Thursday, June 21, 2012

Sentai Retrospective: Liveman

Thread can be found here.

What are your initial thoughts about Liveman?
Has a really original premise: Friends against former friends. They're not some rag-tag group of people brought together to fight some alien empire or ancient demons that got released. Nor are they some miliary/organization team being called up to fight the threat. They're three people who want revenge. They have a connection with the villains. They have no chose BUT to be heroes. That's pretty cool.

What do you think about the team being a trio of students?
I love the chemistry of the core three. Everybody fit their character perfectly and they were well acted. I can watch all of them and can never be bored.

What did you think of Volt?
These villains. My god, these villains. These are some of the best villains I've seen in a Sentai. Just like the heroes, everybody fit their roles and were well acted. And by the seris, despite everything they'd done, you can't help but feel sorry for everyone.

What did you think of Machine Buffalo, Jet Falcon, Land Lion, Aqua Dolphin, and Live Robo?
Didn't care much for Machine Buffalo, felt too much like just another toy to sell. Jet Falcon Speedor 1.0. Land Lion is amazing for something that was made in the late 80s. And looks way more sophiscated then Saber Tiger from Zyuranger despite the latter being made 4 years later. Aqua Dolphin looked like a slipper. Live Robo has a good design, but it's mecha battles were really generic and short. Really, there were times where they would form it, then jump start to the finisher. Really.

What did you think of Colon?
One of the best mascot characters around. Kinda of a shame not much else was done with her crush on Yuusuke.

What did you think of the theme song?
Better good theme song, appropiate for its time of airing. Not one of my favorites, but listenable.

What did you think of the ending theme?
I like it. Pretty mellow, can be somber at times.

What do you think of the team's sidearms?
Liked Falcon Saber, Lion Bazooka, and Dolphin Arrow (Took me a while to realized that it had dolphins on the bow). I don't see the logic of giving the Heavy Weight Fighter a bo staff and who's bright idea was it to not give the guy whose name is Green SAI sais?

What did you think of Arashi and Doctor Ashura?
Arashi beating up a MotD on his own was painful. I actually felt sorry for the thing. Really enjoyed Ashura. Granted, he doesn't do a lot throughout the series, but I love the guy's body language, from his facial expressions to the way he shrugs his shoulders.

What did you think of Guildos and Gou defecting from Volt?
Guildos doesn't do much for me, but desigh-wise, he's fine. As for Gou defecting, the arc was good, but the way it started didn't work. It's like the writers had an idea, but it just wasn't executed well. It just didn't make sense for Bias to just up and kick Obler out like that. It couldn't have been because Obler's plans; around that time Kemp came up with that really awful plan to bring dolls to life. That's WAY worst than any Obler thought up.

What did you think of new villain Butchy and the Triple Bazooka?
I liked his design, but I didn't start to care about him until the end. Triple Bazooka was decent, but it seems kinda anti-climatic to form it to fire at the MotD, then use the Bi-Motion Blaster to finish it off.

What did you think of the Giga Volt, Tetsuya, Jun'ichi, Black Bison & Green Sai, Bison Liner, Sai Fire, and Super Live Robo?
The way off for Giga Volt was good, but the build up on the other hand... we first get our first hint of it, then we get an idea that has nothing to do with it, then they start building it up again. Tetsuya and Jun'ichi were good on paper and they were cool in their first few episodes, but they're just pushed to the side for most of the series. Really think it's a shame that Liveman didn't do an episode where they take matters into their own hands and try to get revenge on Kemp for killing their siblings. Also, they really should have done a better job of casting because their actors were really bad.

I prefer Bison Liner over Sai Fire. Super Live Robo was alright.

What did you think of Fear Beast Kemp?
As much as I like Yutaka Hirose, I never want to see his naked butt. Ever. Again.

What did you think of the reveal that Guildos was a robot and his death?
You know, as much as I don't care for Jun'ichi, I'll admit, it was pretty cool that seeing him destroy a MotD by himself 4 times. The reveal and death were pretty well done, though the episode title REALLY gives it away. Plus, his death reek of "Oh, look at that, show's ending. Time to start offing the regulars!"

What did you think of Gou's return and the death of Arashi?
Gou's return was good since I didn't expect them to bring him back. Wished he stayed for the rest of the series. Also, don't Jou and Gou make the perfect Seme/Uke couple? Seriously, take a picture of those two together, and add some red or pink to Gou's cheeks so they look like he's blushing and you'll see what I mean.

Arashi's death? Take about going out on a bang. Like Gou, I wished he stayed for the rest of the series.

What did you think of the death of Butchy, the death of Mazenda, the death of Kemp, and the reveal of Bias true intention?
Wow, I really felt bad for everybody, then Mazenda's and Kemp's deaths really bug me. In Mazenda's last episode, when she's in her dream machine, Bias and Gush were standing there in the room with a knife, implying they were going to crave Mazenda's head opening like a Thanksgiving turkey and physically take her brain out. Yet, in Kemp's last episode, they took his brain by using a canister. So WHY was Gush chasing Mazenda around with a knife? Since these episodes are back-to-back, it doesn't make any sense.

Also, not only is 'Dr. Smith' the monst non-threatening villain name ever, but one has the wonder what crazy get-up Dr. Kato had.

What did you think of the finale?
Never been a fan of finales that end on a mecha battle, so I didn't liked how the final battles was against a MotD. Also, while Bias turning into a little made sense from a story perspective, it was still a pretty big WTF moment.

Final thoughts on the series? Would you recommend this season to anyone? Why or why not?
Liveman starts off strong (Though a bit blunty), is pretty solid until Gou's arc ends, falls into a runt for a bit, picks up at Giga Volt/Tetsuya & Jun'ichi, is okay for a while, then gets really dark. But despite all that, it's still my number 1 Sentai and is arguably the best of the 80s Sentai. Really good balance of development for the heroes and the villains, and is one of the very few series that I think isn't just good sentai, but good television in general (i.e. no-toku fans can get into this).

Monday, June 18, 2012

(Super) Samurai Vs. Operation Overdrive: Which Season is Better?


Hoo boy, after coming of Mystic Force, fandom thought we would never have a season as craptastic as Mystice Force. Then Operation Overdrive came along, and boy were we wrong. We were wrong. For the longest time, Overdrive was viewed as the nadir of the franchise. The lowest Power Rangers ever sunk. Then Samurai appeared, we started having second thoughts. Well, some of us.

Now, before I go on, let me say that I always thought Operation Overdrive was an okay season at best. Nothing amazing, but not the unbearable season that will burn your soul the moment you lay eyes on it as majority of the fandom makes it out to be. What inspired me to make this post was that whenever Samurai tends to get brought in discussion, a common comment is, "Samurai bad, but it's not as bad as Overdrive" and that just a real headscratcher to me. I know, I know, we all have our opinions, but it just amazes me. In what way is Overdrive worst than Samurai? The characters are actual characters with actual personalities (plus, you can Rose and Ronny apart. Something you can't do with Mia and Emily). The villains are actually proactive and do some stuff (unlike Xandred and Deker). Overdrive had something resembling a plot and didn't feel like it was just spinning its wheels the majority of the time. And it at least tried to stray from its source material. 

So, I thought I do a little compare and contrast between the two seasons to see which I feel is the better of the two.

The Plot

Operative Overdrive's premise is that many years ago, two brothers named Flurious and Moltor tried to steal a legendary crown known as the Corona Aurora and were imprisoned throughout the galaxy. Sentinel Knight scatters the crown and its jewels on the planet Earth in hopes of preventing it from falling into the wrong hands. In the present day, world renowned explorer Andrew Hartford uncovers the crown, which frees Flurious and Moltor from their imprisonment. Andrew recruits four elite young adults to become Power Rangers and stop the Corona Aurora from falling into the wrong hands. Although Hartford is originally opposed to it, his son Mack becomes the fifth team member - the Red Ranger. They form the Power Rangers Operation Ovderive in a race against the clock the collect the jewels to stop Flurious, Moltor, and other villains from using them for evil.

The plot is that each episode they would find an artifact that would contain a clue that would lead them to a jewel. This would go on into each episode until the sixth episode where they find the jewel.

(Super) Samurai's premise is that centuries ago, demonic creatures called Nighloks invaded ancient Japan, but a team of Samurais with a supernatural power called Symbol Power was able to hold off the invasion until the Nighloks were sealed away. In the present day, the Nighloks have rised again, and plan the flood the human world. A new team of Samurais, who are descendents of the Samurais who sealed away the Nighloks come together to form the Power Rangers Samurai to stop the Nighloks.

The plot is that each episode, a Nighlok would come out of the Sanzu River with a plan to terrorize the humans to create enough sorrow and misery to raise the Sanzu River so it will be high enough to break through the Netherworld and flood the Earth, and the Samurai Rangers would stop them.

Which plot is better? Tough to say, but I would say Overdrive. While Overdrive's plot could be monotonous: "Let's go chase this artifact for 2 episodes!" "OK, we got it! Now let's go get this one for 2 more episodes!" "Let's go here and get this one!", it generally gave a sense that things were moving forward. Whereas with Samurai, it's been 35 episode, but it still feels like nothing has really changed at all, despite the show trying to make it seem things have.

The Characters

A common criticism against the Overdrive Rangers that fandom found them to be unlikable jerks. Whereas a common criticism against the Samurai Rangers is that fandom finds them bland and ill-defined. Let's compare.
Mack vs. Jayden

Mack is an energetic and gung ho guy who spent all his time reading action-adventure books until he got to become a ranger. Mack was the heart of the Overdrive Rangers as he was the one who had the most heroic intentions of the rangers. When he almost failed to save a civilian, he took it the hardest which made him doubt his abilities as Ranger. He was also willing to sacrifice himself by blowing up the Flashpoint Megazord to destroy the Fearcats.

Jayden was a guy who, ever since he was a child, spent his life training to be the leader of the Samurai Rangers. Jayden is the guy who's always telling the team that they need to use teamwork to get the job done. Jayden is an all around personable leader with strong moral qualities.

Who's better? Tough the say. Both Red Rangers are fine in their own right, but in the end, I have to give it to Mack. Mainly because Mack is a bit more consistent with his characterization, whereas Jayden is a bit inconsistent (The show tries to protray Jayden as a loner, except he's the guy who's always saying that they need to work together). Also Mack's sercet at this point was better handled than Jayden's has. With Mack, it wasn't spelled out, but there were hints dropped here and there. A few things that would make you go "Oh" when you think about them (Spencer saying he had the machine especially recalibrated for Mack and Andrew saying how Mack was becoming "unpredictable). With Jayden, they keep telling us that he was a secret and... that's it.

Will vs. Mike

Will is an International Recovery Specialist, meaning that it's his job to recover objects that had been stolen and to test burgler alarms (which people mistake him for a thief). Will is cocky and has problems with being a teamplayer. Will also forms a season long rivalry with Kamdor after it was revealed that Will was spying on them.

Mike is a teenager boy (The Teams Unite suggest that he just graduated from high school) and the implied second youngest on the team. Mike is an energetic guy who likes to play video games and pull pranks. It's been hinted a few times that he was romantic feeling for Emily.

Who's better? Mike, hands down. Mainly because Will was, quite frankly, a douche. He nearly killed Ronny in The Underwater World and never apologized for it. He constanly runs off on his own. And he was a complete dick to Norg even when he was willing to help. Mike himself is no great shake, but at least he was only douche-y in Forest For The Trees.

Dax vs. Kevin

Dax is a stuntman. Dax is also the comic relief character of the season and was shown to be not so bright. Dax had short-lived relationship with a girl named Mira (who was later revealed to be Miratrix) who was using him to get the scrolls which would lead to one of the jewels. A running gag in the season was that Dax would call Miratrix his Ex.

Kevin is a guy wanted who wanted to be a Olympic swimmer, but gave up his dream to become a Samurai Ranger. Due to his strict upbringing, he is extremely enthusiastic and takes his ranger duties seriously.  Kevin lives a very disciplined lifestyle and is never late due to his self-planned daily training schedule. Kevin is also the engineer behind many of the Samurai Megazord Combinations, such as having figured out how to combine the Samurai Battlewing with the Megazord.

Who's better? Personally I say neither. Neither characters are anything to write home about. Dax was bounderline annoying and Kevin a character the show admits is boring. So, tie.

Ronny vs. Emily

Ronny is a race car driver. She occasionally shows a tendency to get highly competitive with games to even a friendly jog. A running joke in the fandom is that she has a fetish for the zords.

Emily is the youngest member of the Samurai Rangers. She originally suppose to be the Yellow Ranger, but took over for her sister when she fell ill. Emily been shown to be a klutz and has insecurity issues. It's been hinted at a couple of times that she has romantic feelings for Mike.

Who's better. Ronny, hands down. Granted, after Ronny's competitive streak gets resolved, there wasn't much to her character, but Ronny, to me, had better moments. Like when she took charge during Man of Mercury. Plus, Emily tends to act like a child.

Rose vs. Mia

Rose is a Mensa level genius with an encyclopedic knowledge regarding almost any subject, from geography to the Overdrive equipment.Growing up, she didn't have much of a childhood due to her intelligence (even skipping most of grade school, starting college at eight years old).

Mia is a girl who loves children and worked at a orphanage prior to becoming a Samurai Ranger. She's the big sister of the team and dreams of one day finding her Prince Charming. When she was a kid, she used to sing with her brother Terry and was going to be in a band before she had to train to be a Power Ranger. A running joke in the show is that she think she's a good joke, but is in fact, a horrible cook.

Who's better? Rose, hands down. While Rose is commonly criticize for being a "stuck-up, know-it-all bitch", Rose was the most contributing to the team using her intelligence to figure out the clues, helping with Zord tech, and even (indirectly) creating the Battlizer. Mia... the show tells us she's a big sister figure and is anything but. Plus, she has no problem playing second fiddle to a man.

Tyzonn vs. Antonio

Tyzonn is a Mercurian from Mercuria. He was previously a member of the Intergalactic Emergency Responder Squad, a search and rescue team, alongside his fiancée Vella. During an unfortunate accident when his team was killed by the Fearcats after he sent them back into a collapsing cave, Tyzonn dedicated himself to tracking down the criminal group and bringing them to justice for their crimes.

Antonio is Jayden's childhood friend. He's the Ranger who is not of Samurai descent, but he is self-trained. Antonio is a tech wiz (a scene in Room For One More implied he created his morpher from a broken cell phone he found in a forest). He used his tech skills he to repair the Claw Zord and unlock both the Black Box and The Light Zord. He has a habit of talking in gratuitous spanish.

Who's better? Antonio. Mainly because Antonio was pretty consistent with his characterization, whereas Tyzonn was a schizo (Went from a serious warrior to a happy-go-lucky guy to a copycat to a stalker to etc. etc.).

The Villains

Flurious vs. Master Xandred: Tough to say. Both main villains spent the season just sitting on their butts not doing much. Both didn't sent or create a monster to do stuff (Either Octoroo sent the Nighloks or they volunteer for the job). Both are shown to be really powerful fighters (Flurious was able to go toe-to-toe with a god and Xandred completely demolish the Samurai Rangers the first time he left the Sanzu River). So... tie.

Moltor vs. Octoroo:  Tie. Moltor was pretty generic as far as villains go, but he seemed to pose some kind of challenge to the rangers. Octoroo is, hands down, the second best villain in this season (who's the best will come later). Seriously, Octoroo devises the plans, does all the research, and bosses the Nighloks around. He's more of a lead villain than Xandred.

Miratrix vs. Dayu: Miratrix. Miratrix isn't really anything to right home about, but she, along with Kamdor, was a villain who really proved to be a threat to the Rangers by always being a step ahead of the Rangers (getting the school, getting one of the jewels). Dayu had potential, in a sense that she seemed to be one of those "I'm surrounded by idiots" character and her sarcasm, but unfortunately now all she does is stand around going, "Oh Deker."

Kamdor vs. Deker: Kamdor, hands done. Kamdor, along with Miratrix, pose a real threat to the Rangers by getting ahead of the clues, getting one of the jewels, and defeating the Rangers every time they fought. He's a real badass; Deker only wishes he was badass. The guy always talking about how he wants to fight Jayden badly, yet always comes up with an excuse to push it back. And when we finally see their destined duel, it lasted three minutes. THREE MINUTES!

Fearcats vs. Serrator: Serrator. He actually has a goal and is setting out and making sure it's done. Fearcats... they never really had any real motivation. When they first appeared, they wanted a jewel to free their army from a mirror. After that was foiled and they destroyed and then revived, they just... they just did stuff.


Andrew Hartford vs. Mentor Ji: Andrew. Sexual predator jokes aside, Andrew at least contributed to the team by locating the jewels, prepping the Zords, etc. Ji's pretty useless. Seriously, he thought he could play Mr. Happy and try to hide the fact that one of their own is gone! And while he's supposed to be training the Rangers, it's Jayden who was helping him be a better mentor back in Forest For The Trees. Ji gotten better in recent episodes, but not by much.

Spencer vs. Bulk and Spike: Spencer. Spencer was genuinely funny and help the rangers out in whatever problem of the week they were having. Plus, he had interaction with the Rangers. Bulk and Spike have their moments and even started interacting with the Rangers a little, but the fact that you could remove a lot of their scenes and have nothing change says a lot about their contributions to the show.

Things like theme songs, suit designs, zords, and fight scenes are pretty superficial things that don't make or break a show so those won't be covered.

In conclusion, I say Operation Overdrive is the better of the two. But, of course, that's just my opinion.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Sentai Retrospective: Denjiman

In August 2009, RangerCrew started a 17 month campaign to discuss every season of Power Rangers with monthly discussions of the selected season. Each month, the Mods posted questions to the fans to get their input on various topics regarding the particular season.  This campaign allowed fans to share their thoughts on their favorite episodes and moments, as well as provide personal opinions about each season.  The campaign ended on January 2011 with the final season: Power Rangers RPM. You can read the Power Rangers Discussion threads here.

After the success of the Power Rangers Season Discussion threads, it was suggested that we would do one for Super Sentai, since Gokaiger was premiering soon. We followed the same format with the PR threads, but differently. With each PR season, there was a month devoted to it: August was MMPRS1 month. September was MMPRS2 month. October, MMPRS3 month. etc. etc. Since there were more Sentai shows than PR seasons, it was decided that we would do discussion on two Sentai shows at once, based on common themes. So, from January 2011 to July 2012, we did discussion threads on each Sentai that shared a common theme with each other. Goranger was the exception since we decided it was the first. Currently, it's Timeranger/Dekaranger month.

May was Denjiman/Bioman month, with the common theme between them being that both series had robot mentors who were survivors of a destroyed planet and then recruited a team who had connections with said destroyed planet. You can read the Sentai Discussion threads here.

So, my thoughts on one of the most overlooked Sentai series out there: Denjiman!

Credit to O.92 for the pictures

 What do you think of the Denjiman suits?
Considering these were the suits that use the look we're accustomed to, it a good first try. Liked Denji Yellow ad Denji Pink, but Denjiman is a series where I feel the entire team could have been female; something about those suits always seemed feminine to me.

How much do you know about this season?
 I liked how much this show used Stock Footage. And by Stock Footage, I don't mean generic stuff like re-using footage of the base or Mecha transformation, I mean they would actually reuse entire battle sequence. Heck, they even used the fight scene from the movie in later episodes. Also, I think Denjiman is the first sentai to have a Villain Episode.

What did you think of the theme song?
One of my favorites. Really like the synths and beefy male chorus. Plus, when you have the time, look up the translation of the lyrics: THIS IS A HEROES ANTHEM!

What did you think of the ending theme?
Really enjoyable, them singing about about the Denjiman will take care of things. Kinda feels sad at points.

What did you think of the Vader Clan?
Eh, give them props for having their goal being polluting and tortuning planets for their Queen's amusement as oppose the usual world domination thing. Hedrian, I prefer her here in Denjiman then in Sun Vulcan. Also, liked how they had her actually care about her henchman as oppose to the usual "You're all expendable" types. Hedrer was your usual Dragon, though I wish they gave him more fight scenes. Keller was a babe and Mirror? Well, both Keller and Mirror were kinda dull.

 What did you think of Denji Tiger, Denji Fighter, and Daidenjin?
I prefer Battle Shark as a Carrier. Denji Fighter, it was so obvious which part made what. Daidenjin looked like an anime robo.

 What did you think of the cast?
Jun was my favorite; dude was a total Mad Scientist in the making. Tatsuya was Sentai first Badass ranger. Oume a one-of-a-kind blue. Ippei... well, I wasn't all that fond of him at first since he was the usual Serious Leader character, but then he started shedding manly tears because Battle France wouldn't believe him, then I grew to like him. And Akira? Didn't like at first how a lot of the early episodes had her getting into trouble/strife and needing the boys to bail her out, but she got stronger as the series progess.

What did you think of the Denji Shooter?
Who wouldn't want their own private subway. XD

What did you think of IC, Officer Tieko, Hazime, Sanda, Hiroshi, Katsuo, and Yumiko?
IC should have been around more since there a large chunk of episodes where he was absent. Also, did the dog die or something because near the end, it look like they got another dog, then they just used archive footage of IC with occasional shots of a stuff dog for when they needed shots of IC with the team in the last 4 episode.

Tieko was full of fail, but she was cute. The kids provided some variety in the plots since, in Battle Fever, there were a few plots that were solely focus on Masaru.

Would you feel angry if the denjiman suits were cut from the footage in the eventual/possible PR adapation of Go(u)kaiger down the road? 
Seeing as how we're getting a Legend War without the Pre-Zyu teams, I wouldn't mind since everytime they turned into Denjiman, they ALWAYS used the Denji Punch. Like, seriously writers, the Denjiman had other attacks.

What did you think of the Denjiman movie?
Well, it was suppose to be important since it introduced Princess Denji and the concept of Planet Denji decendents, but it's kinda boring. Especially when they put a random CLIPSHOW in the middle of the movie.

What did you think of Demon King Banriki?
He's one of the few traitor villains who succeeded into overthrowing the Big Bad and taking control of their empire. That's pretty neat.

What did you think of the OST?
I love OST, it's my favorite of the Michiaki Watanabe's work for Sentai. I love the variety in the music, from the disco beats to the western-ish beats to the orchestral sound.

What did you think of Demon King Banriki's attempt at causing a mutiny, the plan being foiled, and then being turned into a candle?
Our first Villain Episode! Felt kinda rough in places, but still pretty good. Wonder how the Denjiman failed to notice that Hedrer and Demon King AND three monsters were fighting in the middle of town?

What did you think of Banriki Demon King overthrowning Queen Hedrian & taking over the Vader Clan, the death of General Hedrer, and the finale?
Man, I actually felt a little sorry for the Vader Clan. You could really see the loyalty everybody had for each other. Fun fact, the Denjiman are the first Sentai team to never physically fight the main villain at any point in the series.

Final thoughts on the series? Would you recommend this season to anyone? Why or why not?
Denjiman my second favorite 80s Sentai. Yeah, compared to others, it's pretty standard flaire. The plot was standard, the characters were close to standard, you had the usual villain set-up, etc. etc. But, the series had heart to it and a vibe of Feel Good-ness to it that help me enjoy this. Plus, it's fun watching how this series introduced a lot of the plot tropes we see in later installments (space opera, sympathetic villains, reluctant team member, in-fighting among the villains, etc.) But, since it's an early Sentai, I wouldn't hold this show to the same standards at the modern one, or else you'll be disappointed.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

I guess welcomes are in order

Hello, named Mr. CD. To any members of, former members of, or lurkers of RangerCrew, you may know me as one of the Moderators. On YouTube, I am MultiTouzi. On Veoh, I'm Izout.

After kicking around the idea of doing a blog, I've decided to finally do it. Why make a blog? Because I feel with a blog, I can let out some thoughts I had on certain
things that I couldn't do on a messageboard without causing wank. I'll mostly use this blog for things involving Power Rangers, Sentai, and other things. I don't know how many people will read this, but for any who take the time out to do so, I hope you enjoy what I have to say.