So, here are my picks for the Best of Tokusatsu for the year of 2011. Check back later in the day for Aoi Kurenai’s picks! This post is already long as it is so I won’t add to that. Enjoy!
Best Opening Theme song
–Kaizoku Sentai Gokaiger from Kaizoku Sentai Gokaiger
The Gokaiger opening theme song is just such an invigorating track. It gives the feeling of setting off on a journey and the visuals help to drive that point home. With a very upbeat sound and powerful vocals, this song gets you ready for the next episode. The visuals themselves are pretty awesome as well, giving you a sense of how much history is behind this series, with all 35 teams being shown in one way or another. I’ve liked many of the past Sentai opening theme songs, but this one especially gets me hyped for an episode.
Best Ending Theme
–Super Sentai Hero Getter from Kaizoku Sentai Gokaiger
This one was a little bit out of default. I’ve heard a couple of the ED songs for Kamen Rider Fourze and I have to admit, I don’t really like them all that much. But! Even if they were good, I may have still picked this one. This is also a very upbeat track to match the opening song for the series. It has a very “poke-rap” vibe to it, because…that’s pretty much what it is. And what’s wrong with that? Hearing your favorite Sentai team names being spewed out in rapid succession can’t be a bad thing. It kinda reminded me of Moero! Super Sentai Tamashi!!! from Gaoranger vs Super Sentai. I also really like seeing Gokaiger team portray each Sentai team in the ending of the show and the Gokaiger Goseiger movie.
Best Fight Scene
I debated for the longest time over this category and in the end, I had to make it a tie. Both were amazing fight scenes and I liked both of them for slightly different reasons.
–Kamen Rider W Returns: Accel – Restaurant fight
I’ve said this on the podcast a couple of times and I have also said it in a couple of reviews: I like to see the actors do their own fight scenes. It gives a sense of authenticity to the fight and makes you root for the hero even more. It works exeptionally well when they are done right. This fight between Terui Ryu and a gang of thieves in an back-alley restaurant is pretty intense and impactful. Ryu’s actor, Minehiro Kinomoto, put a lot of effort to execute every move given to him, and it shows. You can tell that he had a good time filming this since he does it totally in character and pulls it off like a badass. But, a fight scene is only as good as the stuntmen taking the hits from the hero. These stuntmen put their bodies on the line to show just how powerful and badass of a cop Ryu is. This cooperation between the hero actor and the stunt team made for a fantastic fight scene.
The choreography is top notch, but what do you expect from a piece directed by Koichi Sakamoto. The fight is very reminiscent of many Jackie Chan movies. From the close quarters hand-to-hand combat, to the pacing of each punch, kick, and dodge, you just have to marvel in the work that was put into this scene. Right down to the puffs of dust you see fly off of clothing and from hands with a swing of a fist, you can see the influences from Jackie’s films and how they are applied with Sakamoto’s vision to produce one of the best fights in the entire movie, much less one of the best of the
–Kaizoku Sentai Gokaiger Ep. 33 – Ryo/Ryuranger and Gai fight
The fight scene towards teh end of this episode is another example of capable actors showing what they can do athletically. Ryo’s actor (Keiichi Wada) proves that he can still pack a punch and delivers some serious damage in this scene. But, Gai’s actor (Junya Ikeda) was not shown up, he stood right beside Keiichi and displayed what he was
capable of. Some of the punches, spin kicks, and poses done in this fight were just badass. I really wish they made Gai do more of his own fight scenes. I hear that he practices martial arts a bit and has a black belt, and it definitely shows.
But, the other reason why I really liked this fight scene and why it also deserves to be on this list is because of what is going on as the to warriors fight. Gai had his Gokai Cellular stolen from him by a monster, and was pretty down about not being able to help the other Gokaiger members in the fight. As a veteran Sentai warrior, Ryo asks Gai to remember why he wanted to be a hero so badly. And throughout the scene, he watches Ryo fight off the Zangyack without his powers and remembers that he didn’t become a hero just so he could transform into a Sentai Warrior. He became a hero because he wanted to protect people. It’s a very cheesy sentiment, but the way that the scene is set up, and the way he does his Gokai Silver pose with such fervor after reaffirming his spirit, it just makes it come off as a very heroic moment. And then he joins the fight with Ryo and they proceed to kick as much ass as they possibly can. And all the while you’re just yelling at the screen, “Ikeeeei!!! Go for it!!”.
–Kamen Rider OOO Ep. 30 – Dr. Maki’s backstory
Dr. Maki was a peculiar character from the moment he graced the screen of Kamen Rider OOO. His subdued disposition and his unclear motives were only highlighted by his random spazz-outs as soon as something happened to the doll that he carried on his arm at all times. But, it was always a mystery as to why he was around, why he was helping Date and
the Kougami Foundation, and what the deal was with his sister. That was until this episode dropped and boy, was it a doozy. This is gonna be pretty spoilery so if you haven’t watched Kamen Rider OOO or if you aren’t passed episode 30 yet, skip to the next category.
So, this whole time, we were led to believe that Dr. Maki had a loving older sister that looked a lot like Chiyoko and that something happened to her when he was a young kid. Well, the episode goes on with Chiyoko and Dr. Maki talking for a bit until something triggers his insanity once again. This time, it was a candle that Chiyoko accidentally knocked over. After throwing Chiyoko out, Dr. Maki goes upstairs to this closed off room in his family house and when he opens it, it is engulfed in flames or at least thats what he saw. It turns out that Dr. Maki’s sister was actually a bitch and couldn’t wait
to get rid of Maki. And the one thing that he took away from his sister was the notion that nothing can be perfect until it is dead. So, in his young mind, he figured that if his sister was dead, then he would get the sister he always wanted. And thus, he burned her to a crisp on her wedding day. And that, my friends, start him on the path to psycho-village. Oh, and the doll, that doll was given to him by his sister while she sarcastically called him a genius and was the only thing he salvaged from the fire. Yeah, this guy was destined to be totally effed up from the beginning.
Favorite Male Character
Cap. Marvelous is brash, cocky, and always up for a fight. He’s also not too fast on the uptake so sometimes he’s left confused with some situations. But, he is very protective of his crewmates and has a bit of a soft spot for the planet Earth. All in all, he’s a pretty interesting character. He may not be as deep as some Sentai characters and may not be a crazy as others. But, for me he walks that fine line between the two. Sometimes he’ll act like a dilequent and be a bit hardheaded, and sometimes he’ll be heroic and fight for what’s right. And its just fun to watch him wreck shop from episode to episode.
Favorite Female Character
2011 was not exactly a good year for female characters. They weren’t all bad, but none really stood out as someone strong and someone to admire. The strongest character would have been Rekka from Garo: Red Requiem, but something about her fell short for me. Maybe it was how singular her mind worked. She was all about revenge but in a way that stood in the way of getting the job done at times. So for me, I’m gonna default to Luka. Out of the two female Sentai warriors in Gokaiger, she’s the one with the more interesting personality. On the outside she’s selfish and out for money, but you then realize she’s only after money because she wants to one day buy a planet or region just for out-of-
home kids from around the galaxy to seek shelter and never be hungry. So, she has her noble qualities to her. Plus, she’s hella attractive. Yeah, I’m shallow. I’m a guy, it comes with the territory.
While OOO’s suit is pretty awesome and Ultraman Zero’s costume is kickass, once again the award goes to Gokaiger. The pirate theme, while a bit played out now, is refreshing to see in the context of Super Sentai. With helmets modeled after pirate hats and an open jacket design, the intriquite detail throughout the costume are pretty amazing. They also have the flipped-up collars, reminescent of the Goranger suits. These suits look awesome and with the way that GoBusters is looking, it may be the last we see of the spandex for a while. If that is the case, it ain’t a bad note to leave off on.
–Gokaiger Goseiger: Super Sentai 199 Hero Grand Battle
Once again, I couldn’t choose between two winners. This is starting to become a trend. The first movie is Gokaiger Goseiger: Super Sentai 199 Hero Grand Battle. I already have a lengthy review of it on the site, you can click here to check it out. But to recap, it was an amazingly fun movie to watch. This is the type of anniversary movie you want to
see, tons of cameos and great fights overall. There were a few low points, such as some pointless or poorly handled cameos, but in general I really enjoyed this movie and have watched it multiple times already. Not sure how much more I can recommend this for any Super Sentai fan.
–Kamen Rider W Returns: Accel
Kamen Rider W Returns: Accel was a direct-to-DVD release along with the Eternal counterpart that delved deeper into these great characters from the series. I think they nailed it with this one by making it a cop drama type movie. Terui Ryu is a kickass detective and since we already know quite a bit about his backstory, what better way to revisit this character than to follow him through one of his cases. I was enthralled by the plot of this movie and the characters were fun to watch. The enemy was a bit of a tragic one and thus, made you feel for him a bit near the end. Also, did I mention it
has some kickass fight scenes in it? Did I also mention that Koichi Sakamoto directed it? Oh, did I? Well, that’s all you need to know. NEXT CATEGORY!
Favorite Cast Member
–Junya Ikeda (Ikari Gai/Gokai Silver)
What can I say, the character of Gai is a nutjob. He’s a Sentai fanatic who is constantly flipping out at the fact that he is now part of a Sentai team and that he gets to meet past Sentai warriors. And the actor playing the role of Gai (Junya Ikeda) embodies that insane role whole-heartedly. From what I heard, and I may be wrong, but he himself is a huge Sentai fan. So seeing him go crazy on screen kinda makes you feel like that’s him, the actor, letting out a lot of his excitement on set. Not many get a chance to do that, so seeing him embrace it in such a way makes for good viewing. Plus, he puts that energy into his fight scenes whenever he has one. And that makes me appreciate the character and the actor even more.
Favorite New Series of 2011
–Kaizoku Sentai Gokaiger
Most of this list consisted of content from Gokaiger in one way or another, so how could this not end up as my favorite show of the year? Gokaiger has given me a reason to wait every week for subs for a Sentai show in about a year. But I don’t like it because of a lack of content recently. It’s more about the characters. I enjoy watching the chemistry
between all of the characters on the show. The concept of the show is pretty cool, pirates who stumble upon the powers of all the past Super Sentai teams and using them to fight evil, even if they don’t fully understand said power yet. It’s an anniversary show so we get to see tons of old suits back in action as well as many cameos throughout the series. The fight scenes are some of the more invigorating I’ve seen in years. Each character has a distinct personality that comes out in the suit acting exceptionally well.
Also, this show has spawned not only a Super Sentai movie that featured every team since Goranger, but is also making 2 crossovers that us fans thought we’d never see. First is Gokaiger vs Gavan, which pits Sentai and Metal Hero characters to fight on the same screen for the first time ever. It also is spawning the movie Kamen Rider Decade vs Gokaiger, a Kamen Rider/Super Sentai crossover. We had a bit of that in the middle of Decade’s season, but this is pitting all of the Sentai teams against all of the Kamen Riders of the past. I’m glad that they are bringing Decade and his actor back for this.
They could have easily made this a Kamen Rider Fourze vs Gokaiger movie, but they went with continuity and brought back Decade. That’s gonna be awesome to see.
So, there it is, my list for the best in Tokusatsu for 2011. Gokaiger pretty much takes it all because its just a kickass season for me. And with GoBusters looking pretty damn awesome and Fourze ramping up in plot, along with some pretty awesome movies for us to look forward to, 2012 doesn’t look like it will disappoint. So here’s hoping for an awesome 2012 and we’ll see you next year for another Tokusatsu of the Year awards.