Podcasts and Reviews

Giant Spider Invasion

I’m still working on getting back into making sure to give this blog the attention it properly deserves. Until then though I’m still create content elsewhere. First up, check out my appearance over at Monster Kid Radio where Derek M. Koch and I discussion, the Giant Spider Invasion. Afterward, follow these links over to Monkeys Fighting Robots and check out reviews of the recent issues of Power Rangers and Transformers. You’ll enjoy it, trust me.

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Shuriken Sentai Ninninger


2-shuriken-sentai-ninninger I’m going to make a change to this blog. In an effort to be more topical I’m going to post reviews of certain series as soon as I finish them. This will prevent my backlog of reviews from increasing and allow me to give my opinions of shows and movies while they are still topical. Today, its time to look at the 39th entry in the Super Sentai Franchise (I know it ended months ago but I’ve been busy).

The Last Ninja, a great warrior who defeated the evil Kibaoni army is looking for a successor. His grandchildren, Takaharu, Yakumo, Nagi, Fuka, and Kasumi are all candidates to inherit the title. Together they must strive to improve their ninjality (the power which allows someone to do ninja skills), fight the now released Kibaoni army, and search for the ultimate weapon, the sealing shuriken. Together they are known as the Shuriken Sentai Ninnninger.

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This show is a mess. All its aspects have problems. Let’s start with the sentai. They all fall into the trap of not out growing the initial character stereotypes they are introduced with. Takaharu is wild, Yakumo is smug, Kasumi is smart, Nagi is helpful, and Fuka is innocent and clumsy. The best ranger is Kinji the Starninger who shows the best growth as an individual and conquers the (literal) demons of his past. Also, despite it being a family sentai they really don’t feel like a family. Unlike Magiranger where there were multiple flashbacks to the members growing up and bonding as kids, this series doesn’t have nearly as many or any to help you understand their family bond. Frankly the show is insisting they are family but you don’t feel it as you watch it.

The mecha are weird to say the least. The main robot is a weird combination of vehicles which should not be associated with ninjas including a train and a dump truck. The later combinations are a bit better once they come together as a final form but the first and main robot takes far too long to get used to.

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The villains are the saving point of this series. The commanders are least as all of them look stunning and are formidable opponents who give the sentai a run for their money. The individuals monsters of the week are some of the worst creatures ever. These things are worse than the Trinoids of Abaranger and those things had the excuse of being three elements fused together. This show has no explanation for some of the lamest designs since the T-rex Dopant from Kamen Rider W.

The comedy aspect which comes from trying to keep the series more light in the beginning doesn’t work either. The jokes just aren’t funny. An episode or two, such as the episode where its played out like an RPG game is funny but overall the humor doesn’t play well.

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The last and final aspect which doesn’t work is the Ninja aspect. They just don’t feel like ninjas. Probably because of their insistence on rampaging and not hiding which is actually the teams personal motto. The poor attempts at humor probably is what killed the feeling of this team being true ninjas.

You weren’t entertaining Ninninger at all. You started okay but crashed hard and still had too many episodes to go to your ending. Eventually, I was begging for you to end. It’s painful enough with you being a bad series but now whenever the studio says they are going to do another ninja themed sentai, we will always be wary of getting another show like you coming out.

RATING: D

Engine Sentai Go-Onger

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Time to dig into another entry of the Super Sentai Franchise. Today’s review looks at a more lighthearted Sentai Series. Does the fact its not dark or deep as other series make it a bad show?

The Engines of Machine World have crossed over into Earth while chasing the evil Barbaric Machine Clan Gaiark who intend to pollute everything. The Engines obtain the help of humans and giving them their power to fight against the Gaiark clan. The humans, Sosuke, Renn, Saki, Hanto, and Gunpei fight to protect the world as the Engine Sentai Go-Onger.

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The characters are decent but a bit bland. No one has a deep character arc and the only real conflict seems to be when the other two teammates, the Go-On Wings are introduced and don’t know how to play nice with the main five, at least not at first. Otherwise, all of them seem to rely on their overarching personality type to get through the series. The interesting thing is this behavior doesn’t come off as annoying, because despite being one note characters in nature, they still are competent fighters.

The aspect of other worlds is introduced early but isn’t utilized as much as it could be. Sure they introduce it and use it to explain where the Engines come from but they don’t really look into the dimensions except in the movie. In the movie, they once again utilize the Toei Kyoto Studio Park and have the team go to “Samurai” world. For the most part the series just takes place on modern day Earth but is seems like their was more potential for a deeper epic story if they had kept traveling to other dimensions. Sadly this doesn’t happen.

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Mecha which are sentient aren’t always a bad idea (like with Abaranger) and fact they are doesn’t detract from them as a Sentai Mecha. There is a more glaring problem and it is a case where one of the design of the robots just didn’t work because of how they combine. Every combination really just looks they are piling on top of one another in an awkward moshpit. It’s not exactly the most interesting mecha design to say the least.

The villains are okay but are better when they are act more comical then trying to be downright malicious. Let’s be honest, ever since Captain Planet came out the idea of a show where the main purpose of the villain is to pollute for pollution’s sake really doesn’t sound feasible, dangerous, or even plausible.

This show is weird which really is the best way to summarize it. Between the talking sentient car animal mecha to the enemies whose mission it is to pollute the world but are quick to join forces the with heroes sometimes on a whim (like when Kegalesia decided to join the female members of the team to form an idol group) everything about it is peculiar. Don’t even try to take this series seriously. It may have a serious moment or two but these are few and far between. This is a more comical Sentai but it succeeds in being one. Even if I don’t count it as one of my more favorite series I still found it to be more entertaining than some series like Ninninger (the review of which is coming) which will live in infamy as causing the fan base to be worried every time a ninja themed series is announced. So it doesn’t do any harm and is kinda fun. Really its the best way to summarize the show overall.

RATING: C+

Denji Sentai Megaranger

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Sentai series are an experience. A weekly superhero show where you watch a team rise to an occasion to fight a force of evil that plays out over he course of a year. There are many emotions a person can experience on this long journey. Despite how entertaining it can be if it doesn’t leave a lasting impression was it really that good?

The Neijirejia, an army from another dimension wants to conquer Earth. The International Network of Excel-Science and Technology (INET) has recruited a group of teens, Kenta, Shun, Kouichirou, Chisato, and Miku to combat them. Together they become the Denji Sentai Megaranger.

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The problem with this show is that after watching it, not much really stands out as groundbreaking or incredible. The sentai members fall into the stereotypes based on their major personality traits. They are playful (Red/Kenta), serious (Black/Kouichirou), sensitive (Blue/Shun), bossy (yellow/Miku), ditz (Pink/Chisato), and eccentric (Silver/Yusuku). Sure, the character have a bit of growth as they are students working towards graduation but that’s all there is. The team could have used a few more emotional moments.

The support team of the series is okay but need a bit more. Their mentor figure is Professor Eikichi Kubota, who acts like father figure to the team. He’s intriguing enough but one interesting character can’t save the show. Also, Yusuku Hayakana, the silver ranger really just wants to goof off and act like a kid with the rest of the team. It was fun at watch at the time but looking back its kind of awkward as he was a 25 year old man hanging out with high school students. Megaranger 38

The villains of the series are just as shallow. There isn’t as much growth or intrigue like in other sentai series. The commander Yugande has a huge following from being turned into Ecliptor for Power Rangers but sadly he isn’t as intriguing as he is in that series. Yes, he’s devoted to the main leader Dr. Heinler but it isn’t as touching to watch as Ecliptor willing to sacrifice everything for Astronema. That relationship still tugs at the heart strings. The Jaden Sentai Naeziranger also appear in this series, but yeah, they an evil sentai, but again, that’s it. Just evil for the sake of evil. Their novelty wears off fast.
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The mecha is at least half way interesting with what they do with the design. The show makes an approach that hasn’t been done in a series in a long time. They start with the Galaxy Mega, which is not only the HQ of the team but also their main robot. It’s a departure from the previous sentai robots as it isn’t a combiner. Sure, a combiner robot does come later in the series but not until after the halfway point. For a long chunk of the show, its Galaxy Mega, fighting by himself.

All and all its not a bad series and is really enjoyable as you watch it. The problem is that when you over you will find yourself looking back and saying, “Is that it? Is there nothing more.” Basically, its like a diet sentai. Great taste, but not very filling, and you always reflect on shows you enjoyed a lot more instead. Man, I was really harder on this show then I thought I would be.

RATING: B-

The top 10 Women of Kaiju

Ladies, I feel for you. After Fay Wray`s performance in the original King Kong, women were stereotyped  with the nickname of “Scream Queens” whose only purpose in the film is to be eye candy for the audience and scream in horror as the giant monster appears. Not the best role to have.

Luckily there are women who broke this stereotype and did it with style. These are the top 10 women of Kaiju. The fabulous ladies who can kick a lot of butt and easily hang with the big boys.

10. Konomi Amagi (Ultraman Mebius)
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Im particul to this character since she comes from my personal favorite Ultra series, which is why I’m leaving her closer to the bottom. While the rest of the members of GUYS joined with innate special gifts that were immediately were evident of how they could contribute to the team. Konomi was different though, she was a school teacher with a kind heart. One would think this would have no place on team for fighting giant monster but this was were she was able to shine. Her kind nature made her able to connect with the capsule monsters, a feat no one else was able to accomplish. Her bond with monsters such as Miclas made it possible for Ultraman Mebius to save the world.

9. Ann Darrow (King Kong (2005))

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Of all the different ladies that have formed a bond with the 8th wonder of the world, its Naomi Watt’s Ann Darrow that seems the strongest. Ann truly loves Kong. She sees him as a gentle giant that is misplaced and alone, not only in our world but in his own. He just wants something to bond with and Ann is there to be his shining star in a chaotic world. I already expressed my love for this movie last week and how I am willing to defend the ice skating scene despite the criticism of others.

8. Mako Mori (Pacific Rim)

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Their were many mecha fans that left the theaters after seeing Pacific Rim and immediately proclaimed that Mako Mori was their new “Waifu.” Personally, I wasn’t that obsessed with her but still I admire her for the strong character that she is. Wishing to avenge her parents from a Kaiju attack she personally trained her self despite her stepfathers wishes. She knew she had what it took to pilot a Jaegar and make sure that no one experienced the same tragedy she did. Cant wait to see what they do with her in the sequel.

7. Mother of Ultra (Ultra Series)

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The mother of Ultras is just as her name says, she is Ultramans mother. On op of giving birth to one of the greatest heroes of all time, Mother of Ultra has impressive skills of her own. She is gifted with incredible healing power that has allowed her to save many Ultra beings who have been in mortal danger. Shame she never go an episode dedicated to her. I mean there was an episode in Ultraman Mebius dedicated to Father of Ultra, why not one dedicated to her?

6. Miki Saegaesa (Godzilla – Heisei series)

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After Godzilla series was brought back with the heisei series, Miki was introduced as the one character that came in during every movie. She was a woman with psychic abilities who started at a member of an ESP institute, became  Doctor, and even a member of the anti-Godzilla team, G-Force. It was this transformation over the course of the series that made her such an interesting character. Sadly, the Studio could have done a bit more with her character and she came off as cold with that whole “others cant understand me because of my special powers” story line.

5. Time Force Pink (Power Rangers: Time Force)

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Jen is a popular Power Ranger for many reasons. First, she was the first female leader of a Ranger team. She was played by a really strong actress. Her story line was interesting and despite the fact she had a love interest, it wasn’t her defining characteristic. Few rangers have been able to measure up to her level throughout the entire history of the franchise.

4. Akiko Fuji (Ultraman)

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Akiko was on the first support team in an Ultraman series, the Science Space patrol and fought along Ultraman. Consider what this meant. This series took place at the same time as Mad Men, where wmen were designated to having to file paperwork and get the men coffee. Okay, yes there are scenes where this happens but there is also moments of her fighting along side the guys and kicking giant monster butt. Think of all the great female warriors that have fought alongside Ultraman and realize that without Akiko fighting the good fight.

3. Asagi Kusangi (Gamera: Guardian of the Universe)

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I love Asagi. She is a strong young girl trying to find herself while at the same time willing to help those in need. When is given a mysterious jewel, t allows hr to share a connection with Gamera  She deeply loves Gamera and does all she can to be the priestess and bond to humanity throughout the course of the three movies. We can only hope that the new human that bounds with Gamera next has half the characteristics that Asagi brought to the franchise.

2. Kumi Mizuno (Various Kaiju movies)

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I`m cheating a bit on this one. Instead of a character the second spot goes to an actual actress. Kumi Mizuno stared in eight different Kaiju related films. Her time as the space alien from Monster Zero, the island girl from Ebirah the Sea Monster, or the scientist from Frankenstein conquerors the world. Yes, in a few of her roles she was scantily clad at times but her characters were always strong and willing to do all they could to help those around her. She is so exceptional as an actress that she is actually worshiped on an island in pacific.

1. The Shobijin/Cosmos/Elias (Various Kaiju movies)
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Ah the Shobijin. Personally I like to call them the Cosmos after the heisei series as  I hadn’t heard a subtitled version of a film where they referred to as the Shobijin. Still, despite their origins, they are always presented as the  tiny guardians and confidants of Mothra. Their main purpose is to speak with humanity on Mothra`s behalf. Despite the sins of humanity they have yet to give up on humans and instead have fought along side Mothra several times with the ideal that humans can be more than violent, destructive beasts. In our darkest hour, the Shobijin will be there to sing their song of peace to call Mothra to aid humanity and never even rub our noses in fact they were right the whole time. You stay classy Shobojin.

Tensou Sentai Goseiger

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After Power Rangers was briefly cancelled in America I decided to break down and start watching the original Japanese Sentai series. I had already been watching Kamen Rider for a few years and I looked at it as an opportunity to keep my love of the franchise alive. My first show was Gosei Sentai Gosieger ,which looking back makes me wonder how I stayed a Sentai fan at all after watching this dreck.

As the gateway to Angel world is destroyed by the Alien Menace known as the Warstars, five Angels find themselves stuck in the mortal world. With the help of a young boy named Nozomu the five angels, Alata, Eri, Agri, Moune, and Hyde keep up their job of protecting humanity by becoming the newest sentai team: Gosei Sentai Goseigers.

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The best experience with any Sentai is enjoying the journey that they go on. How they constantly fight to protect the innocent helps to shape them and allows them to grow as characters. Watching some of the struggles they endure like Takeru’s identity crisis from Samurai Sentai Shinkenger or Uchii’s eternal vendetta with Dogold from Zyuden Sentai Kyoryuger are truly moving movements that helps fans to bond with the characters. Sadly Goseiger lacks any of these moments and show no real growth of the individual team members. The five members of the team are angels from angel world and that’s all the character development they really get. Sure we get glimpses that shows their maybe more to them but these plot lines are never explored and the characters start bland and remain bland the entire series. I did enjoy Gosei Knight as a character but mostly the fact that he was a robotic sixth member of the team which is always great to see in a show. Unfortunately, a good team plays off of their wasn’t much for him to do.

The villains are some times the best part of the series. Sadly the series has such a high rotation of villains organizations, each of which could have been the main boss of the entire show if they had been written better. I personally though the main boss of the Warstars Mons Drake had the potential to be the ultimate enemy but he gets destroyed before Gosei Knight was introduced. Sure all the groups have the common member of Brajira who becomes a member of each of the evil organizations but I really get attached to him. Sadly just like the Goseigers his interest is surface level at best and you stop caring about hwy he is working these evil minion jobs after the second bit of team hopping.

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The Mecha are the only redeeming factor of this series. I enjoyed the different Gosei robots and the fact that Gosei Knight transformed into his own robot was also very interesting. Sadly this aspect isn’t without its faults as well as the show seems to introduce new robots almost every episode leaving you with no wiggle room to get accustomed to any of these machines.

Bottom line: This is a bland Sentai. I can’t recommend it even in the slightest and had to knuckle down just to finish it. Skip it entirely and go onto Gokaiger. Space Pirates? Who doesn’t love that? Unless you are a completionist stay away from this series. *Skick Power: Memoryfly* There! Your forgot it.

Rating: D