2021/08/30

The Mystery of Kamen Rider J's Helmet

This post is somewhat born out of frustration. I've always known what color Kamen Rider J is. He is green with green and teal accents. The End.

...

But no, I am here to tell you that there is apparently a difference in Kamen Rider J's suit depending on his size. Also...his Jumbo size has a name other than Jumbo? This is upsetting considering I'm 28 years into not knowing what the hell color Kamen Rider ZO's suit is. Is he Green? Blue? Navy? It's something that seems entirely contingent on lighting and who is printing the image. I've learned to live with that. This whole thing with Kamen Rider J is a different story.

The offending publication is here...


I own tons and tons of books on the 90s Rider movies (and Hakaider). Most of them just have the same info over and over again. This one in particular has some beautiful photos, but ultimately runs out of steam and just recaps ZO and Shin. The point of interest lays in this little blurb...


Yes, those helmets are clearly different. The caption merely claims that Kamen Rider J has a slightly different color when he is Jumbo Size, Let's take a closer look...


The antennae are kinda floppy in this one and, while it is likely due to the aggressive flash, the vent is almost white. The greens in the stripe are also a little more distinct. The eyes are also slotted with a clear lens overlay.


The helmet here is a little more refined with full eyes, a deeper metallic look to the vent, and rigid antennae.

This really made me examine the photos in the rest of the book to see if this was consistent at all. 


We're off to a bad start. Maybe the darker vent isn't present here, but the antennae are pretty rigid.


This is the Jumbo version and...how about that? The vent is darker, but this is clearly the stunt helmet since the clasps are on the side and the eyes are slotted and lensed.


Jumbo J again and...wait. This is clearly a hero helmet since the eyes are lit up, but the antennae are floppy and...transparent?? What's going on!? At least the vent is still dark.


Normal J here and...this is a stunt helmet with the lighter vent. His crystal/belt isn't jeweled like it is in the bike photo above. I guess they couldn't be bothered for this stunt suit?

I guess you catch the drift. The J suit has the usual differences between stunt and hero suits, but also some weird variations between normal size and jumbo. This is something that Bandai never acknowledged in the SHFiguarts of Kamen Rider J. 

Oh yeah...there is also this...


What the heck is Kamen Rider J J Power MAX? The caption talks about J's power. I kinda feel like this was a lazy little addition, but on the surface it looked to me like they're trying to give J's Jumbo form this name. I mean, if he has a new helmet...why not??

----------

That's it for this post. I know this was a strange little topic, but when I posted the image to twitter it seemed like everyone shared in my confusion. I dig little things like this.

OH! I also have yet another Kamen Rider J topic coming up in September. I don't even like Kamen Rider J! Regardless, I have a new post coming up about the guy. I may have some more book posts coming up soon as I explore them a little more closely when I have some spare time.

See ya soon!

-CC

2021/08/01

Song Collection: Dengeki Sentai Changeman


It's the third and final part of my review of 1985 Tokusatsu Song Collections. I previously listened to the short Kyodai Ken Bycrosser Song Collection and the Kyojuu Tokusou Juspion Song Collection. It only makes sense that I am finishing this with a listen to the flashpig flagship series.

The Changeman Song Collection kinda gave us a new sound and introduced us to a young man by the name of Hironobu Kageyama. Hmmm...

I briefly gave this a listen in my copy of the Dengeki Sentai Changeman Complete Song Collection in the past if you wanna look back to that.


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

01. Dengeki Sentai Changeman / KAGE

I really like this theme song, but it has always felt a little sloppy to me. Maybe "inconsistent" is the better word... You get these heavy guitars and horns and then they suddenly drop out with Hironobu Kageyama left alone with a piano...while also maintaining the tempo. Think of Blue SWAT's TRUE DREAM. That feels like a more coherent song to me.

THAT SAID...this is a pretty rad theme. Maybe it isn't my favorite, but it is a lot of energy and a lot of fun.

02. Kagayake! Changeman / KAGE, Koorogi '73, Shines

This song is confused. So many "Flash!"es.

Ehhh...it's fun uplifting song. I can't fault it for that. That said, I don't really seek this one out too often. Unlike that Turboranger song that spells out "T-U-R-B-O P-O-(dub)-E-R", this song nails the spelling of "C-H-A-N-G-E-M-A-N" perfectly.

03. Soldier Dragon ~ Yuusha no Michi~ / KAGE

This is the ultimate Red theme song in my opinion. Kageyama's vocals are just on point and the music is perfection. It kinda has the feel of the classier song, but the bass is what really steers everything along. This is a regular song in my rotation. It's just the greatest.

04. Fight! Changerobo / KAGE


"Ehh...this one is just *good*.

Kageyama's vocals are just so drown out for some reason. The music is really good, but when it levels off for the vocals it just kinda sounds like Kageyama is like five meters away from the microphone. I guess if it didn't oscillate between bland and awesome I'd have more fond memories.

Maybe with some better mixing this one would have been better."

05. LOVE FOREVER / Naomi Miyanaga

Another fantastic song. This one is more mature and features the raspy vocals of Naomi Miyanaga. It's hard to describe this smooth, smooth track...but it's far more entertaining that anything on the song collections of the surrounding Sentai series. 

06. WE CAN CHANGE / Japan Echo Singers, Koorogi '73

Yet another wonderful jam. This is one of those rare songs with Koorogi '73 that hits it out of the park. Sure it's led primarily by the Japan Echo Singers, but when you see Koorogi '73 in the credits, it's usually a warning more than a welcome. 

Yeah, this song is a classic. It's catchy and it's just all around well-constructed. 

07. GREAT PASSION ~Jonetsu no arashi~ / KAGE

Oh yeah, back to the Sentai songs.

Weird intro aside, this one is kinda boring. I don't think Kageyama was great for this one...he sounds kinda lost on everything except the "Oh! Great Passion!". This is one I don't give much play to. It isn't bad, it just doesn't really know what it wants to be.

I also swear that Kageyama is trying to disguise his voice...

08. Mermaid & Phoenix / Naomi Miyanaga

Another great song by Naomi Miyanaga. I have to edge out LOVE FOREVER...barely. This track is damn near as good. The same awesome vocals, but this one is a bit more localized to Super Sentai as it's the dual theme for Change Mermaid and Change Phoenix. 

Seriously great song. I tend to forget about it only because it doesn't feel like a Sentai song at all, but it's really good. 

09. Earth Force, shukumei no hoshi / KAGE

This one is alright. It's one I tend to skip. It's kinda rockabilly-ish at times before just going on to be a low-key rock song. I like it, but it isn't all that memorable. Kageyama at least feels appropriate this time around. This is more tailored to his skill.

10. NEVER STOP Changeman / KAGE

The series ending theme song. Yeah, I'm kinda lukewarm on this one. I know it has it's fans and is pretty memorable. I just never got into it thanks to the incorrect synth tone. Kageyema sings his damn heart out...and I feel like he was probably the most comfortable on this track out of everything he did for Changeman.

11. Wakasa de Changeman / KAGE

Changeman was missing some action songs, so a single was released later on with two new action tracks. This is my favorite of the two, for sure. It's a wall of synthetic sounds, an energetic Kageyama, and a random horn for filler. It all comes together in this frantic collision. 

12. Pinchi wa Chance da, Changeman / KAGE

Once the weird intro is out of the way, this song is like a weird, haunted roller coaster of an action song. I kinda like this one, but the fake drums bug me more than usual. The backing vocals are also kinda...wrong. The energy is 100% right, though!

The title is perfect, by the way.

13. Dengeki Sentai Changeman [Original Karaoke]

14. Soldier Dragon ~ Yuusha no Michi~ [Original Karaoke]

15. Fight! Changerobo [Instrumental-Karaoke]

16. WE CAN CHANGE [Original Karaoke]

17. GREAT PASSION ~Jonetsu no arashi~ [Instrumental-Karaoke]

18. Mermaid & Phoenix [Original Karaoke]

19. NEVER STOP Changeman [Original Karaoke]

20. Wakasa de Changeman [Original Karaoke]

21. Pinchi wa Chance da, Changeman [Original Karaoke]

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

OVERALL: This song collection's greatest strengths are it's more mature songs. The Change Dragon and Mermaid/Phoenix themes are excellent. There are also legit wonderful songs in LOVE FOREVER and WE CAN CHANGE. Something is to be said when the weaker songs in the collection include the theme songs. 

For a first-timer, Kageyama did a wonderful job carrying an entire song collection. Sure he had been a rocker for the better part of a decade, but the switch to anison is like getting a job at a cog factory after working in one that made widgets. There is a bit of shakiness, but he definitely had a fan looking out for him at Toei/Columbia. 

Definitely check this song collection out. It's not my favorite, but it has some songs that transcend the genre and legitimately rock.

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

That's is for my look at the Tokusatsu Song Collections of 1985. Check out my music collection page for me, but be sure to check out my Kyodai Ken Bycrosser and Kyojuu Tokusou Juspion Song Collection reviews!

-CC



2021/07/31

Song Collection: Kyojuu Tokusou Juspion

Welcome to part two of my trio of posts on the Tokusatsu Song Collections of 1985. I previously listened to the mini song collection from Kyodai Ken Bycrosser. Now we're going to dig into the Metal Hero series of the year--Kyojuu Tokusou Juspion. Of the three, this is the only one that has received and official release in the US, so check it out.

I briefly talked about these songs in my listen to Superhero Chronicle Metal Hero Shudaika Sonyuuka Daizenshuu I, which you can breeze through if you'd like.

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

01. Ore ga Seigi da! Juspion / Ai Takano

Naturally this is the series theme song. I'm gonna be completely honest...I only half like this theme song. As a song itself, it's really not good at all. In context of the series...it definitely works better. I can watch the opening video and it just works better. As I'm listening to it for this review...I'm just bored with it. This is nothing new, I've never really been hot on this.

The upside is Ai Takano. He does some fine work selling this song through his voice. It just has more to do with it being a burnt-out Michiaki Watanabe tune.

02. Powerful Fighter Juspion / Akira Kushida

Some great singing from a great singer over more Watanabe lameness. I don't feel bad about not being a fan of Watanabe. It's bizarre that he's 95 years old as of this writing and still composing Zenkaiger, the current Super Sentai. He was out of ideas in 1985...

This song is alright. It has a nice splash of BGM thrown in, but it feels like it's more out of convenience. Akira Kushida really couldn't do wrong in this era...and mercifully he's around for a quarter of the tracks.

03. Itsuno hi heiwa ga / BOBBY

I like this one. It's funky little upbeat track that was strangely completely missing from the series. Some Watanabe deja vu creeps in with the music, though. This sounds like a warmed over Sharivan song. 

I like the vocals by BOBBY...who seems to barely exist outside of this song. 

04. Kyojuu tachi yo / Space Minstrels

This is one of the worst Metal Hero songs out there. It isn't bad in an entertaining way. It's just so anonymously bland. It goes nowhere and accomplishes nothing. Snore...this takes ballads to a new level of unconsciousness. 

05. Ginga no Tarzan / Akira Kushida

Another Kushida jam. This may be my favorite of the bunch. It's a bit disco, but it also has a great pulse...which is refreshing after the last song. Kushida does his usual greatness, but the music isn't really derivative of anything else for a change. This one is good.

06. I'm Juspion / Henry

The "English Version" of the opening theme song. I love the accent and forcefulness, but the lyrics are definitely questionable. "You know you are boy. I know you are young". 

Yeah...an eyebrow is definitely raised.

It's fun in that this is the earlier English version I can think of. There have been many since...

07. A Wolf in Space / Henry

...and then there's the "English Version" of the ending theme song. Like the previous track, this is the same song with new lyrics. It's also just as silly.

08. Neppuu yaro Juspion / Ai Takano

Ugh. This song kinda exemplifies what I really dislike about Watanabe. His work was great and he is a legend, but he was stubborn as all hell. This song is so dated in 1985. One of the reasons I really wanted to give Bycrosser it's own review was because those songs managed to be modern and crisp without being too flashy. Watanabe was doing flashy and dated. 

This song is just blaaand. Takano sounds like he's singing from a shower. It's the same issue a lot of Hironobu Kageyama songs had in the era...which leads me to believe he was recording in the same place.

09. Ryuusei no Senshi / Ai Takano

This one is pretty decent. It kinda copies the vibe of what was going on in a lot of Changeman songs. It's upbeat and devoid of the dated cheese that a lot of other songs here suffer from.

10. Cho wakusei sentou bokan Daileon / Akira Kushida

This is the mecha song of the series. It's pretty generic...if you've heard one Watanabe mecha theme, you've pretty much heard them all. It's good, but nothing revolutionary.

11. Mabushii aitsu / Akira Kushida, Columbia Yurikago-kai

Dated, but good. I like the intro and Kushida's soothing vocals. This is before he had to lay the gruff on in every song he did. The brats come in for a nice assist as well. It's kinda refreshing to hear a nice soft song to bring this thing home.

12. Ginga ookami Juspion / Ai Takano

The series ending song. Just like the opening theme song, this one isn't that great. The drum machine that ruined a lot of decent songs of the era is present and in full-fucking-force. By far the coolest thing about this song is the title, but it all falls apart there.

Ehh...yeah. 

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

OVERALL: I know I have very unkind words for the composer of this series, but I think his work on Juspion, Spielban, and Jiban is where the dam officially burst. The years since have been better since he is working purely on nostalgia. This wasn't the case after the Space Sheriff series ended. Listening to this song collection (and music collection) is listening to someone who is tired, out of ideas, and refuses to change.

I probably listen to this song collection the least out of all of the Metal Hero song collections. I have always had a particular disdain for it...more so than the B-Fighter Kabuto mess.

Anyway, no...I can't recommend this one. It's helpful that it lives on a set with five better series song collections.

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

That was my blistering review of the Juspion song collection. Check out my music collection page and also my reviews of Kyodai Ken Bycrosser and Dengeki Sentai Changeman song collections.

-CC

PREVIOUSLY...

Song Collection: Kyodai Ken Bycrosser
Song Collection: Dengeki Sentai Changeman
A Huge Discovery in Time for 25 Years of Gekisou Sentai Carranger!
CCLemon99 Magazine Issue 9
Can you still find a deal in 2021?
The Toei Situation

Song Collection: Kyodai Ken Bycrosser

Hello there! I am doing something a little fun to end July and kick off August. By some weird happenstance I've completely neglected to post song collection reviews from any of the three Tokusatsu series from 1985. This wasn't an intentional slight against the fine people of Brazil or this guy, it just never happened.

So to correct that I will kick things off with the shortest song collections of the bunch--Kyodai Ken Bycrosser. The dipshits at Netflix would have you believe that this is a Super Sentai series, but it isn't. This is a Shotaro Ishinomori series independent of any real genre. Henshin Hero is so...vague. Anyway, I briefly listened to these songs in my review of Tokusatsu Hero Shudaika sonyuu uta taizenshuu III if you want to check that out.

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

01. Tatakae! Bycrosser / Gentaro Takahashi

I really like this theme song. It kinda feels like an upbeat precursor to Chojinki Metalder's opening theme song, but it has some nice modern splashes to keep it modern. The obligatory guitar part is fun, but a smidge on the modest side. You remember the guitars of the Bioman theme...but not here.

The vocals are a smidge obscured, in my opinion. Singer Gentaro Takashi is something of an odd choice. He was definitely a Columbia player as he is largely known for his singing on the Columbia cover of Mach Go!Go!Go! from 1967. Outside of that...from what I have heard he was something of a crooner back in the day. Check out his group's cover of Del Shannon's Runaway from 1962. Fun, right? But soooo random that he ended up doing the theme songs to Bycrosser.

Yeah, so I dig this theme song. It's one I listen to often.

02. Ore to omae wa Bycrosser / Makoto Fujiwara

OK, so I really like this one. It's probably my favorite IN song of the year. For starters, the singer is Makoto Fujiwara in his first of two Tokusatsu songs. It may be strange that I'm gushing over a guy who has only ever done two Tokusatsu songs, but his is responsible for one of the finest anime theme songs of all time. The opening theme song to Macross is just...perfection. 

He brings the same energy here and turns in a great action song for Bycrosser. It's very similar to the Macross theme...minus the badass orchestra and catchy lyric. It's still a great song.

03. Go Go! Ken Roader / Makoto Fujiwara

The second of two Makoto Fujiwara Tokusatsu songs. This one isn't as good, but it's still a great little action diddy. I would say it's a smidge catchier at least...and as far as songs that name drop series toys equipment, this one keeps it pretty fresh. Remember that Action Fantasy song in Maskman that blandly mentions all the gear? Yeah...this isn't that.

04. Sonona mo Kyodai Ken Bycrosser / Gentaro Takahashi

The companion ending song to the series is also sung by Gentaro Takahashi. It's a more mellow version of the opening theme more or less. This may be sacrilege, but I think it's the best ending theme song of the year. I really like the wavy synth. It makes it pretty memorable to me.

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

OVERALL: I know this song collection is a shorty, but it's significant enough to give it a post. On one hand, I really wish there was more songs...but on the other it's brevity steers it away from any mistakes like a badly sung duet by the brothers. 

My hopes for this series is to get a full remastered release with Karaoke, Music Collection, the works. Columbia has been dusting off a lot of gems from the archive lately and Cinema-Kan has been there along the way as well. The sad truth is that unlike Machineman, Bycrosser's music was handled by Tokuma...which has since folded. Who knows who has the rights...but Columbia releasing these songs on CD for the first time in the early 2000s was a promising start. A company like Cinema-Kan would be perfect for this...just saying. They did a wonderful job on their Ultraman Powered and Gridman releases. 

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

That's it for Bycrosser! Be sure to check out my music collection page and also my Kyojuu Tokusou Juspion and Dengeki Sentai Changeman Song Collection reviews!

-CC

PREVIOUSLY...

Song Collection: Kyojuu Tokusou Juspion
Song Collection: Dengeki Sentai Changeman
A Huge Discovery in Time for 25 Years of Gekisou Sentai Carranger!
CCLemon99 Magazine Issue 9
Can you still find a deal in 2021?
The Toei Situation

2021/06/30

A Huge Discovery in Time for 25 Years of Gekisou Sentai Carranger!

Earlier in the year I mentioned in my posts regarding the anniversary years of Ultraman/Kamen Rider and Super Sentai that 2021 is something of a huge party. The biggest thing for me to celebrate is the 25th Anniversary of Gekisou Sentai Carranger! I can understand if someone isn't a fan of my favorite Super Sentai, Kakuranger, but if anyone speaks ill of my precious Carranger...words will be had. 

OK, maybe not. 

I can say for certainty that Carranger is undeniably one of the most detailed and well-produced entries in the Super Sentai catalog. I wrote a three-part series of posts re-examining the series back when Shout! Factory released the DVD set in 2017. Here it is if you want to catch up...


Gekisou! Accel Changer! Carranger Part 1 of 3

Pegasus & Uchuu Bosozoku Bowzock ~Carranger Part 2 of 3~

Triple Top 7! ~Carranger Part 3 of 3~

If you follow me on Twitter you'll know that I like to post random gems as I revisit my massive book collection. I kinda enjoy more obscure books, but I recently decided to look for a couple of year books. These tend to be *very* expensive (Good luck finding an undamaged copy of Zyuranger's book sub-$80) and are only...adequate. They are good, don't get me wrong, but I wish that they were like twice as big with more uninterrupted photos. They're fine, but I like the more obscure stuff.

Since I love Carranger so much, I made that one a top priority for my bookshelf. When I finally looked through it, my detailed eye spotted something that sent me to ebay...IMMEDIATELY.

Are you ready?

In one of the pages showing off the Carranger gear, we get out *only* still shot of keychains that we see hanging from the Carranger's Accel Key component of their Henshin Item, the Accel Changer. Being a huge fan of all-things with four wheels, I honed in on Kyosuke's key in particular. His individual keychain is that of the quintessential lightweight British roadster, the Austin-Healey Sprite!

The book kinda goofs by calling it a "Supercar". While it is a super car, it certainly is no Supercar. The Sprite was manufactured from 1958-1971 as a lightweight, no-frills motoring experience. It's a tiny car...no lie, it's sister car is the MG Midget. Early cars put out 46 horsepower while the latest cars topped out at 65hp. 

This is weirdly a perfect choice of car to represent Kyosuke and his love of "open car" driving. The gang at Pegasus dreamt of (and eventually succeeded in) building their own car, which was a thinly veiled Lotus Elise (lightweight, British sportscar...and very new at the time of airing). Throughout the series there was a rotating cast of British sportscars in the background of Pegasus. It's pretty clear that they filmed in an active auto shop during off-hours since wrangling foreign cars weekly for set dressing would have minimal payoff.

The genuine love of cars the series conveyed is something that I deeply appreciated...and something that I think went largely unnoticed. It goes from the cars seen and driven in the series to the keychain in Kyosuke's pocket.

Once I did make the sighting I went right over to ebay and looked up Austin-Healey Sprite keychains. There were several varieties...some were missing the "SPRITE" text underneath the seal, some were formatted different. I found one seller that had a near-exact copy of the keychain shown in the book.

So I bought one.

Just kidding, I bought several.


That's not even all of them. The seller was likely SO confused...

Let's not ignore the fact that the Sprite is a rad little car. It lost it's cute face as time went on, but it offers the kinda of stripped down driving that interests me more than high-horsepower madness. It's easy to make power...it's a challenge to actually use it.

To finally see Kyosuke's key in detail was like finding a lost birthday card with a crisp $20 note in it. It's been around this entire time, but it feels so much sweeter now than it would have been if it was something I noticed in 1996.

Anyway, I hope this little discovery inspires some of you to check out the wheels in the background when you view the series again. They're pretty special when you consider your average Kei car in Japan looks like a washing machine with wheels.

Kurukuru Kurumagic! Happy 25th Anniversary to Caaaaaa~ranger!

-CC


Previously.....


2021/06/25

CCLemon99 Magazine Issue Nine


Hi! This is that semi-regular every once in awhile thing I do where I talk about some quick random topics. This time I'll be talking about some anniversary stuff, a little personal news, and pose a very important question. Yeah...I actually need your help with something. Let's dig in, shall we?

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

What have I been up to...?

Not that you asked...or cared...


It's been a full year since I've written one of these magazine entries. In the time since... life is very different for everyone. I've been fully vaccinated since April which allowed me to go on my first trip of the year in early May. It was nice to travel again! There is no ignoring the fact that this thing isn't over and likely won't be any time soon...but having my shots certainly protects me from hospitalization.

Since the pandemic began I have carefully examined my career and was actually approached with an impressive opportunity completely outside of my current field. It didn't take much convincing for me to accept the new gig even though I am leaving behind a long career. I really can't get into specifics, but one of the motivating factors was being told there was no money for raises due to COVID's effects on the industry while also watching the CEO graciously accept a multi-million dollar bonus for how they navigated the business through COVID.

K...

I gave notice on Monday of this week to overall shock at first, but it's been interesting to sift through individual reactions. I've gotten some great letters of support from corporate and many of my contemporaries. On a more personal level...the people who rely on me directly...things have been much less rosy. I did get some tears. My assistant was gutted of course. My direct superior seems to be in full avoidance of me since getting my letter and having a brief phone call with me. Others have also avoided me. 

It's kinda surprising. I have so many connections that it's hard to reach out to everyone, but I intend to do so as much as I can in my remaining time left before I move on.

I promised an update on twitter, so here it is. It's been...weird. At the end of the day I really hope I inspire the right people to stop putting up with this garbage and end the career suffering.

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

Question for you...


I've been re-evaluating my collection lately. I'm largely done collecting Tokusatsu toys for three obvious reasons.

1. I have every Sentai Henshin Item and still keep up with the collection as they are released.

2. I have *nearly* every Kakuranger toy boxed. There are a handful of things I need boxes for.

3. I have every 90s Sentai Mecha boxed.

That last one is kinda up for debate since I don't collect the black version of any mecha. If you cast your memory back to the very end of GoGo Five you'll remember that they received one last mecha to close out the series...Max Victory Robo B Version. This wasn't the same mecha repainted...this was an all new Black Version of Max Victory Robo.

So...do I have to do it? Do I need the DX Max Victory Robo B Version to finish out my 90s mecha collection? Sure I already put a cork in it, but I suppose I should continue...

Let me know! Here or Twitter...it's all good.

...and no, this isn't a roundabout way of me bragging about my collection. Or is it...?

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

YouTube News!


If you are a YouTube creator, you recently received an email regarding Unlisted videos. As you may know, I set the majority of my videos to Unlisted in response to some severe strikes I was receiving from Nippon Columbia. YouTube is now forcing Unlisted videos uploaded prior to 2017 to Private as part of a security update. 

I've chosen to bring all of my videos public once again.

As I write this I am currently bulk-updating the status for all of my videos. There is a good chance everything will be live again by the time you're reading this.

Did I mention that today is my fourteenth anniversary on YouTube? Yeah, on this day in 2007 I started my Youtube Channel. It's a good day to bring everything back I suppose!

New content...someday. For now, we can all relive the past more conveniently again.

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

Zenkaiger

Yeah, I have zero interest in checking out this series. There is a Gold Gokaiger guy who does nothing but remind me of how disappointing Gokaiger was to me. 

If you like it, great. I just haven't been able to strike up any interest. If I talk about anything anniversary this year it will be my long-overdue revisit of Gaoranger vs Super Sentai. You know...the time before the Legendary Akared (Legend). He's a Legend, you know... Yep...been there since Day One of Super Sentai, that Legend.

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


Normally this is where I review a bunch of CDs. I kinda feel like I've posted too much. I may do a stand-alone CD roundup in July. Naturally I've been listening to a lot of music...but my thoughts have been kinda all over the place this month with everything going on.


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

I'll end it here by saying that things are definitely changing for me. I'm hoping to continue the good momentum and reinvigorate my creativity for you guys. 

Take care and stay safe!

-CC


Previously.....


2021/05/31

Can you still find a deal in 2021?

I'm known for a few things in our little corner of the internet. Sure I love uncovering little-known facts, complaining about fluff, and gushing about soundtracks to shows with rubber monsters. My bread and butter is toy collecting. I first introduced myself to Youtube as CCLemon99 with a series of videos on Super Sentai Changers and continue to bring new toys into the house to this day (SSSHF Kamen Rider Black...prepare to be inspected...soon...).

With the extended hiatus on making new videos for my Youtube Channel, I don't really have a ton of say about the current state of affairs for toy collecting. For toys with years on them I would always mention if they were a good buy or if there were still deals to be had. I kinda miss doing that so...here is an entire post on the subject.

I'm done collecting toys since if I don't have something in my collection, I likely did and sold it off at some point. I'm not joking. I own every Super Sentai Changer, every 1990s Sentai Mecha, and tons and tons of weapons and figures from franchises of all types. There is legit nothing for me to collect other than better boxes or continuing to build my army of Doron Changers. That doesn't mean I don't still sweep the sites daily for deals or the three things I have left on my list. Checking these sites over breakfast has had the side effect of giving me a solid gauge on the current state of collecting.

...

Yeah, everything sucks.

The sheer expense of some toys that are labeled "junk" or those that seemingly skate over broken or missing pieces by feigning ignorance (ugh! This is the internet! Research what you're selling!) is astounding. A lot of sellers in Japan have adopted this American "I know what I have" attitude based on...I don't know what. These auctions/sites rarely have completed sales for the skyhigh prices that are being asked. What gives? The only thing it does is artificially inflate the price.

Then there is ebay. Unless you have a seller outside of Japan, you can almost guarantee that the item you see if for sale on one of a number of Japanese sites for half the price--some of these sites don't even require a proxy/friend to buy it on your behalf. Avoid Japanese sellers of Tokusatsu toys on ebay...or at the very least use ebay as a launch pad and try to figure out where the scammer seller is middle-manning the item from. There is a good chance it's still available for half the price from the person who *actually* has the item.

I know that so far I've kinda dismissed the market as an overpriced junk market with a Russian nesting doll buying process. That's only a segment of the market. There is also legitimate demand for a lot of toys out there...specifically any Gaoranger mecha. The once $10 accessory Power Animals are now $80 and complete mecha have soared into the hundreds of dollars. You know what? Good. Power Animals are the last great Super Sentai Mecha toy series. They deserve the the hype. Am I bummed that I never got a Gaohunter to finish my set? Kinda...but I don't like the series enough to go back and drop that kinda money on one. I can't see the badly made toys since then going into crazy price territory, but you may want to snap up the quality ones like Engine-oh and Go-Buster Oh if you're on the fence. They're good and could be recognized as such at any moment.

The classics that have always been expensive have remained expensive ever since. That may sound like they are losing steam in popularity, but it's more that they hit a high ceiling about a decade ago and have maintained it.

Are there any deals?

If you exercise some extreme patience you will find the deals that you are looking for. Here are three recent examples of deals that I stumbled upon.

DX Doron Changer - $59

Like I said...I want a lot of these. I may attach five of them to a blue board for...reasons.

This one was 100% complete and in really solid shape. Prices on these have stagnated in general since the Super Sentai Artisan version was released and has so much more to offer while being essentially the same toy. I like the 1994 original, though. The "THWANG!" sound when it springs open along with the endless beep. Ahhh. The only issues this one has is the rot on the medals (they're all like that...throw a silica desiccant pack in there when it arrives) and a price tag for 2900 yen from 1994. The tag gives it charm, though.

DX GoGo Brace - $40

I'm not in the market for these at all, but I can't pass up a deal on a cheap 90s Sentai Changer.

From the photos the box looked very straight...which is my top priority since my main copy is ever-so-slightly less than perfect. Oh, and it was also classified as non-working and the nebulous "Junk" label.

What arrived was an opened but brand new toy. Not only did the box replace my current toy's box...but so did the changer. Yeah. I pulled the tab out of the battery slot and got nothing when I pressed the buttons the first time. After a little persuasion the toy roared to life with it's ear-piercing sounds. I was playing both games in no time.

I'm not sure what happened with the seller of this one...but they let go of the nice GoGo Brace I've probably ever seen for sale at a rock bottom price.

DX Chogokin Liverobo - $77

I can see how some people might not be so warm on this one, but hear me out.

For only a little bit of money I got a used, but completely intact DX Liverobo. Sure I already have a boxed one and sure this one has zero accessories, but it also has no broken parts and a manageable amount of wear. It looks great as something I can just have on my desk...and it definitely looks great on a desk. The beauty of it is that there is a repro decal/part market out there for basically anything I can want to correct on it. The decals are definitely wonky...that can be fixed. I can get a sword and shield. Missiles...you name it. For what it is, I think it's a great deal. I took some photos of this one to show you exactly what I mean.

At least it had *some* packaging.


I've seen way, way worse for much, much more.

Yeah, I think I did good on this one for it's intended use. The one I have never leaves it's box...so it's nice to have one that gets dust and COVID and whatever and it doesn't matter.

-----

There are deals out there but WOW you really have to work for them now. Have a list of items that you think you'd buy on impulse and keep a budget ready so that you can move on it. Or if you need to move on something quickly, just make sure that it's something that won't leave you with buyer's remorse if you pay extra.

The bottom line is this: Getting what you want is everything. Getting it at a good price is just a bonus.

This has been a special report from CCLemon99. Good Night.

PREVIOUSLY.....

The Toei Situation
I modified my car and really went too far this time [Tokusatsu License Plate]
CCLemon99 - Live Action Sounds [Full Tokusatsu Medley Album]
The CD Collection--Super Sentai Series 45th Anniversary Non-Stop Best Mix Vol.1
The Toys That Made Us: Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers

2021/05/15

The Toei Situation


On Thursday, May 13 it was revealed that fansub group TV-Nihon had received a Cease & Desist notice from the Intellectual Property Rights Department at Toei the night prior. Later on that day New-ZECT and KRDL also reported receiving the same complaint over their Super Sentai and Kamen Rider releases with Over-Time proactively disabling their releases as a precaution. The situation has obviously caused a lot of frustration, but has left two burning questions--"Is this legit?" and "Why now?".

I kinda have a take on each one of those questions.

"Is this legit?

Having been on the receiving end of complaints for over a decade on Youtube, yes, that seems legit. The more serious strikes I got on my channel were structured the same way. Back when Youtube included the complainant's contact info it was usually sent from an email like *family.*given@*company.co.jp, but this seems to have come from a shorter email address. The time that Toei filed a complaint against me it was very similar to this...right down to the department name and it being the only part of the complaint in Japanese.

"Why now?"

This one is a little complicated no matter what angle you look at it. Toei has been expanding the availability of their catalog to reach international viewers lately, which I think is an amazing thing. The history of Toei properties outside of Japan is a fascinating story on it's own that largely seems to be driven by whatever mood their in that particular year. The feeling I'm sure a lot of people have right now is one of having their head's lured outside of the window by Toei's International Youtube channel only to be guillotined.

Tsuburaya has been doing wonderful things with the Ultraman franchise that has revitalized it's appeal globally. Official Bluray releases are still coming out, the latest series is being simulcast on Youtube, and there are more projects on the way...all being developed with the world in mind. Toei is watching it's star live-action properties tank in popularity while also trying to cultivate it's history overseas. The Toei International Youtube Channel (which was temporarily obliterated by a copyright claim in it's first day from...Toei!) is a treasure trove of series from the past. The recent addition of uploading Kamen Rider movies (some temporarily, some permanently) and the first two episodes of every series have shown that they very much have intentions to expand their most popular franchise to the world whether it be through Shout Factory or on their own. 

This leaves the fansub community in a tight spot. The walls have been closing in for some time. Super Sentai DVD releases were burning very hot until Hasbro won the Power Rangers franchise in a contest or whatever. A piece of every Kamen Rider series being released on the official Worldwide channel still counts as a release. 

It feels like something is just around the corner. Will Toei copy the Tsuburaya formula for Kamen Rider? I hope so! Going at it on their own terms would be incredibly lucrative and something that they seem to be interested in doing. Even if Super Sentai is put out of it's misery, they have nearly half a century's worth of shows to (re)introduce to the world once they get back their rights to exhibit their programs.

I'm a little more optimistic because I've been documenting this whole thing along the way--and it goes back further than a lot of you can imagine. I'm going to tiptoe on a lot of the details since the other party involved is long removed from the scene, but here is what went down back in 2004 (and why everyone needs to give the person who tweeted at Shirakura a break--I did something potentially far, far worse).

I was a contributor for a website at the time and was sometimes given things to review. One was an OV-Tokusatsu series that was produced with a teeny-tiny bit of help from Toei (I don't remember if they received any official credit--but their DNA is obviously laced in if you were to watch it). Just enough help for there to be communication established even in post-production. My contact at this company was a rad dude who was able to get me Akira Kushida's autograph without me even asking for it. We chatted quite a bit and he was kinda curious about the then-boom in popularity of Kamen Rider. I kinda mused that Rider was "something that people downloaded out of boredom while waiting for their Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon subtitles". He asked me to elaborate and I showed him TV-Nihon's page. 

Now...I'm not really into downloading anything. You all know I have my CDs and DVDs. If it's legit, I'm in. I kinda forgot that I was talking to someone in a production who was already worried about piracy before their product was even released. Of course he was going to report it back to Toei. In a later conversation he followed up with "Toei is looking into shutting down that service you sent me". 

Obviously nothing ever came of that initial nudge, but it does make the timing of this legal document suspect. Toei didn't need some hapless dope tweeting at one of their assclown producers to uncover a public fansub group when I was the OG hapless dope seventeen years ago. 

Hopefully something cool is born out of this. If not, then Toei is possibly staying true to form and nothing will come of this. Either way, you have to remember that they're within their rights to do this. Even if they were letting it slide as a gesture of goodwill all these years, they don't need a reason to pull the plug.

...but let's hope that they do have one...

-CC

PREVIOUSLY.....

I modified my car and really went too far this time [Tokusatsu License Plate]
CCLemon99 - Live Action Sounds [Full Tokusatsu Medley Album]
The CD Collection--Super Sentai Series 45th Anniversary Non-Stop Best Mix Vol.1
The Toys That Made Us: Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers

2021/04/30

The CD Collection--Super Sentai Series 45th Anniversary Non-Stop Best Mix Vol.1

For as many Tokusatsu-related CDs as I buy each and every year, there are dozens that I skip over. On top of repetitive EPs, there is usually some kind of annual Kamen Rider or Super Sentai theme song collection slipped out onto store shelves. They sell well enough...so I guess that is grounds to keep releasing them. 

Every once in awhile there is something done to make these compilations worthwhile. The CD that I'm going to talk about today is something of an oddity...enough so that I pre-ordered it based on the title alone. What's a "Non-Stop Best Mix"? Who is DJ Caesar? Is this CD any good??

Let's find out!

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

Super Sentai Series 45th Anniversary Non-Stop Best Mix Vol.1 by DJ Caesar
COCX-41416
2021.03.24

I guess I can start this review by answering the first two of my questions. DJ Caesar has worked previously with Columbia to create not one, but two volumes of mixes from the Gundam series in 2019. It's only natural that the next step would be for DJ Caesar to recreate the magic for another long-running Columbia music property...Super Sentai. I mean, it's fertile ground for mixes, right? Given that this is an anniversary year for Super Sentai it only makes sense that we are getting something special instead of (or, more accurately, in addition to) the same old theme song collection.

This is the part where I usually do a track by track breakdown of the album. I *could* do that...but the reality is that this is literally the opening and ending theme songs from Goranger to Gingaman. This album's party trick is that the tracks are arranged seemingly at random and are stitched together in a non-stop presentation. Some of the transitions are done with cross fades of various lengths, some are a little more abrupt, and then there are the puzzling ones with extra effort like the transition into Kakuranger's opening theme song. 

The really, REALLY strange thing is that this album was announced like the day after I released my album, which is a similar premise made up of deeper cuts from different franchises. [Shameless self-promotion--check out my album "Live Action Sounds" for some good fun...I totally handled "Ashita ni ikiru ze!" better...]. Based on how I did my album, you can tell that I'm more of a fan of the abrupt transitions on Non-Stop Best Mix.

Some of the better transitions are the aforementioned skip into the Kakuranger opening, the hard cut from Gingaman's opening into the Sunvulcan theme, Turboranger's ending into Liveman's opening is really slick, Dynaman's ending song transitioning into the Dynaman opening song is possibly the most seamless of them all, and I think the weird jump from Liveman's ending into the Goggle Five opening is kinda funny.

The ones that I don't really like are the long cross-fades. They just kinda take me out of it. Sunvulcan's theme song transitions into the Ohranger ending theme song in a very strange way. Not only is the fade really long...but it fades into the already long full intro of Ohranger's Ending. Yeah, we get the whole "Ohrangers, Stand By" bit. Earlier on the disc we had a long fade into the Zyuranger OP, but it cut past the whole Total Recall knock-off bit.

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

OVERALL: I think this CD is really neat. I'm not just saying that because it pretty much covers the only theme songs that I like (it would've been rad if it ran through GoGo Five...oh well) but it's certainly a new way to listen to songs I already love. Would I ever think to blend the Fiveman opening theme song into the Maskman ending theme song? Never. I kinda gained a new perspective for some of these theme songs as well. I never really cared for Never Stop! Changeman (sorry!) for some reason, but I kinda came around on it during my listen here. Meanwhile, the usually invincible Tengoku Samba from Carranger becomes somewhat anonymous when sandwiched between the Kakuranger and Denjiman ending songs.

I get that this is meant to reach as many ears as possible, but I definitely would've been more interested in an album of more obscure songs. Yes, I know that I'm pretty much describing what I did, but I'd be remiss if I didn't mention that. I also wouldn't mind a strictly Super Sentai version of what Michiaki Watanabe did with his Eurobeat Metal Hero album back in 2001. 

I will close with two things...

1. I do enjoy this album and am curious to hear what a Vol.2 would sound like. Though I may have to punch out if it's only a continuation. How about mecha theme songs??

2. I feel like DJ Caesar is a man after my heart with his extra effort on the Kakuranger theme song. It's so weird that it's one of the few songs that has some extra arrangement (Zyuranger Ending song does as well) and the unique transition...but the Kakuranger Superfan in me makes me think that we may be cut from the same cloth,..


Preordered CDs came with a sticker of the front cover as a bonus

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

So there is my review of this fun new release. Definitely check it out if you're looking for something a little different. You can also check out some other. Or if you just like reading about Tokusatsu music (you weirdo) I have a page for my CD Collection.

I'll see you soon with a post that 100% going to make you roll your eyes and completely dismiss me. Just wait...it's another CCLemon99 unpopular opinion incoming.

See ya!

-CC

PREVIOUSLY.....

CCLemon99 - Live Action Sounds [Full Tokusatsu Medley Album]
I modified my car and really went too far this time [Tokusatsu License Plate]
The CD Collection--
Kikai Sentai Zenkaiger Shudaika ["Zenryoku Zenkai!" Ban Limited Edition]
Kakuranger Ball!!!

2021/04/11

The CD Collection--Kikai Sentai Zenkaiger Shudaika ["Zenryoku Zenkai!" Ban Limited Edition]


It's a new(ish) year. A new year brings a new Super Sentai. A new Super Sentai brings a new Super Sentai CD Single. A new Super Sentai CD Single brings a new post to CCLemon99.com. I'm taking a listen to the Limited Edition Theme Song Single from Kikai Sentai Zenkaiger. (Sorry...not doing the whole "Kikaisentai" thing).

No big deal, but this is the 45th Anniversary of Super Sentai. You know... 2021-1975=45! Or is it 45 teams? Does Lupinranger vs Patranger count as two teams? I tried to decipher the truth in the past to no avail...but whatever the case we have 45ish theme songs out there, and this is the latest!

As usual, there are two versions of the annual Sentai CD Single--Regular and Limited. The Limited Edition usually has a fair amount of goodies sprinkled in to entice you to spend a little extra and consider it over the barebones regular edition.  

So let's check it out!

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


Kikai Sentai Zenkaiger Shudaika ["Zenryoku Zenkai!" Ban Limited Edition]
COCC-17864
2021.04.05



DISC ONE


01. Zenryoku Zenkai! Zenkaiger / Takeshi Tsuruno

I like the bassline and the Zen-Zen-Zen bit. That's about it.

This is just as anonymous as every theme song since Goseiger. I've defended these theme songs every year as being safe for the sake of being safe. The song equivalency of shelf-stable food... A Sentai Twinkie if you will. No substance, just unhealthy filler with a candy appeal. This is what everyone involved with the production will have to listen to for the next year...so it can't be offensive at all. I really admire the opening theme songs from Timeranger and Gaoranger in hindsight for their weirdness.

Ehhh, yeah...this is just alright.

I should probably say something about singer Takeshi Tsuruno.

Does someone at Bandai owe him a favor?

I should back up. Tsuruno is famously known as Shin Asuka/Ultraman Dyna--a role he has continued with until present day whenever they call him. He also has a singing career that kicked off in earnest in 2003. Perfect credentials to sing the latest Ultraman theme song!

So WTF is he doing here? It's not like he has some supreme singing skills...and wasn't he in some hot water lately for some remarksblahblahtabloids. This song literally could've been done by anybody. It isn't a special song, and he isn't a special "get" of a singer. I guess I should just be grateful it isn't Yoffy...

This isn't terrible, but it isn't anniversary worthy. I also think the Gokaiger theme is pure Barley Gruel, so take that as you will...

02. Zenkai Gattai! Juran Gaon / Issao Sasaki, Mitsuko Horie

Now this makes more sense! Bring back the two singers that brought Super Sentai into the world for a new duet. This is also very much a song with composer Michiaki Watanabe's fingerprints all over it. I know I wasn't sold on him coming back, but these three back together is a relief.

Even as generic as this is, it's still a great mecha song. I probably haven't really liked a mecha theme since Shinichi Ishihara's Engine-Oh song in Go-Onger, so it's a warm feeling of nostalgia to have something like this to listen to.

03. Zenryoku Zenkai! Zenkaiger [Original Karaoke]

04. Zenkai Gattai! Juran Gaon [Original Karaoke]


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

BONUS DISC


There isn't too much to say about the Bonus Disc other than it's a collection of all of the TV Size opening theme songs from 1975-2020. Honestly...this is a pretty smart addition to an anniversary theme song single. Sure, why not?

If you *really* want to get serious about collecting TV Size theme songs, however, you really need to check out the TV Size collection from 2016. This one. I don't think I ever talked about it, but it is pretty damn thorough and even includes some previously unreleased tracks. Maybe I'll come back to that one someday...I think it had some omissions... 

The bonus disc included with the Zenkaiger single is a nice sampler!


Back Cover

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

BONUS ITEM


I have some Zenkaiger toys, but they're just in the collection. The gimmick this year is the Sentai Gear. They're like less charismatic Ranger Keys, but OK. This set has an exclusive Sentai Gear--The Super Red Version of the Goranger Gear. 

It's Red. That's pretty much it. Neat...


Oh yeah, and if you preordered your set, you would've gotten this neat card. Nice...


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

Booklet

Set Overall: The annual limited edition single usually has some fun tricks up it's sleeve to keep everybody happy. This year is no exception. I do take issue with the packaging, however. I feel like the only reason this is in oversized DVD case packaging is because a 2-Disc CD Case was probably a smidge more expensive. Ugh. That cost-saving measure means that this won't fit in my CD shelf... 

Don't get me wrong, I do like the fact that the TV Size collection is included...but the sacrifice to the collector (who likely already has TV Size CDs many times over) is kinda perplexing. I'm not quite sure who they were hoping to reach with this set. 

Yeah, I think this set is OK...but I just wish it could've been executed in a way that it fits in with the collection better physically.


Booklet Back

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

That's is for my annual Super Sentai CD Single review. I posted links to previous year's reviews below. If you want more music content, hit up my CD Collection page for days and days of reading.

Anyway...I'll be back very soon for a review of this guy:


I have thoughts...

See ya!

-CC


PREVIOUSLY.....

I modified my car and really went too far this time [Tokusatsu License Plate]
CCLemon99 - Live Action Sounds [Full Tokusatsu Medley Album]
The CD Collection--Mashin Sentai Kiramager Shudaika Limited Edition [Amazon Japan]
The CD Collection--Kishiryu Sentai Ryusoulger Shudaika Limited Edition
The CD Collection--Kaito Sentai Lupinranger vs Keisatsu Sentai Patranger Shudaika Limited Edition