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27 March 2011 @ 08:43 pm
[Toku] GOKAIGER - Thus far.  

So, most people following me on Twitter already know my opinion on this.

Most people I talk with normally are probably sick of me saying this.

Yet, I want to to make this point for context of future ramblings, and in case anyone else happens across this page. Warning, of course, there may be spoilers up through Episode 6 here.

Kaizoku Sentai Gokaiger is the best thing since sliced bread.

So far, anyway. I say this with the caveat that things could always, ALWAYS go south with the series.

Six episodes in thus far, though, and that does not seem to be the case.

Now, I have always been a fan of the brightly colored, spandex clad superhero teams Japan has given us, ever since the first episode of Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers in 1993. Of course, at the time I didn't KNOW they were from Japan, but it was pretty easy to figure out as time went along.

Over time I've drifted in and out of paying attention to the fandom, both English and Japanese sides, as the years have gone on. Around 2009, I'd been out of paying these things ANY mind for several years, when I first saw the opening to Samurai Sentai Shinkenger. I fell in love with it almost instantly, and stayed with the show straight to the end. I love Shinkenger quite dearly, and I will be getting into it one day.

Shinkenger was only the tip of the iceberg, though, as it began to domino into a renewed love for ALL things Tokusatsu. From Shinkenger I got into Kamen Rider Decade, and from it all previous and future Rider shows. As Shinkenger ended, I was still super excited - Toei had really hit upon a good formula that worked, Kamen Rider W at the time was looking pretty awesome, and while the upcoming Tensou Sentai Goseiger suits looked kind of weird... hey. Surely, SURELY they wouldn't let me down, right?


Oh, how very, very wrong I was. I am, to put it mildly, REALLY not a fan of Goseiger. This is ALSO something I plan on getting to, eventually.

So, for a year, my weekly dose of new Tokusatsu only came from Kamen Rider. I still had past Super Sentai I could look at, but my hopes for current and future shows were pretty dashed to a depressing extent. To make matters worse, Power Rangers locally had been cancelled!

Then, rumors started to leak out for the next series. Pirate themes? That certainly sounded silly at first, but even moreso when combined with the next thought - that Super Sentai was going to go the route of Decade, and do a big anniversary series utilizing all the past shows!

It seemed like a weird mix, and at first I dismissed some of these rumors. I was EXPECTING an anniversary show like Decade, as Toei was making a habit of spreading things that worked in Kamen Rider into other shows. But... I didn't have the faith in the Sentai half of their productions at that point.

Something happened, then. Things began to leak out - the costumes, the cast, the mecha.

It all looked really quite awesome.

I tried to keep my hype restrained, but as we reached the weeks leading up to the premiere, I had pretty much bought into all of it. This show LOOKED awesome, the cast looked INCREDIBLE, and Toei ... surely, SURELY, Toei would not botch this two years in a row, especially for the 35th anniversary series.

Finally, it aired, and we were greeted to the sight of the one scene that has made it out well beyond its fanbase.

And it... was AWESOME.

However, here is the thing about Kaizoku Sentai Gokaiger.

It is not just this.


This is incredible, and far beyond what I could have ever expected. The fanwank is STRONG with this one.

It all would have fallen apart, none of it would have worked... without a good cast and strong writing. For this you also need great music, and outstanding direction to really kick it up a few more notches.

Yeah, we've got that too.

Gokaiger's strongest point is not the previous thirty-four Super Sentai. It is not their ability to change into every single one of those guys.

It is the strength of the writing, direction, characters, and yes - even for a show like this - the acting.

The suave and cool Captain Marvelous leads a motley crew of soundrels (and one Princess) that aren't out to save the world. They're just space pirates who seek the "greatest treasure in the universe," and end up repeatedly saving Earth merely because they and their enemies, the Zangyack Empire, keep tripping over each other. Which is what has lead to the fact that Zangyack has a ridiculously tempting bounty set upon our heroes' heads.

There are people who want these guys, dead or alive, not because they're superheroes. They are wanted because they do what they want, and frankly just don't give a fuck.

(Now, the fact that Zangyack apparently enslaved their home planet probably helps matters, too.)

They don't suddenly become heroes overnight, which is refreshing. One episode's monster of the day fights come from a swordsman seeking the Gokaiger's bounty, which instead of ending in the heroic defense of our world's citizens... ends in what amounts to a pissing contest over swordsmanship between him and Joe/GokaiBlue. Luka's apparent altruism later in Episode 6 still gives way to her snagging a bit of treasure for her troubles.

The most heroic of the bunch is probably Captain Marvelous/GokaiRed himself, which shouldn't be surprising. Yet he always colors his heroics with other things - such as saying they beat back the Zangyack in Episode 1 from killing some teachers and a bunch of school kids because their lunch got ruined, not because it was the right thing to do. Or telling Doggie Kruger, "Don't blame me if you regret this," when his transformation device is returned to him after being in handcuffs under the former DekaMaster's watch for a whole episode.

The direction is, as well, fantastic. While Goseiger often would devolve into unspectacular CGI fests, the fight direction I loved so very much from Shinkenger is back here, in spades.

As an added bonus to this, Koichi Sakamoto - long time Power Rangers director and producer - has made his Super Sentai directing debut in Episodes 5 and 6 of this series, as of this writing. They are, without a doubt, amazing if just for the fight scenes alone.

The thing about all of this is?

All of this, alone, would make for one amazing Sentai show.

Yet, there's still more - there is STILL the form changing to past teams.

This is something used very liberally in every episode, and mixes up already great fight scenes into something else entirely.

Ever wanted to see Big One from JAKQ, White Swan from Jetman, and GaoWhite from Gaoranger fighting together?


Me neither.

Is it one of the most awesome things I've ever seen?

You bet your ass, it is.

I could probably go on for far, far longer, but I've already surpassed 1000 words here, so I'll make the rest here brief.

If you have any love of Power Rangers, or of Super Sentai?

Or even a moderate, passing interest in the genre?

Watch Gokaiger.

Currently, its being fansubbed by Over-Time, TV-Nihon, and Grown Ups In Spandex. So it is, needless to say, very, very easy to find.
bodunoun on April 15th, 2011 07:16 pm (UTC)
Great work keep it coming, best blog on earth