Usually when people think about tokusatsu, they think about either Kamen Rider or Super Sentai, with the occasional person remembering Ultraman. But there was once another series, called Metal Heroes, which ran from 1982 to 1998. It slowly faded into obscurity, but recently Toei has been trying to relaunch the series with both theatrical movies, direct-to-video films and some appearances of old Metal Heroes in some of their regular shows. I recently reviewed the Kikaider Reboot, here’s my take on the “next generation” of Sharivan.
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I think it’s pretty clear I’ve had a negative opinion toward most modern tokusatsu shows. I haven’t cared for any Kamen Rider series since Kamen Rider Fourze in 2011 and with Super Sentai, it probably goes back to Magiranger in 2005. For Ultraman, the last thing I’ve even watched all the way through was Ultraman Nexus back in 2004. I’ve described my feelings on the whole thing in detail before and I’m not going to do that again. But I decided to take a look at the newest edition, Ultraman X and it just might change my mind.
Most people familiar with Japanese tokusatsu series are aware of the big three, Super Sentai, Ultraman and Kamen Rider, but there have been many other tokusatsu series on Japanese television over they years. One of the earliest, way back in 1972, was Kikaider. Created by Shotaro Ishinomori, it ran 43 episodes and spawned an anime series in 2000, plus two OVAs in 2003. But the series is still popular in Japan, which led them to reboot the concept in theaters in 2014.
Said to have taken two years to complete, Kikaider Reboot is a retelling of the original story with some new elements thrown in. So let’s jump into the action that is Kikaider Reboot and see how it goes.
I hate being right all the time, but before I even knew anything about this year’s Super Sentai series beyond it’s ninja theme, I had a pretty good idea that it was going to be bad. Yes, I know that I’ve already explained that I’m less than thrilled with most Super Sentai series in the past decade and haven’t really watched one all the way through in a while, but it’s really sad if you’re ready to give up after the first episode. Still, I soldiered on through the first set and here are my first impressions of Shuriken Sentai Ninninger.
I’ve tried to keep up on new tokusatsu shows, really I have. I’ve watched the first handful of shows out of each, both Super Sentai and Kamen Rider, I’ve done my reviews here, I’ve tried to be positive and optimistic but I really haven’t been able to as much as I’d like. The truth is, while I’ve promised to get to the rest of the series for what is now a year or more of shows, in reality, I probably never will. My wife and I decided to put away the last parts of Kamen Rider Gaim that we just aren’t going to watch right now. We put ToQGer away as well, we’re just not interested. We have a pile of episodes of Kamen Rider Drive laying around that we may or may not ever get to and now, I have the first bunch of Ninninger available, I am at least going to get through that batch, but if it doesn’t grab me immediately, chances are I’ll never go farther.
Why? Because I recognized, quite recently in fact, that the golden age of tokusatsu greatness is now far behind us and getting more distant by the day. It isn’t that I’m getting older, it’s that shows are geared, more and more, for only a young audience, unlike shows in the past that had elements for both children and adults alike.
Now this isn’t about bad translations, incompetent fansubbing, or anything technical. It isn’t about fansubbers making their file formats difficult to convert to something that can be burned on a DVD, although there are plenty of those out there. In fact, it isn’t even about fansubbers who drop projects half-way through or vanish into the ether, although that is certainly a problem. This is about fansubbers who are not only inconsistent, they apparently don’t care about their fans enough to even let them know what’s going on.
As everyone knows, I’m a fan of the tokusatsu genre, although certainly not a fanatic about it. I like what I like and what I don’t like, I don’t watch. I’ve written before about some of the tropes of the genre that drive me up the wall and how some fans are buried in tradition, even if it stops these shows from being entertaining to some degree.
A while back, Toei created a show that poked fun at the genre. It was called Akibaranger and I really enjoyed it for doing exactly what needed to be done, point out the foibles to people who, unfortunately, would never understand it. Now, they’ve done it again with a new show called After V. This is my look at this 12-episode series.
It’s sad how little time I have to watch things these days. It isn’t like I don’t watch a lot but tokusatsu tends to fall right to the bottom of the pile because I have so much American TV to work through every week. Now that things are starting to go off for mid-season, we jumped into the newest Kamen Rider series, Kamen Rider Drive, so I could get my first impressions out and… my first impression isn’t all that good.
After looking through an old issue of an anime magazine, I decided to throw in a classic, the movie adaptation of the 1967 tokusatsu series Giant Robo, known in the U.S. as Johnny Sokko and his Giant Robot. The movie, known as Voyage into Space, is a compilation of the entire 26-episode series and tracks Johnny Sokko as he becomes controller of a giant atomic powered robot, joins the super-secret organization Unicorn and defeats Emperor Guillotine and his evil Gargoyle Gang.
Join me now for a look into yesterday. Giant Robot go!
Originally, I had planned on renewing the Toei tokusatsu shows quarterly, after the 13th, 26th, 39th and final episode. However, I’ve been doing a first impressions post following the first 7 and it didn’t make any sense to revisit the series just 6 episode later. Therefore, I’m going to do a mid-way post, looking at the first half of the series, then a series finale post reviewing it to the end.
Therefore, here we go with the first 26 episodes of Toei’s 24th Kamen Rider series: Kamen Rider Gaim.