We may be a couple of months late, but we felt that it was imperative that the world know of our picks for the past year! But seriously, here are our collective picks for the Best in Tokusatsu for 2013.
We know, we know. This movie came out in 2012. But it was subbed in 2013 so we decided to include it. There were a lot of entertaining movies this year but Ultimatum definitely took us on an adventure with Wizard and Fourze. Obviously, the fights were outstanding due to it being directed by Koichi Sakamoto. But like the recent batch of team up movies, it felt like one complete story rather than two stories mashed together for a 15 minute final battle. It was a really fun watch and deserving of the Best Movie award.
Kyoryuger gives the viewer this fun and nonstop barrage of energetic plots and characters, the villains turn out to be rather endearing, thanks in large part to an all star voice cast made up of anime veterans and current stars, it’s a fantastic show. Unlike the other “fun” Sentai shows, which we often feel are more flash than substances, Kyoryuger gives you both. We get tons of fantastic action, finally seeing what the new action director who started with Go-Busters, and who was the suit actor for Red for 10 years, can do with traditional spandex and we stick to the radically different approach to mecha filming Go-Busters gave us. Kyoryuger, while perhaps not delivering the most serious of drama, strikes a wonderful balance of high energy and solid stories with very few of what the traditional viewer might consider to be filler.
Knowing that this show was being penned by Gen Urobuchi, everyone knew that a big twist will come at some point. Up until episode four, the battles between Riders were in conjunction with the Inves games. It was Beat Rider vs Beat Rider, nothing too harmless. But when Kouta ventures into the mysterious forest and battles with Zangetsu and loses brutally, he comes to the realization that the Belt and the Inves themselves are part of something greater, something a lot more dangerous. And knowing that he came very close to death triggered a massive recoil reaction in Kouta that paralyzed him from using the Sengoku Driver for a bit. Its this world-changing moment that makes it the best moment of the year.
Kamen Rider Gaim not only improves upon the failures of Wizard, but it also improves upon the Rider formula in general. With Gaim we get a fantastic threat in the form of Kamen Rider Zangetsu, someone who will legitimately make you worry for the safety of your favorite characters – and this is only possible because he truly believes what he’s doing is right. This fight ranks as the best of the year because it shows the fearsome strength this one character has, granted there is a bit of comedy via Bravo, but that doesn’t detract from the scene at all. Zangetsu effortlessly manages to take down the two strongest characters in the show up to this point, standing above the rival and the trained military man as this force to be reckoned with and we can only guess what sort of problem he’ll be for Kouta when their final confrontation comes around.
There were a few good performances from this year. But what sets Ryo Ryusei apart from the rest is how effortlessly he seemed to play the role of Daigo Kiryu in Kyoryuger. You could say that it doesn’t take much to pull of a role in Sentai. While that may be true in most cases, judging from the previous installment, Tokumei Sentai Go-Busters, there is still room for error in this department. Ryo brought an unmatched amount of energy and fun to the character. While he played an enthusiastic and “brave” character, it was the serious moments where Ryo really shined. The subtle nuances of his performance added a lot of depth that would normally be played straight. He made the character of Daigo a very well-rounded person and someone you could root for in thick or thin.
One sign of a good character is that they have a couple of layers to them. The character of Enhou, while strict and hard to approach, has a strong sense of justice that is genuine and real. And when she finds a friend in Rian, she begins to open up about her ideals and goals. She still gives off the sense of being on guard with her emotions, almost as if she is troubled by them, but radiates a cool sense of good around her. While her character becomes a bit more one-note as the story progresses (due to a critical character development), Hiroko Sato does a great job at showing only glimpses of the inner character that is Enhou.
While OP theme songs aren’t the only pieces of music to consider when picking the best of the year, if one can stand out despite its repetition it has a good chance of winning out. A lot of people tend to skip the OP and ED theme songs when they are watching a show. But when you can watch the song over and over every episode and still find it amazing, you know you have a winner. Shonan no Kaze killed it with the Opening theme for Gaim. Its upbeat tempo matches the energy of the show perfectly. And having awesome visuals to go with the song helps a lot as well.
Kyoryuger was a bit of a mess at first, but it quickly grows on the viewer. The suits are loud and colorful, perhaps a bit too over designed, but that’s something seeing them in action makes up for. They get points for introducing the neat sleeveless torso piece idea, allowing the actual arms to be covered by different patterns. Discounting KyoryuGold, each suit also has some fantastic asymmetrical flare thanks to the singular piece of armor adorning the left shoulder. If you’ve not yet seen Kyoryuger because you don’t like the suits, you have to see them in action. There are various design elements found in these suits that aren’t completely evident or brought to life until you see them moving around and engaging in battle.