon. And the first thing he's going to do is kill all of the Crisis losers and take over, and then we can work on making this show the actual sequel it should have always been!"
Friday, April 19, 2019
Cockamamie nonsense. A vampire tale, but told with -- get ready for it -- flying squirrels instead of vampires or vampire bats. Unbelievable.
Random notes for a random show:
1) Kasumi no Joe's still running around in that weird leather outfit. He's also taken to calling Koutarou "aniki," which proves the character's meant to be much younger than the dude playing him. Kasumi no Joe and Koutarou act like a two-man comedy group here, which is cringe-worthy, but goes on to become a recurring thing. We're also back to "Reiko, you dumb woman" when Koutarou and Joe are talking about their battles and she overhears them and they just laugh her off. Nutty dames, AMIRITE?!
2) At one point -- at two points, actually -- Koutarou is bitten by these Squirrel Vampires. He decides to haul ass back to the RXcave -- wherever it may be, the abandoned warehouse district so popular in the '90s Metal Heroes -- and proceeds to do one of the most disgusting things in all of toku. He turns into Bio Rider and fights off the Squirrel Germs -- with some hardcore grunting, like he's taking a primo dump -- and then squeezes an antidote out of his body, which is colored like piss, and Joe catches into a test tube and then Koutarou orders him to take it to the hospital ASAP. That's GROSS!
3) The villain plan in this episode -- I'm not kidding here -- is to have the monster bite kids so they'll go into a daze and try to jump off buildings, thinking they're Flying Squirrel Vampires and can fly, when they'll just plummet to their doom. Not only will these Kid Squirrel Vampires be committing mass suicide, but it will seriously depress Koutarou and then the monster will do the same to him!!!!!
This episode has been brought to you by Takashi Ezure's intestines, as it's a piece of POOP.
Araki's second of two scripts for the show. His first one was the one that I mentioned as being the first episode of RX I didn't mind. How's this one fare?
Eh, it's nothing special, but nothing too offensive. We've seen plots in toku about artificial suns so many times, that when I hit an episode like this I'm like "Is this the one where they're at the rocks and fighting off the approach of the artificial sun with some big gizmo?" And the answer is, of course, "yes," every time.
This is just like a vintage Rider script -- the bad guys are targeting a scientist, kidnap his kids, Rider intervenes. I mean...it happened in every single episode of every single '70s Rider. It's a well worn plot. But RX has been so Anti-Rider that you're kinda like "Hey! This mediocre episode is all right, because it feels like Kamen Rider!"
Crisis has a monster that creates a second, artificial sun, and they do nothin' with it but threaten the kids of the scientist who wants to stop it. I mean...they're already doing things like roasting Tokyo just to prove its power, so...why are they thinking so small? They could probably threaten Tokyo to hunt down this scientist and have him killed by ordinary citizens if it means they'll make the weather cool off. Crisis are just terrible villains. There's some junk about how they're after some jewel or something, but it's forgotten as quickly as it's brought up.
And that's about all that can be said about this one.
I'm not going to lie -- this episode is one of the first things that's always come to mind for me when I think about RX. It's just one of the most absolute stupidest and pointless episodes I've ever seen in a toku. I don't even think something as super low-rent and silly-ass like Bycrosser would accept this script.
It's the one where the monster of the week goes around town utilizing bananas -- he can turn bananas into keys, in which to break into vaults and steal gold. He can freeze bananas which he turns into shuriken that he thinks he can kill RX with. If that's not stupid and horrible sounding enough for you, this episode features a lot of Papa Sahara, and the first half is devoted to Shigeru following Joe as he follows the suspected Crisis monster. (It's not hard to figure out who the monster's disguised as, as he acts like a big weirdo.)
I should point out the monster's human form is played by the late Kouen Okumura, who's really likable as Suke-san in Abaranger, but was unfortunate when it came to other parts for Toei. He appeared in the original Kamen Rider series, so that's a nice tie. It's not his fault this monster and episode suck, but it's sad that he's tied to what I consider one of toku's lowest, dumbest points. This shit really is reminiscent of MMPR, when they didn't know what the hell they had, so you had full episodes of random shit like the Rangers helping Billy build an ant-farm the entire episode or something. Why's that on television?
Random notes on a random show:
1) Crisis makes it sound like the monster's robbing vaults just to lure out Koutarou, but then later they say that they want gooooooollllllllld to build a golden palace for the Crisis Emperor. That doesn't sound like it would turn out terrible at all.
2) This episode is when Joe ditches the leather onesie and begins to dress like a character from Double Dragon. Somebody on the show hates Joe, because they like to dress and make him look like an idiot.
Wednesday, April 17, 2019
The episode begins with Koutarou asking the King Stone to explain why he became Robo Rider. Not only does the King Stone do this -- curious that it wasn't an ability used on Black, where the King Stone was much more important -- but even more ridiculous is that Koutarou transformed into Robo Rider, doesn't know why he did, but knew exactly what to say and do -- the "Prince of Sadness" speech, the weapons, the finishers, all that. Nonsense.
This episode also introduces Kasumi no Joe, a mysterious dude seen following Koutarou in the previous episode. He claims to be an Earthling who was captured and remodeled by Crisis, and that he's lost all of his memories prior to Crisis' operating on him. There's something not really believable about him, but he's on the up-and-up...until he's controlled by the monster of the week into attacking Koutarou. So, it's weird...you get a suspicious vibe from him like he IS a secret bad guy, but he's not, and yet that scenario kind of plays out anyway. Having a shady vibe's not a good way to introduce him.
I've never made it this far into an RX rewatch. The first and last time I watched RX in its entirety, I believe, was probably like 2002. I remember really finding Kasumi no Joe an annoying and pointless addition. Now having so much Kamen Rider experience, pointless additions is one of the franchise's specialties, and I guess he's an attempt at giving Koutarou a full-time Taki kinda sidekick. Not the greatest way to introduce him, IMO. He seems suspicious, but Koutarou takes an immediate liking to him. Even when the controlled Joe is attacking him, Koutarou's trying to help him more than he probably should. Koutarou's too nice.
Watching it now, I think a big problem with Kasumi no Joe is in the casting. Rikiya Koyama's an oddball -- probably why he's mainly a voice actor now -- I get the impression the character's meant to be younger than Koutarou, but Koyama is actually older than Kurata, so he's laying on this kind of exaggerated enthusiasm in order to come across younger. It's not like I want him to suffer the indignities of a show like RX, but Kasumi no Joe's the role Issei Hirota should have played after Maskman, NOT the waste of a role he had in Jiraiya. I think the Kasumi no Joe role calls for someone youthful and physical like that.
The episode ends with Maribaron successfully forcing Hitomi to grow up into the Crisis Emperor's daughter, Garonia. Garonia is played by Maho "Rie/Maria" Maruyama, this show making me think of Jetman yet again. This is only about two years before Jetman, but she looks so much younger...but that pissed-off voice is Maria's, alright.
Here's what dummies Crisis are. Maribaron's plan -- which is making up for a big-ass blunder of hers -- is actually working. They shouldn't be doing anything that could jeopardize it. And yet -- for NO REASON -- General Jackie decides to transport Shigeru into Crisisville. Shigeru ends up ruining their plan by reaching through Garonia and getting her to remember she's Hitomi. So, Jack tanked this plan. No wonder he's so chill towards Maribaron. Like "I can't yell at you for ballsing up this plan; I ballsed it up bigger. No worries. *shrug*"
When RX is placed in another death trap, he magically finds the ability to transform into a new form, Bio Rider. Bio Rider's a weirdo with ninja-like physicality and the ability to turn into SFX-goo that suits the purpose of the scene. This form is referred to as "the prince of anger." Now...what sense does this make? To me, Robo Rider should be the prince of anger. If someone gets pissed off enough that it turns them into a literal robotic killing machine, shouldn't that be the prince of anger? Shouldn't the prince of sadness be the one that's colored blue, being all organic and earthy with the water-related abilities and stuff? It makes no sense to me!
What's all this prince stuff, anyway? RX's regular form has been referred to the "prince of light." The dude was a king in Black, so why the demotion when RX is meant to be an upgrade? And why does Koutarou think he still deserves a royal title, anyway? What the hell is this show?! Ferbus would only improve things at this point.
And in this episode, Shigeru finally discovers Koutarou is RX. SHIGERU. And Shigeru vows to keep it a secret. And I'm just like...bah! Kasumi no Joe has known Koutarou for half an hour and knows that he's RX, and now Shigeru. Meanwhile we're going to have to put up with more of Koutarou treating Reiko like she's an idiot to keep a cover he shouldn't even have. We're back into the '70s, when only characters with dongs were worthy enough of knowing Rider's identity -- treat them women like the hysterics they are, AMIRITE dude? HIGH FIVE!
Random notes for a random show:
1) Hitomi ends up being saved and reverted to normal by a mystical pond guarded by some of those gnome-looking good citizens of Crisisville. I just want to take this time to complain about the designs of these guys. They're far too Zyurangery -- cheap looking gnomes that don't match with this show. Garonia being a glimpse at the kind of kingdom/empire of Crisis' we've heard so much about is also done in a predictably fairytale sort of way -- and cheap, giving off further Zyuranger vibes.
2) The episode ends with Koutarou returning to the Sahara home with Hitomi and Shigeru. And here's a moment when the Sahara parents' shenanigans -- their being comedic characters -- hurt the show, because they're meant to be genuinely worried about their two missing kids, but you just don't buy it. And then shortly after that, they're HILARIOUSLY tripping over each other to get to their kids, who they realize have safely returned. I HATE the Sahara parents. Oh, and Koutarou brings Kasumi no Joe along for this reunion. That's not weird at all. This weird old-looking strange guy dressed all in leather. Not weird at all! I guess, in this show, when Koutarou is in the form of Koutarou, he's the "prince of bad decisions."
3) Saying that about the Sahara parents, I'd like to highlight Hitomi. (I've already said that I think Takeshi Inoue's a good actor; Shigeru's not the problem, it's the writers overusing him that's the problem.) Being so young, Shoko Imura's not exactly a great actress, but she's a sweet-seeming kid, and not overly loud or annoying -- she's rather quiet, actually. What I find funny is that she seems very in the moment and authentic. If there's a monster in the scene, she seems genuinely spooked. When the Sahara parents are "comedically" bickering or beating each other up, she looks (understandably) mortified. So, it's a shame that the parents have to be soooooooooooooooooo damn irritating and unlikable. It's one of the biggest problems with this show, and this show has a lot of problems.
4) Saying that about Hitomi, I have to say...I can't believe we just got through a g'damn four-parter about Hitomi, but the show can't be bothered to write a line or two about main characters from the previous show like Kyoko or Katsumi. RX's priorities -- Toei's priorities with this show and franchise -- are fuuuuuuuuuuuucked up.
5) I like Bio Rider's design as itself, but not as anything associated with Black. It's a tad more in the Kamen Rider knockoff area of things. It certainly doesn't seem like a power-UP -- it's just too different and plain. Not that power-ups should be over-the-top and as stupidly gaudy or busy as Bandai makes them now, but...have them be a little bit special, you know?
Monday, April 15, 2019
Gotta love how incompetent the Crisis are. They're growing a girl to raise into a Super Duper Crisis Princess or something. It's taken time and care, and she's actually made from the cells of the unseen Crisis Emperor. Within a matter of milliseconds, one of the grunts bumps into the Easy Bake Oven that's cooking the girl and kills her. So the genius Maribaron hatches a plan to kidnap a regular Earth girl and pass her off as this botched experiment. They end up deciding that Hitomi Sahara's the best candidate, and this kicks off a nutty four-parter.
Really, I don't understand why the show pretends to have Koutarou hide his identity, or have that nobody knows. Whenever shit's going down -- weird shit, Crisis shit -- everybody's looking to Koutarou. Drop this dumb stuff, writers. Just have it out in the open. Especially when RX is calling Reiko "Rei-chan," just like Koutarou. C'mon. She has to know. If not, she's as dumb as the writers of this show. Hey-ooooooooooooooo.
The opponent of this episode is a robot named Death Galon. He's sort of been overestimated by the fandom for some reason. I have no idea the intention of the design, but he looks like he was some scrapped idea for a Shadow Moon RX -- he looks like a "power-up" for Shadow Moon, right down to having a belt with two green gems, the way RX has two red ones. Death Galon's not interesting, though. He just looks cool, that's all he does. He's the Boba Fett of Kamen Rider.
Random notes for a random show:
1) Once Hitomi is kidnapped and the Saharas are losing their mind, Shigeru storms out to look for her, with Reiko following, trying to talk some sense into him. For this whole scene, an instrumental of "Long Ago 20th Century" plays. This scene doesn't deserve it. This show doesn't deserve it. It's one thing for composer Eiji Kawamura to reuse SOME BGM tracks from Black, but I think it's a big mistake for them to use a main theme, and one tied so closely to Black. "Long Ago 20th Century" fits Black, with all of its doomsday and apocalyptic imagery, to a T. It's definitely a song about the world, far in the future, if Golgom possibly won. (Well, that's what I always thought.) I think Golgom when I hear that song. Leave it out of your Flash Gordon shit, Toei.
2) It's at this precise episode when I reached the "I'd rather break this glass and slash my wrists" point of whether or not to proceed with another episode.
|"I am the son of the moon! Shadow Moon RX!"|
RX has forced Death Galon to take him to Crisisland in search of Hitomi. When RX and Death Galon are trapped in a cave by Crisis, RX is made to believe that Hitomi dies and he gets so pissed off he gets an upgrade -- he turns into Robo Rider. As Robo Rider, Koutarou refers to himself as "the prince of sadness." I don't know where he pulled that out from, but it's in keeping with the total randomness of this show.
Tetsuo Kurata's voiceovers as he holds the "dead" Hitomi are great, as is Jiro Okamoto's mannerisms and physical performance. I don't really get the point of Masked Rider Super Gold, though. If it's born out of his emotions at the thought of losing Hitomi, then...why Robo Rider? Why's he robotic? What the hell is this? Why's he actually moving like he's RoboCop or Jiban now? What? Why? Huh?!
Not only is Robo Rider a dark sign of things to come with this franchise -- absorbing the Metal Heroes and becoming more of whatever Toei wishes than Ishinomori -- but it just makes this show even further separated from Black. It just seems so out of place. So much of this show is, I think, producer Susumu Yoshikawa being kind of like "I LOVE the Space Sheriffs, but they're yesterday's news. The last couple of Metal Heroes were barely even Metal Heroes! Let's bring some Metal Heroes into the show of the franchise that's NOT tanking." And, in the end, RX tanks, killing the franchise for over a decade. Hmm. There's a lesson there, Toei, and you didn't listen to it.
The only thing I like about Robo Rider, really, is his helmet, which pays nice homage to robotic heroes of Ishinomori's past. I still don't think it's a good idea for a Kamen Rider to become this robotic guy, though. It just doesn't work. Doesn't make sense to me. This show is maddening in how much of it is random, forced nonsense that doesn't make sense. ARGH!
Random note for a random show:
I like that, once RX and Death Galon are trapped, RX is kinda like "Hey, let's not fight. They betrayed you, it's pointless, so let's just find a way to get outta here and kick their ass." That's kinda logical. But Death Galon is all "I wouldn't be in this mess without you, so let's fight!" Dummy. Since Death Galon is Rider-y looking, and a robot, I think Robo Rider should have come from him -- RX defeats him after blowing his top when one of Death Galon's errant blasts "kills" Hitomi, and he then ends up absorbing his robotic form or something. Makes more sense to me.
Friday, April 12, 2019
The episode that's really only notable for Kenta Satou guest-starring as Koutarou's childhood pal, who unknowingly went to work for Crisis and ended up helping make them some laser beam that spreads poison or some horseshit like that. Oopsie!
Kinda funny we never heard about this friend before, huh? It's like we just met Koutarou Minami, not like he's had a year of show already. Where did Satou fit in with Nobuhiko as Koutarou's one best friend, eh?
|Koutarou uses this awful disguise in this episode. And it works, fooling Reiko. Poor Makoto Sumikawa...|
This might be the first episode of RX, in this rewatch, that I didn't totally despise. A former classmate of Shigeru -- him again?! -- suddenly displays super-intelligence, only to find out that her dad was from Crisis' world. She develops powers in a real Stephen King Carrie/Firestarter way, lashing out at people in anger and mistrust, and she ends the episode by attacking Koutarou. Koutarou/RX is awesome here, he tells her to let it all out on him and purge herself of her abilities and hatred, and he takes a lot of pain for her.
This is the first of two episodes written by Ken'ichi Araki. I'll have to take notice of his next episode...
Horrible, stupid stinkfest. A lot of people criticize whenever Kyoko Sagiyama writes a toku episode, but she's usually much better than this. I don't even know...who the hell gets the assignment to write the latest Kamen Rider episode and sits down like "Yeah, I think we need to tell the story of a girl who's obsessed with cacti, and Maribaron tricks her into thinking her dead mother is alive in a giant cactus and that if the girl is willing to transform herself into a cactus, it will bring her mother back to life and...hey, guys, where are you going?"
This is just about the lowest a toku can go. It's worse than the pig school episode of Liveman. It's worse than the tomato episode of Jetman. It's not as bad as the ET Baby episode of Blue Swat, though.
|Shigeru, traumatized by the events of RX, grows up to be a delinquent terrorizing his teacher, Gaku Hoshikawa.|
Another Shigeru-focused, teach-the-kids episode. Great. Shigeru must learn there's no shortcuts in life. You can't always find an alien that can create clones of you and get good grades and be good at baseball and stuff. You gotta do the work yourself! Henshin and fight Crisis, Shigeru! (TSUZUKU)
An episode that's damn close to the cactus girl one in its stupidity and pointlessness. Crisis makes a robot out of scrap who decides to go around and punish people who discard their items too easily by transferring them into those items. A lot of silly speechifying about not being wasteful. It's another episode that Jetman learns from, because the Walking Garbage episode is soooooooooooo much better.
A pretty silly episode, but one I like mainly because it focuses on Reiko, and is the latest attempt at ripping off of A Nightmare on Elm Street. (Remember, Black itself had two episodes like that.)
Man, Makoto Sumikawa's just so wasted in this show. It's always been my number two complaint about this series. First is "Why did they think that was a worthy successor to Black?!" Second is "Why did they waste Diana?!"
Crisis has gotten Rita Repulsa-levels of obsessed about Koutarou and keep trying to target him and those closest to him. So, this time it's Diana -- er, Reiko -- and they place a monster in her subconscious that will give her nightmares about Koutarou. The day is saved by a mysterious dude who ends up being from Crisisland, who lets Koutarou use the wacky dream machine he has to enter Reiko's dreams and kill the monster. (The mysterious dude is played by Kenji Fukuda -- Changeman's Icarus. He's pretty cool here, and it makes you wonder why he never had a bigger toku role. He'd have been a better Dasmader, let me tell you.)
The monster of the week's design is just terrible, though. Cheap. The face is making these unintentionally comedic wide eyes. If it's an Amemiya design, I'd be surprised. It has Ryu Noguchi written all over it, it looks like a generic BEM alien. Freddy Krueger this guy ain't.
I believe this is the last appearance of Hayami, the unfunny, mugging, terrible detective. I never knew the point of the character, but we last see him and his men get attacked by Maribaron. Maybe she killed him? If so, congratulations, Maribaron! You win Crisis Employee of the Week.
Sagiyama returns with another episode about a random girl of the week, this time focusing on Shigeru and his four-eyed buddy. Yay! (I will never learn whether the four-eyed friend is Kengo or if that's the name of the one who is about 10 years older than Shigeru and four-eyes.)
Proving Crisis is terrible at their job, this girl and her father are the latest to escape their clutches, taking with them some dumb MacGuffin that Crisis needs for their Alan Parsons Project laser or whatever. Yeah, Crisis aren't even good enough to be compared to the most cartoonish Bond villains -- they're the parody of those self-parodies.
Wednesday, April 10, 2019
Koutarou, Reiko, the Sahara boy and his two friends get transported to another dimension, one that's mainly a barren, desert wasteland. It's Kai-Makai, the home world of Crisis, long ago ruined and conquered by Crisis. With only one little corner of the world inhabitable, that spot has been turned into a kind of Crisis Vegas. They put slaves into the desert to dig for water. Koutarou and the gang run into some of the slaves, the main one being some weirdo college professor who looks like he's related to Gnome from Zyuranger. His name? Professor Waldo. Yeah. What is this shit?
Waldo befriends Koutarou-tachi and becomes the episode's sacrificial lamb, randomly being killed...but not before giving Koutarou a 1988 computer floppy disc containing the designs of Rideron! Nice and random, just like the rest of the show.
The monster of the week here is a knight who pretends to be all honorable and junk and Koutarou treats with respect. The knight's weakness? The melody played by the pendant Koutarou wears that was given to him by Reiko. (She has her own, because...those crazy women liking to be twinsies, right? Women, right? It already ain't easy being a 20-something ex-cyborg, chopper pilot by day, newly-minted son of the sun grasshopper man by night without mixing crazy broads into things.)
Random notes on a random show:
1) Early in the episode, Koutarou and Reiko are thrown off a cliff by the monster's strong winds. Koutarou's hanging, while he manages to catch Reiko and she clings to him. Koutarou's acting all out of sorts here, making goofy expressions, talking about how afraid of heights he is. He's just really going overboard. I can't tell if this is part of his Clark Kent act for Reiko or if he's serious, because if he's serious...what the hell? Koutarou's fallen off of buildings much higher than the Makuu Rocks in his previous show.
2) Gotta give credit to Tetsuo Kurata for the tearful cry he lets out when Professor Waldo gets killed. I guess I'm a bad actor, I wouldn't have bothered.
3) Koutarou eyes Crisis Vegas with intensity, knowing he'll have to one day take the battle there. But...I don't think the show even remembers this, so he doesn't. We have a really well planned out show here.
4) In many past attempts at rewatching RX, this would be as far as I'd make it.
Koutarou succeeds in building Rideron, making him a Kamen Driver now, too. (An old, old joke in the fandom.) I guess Knight Rider was popular, so Toei thought it would be cool to give their big guy his own cool car? Only...it's not a cool car. I call it the ladybug car, although it's not really based on one. It's just a fuggo design, and it talks on top of it. Worst of all, though, is that Koutarou builds it, and it doesn't work until he takes it to the cave where the whale monster took him to be resurrected in Black. Now, a callback to Black is nice and all, but...really, Koutarou? And there's a ludicrous scene where he's making this over-the-top plea to the forces of the cave to give Rideron life and it's just like...I'm sure whale kaijin let you in on this place knowing you'd one day use it to try to give your fucking car life, Koutarou.
Not only that! But the cave self-destructs after it gives Rideron life, too. This magical, life-giving cave, that has probably served the whale people for centuries is so ashamed of caving in to Bandai that it murders itself out of hatred. Stupid, stupid, stupid move Koutarou. You or someone you care about might have needed that cave, but...you need to be a Knight Rider knockoff, so...*sigh*
Random thoughts for a random show:
1) I've always liked when Rideron is riding out of the sea that it's the same sequence as Aqua Dolphin in Liveman -- they just pasted a Rideron over the Aqua Dolphin.
2) Today I learned that the guy who plays the unfunny Sahara patriarch is the guy who played the unfunny "comedic" relief in the martial-arts show Fight! Dragon. He also guest-starred in the ET Baby episode of Blue Swat which, not so coincidentally, is one of the worst things ever put on television. (Not just one of the worst toku episodes, or one of the worst Japanese episodes. No -- one of the worst episodes in all of television history, period.)
When Shigeru, his buddies and Reiko and some random sempai of hers explore a cave, they discover Crisis' latest monster, who's raising offspring that bite and transform humans into moths. It's up to Koutarou to deliver the antidote in time. Will he make it? Well, whose show is it?
A boring episode focused too much on Shigeru, who gets everyone in trouble by going deeper into the cave to prove he's a "man." Sit your ass down, roundboy!
The Sahara parents also are at peak insanity in this episode. Just so unlikable. They're always insulting and beating each other up. They're like the Bundys, but without the jokes.
This episode ends with Koutarou playing dumb to throw people off the scent that he's Kamen Rider...they keep just calling him "Kamen Rider RX" in this scene. See! This show's so lazy that they didn't even correct this script. My bonkers theory that this show originated as its own thing and Koutarou was forced into it is totally right. Poor Koutarou. If he knew RX was ahead of him, he might have just let Golgom have their way with him.
More Shigeru! WHY?! There's been so much damn Shigeru so far in this show. Is the show called The Adventures of Shigeru? No, it's called Kamen Rider (Black) RX, dammit. And it's not like Takeshi Inoue's one of those bad kid actors -- I actually think he's a good performer -- but the focus on Shigeru is just proof that this show doesn't have its priorities straight. It's got the MMPR made-by-PTA sugar coating. The episodes of this show that are most brutal are the episodes that focus on Shigeru and his buddies and try to teach the most obvious, cheeseball lesson in the most uninspired way...
Episodes like this, in which Shigeru has to learn the courage to stand up for himself -- first with bullies and then with a trio of Crisis monsters, who for some unexplained reason latch onto Shigeru and follow him home to make the Sahara house their hideout. They should have flipped the order of 6 and this episode, because it would have been funny if Shigeru was trying to implement the lesson of this episode -- feeling courageous, wanting to prove he's a man! -- only to have it bite him on the butt as he gets everyone turned into moth-people.
Monday, April 8, 2019
I've covered Kamen Rider Black, Liveman, Jetman, Time Force and Turboranger. These are all shows I love or like. I might have had some issues with a few of them, and I pointed them out -- but I like the shows nonetheless, and they rank among my favorites.
But what would it be like to cover a show I hate? That would be an experiment. It wouldn't be easy, because I've really lost patience with bad shows. But I figured I'd try. And the show I chose was Kamen Rider Black RX. And I chose this basically because I was really in the mood to watch Black, but rather than rewatch that for the tenth time, I figured I'd give these further adventures of Koutarou Minami a new chance.
I've gone on at length at what a wasted opportunity this show is as a sequel to Black. I'll refrain from going into that right now, but it's going to come up a lot, be warned. Toei didn't care to make this an actual sequel -- they're just doing whatever they please. It's Black, it's Koutarou, it's a license to print money. So the show basically ended up as if Koutarou Minami was thrown into a Metal Hero...
But you CAN'T just look at it as its own separate thing, because there we are -- Koutarou Minami is the star. It's called Kamen Rider BLACK RX. There's references to Battle Hopper and the King Stone in the first two episodes. So, to help begin my journey, I'll just repeat my joke before I started -- this show is the adventures of Koutarou Minami after he was prescribed a massive amount of antidepressants, which accounts for his happy demeanor, and thus what "RX" in the title means.
And so begins the rewatching of RX. Will I make it, and what will be left of me?
What kind of way is this to begin a TV show? We're just thrown into Koutarou's helicopter journey with Reiko and their "hilarious" banter. We don't know who they are -- you can't really recognize it's Koutarou off the bat, because he's covered in shades and headgear and his voice and demeanor are so different from we're used to. Reiko's apparently a photographer and taking random pictures of such thrilling sights as the body of water they're flying over. We don't know this is a couple, we're just thrown into this scene, and then they're thrown into being vaguely attacked by three glowing, giant Toblerone pillars, which sends the helicopter out of control, requiring them to make a jump into the sea, as the helicopter flies itself away.
And then...they walk for a while and encounter the helicopter, perfectly landed. They get in and fly off. We catch up with them as they eat dinner with a random family. This is the dreadful Sahara family, who Koutarou inexplicably lives with -- the father of the family is Koutarou's boss. Koutarou pilots helicopters for a living now, which makes him a Kamen Pilot, but the show still insists on calling him "Rider."
And the Sahara parents "comedically" bicker, as well. They're harsh to each other, and each performer is LOUD. Main writer Takashi Ezure is like one of those bad comedians whose material is all moldy jokes about wives and in-laws. Koutarou's always pointing out how, lol, Reiko's so noisy and a bad cook while the Sahara dad points out, lol, his wife is noisy and stupid and a pig who's lucky to have gotten married to the louse. Fun-nee! I HATE the Sahara parents, who are played in an over-exaggerated skit show way, and they're never funny or charming or likable. The show never gives you a reason to really care about them, which makes a later twist not play the way it's intended.
Main writer Takashi Ezure is a poor man's Noboru Sugimura. I might not be the biggest Sugimura fan, but whether it's him or the staff of the Super Sentai shows he worked on, his attempts at weirdness -- as tryhard as they could often be -- at least had SOME color and liveliness to them, a spark of imagination. Things would be bonkers, but at least they'd be madcap or memorable or even off-putting. Weird, random shit goes on in RX, and it's mainly the show doing weird stuff for the sake of showing off SFX it can't afford to pull off, and it's just plain goofy and bad.
Weird thing one: throwing us into this weird Kamen Pilot show and these three random Toblerone spikes that show up.
Weird thing two: the boy of the Sahara family, Shigeru, flips through a book containing a Kamen Rider Black manga, which turns into panels of him reading the manga and seeing spooky skull monsters, which he does.
Weird things three, five, fourteen and thirty -- all of the tryhard stuff at seeming "surreal" and "alien" aboard the Crisis ship. The show's trying SO hard to wow you with stuff it probably thinks you've never seen, but it's all so...pointless. These villains, their aesthetic, their storyline, is so far from what works in a Kamen Rider. They are truly Metal Hero villains, and the tryhardness of seeming so bonkers is straight out of that franchise, as well. (For example: Gedorian's crackhead bouncing and flipping all over the place, hanging upside down 'n stuff.)
These genius villains, prior to entering the dimension, have studied Kamen Rider Black and think they can recruit him. Evidently, they didn't study enough, because they're obviously bad guys and he spent a year killing bad guys. So they abduct Koutarou, show off all of their KRAZY SFX (they can't afford) and make their case. Koutarou tells them to shove it, and so they place him in the Toei Catchall Weird Makuu Space Wannabe Machine -- it's Tetsuo Kurata on wires floating in front of a projection of just a lot of digital ugliness that can't be sorted out by the eye. They claim they're sending him to space, but he's just floating around in front of a bunch of blue-screen baloney. A spike hits him; he seems like he's dead. (He looks all right in the next shot, though, fully awake.) He comes upon footage of the sun and crashes to Earth, now RX. Somewhere, Battle Hopper's corpse becomes the much less impressive Acrobatter. Koutarou realizes he's been reborn and races to deal with those random skull monsters as the episode ends.
Just...what is this crap? Random nonsense. This isn't a way to begin a show. Certainly not a way to begin a show that's following Black, which remember, had one of the best, all-time greatest premiere episodes. Whether you believe in my conspiracy theory that RX originated as its own thing that Koutarou was later shoehorned into or not, this was just a TERRIBLE way to begin a show, but it's especially a terrible way to follow Black. An OK way to follow up Spielban, maybe, but not Black. I would really love to sit down with producer Susumu Yoshikawa and the crew and ask them what they were thinking, why they thought this was good enough to put on TV and as a follow up to Black.
And also: how slapped together is this show when they actually use an OUTTAKE of the opening theme within the episode? Sums it all up right there.
Random thoughts for a random episode:
1) What was the deal with those glowing spikes?! They come outta nowhere and seem to target Koutarou before just showing up wherever the plot demands them. General Jacko eventually says that those spikes are basically Crisis planting their flag and...huh? Spikes and Toblerone imagery is a big part of Crisis' visuals and...why?
2) What was the point of the Kamen Rider Black manga? Obviously another "weird" stylistic choice to show off, having the kid read a manga that's depicting what's beginning to happen in reality, but it could have been accomplished with ANY manga. Making it Black's just dumb and distracting.
3) The main Crisis guys. Oy. They're total Metal Hero rejects, right outta B-Fighter Kabuto. (I actually think I might like the B-Fighter villain designs more, and that includes squish-faced Gigaro with his cape made out of lettuce.) The worst might be that robot guy with the blue bowling ball head and the leather jacket, who they think is some cool, tough Yoshinori Okamoto-kinda villain, but they're wrong.
These guys honestly make me respect Vyram more. The Jetman staff must have been like "Well, we're doing weirdos from another dimension who occasionally show off their weird powers through trippy SFX scenes. Let's not do it as bad as RX, guys."
The Crisis are just so uninspired and lacking and treated as all-purpose villains. Like...I always just think of them as aliens from space. That's how they're presented, that's how they look. But they're actually supposed to be from another dimension, one that's referred to as a basically kind of supernatural realm, an underworld. If they had been depicted in more of a style like that, that would work. That would fit with Black's world. But they look and act like generic alien foes, just like the ones in the Space Sheriffs. They're just a grab bag of generic villains, also taking a page out of that Metal Hero playbook of having factions, one devoted to monsters, one to robots and so on.
Their vibe is more sci-fi, and that's just not something that works with Kamen Rider, IMO, and certainly not the world of Black.
4) A couple of positive things I'll point out.
4A) Maribaron has a goofy design -- she stuck a feather in her cap and called it macaroni -- but I've always liked Atsuko Takahata and think she does a really good job here, one that the show might not deserve. She needed a great Sentai villain to play.
4B) Tetsuo Kurata's the man, so the show has that going for it.
4C) A GREAT soundtrack. Not only Kawamura's BGM, but all of the great Takayuki Miyauchi songs. Miyauchi is one of my favorite ani/toku song singers, I think he has a great, powerful voice, and he's always delivering. The songs are all polished, but it's kind of like another reminder of how far this show is from Black. I mean, I love the Black song collection, but a lot of those songs, to me, are so rough and bare and rock 'n roll and fitting with the cool update Black was supposed to be. It was a youthful soundtrack for a guy like Koutarou Minami.
4D) Jiro Okamoto's also the man. I don't like the RX suit as much as Black's, and when I can shake the dreadful memory of Saban's Masked Rider -- with TJ Roberts and his cracking tween voice dry-heaving dialogue from the RX suit -- I can appreciate RX's suit. I mostly like the hooded helmet, which recalls Ishinomori's Black design.
With Okamoto and action director Osamu Kaneda, the show will give us some decent action at least. Unfortunately, so much of it is at the Makuu Rocks that you just feel the cheapness, and feel like it's more proof that this isn't Kamen Rider, but Uchuu Pilot RX. (Right down to him killing monsters off with a lightsaber knockoff.)
5) One last complaint. Acrobatter is atrocious looking to me. Not only in comparison to Battle Hopper, but...that color scheme is AWFUL. It really doesn't fit with RX. It makes me miss the Roadsector, and you know how I felt about that thing.
RX takes care of those mysterious skull guys, kinda collapses, and trips out. He's taken on a spiritual journey by a mysterious voice who's lecturing him and telling him he has to fight for humanity and abandon hope of a normal life if he hopes to do so and...the thing's a real drag. It's acting as if these new RX powers are any different from the regular kaizo ningen powers he acquired in Black. Yeah, he's no longer human. Yeah, he has abilities that would frighten people. Yeah, yeah. Koutarou's basically like "Your advice stinks, I'm going to do what I want to do," and that's the end of this mysterious voice and spiritual adventure. WHAT WAS THE POINT?! The mysterious voice, by the way, reveals itself to be the King Stone. Yeah...because it talked before. WHAT WAS THE POINT?! Ugh.
Here's how little this show knows what it's doing -- Koutarou's just peacefully having brunch with the annoying Saharas and then gets some Spidey-Sense -- he dashes out and it ends up being some random asshole cop who's just in the neighborhood and spying on the Sahara residence because, well, who knows? This cop is incompetent, played as a goofball by a goofball, you know the type of character. Not funny, but the show wastes time with them and thinks they are. Why are we wasting time with this guy? WHAT IS THE POINT?! This guy's further proof of the show being a frustrated Metal Hero, because he's just like the pudgy support characters in those shows who are meant to be comedic, but rarely are, and the show devotes far too much time to them and overestimates their worth. These guys are toku's Bulk and Skull.
So the android of the week -- played by JACtor Toshimichi Takahashi, who's also the suit actor for Jark, yet the voice of Gatezone -- is wandering around nekkid, Terminator style, and grabs dumb cop and steals his clothes. WHAT IS THE POINT?!
Here's the nice randomness of this show. The monster strikes as Koutarou is out shopping with Reiko and the two Sahara kids. Does the monster approach him, challenging him to a duel? Is Koutarou swept up in some world takeover scheme? No, a car just bursts out of the ground and starts chasing after him. See the thought going into this show? "OK, so how does he get involved in the action. Um. Maybe we could write a story...no, no. That takes time. How about a car just bursts out of nowhere and chases him? Sounds good to me."
What the hell am I watching, man? I guess some of this crazy stuff is meant to be a "spectacle," but...it doesn't work when the production's obviously not wanting to put all the money required into it. I don't know where the money's going, but the show is THIS close to having Zyuranger's yucky dark cheapness to me.
I find it very difficult to believe that these first two episodes were directed by Yoshiaki Kobayashi, who directed Black's tense, dark, atmospheric premiere episode. These first two RX episodes are so choppy, scattered and cheap-seeming. These are the only episodes of RX he directs, so I imagine he's like "Can't help you guys with this turd. Bye!"