Sunday, April 5, 2015

Tokusatsu Review: Shuriken Sentai Ninninger Vs. Kamen Rider Drive Spring Special: Part One: My thoughts on the seires so far.

Yep, this is a thing now.
Toei seems to have created a new tradition. The Kamen Rider/Sentai crossover special to promote their latest movies, and of the two that have been made so far at the time of this entry at least one is somewhat better then the movie itself. Last year we had a crossover special between Kamen Rider Gaim (my personal favorite Rider series) and Ressha Sentai Toqger a series that makes me want to lobotomize myself with a chainsaw. There was some stupidity, plot points that made no sense and scenes that only a bottle of absinthe could calm me down from. Now we have a new crossover movie out in Japan, Super Hero Taisen GP: Kamen Rider 3, which considering that this movie is being written and directed by the same assholes that wrote the last Taisen Film, Shoji Yonemura and Takayuki Shibasaki respectively, involves Time Travel, Shocker and the Den-O crew, and in the past those plot elements created a concoction about as loved as Judge Doom's Dip, I think that Havik can sum up my thoughts rather eloquently.

Now this is my initial thoughts on this of course but I do have a sixth degree black belt in bullshit and can thus usually tell when a movie, show or meal is going to suck. If Kamen Rider Taisen GP is good then great, but given the history that Toei has with Shoji Yonemura and his work on these Rider movies I don't have the highest hopes for them. Enough negativity time to give my thoughts on Drive and Ninninger before I cover the special. Now you may recall that I've already given my thoughts on Drive's first episode a few months back, if not, here's the link. Now for the details of what have happened since then, be warned there will be Spoilers out the wazoo here so this is your last chance.
It turns out that the Belt is actually the remaining consciousness of a scientist named Krim Steinbelt who helped create the 108 Roidmudes with his colleague Dr. Banno. Apparently the Roidmudes, like the Robot Masters were originally created to help mankind, somehow since the number of them is most likely a reference to the 108 malas of Buddhism I'm still not to clear on the actual helping details. But unlike the Robot Masters the Roidmudes seem to have gone Maverick and have developed, well a certain mindset.
However unlike Mecha Ryan; the Roidmudes don't want to completely destroy humanity, just replace them, as Homo Superior or something like that, to that end the Roidmudes are trying to evolve into more powerful forms that are more; how they consider human. I say consider because 9 times out of 10 the humans they copy tend to be sociopaths, murderers or generally bad people and the Roidmudes consider coping evil people to be a good thing, since like Xemnas they believe that anger, lust, greed and other negative emotions are what humans generally act upon. Their ultimate goal being to find the Promised Number which will allow the Roidmudes to whip out humanity and take over. This actually leads to what many people consider to be a huge problem with Drive. See when the Roidmude leaders Heart, his main squeeze Medic and his #2 man Brain discover that a Roidmude isn't evolving to their standards they send out their Grim Reaper, Mashin Chaser.
"He was a one eyed, one horned, drivin Purple Roidmude eater, one eyed, one horned, drivin Purple Roidmude eater, a one eyed, one horned, drivin Purple Roidmude eater sure looked strange to me."
Chaser is revealed to be Shinnosuke's successor Kamen Rider Proto-Drive and the Roidmudes prototype, number 000. After the Global Freeze Chaser was captured by the Roidmudes and was reprogrammed to destroy ones that are either not evolving properly, evolving too closely to others or ones that don't evolve at all, the difference between Chaser and Drive is that Chase only destroys their bodies but he leaves their Viral Cores, the actual bodies and souls of the Roidmudes intact so that their programing can be whipped clean and have a new chance to evolve in a unique way. Eventually Chase remembers that he was originally created to destroy Roidmudes, so Medic decided to reprogram him in a new way. She changed his core programing so instead of protecting humans, Chase now thinks that he has to protect Roidmudes. Eventually Shinnosuke was forced into destroying Chase completely, but now Chase is alive somehow, and ugggggghhhh. You can start to see what the problem is, there is waaaay too much focus on the Chase subplot and less is given to the actual main characters and the other villains. And any development that is given seems to have had little to no foreshadowing, like Brain's rivalry with Medic for taking too much of Hearts attention from him. We don't see why someone like Brain, who seems to be a cold logical thinker would react to Medic's success like he has, should he not care who does a better job as long as it gets done? That would make more sense in regards to his characterization then suddenly being jealous over Medic taking Heart's attention? I want to like Drive as a show but it's just coming off as clumsy in its story execution. But there are somethings that I do like about Drive so far. I like the actual investigations preceding the Roidmude fights, it lets us see that our heroes aren't idiots and that Shinnosuke is slowly returning to his old persona with every case, him displaying less of the lazy personality traits that he was displaying when we first saw him, another good thing is that Kiriko is actively taking part in combat and at times is more capable then Drive and Mach ( Drive's secondary Rider and Kiriko's younger brother). I also like the variety of powers provided by the shift cars, from ice powers, teleportation and healing, and each can complement Drive's different forms perfectly, with Type Wild working with Shift Cars that help his offensive stats, Type Technic uses cars that have powers for specific situations like bomb disarming and gravity control. I don't know it's like if Micro-machines gave people superpowers, but then again.
That's enough of the Rider, now for the newest Sentai, the Ninjas that rampage in the sun instead of hide in the shadows, Shuriken Sentai Ninninger.
Ninninger tells the tale of five siblings that are descended from "The Last Ninja."
You just know this Sentai is going to be badass if the team is descended from a guy that looks like he can kill you just by fucking looking at you.
Wait what? That's not their last Ninja? Okay hold on.

Here we go.
So our Sentai stars a group of Ninja antique dealers who are sought out by a US government agency after a team of scientists are taken hostage by terrorists. Wait that's not the plot either? Hold on a second here, sometimes being a master of bullshit comes with a price, I have a tendency to seek out references like a bear is drawn to Honey glazed Salmon. Okay our team isn't descended from an obscure NES game, Swan from the Warriors, Sonny from Xanadu (thank Zeus) or the almighty glory that is Mako.
Nope it turns out that they are descended from this guy.
Yoshitaka Igasaki, the man who used the 48 sealing shurikens to seal away the reborn enemy of the Igasaki clan, Kibaoni Gengetsu and his Yokai army. Now in 2015 the seal is broken by Gengetsu's last surviving General; Izayoi, and the evil will of Gengetsu which was contained in the sealing shurikens has corrupted them and are scattered around possessing inanimate objects to resurrect his Yokai army so they can collect enough fear to not only resurrect his Generals but also Gengetsu himself and unite the world in all consuming fear of him and his monster army. Since of course his age has caught up to him Yoshitaka decides to have his grandchildren who have also been studying the ways of the Ninja (to varying degrees of diligence) to take up his mantle, defeat Gengetsu and his Yokai and claim the title of "Last Ninja".
 Let's go down the list here, first there's our AkaNinger Takaharu Igasaki, he's the red of the group (duh) and is the only one among the group that wants to become the Last Ninja more than anything else and has spent his entire life to practice his Grandfather's craft, to the detriment of anything else, yeah we have another idiot Red on our hands, but unlike Right and Daigo, Takaharu so far is much more tolerable then them, (especially Right GOD I HATE HIM!!!) The big difference is that unlike Right who was just an asshole Takaharu does have focus and an actual drive to improve himself in his Shinobi skills. It's not that he's an idiot; he just sees other skills as unnecessary, kind of like Goku, and like Goku Takaharu does excel on the battlefield. Next is our blue dude, Yakumo Katou aka Cloud. He's our Seto Kaiba of the group, he's an elite jerk, has a rivalry with Takaharu just to spite the guy, thinks the Ninja training is useless compared to his magic skills (yeah before all this he was studying magic in England, my guess is that he was in Ravenclaw.) He even has a giant blue dragon as his mech.
Uncanny ain't it? As I said everyone aside from Takaharu doesn't really give a crap about being the last Ninja and are basically just doing this to protect the world, not to see who will take their Grandpa's title. Overall Cloud seems to be a good balance for Takaharu's well, hotheadedness. Now for our Yellow Ranger Nagi Matsuo, unfortunately I don't really have very much to say about him, we do know that true to his designation on the team, he's a coward initially too scared to take part int he fight until he was encouraged by Takaharu. Though like me he does try a variety of job to gain different experiences that may come in handy later down the line. I'm guessing that might be the plot device the writers will use as to how Nagi has the knowledge to solve certain situations, he does have several licenses and certifications in various fields. Now for our White Ranger, the first Female White Ninja Ranger since Tsuruhime in the first Ninja Sentai, (what a coincidence :3) Fuuka Igasaki. And much like the real leader of the Kakurangers Fuuka seems to be the mother hen of the group and is usually the first one that refuses put up with Takaharu's crap; especially since she had to grow up with the dude. Again we haven't really had many episodes with her yet to flush her out but if I were a betting man she might just develop that way, but there goes me and my logic again. Last but not least is Kasumi Momochi our MomoNinger (a bit on the nose ain't it?) She's the more technologically inclined of the group and the most blunt and direct when it comes to calling people out. From what is shown so far she will probably take up the same role that Billy did in the Mighty Morphen days, using her mechanical expertise to create devices that will aid the Ninningers when their Ninja skills can't cut the mustard. Now for me to talk about the suits themselves.
But in all honesty I really do like the designs of the Ninninger suits. I see they've taken inspiration from the Gaoranger/Wild Force suits with their emblem on an actual sash that they wear. Most of the suits is their primary color with black in certain areas to make the main colors pop, specifically the arms and gloves. The girls also get more black around the thighs to help give their legs more of a high boot look. And their helmet's visors are designed as different shaped Shurikens to help the rangers have their own unique look with a white point on the top of the shurikens shaped in a way to convey a facial expression on the visors. Striking, cool and far more creative then the Toqger's suits. Now that I'm done gushing about that time to talk about their mechs, their Otomo Nin. Since this is the 39th Sentai with big #40 coming right after this the designers decided to make each of their mechs a tribute to previous motifs of Sentai Mechs. In story Yoshitaka designed each of the primary Otomo Nin to match the interests of his Grandchildren, they and all the other Otomo Nin were each reverse engineered off of UFOmaru which was given to him by Aliens. GOD DO I LOVE THIS FRANCHISE!( Personally I hope that they expand on this plot point with maybe the aliens that designed UFOmaru themselves showing up asking for help or something, don't just leave this plot point open like that, expand on it, at least I would.) Anyway, first is Takaharu's mech, representing Humanoid mecha is Shinobimaru.
Previous examples is the Giant Beast Generals from Kakuranger (cute I see what you did there) and the Majin forms of Magiranger.
Dragomaru (which I showed earlier) is Cloud's mech representing mechs based off of Mythological animals such as the Mythical Ki Beasts from Dairanger, and the various Dragon mechs in Sentai's history. Next is Dumpmaru Nagi's Otomo Nin.
Dumpmaru pays homage to the various mechs based off of construction and service vehicles such as VRV Robo from Carranger, the GoGo vehicles from Boukenger and the 99machienes from GoGo Five.
Then comes Robo Koromaru aka Wanmaru.
Wanmaru represents the mechs based off of non mystical animals such as the mechs from Liveman, the Star Beasts from Gingaman and the Gao animals from Gaoranger.
Finally there is Byunmaru. Which represents mechs based off of advanced technology like the Jet Machines from Jetman, the Changers from Changeman and Mega Voyager from MegaRanger.
Trains, why did it have to be a train? And so soon at that?
Together they form Shurikenjin.
This proves that having inconsistent mech themes can actually work. At least it's better then, well you know.
Now that you're all caught up and know my thoughts on these shows, time to get to the special itself next time.

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Kamen Rider is owned by Ishinomori Productions, Toei Productions, and Bandai.
Super Sentai is owned by Ishinomori Productions, Toei Productions, and Bandai.
Mortal Kombat is owned by Warner Brothers Interactive Entertainment and NetherRealm Studios.
Ratchet and Clank Up Your Arsenal is owned by Insomniac Games and Sony Computer Entertainment.
Micromachines is owned by Hasbro.
The Last Ninja (1983) is owned by Paramount Television and William A. Graham.
The Last Ninja (NES) is owned by Activision and Superior Software.
Nostalgia Critic is owned by Doug Walker, Channel Awesome,, and The Walt Disney Company