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

More...


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

2019/03/01

Song Collection: Tokusou Exceedraft


Welcome to the third installment in my new series detailing Tokusatsu song collection. Today's topic should come as no surprise as I previously looked at the two preceding Metal Hero series, Tokkei Winspector and Tokkyushirei Solbrain. The three series are considered the "Rescue Hero" trilogy of Metal Hero and are directly related. While not as tightly woven together as Winspector and Solbrain are, Exceedraft does feature guest appearances from Hiroshi Miyauchi's Shunsuke Masaki character. The bigger link to the former series is here, the Song Collection. Takayuki Miyauchi provides vocals on the bulk to the songs with some assists from Kenji Konuta, Yasuhide Sawazaki, and...Ushio Hashimoto? Hmmm...I know that name from somewhere...

For this review I'll be using my copy of Superhero Chronicles Metal Hero III. Yeah, it's kinda weird that they broke up Winspector and Solbrain from Exceedraft, but I suppose they had to if they wanted to keep things chronological. Unfortunately in 2019 you can't get a new copy of this set from Amazon. If we can be totally honest, Exceedraft is the only song collection here that is really worthwhile. If you happen to love the just-alright Janperson-BF Kabuto songs as well, then it's totally worth the buy. If you're only looking for Exceedraft...it's kind of a harder sell.

Oh, I should also note that it isn't even all of BF Kabuto's song collection. Superhero Chronicle Metal Hero IV starts off with the remaining tracks that they couldn't squeeze into III. What an odd choice...


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01. Tokusou Exceedraft / Takayuki Miyauchi

I mentioned previously that the Solbrain theme is my least favorite of the bunch. The Exceedraft theme song slots in comfortably at number two. It has all the required catchiness of a Tokusatsu theme song and kinda sets the tone for the rest of the song collection. Expect a lot of rock and restraint.

Redder, Bluuuuuues, Keace!

02. Jissou!! / Takayuki Miyauchi

One of my favorite songs from this song collection. While it's a little bit on the lighter side, this is the kind of song that Miyauchi's vocals were made for. The pacing and mood are just perfect. It's kinda weird that he gets lumped in with a lot of more powerful songs when this is where he shines.

I like the whispiness of the music here. It's a great way to kick off this song collection.

03. Scrum! Exceedraft / Yasuhide Sawazaki

The lone track from Yasuhide Sawazaki. While he did sing my favorite Metal Hero song ever (Rescue Action Kokoro o sukue from Solbrain) he is hardly my favorite singer. You know what, though? I like this song. It's also a light track, but it's perhaps also more Sawazaki's speed. It isn't too far off from the previous track in tone. That's actually a really good track record on his part. Of his four Tokusatsu songs, three of them are actually really good.

Let's not talk about his live version of the Dairanger theme song from Columbia Anime Fest '93 though...then again, I may actually get to that one some day...

04. Tayori ni shitemasu honbucho / Ushio Hashimoto

Another lighter track from a surprising singer. This is the lone Tokusatsu song from Ushio Hashimoto, who is most popularly known for the Dragonball Ending song Romantic Ageru yo. While that song has lived a very long and popular life in the 30+ years since that series debuted, I don't think this song of hers on the Exceedraft song collection is as memorable. It is a nice break in the action, however. We haven't had a song from a female vocalist since Jiban's song collection.

I just wish they gave her something more upbeat to sing to...

05. Sore wa inochi / Takayuki Miyauchi

Another song of the lighter persuasion. Miyauchi's vocals are on point here as well, even if this is a heavy ballad. I can't since I listen to this one very often, but it was a nice treat to listen to this time around. This isn't a bad song at all.

06. LAST FIGHTER / Takayuki Miyauchi

Alright, the first rock song of the collection. It makes it's point very obvious from the start. While it is the upbeat action song that any Metal Hero series deserves on it's soundtrack...it's a smidge generic. There is a Miyauchi song of this ilk that accomplishes so much more later on in this collection.

I do love the headbanging nature of this one at least!

07. Yuuki o mirai ni mukete~ Exceedraft kagiri naku~ / Kenji Konuta

Another great rock song. It does it better than the previous track. It's a nice return to the prog rock flavor that was splashed in the Solbrain song collection--complete with distortion on the organ solo! This is the sole track from Kenji Konuta here and like Yasuhide Sawazaki, it's his last appearance on a Tokusatsu song collection. It's a great rock song to go out with. I have this one on regular rotation.

08. Seimei wa hitotsu / Takayuki Miyauchi

Can you believe that this song is the halfway point and that all of the remaining songs are by Takayuki Miyauchi? Heh.

It's time for a ballad break. This one is kind of the polar opposite of the earlier songs on this disc. The music is good, but Miyauchi's vocals range from weird to great. He has proven that he can handle ballads really well on past soundtracks. When the music is too slow, however, he kinda stumbles on this song.

The sad thing is, after this song collection he doesn't really have too many ballads. He has a faux-ballad on the B Robo Kabutack song collection, but otherwise only ever got the call for the obligatory mecha and/or action song.

09. Mirai o mamoru kishi-tachi / Takayuki Miyauchi

This is the song chosen to represent Exceedraft on the Metal Hero Karaoke Vol.2 CD. It probably wouldn't have been my choice, but I imagine it's short length is why it was selected.

This is a solid rock song with some light vocals. The mixed used of reverb and backing vocals at different points is an interesting choice. I keep this one on rotation too.

10. Arashi o makiokose! / Takayuki Miyauchi 

I love this song so much. It's likely my second favorite song from this series.

Again, Miyauchi is handing in some excellent singing. The music is best described as the slickest beat ever with a light stabbing of guitar and synth horn. Like Jissou!!, this song is Miyauchi at his finest.

11. Shiroi Inazuma! Barius 7 / Takayuki Miyauchi

Isn't it kinda weird that Exceedraft has a newer Corvette than Janperson's turd?

Heavy rock theme song for Redder's wheels. While the bulk of the excitement in this song lies in the intro, the energy is great throughout. It's a little generic in the "Let's sing about how awesome this car is by listing all it's James Bond features" kind of way, but it has some great guitar work peppered in to make it memorable enough. White Lightning!

12. Yuuki to yuujo no Battle / Takayuki Miyauchi

Another belter of a song from Miyauchi. It's a bit rockier than Jissou!! and Arashi o makiokuse!, but is along the same lines. A lot of it's liveliness comes purely from tempo. The elements are all the same from the two songs mentioned...just faster.

13. Yuuki yo isoge! / Takayuki Miyauchi

Another rock track that borders on being heavy. It's not all that great outside of it's speed metal guitar solo early on. It reminds me of the swaths of anonymous songs from the BF Kabuto song collection. In a song collection as crowded as this one, it really needs to do more than this to stand out.

14. Exceedraft Grade Up! / Takayuki Miyauchi 

Yes! THIS is my favorite song from this song collection...and it's at the very end.

Start to finish this rock track is just perfect. The guitar work is supreme and Miyauchi just sells the hell out of it. The way he sings the title of the song is the coolest. It's really a shame that this song is the theme to Redder's doofy upgraded look. Feh. If you can isolate this song from that like I do, it's all golden,

Ex-Cee-Draaaf-to GRADEUP!

15. Goal wa mirai / Takayuki Miyauchi

Ehhh. This isn't a bad song by any stretch, it just isn't on par with the ending theme songs from the previous shows. It's a nice bookend to the opening theme song, but it just doesn't really go anywhere. A tad bland, but it does manage to sneak a big mention of the show's name...something not many shows did prior to or after this.

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Another awesome song collection to finish out the Rescue Hero trilogy of Metal Hero shows. This is really the last time we heard from Takayuki Miyauchi in any significant quantity. He has shown up here and there to provide a song or two, but that's really it. Outside of Shinichi Ishihara's B-Fighter song collection, there really hasn't been too many song collections owned by a single singer.

If I had any complaint about this song collection it would have to be it's pacing. All similar songs were pretty much lumped together. It's a lot of really good songs in an unbalanced mess of a collection. In the age of playlists this isn't an issue, but they could have been more mindful of how the songs were presented on this disc. As long as they keep the first and last IN songs where they were, it would have been worth balancing out.


Thanks for swinging by and checking out my latest series. I know these were random series to start off with, but these have been long time favorites of mine. Are there any series with sizable song collections that you'd like to see reviewed here? Let me know...I have them all most!

See ya soon!

-CC

The CD Collection
Song Collection: Tokkei Winspector
Song Collection: Tokkyushirei Solbrain

2019/02/27

Song Collection: Tokkyushirei Solbrain


I'm back again for the follow-up to my previous post...which coincidentally is the song collection to the follow-up from the previous post's series. Confused? I'm not!

Tokkyushirei Solbrain is the 1991 more/lesser than equal sequel to Tokkei Winspector. In my previous post I took a more detailed look at Winspector's entire song collection since I had only ever summed up it's entire fifteen song set into a single paragraph. The same goes for Solbrain...and pretty much every Metal Hero song collection for that matter.

As with the previous post, I am reviewing these songs from my copy of Superhero Chronicle Metal Hero II.


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01. Tokkyushirei Solbrain / Takayuki Miyauchi

Another great theme song by Takayuki Miyauchi. It may be my least favorite of the three Rescue Hero theme songs, but it's still really good. Really, there could be no perfect follow-up to the Winspector theme song. It has a little bit of restraint, but also dashes of urgency with lyrics like "BURNING!" Heh.

It may be my least favorite of the trio, but it's still a fantastic theme song.

02. Rescue Action kokoro o sukue! / Yasuhide Sawazaki

This...is my favorite Metal Hero song.

I have to admit, it's far from perfect. Yasuhide Sawazaki was a short-lived Columbia player whose voice...is lacking. It somewhat fits this song, though. It has a dash of prog-rock flavoring which is fertile ground for singers with unappealing voices. This type of music was actually pretty trendy in Japan around 1990~1991, so it isn't totally random.

Start to finish this song is just awesome, but the hook is just so damn perfect. Then there is that weird violin solo. Call me crazy for loving this one, but it's just a storm of odd concepts that just...works. Perfectly.

03. Fighting Solmachine / Takayuki Miyauchi

A short little action rock song that ended up being selected for the lone Solbrain IN song on Metal Hero Karaoke Vol.2. A solid choice, but I feel that it was likely selected due to it's brief duration. The intro/outro are really cool.

04. Bokan Solid States 1 / Takayuki Miyauchi

The theme song for the giant shuttle of the series. I used to own the DX version of Solid States 1, but ended up selling it before I got into the Youtube game. Bummer since it was a pretty rad toy.

Oh right, the song. This song is more on the slower/serious side. I'm trying to liken it to another mecha theme song...but I can't really think of a simile. Even the understated Dolgiran theme song from Uchuu Keiji Gavan is more lively. The organ at the very end is an awesome prog-rock touch. Awesome and weird...

I dig it. While Miyauchi has some memorable mecha theme songs, he tends to have some odd ones peppered in.

05. Plus Up! / Kenji Konuta

This is the first Solbrain IN song I ever heard...and probably the most generic. It's really good as a fast-paced action track, but it feels like it was a Winspector leftover. The singer of this song, Kenji Konuta, is a bit more competent than Sawazaki, but is also another short-term Columbia singer.

06. Ashita e no kizuna / Takayuki Miyauchi

This almost sounds like a much faster version of the Solid States 1 theme song at times, but it does occasionally take a turn for the upbeat. For being one of the more anonymous songs on this song collection, it's still really good.

07. Kokoro ni boken o / Takayuki Miyauchi

The slowest of slow ballads. Takayuki Miyauchi definitely has the chops for such a song, but if I had to compare it to his ballad on the Winspector song collection...that one would win out. It's a shame, though. If you're listening to these songs in order this would be the perfect spot for a ballad break. This one...just doesn't have anything special going for it.

08. Heart wa Diamond / Yasuhide Sawazaki

Another Yasuhide Sawazaki rock song. This one is also quite good for all the same reasons that Rescue Action kokoro o sukue! is. It's probably also the first time any Metal Hero song has any kind of distortion worked in. Clearly I don't think it's as good as his previous effort, but this is still a damn good song.

09. Shutsudo! Solbrain / Takayuki Miyauchi

This reminds me of a Jiban song...two of them actually. Hahaa. It's very catchy, but it is like a weird combination of Jiban's ending song as well as the IN song GOYO da!. This is certainly the light-hearted yet upbeat song that this series needs. It certainly pulls it off better than a song that is coming up in a bit...

10. Mae e dero! / Takayuki Miyauchi

Another generic-ish rock song. It's good, but doesn't do enough to stand out on this loaded song collection.

11. Kizutsuita chikyuu no tame ni~ Seimei no mecha Pile Tornado / Yasuhide Sawazaki

Of the three Sawazaki songs, this my least favorite by far. He's out of his element here. This one would actually be more at home on the Janperson song collection with it's horns and blah. Bring back the prog rock. The janky guitars...the organs...the weird violin solo. This song is just too normal.

12. Kimi mo Solbrain / Takayuki Miyauchi

I was alluding to this song at the end of my review of Shutsudo! Solbrain. This song...what the hell is this song? It borders on the extreme tackiness of sounding like a bastard hybrid of the Ultraman Great theme and the John Williams Superman theme. Then it almost devolves into a weird tango for a second. I typically skip this one, but actually listening to it for the first time in years has me wondering how the hell this ended up getting released. Mercifully it barely passes the three-minute mark.

13. Wasareruna kimi mo / Kenji Konuta

Hey, this isn't a bad song to finish of the IN/IM song set. It's an upbeat song that really sees this whole affair off on a pretty positive note. It's a really good song and well-placed on the CD.

14. Ai ni dakarete / Takayuki Miyauchi

SOLUUBUURAAAAAIIIINNNNN!

Great ending song. Much like the opening theme song, it's really just a more subtle version of it's predecessor. Catchy, but not over-the-top. If you listen close enough, you can almost place the bass from Winspector's ending song in here.

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Despite having my all-time favorite Metal Hero song, I can't really say this is one of my favorite Metal Hero song collections. The songs that are great work well, as do the generic tracks. The stranger songs almost detract from the awesomeness of the good stuff, though. It just kinda throws the whole thing off-balance.

For years I've always come into this song collection and cherry-picked my favorite songs to listen to while skipping the weak stuff. I...don't see this changing. Kimi mo Solbrain will never work it's way into my regular rotation...

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There is my look at the Solbrain Song Collection. Next up I will be taking a look at the follow-up series Tokusou Exceedraft's song collection to round out the trilogy debut of this new series on the site.

See ya there!

-CC

The CD Collection
Song Collection: Tokkei Winspector
Song Collection: Tokusou Exceedraft

2019/02/25

Song Collection: Tokkei Winspector


Welcome to a new segment on my site! In this segment I spin back around and dedicate an entire post to a Song Collection from a random Tokusatsu series. A series like Kamen Rider or Himitsu Sentai Goranger would be the perfect place to start, right? Nope!

I'm not exactly sure why I picked Winspector to kick things off, but it's certainly not a bad place to start. It's a song collection with memorable songs book-ended by two memorable theme songs. You may be wondering..."didn't CCLemon99 review this song collection already?". Well, I did...ish. In my haste to catalog my CD collection I blew through all four volumes of the Superhero Chronicles Metal Hero CDs. That's right...every Metal Hero song were reduced down to a single post. Hell, Winspector only got a brief paragraph. I mean, the post is still good if you're only looking for a brief synopsis. This new series will certainly be more in-depth...

Here is a look at all fifteen of the songs from the 1990 Toei Metal Hero series, Tokkei Winspector. Naturally I am reviewing these songs from my copy of Superhero Chronicles Metal Hero II...which, as of this writing, is miraculously still available new from Amazon. Definitely a must-buy set!


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01. Tokkei Winspector / Takayuki Miyauchi

One of the ear-wormiest theme songs in Tokusatsu history. It rightfully made number two on my list of Top 7 Metal Hero theme songs way back in 2012. There is more to it than the catchy "MAYDAY, MAYDAY" hook, though. Listen to all of the layers... This is an incredibly rich song when you put it up to it's contemporary Sentai theme song, Chikyuu Sentai Fiveman.

Easily my favorite theme song from Takayuki Miyauchi, but he certainly wasn't the sole factor in ensuring this song's greatness.

02. Yume no hitotsu no nakamatachi / Ichiro Mizuki

It had been a few years since we heard a song from Ichiro Mizuki in the Metal Hero catalog. His return? Awesome. This song isn't action-packed, but it also isn't a slouch either. The awesome synth accents give it an time-appropriate feel. It even has a great guitar solo for good measure.

While I can see this song having it's detractors for not really being fast enough, I love it!

03. Taiyo no yuusha Fire / Takayuki Miyauchi

Of the three songs devoted to Fire, this is easily the best. The verses are a bit on the slow side, but there is plenty of things to like thanks to that memorable hook and cool intro that slides back in toward the end of the song.

04. Hero wa yattekuru / Ichiro Mizuki

This one is kinda weak. The music is good, and Mizuki does his best...but the lyrics are just weak as all hell. I also don't really like the distracting filter they used on Mizuki's voice. This song would have been more at home on Fiveman's corny Song Collection, to be honest.

05. Moyase hitomi o / Hiroshi Miyauchi

I don't like Hiroshi Miyauchi as a singer. I never really cared for the Kamen Rider V3 theme song... I wouldn't be shocked if you told me there was a shelved theme song for Miura from the Ohranger Song Collection considering the weirdness that happened there. This song, however, is amazing.

Don't get me wrong, he's still not a great singer. This song just suits his natural grizzly voice perfectly. That high-pitched, paint-by-number yelp from the V3 theme? Not present. This is actually a really cool song.

06. Gekisou! Rescue Machine / Ichiro Mizuki

Ohhhhh how I love this song. The bassline is so cool and the fast-paced waviness is great. I was floored when I bought my copy of Metal Hero Karaoke Vol.2 and found that this song was selected as the lone insertion song from WSP. That said, it is better as a Karaoke song than it is a vocal song. It's still a lot of fun and legit has "DANGER ZONE" in the lyrics.

...the final minute of the song is pure magic, though. It's this random instrumental outro that is my favorite outro of any Tokusatsu song. Maybe the Biorobo song comes close, but this is so good.

07. Kimi ga shiawase nara / Masaru Yamashita

A snoozer of a character song sung by Ryoma/Fire himself, Masaru Yamashita. He isn't much of a singer...and a ballad really isn't the best choice to showcase those non-skills. They should have given him a grunty song like they did for Hiroshi Miyauchi.

08. Fire Hurricane / Ichiro Mizuki

A slick jam by Mizuki and a criminally good bassline. If there was ever a fast-paced Tokusatsu song that I can also call "smooth" it would be this one. It suddenly breaks into an awesome guitar solo for good measure. The only thing I don't really care for is the back-up singers. They're more barking than singing.

09. Kono inochi eien ni / Takayuki Miyauchi

This song isn't all that bad, but it never really stuck out as a great song. Again, the back-up singers are kinda lousy. I think what I don't like about this one is the great build-up not having much of a payoff. This song is a little disjointed and sloppy. It sounds kinda like a leftover from the Jiban Song Collection more than anything.

It also doesn't help that this song is over five minutes long for no reason...

10. Aisuru daichi, aisuru umi yo / Takayuki Miyauchi

A march song. I never really liked these too much, but this one is actually pretty good. It has some decent structure and a catchy hook. If I can paint a picture, this is like a less decent version of Kakuranger's Muteki Shogun theme song...same singer and everything!

It also barely crests three minutes...yay!

11. Just Gigastreamer / Ichiro Mizuki

It's rare that a show's weapon has it's own theme song. Well, here we are examining the theme song to Winspector's BFG. Gigastreamer is such a beast that, if I recall correctly, it had not one but TWO episodes dedicated to how much of a handful it was in two different series. That's right, it's too much during it's return in Solbrain!

The song itself is great. Ichiro Mizuki was the better choice of the main singers for this one. It isn't an action song, but it speaks to the power of the weapon well enough to get the point across.

12. Honoo wa mirai e / Takayuki Miyauchi

The better ballad on this song collection. Takayuki Miyauchi is a singer for one, so this makes sense. It also has something resembling a pulse at times, which is more than what can be said for Kimi ga shiawase nara. This isn't a bad song. I never skip it during a listen-through.

13. Let's go! Fire Squad / Takayuki Miyauchi

I think this may be the very first song I ever heard from this series.

This is such an awesome song. If there is one song on this song collection that is a perfect balance of singing, action, and pace, it's this song right here. There is no concept or anything, just the perfect theme song for...uhhh...his car. Oh, and "DANGER ZONE" made it into the lyrics again.

14. Yuusha Winspector / Ichiro Mizuki

This isn't a bad song, but a little bit on the boring side. Mizuki's singing is great, but not enough to save the song from it's blandness. Even it's obligatory guitar solo is pretty boring.

15. Kyo no ore kara ashita no kimi e / Takayuki Miyauchi

Good enough to be number six on my Top 7 Metal Hero Ending Song list from 2018. The bassline is undeniably catchy along with the blaring horns. This song is delightful in it's overbearing cheesiness. Even Miyauchi's vocals are softer than usual to accommodate this aural confection.

BONUS: Winspector Action

Technically this isn't a vocal song, but it easily could have been. Hell, I think it was initially released on the second volume of the song collection in 1990. This song exists in two forms on the 2007 2-Disc Complete Music Collection--With or Without backing vocals.

I actually dig this song quite a bit. It's very 1990, but has some modernized elements of some of the music you would have heard in a hardboiled detective show of the 70s. When you listen to this, imagine it being done up with a jazz orchestra. It just...has that feel to it. That said, I enjoy the version without backing vocals better.

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I love this song collection. Back in my early days of collecting, I sought these songs out dearly. I don't even think I was able to score a legit copy until the Superhero Chronicle was released in 2004. Of the big three genres, Metal Hero always took backseat to Kamen Rider and Super Sentai.

Has the excitement of this soundtrack worn off over time? Nope! It's still one of my favorites. While it doesn't avoid the duds, it has some great songs from two of my favorite anison singers and a surpisingly good tune from Hiroshi Miyauchi for his Masaki character. Of the two Toei Tokusatsu series from 1990, Winspector definitely made out with the more memorable song collection.

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Now that you've made it to the end, I have a little confession to make. Sure, I love the hell out of this song collection...it's the main reason I picked this as my debut to the new series. The secondary reason is...I figured...why not start with a trilogy?

See ya next time!

-CC

The CD Collection
Song Collection: Tokkyushirei Solbrain
Song Collection: Tokusou Exceedraft

2019/01/28

The CD Collection--Denko Chojin Gridman Original Soundtrack


Welcome to my CD Collection review of the brand new Denko Chojin Gridman Original Soundtrack from our good friends at Cinema-Kan. They previously released the excellent Ultraman Powered Original Soundtrack so we're certainly in for a treat today. It's always nice to see what a smaller label can do versus the giants like Columbia or avex. You can always tell there is just a little more passion involved in getting a release out.

Let's get into it...

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Denko Chojin Gridman Original Soundtrack
CINK-85/86
2019.01.23

As you likely guessed from the photo at the top of this page and the fact that that I've reviewed the 1993 CDs in the past, this is not Gridman's first CD release. I stick by my original assessment of the Gridman Music Collection. To put it quickly, I thoroughly enjoyed Osamu Tetsuka's music collection, but found it to be my least favorite of the stellar soundtracks to the rest of the 1993 Tokusatsu line-up (Gosei Sentai Dairanger, Kamen Rider ZO, Tokusou Robo Janperson, Ultraman Powered). To be last among the music of that year is hardly a negative, though.

So what is the purpose of this set? Well, it's a two-disc CD set versus the 1993 edition's lone disc. While that could mean that the second disc could just be comprised of the theme song single, it's actually much more than that. No, Cinema-Kan diligently combed through the Tsuburaya archives and found every last shred of content they could for this set...and even a very nice surprise!



DISC ONE

This disc contains a good portion of the content you would expect. All vocal songs are represented as well as a lot of the familiar BGM tracks from the 1993 version of the music collection. The vocal songs, might I add, have grown on me a bit more over time. Both theme songs by Norio Sakai are gems. Who doesn't love Yume no Hero? Of all of the Tokusatsu theme songs of the 90s, it's the only one that I've enjoyed more over time. The sentiment I have for the lone vocal song, Futatsu no yuuki by Compoid Three, is similar. The bassline and horns are just so damn good. Like the original music collection, there is also an instrumental version of Futatsu no yuuki included.

Overall, this disc is what you would expect..........until you get to the last track...

The bonus track of this album is an alternate version of Yume no Hero! WOW! I had no friggin idea this even existed. How different is it? Musically it's the same, but lyrically it's different. Is it any better than the final version? NOPE. It's weird how the smallest changes can kinda diminish the slickness of a song. In this case, the lyrical differences are a little janky.

That said...what an addition! Columbia didn't have the guts to release the alternate version of the Kamen Rider BLACK RX theme song on that big 3-Disc set. You rule, Cinema-kan!

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DISC TWO

The content that inhabits this disc is largely made up of alternate takes and a lot of the smaller incidental music that was completely missing from the 1993 version soundtrack. This is the type of thing I live for. A lot of the stuff here has little bits of background noise and imperfections. They're wonderful little snapshots in time. The alternate takes are always welcome as well, especially when it comes to the badass action tracks from this show. You know... I probably like this soundtrack more than the Janperson music collection in retrospect. Janperson's music collection is more comedically derivative of Hollywood movie soundtracks with a splash of original action themes. Gridman is 100% original and 100% awesome.

The big new additions on this disc are the TV size versions of both theme songs which, correct me if I'm wrong, have never been released before. Yeah, the old version of the music collection featured the full size versions. We also get Instrumental versions of both theme songs, which were absent on the 1993 CD. There are four Karaoke tracks to finish the disc off. Both theme songs (previously released on the CD Single), Futatsu no yuuki (previously unreleased), and the Type B version of Yume no Hero. Again...wow! Like I said, it isn't different musically, just lyrically. The chorus singing is what necessitates the separate version.


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There it is! This release was certainly worth the wait. It combines the two previous Gridman CDs, adds a healthy amount of additional content, and does it at a very efficient price. Cinema-Kan, you're definitely alright in my book. I absolutely recommend this release as well as the Ultraman Powered Original Soundtrack. I'm looking forward to what Cinema-Kan has in store for the future.

For more CD Collection goodness, check out my page here. I have more reviews and research materials there.

Take care!

-CC

The CD Collection--SSSS.Gridman Singles & Original Soundtrack
The CD Collection--Gridman, Changerion, Guyferd, Mikazuki, & Evolver

BONUS: Some of the awesome extras hidden in the artwork. I love the layout of the 1993 Original Soundtrack, but this new release wins on the sheer coolness.


Gridman Sigma!



Inner side of the obi