Sunday, April 3, 2016

Tokusatsu Review: Doubutsu Sentai Zyuohger & Kamen Rider Ghost Spring crossover: Like a special but not really.

Please be sure to read, comment, spread the links, re-tweet and follow me on Twitter @OnDavidsBrain! and support me on Patreon.

When did Takeru get the Michael Jackson Eyecon?
 Zyuohger and Ghost. It's been a long road but here we are the 40th and 45th anniversary of Super Sentai and Kamen Rider respectively and man has the road been bumpy. Sure some parts were smoother then others but man these years were hard; at least when it came to Sentai. After Gokaiger we had Gobusters and while some people including me liked it apparently the toy sales in Japan told a far different story. The critical reception wasn't much better either so after Gobusters we had Kyoryuger, Toqger and Ninninger.

 I already gave my thoughts of Kyoryuger and Toqger, one was flawed but enjoyable and the other makes me want to destroy the planet just to erase the fact that it ever existed. I'll give you a guess which one I'm talking about. It seems Saban agrees with me since after Dino Charge (which is better then Kyoryuger in my opinion) they're skipping Toqger and adapting Ninninger instead. As for Ninninger the critical reaction seems to be my reaction to Toqger. All my anger and frustration towards Right seems to be everyone's response to Takaharu. While I wish people woke up earlier I'm glad that people are voicing their complaints and Toei realized that three years of idiot heroes in a row tend to piss people off if they're not written well, and guess what? They weren't!!! As a certain someone once said eventually the squeaky wheel gets the grease.

 So after Ninninger received the worst ratings and toy sales in Sentai history Toei is putting their A team in charge of the anniversary series; Doubutsu Sentai Zyuohger. Let me tell you Zyuohger and Ninninger is like night and day! This series has villains we can take seriously, simple yet effective designs and a red ranger that didn't eat paint chips after being dropped on his head after coming out of his alcoholic mother! The plot so far is there is an alternate earth called Zyuland that's populated by beast men called Zyumen that are anthropomorphic animals.
Behold, the world of Minecraft.
 Our world and Zyuland are connected by the cube from the first bayformers movie renamed the Link Cube. One day a human zoologist named Yamato falls into Zyuland and meet the guardians. 
Sela, a shark woman who while calm and cool takes no crap from anyone and is a fierce and serious fighter.
Leo a lion man (duh) is loud, honest, friendly and stands by his friends. He's basically Bryan Blessed with a tail.

   Next is Tusk
No, not that Tusk.

 I'm talking about the elephant man
NO, NO, NO!!!
 This is our Tusk he's one of the smarter members of the team, cynical and always waits till he has enough information to act on his decisions.
 Last is Amu the tiger woman. 
Because we always need a cat girl apparently, don't know if she's a nun though, she's friendly, laid back and is optimistic but also a realist.
 The four escort Yamato back to earth and were about to head back but the earth is attacked by intergalactic game hunters called the Deathgaliens who have declared earth and humans to be their 100th deathgame with the goal being to simply hunt humans into extinction. The four Zyumen take four small cubes that fell from the gate cube called Marks of the King and attack the invading forces. Eventually the marks give the four the ability to transform into the Zyuogers. Later Yamato joins in to help the four and it's revealed that the fifth Mark of the King has responded to him allowing him to transform as well revealing he has the abilities of an Eagle. Once the initial attack is repealed it's revealed that the Sixth mark is missing and without it the four Zyumen can't return to Zyuland, Yamato offers to let them stay with him and eventually all four accept, to blend in the Marks of the King give the four Zyumen a human form to blend into the human world.

 Thus a pack is formed, the Doubutsu Sentai Zyuoger!
 Like I said before I like the suits. Not as good looking as the Ninningers suits but not as horrible as the Toqger suits. They strike a good balance between unique with the animals on their chests but just seems to be dominated by the primary color. Though again the animals on the chests and the Gingaman esq zigzag design on the boots give it some black to balance it out. The helmets themselves nicely represent their respective animals, so all in all it works for me.

 Now on to Ghost, this tells the story of Takeru Tenkuji, a young man who on his 18th birthday gets killed by a monster known as a Ganma. He does die but is given a second chance by a mysterious sage and his little sidekick Yurusen.

 The sage tells Takeru that if he gathers 15 luminary Eyecons 
physical manifestations of souls
 within the span of 99 days then he can have a wish granted which he can use to wish himself back to life. Sage then grants Takeru a belt and using his own soul becomes Kamen Rider Ghost. Aside from Ghost there's Makoto and his little sister Kanon, two of Takeru's childhood friends who were accidentally sent to the Ganma world due to an accident caused by the experiments of Takeru's father Ryu. 
Makoto due to separating his soul from his body can also become a rider like Takeru becoming Kamen Rider Specter.
  Originally helping the Ganma royal family after they took him and Kanon in when they landed in the Ganma world Makoto protected Alan's Ganma and sought the 15 Eyecons as well in order to wish Kanon back to life. To that end he tried to kill Takeru as he saw Ryu as responsible for what happened to him and Kanon and since Ryu's dead Takeru is the one on the receiving end of the Inego Montoya speech. Eventually he turned against the Ganma after Takeru used the wish to bring Kanon back to life.
Last but not least is Alan. Prince of the Ganma and current fugitive.
  Initially he was in charge of the invading forces, working with a former colleague of Ryu named Saionji to create more ways for Ganma to cross into the human world, gathering the Eyecons for the wish as well as perfecting ways of enhancing the Ganma by empowering them with objects creating enhanced Ganma. Alan is adding his father Emperor Adonis in his plans of creating a "perfect world" out of the earth by exterminating humans. To that end he perfected an artificial driver based off of Specters driver becoming Kamen Rider Necrom. However his brother Adel staged a coup and said that Alan is the one responsible for killing Adonis; so now he's a wanted man on the run.

 Ghost seems to have the opposite problems that people had with Drive. Drive was far too slow with its pacing and toy promos while Ghost is far too fast. It shifts the status quo so much there barely is one. First we got the Eyecons, next we resolved Kanon's death and reset the timer for Takeru, then we have a new general to deal with and his plans, then Alan becomes Necrom and you can see where this is going. The arcs seem to last at least 5 episodes before moving on to the next arc and plot point. This rushed pacing might stem from the fact that Ghost's head writer Takuru Fukuda used to write Ultraman, specifically Ultraman Max and Ultraseven X. See in Ultraman, modern series tend to fluctuate but with Max and Seven X they lasted 48 and 12 episodes respectively so the rushed pace makes sense there. But in Kamen Rider a series lasts at least 48 episodes so adding in more plot with a writer that's used to working on a series that might have a far smaller timeframe will undoubtedly result in not being able to stretch events out properly thus making everything seem rushed yet short at the same time. But that's just my theory it isn't to say that Ghost is bad, just had a few quirks to work out.

 You may be wondering why I've just been giving my thoughts on 2016's series instead of the crossover. Well the problem is that there is no one hour special like with last year. Yep it seems that Toei's been listening to the complaints people have made about the specials and the crossovers are actually occurring in the series itself while continuing their own plot instead of implying it's taking place in a parallel world or some crap like that. The problem with this approach is that I don't have any special to make fun of and point out plot holes. Now all that's left is to hope that the Ichigo movie doesn't suck. But then again with Shinichiro Shirokura producing, Osamu Kaneda directing and Toshiki Inoue writing I don't have too much hope. Yeah I know Hiroshi Fujioka is writing as well but lets face it it's just window dressing to try and keep the fans' hope up. But the only way to tell is to wait and if it sucks then hey I can at least make up for this outing.

Kamen Rider is owned by Ishinomori Productions, Toei Productions, and Bandai.
Super Sentai is owned by Ishinomori Productions, Toei Productions, and Bandai.
The Elephant Man (1980) is owned by David Lynch, Brooksfilms and Paramount Pictures Based off  "The Elephant Man and Other Reminiscences" by Frederick Treves and in part on "The Elephant Man: A Study in Human Dignity" by Ashley Montagu
Jojo's Bizarre Adventure is propriety of Hirohiko Araki, David Production, Tokyo MX, Warner Bros Entertainment and Viz Media.