I'm Calling It Now. The Winner Is.....

Hello and welcome back to CCLemon99.com. How are you? Everything good? Awww shoot, I'm so sorry to hear that. What did the doctor say? I know it's a drag to apply ointment three times a day, but you'll be as good as new in five weeks. It'll clear up! If I may interrupt... It's time for another CCLemon99 Unpopular Opinion™.

I started my channel nearly eleven years ago with the goal of making reviews of Super Sentai Henshin Items. It was uncharted waters in 2007 and now you can find dozens of Youtubers tripping over themselves to be FIRST!!11! and try to make that e-peen just a little more impressive. Considering my one year anniversary on Youtube was also the time that I caught up to the current series, I have definitely moved on in the decade since. 2008 may have been peak Youtube, and coincidentally the internet just slingshotted forward through burgeoning innovations and the world becoming a smaller place as a result.

Every aspect of life has moved forward at an impressive pace since then, but some things have kinda fallen to the wayside. There is less room for smaller competition. Niche brands and items are falling behind to make way for tech. Toy makers have always tried their damnedest to add a sliver of new technologies to entice kids to keep on playing while also juggling things like price point and safety.

This brings me to today's topic. 2008 was the start of a new era in Super Sentai toys. The dreaded gimmick was born. I plan on talking about the entire decade of toys in the second part of this post, but for now I really want to focus on the one that got it absolutely right. This toy managed to do it all, to be it all, and to impress my icy heart. It ticked all of the boxes in a way that really had never been done before. This is the Sentai Henshin Item of the Decade. I know I'm going to get some hate for it, but I present to you..............

The DX Zyuoh Changer

I honestly have almost nothing nice to say about the series that it belongs to (the suit designs are decent I guess...) but this Changer won me over when it was released two years ago and has only made me fonder of it in the time since.

In my original review, I praised just about every aspect of it...including the packaging! Let's go through the wins.

-No additional gimmicks or add-ons. Right out of the box, it has the Henshin functionality of Eagle, Shark, Lion, Elephant, Tiger, and even Gorilla. There is even a great LED feature for each color of Zyuohger. The electronics are a wonderful balance of complete and simple, though the sound is a little bit too quiet.

-The cube-theme is well incorporated and incredibly less intrusive than the series mecha and weapons. Turning the block unlocks the different modes of the Changer. It's basic, and yet it turns into a discreet flip phone. Yeah, 2016...I know. Still, the design is a lot of fun and was carefully crafted to do the most with what is essentially a cube of plastic. Well done...

-The packaging is compact and colorful. My number one gripe with Henshin Items doubling as weapons is the annoying amount of space they take up. The worst offender by far has to be the Ninja Ichibanto from Ninninger. Ugh. It barely has a flat edge on it and is enormous despite the toy being woefully tiny compared to version used in the show. The Zyuoh Changer? I can get like four of them and they would take up just as much room on a shelf.

-The addition of the Zyuohger mini figures. While this kinda screams of insecurity on Bandai's part, they're a neat little addition. I genuinely think that they're so programmed into thinking toys need a gimmick that they went full ham and put these pointless figures in for good measure. Whatever, it does make the whole presentation a little more colorful if you display everything together.

I had some glowing words for it in 2016 and in 2018 I wish I gave it a better score. The two years since have been a complete drag. I don't know how well the Zyuoh Changer did, but the absolute double-down they've done on gimmicks in the time since doesn't inspire any confidence. There is collectability, and there is bullshit. Next time...I will be looking at the decade-long roller coaster ride of Super Sentai Henshin Items and the crippling effects of gimmicks...

For now... Do yourself a favor and pick up a Zyuoh Changer if you haven't already. I challenge Bandai to do something better in 2019...

See ya soon!



AWFUL: Hikari Sentai Maskman BGM

While I am absolutely useless at deciphering song lyrics in plain English, every once in awhile a nugget sticks with me. The lyric that struck me today actually comes from a song that I don't care for, but I'll share it anyway...

"You know the good ole days weren't always good. And tomorrow ain't as bad as it seems."

That's from Billy Joel's Keeping The Faith. It's a line that's always stuck with me considering how much people moan about "good ole days" when it comes to cars, movies, television shows, and...music. They're only the "good ole days" thanks to a combination of how memory works and possibly a smidge of revisionist history. I'm not ashamed to say I dig new music every once in awhile if it's genuine--even when it comes to Tokusatsu. I've made it fairly known that I enjoyed the Kyoryuger soundtrack even before I realized the series shared a composer with Carranger/Ultraman Powered/Gingaman.

Today I'm going to talk about an example of a classic series having an absolute shit music collection: Hikari Sentai Maskman.

Musical tastes are subjective, but there is no denying that the Maskman music collection is woefully...incomplete(?). The almost complete lack of an orchestra really takes the punch out of the entire mood. Whatever the story was behind-the-scenes, composer Goro Omi turned in a collection of the most disjointed sludge ever to poison our ears.

The Good

Admittedly there are some worthwhile pieces of music. Hearing real instruments is extremely rare throughout this collection, but there are some nice dramatic tracks that feature some nice acoustic strings. That is about as traditional as this music collection got. Even the previous Sentai/Toku series that skewed heavily toward orchestral soundtracks would have some bare acoustic tracks for the heavier scenes.

The Bad

The best way I can describe the music from this series is like this... Tracks will feature a lone real instrument (horn, guitar, violin) and be absolutely ruined by a horrible synth tone and THE SINGLE WORST DRUM MACHINE IN EXISTENCE. This isn't even the first Sentai music collection employ the use of a drum machine, but whatever equipment they were using was at least four years out of date by 1987. Nearly every track is like this. If this is what was at Omi's disposal, that's rather unfortunate. The problem is actually deeper than that, however.

Omi cannot hold a rhythm. The music oscillates between teeth-shattering shrill to so herky-jerky that it could be some great break dance music with very little modification. That's great and all, but this is for a children's action show. There really is no great fight music, just this unnaturally uptempo noise. Some of the more hollow dramatic pieces featuring little more than a lone female vocalization are just cheap cop-outs. An example of a series that does this correctly is Gingaman.

If you're listening at home, the worst of the worst of this music lives on the Volume 2 disc. I don't think any of it was actually used in the show...at least I don't remember a lot of the wackier stuff being included. Mostly because I enjoyed this series and I think a lot of this music is enough to sink the show.

The Remedy

I can't really think of a series with a bigger disconnect between it's music and song collection. The saving grace here is that Omi didn't really have much to do with the vocal song collection, but he actually is behind the awesome Dashitemiyo ze! Aura Power. There are some pretty good tunes that really sound absolutely nothing like the music.

Ehhh...not bad.


Part of the reason I spent the entire month of April posting those daily reviews of Akina Nakamori albums was to kinda force myself to *really* go back and listen to the music. I wrote about the Complete Super Sentai Music Collection series from the mid-90s some years ago and, embarassingly, it's one of the most popular posts on the site. I really want you to pay close attention to what I wrote about the Maskman music collections. I talked about how rare the CDs are and how eye-watering the prices have gotten, but did I talk about the music even a little bit? Nope.

My aim is swing back around and talk about these series if there is anything else to add and to give the CDs themselves their fair shake. This post here isn't so much a review of the CDs, it's just something that's been biting at me. I might not enjoy the blandness that some of the music from current shows has adopted, but the opposite of inoffensive is...offensive. Something like the Maskman music collection is likely a zero budget, slapdash effort gone horribly wrong. While things did get MUCH better the next year with Chojuu Sentai Liveman, I would hardly call that music collection perfect.

What do you think of the Maskman music collection? Do you think Toei did enough to kinda work with what was turned in? Am I criticizing what is surely a misunderstood classic??

Thanks for stopping by this week!


More CD Collection Posts

UPDATE: I posted this to my Twitter account for the uninitiated...