This is another tokosatsu of which I had never heard, but a collection of which I was sent, and so you all get to enjoy (?) my reactions to it.
We start with:
Episode 01: "Conspiracy of the Robot Empire"
We meet our hero, Secret Scientific Investigation (hereafter "S.S.I") agent Ken Kurenai (in "real life", he's a car dealer) and his older brother Kenichiro, a roboticist. Their life has bene marked by tragedy - their parents and their kid brother Kenzo (Yes, Ma and Pa Kurenai named their sons "Kenichiro", "Ken" and "Kenzo".) We meet Ken's colleagues on the S.S.I. team, who are guarding an expo of all the world's giant robots. They are:
We also meet Inspector Kumano, a bike cop who wields an unbrella gun, sort of like the Penguin used to. He appears to be the comedy relief character, of the sort so beloved by the makers of these shows and which I have always found profoundly unfunny. However, as with Maxwell Smart, bumbler though he is, he does well in a fight, which i just as well, as it at least gives some clue as to why theothers put up with him.
Anyhow, the Robot Expo is raided by the somewhat awkwardly named Invasion Robot Troy Horse (a somewhat unimpressive robot design) under the direction of Professor Deviler of the Robot Empire of the Iron Alliance. While the S.S.I. battles the Alliance's foot soliders, who seem to exist to get beat up, the heels kidnap Kenichi and steal all the robots.
Kenichi is brought before the Professor, who implants him with a control collar, and sends him home, where he meets Ken, who singularly does not ask him what happened to him or how he escaped. Kenuchi presents Ken with the robot Red Baron, which he has been building in secret. I have to say that the Red Baron is not my favorite robot design, but it's OK. Kenichi gives his brother the guided tour of the robot and has him touch the controls, which imprints them on Ken, so that only he can use them. Troy Horse shows up, and Ken pilots Red Baron in battle against it. Red Baron exhibits several attacks, such as the Elec-Trigger, a sort of energy attack, and BARON PUNCH! and BARON BARRIER!, which I foresee will furnish me with endless amusement. Once Ken has won, the Professor reveals that he sent Troy to attack in order to put RB through its paces, then orders Kenichi to hand it over to him. Um, if he rwanted RB for himself, shouldn't he have ordered Kenichi to hand it over before the latter let Ken imprint himself on the thing? Sloppy planning there, Prof!
Thwarted, the Professor sends the robot Big Bison to stand there looking large but otherwise unthreatening, and threatens Kenichi with punishment for his disobedience.
Cliffhanger: Kenichi's control collar is killing him!
Overall: This comes across as quite fun show, I am hopeful of getting quite a bit of entertainment out of this.
You think it's the hat, huh? Me, I think it's the cape. :)
Just when I thought this show couldn't get any weirder... well, I'll let you tell it.
Episode 24: "Smash the Deadly Cosmic Weapon!"
RB runs with Sky Shark in hot pursuit. Professor Deviler jams Sky Shark's radar, not wanting someone else to destroy Red Baron. RB crashes, but minerals in the mountains shield it. Angel Killer confronts the Professor. It turns out AK is from Iron Alliance Interplanetary HQ, who are concerned that PD can't get the job done. It's funny seeing what you thought was the final boss in this being harassed by ssomeone form the head office wanting better results. Meanwhile, Doctor Yazawa has developed a new kind of Baronium that can withstand ACID FIRE! They race to upgrade RB. AK follows Ken and Mari, and then drags them behind his car trying to get them to tell where RB is. (Aside: Ken uses a knife to cut Mari loose. If he had a knife, why not just cut himself loose. Mari only refused to let go for his sake. If he's cut himself loose, she could've been more easily convinced to let go. AK gives up and leaves. (Umm, Angel Killer, my lad, why not kill our heroes when you have the chance?) Later, he attacks the SSI lab with Sky Shark. The Inspector, Ken and Mari race to the scene, but no one was hurt and no real damage was done. The Junior Bicycle Squad spots SS practicing its golf swing and blowing stuff up. (You know, I wondered why one of its appendages looked like a golf ball, but I didn't make the connection.) Daigo allows Ken to go out evne though RB isn't fully repaired. Mari gives him a lucky pendant (another parallel to Johnny Sokko!). He uses BARON WINDMILL! The SSI fights M-R's sent by the Professor. Ken uses RB's new arm to blow ACID FIRE! back at Sky Shark, and it blows up.
Ending Scene: The Professor makes threats as our heroes celebrate!
Overall: An OK episode. A shame they blew up Angel Killer. He was amusing.
As I was saying, just when I thought the show couldn’t get any weirder (a violin-playing outer space swashbuckler), up pops a giant golf-playing robot! From day to day, I honestly can't wait to see what they'll try next. I thought the Junior Bicycle Squad was a bit hard-hearted and cold the way they took so much entertainment from Sky Shark attacking random targets. Instead of, “Oh, no! It just knocked a planeload of people out of the air with a giant golf ball!” they’re all, “Cool! I wonder what he’s going to attack next?” Talk about being desensitized to violence! At least the Bicycle Inspector was there to knock their heads together.
Lucas McCain was dragged across the ground in a similar fashion in the very first episode of The Rifleman. I wondered, too, why Ken didn’t simply cut himself loose if he had a knife, but Tracy pointed out that he was being drug with a chain. As to why Angel Killer didn’t just kill Ken, I suppose that wasn’t his mission. His goal was to destroy Red Baron. If he had killed Ken instead, the SSI would have simply put another pilot in his place (as we have seen is possible).
The first thing I thought of when I saw the pendant was marketing (like Gene Roddenberry’s IDIC).
Episode 25: "The Seven Secrets of Red Baron"
Professor Deviler christens a new robot as "King Deviler" and sends it out to attack, but RB is lying low. The IA goes to SSI headquarters, but no one's there. Elsewhere, RB is being modieifed in seven different ways to prepare for battles with space robots:
Daigo gives microfilm containing these secret to Daisaku for safekeeping, for reasons which escape me. Meanwhile, Daisuke, Hachiro and Yoshiko (a.k.a. The Junior Bicycle Squad) are questioned by an IA agent posing as a reporter. Daisuke seems surprised to discover that his brother is an SSI agent, which seems odd considering the number of times that he's seen his brother operating as an SSI agent! The kids get into a car with the stranger! Don;t they know better than that? Tha twas one of the first things I was taught as a kid! You'd think the Inspector would have drilled that one into them, even if their parents hadn't. Fortunately, Hikaru witnesses this, and manages to bug the heels' car. Later, Ken and Mari spot the kids at an amusement park. Ken goes to find Daisaku in a baht, while Mari is cornered in a sky-tram. The Professor slaps Mari, but lets her go. Daisaku sees the kids bieng driven away, and goes in pursuit. The Iron Alliance jeep gets tuck - you'd think they'd spring for better vehicles! The Inspector arrives and takes care of the kids as Daiskau takes off in pursuit of the M-R's, almost immediately falling into a trap. The IA raids the hotel where the SSSI is staying, taking Doctor Yazawa's plans. He sends King Deviler out to attack, and Daigo decides they have to buy time using Operation: Shadow. RB goes out and skirmishes with KD, then runs, with the IA robot in pursuit. RB pops up again, but King Deviler beheads him.
Cliffhanger" Professor Deviler gloats over the destruction of Rebd Baron!
Overall: Not bad, you can tell they're heading to a big climax. the name "Operation: Shadow" kind of gives away the resolution to the cliffhanger, but that was fairly inevitable.
Where to start? Let’s start with the seven titular “secrets.” The “space wings” weren’t much of a surprise for us because that image comes up frequently on Google searches. One upgrade I expected to see and did was a shield, which was one of the modifications mentioned when they were upgrading RB against the acid fire. (I’m picturing an actual shield which RB would wear on its arm rather than improved shielding.) There’s more continuity in this episode than we have seen so far (except perhaps early on). Unless it’s a two-part story, episodes generally don’t reference each other and could really be seen in any order (up until Mari got her new hairstyle, anyway), but this story definitely builds upon the previous one.
I really liked the blueprints! (Tracy searched the internet to see if perhaps, by some chance, a set was printed as a tie-in, but no joy.) The original design was black and white line work, but as each new feature was described, a color overlay was placed atop the old design.
I really must echo Bob’s observation that the “Junior Bicycle Gang” showed extremely poor judgment getting into a car with a stranger! Between this and cheering the passenger plane getting knocked out of the sky with a giant golf ball, I’ve been extremely disappointed in them lately. And (as Bob already mentioned), how did Daisuke not know his brother was an SSI agent? Did they think he was playing “dress up”? (Hmm… Given it’s Daisaku we’re talking about, could be.) Speaking of whom, I can’t figure out why “Boss” would have entrusted the microfilm to Daisaku, either. Back to Daisuke, if he didn’t know his brother was an agent for SSI, why did he at first treat his whereabouts as a state secret or something? Bad judgment all around this episode.
How did the IA find the SSI headquarters? Did they recently discover it, or is its location on “open secret” or what? More importantly, I know it made for another “arty” shot, but why does the SSI HQ have mirrored ceilings? Could explain why Mari’s so good with that whip.
Bob mentioned the tracking device Mari planted on the AI agent’s car, but he didn’t say she fired it across a distance from a bazooka-like launcher. (Tracy wants one of those for DFW metroplex traffic.)
I’ve often wished these DVD featured “Then & Now” extras (Yeah, right! Millcreek.) such as some Doctor Who DVDs have. I wonder if the amusement park where some scenes of this episode were filmed is still in business?
I must also say “King Deviler” is one bad@$$ robot design, perhaps the most dangerous looking one we’ve seen so far. It also has a “guillotine crown” attachment it fires from the top of its head. The old “switcheroo” was too, too obvious, especially since they just recently pulled the same trick.
A couple of days ago I had a dream in Japanese.
Actually, I think that was Hikaru that fired the bug, but it was a good shot.
"Shadow" gave it away, especially since I'd seen Kagemusha.
Speaking of amusement parks, I gather it's a long-standing thing in Japan for people to dress up as characters from current tokusatsu/super sentai shows and put on little stage shows at amusement parks, "battling" characters dressed as monsters or villains.
You know, there are times when I think that Tracy might make a good super-villain. ;) If she ever needs a minion (besides you, of course), tell her to let me know!
It was Hikaru. I knew that and your post pointed it out, too, but unfortunately my 15 minute editing window has just closed.
And don't give Tracy any ideas!
Oh, man, I am falling so far behind ...
My suggestion is don't try to catch up; just jump ahead to episode #26.
I don't think you'll be lost. Trust me. ;)
No, watch them all or you'll miss the subtle nuances! ;)
What if I go on a binge, and don't go to sleep or to the bathroom until I'm caught up?