Henshin Korner

Power Rangers Bootleg Explores Child Soldier PTSD

Produced by Adi Shankar and directed by Joseph Kahn, this 14 minute Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers bootleg explores the emotional damage that the young Rangers would suffer if the show had taken place in a more realistic setting. Shankar produced the 2012 Dredd reboot and this short feels like it takes place in a similar world. I kinda cringed when I heard that the Power Rangers reboot would be a grim and gritty remake, but after seeing this short, I kinda believe it’s possible to take this material seriously.

James Van Der Beek is the traitorous Rocky. When I was watching the show as a kid (who am I kidding, I was in high school) I felt kind of betrayed when Rocky took Jason’s place as the Red Ranger. It’s like Shankar knew that’s how some of us felt and has channeled that betrayal through the Dawson who turns in a truly venomous performance.

Katie Shackhoff as Kimberly gives the Pink Ranger a gravitas that she’s never really had. Kim was always the care free one throwing Peter Parker like quips in the heat of battle. Starbuck’s version of Kim has had all the joy stolen from her. You can see the pain in her eyes as she recalls her fallen comrades.

The call backs to the original series are subtle. When they hit, I could hear my fan brain saying “Aw yissss! Some shit’s about to go down!” The grimdark atmosphere might not be for everyone. But it hit all the right notes for me. And dammit, now I’m kinda looking forward to see what they can do with this reboot movie. Gaaaah!!!

Here’s Shankar explaining his motivations behind the project.

With Great Lock Seeds Come Great Responsibility

I try my best not to judge a new Rider show until I actually see a handful of episodes.  But let me tell you, when I heard that this year’s Rider was fruit themed, I almost handed in my Toku card and turned my back.  I’m glad I didn’t because as goofy and saturated as Gaim’s World is, the show is turning in more compelling drama than Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.

We’re twelve episodes in and it’s taken me a while to warm up to series.  I almost clocked out after the first four episodes.  We got a very surface introduction to a world that I find horribly difficult to relate to.  Gangs of high school kids compete with each other with pokemon to dance on stage? The hell? And when Kouta gets his Rider powers, he uses the suit to play stupid games all for personal gain.

And then episode five happened.  Kouta first encounters Kamen Rider Zangetsu and gets his ass handed to him.  Kouta realizes that there’s more at stake than just dancing on stage and it freaks him the fuck out.  And then it hit me.

This show is really Kamen Rider Spider-Man.

When Peter Parker discovers his spider powers, his first instinct is to cash in.  He hops into a wrestling match to win the big cash prize.  It’s a completely selfish act that results in the death of his uncle.  Peter learns a harsh lesson and dedicates the rest of his life to using his powers responsibly.  Though no one has yet died because of Kouta’s initial selfish uses of his belt, he feels a similar responsibility to those around him to use his new powers for good.

Since episode five, Kouta’s feeling of underlying dread has started to permeate the show.  Though it’s still very playful and colorful and mostly a half hour toy commercial, there’s a real sense that something horribly fucked up is coming down the road.  Episode twelve kind of nails it right on the head.  Michi and Kouta have discovered that Yggdrasil has been using the Beat Riders as guinea pigs for some unknown experiment.  The only way to stop Yggdrasil’s secret plot is to not play the game.  When Michi tells Kouta to throw away the belt, there’s a moment of dead silence and my jaw dropped.  Riders rarely question their fight for justice and here we have Michi and Kouta seriously discussing ending the show right now.

But by now, Kouta is far down the path of great responsibility.  There are creatures invading the town and attacking people and only those with belts have the power to stop them.  Certainly, whatever Yggdrasil is up to can’t be good.  And every time a Beat Rider transforms, Yggdrasil can collect more data from the belt.  But there are monsters and there are innocents and Kouta will save them because it’s the right thing to do.  When the battle is won, the look Kouta gives Michi says, “What else could I do? I have to protect this town.”  The look Michi gives Kouta says, “The only way to win this game is to not play.  Ever.”  The tension between them is palpable.  They understand where the other one is coming from, but they also can’t accept it.  I have a feeling that there’s a powerful rivalry building between them, much more so than Kouta and Baron.

In manner which only seems to work well in tokusatsu, Kamen Rider Gaim is doing a wonderful job of balancing colorful humor with deep drama all while selling toys to the kiddies.  I’m so impressed that they’ve managed to make the fruit theme work.  It’s shaping up to be a really entertaining series and worlds better than Wizard.

Choo Choo Sentai Den-Ogers

I try my best to not judge a Super Sentai or Kamen Rider series on suit photos or intro trailers alone.  I’ve long since learned that just because something may initially look like the worst idea Toei has ever come up with doesn’t mean it won’t absolutely blow me away.  The current Super Sentai, Zyuden Sentai Kyoryuger, is a perfect example.  I initially thought the dancing transformation sequence was the dumbest looking shit in the world, but it’s turned out to be one of my favorite Sentai series!  So I will try my best not to shit on Tokkyuger just from this preview trailer.

However, I can’t help but look at this thing and think that some exec at Toei mandated the train theme for the next Sentai series so that they could bring back Den-O in a crossover movie.  Somehow, Den-O is still one of the most beloved Kamen Riders.  Personally, I can’t stand it.  But he’s had nine theatrical films and that’s without including all his appearances in the various Taisen films.  That’s fucking insane.  So I wouldn’t at all be surprised to hear “ORE SANJOU” in the middle of Tokkyuger’s run.  When that shit happens, you heard it here first, folks!

That’s my one prediction for Tokkyuger.  I have to admit, I’m not a fan of the suits or the helmets, but that’s strictly from a design sense.  The show might turn out to be awesome despite what I feel is an inevitable crossover.

All You Need Is Tom

On its surface, Edge of Tomorrow looks like a fun little action flick.  Certainly looks a hell of a lot better than Tom Cruise’s last foray in the fiction of science, Oblivion.  I also quite like Emily Blunt.  Using the Groundhog Day mechanic to learn how to become a badass weapon is probably one of the best things you could do when the fate of our world is at stake.

So why has this film appeared on my list of things to nerd rage over?

Well it turns out that this is based on a Japanese light novel by Hiroshi Sakurazaka entitled All You Need Is Kill.  From the synopsis:

When the alien Gitai invade, Keiji Kiriya is just one of many recruits shoved into a suit of battle armor called a Jacket and sent out to kill. Keiji dies on the battlefield, only to be reborn each morning to fight and die again and again. On his 158th iteration, he gets a message from a mysterious ally–the female soldier known as the Full Metal Bitch. Is she the key to Keiji’s escape or his final death?

Sooooo as much as I dislike the trend of Hollywood White Washing Japanese things, I will give this movie some credit.  Unlike the Americanized live action Akira film which I pray never makes it to screen in my lifetime, they’ve come up with a new title and have renamed the characters.  If AZM Ally Derek Jeffers had never pointed out the basis for the film, I would have never known.  I would have been slightly dismayed that there seemed to be no minorities in the trailer, but I would have had no idea.

I’ve got mixed feelings on this.  I really hope Sakurazaka gets a nice big royalty from the movie rights.  I’m dismayed that Hollywood is mining Asian fiction for ideas rather than tapping some home grown talent.  There are plenty of amazing ideas right here at home that aren’t getting a chance.  But then again, without this trend, we wouldn’t have this amazing Godzilla film to look forward to.

Thanks to AZM Ally Derek Jeffers for the heads up.

Tokusatsu Time #4 – Henshin Devices

A very brief overview of henshin devices.

And here’s a link to the news about Toei streaming tokusatsu!

Gatchaman Revival

It looks like Tori Matsuzaka’s time as Shinken Red has prepared him to defend the Earth as the leader of Space Ninja Team Gatchaman.  Man, this looks amazing!  The suits are a very sleek and stylized update of the anime version.  And the helmets give you a nice look at their beautiful faces as they kick the shit out of Galactor.

We’ll just ignore for now the moe pervy-chan anime update of Gatchaman and pretend that the live action is the only remake out there.

Kamen Teacher Will Teach the Shit Out of You!

This is exactly like Dangerous Minds except instead of Michelle Pfeiffer being all inspirational with a Koolio jam in the background, we have Gouta Araki beating some learning into some troubled students.  Fuck detention.  If you don’t pay attention in class, Kamen Teacher will punch some math into your brain!

Man, if they offered Masked Teaching as a major in college, I’d be teaching the shit out of people right now.

From: Henshin Justice

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