The Original Top 5 Toku Shows to Watch
Ok so I’m digging out my first article that i wrote for adventures in poor taste, though it got heavily edited and changed without my approval. Amoung the changes made were cutting out and re writing lines, adding videos (which are compleatly wrong in the Rescue Force case) as well as adding a few sex jokes because they thourght they had too… I would never write like that. So i in no way condone what they did as i gave no permission on it.
So for your appreciation hers the original version:
THE ORIGINAL TOP 5 TOKU SHOWS TO WATCH
OK when I was a kid; like a lot of you I found a rather entertaining, yet very cheesy, action show full of superheroes in spandex fighting monsters on a weekly basis; Power Rangers. It was a show, along with others on TV at the time that had originated in Japan and if you liked that then here’s a few other shows you should consider, yes there Japanese and you’ll likely never find them dubbed in English but there out there subbed and the few that follow here are the ones that are worth your time the most!
So welcome to my top 5 Japanese shows you much watch if you grew up watching Power Rangers:
GOKAIGER (SUPER SENTAI)
So if you’re reading this you know Power rangers, but you may or may not know that Power Rangers takes footage from the Japanese Show Super Sentai, or Special task force. A show that every year brings in a new cast, theme, suits and mecha in a complete re branding… hence why PR also has too change as they run out of footage to adapt. In particular I’m recommending the Sentai series Gokaiger… or Pirate Sentai. An anniversary series and one that hasn’t yet been adapted into a PR series though were only a year or two off that. It opens with an epic battle between all 199 previous spandex covered heroes up to that point (the series has been going since 1975 in Japan compared to 1993 for PR) so there’s plenty you won’t recognise. But the show is fun, showing off how much more grown up it is then PR, character have emotional back stories, die and have no trouble with being quite brutal.
Gokaiger tells the story of 5 pirates (naturally 6 later on) who come from the universe to Earth in search of the ultimate treasure, they have in their possession the ‘Ranger Keys’, magic keys that harness the power of all previous Sentai teams after they all gave up their power during the great battle. The Gokaigers can use the power of these keys to transform into the past heroes themselves, along with gaining all their abilities, and once they obtain an ultimate power for each team then their mecha also obtain power upgrades as well; with their mecha being a giant pirate ship that flies around in the sky! Naturally also becoming a humanoid robot (but when don’t they)
However the evil force Zanyack that was once defeated in the great battle also returns to destroy the planet with the Gokaigers getting caught up in the middle. Unlike teams before they don’t want to save the planet but find the treasure, but to find it they have to obtain the ultimate power of each previous Sentai team. Basically meaning they have to search out previous team members to get them. It basically adds up to a series full of fan service, not that you’re likely to known the Japanese actors but their character stories are far more interesting than their American counterparts. So it’s defiantly worth watching just for nostalgia sake. It’s just running up to the end of the series as I write this and it’s seriously set to be epic so go give it a shot!
If your just curious about what you saw growing up then give Zyuranger, DaiRanger and Kakuranger a try, the 3 series the original Mighty Morphin Power Rangers series used footage from… in particular the story and death of the Dragon Ranger (Tommy’s Japanese counterpart) and Kiba Ranger; who’s actually a young child (if you every wonder why Tommy acted so hyper as the white ranger.
Maybe some of you are familiar with the Takara Tomy… or just Tomy toys in the west. Making various toys for young kids generally aged a little younger then the PR market as I remember having some myself as a child. But in Japan they made a few TV shows to promote their toys. Tomica Hero Rescue Force has all the makings of your average super hero show, but brings more to the table then just fighting the villains each week. The premise lies around a specialised team of rescuers set up to deal with super environmental disaster, however in this show they super disasters are caused by Neo Thera, and organisation set up to create disasters that will ‘reset the Earth’.
The team is initially comprised of 4 members, though eventually a 5th is added, and while the team naturally has to fight off the organisation they also have to deal with the disasters that the setup.. And this is where the toys… I mean machines come to the rescue. They have a Rescue vehicle to cover everything you can think or, it’s not hard to look at this show as a kind of Japanese Thunderbirds, it has all the elements of it and brings more on the action side. Also I will note it has some of the best CGI I’ve seen in a television show, and the animation in particular is terrific and they do actually wear armour that purpose made to survive extreme conditions… no spandex in sight which grounds it in more reality the Sentai, big takes with water cannons are more believe able then 50ft giant robots, oh yeah and it has really catchy music to hook you when you watch the opening credits… that’s what got me originally.
Naturally give the show is still shovel film to sell the toys it’s still about as kiddie as it comes, more so the Super Sentai but I believe with the threats of environmental disasters and the rescuing of people it evokes a different kind of feeling from watching as seeing individual families in danger adds weight to the situations and it’s a bit different to your standard take over the earth plot.
Now moving onto something more adult, it’s not unheard of that people will know of the Ultraman series outside of Japan, normally a kids show though this series broke that mould by being a 12 part midnight showing series that set outside the Ultraman universe. Set in a more Governmental locked down future Ultraseven, a being from another world… in this case our world inhabits a man whose part of a of an a special team that investigate and fight against alien’s threatning their world called DEUS. The man Jin has no memory of what happened before his possession and only knows what a woman who he woke up with tells him. He’s given a pair of glasses called the Ultra Eye that allows Ultraseven to become him and fight when the threat is too much for his team.
This series has a lot of parallels with the BBC Doctor Who spin off Torchwood in its premise, which episodic plots and an overhanging arc that’s concluded in the female and team that fight against alien invasion. It’s a very dark world, dark gritty and with a touch of a Blade Runner like feel to it in the style of the city. Unlike other Tokusatsu shows while transforming into the titular Ultraseven is a necessity of the series each episode it’s not always to fight, not all episodes include fighting though when it’s done it’s done very well. It’s a drama that puts its plot before anything else and each episode tells a fascinating story, it’s just a shame it’s the shortest series on my list.
If you’re completely against cheap costumed superheroes then this could be the show that breaks the mould for you, the extra-terrestrial aliens or men in monster costumes are kept on the low and when they are used their done very well. It’s a little on the dark side, being shown at midnight in Japan so not one for the youngest of you, though I can’t think of anything particular that’s not for the young-lings off the top of my head… and my list is for those who grew up watching power rangers anyway so you should be old enough :p
KAMEN RIDER W
Like the Super Sentai shows this is another show that changes every year… come to think about it a lot of Toku shows follow the same formula. Though this show might be known to you in a limited form, Kamen Rider Black RX was adapted into Masked Rider around 1997 and 2003’s Kamen Rider Ryuki was adapted by Steve Wang last year into Kamen Rider Dragon Knight (and that’s awesome but got taken off air due to low viewing figures). The Kamen Rider series tend to be based around 1 titular character that will Henshin into a Kamen Rider to save people from a particular threat. Though at least 1 more Rider is normally introduced mid-season to stir up trouble, it’s never a team like Sentai. It’s also more of a drama and tends to save its fighting to bookend episodes; lately it also follows two episodes per arc system to allow greater stories to develop.
My recommendation here is Kamen Rider W (Double), the first in a new decade of the show and having a very noir detective feel to it with a few twists here and there. Set in the city of Fuuto Shotaro, a detective and Philippe, a boy magically connected to the planet combine forces to stop the production of Gaia memories, devices sold to people that transform them into monsters. The two protagonists actually both transform into W, with Shotaro becoming the main body and Philipp’s conscious mind moulding with him, they talk to each other and strategize together using Gaia memories of their own against ‘Museum’ the organisation creating the memories.
This is my favourite Rider series and I’ve started off many other people with this show to introduce them to the Kamen Rider franchise. This series in particular isn’t scared of killing off people and it’s nice to see villains that a lot of the time are just normal people who’ve succumbed to the temptation of power and aren’t all just evil. There’s a strong element of family within both the protagonists and Villains of the series, as well a revenge and loss, especially with the second Rider of the series; Kamen Rider Accel, who’s actually an awesome badass himself. Also again if you’re not fond of spandex then this if for you, Rider armour looks like armour, it looks like it will protect your from explosions and gun fire unlike skin-tight gear, and its needed seeing a lot of the time fights are one on one or the protagonist is out numbered, and were not talking about putty like grunts of the show, actually main bad guys will teams up to defeat the hero, forcing them to run more than fight. So take a look into the world of Riders.
So here we are the end of the list! My number 1 choice… and It couldn’t be anything else; GARO! This is a pure action horror show, for adults only. It features nudity, constant death, heavy action, fantastic CGI and a plot that’s strong, even when being episodic. This is another show that was shown at midnight, but this is no show created so sell a bucket load of toys, this is pure entertainment. Demons (called Horrors) posses, persuade or outright force people to survive in the human world. They aren’t always just killing them, some are hunted for food, some are tortured for fun, some and enslaved… it goes on and some creatures are damn right sadistic. Elements in this show rival what you’ll see in an 18+ horror film.
So who has the job of fighting all these Horrors? Sejima Kouga, a Makai Knight. One of a secret order of Knights; priests and priestesses that battle the Horrors and with the ability to summon a set of golden armour that’s made of a special Soul metal only Makai Knights can wield. However using this comes at a cost, it can only be worn for 99.9 seconds before it will start to corrupt the user and send them into a mad craze. The show is based around him and a young girl called Kaoru, caught up when a Horror tries to eat her but unfortunately gets covered in a Horrors blood which attracts Horrors to her so Kouga keeps her close as bait, but someone cover in the blood will die a pain death in 100 days after.
There are so many outstanding elements of this show, the action is really incredible, with the actors themselves doing a lot of the work, due to the requirements of the armour a lot of fighting takes place human against Horror. The Horrors are quite scary themselves, with CGI used in combination with quite freaky costumes to great effect and full on CGI when they’d mutate into bigger creatures. There is great progression of the Hero as he beings to feel emotion for Kaoru and test his beliefs against another Makai Knight who has a grudge against him. It’s all very fun to watch, sometimes awesome and other times gut wrenching but always pure adult entertainment.If you don’t believe that this series is great then let the facts speak for themselves, what started off as a 25 episode show got a TV movie, full Cinema movie, a direct to DVD spin off due to the popularity of main Villain of the show and is now airing a brand new series 6 years on. This really is the best that Tokusatsu has to offer so make sure you don’t pass it up!