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Monday, March 16, 2015

A Struggle...

This is just a personal update because I am having troubles with current Toku shows. I am still liking Kamen Rider as I didn't get that far into Drive, but I am hearing some interesting things about that show. I have also seen Mach in clips and pictures and I am not a fan of this guy. Then there has been my problems with Sentai as many series have just been a drag to watch. I couldn't even finisher Toqger and I am being told that Ninninger is even worse... I think I am just going to take a break from current Toku and focus on older series. I will be going back to Double and probably take some time with Stronger as well a series I really wanted to try to watch. With Sentai since I got the Zyuranger DVD's I would love to do reviews for that series and I should go to the other Dino Sentai Abaranger. High chance these will come by Summer time. Meanwhile I will still be keeping up with Herotaku and working on my Let's Play channel. I hav really kept my focus on video games since I am having that torch being relight thanks to some great friends and I can still find great games even if there is a swarm of bad ones at times. I'm sorry for a lack of work, but keeping my school and real job have been hard as well. Things have been tiring and back then Toku was the thing to get me back in the mood, but that is not working anymore. So I will post a link to my channel as I am having tons of fun with that even if there are some problems with that, I got a good friend with me so getting to play games with him is nice.

Friday, February 13, 2015

Kamen Rider Drive Episode 1 Review: Drive The Kamen Rider!

Well with Gaim over and I know that Toqger will be ending soon, it's time to just move foward with both franchises. I got to kick start my reviewing again as it's time to look at Drive!
I will easily have to say that this series grabbed me in even before the show started. First we got Riku Sanjo and many other members from Double's team back. This series is easily working with themes Double had before as even the main rider of this series has a automobile theme and is red... so will this be the Accel series I have been waiting for? I remember people making jokes about how Drive was going to be a repeat of Double and in this first episode I can already say that is false in the important parts. Drive feels more like a successor to Double, but who knows I can easily change my mind when going into this series. I do have some fears for this show since this is Sanjo again and his last work was Kyoryuger which was a mixed bag and I do think he could need a break, but maybe he's all better now (I hope)? Also I love the opening theme right now as we got Kamen Rider Eternal singing it! So I will say I got hope for this show as Kamen Rider hasn't been on my bad side like the recent Sentai series have been.

So on with the review as I have to say this episode starts off strong with its first minutes. Drive brings up a major concept of its world by showing the Global Freeze. This is when time slows down for some reason, but the people can still see what is happening. The first occurrence of this is brought up with the idea of the end of the world and I can agree with that use of words. The show starts off with a good death count already as time slows down and the monsters of this series come out to play. These creatures can move around freely with ease and they wreak havoc in the city and in other areas. What's cool about this is that we get the idea of what the villains are going to be like already as they can be faster than a normal human thanks to this ability they have. We also get to see our main hero in the middle of a fight with some thugs as he accidently fires his gun and almost kills his partner, even though I think no one would actually survive that. Then we get to see Drive himself as he is using his little cars to defeat the monsters. This already shows what a little toy gimmick will be as I like how these cars can fight without Drive. Overall, this was a catching opening as we got to see how bad things can get right off the bat.

Now this episode gets away from the dark tone quickly as the city is back to being safe and people having gotten used to this phenomena as it is called the "Heaviness." Also our main hero does say that he is afraid of it striking again and yet we see him just relaxing in the park eating candy. Shinnosuke seems to be hiding his problems and has turned out to be more of a slouch as he just wants to relax and not bother with work. Sadly there is someone who won't let him be as Kiriko the police lady catches him. We already get the sense of humor for this show as it is quite physical at the moment. Kirko handcuffs the poor man and when he tried to run he gets a boot to the head. When he gets back to his work place at the Special Case Department we get to see more lively characters. Now Kiriko is a serious worker as she doesn't smile, she just does her job and it seems her daily job is to get Shinnosuke back to work. Then we got two other ones who I won't mention as of now, but I will talk about Jun. This guy would have been perfect for a role in Double as he is a good physical actor. His voice tells me that he is a comedic character and those facial experisions are priceless. I really can't wait to get more of this guy!
The Special Case Department finally has a case and it's a string of murders that could be connected to the "Heaviness" or the "Gravity Surge" whatever you want to call it! Well our main hero doesn't want to worry about it as he still has flashbacks of what happened half a year ago. Sadly, there is another person who wants him to do more with himself. Shinnosuke deals with this man every time he is in the car as some man is talking to him. The man tells Shin that he assigned him to the Special Cases Department and even gave him the car he drives now. Shin finds the voice coming from a belt and then it latches onto the man as this belt wants him to start his engine again. While going to the scene we find out that these have been attmepted murders as the people are still alive and yet cannot move and their skin color turns pink for some strange reason. Then a monster appears causing the slow down and he has a human disguise as well. The belt decides to summon the Shift Cars as we see the three little cars from the opening scene. Again I do love how these cars alone can fight some of the monsters, it does make me want to buy them a bit.

Right after that incident we do get more of another characters that Shin calls Gen. Gen is clearly a man on a higher level as the Special Cases Department and for some reason he doesn't believe in the "Heaviness" even though he literally experienced it himself. The man keeps on trying to refuse it and I do find it a bit funny when he was being questioned about it, he pouts and crosses his arm like a small child. He also gets hit over the head by an object falling on him then, some good visual humor right there. Shin comes out though and has shifted his gears as he makes a visual on the culprit and heads off again to find him. Shin even is doing things by himself as he knows the belt can control the car so he decides to run on his two feet. He finds a connection of the attempted murder and even though there are many differences between him and an older picture, he still finds the man outside of a gym. This is where we learn that Shin did come from a high branch of the police force and it seems that his passion came back as the Chief never seen the man like this before. So our main hero was dealing with a crippling fear and he is now getting around it. Now it has been six months by now, but for us in the first episode the main hero is getting stronger by himself.
The man or I should say monster clearly says he is hunting humans as this happens when his next victim thought he was the former friend he knew. Shin comes flaring into the scene though as he tries to stop things himself, but the slow down occurs again. The belt summons one of the Shift Cars to help him though he is equips to him causing him to move normally now. Things get worse though as two more monsters appear, but Shin still keeps on fighting. Shin does start to lose hope when his is slown down again. Kriko comes to save the day as she has Shift Cars on her as well and then tells Shin to use the belt already. We got two characters already that are risking their lives and take in credit that Shin is dealing with a major mental handicap at this time. Now I would have to question the belt here though as the cars alone could take on one monster so why let Shin fights it by himself without becoming Drive yet? The scene would have played out a little better if the cars took on the monster alone and then get ambushed by the two others as Kriko appears and the cars latch back onto to her. Anyways we get to see Drive in action after this and I like it for the most part.
For the beginning of the fight it was really well done as Drive fights three monsters by himself as there was a good sense of direction here. Drive jumps into the fight hitting one away as the other one gets knocked back later. One monster returns as Drive takes his arm in a hold and then proceeds to punch him in the chest. He even gets a hold of a monster's foot and then still gets a hit on the one behind him and then throws the other one to the ground. Then we get to see how silly things can get with Drive as when he speeds up, he literally drifts on the road and sweep kicks the two monsters. Drive then pulls out his Fists of the North Star reference which was had a nice little effect and it shows what Type Speed, the default form can do, but I can deal without the drifting part.

The fight moves onto the toy gimmicks as they are fine in my opinion so far, but again we only have four shift cars as of now. Drive can change his tires and each tire gives a new ability. Their nice weapons as Max Flare gives him the Heat Memory pretty much, but being able to kick fire and causing to become a fire tornado is sweet! Funky Spike is a more defensive tire as it does have a ranged attack, but when a foe gets too close he has the tire spin around and kills the monster, so it's like Gigan's buzz saw, that's cool. My favorite so far though has to be Midnight Shadow as that name sounds perfect for a car in the 80's. Drive can use projectiles with this tire as it summons energy shurikens. I then do love when the tires change they can still attack then, this really gives the rider a good move pool as I hope his forms can work well with the Shift Cars he has now. The finisher I have to say though was awesome as the car itself helps out by making a barrier around the two. Drive then bounces off the barrier to keep kicking the monster at high speeds. Even the effects for the barrier and the red waves around it were well done as sometimes red can be a bad color to look at in regards to effects. There was also nice shading on Drive because it was a CGI module of him, but it didn't look that bad, but again the first episodes can be impressive with these and then just drop midway in the series. Overall, the action seems to be good for the most parts as there is a good selection of weapons and great moves with them, but again Drive literally drifted his whole body and I know the silliness continues.
This episode ends with Kiriko showing Shin their base and the man feels like the case isn't over yet as we see the past monster being brought back to life by a man in red. For a first episode this was pretty cool in many regards to Kamen Rider. There is some good humor with this show so far and the action seems good at this moment. There is no character that bothers me as of yet and the main hero himself does have some intelligence with him. The whole slow down concept is being used well and the monsters do interest me as the man in red really stands out. This episode gets an A- as I don't have many things to say that was really wrong other for some directional tidbits.
Next Time: The case continues!

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Kamen Rider Gaim Series Review



Kamen Rider Gaim easily brought something new to the Kamen Rider franchise as fans were quick to give this series praise… Then when the series was done the fans changed their minds so quickly… Either way I can say that Gaim was a big breath of fresh air as Kamen Rider still keeps me interested in current Toku. My episode reviews for this series was an interesting little trip I had. I felt like I improved on noticing things for themes and writing. It reminds me of when I was reviewing Kyoryuger, but I ended up loving Gaim and not having a battle with it. Anyways, let us take a bite of fruit and get some soda to chug it down with, it’s time to change fate!
Kamen Rider Gaim is about the tale of Kouta as he is growing up and decides to leave his little dance group. During that time he tries to find a new job, but doesn’t get any luck. Meanwhile, his little dance group, Team Gaim is having some trouble staying on top because of the new hip thing the Inves Games. There is a team called Baron that is dominating the scene with a strong leader and with some little cheaters. The leader of Gaim, Yuuya finds a way to get back on top, but before he gets a chance to make his scene, he vanishes. A close friend of Yuuya and Kouta, Mai asks Kouta to help her to find Yuuya and there they find a rift. In the rift is a mystical forest with many unique fruits and while they found the item that Yuuya was holding to, there was no Yuuya. There was a monster though and it’s out for blood! Kouta takes the belt and finds out that the fruit he was holding onto became Lock Seeds, the item that the dance groups are using in the Inves Games. Kouta decides to take a chance to use the belt and the seed as he transforms into Armored Rider Gaim a name which is given to him later. During his first fight, Mai appears, but with a whole different look. There she asks him if he is ready for what is about to come, during the time Kouta doesn’t realize what is happening and just wants to protect Mai. Ever since that day, Kouta started to use his powers to help the dance team and put them back on top and then there are many developments in the background happening.
Now here is the thing about Kamen Rider Gaim, the plot changes and I will easily go through those changes as well until the very late changes. The thing with Gaim though even in this first part of the series there are many hints to what is going to happening. There was the odd looking Mai, the many character hints with how Micchy and Kaito were acting, and the whole idea of fate being intertwined. Now one many think they can see what is coming up, but personally I know many people who couldn’t see what was going to happen. Now this is not a bad thing because the series has its hints and there are many of them. I really felt dumb for not seeing them at times because when you know what happens, you see the hints everywhere in the early episodes! Then there are even hints in those episodes as the series goes through four major arcs. The first one would be the Inves Games, second would be Yggdrasil, third would be the Helheim arc, and finally we got the finale. I easily could give them different titles, but I am trying to keep things a secret.
So I am going to talk about the second arc of the series for those who are wondering this is the last plot description I will have because it’s the biggest change to the overall tone of the series. This is a warning for anyone, but there will be some major spoilers and again this is only the second arc of the series. So during the time the Beat Riders have been fighting each other with Inves and Armored Riders, there has been a company in the background gathering information. This is Yggdrasil the company that ended up saving the town as they are using kids to be test experiments. Yggdrasil kept things enclosed very well and thanks to Armored Riders as well things were kept under control. Even if things got hairy for this company, they have do have optional plans. The Beat Riders will take the fall for the Inves invasions because they have been using them for games and the people take the bait and blame them in the end. It also doesn’t help that Beat Riders have found ways to use their Inves for other purposes like theft! Yggdrasil even uses another rider, Bravo to take out Beat Riders. Kouta after learning what has been happening wants to put an end to Yggdrasil and Micchy a close friend wants the same. The bad news is that Micchy is the younger brother of the president of Yggdrasil, Takatora. Now many would think Yggdrasil is being evil, but they are doing this for a greater good. They want to know what the Lock Seeds can do along with the Drivers because the world is in danger. The forest which is called Helheim and it already destroyed on civilization and it’s out to invade Earth and takeover! This is when the split starts to happen as Kouta finds a greater resolve, Micchy a boy who has been helping Kouta starts to disagree with him when he finds out the truth, Kaito goes on his own, and Takatora doubts his own plans. To further the stress, Takatora and three other members of Yggdrasil are given improve Drivers as these were called the Genesis Riders. Kouta does find new strength though with the Jinba Arms and later getting Kachidoki Arms and he finds a new truth about the forest. A scientist named Ryouma has been investigating the Inves in the Helheim forest and there is a special type of them as these become more apparent in the series and starting off the third arc of the series. 
There are many characters in Gaim as I did mention some of them in the plot descriptions, but many of them are minor. I will just talk about the main four riders and could mention anyone who is connected to them. First there is Kouta the main character of the series. This is a kid who wants to grow up and find a new job and he finds a chance to change his life and many other lives in general. Kouta goes through a strong progression of understanding of what is truly fighting for oneself and how that is not a horrible thing. Kouta also learns that to make his dreams a reality he may have to force things and he may regret some of his decisions as he continues to move on. Kaito, the rival character and my favorite Kamen Rider since Accel is simply an amazing character. His development is the most interesting since he doesn’t change as a character, except for some powers. The series does give him a back story and those events made him the person he is now. His ideal of power may seem wrong to many, but he is the same as Kouta in many ways. Both of these riders wants change to happen and who is to say which of them is right or wrong since the series doesn’t do things like that. Kaito wants people to become stronger and with the people he is with he can see that with Zack a fellow Armored Rider, Mai, and Yoko a Genesis Rider. Micchy is another big character as he is Kouta’s close friend and he is the most complex character of the main four. He is young, goes to a rich school, has a legacy to live up to, acts innocent around his friends, but acts sinister to anyone who wants to use him. The sad thing is that all of this makes the poor boy confused and he does things that can be unforgivable. People have different opinions about Micchy and just seem him as a villain, but again Gaim is not about that at all! Finally, there is Takatora the leader of many movements in Yggdrasil. Takatora lives in regret as he does want to save the world, but with his plans they do cause people to die. Takatora still does move forward though and Kouta learns that from him. Sadly many of his allies, Sid, Ryouma, Yoko, and even Micchy see things differently and act behind his back. Ryouma wants to advance his technology and become stronger that way while Sid just wants power and Yoko follows the ones who are truly strong. There are still many characters that I haven’t mentioned, but we will be here forever so I am moving on.
A major thing in this series is that it tears down the concept of good versus evil as there is good, but evil is not there. It’s even debatable what is good and what it means to be a hero in this show. Even people like Sid who just wants power isn’t evil, he’s just greedy. There are many people who do things for themselves and I wouldn’t call them evil. These would be people ran be desires and there are even other characters who do just kill and want to enslave humans, but again they are diabolical and yet I wouldn’t say evil. The characters I talk about are too dumb to even be considered evil and there is one who has many great plans and yet all she wants is a toy to play with. The leader of these guys is then not even a villain since he was a past hero in many ways who regrets what he did. Things even get more intense as the human characters get in heated battles with themselves as I will say this takes the concept of riders fighting each other that series like Ryuki and Faiz tried to do and actually makes it work for every scene. These are people fighting for what they believe in and at times it could be just desires. As I said before in my final episode review the series is about progressing in life and it’s a simple message as the shows goes to major extremes to show this. The story of the show is well written, the dialogue is smart, and all of that just excites you to see the confrontations and yet that build up is better than the actual fights.
Gaim wasn’t perfect as the show did suffer from the current rider sins, mostly the use of CGI. There are many moments where CGI will be used and it’s disgusting at times. There were some fights I do like from the series, but my goodness the CGI fights are all terrible. The series can use special effects well at times when it simply adds something to a slash or even some scenery use. The overall look of the Helheim Forest is beautiful, there is an actual set and the whole background is an effect. It easily felt like a whole different world which was the point. Still things like the bikes both in air and on ground can be ruined because of CGI and don’t get me started on Sukia Arms! Even some big fights that should be amazing ended up being bogged down by CGI like the final fight was disappointing in many points because I would rather see the small armies of Inves fight each other with the riders fighting each other. What ends up happening is that special effects are just thrown around everywhere as the final part of the fight was way more entertaining. What really saves the show was the overall story, but for an action show and having some fights being lackluster does affect the overall feeling.
The best fights would have to go to Jinba Arms
The show also has way too many characters and while some can get some cool moments, it’s very little compared to the major characters. I do like characters like Zack and Jonouchi, but their overall screen time is too little. Now this is good as well since the show can make good characters in little time, but then you do want more things for them at the same time. Also many characters ended up being for comedic use while I feel Jonouchi was the best example for comedy. Even though he has a huge progression of a fighter and he also becomes more comfortable with himself as he acts like Oren in future scenes. Now Oren was a different story as there was way too much put into him as his dialogue alone was funny and then the use of altering his voice or throwing effects around made it annoying. The overall comedy is most for Oren as well since he is a rider and gets more screen time than other characters. I do like Oren and yet his comedy can get annoying at points. There are other minor characters that do have some nice moments though like Badou the owner of a cafĂ©.
Overall, Kamen Rider Gaim easily focused more on the story than anything else and for how much I loved the story, the dialogue, and the characters there are problems still. Some episodes were movie tie-ins and the beginning arc can be hard to get through at first even though I do have more positive thoughts for them compared to my initial viewings of those episodes. There is a ton of content regarding story and character development as we got broken characters, tragic characters, foils, and greedy characters and yet none of them are evil. Gen Urobuchi did a great amount of this show and I do love how his story broke free from the Bandai curse of constant toys being presented because soon the overall product placements gets lowered. There are new things to see, but later on things like that are heavily story driven. I still do like Kamen Rider Wizard, but Gaim is easily the superior show and the same can be said to Fourze and definitely OOO! Gaim was very much its own thing and yet it also felt like it worked with concepts from past Hesiei series that failed. Kamen Rider Gaim gets an A-