2014/01/20

Jetman...Part 2...


So last time I established that I liked Vyram. They may have made some hairbrained decisions toward the end of the show, but they worked great as classic Sentai villains. When it comes to the heroes, however, things get a whole lot less rosy to me.

The Jetman team is comprised of five individuals from different walks of life. Ryu, Red Hawk, has a career with the Sky Force and is the only member who was always meant to be a Jetman. Kaori, White Swan, is an heiress with very little going on in her life. Raita, Yellow Owl, is a farmer who doesn't seem to have much interest in fighting yet is the strongest member of the group. Ako, Blue Swallow, is a high-schooler who basically exists to translate the drama to kids who may be watching. Finally there is Gai, Black Condor, who is a bar dwelling loner that has a short fuse.

...so basically as far apart as a group of people could get without bringing race into it. It is usually interesting to see how a group of totally random individuals can band together and over come a dire situation, but this show really plays out like a bad drama... Before I really get into the reasons why, let me do a full character breakdown as I did with Vyram in my last entry...

Ryu

Being the leader and a career soldier you think this guy would the ultimate warrior of the group. Ahhhh...no. He is a hopeless individual who can't seem to connect his words to his actions or his fists to his enemies. Every single time Kaori made a move on him, he would say "We're fighters first and people second.". Five minutes later he would be crying at Rie's headstone. Once he realized that Maria was definitely Rie (I'm pretty sure he noticed early on and the writers kinda whistled and swept that under the rug), he basically turned to putty and let her beat the snot out of him. You know, like a fighter would.

In addition to this, he has to be the most mentally unstable Red in history. When the story got too deep for him, he literally lost his mind. In other shows where there is equal or greater tragedy for the leaders--or any character really, they would use that to fuel their fight and become stronger. Kaori and Gai found Ryu on a swing, where he introduced them to his invisible girlfriend. Ugh.

The biggest bummer to me was the lack of a big rematch between him and Tranza. When Tran became Tranza he immediately started to fuck with the Jetman guys. First he beat the crap out of Ryu, then he stole the girls that were flirting with Gai (which he kinda smiled and shrugged off), and then he beat Raita in a food eating contest (which was probably the most passionate about something Raita ever was in the entire series). Ryu never got a rematch with Tranza. Sure they fought, but there was never a fight. Then Radiguet took out Tranza. Ugh.


Ryu's default face...

Bottom line... Ryu sucked.

Kaori

For someone whose best years were likely behind her, Kaori seemed pretty cheery. Immediately after she broke off her engagement with the rich assclown she began persuing Ryu...hard. Watching her blush over Ryu was just...ugh. As I mentioned before, Ryu constantly told Kaori that they should be concentrating on being Jetman and not on having *ick* feelings. This didn't stop her for about 30 episodes. She pressed Ryu for a relationship until he brought her to his (not dead) girlfriend's grave. This seems to get the point across that not only was she chasing after someone who wasn't interested...but someone who wasn't interested and an asshole.

So how was she as an actual Jetman? Terrible at first, but I guess she improves. In certain publications it's said that she is the best shot of the group. OK, I guess... They have to give her something...

Raita

If there is one member of this group that belongs in a Sentai show...weirdly it's this guy. Of the group he is the most stable...in fact, Raita and Ako are the only two who never quit during the show.

Being a bigger dude from the country, he easily falls into the role of being a bumpkin. For whatever reason he becomes attracted to Kaori (OK, they did give a reason...but it was so lame that I've pretty much forgotten it), which never goes anywhere. Sorry, Raita, but Kaori's sad violin music will never play for you. Beyond this, he is determined and level-headed. Stable...as I mentioned before...

He is a decent member of Jetman. He isn't exactly a skilled fighter, so he relies on his unusual strength and strategy. In episode 15 I think he dresses up as a woman once they discover that Voice Jigen only likes female voices and yells which, ofcourse, saves the day.

lol

Ako

Like I mentioned earlier (and in my last post under Tran's entry) Ako almost exclusively exists to point out the unspoken feelings of other characters (Kaori mostly) to younger viewers in the audience. There isn't too much to her, and mercifully she had no feelings for anybody or anyth...wait. She had a little thing with Dan from the Berserk Senshi. Dammit, they couldn't even keep their grubbing mitts off of Ako's feelings. Though, after Dan is killed Ako didn't lose her mind like Ryu did countless times. Gah...the highschool girl is tougher than the military guy...

Ako was an alright fighter. I can't really think of any outstanding moments she had. She did shed her bratiness rather quickly, which is more than I can for the others.

Gai

Oh boy...

So we have a character who is completely selfish and prefers the setting of a dimly-lit bar to the cockpit of a giant mecha. It takes a very, very long time for Gai to accept that he must accept his role as a Jetman. Why does he have to accept? Besides the fact that he was mistakenly hit with the Birdonic rays...he actually happens to be the most heroic of the bunch. Granted, most of his biggest heroic acts were to win Kaori's wasted affection for Ryu, but for being so selfish...he was quite selfless a lot of the time. He even saved Ryu early on when he was trapped inside Apartment Jigen.

In addition to being the unlikely hero of the group, he was the best fighter. Some people will probably say that Ryu was, but I just marathoned the show and Gai is consistently the best at fighting. I mean, the last *really* decent fight in the show was reserved for him and Grey.

I like him as a Jetman...but he was terribly obnoxious as a character. He had the demeanor of a date-rapist toward Kaori most of the time and when he finally won her over...he had no idea what to do with her. He was a man who was all about the chase when it came to women. Everytime he is seen flirting with a woman, he is determined and passionate. Once he actually lands a woman, Kaori or any of the random skanks he seems to fancy, he pretty much becomes a lethargic lump of clay.

This man is a tough nut to crack. I liked his determination, but he was driven for all the wrong reasons. He is pretty damn annoying for most of the series, but I can't picture him being any other way. In fact, whenever he does that Double Beam attack with Ryu...it just feels out of character.

Odagiri

She's alright as a commander. She doesn't do enough to smack them into shape, though. Sure she puts them through their training exercises (which we rarely see on screen), but she really needed to whip them into shape a little bit better.

She did get to briefly live out one of my fantasies though...


Aim for Ryu's beanbag!

It was cool to see her piloting mecha atleast. Heh.

The Epilogue...

Alright, so the ending of this show is a character of it's own. Once Vyram is wiped out, the Jetman pretty much go their own ways. We join the action three years later when everyone is gathered for the wedding of Ryu and Kaori. I guess Kaori figured out that she needed three years to win Ryu rather than just the better part of one. Gai is late for the wedding as he stops to pick up flowers. He happens to witness a mugging and steps in. After giving the mugger a stern talking to, he is stabbed in the stomach. He stumbles to his friend's wedding where he is spotted by Ryu. They have a nice chat while Gai is literally dying on the bench they're sharing. After having a last look at his friends having a good time, Gai dies.

That........is fucking horrible.

I thought I had bad luck for getting married on Mischief Night, but getting married on the day that your friend was murdered feels like more of a curse than anything. Ryu and Kaori will have to live the rest of their lives sharing an anniversary for the day they exchanged vows and their best friend died...right in front of them no less.

This was a poor move. I really hate whenever someone throws in the defense "it teaches kids that even superheroes can die". No. It is Indie Film 101. Not sure how to end something? Kill off a lead character.

To recap...Ryu and Kaori are getting married. Raita has begun a relationship with his childhood friend Satsuki and Ako has become a pop singer (really??). Gai...atleast made enough money to buy a snappy suit to wear to the wedding. He may or may not have accomplished anything in the time since Vyram was destroyed, we'll never know. I would've been happier to have an ending where he turned his life around and became something thanks to lessons learned during his time as a Jetman. We'll just know him as the man who died at his friend's wedding.

The creepiness doesn't end with that episode, though...

The umm Second Epilogue...

Years after Jetman ended, a video encyclopedia was released by Toei. The special is basically a clip show that went over character information, facts, and stats. However, there was a little bit of plot woven in.

At the beginning Kaori receives a deliver of vegetables from Raita's farm along with a note saying how things are good and that he is expecting a child with his now-wife. I mean, could you expect anything else from the guy? Ryu arrives home and they go through their photo album and recount their adventures during their Jetman days (this is where the gratuitous clips come in).

As the special draws to a close, and before there is a single mention of what the hell Ako is up to, we hear a baby crying. Oh! So Ryu and Kaori have a kid now? Makes sense.

His name? Gai Tendo...

........

So not only do they share a wedding anniversary with their tragically dead friend's death, but they named their kid after him? Loving tribute or not, doesn't that just feel like they're trying a little too hard?

If there is a God, he'll live up to his namesake and give his parents hell...
 

Ryu-Kaori-Gai Forever!......I guess...

------------------------------

So that's the colorful side of the Jetman cast. My overall feelings on the show? Eh. When the show is really good, it's great. Whenever feelings rear their ugly head, I hate hate HATE this show. It is a little bit of a shock watching this show after Dairanger and before Ohranger in my marathon cycle. The drama is too much for a show about five people saving the world.

It is an interesting concept...but it is an interesting concept that constantly needs to remind you how clever it is. "Heh, the characters in the show are all different and they're forced to work together, heh. Watch what happens when they have a love triangle. Heh.". Ugh.

Bottom line...give it a watch. It's acceptance is polarizing, so you might love or hate it.

The ending song is amazing, though.

-CC

9 comments:

  1. Wow, since you're such a '90s Sentai fan, I'm surprised to see you be so negative about Jetman. For me, when I first saw Jetman, I really loved it. It was the first Sentai series I bought on DVD, which...was going too far. Because on subsequent viewings, the flaws of the show stick out way too much for me. I think it's one of those shows that appeals to you when you're younger, because you think it's "cool" or "dark" or whatever, but you just call bullshit on it as you get older.

    Like, I think Ryu could and should have been an interesting character, but the actor just sucks. Ryu IS meant to be the pro, the fighter, the glue of the team, but he's been traumatized, so he's not quite as he appears. While I feel like the writer had a bit of contempt for the classic hero Ryu was meant to represent, it's the actor who makes him come across like a complete doofus and not the supposed professional who's really cutting off his emotions to *seem* professional. Look at those stupid faces he makes, don't you just want to punch the bastard?

    I agree with what you said about Kaori. I thought she was more interesting earlier in the series when she was trying to prove she *wasn't* a spoiled snob, but the writers forgot about that, because that's certainly the way she ends the series. A lot of people will criticize Gai for his "stalking" of Kaori, but I think Kaori's flat out obsession with Ryu might have been worse. Get a clue.

    Gai...I've defended the sonuvabitch too many times to write anymore. I feel like a lot of credit should go to his actor, who keeps him likable. In the hands of a lesser actor, I do think Gai would have been unbearable, something closer to Kusaka/Kaixa from Faiz. A lot of people act like he *is* that bad, but...I feel like a lot of people like to trash Gai because he's popular and that's a "thing." I never really thought he lost interest in Kaori as soon as he got her, but that he felt defeated in the way she was pretty much going out with him out of pity. There's a lot of off-screen stuff that's only expressed in broad strokes, I guess because of the nature of the show and the target demographic, but that might be a blessing in disguise -- who needed a whole episodes with Gai and Kaori fighting, with Gai being like "I'm sorry I'm not Ryu!"

    BTW, can you believe some Japanese fans thought Gokai Silver was going to end up being Ryu and Kaori's Gai? I think Condor-Gai would have risen from the grave just to kill himself if that goofball was named after him.

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    1. "I think it's one of those shows that appeals to you when you're younger, because you think it's "cool" or "dark" or whatever, but you just call bullshit on it as you get older."

      Bingo.

      You did point out a lot of good stuff that I totally neglected to bring up. Ryu was 100% miscast (they really need to get actors to see how they handle pain in their auditions. Ryu had a tendancy to go from 0-Banshee when he screamed).

      Maybe it was a little bit of both with Gai. When Kaori's sad violin music starts playing and she reaches for his hand without making eye contact with him, you know it was never going to work out. Yet...they trudge on with that relationship for an unnecessary amount of time. She seemed to genuinely want to be his girlfriend and let go of Ryu (when the gang went to the resort she made a little remark like "just the two of us should come here sometime")...but he was slipping back into his old life...which was a little weird because he was as disinterested with those two girls he spent time with as he pretty much was with Kaori. He definitely didn't want to change, which is something he didn't even consider.

      I liked Gai too...when he wasn't being a jackass. He was the only character who legitimately got anything out of becoming a Jetman...which made his demise so baffling. Yeah, I felt the same way after watching American History X...

      Oh man. I never made that connection with Gokaiger Gai. He *would* be the product of two obnoxious parents, wouldn't he?

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  2. These 2 post about jetman has somewhat peaked my interest in watching the series, especially since this is toshiki inoue's first solo written series, who has somewhat become infamous in the toku fanbase ( well the english speaking one to be more specific). However I don't think I'll be watching any toku show from the 90's untill later on(well maybe with the exception of kakuranger), guess you could call that a side effect of being more familiar with the recent kamen rider and super sentai shows.

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    1. If that's the case, you should have no problem getting into Jetman. It's full of the angst and unnecessary characterization that you're used to. :p

      Kakuranger and Dairanger are the two stand-out to me as shows that anyone can get into. The action in those shows are so good. The writing is fantastic (more so in Kakuranger, since it combined a lot of lessons learned from Zyuranger and Dairanger). A show like Zyuranger or Gingaman is a show that you are not going to enjoy unless you go in really wanting to see it. I happen to like both, so there's that.

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    2. The only reason I mention kakuranger is because the show somewhat has nostalgic value for me. You see when I was young, I used to have this one CD that had 2 episodes of the Indonesian dub of kakuranger along with the incredibly butchered opening ( although for some reason the cover of the CD was Hurricaneger). Even though I didn't know what it was I still watched it alot. So years later when I discovered super sentai and all the series that didn't get adapted into power rangers, that's when I discovered kakuranger. As a result kakuranger holds some sentimental value to me. I have however already watched a few of the earlier episodes so it's definitely on my must-watch list. I might try watching gingaman but only because I'm a fan of kobayashi's work. As for the recent kamen rider and super sentai shows, I do at least recommend you try giving kamen rider w and kamem rider ooo a shot. Granted while they have their flaws, I don't think they detract from the great characters, great villans, and the solid action. Btw what is your reaction to the recently announced sh figurearts kamen rider shin?

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    3. I tried W. Didn't feel it, but I can understand why it's the only Rider show in recent memory to have a strong following.

      What was my reaction when I heard about SHF Shin Kamen Rider? I immediately preordered two of them. ^^ Along with a Triceraranger (Zyuranger) since they'll likely be released on the same day in May. My SHF Kamen Rider wishlist is slowly becoming a reality. Just waiting for ZO, J, Hibiki, Roborider, and Biorider.

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  3. Ok, here where I discuss the ugly/bad of the series.
    Well, maybe bad is too harsh to summarize it.
    To be honest, I have a MIXED feeling about the heroes.
    While Jetman themselves are interesting and have unique personality, most of the time I found them to be hit and miss.
    They weren’t terrible, but they weren’t great either.
    It just kind of felt short for me.

    Ryu / Red Hawk
    Let me first discuss with what’s probably the lamest and lackluster red ranger in the 90s sentai history.
    I don’t if it’s the character or actor (Kotaro Tanaka), but I found his character to be very weak and lousy. He’s the weakest character among the group, which is such a shame, since usually red is supposed to be strong, heroic, and most responsible.
    Despite his character, it really frustrates me that show constantly focus too much on him, because of Kaori relations, Gai rivalry, and Rie/Maria.
    Ryu’s default fact was hilarious. Perfectly sums up my feeling. LOL.
    Bottom line, he sucks as ranger.
    Hero of the Soap Opera 101.
    NEXT!

    Kaori
    While I do like her cheerfulness, she sometime acted like bitch, especially for breaking up with Gai at the end. Her love triangle with Ryu and Gai were interesting, but also corny and lame, that it makes you forget you’re watching sentai. In fact, in one episode, they focused that subject way too much, that there were barely any action in the episode.
    Overall, Kaori’s a nice character. She does serve her role as heroine very well.

    Raita
    I like his character. He’s more of a mascot and comedic relief because of his character.
    I like that his character is consistently stable, without freaking out, act crazy, or whining like wussies.
    Tomihisa Naruse did a good job with his character.
    Sadly, this marked that last time that “fat” ranger was used in sentai series (as REGULAR), where Toei hasn’t look back since, they care about handsome, cool-looking, skinny, person (who can’t act) to play hero. Such a shame though.
    I liked him in Dairanger (Kameo) as well.
    Love the picture BTW. LOL

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  4. Ako
    I often found Ako to be underrated compared to other.
    Her existence has been overshadowed for most of the because of “love triangle” of three rangers (Ryu, Kaori, and Gai).
    I liked that her character though.
    Not bad for High School student ranger.
    While there weren’t so much focus on her character throughout the series, she’s a hell of a better character than Ryu.
    At she doesn’t act like bitch. LOL.
    I want her ramen, dammit!
    BTW, Dan from the Berserk Senshi was portrayed by Hideki Fujiwara, who also played Dan in Zyuranger. Dan and Dan, how convenient! LOL
    Only difference is Dan in Jetman was way better than Dan in Zyuranger.
    Speaking of Zyuranger, I also noticed that Yuuta Mochizuki (Tyrannoranger) also appear in Jetman as Neo Jetman (as leader!). Interesting.

    Gai
    Among the Jetman, he’s my favorite. I might be in minority, but I did like his character.
    He may be asshole and jerk (which I agree) he does have charisma and charm.
    I liked his rivalry with Ryu… even though it was corny and cheesy sometimes.
    Toshihide Wakamatsu did a good job with this character.
    While it wasn’t perfect, I did like his character.
    His final fight with Grey was pretty awesome.
    He’s probably one of my favorite black ranger of the 90s, and from this year and on, more memorable black rangers was introduced, such as Goushi (Zyuranger) and Jiraiya (Kakuranger).
    I liked that he was brought back as guest in Gokaiger… even though I didn’t care too much about the series (I didn’t care about how he came back to life (briefly), which was stupid during the series).
    BTW, Gai (Jetman) > Gai (Gokaiger)
    There’s no contest. LOL

    Odagiri
    First female commander in super sentai.
    I liked her character.
    She may not be the best commander in sentai history, she was pretty descent.
    It’s such a shame that there hasn’t been female commander in sentai after this.
    I agree with piloting mecha. That was pretty cool.
    I liked that Mikiko Miki came back in Dairanger as Kou’s mother.

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  5. The Epilogue
    I found Gai death to be… anticlimactic.
    However, I did find him sitting on bench, smoking cigarette, despite being stabbed, looked pretty badass (I think).
    It’s not every day you see someone dying in wedding.
    His character was so popular that parents (mainly mother) didn’t want his character to die at the end and send request letter to Toei, not to let him die.
    Toei was already planning to make Gai die, but because of the letter, they were very conflicted.
    So at the end, Gai faith has remained unknown, where it was up to audience interpretation.
    Death was logical solution, there is alternative that maybe he survived at the end, where some bystanders found him later, healed the wound, and never met the members (especially Ryu and Kaori) again, because they found their happiness.
    It wasn’t until later, where Toei officially confirmed him dead (I think), where they put his tombstone in Gokaiger (seriously, I hate that crossover heavy series like Gokaiger, has to retcon every sentai series, as they ALL happened in same universe).
    Like the character, I’m mixed with this epilogue as well.
    I didn’t hate it, but just fell short IMO.
    It may not be a best epilogue, but at least it was… passable (sort of).

    As for second epilogue, video encyclopedia, I don’t consider it to be part of canon, since it was basically clipshow, which doesn’t serve much purpose in series most of the time.
    However, because there was plot in this show, it did serve as canon (sort of).
    It was OK though. It was interesting to see encyclopedia, serve as part of main story epilogue.

    Overall, characters were mixed bag.
    It wasn’t the biggest strength in the series, but they were decent most of the time.
    At the best they were pretty good, and at the worst they were really awful.

    Concept was interesting, but execution was bit muddled.
    It would have been interesting if this show aired same time Top Gun was in theatre (1986).
    Two Jet themes in same year would have been nice.

    The series was more of love/hate series among the fan.
    I personally like it, but it’s not quite up there with my favorite sentai (pretty close though).
    One thing certain was that thanks to its popularity, sentai were given another chance and continued on, which marks this turning point of the franchise.

    Take care.

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