Author Topic: Tokusatsu thread.  (Read 2019 times)

Tokusatsu thread.
« on: November 24, 2020, 02:47:35 PM »
 Been wanting to do this thread for a while. Last attempt a few years back died on its fucking arse, but some discussion in the Godzilla thread in Deeper into Movies has inspired me to have another crack.

Broadly-speaking, tokusatsu refers to the filming techniques used. Kind of stuff popularised by Godzilla and other Kaiju movies and live-action Japanese superhero shows like Super Sentai (better-known as Power Rangers in the west and south Korea), Kamen Rider and Ultraman.

Been into this for a good few years since seeing the first Pacific Rim inspired Power Rangers nostalgia in me and I stumbled upon fansubs of Kyoryuu Sentai Zyuranger (the basis for the first series of Power Rangers).

Anyway, this led me down a rabbit hole and have been consuming these shows since. Yes, the vast majority of them are toy-shilling machines much like the cartoons I watched in the 80s, but there really is something about them I love. The designs, the action and the commitment to practical effects. You can watch the current Ultraman show, Ultraman Z and STILL see rubber suits on miniature cities. It still rules.




Ultraman has been my favourite of the “Big 3” currently. Partly because Tsuburaya seem to understand there's an international audience for their stuff these days, it's genuinely never been a better time to check this stuff out, Blu-ray sets released (US releases but no region-coding on them), and old & new episodes on YouTube. For Example, this episode of Ultraman Max went up this morning:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PxC-cBUkcmk

(Max was very episodic monster-of-the-week stuff like most Ultraman shows, so an episode like this is okay to watch in isolation)

I'll get onto other shows and things I like in this thread, just wanted to start it, having dragged my feet on it for so long.

Re: Tokusatsu thread.
« Reply #1 on: November 24, 2020, 04:55:22 PM »
Ultraman's something I've always bounced off of. Even the Koichi Sakamoto directed series haven't done it for me and I usually find his action direction right up my alley.

Kamen Rider I've had an easier time with. The current season (Saber) isn't my cup of tea, but Zero-One I thought was splendid and Build was superb. Both have the anti-military industrial complex theme of Ishinomori's original comic.

Other Kamen Riders I've enjoyed were:

Fourze - this is where I came in due to Sakamoto directing and Kazuki Nakashima (Gurren Lagann, Kill La Kill) writing. Shame it turned out the lead actress' agency was barely paying her and she's now only appearing in films produced by the Happy Science cult. Also it doesn't really have an ending.

Drive - This has a much more solid plot, and an adult cast, so less suspicion of exploitation of child labour.

Ex-Aid - Weird theme of video games and doctors, and one of the cast is so much better and higher profile than anyone you usually get on a Kamen Rider show that you expect them to write him out promptly and they do. But some wild twists and a villain performance that goes above and beyond what is needed.

Den-O - This was the first pre-Fourze series I watched. The story doesn't really go anywhere, and has to deal with one of the leads dropping out of acting altogether, but the lead actor is great to the point where he got too successful to come back later and it has so much suit acting that it will really make you appreciate how much can be conveyed without facial articulation.

W - Three great leads, one of the best suit designs and a cat is part of the cast.

Also enjoyed a lot of the Metal Hero and Mystery Comedy shows that Toei posted on Youtube earlier in the year, but of course frustrated they've only subtitled the first 2 episodes of each.

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Re: Tokusatsu thread.
« Reply #2 on: November 25, 2020, 02:32:20 AM »
I'm assuming that's a giant man, rather than a tiny little dinosaur?

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Re: Tokusatsu thread.
« Reply #3 on: November 25, 2020, 02:59:39 AM »
Gaim is great like not great for a tokusatu or even as a children's program but just great. Obviously like Black and Black Rx from childhood.
Nearly every following Rider series I get half way through and give up. Though I thought Build was charming. The Amazons I feel were sort of half-assed.

I like Garo and the last two series were good. Even though there was a huge plot hole in the last series.

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Re: Tokusatsu thread.
« Reply #4 on: November 25, 2020, 08:11:52 AM »
I don't know much about these things, but one I recall fondly as a kid was Go Nagai's X Bomber, which was redubbed into English and shown over here in the early 80s as Star Fleet. It was made using puppets and miniatures similar to Gerry Anderson's shows, but when the three fighters that launched from X Bomber (LegTrack, MainBody and BrainCom) joined together in classic 'combining mecha' style to become the Big Dai X, it usually involved a man in a very impressive robot suit.

Re: Tokusatsu thread.
« Reply #5 on: November 25, 2020, 11:20:18 AM »
Gaim is great like not great for a tokusatu or even as a children's program but just great. Obviously like Black and Black Rx from childhood.
Nearly every following Rider series I get half way through and give up. Though I thought Build was charming. The Amazons I feel were sort of half-assed.

I like Garo and the last two series were good. Even though there was a huge plot hole in the last series.

Versus Road was really good. I like that they did something separate from the previous continuities of Garo, although while I enjoyed Moonbow Traveler as a movie and it was wonderful seeing Kouga and Taiga Saejima again, would have liked a full second season with Raiga. Garo's one of those shows where so many of the supporting cast could carry at least a movie by themselves.

Like Tougen no Fue could have just been "Oh shit Kouga's not here it's up to us girls to save the day!" but you look at it and it feels like this is just what Rekka and Jabi do when not helping the Makai Knights. Same goes especially for Zero. They played his focus episodes in Makai Senki like it's just what he does in his patch, and Black Blood/Dragonblood were extensions of that.

Gaim was running as I was getting into this stuff. After a few completed shows I decided to get caught up on it and it is still one my favourites.

Ultraman's something I've always bounced off of. Even the Koichi Sakamoto directed series haven't done it for me and I usually find his action direction right up my alley.

Kamen Rider I've had an easier time with. The current season (Saber) isn't my cup of tea, but Zero-One I thought was splendid and Build was superb. Both have the anti-military industrial complex theme of Ishinomori's original comic.

I wish we could have got Zero-One as they planned it, as the Covid shutdown of Toei[1] really hurt it when it came back, I feel.
 1. The actor playing the red ranger in Mashin Sentai Kiramager contracted the 'rona early on in filming, meaning Toei had to stop filming to clean shit up and make it safe to continue filming.

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Re: Tokusatsu thread.
« Reply #6 on: November 25, 2020, 01:23:46 PM »
Feeling really interested in watching some Ultramans, Kaman Riders, Super Sentais. Is there much continuity between series? Super Sentai do annual crossover films don't they?

Re: Tokusatsu thread.
« Reply #7 on: November 25, 2020, 02:26:46 PM »
Feeling really interested in watching some Ultramans, Kaman Riders, Super Sentais. Is there much continuity between series? Super Sentai do annual crossover films don't they?

There's very little continuity between the Kamen Rider and Super Sentai series these days. Each one generally exists as their own pocket universe that requires some sort of narrative hijinks to enable a crossover. The final Heisei era Kamen Rider Zi-O p. much drained the well dry on Kamen Rider crossovers.

That being said the current Super Sentai show, Kiramager, did just run an episode for any young mums watching who had grown up watching 2007's Gekiranger. They bought back the mum and daughter from the sports equipment company in that show as the sponsors of the athlete character in the current show (and Gekiranger's head writer to script that episode).

Re: Tokusatsu thread.
« Reply #8 on: November 25, 2020, 03:28:19 PM »
Feeling really interested in watching some Ultramans, Kaman Riders, Super Sentais. Is there much continuity between series? Super Sentai do annual crossover films don't they?

For the most part, most seasons are in isolation, with some exceptions. Usually they tend to be crossover movies or anniversary seasons, with a few rare exceptions.

That said, while anniversary seasons are heavy on nostalgia and cameos, don't let that put you off if you think it looks cool.

As my second-ever Sentai, I watched Gokaiger. While the "tribute" episodes are plentiful and some even act as epilogues to the original shows (most notably the Jetman tribute which in addition to having one of the cast return, was also written by the original writer), it's also incredibly fun in it's own right.



Ultraman is a little heavier on legacy than the others, but nothing that makes the shows impossible to pick up.


Might make a list of starting shows later on, but if one catches your eye, just dive in!

Re: Tokusatsu thread.
« Reply #9 on: November 26, 2020, 07:59:20 PM »
Might make a list of starting shows later on

So here we go, as threatened. This is in no way definitive, based only on stuff I've seen and only complete shows, meaning none of the current iterations of the "big 3" (Mashin Sentai Kiramager, Kamen Rider Saber and Ultraman Z). I'm also trying to stick to around 3 for each. Might do some "Miscellaneous" later on.

SUPER SENTAI:

Choujin Sentai Jetman (1991) - The last of what I would deem the "Military Sci-fi" era of Sentai, or of the type that follow the blueprint set since 1975. An invasion by aliens or in this case, beings from another dimension, with a team of heroes supposedly trained for such an eventuality. This one has more "drama" in it than Sentai was used to (love triangles and stuff), but also just nails what makes a good sentai team. Suits INCREDIBLY derivative of Gatchaman/Battle of the Planets. Also pre-Zyuranger, meaning none of this was adapted into Power Rangers. Written by the infamous Toshiki Inoue (when he was actually good) and Directed by Keita Amemiya (more on him later)

Gosei Sentai Dairanger (1993) - This one is about the long-running battle between two tribes that continues into the present day (i.e. 1990s Japan). Draws heavily on Chinese mythology and Hong Kong movies (some cool martial arts fights in this one). Notable for being used to make season 2 of Power Rangers, although only the monsters, mecha and Kibaranger were used (the latter being the 6th ranger of the team, used to form the basis of Tommy's White Ranger powers). It's criminal how little of this got used. Gets dark in its later episodes, without giving too much away.

Kaizoku Sentai Gokaiger (2011) - The 35th Anniversary I debated whether to put this forward, but I think it works regardless of how many prior Sentai you've seen. Five space pirates come to earth in search of treasure, end up having to fight off an invasion by an evil space empire and learning what it means to be a Super Sentai team in the process. They also have access to the suits and powers of the previous 34 teams. Cameos a plenty but a lot of the time the show will establish who certain people are pretty quick. The 6th Ranger is a human Sentai fanboy who kinda explains to the Gokaigers who these people are. The 2 teamup movies are also great. 199 Hero Great Battle is worth it for the opening 6 minutes of the "Legendary War" and Gokaiger vs Gavan is a great comeback for the legendary Metal Hero, Uchuu Keiji Gavan (Kenji Ohba is awesome).

KAMEN RIDER:

Kamen Rider Black (1987) - Picked this because of all the Showa-era shows (Kamen Rider is commonly split up into eras based on Japanese Imperial reigns), it seems to be one of the most standalone series(Until you get to its sequel, Black RX, but that's another matter). Classic stuff, young man turned into cyborg bugman by evil cultish organisation, escapes before they can brainwash him, uses his cyborgness to fight said organisation. Much angst about the loss of humanity and family in this one.

Kamen Rider Agito (2001) - The second show of the Heisei-era. If 2000's Kuuga was Christopher Eccleston, this is David Tennant in a way (partly because like Eccleston, Joe Odagiri won't come back for anniversaries and movies). This really feels like where the Heisei era tropes start to form. Multiple Riders, Toshiki Inoue bringing his soap-y stylings to the table, less cyborg-y stuff, different kind of angst.

Kamen Rider Gaim (2013) - Do not let the fruit elements of the suit designs, or the dance elements of the first quarter put you off. This quickly gets serious after that and the stakes get stupidly high. If you know anime, you likely know the writer for this one, Gen Urobuchi, best known prior to this for Madoka Magika. As I say, high stakes and consequences that are not shied away from. There's an anonymous blog post people take the piss out of on Twitter relentlessly where a Gaim fan talks about this Toy Commercial as if it could air on HBO alongside Game of Thrones. That's silly, but there are times where you have multiple factions, shifting alliegances and twists that it's easy to see where that view comes from.

ULTRAMAN:

Ultra Q (1966) - Very much "early installment weirdness" in TV Tropes speak (sorry), as this IS the first thing in the franchise, except Ultraman isn't in it, yet.There are kaiju (some of which get reused up to the present day), but the presentation here is more a Twilight Zone/Outer Limits kinda show as opposed to the superhero stuff introduced in the original Ultraman show. If you're familiar with Toho movies, you may spot reused monster suits (like the modified Godzilla suit in episode 1 and the King Kong suit later one) and props.Tsuburaya would return to this idea later on with Neo Ultra Q.

Ultraman (1966) - Ultraman is relatively pure in terms of the show format and any gimmickry. This has the formula established from the off - a government agency set up to investigate weird scientific phenomena and protect the world (usually just Japan admittedly) from monster attacks. An Ultraman bonds with a human host or assumes human form to aid said agency, sometimes as a member of this group. That's true of the current show as well.

Ultraman Geed (2017) - This is my personal favourite of the "new Generation" Ultraman shows, also a bit heavy on continuity, in that Geed is the son of Ultraman Belial, an evil Ultraman, and Geed is somewhat mentored by Ultraman Zero, himself a son of an Ultraman (Ultraseven) and the one who usually fights Belial. The powers used by Geed are also representative of Tsuburaya's current tendency to make "fusions" of older Ultras. You can still get into this easily enough without knowing the Zero/Belial backstory. Likeable enough cast here. This one is also available to stream via Crunchyroll, free if you don't mind the ads. Or get the Bluray set if you want physical media.

TwinPeaks

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Re: Tokusatsu thread.
« Reply #10 on: December 07, 2020, 11:53:43 PM »
So here we go, as threatened. This is in no way definitive, based only on stuff I've seen and only complete shows, meaning none of the current iterations of the "big 3" (Mashin Sentai Kiramager, Kamen Rider Saber and Ultraman Z). I'm also trying to stick to around 3 for each. Might do some "Miscellaneous" later on.
Thanks for these! This is all so interesting. Diving into another culture like this is so exciting but hard to get my head around, there's just so much stuff. I just googled Kenji Ohba and found a whole other series, Space Sheriff Gavan, that I've never heard of! Loved Power Rangers as a kid though so I think Super Sentai would be the easiest for me to get into. Even if it just ends up being too camp even for me, it's still a really fascinating thing to read about. It's like me trying to explain why I love Doctor Who so much and how relatively little of my enjoyment of it comes from watching the episodes themselves, but on an even huger scale.

Re: Tokusatsu thread.
« Reply #11 on: December 15, 2020, 01:00:38 PM »
Thanks for these! This is all so interesting. Diving into another culture like this is so exciting but hard to get my head around, there's just so much stuff. I just googled Kenji Ohba and found a whole other series, Space Sheriff Gavan, that I've never heard of! Loved Power Rangers as a kid though so I think Super Sentai would be the easiest for me to get into.

If someone is coming to Sentai from Power Rangers, I often suggest to people to look at the Sentai that spawned whatever their favourite Power Rangers show was. That seems to be the best gateway. For me, I got into Power Rangers on day one, so I started with Zyuranger, and would later watch Dairanger and Kakuranger (the latter's transition to season 3 of Power Rangers is especially odd).

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Re: Tokusatsu thread.
« Reply #12 on: December 15, 2020, 01:07:41 PM »
On a Paris-Barcelona train in 2016 I met a Kiwi bloke who was wearing a Power Rangers hoodie. Turned out he worked on the show mostly looking after the Japanese stuntmen they fly over to hit each other when they're in the suits. He said he constantly has to check in with them because if they don't, they keel over due to all the huffing and puffing in the heavy man-made materials.

Loved the 'rangers when I was a kid, greenie was the best.

alright, cheers

Re: Tokusatsu thread.
« Reply #13 on: December 16, 2020, 12:28:23 PM »
On a Paris-Barcelona train in 2016 I met a Kiwi bloke who was wearing a Power Rangers hoodie. Turned out he worked on the show mostly looking after the Japanese stuntmen they fly over to hit each other when they're in the suits. He said he constantly has to check in with them because if they don't, they keel over due to all the huffing and puffing in the heavy man-made materials.

Loved the 'rangers when I was a kid, greenie was the best.

Which one?



(I jest, I knew who you meant)

Makes sense the bloke you met was a New Zealander, they've been filming it over there for almost 20 years now - something Disney did to make it cheaper. It's funny as you would see some of the Disney-era actors pop up in Shortland Street. If Power Rangers is Grange Hill, then Shortland Street is Eastenders.

Re: Tokusatsu thread.
« Reply #14 on: December 18, 2020, 01:07:26 PM »
First images of next year's Super Sentai show have emerged. It is Kikai Sentai Zenkaiger


This at least looks different. The central figure, Zenkaiser, looks like a weird fusion of a bunch of Sentai designs, most notably the leaders of the first two Sentai, Goranger's Akaranger, and JAKQ's Big One with a bit of Zyuranger's Dragonranger with the chest plate.

What this also indicates, is that the other team members, are robots, that appear to be based of previous Sentai mecha (DaiZyuJin, second from left being the most recognizable to me).

Obviously there's no other information available but expecting nostalgia aplenty, seeing at it's the 45th show. Maybe not on the scale of Gokaiger, as that was partly out of circumstances, but we will see next year.

Re: Tokusatsu thread.
« Reply #15 on: February 01, 2021, 11:01:18 AM »
Shin Ultraman trailer came out last week:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AnYP1yzSe5E

Directed by noted Ultraman fanboy Hideaki Anno, this looks like it's setting out to do what Anno did with Shin Godzilla, a straight introduction of the original Ultraman, just in a modern setting. Super-traditional design for Ultraman, too. Pretty much a CGI version of the 60s suit, only difference being no colour-timer (the timer wasn't part of the original design).

There are also rumours about this year's TV show, possibly named "Ultraman Trigger" which apparently will be connected to the 90s series in some fashion.

Re: Tokusatsu thread.
« Reply #16 on: February 07, 2021, 05:51:25 PM »
Staying with Ultraman, Tsuburaya appears to be re-uploading Ultraman Z from the beginning again:

https://youtu.be/2Ia9YsDuE0E (obviously there are english subtitles)

This was probably my favourite toku show of last year. Well worth a watch, whether you're familiar with this stuff or a newcomer. There's some lore, but nothing that makes the show impenetrable. Good likeable cast, as well.

Re: Tokusatsu thread.
« Reply #17 on: February 11, 2021, 10:29:04 PM »
First images of next year's Super Sentai show have emerged. It is Kikai Sentai Zenkaiger


This at least looks different. The central figure, Zenkaiser, looks like a weird fusion of a bunch of Sentai designs, most notably the leaders of the first two Sentai, Goranger's Akaranger, and JAKQ's Big One with a bit of Zyuranger's Dragonranger with the chest plate.

What this also indicates, is that the other team members, are robots, that appear to be based of previous Sentai mecha (DaiZyuJin, second from left being the most recognizable to me).

Obviously there's no other information available but expecting nostalgia aplenty, seeing at it's the 45th show. Maybe not on the scale of Gokaiger, as that was partly out of circumstances, but we will see next year.

To my eyes it seems to be at least partly inspired by Rainbow Sentai Robin, Ishinomori's 1965 manga & 1966 anime about a half-alien superhero dressed in white and his team of colour coded robots.


Chedney Honks

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Re: Tokusatsu thread.
« Reply #18 on: February 12, 2021, 02:44:53 AM »
Shin Ultraman trailer came out last week:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AnYP1yzSe5E

Directed by noted Ultraman fanboy Hideaki Anno, this looks like it's setting out to do what Anno did with Shin Godzilla, a straight introduction of the original Ultraman, just in a modern setting. Super-traditional design for Ultraman, too. Pretty much a CGI version of the 60s suit, only difference being no colour-timer (the timer wasn't part of the original design).

There are also rumours about this year's TV show, possibly named "Ultraman Trigger" which apparently will be connected to the 90s series in some fashion.

What a brilliant trailer. I'm all in.

Re: Tokusatsu thread.
« Reply #19 on: March 27, 2021, 12:11:32 PM »
Toei recently uploaded the movie Kamen Rider ZO to their youtube page, with english subtitles:

https://youtu.be/0QEbwNLQvqc

Love this, a perfect distillation of classic Rider into one movie. And just 48 minutes, too. Like the antithesis of the Snyder Cut, although if a 4-hour "Keita Amemiya Cut" of this ever existed, I would want to see it.

Re: Tokusatsu thread.
« Reply #20 on: March 27, 2021, 03:21:22 PM »
Kamen Rider J is also up:


https://youtu.be/SBRplI_FXbQ


Very similar suit but different character. He goes giant at one point in this one.


Both ZO and J are really good stuff. Would love to see Keita Amemiya return to Kamen Rider some day. He hasn't done anything bar some character designs for Kamen Rider Decade.


That said, would prefer more Garo.

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