Mini reviews of Television seasons old and new. No fuss. No spoilers. Occasional bunnies.

Sunday, October 11, 2015

Kamen Rider Kuuga (2000-01)

“Believe. When the time comes, everyone does what they can.”

In the current and immediately preceding decades of tokusatsu, even the most noble and worthy of Riders and Senshi have had at least a small taste for battle, for its own sake. There’s nothing inherently wrong with this and that very proclivity is often conducive to their success. Godai Yuusuke, however, does not and his reluctance is subtly on display from the very outset of this narrative, even when he has to put on a resolute face for those who would doubt his commitment to the task. As I’ve stated in the past, a Rider’s greatest nemesis is often themselves. Much like its sequel series, Agito, Kamen Rider Kuuga is dominated by an exploration of not only the ways power can be used but also how it can use those who wield it.

While these two series are unique from both eras, in my eyes, Kuuga does mix Showa and Heisei execution ideals in that while Godai is the sole Rider he’s also given a bevy of forms and an expanded arsenal to carry him through the show’s run. These are all doled out with quiet, deliberate care. In terms of cast, he's joined by a large contingent of characters springing from the police force fighting the Grongi alongside him, as well as a host of his own personal acquaintances. Together, they comprise an elaborate, seamless tapestry organically depicting the reasons Godai fights even though he has no innate personal desire to, as such.

When pressed to compare the two programs, I usually respond thusly: Kuuga himself is superior as a titular character, whereas Agito has the edge as a series because of its tightly-wound mysteries and the interactions afforded by its larger cast of Riders. These facets jigsaw together in my mind to place them on an equal footing, befitting of their connection.

Odagiri Joe’s career went on to blossom in ways that handily eclipse tokusatsu (in most people’s minds) and though he has even stated that the role was quite difficult for him, the truth remains that he will always be remembered as this selfless, endearing, paragon of a Rider by those who have taken the time to view and appreciate the series that properly re-birthed the franchise in the Heisei era.

49 episodes, approx. 23 minutes each.
The supplemental materials are listed below the cut.

4½ Soft-Focus Glances Towards An Endless Blue Sky out of 5

Saturday, October 3, 2015

Imagin Sentai Kamen Rider Den-O (2007-08)

I tend to hold the more philosophical pieces of media I love as my favorites. However, there are some straight-forward, heartfelt, and often ostensibly goofy efforts that I consider to be the truest litmus test of one’s character when it comes to finding like-minded individuals with which to associate. Den-O is undeniably one of the most important of this number. While there is absolutely no denying that the series as a whole is full of incredibly silly characters and situations, the truth is that they simply overlay one of the most sincere and moving narratives I’ve personally experienced, acting as a deterrent to those who are not willing to peer deeply (or simply long) enough into a work to ascertain and appreciate its true purpose.

Similarly, the nomenclature I choose to use when referring to this series is not as frivolous as it may seem at the outset. Den-O centers around two human Riders who have allied themselves with an entire troop of wish-granting beings known as Imagin. While most Imagin provide this service in return for a chance to travel back in time and wreak havoc, those who have chosen to possess Nogami Ryoutarou and Sakurai Yuuto instead fight their own kind to protect both the present and the future. Also, for the chance to continuously drink Noami’s colorful coffee. Each of them provide Den-O and Zeronos with new forms and abilities, as well as trains. Having written both Shinkenger and Go-Busters, Kobayashi Yasuko IS Sentai to me and she imbued Den-O and its associated films with exactly the same spirit. Consequently, I feel that this series straddles the bounds between the franchises perfectly and I will always refer to it as I have above.

As the story involves time travel, it was inevitable that there would be inconsistencies and while I can effortlessly think of a few off the top of my head I simply do not care. I believe that errors are unavoidable when entering this realm because of its very nature and therefore the only thing I tend to concern myself with is whether or not the thing in question succeeds in what it sets out to do in terms of story, character, and emotion. Does it? Absolutely.

Den-O embodies and exemplifies themes and touchstones of both Rider and Sentai while also bringing a number of unique ideas to the table that I haven’t personally seen in either of them. 

It’s a siamese iceberg that paradoxically warms my heart and lifts my soul.

49 episodes, approx. 23 minutes each.
Their supplemental materials are covered below the cut.

5 Identical Finishers, 4 Well-Intentioned Lies, 3 Honorable Beasts, 2 Yay-Yays, and a Swan in a Swank Train-Car out of 5