There is more to tokusatsu in Japan than Super Sentai and Kamen Rider, there are plenty of non-Toei shows that grace the airwaves and provide rubber-suited goodness.
This isn’t one of them. This time out, I take a look at the 13-episode series from 2013, created by Keita Amemiya and Tohshiki Inoue, Shougeki Gourigan.First off, we have to acknowledge that Tohshiki Inoue wrote this series and that is, to a lot of people, the first and last nail in the coffin of the show. Some people love him, some people hate him but very few have mixed feelings. He’s well known for work writing both Super Sentai and Kamen Rider series over the past couple of decades, as well as writing anime scripts. Especially due to meddling in the series Kamen Rider Hibiki, lots of Kamen Rider people hate this guy. Then you have Keita Amemiya who is a prolific tokusatsu creator and director, he came up with shows like Garo and Kidou Keiji Jiban.
When a prison transport ship is attacked as it passes by the Earth, it is attacked by a powerful demon and it’s master, Jin, is released, along with four other criminals that fall to Earth. Jin, who seeks revenge against his captors, threatens to unleash 1000 monsters upon the planet within 100 days and the skipper of the transport, Gou, vows to round up the criminals for only together can they defeat the monsters. The names of these criminals, along with Gou, spell out the name of the series. The five make friends with a girl named Hitomi and end up working in her grandmother’s shop, making some of the worst clerks ever, while they fight against other monsters, called Magii, which inhabit the Earth, waiting for the monsters heading their way.
The problem is, while it’s an interesting idea, I suppose, it just isn’t done well. It’s a comedy but it’s not really funny. Maybe these jokes are funnier to the Japanese but they certainly aren’t to me. The first half of the series is dedicated to getting the different criminals, called Hikaribito, together as a team and after fighting in a really dumb virtual dojo setting, they act like they’ve been good friends all along. Thereafter, it turns into a pseudo-romance that never goes anywhere and there really isn’t any plot development until the final episode where the big battle does come, they pay homage to some classic tokusatsu tropes and that’s all she wrote. The show looks great, owing to Amemiya’s direction but it really has no focus at all.
Another problem is that this is an “adult” show, like Garo, but it doesn’t look like anything any adult I know would be interested in. There’s copious nudity for no real reason, it doesn’t lend anything to the plot at all, you just get a lot of T&A at random points. I always wonder why they call this “adult” content when it shouldn’t appeal to anyone older than 15. Adults don’t care about gratuitous sex and violence, they’re supposed to be too mature for that.
So much of the show is just random. We start one episode with one of the Hikaribito wanting to become the most beautiful woman on Earth. Because they can disguise themselves as anyone they want, she goes through a series of “beautiful women”, turning the real ones into butterflies. Why? Why not? It’s a way to blow an episode.
Another aspect that was not remotely interesting was the Hikaribito not understanding anything about Earth (although they speak Japanese just fine, don’t they?). They don’t know what sushi is, they don’t know how to wash their faces and they get into mindless hijinks until Hitomi has to reign them in. It doesn’t help that Hitomi spends most of her time banging on the 4th wall and talking to the audience, a lot of people in the show do that and it’s annoying.
In fact, a lot of this show is annoying and it didn’t have to be. The Hikaribito reminded me a lot of the aliens from Chousei Kantai Sazer-X, who sat around the house doing laundry, except that they were actually funny in Sazer-X. There’s just mindless flirting, especially in a relatively tasteless episode where another of the Hikaribito keeps changing bodies to appeal to a larger and larger crowd of women who he orders to get undressed and dance around him as he shows he couldn’t care less about any of them. Annoying, not funny.
I’m sure there is someone out there who would love this series but it isn’t me. I struggled with it from the very first episode and that struggle never went away. The acting is fine, the look of the show is gorgeous, but the story… there isn’t one and the characters never appealed to me in the least. I find it hard to give this a good rating because every episode is confusing, badly written and filled with gratuitous nudity. This is not how to attract actual adults to your series and I’m sure it didn’t do anything of the sort on Japanese TV.