Saturday, March 29, 2014

ToQger Episode 6

Now that's more like it. After the wasted effort of last weeks episode, this one was spring time fresh. Nice overall balance of both character and story progression with a nice tone to the whole thing. Let's not jump ahead too fast though. Good sentai should be savored like candy.
Picking up immediately where the last one left off; Right was recalling that he'd run across another support car for their train out in the woods. Little does he know that the villains are listening in and plotting to take the train car for themselves. This is the driving force (didn't intend that pun) behind the episode as it sets up an ongoing race between the good and bad guys. I wouldn't be surprised to see evil trains that the team has to purify later in the series. For now though it means a group expedition into the woods.
During the trek the subject of who gets to be leader is brought up. Right doesn't really give a crap who leads, putting Tokatti in charge, which he doesn't do a good job at. In the end it's decided that the leader will just depend on the situation. Maybe one week it should be the smart guy, another time it can be the responsible one. Seeing as this show is primarily aimed at kids I love this message, Not only does it showcase the importance of each members abilities. It also solves something I hated as a kid when I would watch Power Rangers. Why was it always the puffy jocks who got to lead the team? Never the smarter or even more clever squad mates. Sadly I can't see this idea carrying over if this show gets adapted into PR as they will most likely follow the commands of some very dimwitted cracker.
Hopping off the soap box now. So as the team searches the forest they encounter General Schwarz and face him head on in battle. He beats their collective ass like they owe him money and takes Tokatti hostage, forcing Right to lead him to the support car. From this point the episode follows the split team of Red & Blue in one area, While Hikari gets to run around with the girls.
It does seem odd to have another captivity storyline already but it stems from the basic fact that these kids aren't very good fighters. In fact there's a pretty fun bit where Right and Tokatti try to do a bunch of flips off each other without landing a single one. Speaking of fighting; the new train is a fuel tanker that roids out their other trains with extra strength. When attached in battle, it makes their giant robot into a hyperactive boxer (Wasn't really joking when I mentioned roids).
Sadly I'm lacking for extra details as I took too long to get around to this recap. Working off of last weeks power rankings...I'd say this one takes 3rd place. Time to get back to looking for work. Anyone think I should do temp work picking onions? Sound off.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

ToQger Episode 5

Check out the fro!
Told ya I'd be back real quick. So the scene has been set, the characters are all in place with some development behind them. All that means is that his is the first episode to really be able to do its own thing. Sadly the opportunity is wasted as the show spends this week on auto-pilot, or cruse control, trains have an equivalent to either of those? Hold on (goes in search of an answer) okey; looks like they don't. Though some might have a kind of pacesetter. Alright so this episode was all pacesetter.
There wasn't much of a point to this tale other than introducing another train car that allows the group to car jump into towns that have been taken over by the shadow line. Color me disappointed to see a show with a train theme shifting so soon to the lameness of cars. What? Cars suck! Alright it wasn't all about the imagination fueled cars. There was an actual plot line about a monster than caused suffering through hunger. Kinda fitting that an episode about hunger would end up being so lacking in meat. Like a soyburger. A pacesetting soyburger.
Getting away from the analogies. Was there anything good about this one at all? Well the action was good. Must admit that I'm always amazed at what the stunt crews for these shows are capable of doing while essentially blind from the helmets. There's a healthy amount of flipping and kicking that would put a strain on someone who didn't have a sensory deprecation tank wrapped around their heads, yet these folks handle it beautifully.
As for any story/character progress. The whole affair was used to illustrate that Right feels completely fine with childishly torturing monsters to show them the error of their ways. In this case he ties the monster to a tree and taunts it with food. While this makes for some mildly funny moments, it's nothing to get too excited about. The villains are a little more active as they bicker about whether the collected darkness should be saved for the emperor or fed to Grita, a creature that is being groomed as his bride. Over the past few entries it's been shown that Grita has the monster hots for General Schwarz who is currently spending his time spying on the ToQgers.
You might say I'm selling the episode short but honest to god there wasn't much here to get excited about. In fact, there was never a clear focus for the episode. It introduced new tools for the group without spending much time on them. Spent time on Right without really doing anything with him. Developed the villains a little more while only giving them one scene. Just seemed like a wasted opportunity overall. That said, now seems like a good time to start power rankings. Let's go.
  1. Premire
  2. Episode 4
  3. Episode 3
  4. Episode 2
  5. Episode 5

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

ToQger Episode 4

Many spots around the interwebs claim that the fourth episode is a good point to take measure of a shows overall potential. If we were to take stock in that theory than I would dare to proclaim this as a fine series. In fact, I've taken to looking forward to each new installment more than most of the other shows I watch. Really it all comes down the this being such an upbeat piece of entertainment. Don't get me wrong now, the majority of my viewing revolves around depressing subject matter. Hell! At one point my favorite show was nip/tuck. Something this positive and goofy is just makes for such a nice change of pace, even moreso than some straight out cartoons. As a four episode test goes, I say this is a show to keep up with. Now that the ass kissing has been firmly delivered, let's get into the story proper.

Our tale begins with the reveal that the rainbow line, despite being a train powered entirely by imagination, has it's own line of credit for our group to make use of. This spawns a lil montage of the characters going out to do their own thing which results in a shopping spree for Tokatti (blue ranger) that ends with him losing his train pass/credit card. Rendered unable to ride the train he has to follow the group by any means necessary. The yellow ranger, Mio decides to accompany him so that he doesn't get completely lost. Meanwhile we have a secret romance blooming amongst some of the villians.
As you can guess this one is doing some major relationship set up, but it doesn't feel forced at all. In rather smart style the show is setting up Tokatti and Mio as the parents of the group. Neither of them are as talented as the others but they both offer support and dependability. It's a good way to connect the two of them and should prove to be an interesting aspect of the show as more rangers join to the group, throwing off the normal balance of things.
Oh I agree.
The action side of things is a bit lighter this week. However; there is one neat development in that the shadow line trains can transform into giant thugs to help out the monsters of the week. This could become a great way to break up the monotony of the usual big robot vs monster bits.
When all is said and done we now have a proper perspective on our group of heroes. Right is the wild optimist. Hakari stands as our intelligent realist. Kagura is the upbeat child. Mio the protective mother figure. And Tokatti functions as the dependable oddball. A fine team overall with an obvious opening for someone a bit more stern to mix things up.
I waited a little too long to write this up so the episode is slipping from my mind as I get hyped up to watch the newest installment. Still; this was a solid tale that ranks just behind the premiere. Won't waste much energy on a fancy sign off as I should be back for episode 5 real soon.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

ToQger Episode 3

Attempts to catch up on episode recaps now boarding. Yes I'm going to continue the lame train jokes as we work our way through this series. I can't help myself honestly. Fact is the Japanese are possibly the only people who know how to make trains seem exciting. Whether it be in superhero shows or that awesome ass board game from last year (That would be Trains by AEG.) It's a strange feeling to have any respect for trains given how they've driven me nuts my entire life. I have been by tracks everywhere I've lived. Even my dorm room was like half a block from a crossing. I can't escape them but by god Japan seems intent on making me respect them.
Anywho, today's episode focused pretty firmly on Kagura (the pink ranger) which was sort of a surprise as stories about the girls tend to come around more often at episode five or six. Combined with several other factors I can see this series offering the ladies a lot more story time. Back to my point, the group has theorized that their hometown was overcome with darkness at their imaginations where too bright to stay in there, thous they were ejected out onto the rainbow and shadow line respectively and their memories were damaged in the process. Kagura starts to wonder about abandoning the team to go and search for home since she doesn't think she's up to snuff for this hero routine. Before this point I found her to be the least interesting member of the team and this story didn't change much. I'm not saying the character is awful just that she's currently either too whiny or obnoxious for my liking. Thankfully Right was around to give her some good advice as well as stalk the train conductor in order to find out whether that monkey puppet is really alive. It's so nice to have a main guy who can pick up the slack when needed.
I haven't gone into discussing Ms. Wagon yet. Mainly because she kinda scares me. So far she's added nothing to the story other than being a noisy mascot who is also some kind of sexy robowoman. In truth she fits in quite well with the overall nuttiness of the show so I'm willing to see what she amounts to later.
As the story moved on Kagura accidentally got locked out of the train and had to face off against a coffin obsessed monster who made short work of chaining her up and taking her hostage. Believe it or not this is actually another good sign for the girls getting more screen time. An observation I've made during various sentai seems to be that the more the girls are mistreated, the more attention they get in the series overall. It's an odd balance of feminism and perversion. Think of it like barbarian princess flicks from the 80's.
As the tale moves along the rest of the crew catch up and rescue her resulting in her kicking some fairly serious ass. A trick with Kagura is that she imagines herself as various tough girls in order to better stomp her opponents. The show has now introduced that she can get so far into character that she may end killing herself. No doubt we'll see this get revisited later on but for now Right got her out of the fight and dunked her in a pool. The result was remembering that their hometown was somewhere by the ocean. After that, they ice the monster, spread good feelings all around & continue on down the track.
Overall this was a marked improvement over the previous episodes in balancing both the dramatic and comedic elements of the show. Wouldn't rank it as well as the premiere but the show is showing some good promise. Now I'll leave you with a train boner.

Monday, March 10, 2014

In Other News

Breaking away from the theme of the last few posts we find the year finally starting to pick up some steam. New things are hitting stores and proper holidays are slowly making a return which grants me the ability to drown myself in junk. Wont you drown with me? No? Well you don't get a choice in the matter, so there.
First and foremost are new Kool-Aid flavors. I've been waiting for Sharkleberry to hit the shelves since its return was announced last year. I'm fairly certain that I'd had this one as a kid but for the life of me I could not remember what it tasted like. It's delicious by the way! On an odd note, if you combine it with root beer you end up with something that tastes exactly like childrens toothpaste. The brand new green apple flavor was something I saw being hyped by exactly no one. That's not a complaint though since it's a rare occurrence to actually be outright surprised by kool-aid. Haven’t tried it yet but I'm debating which flavor I should turn into a pie first. If you think that sounds crazy, just go look up kool-aid pies. They're the real world version of that imaginary food from Hook.
YoCrunch strawberry yogurt with sprinkles. I was so stoked at the prospect of sprinkles in my yogurt but yocrunch totally dropped the ball here by using some of the weakest sprinkles I've ever encountered. Worse still is the actual yogurt. Seeing as the yocrunch line exists for children and adults who fear healthy dietary habits I assumed the yogurt wouldn't be chunky. In truth that's almost the case. There's only two or three chunks of fruit per cup. It's as if they strained the fully chunky stuff only to leave behind some bits and the more crude taste. I'd say bah to the whole thing but at least I got sprinkles.
Got to hit up the local thrift stores again where I found a nice copy of Topple laying amongst the ruins of their board game selection. Never had the chance to play this one as a kid. Sure my family had a lot of the basics like monopoly and jenga but anything like this never entered into our tiny collection. It doesn't play too badly though the scoring system is a little wonky.
My sister picked up Scream Gems for me. It's one of those old movie guide books that became nearly obsolete with the invention of the internet. Published in 1977 it seems to have a nice spread of flicks from old silents to what was, at the time, new school titles like Texas chainsaw massacre. There's a pretty impressive assortment of photos from more obscure fair that I'm honestly interested in looking up along with a few I already own.
The weekend was spent with very little sleep. I'm fairly sure that most of what I experienced was a hallucination. Something I can prove happened was this fancy selection of new peeps. The reviews in short are: Blue Raspberry.......strange. Sour Watermelon....actually really good. Bubble gum...would you believe awesome? The leftovers are currently lined up in a ziplock bag like some militant chicken army.
Also grabbed the original Carrie from the good old five buck bin at wally world. Needed to revisit it in order to wash off the stank of the remake. Lesson is; never try to top a movie that features William Kat's magnificent manfro. There's no winning that battle.

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

ToQger Episode 2

Staying on track (these train puns write themselves) let's continue on to the second episode of ToQger. I'll admit up front this one didn't do as much for me as the first did. Still, there's a few important bits to cover and I'd like to see how long I can keep this up. Perhaps it'll serve as a resume for some tv website somewhere down the line (See! There's another one!).
Anyhow; this one picks up immediately after the premiere with our band of heroes discussing that they may in fact be dead. At least the monkey puppet claimed that might as well be dead. The facts are all five team members knew each other as kids, but that's about the extent of their memories. Playing as kids and then being in their late-teens/early-twenties. This serves as the major story point for this ep and doesn't really get resolved. However; it's presented to us that the villains like to ride into towns and corrupt them in various ways. The theory is is that our heroes may have come from such a town and the evil shadow influence would explain their collective memory loss.
The B-plot this week served to flesh out the green ranger, Hikaru a little more as the serious/logical one. Basically he thinks that Right, the red ranger needs to get his head out of the clouds. The conflict is resolved pretty easily but I feel safe from experience in saying that this theme will return any time the show decides to get more serious.

Thankfully we get to see a full scale evil plot in motion this week as the bad guys turn a small town into duel city, in which they force the populace to fight each-other at various time of the day. Apparently this is supposed to wick up negative emotions thous spreading shadows over the world. That's the whole plan for them really. Make trouble-bad karma-profit, or in this case replace profit with summon your evil emperor into existence.
As you can probably tell, this wasn't an all out feast of madness like the premiere as it had to lay out some necessary plot details. Luckily we still got a pretty wild fight scene between Right and the monster of the week atop flying trains. The effects for the scene weren't all that spiffy but simply having the balls to carry through with this idea nabs the show some points.
Next time the show should be moving on to a proper character focused tale about the pink ranger. Before we get there, I might make a stop (there I go again) at another topic. Just realized that this will mark my 25th post. Excuse me while I get myself some celebratory redpop.