Natsumi Hikari is haunted by a dream in which an army of Kamen Riders is engaged against an unknown enemy who wipes them all out. At the end of the dream she identifies the unknown enemy as Decade. She awakes from the dream, and has to deal with the trouble that the amnesiac Tsukasa Kadoya has gotten himself in yet again due to his uniquely terrible photographs. Then, the world all around them falls apart as monsters from past Kamen Rider shows arrive and wreak havoc. When all seems lost, a vision guides Natsumi to the lost DecaDriver which she delivers to Tsukasa, allowing him to transform into Kamen Rider Decade and fight off the enemies besieging them; however, no one man could fight off that many enemies, and so Wataru Kurenai, Kamen Rider Kiva, appears to them and explains that the stories of the Kamen Rider Worlds have become connected and thus the worlds are becoming one, and if not stopped all will be lost. Charging Decade with traveling to 9 worlds and killing the Riders of those worlds, Wataru returns them to the Hikari Photo Studio, and so begins the journey through the decade.
To start off, I freaking love meta stories, stories that are about stories are my favorite, narratives picking themselves apart to go into the nuts and bolts of the tropes that define those narratives, commentating on past stories, finding the thematic connections and logic between them…what I’m saying is that a Kamen Rider having to travel through Alternate Universe versions of past Rider shows and having to learn from them is something that was practically made for me.
( Opening the wrapping on this hand-crafted gift. )
Incorporeal beings called Imagins arrive from the future; by possessing a person and going through their imaginations they acquire a physical form. By forming a contract with that person and fulfilling their wish, they can use that person’s most important memory to travel back in time and change history to better suit their own monstrous purpose. One day, the singularly unlucky Nogami Ryoutaro is targeted by one of the Imagins, who he dubs Momotaros, but it turns out that he is a Singularity Point, allowing him to resist possession. At the same time he is also contacted by Hana, a woman who rides the time-travelling bullet train the DenLiner in a quest of vengeance against the Imagins for destroying the future that she came from. Long story short, Ryoutaro must now work with Momotaros and a host of other Imagins in order to protect the flow of time as Kamen Rider Den-O.
( Some spoilers, nothing big. )
The year is 2012 of the Anno Novi calendar, and modern life is supported by a new, clean energy known as Enetron. However, in the parallel universe of Hyperspace, the terrorist organization Vagras seeks to steal as much Enetron as it can to fuel its campaign of conquest and subjugation of humanity. 13 years ago the computer virus Messiah, the leader of Vagras, attempted to take over the Transport Labs and use its resources to consume the Earth; in desperation, the researchers inject their children with a vaccine program to empower and protect them, and transport them out of the lab before the entire facility was transported into Hyperspace to prevent Messiah’s victory. Now, in the present, those three children have grown up, and together must battle against the sinister Enter, agent and executer of Messiah’s will.
From the very start, Go-Busters presents itself as a very different show from its predecessors; the heroes are government agents in the mold of super-spies with cameras and binoculars that double as guns and knives, their suits are made of a pleather material rather than spandex, the giant robot battles are conducted with far more intensity and effort than has been seen in a long time, and the villainous cast is extremely small, most of the series being comprised only of the CGI-and-voice Messiah and face-actor Enter, and there is the later addition of Escape, herself also a face-actor as opposed to a rubber-suit as has been the norm. Combined with an overall more grounded tone and approach, this was a show that I was very excited for and intrigued by.
( Reality ensued, some spoilers regarding the ending. )
Deep in the Amazon jungle, a young man lives in isolation from humanity, having been stranded there as an infant. One day Gorgos, the ten-faced demon and leader of the monstrous organization Gedon, appears in the Amazon in search of an ancient Incan treasure that had been spirited away long ago. The treasure, known as the Gigi Armlet, is forced onto Amazon by a shamen, and his dying words compel the young man to go to Japan in search of the truth of his origins. Gedon pursues him and kills the man who was to teach the young man what he had to know, and thus does he transform into the brutal Kamen Rider Amazon to defend a home he hardly knows.
( Journey into the concrete jungle, won't you? )
1999, a meteorite strikes Shibuya, reducing it to ruin. That, however, was only the beginning, for with the meteorite came the Worm, a hostile insect-like species of aliens with the ability to perfectly mimic humans, copying even their innermost secrets and memories. For seven years the Worm infiltrate human society, killing and replacing its members without fear, for they can also evolve into stronger forms and gain access to the Clock-up ability, allowing them to achieve speeds greater than the human eye can follow.
Enter ZECT, a secret organization dedicated to fighting the Worm threat. Through the Masked Rider Project they develop the Zecters, independently intelligent robot insects capable of joining with a human to grant them extraordinary power. However, rather than choosing Kagami Arata, a new member of ZECT eager to be able to fight the Worm, the Kabuto Zecter goes to a man named Tendou Souji, a walking god-complex who is pretty much perfect at doing whatever he feels like doing. And he’s not the only one outside of ZECT to get a Zecter, something ZECT is not happy about.
( Spoilers and strong opinions behind the cut. )
10,000 years ago, a group of immortal monsters known as the Undead faced off in an intense Battle Royale, each one representing a different species of life on Earth, to determine which species would become the dominant life on Earth. The Human Undead won, sealing all other Undead within playing cards, and thus was our civilization allowed to thrive. Now in the modern day the Undead have been released from their seals. The secret organization BOARD recruits Kenzaki Kazuma to fight as Kamen Rider Blade, fusing with the Category Ace of Spades Undead to use its power against the immortal monsters. However, it is not long before Sakuya Tachibana, who fuses with the Category Ace of Diamonds to become Kamen Rider Garren, betrays the organization. In the wake of that destruction only Kenzaki and Shiori Hirose emerge to continue the fight to defend humanity in the new Battle Royale.
( Detailed but non-spoilery thoughts on the show within. )
The Super Sentai for 1992, The evil Witch Bandora and her cronies are accidentally set free after being sealed away for 170 million years. Bandora wastes no time in setting about on getting her revenge upon the Earth in general and on children in particular. Fortunately, the ancient tribes that had sealed her away in the first place took precautions, and thus five of their greatest warriors revive to defend the Earth from Bandora's attack.
Zyuranger represented a significant change in how Sentai was done; before Zyuranger, every Super Sentai was a soft sci-fi show with a heavy military emphasis, even in those shows where our heroes do not work for the military or other government agency. There were mystical aspects here and there, but Zyuranger was the first show to fully embrace the factastic and mystical, drawing heavily upon folklore, mythology, and fairy tales to inspire and inform its episodes. This direction even extends to the giant robot of the series, DaiZyuJin, which is no mere robot but is in fact the Patron God of the Zyurangers and the source of all their powers.
Oh, and Zyuranger was also used as the source footage for Mighty Morphin Power Rangers. Just wanted to get that out of the way.
( How does the Dinosaur Fantasy fare? )
( There is a lot to be covered in this series. )
Amanogawa High School is a school that heavily emphasizes individuality and freedom of self-expression, and its latest transfer student Gentaro Kisaragi embraces this approach wholeheartedly as he declares that he will become friends with everyone at the school, a task made a touch easier by the fact that one of them is his childhood friend Joujima Yuuki, who herself dreams of becoming an astronaut. Unfortunately Yuuki's other friend, Utahoshi Kengo who spends more time in the nurse's office than in class, thinks Gentaro is the stupidest moron to ever walk the Earth and rejects Gentaro's friendship out of hand. However, when the latest of the Zodiarts, monsters patterned after constellations, attacks the school, Kengo is forced to give Gentaro the Fourze Drive system so that he may transform into Kamen Rider Fourze and stand against this threat.
It is quickly discovered that the Zodiarts are students at Amanogawa High who have been given special switches to draw upon the same Cosmic Energy that the Fourze Drive uses for its Switches, and the most powerful of the Zodiarts are patterned after the 12 Horoscope signs, all lead by a mysterious man with red glowing eyes. To face this shadowy threat, Gentaro and his friends form the Kamen Rider Club and where possible befriend the Zodiarts to release them from the corrupted power of their switches.
Kamen Rider Fourze is a very lighthearted and optimistic series, much moreso than any other entry in the Kamen Rider Franchise, which is perfectly fine by me since experimenting and trying out new approaches is vital for any long running franchise such as this. Of course, it is also the case that not all experiments and risks pay off.
( So, does Fourze reach the astronomic heights of space? )
The Super Sentai for 1986, the Reconstructive Empire Mess has set its sights on Earth, intent on using our world as a weapons lab to create the ultimate life-form with which to conquer the entire universe. All that stands in there path is the Flashman team, five young adults who as children were abducted from Earth and were rescued by the aliens of the Flash system; raised and trained on strange worlds, they possess the powers and technologies needed to defend the Earth.
( Read more... )
Hikonin Sentai Akibaranger is an "unoffical" super sentai, a thirteen episode series that parody's and lampoons just about every aspect of the Super Sentai franchise, skewering cliches and riffing on all the myriad conceits of these shows. It is a show that is directed at the older fans, teenagers and adults who continue to watch a children's show about spandex super heroes fighting rubber-suit monsters who stomp about in a cheap Tokyo set, and so each episode carries a warning that "Good little boys and girls don't watch this show", partly because of risque content, but mostly for breaking the illusion of Super Sentai's reality.
I really can't go into this show in much detail, because it's the kind of show that you have to experience for yourself, but as someone who's become a big fan of Super Sentai, who has been involved in the fandom and all it's myriad works, I can safely say that this show nails everything perfectly, it gets everything about Super Sentai and the people who continue to watch it well into their teens and twenties absolutely perfectly. It's just...it is unbelievable where this show goes and what it says, and it actually does have real commentary to make. It is just really good, go watch this show, preferably after you've familiarized yourself with Super Sentai if you haven't already, but seriously, watch it.
( 20. Engine Sentai Go-onger )
( 19. Hyakujuu Sentai Gaoranger )
( 18. Tensou Sentai Goseiger )
( 17. Choudenshi Bioman )
( 16. Hikari Sentai Maskman )
( 15. Choujin Sentai Jetman )
( 14. Gogo Sentai Boukenger )
( 13. Ninpuu Sentai Hurricaneger )
( 12. Kaizoku Sentai Gokaiger )
( 11. Tokusou Sentai Dekaranger )
( 10. Gosei Sentai Dairanger )
( 9. Samurai Sentai Shinkenger )
( 8. Mirai Sentai Timeranger )
( 7. Chojuu Sentai Liveman )
( 6. Bakuryu Sentai Abaranger )
( 5. Kyukyu Sentai GogoV )
( 4. Seijuu Sentai Gingaman )
( 3. Juken Sentai Gekiranger )
( 2. Dengeki Sentai Changeman )
( 1. Mahou Sentai Magiranger )
Seiju Sentai Gingaman was the Super Sentai series for 1998; 3000 years ago, the Baluban space pirates showed up on Earth, intent on ravaging, pillaging, and eventually destroying it to turn it into a highly valuable gemstone. Fortunately, they were defeated and sealed away by the Gingaman team, a group of warriors from the Ginga Forest able to channel the power of the Earth through their bodies, along with the Star Beasts. But in the present day, as the 133rd warriors are being named, an earthquake breaks the seal on the Baluban pirates, releasing them but not their Demon Beast Daitanix, the creature that carries them from world to world and destroys them as they leave. Our heroes are soon forced to leave behind the Ginga forest and enter the outside world to defend it from the evil Captain Zahab and his motley crew.
Oh, and only the first 27 episodes have been subbed and there are no episode summaries for anything after that.
( Thoughts on the inside. )
But by the blade of knights, mankind was given hope
The sequel to the original GARO series, Makai Senki takes place after all the various movies and specials produced after the original series and makes use of all the expanded canon that these stories have introduced into the GARO universe. Much as with the last series, the show can be very dark and horrific and there are scenes that can be triggering. So as before, if this would be a problem for you, I again recommend passing on this show.
( Details behind the cut. )
Kaizoku Sentai Gokaiger is the 35th anniversary series for the Super Sentai franchise, and Toei decided to go for broke on this one; the opening minutes of the first episode are about The Legendary War, a huge battle in which the preceding 34 Super Sentai band together to fight off the Zangyack Space Empire, ultimately sacrificing their powers to destroy the entire invading fleet. An indeterminate time later, the Zangyack return, led by Walz Gil, the idiot son of the emperor in what should be an easy mop-up operation. What they didn't know was that the Gokaigers, a band of space pirates who've been the greatest thorn in their side for some time, have also arrived on Earth in search of the Greatest Treasure in the Universe, said to be as valuable as the whole rest of the universe put together. And the Gokaigers are armed with the Ranger Keys, the embodiment of all the myriad super sentai powers, with which they can turn into any Super Sentai hero at any time they want.
This was also the first Super Sentai that I was able to watch from the very beginning, following each episode as it was broadcast, participating in the fandom, discussing episodes, and have my own feelings on the show develop and change over a year long period of time. Therefore, my review for this series is going to be a bit more in depth than has usually been the case.
( Read more... )
Burning rescue Spirits!
Rescue Squadron GoGoV!
The year is 1999, and the celestial grand cross, the positioning of the planets in the solar system such that they form a giant cross with the Earth at the center, is imminent. The Saima demon clan, the children of the Grand Witch Grandienne, awakens and wreaks havoc upon the Earth in preparation for the resurrection of their beloved mother. In turn, the Tatsumi siblings are summoned by their long lost father to fight the demons, arming them with the technology and weapons that he'd spent ten years creating and developing in secret for them, turning them into the Rescue Squadron GoGoV!
Unfortunately, it is the case that only nine episodes of this series has been subbed, and while there are detailed episode summaries available, it just isn't the same.
( Fortunately, the awesome shines even without subs. )
Kamen Rider Hibiki is an interesting entry in the Kamen Rider franchise; in its original form it wasn't even a Kamen Rider series at all, but an unrelated story idea that Shotaro Ishinomori, the creator of Kamen Rider, had put together before his unfortunate passing. As such, many of the norms and conventions present in other Kamen Rider series, the use of a belt as a Transformation Trinket, shouting "transform", the Rider Kick, all these things and more are absent from the series. In fact, the heroes are not even referred to as Kamen Riders, but as Oni, and unlike the solitary heroes of the past who were frequently forced against their will, becoming an Oni is an entirely voluntary process with a mentor-student relationship and a vast support of other Oni and normal humans who provide material and spiritual support in their secret war against the Makamou, monsters that can only be defeated through pure sound. One day, high school freshman Asumu stumbles upon one of these Oni, the titular Hibiki, and so he changes as their fates become tangled together.
However, all was not well in paradise; the show was not performing to expectations and so with episode 30 a massive re-tool was put into effect.
( How bad was it? )
This is the opening narration to every episode of Chojuu Sentai Liveman, the Super Sentai series for 1988. At Academy Island, established by the U.N. to gather the best and brightest to develop new technologies for space exploration, three decide that the masses are unworthy of their genius, and so defect to the evil Great Professor Bias's (pronounced bi-ah-su) Brain Army Volt. In the process, they kill two of their fellow students who tried to stop them, the mutual friends of our three heroes. Years later, as the fruits of Academy Island's ambitions are about to bloom, the three traitors return to destroy everything, having cast away their humanity long ago. Our heroes have also been preparing for this day, and so have developed the technologies and weapons necessary to fight for all life on Earth, becoming the Megabeast Squadron Liveman!
( Intrigued? Read on. )
Kamen Rider OOO (pronounced O's) is the story of Eiji Hino, a wanderer who owns nothing more than the clothes on his back and believes that all you need is a good pair of underwear to make it through your days. That all changes when strange monsters born of desire known as the Greed awaken. Their resurrection incomplete, they prey on humans, using them to create Yummies, monstrous embodiments of the victims desire, to generate the Cell Medals they need to survive while searching for the Core Medals that can restore them to their full power. One of them, Ankh, mysteriously only revived as his right arm and thus decides to grant Eiji the power of the OOO belt so that he can overpower and dominate his fellow Greed. All the while, the mysterious Kougami Foundation seeks to manipulate the course of this battle for its own purpose, for good or for evil.
( This review is going to be a bit different. )