Thursday, February 27, 2014

Ressha Sentai ToQger Episode 2 Review: We Are All Here!

Hello everyone! Thomas Ledbetter aka The Toku Buster here! I am continuing my Tokkyuger episode reviews as planned, and this time we are covering the 2nd episode! I actually thought that this episode wasn't as "fun" or "over-the-top" as the first episode, but overall, I still really enjoyed it.

The biggest difference between episodes 1 and 2 is of the tone and what the episode focuses on. While the first episode definitely focused more on the fun aspect of the show, the second focused on some of the deeper themes and development to come throughout the show. I think that doing it like that actually works in favor of the show because it captures both tones that the show is trying to set out to show. It's like the over-the-top and fun nature of the first episode is what pulled me in to the show's world, and then the 2nd episode dives more into the development now that I'm in "hook, line, and sinker".

Anyways, onto the actual episode, this episode is definitely a big development episode for Hikari, who ironically out of the main four was the only one who DIDN'T get some sort of focus in the first episode. What's interesting about Hikari is that it seems to me that HE is actually the more analytical and logical person of the team instead of 
Tokatti, who seems to me as the "smart one" of the group but seems to be used for more comic relief than for actually being a thinker type of character. This is shown with his questioning of the Tokkyugers being "as good as dead", and that they may not actually be dead but that their memories have just become a lot more hazy because they may have been in a city that was ravaged by the Shadow Line when they were little, which is a pretty interesting idea.

I also like the idea that when the people in the cities that are taken over by the Shadow Line are in despair, dark energy comes out of their bodies. It seems to me that the dark energy will be used in some way for the plans and the arrival of the "Emperor of Darkness" as they are calling him on the Shadow Line.

In this episode, I love the Saber Shadow and the idea of having random civilians engage in duels like the one shown. It's not necessarily a "new" idea since I have seen it in Sentai shows before, but nevertheless I have always liked the idea of people having to turn against others against their will to fight by control of the monster.

We also got to meet Wagon for the first time in this episode, who seems to be pretty fun and cheery so far. She reminds me of both Naomi from Den-O and Colon from Liveman (though why she reminds me of Colon I have no idea. Maybe it's just the android thing, I don't know.). And also, I forgot to touch on this in my episode 1 review, but the Conductor and Ticket are hilarious.

The action in this episode was just as fun and top-notch at the first episode. I really like the TokkyuBlaster attack with the Scope Ressha. The attack looks like a splitting bullet that whenever it hits an enemy, it multiplies into multiple ones and hit the rest of the enemies, which I think is really cool. I also loved the train battle between Raito and Saber Shadow. Even if it was pretty damn CGI heavy, it was pretty edgy and cool for a fight scene. It's like taking a classic train battle from an old western or Indiana Jones movie and then having the trains FLY! It was just pure awesome in my book!

This episode also had some pretty funny moments. My favorite moment in the entire episode is when Saber Shadow raised up his swords not realizing he was going through a tunnel and they broke. Some may say that that was an incompetent thing, but I thought it was hilarious mainly because of how the show isn't meant to be taken TOO seriously (at least not yet), so I can definitely say that this kind of comedy fits well with the show (even if it does have a bit of plot convenience mixed in with it).

I also really liked the battle between Tokkyu-Oh and Saber Shadow too. It was pretty quick, but it reminded me a lot of something out of an old spaghetti western movie and it definitely was cool, especially with the classic move of the "bad guy shoots before they get to five" trick that a lot of old westerns do. But anyway, that's just me reminiscing in a bit of nostalgia. 

Overall, I definitely really liked this episode just like the first. It goes deeper into plot development and characters, but doesn't loose really any of the fun and energy and excitement of the first episode. Thus to match with the first episode, I give this episode a solid A!

Next Episode: More development for Kagura!

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Ressha Sentai ToQger Episode 1 Review: Time To Board the Imagination Train!

Hello everyone! Thomas Ledbetter aka The Toku Buster here! For the first time ever for any Tokusatsu show that I have watched, I am going to be doing episodic reviews of the newest Sentai series, Ressha Sentai Tokkyuger (or ToQger), every Saturday until the series ends in February 2015! I am really excited to do this because I am anticipating what this show has to offer, especially with the Shinkenger team being back to do another show. So, with that long-winded introduction, what ARE my thoughts on my first episode of Tokkyuger?....I actually liked it even more than I anticipated. Let's break all of this down from the starting gate (Get it? Starting Gate?...God my puns are awful)!

To start off, I really like the Opening for the show. It's REALLY catch and fits the tone of the show well. It got me pumped and ready for the show and it caught me in "hook line and sinker". From the first time I heard it, it made me really giddy to see and hear it, and I just absolutely love it! The opening scene too before the opening really threw me right into the action of what was going on and was really fun to watch.

The first thing that I really liked is how right out of the starting gate, bits of the Tokkyugers personalities are shown, especially in Raito, who I think is one of the most enjoyable Sentai Reds I've seen in a very long time, especially since the last two Reds, Hiromu and Daigo, left a lot to be desired. He definitely made a really good impression on me in that he is a very optimistic and, of course, imaginative red. This is shown tenfold in not only his fighting, but in the flashback scenes near the beginning where he remembers the Tokkyugers as his childhood friends. I really liked that scene since it really established that the Tokkyugers are definitely pretty well-bonded friends and how much affinity they have for each

Tokatti is definitely the more analytical and strategic type of guy, but with his over-thinking and concentration on the little details, he misses some of the bigger details and is sometimes REALLY clumsy, even in battle. This is shown in both battle when he talks to himself and during the flashback when he tries to scientifically explain space and what not. I also really like his unintentional kind of humor, especially with how unexpected and subtle it all is to me. I literally laughed out loud when he stepped out of the train car and fell flat on his face because he didn't pay attention to the warning to "Watch your step" when he got off the train. I also loved the moment when he tried to shoot down the Kuros and he didn't know where they were gonna shoot so he ran off. I think I'm definitely going to enjoy him just about as much as I will Raito.

Mio is definitely the resident bad-ass fighting chick of the Tokkyugers (though Kagura is also like that to an extent, but we'll get to her in a minute). There wasn't as much focus put on her and Hikari, but I definitely like Mio's attitude, with how funny but tough and cool she can be all at the same time. I love the gag where she gets angry at the Kuros for not only trying to sneak attack on her, but for doing it anyways after she told them not to. I just thought that was plain hilarious. 

Out of all the Tokkyugers, Hikari looks like he got the least amount of focus this episode. He seemed definitely like the skilled swordsman type and is a pretty cool fighter, but beyond that, there isn't very much yet to see.

And then there's the Kairiki Girl herself, Kagura....*sigh*, where in the living hell do I begin with her? I ask that not because I don't like her...but I ask that because there is SO DAMN MUCH to talk about her! I think she is actually the most fascinating and interesting out of all of the Tokkyugers so far, mainly in her power in general. Remember when the info was released on her in that her Imagination Power was really great but mostly used in a more negative manner? Well, this episode perfectly illustrates that in the most AWESOME WAY EVER! I love when specifically not once, but twice uses her Imagination Power to gain the strength to defeat the Kuros. I love this not only because it shows off her personality through that fight, but also shows how the Imagination Power works and what it's really capable of at its full potential and power.

We also got to have a little look at the main four villains for the show and the Shadow Line itself. The plot that they are trying to achieve isn't clear yet, but it's definitely hinted at with the appearance of Miss Greeta, who is Madame Noir's daugher, and how the Madame is planning to "prepare a station full of wonderful darkness" for her daughter as she puts it. Also, both Baron Nero and General Schwarz look really cool and badass in the few seconds we get to see them. The atmosphere of the Shadow Line headquarters itself is also really awesome and gives off a really creepy and scary tone, which is just what you expect from an evil lair.

Now to talk about what everyone has been waiting for: The Action Scenes! I thought that they were actually pretty well done overall. For starters, the Henshin Sequence was pretty damn sweet. While it was standard fare for Super Sentai, I thought it was really cool nonetheless. I loved how the suits formed on them and how the Resshas laid out tracks near the helmets that would become the visors, and then having the callout of the Tokkyuger's rollcall from the changer itself was just the cherry on top for me.

I also thought that the weapons were really cool too, the Home Trigger and Tekkyou Claw in particular. The Home Trigger actually freezes the enemies in place before firing, which is pretty cool and makes it a lot easier to shoot at the enemy and be flashy about it. The funniest part of the entire episode though was when Kagura shrunk the footsoldiers with the Tekkyou Claw and had to crush them all like little ants. That moment had me rolling on the floor laughing like it was nobody's business.

I also really like the idea of the Norikae Changes, not just from an action standpoint but also from a character standpoint as well. It's something that Super Sentai has really never done before, and by having the ability to switch suits, it shows that the color of the suits don't necessarily matter and that just because you're in a different doesn't mean the way you fight changes. In doing so, it puts less emphasis on the suits and fighting and tons more emphasis on the people inside those suits, which is what makes the concept all the more interesting and groundbreaking in the first place.

The final attack for the Tokkyugers is really interesting with the Rainbow Rush creating whatever the Tokkyugers imagine to destroy the monster, which as I have mentioned before is a straight homage to the Goranger's final attack, the Goranger Storm/Hurricane in where they did something very similar in that the projectile that hit the enemy formed the one thing that would kill it. In this case, since the Bag Shadow was kidnapping children, he was destroyed by a huge toppling stack of crying Jizo statues....Hmm, interesting poetic justice, eh?

The mecha fight was also pretty awesome too with the Tokkyu-Oh absolutely owning the Bag Shadow's ass in a giant monster fight. The only disappointment of this episode was the Gattai sequence in that it was done with mostly CGI. This is really weird seeing how not only were the trains miniatures and that they could've done the combination with just modified miniatures, but that last year with Kyoryuger (at least in the beginning), the Gattai sequences were done with miniatures, which feels out of place for Kyoryuger but NOT for Tokkyuger. But hey, to each their own.

There is one last thing I would like to talk about in regards to this episode, and that is......

Yep...the Tokkyugers were chosen because they essentially died....while some people may say that this is a really weird and asinine idea, I actually think it's quite interesting to say the least. I don't know how or why this will tie in to the series, but I bet there will be an explanation at some point soon on what this means. I just think it sounds like a new and radical idea that Sentai hasn't gone down before. I just hope all goes well for it.

So, overall, I really liked this episode a lot! It showed some pretty interesting and likable characters, the action was really top-notch, and it laid the foundation and groundwork for what I hope to be a really good show to come in the future. Thus I give the first episode of Tokkyuger a very solid A!

Next Episode: NORIKAE CHANGES GALORE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!