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.
Tokusatsu shows are prime candidates for being spoofed, so much of what’s going on is really silly, no matter how straight they play it. Kanpai Senshi After V isn’t really about fighting rubber-suited monsters, it’s about what the team does afterwards when they clock out for the day and go to their favorite restaurant to relax. The series takes place almost entirely in a Japanese restaurant and karaoke bar that just so happens to be run by their arch-enemy, who uses the opportunity to study the team and work out plans to defeat them. The characters, known only by their suit colors, Red, Blue, Green, Yellow and Pink, get drunk, sing karaoke and chat about life as a rainbow colored superhero.
The characters themselves, because that’s really what he show is about, have a laundry list of personal problems. Red grew up wanting to be a hero, but now that he is one, he’s disillusioned. Blue is the mysterious and silent type, not because he’s trying to hide anything but because he really has nothing worthwhile to say. Green is a geek and doesn’t really fit in with the rest of the group. Yellow is an old man who is trying hard to remain with the group but eventually gets replaced by a younger female member and everyone mourns the original Yellow’s absence and tries to get him back. Pink loves to drink and she isn’t the wholesome character some might think. Then there’s the Commander, the leader of the group that Treasure V fights. He initially tries to find a way to kill them all but over time, comes to respect them. His underling, known as Ee, serves as his head waiter and often the man tasked with carrying out the Commander’s evil plans.
The actors come from a wide variety of backgrounds. Ryouto Murai, who plays Red, was Yuuske from Kamen Rider Decade and is currently in Kamen Rider Decade. Kazuki Kato, who plays Blue, was Daisuke from Kamen Rider Kabuto. That’s what qualifies the show for tokusatsu cred. Green is Tsubasa Tobinhaga, a well-known comedian, something he shares with Yellow’s actor, Buuffalo Goro A. Pink is an idol singer named Yu Kikkawa. And, of course, the Commander is played by Shigeru Saiki, who has been in a ton of different J-Drama and tokusatsu series I’ve talked about.
Honestly, while people might expect more of an Akibaranger vibe, After V is nothing like that. There’s no action. There’s very little slapstick. It’s almost all spent sitting around the same table talking about their adventures and how they expected their lives to turn out. It doesn’t sound exciting and maybe it isn’t but it is funny, especially if you ever wondered just what these tokusatsu heroes did in their off-time. Not only is it funny, it’s also occasionally heartwarming, watching the team mourn the loss of Yellow, even after they’ve spent a long time making fun of his shortcomings, shows that they’re all a family, even if they are a particularly dysfunctional one.
While I would recommend this series to anyone who is a tokusatsu fan, it isn’t your typical action-oriented series. It actually takes some commitment to sit down and watch people talk, especially if you’re expecting something different. Just don’t go into it with any expectations and you should be fine. This one takes on a lot of the traditional tropes of the tokusatsu genre with a mixture of humor and some surprisingly lucid examination of what must logically be true in a world with brightly colored heroes and constantly attacking monsters. Give it a shot!