2019/06/30

Song Collection: Chojuu Sentai Liveman


Welcome to my series of reviews where I talk about Tokusatsu Song Collections. I'm breaking the seal and doing my first Super Sentai review! This time around I am visiting the song collection of 1988's Chojuu Sentai Liveman. I'm especially fond of 1988 as a year for a myriad of reasons... The cars were rad, the Sony D-88 was out, and some of my favorite music was released. You know what else was great? Liveman!

How exactly did I pick Liveman? Well, my Youtube Channel recently hit it's 12-year milestone. I figured...why not hit up the 12th Super Sentai? Coincidentally that series is Liveman, which I am delighted to review. That's not to say there are many subpar Super Sentai song collections in the 1980s...but we are approaching the nebulous early-90s Super Sentai Song Collections. I love the shows, but the songs leave a lot to be desired there...

For this post I'll be listening to my Complete Song Collection disc from 1997. The first twelve tracks are vocal with the remaining seven being Karaoke versions of select songs. I'll denote those song with an asterisk(*).


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01. Chojuu Sentai Liveman* / Daisuke Shima

Was there a bad Tokusatsu theme song in the 1980s? Even the Fushigi Comedy Series had some good ones. Chojuu Sentai Liveman probably goes a step further by being probably the all-time best theme song sung by a lead cast member. It helps that Daisuke Shima has some singing chops versus how they plopped a fresh-faced Tetsuo Kurata in front of a microphone just a few months prior to this to sing the Kamen Rider Black theme song.

This one has a lot of energy and the perfect pacing for a Tokusatsu theme song. The only detraction I can possibly think of is that it isn't different enough from the Maskman theme song. If you listen to theme back-to-back you might feel what I'm feeling with the beat. 

02. Susume! Live March / Koji Kaya & Koorogi '73

Koji Kaya is a large part of this song collection. Considering he was a large part of Metalder's excellent song collection, I see this as a big plus.  His first appearance here is a little subdued, but a song I genuinely enjoy for it's somewhat brooding instrumentals. It's easily my favorite Tokusatsu song with the word "March" in the title. It may not be above name-dropping some of Liveman's toys, but it is still a nice groove.

03. Knock! Nekkyo no Live* / Koji Kaya

An action song...and a great one! The intro carries the energy through most of the song, but the horns, rockin' guitar, and Koji Kaya definitely assist in it's greatness. It sounds a little bit unconventional for what a lot of action songs of the era sounded like, but this is what makes the Liveman song collection stand out.

04. Utsukushiki Dreamer / Daisuke Shima

The lone non-theme song by Daisuke Shima. While it's my least favorite of his trio of tunes, I love this song dearly. Hell, if you visited my Youtube channel on day one, this is the song that would have greeted you. Come to think of it, it would have greeted you on my 10th anniversary as well. Fond memories...

This is a rock tune that honestly is probably the best-sung of the three Shima songs (note the lack of reverb). He *really* gets into it...and I can appreciate it solely on that merit. The only problem is that his other two songs are the themes...and they're just dynamite. This sweet rock song is easily one of the brightest highlights on the IN/IM songs, though!

05. Dash! Liverobo* / Koji Kaya

I don't remember what I ranked this on my list of Top Seven mecha songs, but I do know it was there and will have a permanent spot on the list. The intro? Perfect. The mood? Epic. It manages to be a favorite in a sea of mecha songs. For perspective, I think the Sentai Mecha song is the one they spend the second most amount of time on outside of the themes. This is the song that sells the toys between the theme songs. It *has* to be great...and this one is!

GATTAI!

06. Seigi wa Fumetsu sa Liveman / Koji Kaya

Ehhhh...I typically skip over this one. It's kinda lame and boring. Listening to it now, yeah... I think I'll continue skipping it. The guitar work in the middle is pretty good, but other than that it's Koji Kaya singing over a synthetically weak beat.

07. Spark! Umi e* / Megumi Mori

Love it. In a disc full of heavy hitters, this one manages to shine a little bit brighter. Like Daisuke Shima, Megumi Mori had the chops for this and does just as well crushing it. Like damn. Honestly, this song is too good for a Super Sentai song collection. It truly is. How this never got a single on it's own is a missed opportunity. If they did that, we at least could have gotten another track from Megumi...

08. Live Century ~Oretachi no Shiseiki~ / Koji Kaya

A strange song that kinda feels like something we would have heard on the Flashman song collection. The structure is just...strange. It's not a bad song, though. It just exists in a weird place...

09. Hop Step Love Jump! / Makoto Kosaka

Another cast member song...but this one is a little unexpected. This is Koron's theme song. I typically hate the theme songs of robot helpers, but this one is pretty solid. The instrumentals are good and the vocals are there as well. This isn't gimmicky like previous songs like Bioman's Peebo or Flashman's Mag. Koron was given the dignity of a genuine ally like Dappu from Carranger with a decent song...and I appreciate that. 

I also appreciate that Kosaka can sing. What's with seiyuu that can't sing? It's shockingly common and, especially these days, they usually end up singing a track on the song collection... Yeah, yeah, yeah... Singing and acting are two different things...

10. Ashita ni ikiru ze!* / Daisuke Shima

Who knew that a Super Sentai ending song could have such a beat? I love all three of Shima's songs, but this one is easily my favorite. This track is a perfect storm of weirdness. Part dance song, part action track. I think early in my CD collecting I sought out everything Liveman first so that I could have every version possible of this song.

The intro is just magic. I know the cool kids these days will say that this one has a "bubble sound", but I always found that to be a bit dismissive when music is described that way. Just enjoy the damn song. Heh. Though, it has taken me a lot of restraint not to call The Beatles "Boomer crap" at times...

11. Makenki Manten! Liveman* / Koji Kaya

A later song that I kinda question. This song is a little too cheesy-upbeat, but it isn't terrible. This song and the Liveboxer theme were released after the initial Hit Song disc were released. For as special and progressive as the rest of this song collection is, this is a step back almost.

12. Liveboxer no uta* / Koji Kaya

A mecha theme song that is *almost* as good as the other mecha song. Liveman? 2 for 2 on mecha theme songs. While it isn't too different from the Liverobo theme song, it is amazingly good. It didn't make the Top 7 list back in 2012 (yeah, I decided to check), but it definitely would have made a Top 10 I think. 

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This is probably as close to perfect as a Super Sentai song collection gets on paper, but I don't know if I can call it my favorite. Immensely great? Absolutely. A regular on the playlist? Definitely. I don't get the greatest amount of pleasure from it, though. It's just a little bit dry. What I will give it massive points for is being incredibly timely. While there is always a childish aspect to soundtracks from, well, children's show, it doesn't mean they can't be contemporary. 

I kinda tapped out of being a hyper fan of Sentai song collections after listening to the dogshit Dekaranger song collection. It's truly the antithesis of great song collections like Liveman's where it can be for kids without pandering to them. The Liveman song collection is a genuine good listen. There isn't a single song that is poorly sung and the duds are scarce. This is definitely a recommended listen.

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Have a good one!

-CC

2019/06/25

12 Years of CCLemon99


It's that time of year...

June 25th is the anniversary of the day that I started my Youtube channel. Usually I have some kind of celebratory video to mark the occasion, but I'm afraid I have nothing this year. Don't get me wrong, I have plenty of toys that haven't been reviewed yet. It's all just kinda...waiting.

Last July was something of a wake-up call. Within a week I found myself with two copyright strikes and my channel teetering on the edge of oblivion. I made the conscious effort to preserve my channel as best as I could by setting questionable content to "unlisted" status. What hasn't been struck down over the past year is still available, it's just a little bit less straight-forward than it's been in the past.

Even in it's current protected state, I do find myself losing a random video every few months. I'm currently without any strikes...which is a nice feeling, but one that can change at any moment.

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The thing that this year off has allowed me to do is to really observe Youtube.

For all of those years of weekly uploads, I never really caved or buckled to trends. Looking back, I'm glad that I put the blinders up. Content can fall somewhere between dogshit and mediocre and still have unjust exposure thanks to the whims of some pretentious dev implementing new changes to the boogieman algorithm. There are some stellar channels out there like this guy that have some proper quality videos and never really took off despite having some random hits. I know cars aren't everyone's cup of tea, but the auto scene on Youtube is HUGE and it really doesn't take much for some low-end creators to get big. To see a channel featuring basically every surviving Back To The Future car and then some sitting at only a smidge over 65K is genuinely baffling...

The fight for relevancy has become pretty desperate. One MASSIVE channel in particular (that I guarantee you know) is currently living out this godawful zombie-like existence. The face of the channel clearly has zero interest in carrying on with making content to the point where a company has taken over every aspect of production. The creator has the new role of "talent" and no longer contributes his unique voice--which is what made his content special in the first place. What you will see on the channel is his mug in the thumbnail of every video despite his only contributions to said videos are him saying "Yep..." to the bunch of randos who run his business.

You should never hang up doing something you love. However, when the spark isn't there, you're not fooling anyone but yourself. This section really doesn't have to do with me or my uploads since I was genuine whenever I made a video, but I feel like it was worth stating since the people who work *really* hard to get a foothold never get anywhere while the ones coasting on their past fame are just aimlessly plodding along. Is anybody happy on Youtube anymore? Nobody is having a good time...I'm convinced. Shit on TV all you want, at least cancellation is a thing there. When you have a Youtube series about a group of four people talking about a movie that only three of them watched ("talent" couldn't be bothered...despite the silly face he's making in the thumbnail) it could theoretically go on well past the point where anybody is really watching.

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So I may not have uploaded more than a handful of videos since my 11th anniversary last year, but I've tried to understand this void that I've been throwing my videos into all of these years. Yeah, it's really depressing. I did my own thing all this time, but I guess I need to get my personal affairs in order before I return with new content. Viewers can smell the discontent no matter how well you try to hide it...

That said, I really miss making videos. Some things need to be better before I get back into it. You can always catch up with me here on the site at least. Yeah, I know going from Youtube to a personal site is a backwards thing to do these days, but at least I can sit down and enjoy some kind of Tokusatsu thing for the site.

Oh, and hey...thanks for being around all this time. For watching all of the videos, for reading everything on the site...I thank you.

Thank you for these twelve years.

-CC


2019/05/31

Song Collection: Kamen Rider Super-1


Welcome to this installment of my Song Collection review...thing. I was in the beginning phase of writing this duo of posts earlier in May when something happened that made me feel strange about my decision. The new Kamen Rider series for 2019 had it's trademark filed by Toei and the name is...Kamen Rider Zero-One. The fact that started listening the Super-1 Song Collection unprompted was a bizarre coincidence considering how rarely I talk Rider on this site and how rarely I listen to the Super-1 song collection.

Like the Skyrider article before this, I am circling back to my 1996 Kamen Rider Complete Song Collection Series 7 CD for this listen. It's the same deal as before, I skipped over the Super Hero Chronicles release and just stuck with these 90s releases since they have glorious Karaoke versions included.


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01. Kamen Rider Super 1 / Shunsuke Takasugi

Is there a bad Kamen Rider theme song prior to the avex takeover in 2002? No...there really isn't. Some theme songs just aren't up to snuff, though. Super-1's theme song is a good one. It may be a little bit disjointed, but it really isn't a bad theme song. I like the little hints of guitar and the energy is really good. Lead star Shunsuke Takasugi singing the theme song is something that hadn't been done since Kamen Rider V3's theme by Hiroshi Miyauchi. He isn't the strongest singer, but you'd better get used to him if you're going to proceed.

02. Hi o fuke Rider ken / Shunsuke Takasugi

The first ending theme song to the series. It isn't much more than a continuation of the opening theme song. Outside of the "Eh, eh, eh, eh, e-eh" it really doesn't have a distinguishing feature. It isn't bad, at least.

03. Muteki no yuusha Super-1 / Shusuke Takasugi

I really dig this one. While the music doesn't quite escape the grasp of the 70s that Rider composer Shunsuke Kikuchi imposed on all of this soundtracks going well into the 90s, it does sound a little more 80s. The only thing I'm not really fond of here is the kid backing vocals. Meh. Sometimes they work (Solbrain OP is good) but a lot of the time they don't.

04. Kunin Rider eien ni / Ichiro Mizuki

This is the only song from this song collection that anyone seems to remember or care about. While there was never a 9 Rider meet-up, it did get it's very own theme song. I like this one...it's easily Ichiro Mizuki's best contribution to this soundtrack. He even brought Koorogi '73 with him.

05. Five Hand Rock / Shunsuke Takasugi

This song does not rock.

It's no shock that something like Super-1's hand gimmick has it's own theme song, but does it have to be so weak? It's like a bizzaro lame version of Kagayake! 8nin Rider from Skyrider's song collection...and it just goes on and on and on and on and on until all of the damn hands are covered.

06. Yume no nagaremono / Ichiro Mizuki

A ballad. It isn't that bad, even if the music is doing it's damndest to distract at time with the random synth sounds. Getting Mizuki to cover this one probably was the right move since Takasugi probably isn't equipped to do a solo.

07. Hiden sekishin shorinken / Shunsuke Takasugi

I don't know what to make of this song. I like Koorogi '73's backing vocals, but this sloooooow song has no business being on a song collection in the 1980s. 1971? Yes, but not here. It is almost as slow as the Shocker song from the Kamen Rider song collection.

08. Sekai ni hitori / Ichiro Mizuki

A chill song by Ichiro Mizuki, but it doesn't really help maintain (or restart) the momentum of this song collection. It's decent, but it doesn't do much more than just exist.

09. Yuke! Super Machine / Shunsuke Takasugi

I like this one. Outside of the theme songs, this is my favorite of the Takasugi songs. The song is broken up into two halves, one for V Machine and the other for Super-1's second bike, Blue Version. The ban on Takasugi carrying a song on his own is still apparent here as he is joined by the Columbia brat patrol once again.

10. Junior Rider tai no uta / Ichiro Mizuki

I understand the why behind this song, but I don't understand why it replaced the decent ending song that the series had been using for it's first twenty-three episodes. Yes, this is the second ending theme song for the series...and it's a dated borefest. Really, I hate this song. It's a lousy march song. While earlier songs of this ilk had some charm, this just song cold and empty. This type of song had no reason to exist in 1981. Ick.


BONUS 2011 Versions

Just before I finished this post I had a thought: "Wasn't there an updated version of the Super-1 theme songs?". I checked my CD rack and, sure enough, remembered that there was a reason I sprung for the 2011 Complete Song Collection release.

01. Kamen Rider Super-1 [2011ver.] / Shunsuke Takasugi

This is actually pretty fun. Takasugi sings this one on his own and while his voice has lost some of it's luster, he does a really good job thirty years removed from the original. I ESPECIALLY love the henshin break-down. Yeah, the Super-1 henshin sequence is one of my favorite for it's sheer absurdity along with the unmistakable sound effect. Tossing that in here gives the song some extra oomph.

It's certainly better than pretty much any other theme song to come out this decade...

02. Hi o fuke Rider ken [2011ver.] / Shunsuke Takasugi

The music is kinda lame, but I enjoy this cover as well. If they were going to cover either of the ending songs, I'm really glad it was this one.

03. Five Hand Rock [2011ver.] / Shunsuke Takasugi

This is the only one of these anniversary covers that I don't really dig. It's just as boring as the original with worse music. Again, this song does not rock.


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I apologize for the lacking descriptions for a lot of these tracks, but there really isn't a whole lot to say about these songs. This song collection was contemporary with the Taiyo Sentai Sunvulcan song collection, which was fresh and new and progressive to what Tokusatsu songs would become in the 80s. This is just drivel. Composer Shunsuke Kikuchi is fantastic at certain things, but bringing Kamen Rider into the 1980s was not one of those things.

Following up the Skyrider song collection is an unenviable task. There is very little here worthwhile. As far as whole songs go, the opening theme song, first ending song, and Ichiro Mizuki's 9nin Rider song are all good. From there it's just bits and pieces of songs that are good. Yeah, I would skip this one if you are only curious. If you must get this song collection, be sure to scope out the 2011 version of the CD to get those neat covers of the themes...and Five Hand Rock...which, again, does not rock.

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That's all for now. Be sure to check out my write-up on the infinitely better Skyrider song collection that has also posted.

Take care!

-CC

Song Collection: Kamen Rider [Skyrider]
That Heisei Feeling
CD Collection / Music Articles

Song Collection: Kamen Rider [Skyrider]


Welcome to another installment of my series of Song Collection reviews. I previously kicked off this little project with reviews of each song from Winspector, Solbrain, and Exceedraft. This time around I'm taking a look at a series that I've never covered in the past...Kamen Rider! No, not that Kamen Rider...the other 70s "Kamen Rider" series...uhh...Skyrider! This disco-rific song collection has a grand total of two singers contributing: Ichiro Mizuki and Isao Sasaki.

For this review I'm dusting off my copy of the 1996 release of Kamen Rider Complete Song Collection Series 6. I prefer these releases over the Super Hero Chronicles versions since Karaoke tracks are included for all songs.


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01. Moero! Kamen Rider / Ichiro Mizuki

I've declared this to be my all-time favorite Kamen Rider theme song in the past. It's still my top pick. This is maximum Ichiro Mizuki with the perfect assist from Koorogi '73 on backing vocals. It manages to be an unmistakable 70s Tokusatsu theme song without the corny ambiguity of virtually every theme song before it. That isn't to say I have a problem with theme songs prior to this, but...yeah, just look up the theme song from Zebraman and you'll see what I'm on about. Moero! Kamen Rider sails past the genre of theme song that was made for parody decades later.

Seriously...if there was ever a theme song to get hype over it's this one.

02. Harukanaru ai ni kakete / Ichiro Mizuki

The first ending song of the series. While most ending songs to Rider series prior to this were just as amped as the opening theme songs, this is an uptempo ballad. Mizuki's singing is nothing short of perfect and the assist from Koorogi '73 is just as necessary as it was on Moero! Kamen Rider.

03. Kagayake! 8nin Rider / Isao Sasaki

OK, there is a little explaining needed for this one. If you take a look down you'll see this song makes another appearance on the list. This version is sung by Isao Sasaki making his lone Kamen Rider theme song contribution. This version of the song was used as the theme song to the 8nin Rider movie from 1980.

I love this song. It's short, sweet, and catchy as all hell. You will undoubtedly find yourself singing One-Two-Three-Four-Five-Six-Seven-Eight (Five-Six-Seven-Eight!) for the rest of the week. Sorry. Also......the intro building up Rider as the bravest of all the fighter, etc. is just so wonderful.

04. Ima tatakai no hi ga noboru / Isao Sasaki

Isao Sasaki's only other contribution to Rider songs. While I love Kagayake! 8nin Rider, I think this is *his* better song for the series. Sasaki is really able to stretch his legs and deliver an awesome disco-action song. Hell, this one is really catchy as well.

I have a theory that this was meant to be a theme song to the series...more on that in a bit...

05. Otoko no na wa Kamen Rider / Ichiro Mizuki

The second theme song from the series starting on episode twenty-nine and running for the remainder of the series. While Moero! Kamen Rider is an impossible act to follow, I dig this song almost as much as it's predecessor. Yeah, it was baffling that they had the perfect theme song and felt the need to replace it...but this is a really good one as well. So what if Skyrider's new paint job debuted this episode...bah!

The little bits of guitar thrown in almost give it a little more of an 80s feel. Mizuki's vocals are spot-on, but the lack of Koorogi '73 kinda makes the whole song a little hollow.

06. Kagayaki! 8nin Rider / Ichiro Mizuki

Ichiro Mizuki's version of the 8nin Rider theme was used as the second ending song for the series starting on episode twenty-nine. I kinda alluded to it on my reviews of Isao Sasaki's songs, but I prefer this version of the song. Mizuki's vocals just go with the flow a little bit better...even if the man can't hold a note for his life. Haha.

The big question is...why even record two versions? I know multiple versions were a common thing during the early years of Rider, but bringing in Isao Sasaki was such a random thing. Maybe Mizuki wasn't available to record the movie theme...? Mysteries...

07. Oh Oh Kamen Rider / Ichiro Mizuki

Skip past the weird intro and this is a pretty average song. It's upbeat, but kinda in a non-offensive bland way. Not bad, but not one I particularly seek out randomly.

08. Chiheisen kara yattekita otoko / Ichiro Mizuki

If you told me that this song was from the Kamen Rider Stronger song collection, I'd probably believe you. Maybe this was a little bit dated sounding for 1979, but it isn't bad. It just doesn't flow with the rest of the synth-lashed tracks that we're used to in this song collection.

09. Are wa Kamen Rider / Ichiro Mizuki

I like this one. The funk guitar and background singers are back. It isn't particularly peppy, but it's certainly a catchy tune. In an alternate universe, this could be the theme song. Granted, it isn't as good as the theme songs we have...but it's certainly worth the listen. Miyo!

10. 8nin Rider Medley [Instrumental]

The famous instrumental medley from the series. This is a largely synth and horn-created medley of the Kamen Rider theme songs to date (plus Ima tatakai no hi ga noboru for good measure...which somewhat leads me to believe that it was meant to be the second theme song for the series). A (1980) modern interpretation of the Rider themes, if you will. Of all of the songs here, I probably listen to this one the most. It's a great track to throw on in the background.

11. Henshin! Kamen Rider / Ichiro Mizuki

The intro isn't great, but this is a great action song. It does remind me of Moero! Kamen Rider a little bit, but it is definitely more of an insertion song. It's also the only song here that mentions "Skyrider" by name rather than just Kamen Rider. Way to sneak that in at the very end.

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This has always been my favorite Kamen Rider song collection. It's in that sweet spot between the 70s schlock and 80s...whatever the 80s were. Ichiro Mizuki is really at his peak on this song collection and the two songs from Isao Sasaki are quite good as well. The balance it perfect here. You don't realize how amazing Ichiro Mizuki's singing is until you listen to the Karaoke version of pretty much any song--Moero! Kamen Rider in particular. The songs are just empty without him.

I feel like this is an unpopular opinion, but yeah...I truly like this song collection the best. Black RX and Black are up there as well, but I think something is missing from both of those soundtracks. When I'm in the mood for Kamen Rider songs, this is where I end up.

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That does it for Skyrider. Check out my post on Kamen Rider Super-1's song collection while you're here.

See ya!

-CC


Song Collection: Kamen Rider Super-1
That Heisei Feeling
CD Collection / Music Articles

2019/04/30

That Heisei Feeling



CCLemon99...that guy...ugh...he HATES Heisei Tokusatsu.

Back when I was more active it was something I was always hearing. Honestly, my likes and dislikes are more or less linked to my mood. A show that sucked once might be halfway decent the second time around. I can't really say I've ever been one to like a new show for the sake of it being new. There are fans out there that do, and more power to them, but it seems shallow. Like yeah, Ryusoulger may be your favorite Sentai ever, but how about ten months from now when the next one drops? I don't get that.

When you take a look at a 1970s movie, it has a certain aesthetic that was dominant to the set ten years it was made. On the flip side, you have the Golden Age of Cinema where the era itself is defined by the art form. I guess my point is...what even is an era in Tokusatsu? Can a genre of entertainment even slip into an undefined length of time that has no intrinsic value to the genre itself?

Yes...and no.

Tokusatsu as we know and love it was born out of the Showa era. There are people better suited to give a history lesson from the post-war beginnings of Tokusatsu until the end of the Showa era on January 7, 1989. To sum up my feelings on the era, it was the the beginning (duh) and blueprint for longevity. It was a reflection of what Japan had to offer. Sooooo much effort and innovation was poured into something as frivolous as children's programming and entertainment. The industry behind it was almost something of an accident. The very first expansive Tokusatsu toyline I can think of is probably Chojinki Metalder's Ghost Bank Series...and that didn't arrive until 1987. It was a large line of miniature figures and accessories that were all numbered, which is the bane of the existence to every OCD kid out there. I *NEED* to have them all. I already bought No.22, the Ghost Bank, now I MUST fill it!

The Showa era of Tokusatsu always felt like the establishment and the passion for the craft. Watching Godzilla in 1954 had to have been nothing short of total inspiration for the purveyors of the craft for decades to come. When you look at the final years of the Showa era in Tokusatsu, however, had much changed from it's explosive beginnings? The shows felt largely the same. Ultraman was more or less abandoned. Budgets were very slim. P Productions didn't even make it into the 80s.

When the Heisei era began, it inherited a mess of a genre in Tokusatsu. There were some bright newcomers that year like Gunhed and the latest Godzilla installment, Godzilla vs Biollante, but outside of Toho things were somewhat grim. Kamen Rider wouldn't survive the decade and Super Sentai would soon begin it's seemingly annual threat to newly hired cast members that "By the way, this is going to be the last series. No pressure.".

As much as I dislike the series, there is no denying that Chojin Sentai Jetman was the enormous reversal that Super Sentai desperately needed. While it continued with the formulaic premise, giving the characters the chance to develop brought in a new dimension of interest to the genre. The craft never left the genre, merely this is the pivotal time where it was extended to the plot. That isn't to say series prior didn't accomplish this, it was done in a way that caused people who otherwise wouldn't be fans to take notice for the first time.

The remainder of the 1990s did a fantastic job capitalizing on this. Granted, it wasn't every series...like Zyuranger...but who cares when that show became Mighty Morphin' Power Ranger$. The rise of the toy lines in the 1990s was, once again, a symptom of it's growing rebirth...and also what brings us to today.

One of my favorite things to look out for during my viewings for series I want to review is the level of disdain that writers have for introducing new toys to the show. There are the episode where you can tell a writer is utterly disgusted to be stuck writing an episode for a weapon that will be used only twice. On the flip side you get an episode where the writer gives an involved and almost absurd story behind a new mecha like "This new super mecha killed the twenty finest and top minds from our organization that were developing it.......enjoy your new toy. P.S. it attaches to the previous toy, so the only way to properly memorialize those lost souls is to buy that one too".

Bandai's meddling in Tokusatsu is hardly 100% of this almost ongoing decline in quality. Those craftsmen and women who landed their dream jobs after being wowed by early Tokusatsu are no longer at the helm--technology is. Computer Graphics are a necessity when you're pulling of an effect that is critical, yet otherwise impossible to pull off practically. It was fun to watch CG starting to sneak it's way in...until it wasn't. It's just become grating and lazy.

To risk sounding like "Old man yells at cloud" I should probably start wrapping this up.

I want to continue to live in a world where Tokusatsu is a thing. The massive upswing that the genre took during the mid-late Heisei era has cooled considerably at this where Super Sentai needs to look to the past and remind themselves what a plot-driven show like Jetman for a reversal of fortune.

I'm kinda brought back to my original question. What even is Heisei Tokusatsu? So much has happened in these last thirty years. There was a rebirth, there was a massive leap in the industry that broke when popularity expanded, there was growth with Ultraman and Kamen Rider's return as well as the popularity of independent productions, and there was the inevitable snake eating it's own tail.

None of that describes the shows, though. Most of my favorite shows happened in the Heisei era, but most of my least favorite show did as well. There was this...aaaand this... Despite being having about a decade more of productions, Showa Tokusatsu has a Showa feel. I'll be damned if I know what a Heisei show feels like...

-CC

2019/04/01

Power Rangers: The Hasbro Era


A little over a year ago I penned something of a eulogy to the Bandai America Power Rangers toy license. It began as a ten-year retrospect of my poor relationship with Engine Sentai Go-onger and moved into a somewhat truncated history lesson of the Power Rangers toy line. As I was assembling some materials for my post, the curve ball of all curve balls was thrown. What if...Bandai really was losing the Power Rangers license? Unthinkable.

Here we are a little more than a year later. That little blurb in my previous article about Hasbro gaining control of the entire franchise? Totally happened. We're already a few episodes into the Hasbro-produced Tokumei Sentai Go-Buster adaptation, Power Rangers Beast Morphers. Today, April 1st, the entire transaction is complete. Power Rangers Beast Morphers merchandise is free from it's embargo and available for purchase at Toys R...WalMart...I guess?

Kidding aside, I am holding steadfast to the "cautious optimism" outlook that I admitted to having last year. I may not be a Power Rangers fan, but I am certainly curious to see what the franchise manages to accomplish in the next few years.

Hasbro has taken advantage of the momentum that has steadily been building over the past year. The Beast Morphers announcement was quite a shock, and their enormous presence at Power Morphicon was full of excitement. The first all-new action figure was previewed, the new cast made an appearance, and everything seemed to be heading into a energetic new direction.

Here is where I'm kinda getting hung-up, however.

For starters, the delightful Jason Bischoff has been released from his position as Global Franchise Creative Director for the Power Rangers brand. I honestly can't remember the last name that I bothered to learn in regards to Power Rangers, but he deserves all the credit in the world for reaching my cold, dead heart. Oh, and for, you know...completely revitalizing the brand. This transition from Saban Brands to Hasbro wouldn't have been possible without him...and now it feels like Dad just got left in the dust once the training wheels were off. This is a truly baffling move...and I truly wish Mr. Bischoff all the best.

A lot of fans seem to be enjoying the new toys, but I don't know if I can get into any of them. Obviously I'm not going to be into the disposable role-playing toys, but I can always get behind a good action figure. They look decent, but they don't really do anything for me. Maybe a steady stream of really good SHFiguarts these last few years have ruined me, but I really think there is more to a figure than a good sculpt. I really can't give a final verdict since I haven't handled a Hasbro Power Rangers toy yet, so we'll see when I have something to compare it to in the Lightning Collection White Ranger next month...

The last thing I can do today is to take a look back at the Bandai America legacy. No matter what Hasbro manages to accomplish with the Power Rangers franchise, it will never, ever be 1993/1994 Bandai Power Rangers. Besides the market being in tatters, throw a stone in your instagram account and I am willing to bet you'll find photos and video of those crisp green and black packages flying off of the shelves in Toys R Us. How about those scans of flyers that were posted apologizing for the shortage of stock? We can never, ever deny them that. No matter how bad thing got.

As much as I knock Bandai America for the watered-down Power Rangers toys they sold basically the duration of their control of the franchise, I'm quite fond of the numerous golden nuggets that managed to creep out. Plus the memories...sigh...

Goodnight.

-CC

P.S. 

REIWA

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2019/03/23

The CD Collection--Kishiryu Sentai Ryusoulger Shudaika Limited Edition


Welcome back to my CD Collection series and a post about the brand new Super Sentai. Yes, Kishiryu Sentai Ryusoulger only premiered last week but the CD single is out already. It is unusual for a Sentai series to have such a late start, but it is worth noting for a very important reason that I'll get to later in the review.

While my interest in new Super Sentai shows has reduced to nothing, I still can't shake the annual theme song CD single for my collection. Amazon is great about getting CDs out on or just after release date despite being on the other side of the globe, so I was able to check out this release on Thursday night. Yeah...all that effort and I couldn't really be bothered with the show...I know...

Let's get into this brand new CD Single which...has more going for it than you may expect...


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Kishiryu Sentai Ryusoulger Shudaika Limited Edition
COCC-17600
2019.03.20

01. Kishiryu Sentai Ryusoulger / Tomohiro Hatano [Ryusoulger Opening Theme Song]

Honestly, this sounds almost like every Super Sentai theme song since like Hurricaneger. Bland and predictably safe. This is a song that you know will be on a constant loop in Bandai's museum for the next eleven months, so it has to be.

There isn't much to say about this one. I remember the Lupinranger vs Patranger song being more unique, but that was a year ago that I listened to that...and I'm struggling to even remember why I thought it was unique. Didn't it have two singers??

02. Keboon! Ryusoulger / Sister Mayo [Ryusoulger Ending Theme Song]

Dammit, I said HOLD THE MAYO!

Yeah, this song sucks. It's a lousy samba type deal with the same shrill vocals we've been subjected to for a decade plus. Did you know Masayo Sawada is in her mid-40s? I sure didn't. Why the squeaky vocals?

03. Saikyo saiko SUPER STARS! / NoB [Super Sentai Saikyo Battle Opening Theme Song]

Seriously...this sounds like any number of other Music by Committee (© D3rachi) theme songs we've been subjected to in recent years. This is for a miniseries...it didn't have to be this bland crap that a year-long Sentai theme song has to be. We should have gotten something wild or at least different in some type of capacity. I fear that this is the only type of music the ProjectR dunderheads know how to make at this point.

The track following this is the Karaoke version of the Ryusoulger theme song. It might as well be the same goddamn song. I can't tell the difference.


04. Kishiryu Sentai Ryusoulger [Original Karaoke]

05. Keboon! Ryusoulger [Original Karaoke]

06. Saikyo saiko SUPER STARS! [Original Karaoke]

BONUS 07~18 4shuu renzoku special Super Sentai Saikyo Battle BGM

So instead of jumping right into the next Super Sentai following Lupinranger VS Patranger, Toei produced a four episode miniseries that had some kind of plot with something happening and some kind of resolution that no doubt brought in the next Sentai series. I'm sure it was spectacular...

Since it was a short production, this version of the CD single features the BGM collection by Takeshi Sakebe made for the miniseries. That's right, if you buy the regular edition of this CD Single, you will only get the Ryusoulger Opening and Ending theme songs and that's it.



It starts off with a brief title track and then breaks into the TV size version of Saikyo saiko SUPER STARS! From there, it gets into Sakebe's score. I tend to cut composers much more slack for their music collections than I do for vocal songs...so I don't know how to grade this one.

There isn't a whole lot of music (each track hovers near the one minute mark) and it is all kinda generic. Considering the miniseries used some music from previous Sentai series, this new stuff didn't need to do a lot of heavy lifting. It's definitely the highlight of the CD, even if it isn't particularly memorable.


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BONUS Red Ryu Soul Song Version!


This is where I would drop a video in if I weren't kinda in Youtube jail at the moment...

As far as "feelers" go with Super Sentai CD Singles, this one is pretty solid. I haven't been able to try it out in my DX Ryusoul Changer yet, but I'm sure it has some kind of underwhelming, but unique sound to go along with it.


It's a neat little thing that is on par with Ranger Keys included in past CDs. There were some duds like the Kyoryuger egg shaker thing and ToQger's lenticular card. The first (and best) feelers being the Engine Souls included in the Go-onger single and song collection--those were cool.

This isn't a bad addition at all...

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OVERALL: When it comes to bang for your buck, this CD is quite the deal. $18 gets you the Limited Edition with these copious extras versus the $12 four-track edition. On one hand, it's great that Columbia really went all out with the loaded 38 minute disc AND the Song Ryusoul instead of doing something bogus like included the Ryusoul in the regular edition and leaving the limited edition only as the extended disc. I believe they pulled that stunt with the Kyoryuger singles...

On the otherhand, it all seems a little desperate. Granted, I don't like the music...but I'm sure there are people out there that love the shit out of this. Japan and Germany are the last bastion for the CD collector and this just makes it look like they're coming on a little strong to make sure you buy the CD versus paying 250 yen per track.

It's a bargain, though! Getting an entire soundtrack, CD single, and a unique toy for CD Single money is something that can't be overlooked. I like this a lot as an overall package...even if I didn't care for the songs at all.


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Another Super Sentai CD single enters the history books...and my collection. What are your thoughts on it? Are they trying too hard, or is this the type of thing they should be doing more often?

I've been writing way too much about CDs and Tokusatsu music recently. Next time...I promise something a little more thought provoking. Until then...

See ya!

-CC

Lupinranger VS Patranger Shudaika
The CD Collection