I just want to start this post by saying...welcome to 2014! The past couple of weeks have been kind of a time for me to decompress. I made a couple of new videos to finish out March (minus Mammothranger) as well as a bunch of videos that aren't on my published list. Basically...I'm just trying to get 2014 videos scheduled. I found that working this way has made my life easier and made working on my channel less of a burden.
So yeah, basically I have been watching some Tokusatsu shows and playing a ton of Gran Turismo 6 since I wrote my last entry. Before I started rewatching Ohranger (which I am currently stuggling through) I tortured myself with a viewing of Jetman for the first time since 2000ish.
...OK, that wasn't fair. Jetman is actually a good show when it's at it's best...but there are times when the show just hurts to watch. I want to reserve my full thoughts for the end of my Jetman posts, so I'll leave it at that for now. In this entry I would like to talk about the show's background menace--Vyram.
I kind of like Vyram, but at the same time they are almost as bad as Jetman with their ongoing feels. This is especially puzzling seeing as one of them is a robot. Also puzzling is their back story. Maria, as we know, is Ryu's kidnapped girlfriend Rie. So basically, she is a brainwashed human. Radiguet is seen to have a human form that he can willingly switch to later on. Tranza also has this ability and uses it to his advantage after he made the transition from Tran. Juza, who is the closest thing to serious leadership in Vyram, is disposed of in two episodes fairly early on in the series. That leaves Grey.....who is a robot. It's kind of hard to picture how Vyram was formed or even who built Grey. It obviously wasn't Tran since his robotic engineering isn't quite up to scratch after the G2 incident.....
OK, I'm rambling. The point is that Vyram is mysterious in a way that doesn't really gel with me. I can buy villains like Bandora who grew in power over many years, but Vyram just seems to be made up of (possibly) brainwashed people and a robot who made the leap from one dimension to the ours. Their former leader is killed by Jetman and eventually Radiguet...along with the full Vyram backstory.
What is known about Vyram is that they are engaged in a four way fight for control. Whoever is able to defeat Jetman wins the leadership of Vyram (and the front dimension).
Now that I got the Vyram story out of the way, I want to take a look at the individual members of Vyram with thoughts on each of them.
While Vyram has no leader for most of the series, Radiguet is seen to be the closest thing they have to a leader throughout (and possibly through the eyes of Jetman). Despite some bouts of powertrippin', he does seem to use careful calculations and dirty tactics to maintain the balance in Vyram until the very end. For example, he uses Jetman twice in the series to despose of members of Vyram who have overtaken him for leadership--the first time with Juza and much later with Tranza. That's right, he doesn't just thwart them and let Jetman handle it...he takes care of them personally.
I like Radiguet for his ruthlessness and technique. He is a classic Sentai villain, so this is expected. When the series starts and 90% of the focus of the show is the team relationship within Jetman, he is more or less hanging around with the rest of Vyram. Once Juza shows up we start to get a real glimpse of what he is like. From there he seems to have bouts of viciousness and paranoia. It's cool to have a villain who must win at all cost but is ultimately responsible for the death (or braindeath) of every member of his crew.
Tran is a child who seems to exist for the same reason that Ako exists on the Jetman side. Since the story is complex, each side has a character who basically explains what's going on to younger viewers in the audence who might not pick up on such things. Regardless, Tran is a powerful member of Vyram despite doing any fighting on his own, relying on mental attacks carried out through his
I like Tran. The idea of having a child on the other side was new and something that hasn't been done as effectively since. The last minute addition of Kai in Zyuranger sucked and Akomaru in Dairanger really had to struggle to gain what little he could. Tran was already a powerful contender when he was introduced and he had some of the cooler Jigenju designs. Then, all of the sudden, they completely undid his character.
Tran was no more of a screw-up than anyone else in Vyram by the time episode 36 rolled around. All of the sudden he was made fun of by just about everyone for being a kid the same way that Zaidos became up a screw-up at the very end of Dairanger. This anger at
Tran is pushed into a rage and becomes the super powerful (and adult) Tranza. Upon transformation, he immediately takes the throne, angering Radiguet. His new form didn't really add too much to the character outside of now becoming a skilled fighter. On his first appearance, he wastes no time pounding Ryu's head in. He also loves to toy around with the Jetman while leaving Radiguet grinding his teeth being forced to kneel before him. Radiguet thwarts him twice from defeating Jetman, the second being the end of Tranza. After forcing Tranza to kneel before him, he wipes his brain of function. The last we see of Tranza he is drooling and being wheeled around a mental institution.
OK...so for starters a character I like suddenly becomes Yutaka Hirose. This is awesome on paper, but in retrospect...eh. I like how he toys with the Jetman and Radiguet in a way that you can tell he always wanted to as Tran but was never able to, but it kinda got old. Also the plot that lead to his demise was pretty rushed.
Like I said though...the way he toyed with the Jetman, especially Ryu, was pretty damn cool. I mean, come on...how badass is this?
Just off screen Ryu is moping about his not-dead girlfriend...
Now we have a pretty interesting character. Grey is a robot who seems to parallel Gai. He drinks, smokes, has a fondness of music, and has feelings for a woman that he has no business with. Since he is a robot, he is the most logical of the Vyram gang (well, once you look past the feelings-for-a-woman part). He takes his battles seriously and does not rely on cheap tactics, though he did have a steep advantage on Gai during their roullette games. Ultimately he fought Gai one-on-one in his final battle.
Grey is interesting in that he never really seems to want to be in control of Vyram. He is kind of along for the ride for most of the series and doesn't really have the emotional capacity drive him to become leader. During the episode with Tranza's failed robot, G2, he briefly aids the damaged G2 but brushes off every attempt at bonding that G2 makes. His feelings for Maria become a problem within Vyram because *shock* Radiguet saved Rie and brainwashed her to become Maria and be his. Yeah, the love drama was basically the same on both sides and just as annoying.
One thing I notice about Grey is that at some point in the series his suit seems to get altered. Early on he is lighter in color but looks almost black by the end. For the better I say...I thought the suit looked pretty lame early on.
His final fight with Gai was pretty cool. As I mentioned, the characters paralleled each other with the only difference going into that battle being that Grey had nothing to live for as Rie/Maria was already dead. He didn't want his final moments to be seen and he died in a worn down industrial park...............Skynet anyone?
Another interesting character here. Maria is the brainwashed girlfriend of Ryu. She was originally destined to be part of Jetman but became the very thing that Jetman would fight against. She is very ruthless and as driven to become leader of Vyram as much as Radiguet and Tran are. She does not yield to Ryu, who constantly lowers his guard to her once he determines that she really is Rie. She ultimately reverts back to Rie and realizes that she has too much blood on her hands to ever return to Ryu. She stabs Radiguet in the back, which becomes critical later on as his becomes the weak point they use to kill him. After stabbing Radiguet, she is slashed by Radiguet before being wisked away by Grey...where she died in his arms.
While I can't stand the love aspects of this show, having a lead villain not only being the girlfriend of the leader of the good guys but also someone who was supposed to be a member of the very team she ended up fighting was interesting. I liked Maria for basically slapping around Ryu whenever she could. Despite his preaching about being a warrior first and a person second he sure did get treated like a training dummy by pretty much everyone...
Like the rest of the Vyram gang, she unravelled at the end--though I would say that she maintained her composure the longest of the bunch. Right up until she decided that it would be a good idea and become a weird vampire monster for Radiguet. I think her downfall kind of rubbed me the wrong way. We could have done without that little plot and jumped right to her stabbing Radiguet in the back with no effort.
The fact that she would never return to Ryu didn't bug me, however. She was right. She had done some terrible things during her time with Vyram. Even if she were brainwashed and was finally able to remember everything up to that point, what would stop her from waking up one night and smothering Ryu with a pillow in his sleep? Sure Radiguet is gone...and even if she were powerless, PTSD is a nasty thing. Considering everything she went through I would say she was damaged beyond repair.
One more thing...Maria was portrayed by Maho Maruyama. She did a fantastic job portraying Rie and Maria. Wonderful job playing both of them so convincingly.
Overall I liked Vyram. If I could change a few things about them it would be that Tranza should have reverted to Tran when he was institutionalized and skipping that whole Maria vampire thing. Other than that, they were a cool bunch of villians with some of the craziest monster designs.
Next time: Jetman.......