Sunday, May 24, 2015

Shuriken Sentai Ninninger episode 11

Some might think that after months of recaps I'd be something of a well-oiled machine, churning them out as required. Sadly there is the greatest enemy of any writing, laziness to contend with. The fine folks behind the scenes of this show are not falling into the lazy trap just yet as they continue to craft Ninninger into something better than it was at the beginning. Let's check on their progress.

Picking up from last week's capper that Kinji needs to defeat the team in order to become grandpa's apprentice. We find that he's taken up a duel role; one is that of an assassins who attempts to murder them in their sleep, the other is that a nursemaid who cooks them breakfast since he feels like he owes it to his potential master to take care of the kids. As an excuse for him to interact with the team and still be a rival it works quite well. Makes for some good comedy too.

Of course it's not long before a monster shows up in the form of a mopey tea kettle alongside one of those giant skeleton. On top of that, Shinobimaru (the red robot) runs off in a huff. While Yakumo and Kinji take on the big critter, the others try to find their runaway robot and the other baddie. Once they find Shinobimaru, Kasumi pulls her newest invention right out of thin air, one that allows them to communicate with things that otherwise can't talk. Kudos to the show on this front as they come up with multiple ways for her to use her smarts and strange mannerisms to be useful without coming across as an asshole. Along with her progress over the past few episodes she's officially upgraded in my view to.....let's go with that sleepy goo you get in the corners of your eyes.

Getting back on topic, the robot's having a freakout cause he thinks he'll be forgotten amongst all the new shiny toys they've collected. Takaharu stays behind to work on the situation while the others chase the tea kettle and find that his power is turning people (and apparently robots) into sad sacks. An affliction he then places on Fuuka & Nagi.

While all this is going on we have a subplot with Kinji and Yakumo butting heads over each ones individual style. Kinji can't forgive a decedent of the last ninja for using magic, and Yakumo won't listen to some daffy rock & roll cowboys judgment. The two of them meet up with the others and fix Fuuka and Nagi with a strange plan of dancing and self-deprecation. Oh and during this, Takaharu gets into another duel with Gabi wherein both of them get beat down something fierce.

 The cowboy and magician learn to work together, people get their shit together, Taka shows up in time for the giant robot fight only to pass out from his wounds once the fight is finished. All in all it was a very busy episode that really illustrated how much the show has improved since the beginning. Humor and action are solid, the stories are flowing smoothly, and the characters all have a voice save for one. Poor Nagi is still tragically underdeveloped. However; it looks like the show is about to give him another shot in the spotlight soon as well as bringing in some new villains. How will the next few episodes pan out? You won't have to wait long to find out since I've got last weeks on tap and another one is about to air in just a few hours. If only those ninjas could slay the lazy monster.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Your Toy Box Unboxing May 2015

We interrupt the usual rantings about Super Sentai, snack food, and poorly planed comic events to bring you an unboxing! Faithful readers might remember my first experiment with subscription boxes back in March when I gave Box of Dread a shot. Results were mixed to say the least and the subscription was quickly canceled. In the time since, I've flirted with the idea of trying a few others before finally picking Your Toy Box as the next lucky specimen. Let's see how they do.

First some background on the subject. Your Toy Box is run by a cat named Trevor who is apparently a professional collector who turned his passion into a subscription service. For $25 (that includes shipping) you get a box with 7 or more items (both vintage and new) relating to categories you pick out when you sign up. Yep; there's a list of 100 interests for you to select from. The first two options are boy or girl which is good if you're getting this for a kid or have no interest in another genders toys. It's not limited to just toys either as there are spots for novels, manga, and even Hallmark ornaments. With all these options, absolutely no one gets the same box every month.

For future reference here's the categories I went with. I'm a boy, Marvel, Alien, Predator, Horror, Godzilla, Ultraman, Sega, Capcom, Lord of the Rings, comic books, and Game Boy Advance.

Before we start the unboxing I must note that their website is kinda crummy. It's functional sure but I've seen people note that the site almost makes the service look like a scam. Thankfully that is not the case at all as you're about to see.

Let's kick things off with the more oddball items. For instance the Dracula figure which is from a late nineties Burger King promotion. He's missing the cape and coffin but he's still got it going on. Kind of a lightweight way to start the horror section though I suppose it's fitting to begin with such an icon.

I have no clue what the origin of the wind up Nightcrawler is but you'll hear no complaining. This thing is pure madness! Just look at him. He's terrifying! Whenever the need arises, I have a mini mobile Alan Cummings to sick on my enemies and that is a real treasure.

Tony Hawks Pro Skater 2 for the GBA was very unexpected. I'd been wondering if having Sega and Capcom on my list would increase the odds of getting their GBA titles (and for all I know it might) but I was prepared for something out of left field and here it is. Now I've actually heard that this is an outstanding game though lord knows if time has been kind to it. Since It's been tough to get face time with my PS4 this past week, a little portable fun could be just the thing I need.

If you don't recognize the dude in spandex, I don't blame ya. Guardian is (was? Not sure) the leader of Marvel's Canadian super team, Alpha Flight. I know next to nothing about the guy so you must excuse the lack of commentary. His coloration is different than what I'm used to seeing so maybe this is a special one or from a select era. Let's look at it this way though. This is about as weak as this box gets which if anything is a sign of quality. Oh; you may also notice a little metal horse head thingy next to the game. No clue where that came from. Figure it must have fallen into the box before shipment.

Alright! Comic book time. Only ever experienced Rom through a guest appearance in an issue of Micronauts and I skipped out on the entirety of Avengers vs. X-men so both of these are uncharted territory for me. They're both in really good shape and their bagged with backers which is very cool. I'll give these a go after I get through the small pile of Man-Thing guest shots I picked up the other day. There's also a King Theoden bookmark for me to save my spot. How thoughtful is that?

Now for the cream of the crop. Maybe I should have included Nightcrawler in this batch (lil guy's really growing on me). It's Godzilla! I've already got a decent sized millennium era figure and this lil guy looks Heisei all the way. He's solid too! Kinda rubbery with good heft. I assumed that I'd get some support monster like Mothra or Gigan so getting the big guy himself is such a treat.

Finally have my very own Ultraman figure. This one was brand new and had to be put together. It think it's Ultraman Max which I've yet to watch but that doesn't stop me from doing a happy Ultra dance. Figuring out the exact way to put on his little standy boot took longer than I'd like to admit.

Finally; we have Aragorn from the Toy Biz lord of the rings figures. I'll admit that I mainly added LOTR to the list for the chance of getting some monsters to stand alongside the boxed ring wraith on my shelf but this guy surprised me. He's hefty and not too bad looking (kinda hard to see in his baggy, sorry). He'll make a fine addition to the collected weirdos overlooking my bedroom.

So once again I must ask the question of whether or not I'd go in for this box again. yes, yes I would. Unlike a lot of subscription boxes on the market there's no question that you're getting you're moneys worth. I've got ten (11 if you count the horse head) good items laid out before me. If I don't like one, I can always give, donate, or even sell it off because it's something legit, not a sticker or coupon. There's a good mix of items that serve as giggle inducing novelties and ones you're happy to keep forever. Plus; there's always the opportunity for me to trim or expand the interest list. I'm still debating whether or not to add McFarlane since their movie maniacs line is so great. I highly recommend this box and will be giving it at least a few more months so long as I can afford it. There's still a few other boxes I'd like to try but there gonna have to work extra hard to top Your Toy Box.

Edit: Just remembered that I should probably provide the address in case any of you are interested in giving this a shot. It's just good form. You can sign up at:

That's all for now folks. I'll be back either later tonight or sometime tomorrow for some more recaps. Look forward to a few more updates than usual for the rest of the month since I've got some stuff I wanna get wrapped up. TTFN.

Saturday, May 9, 2015

Ninninger Episodes 9 and 10

Slight change of plan here folks. Today I'm pulling double duty on Ninninger recaps in order to catch up. Yea, yea, I know it's lame to shortchange the recaps; just work with me here.

Episode 9

There's a phrase repeated several times in this episode along the lines of “When things seem like smooth sailing, you must be most cautious.” Seems like the writers were trying to warn themselves after such a solid entry the previous week.. This one almost lived up to that standard before it took a tumble in it's third act.

The main story is that Yakumo's mother is in town holding a fashion show. Apparently she's quite the designer and her focus on fashion extends to her sons studies. For instance she allowed him to study magic as it was the “in thing” while ninjitsu is just a little too old and dusty for her liking. Lady also has a fine centerpiece for her show; a shiny dress adorned with what appears to be the end shuriken. Finally get some backstory on that thing. It's a special shuriken with the power to destroy the world and one of the responsibilities of the last ninja is to keep that thing in check.

The team wants to get the shuriken back but Auntie just doesn't want to part with it which leads to our main conflict. The kids actually have to pull off a mission to swap out the real end shuriken for a fake. Of course their challenged by a magic carpet monster and some upgraded foot soldiers. All that stuff is quite good and results in Yakumo deciding to better combine his ninja and magic skills. Then the rough part happens.

When we get to the usual giant robot fight is where things take a turn for the worse. Mr. Magic carpet turns ours heroes ride to stone and all seems lost until the new kid, Starninger jumps in. Opps; actually he showed up at the start of the episode hunting yokai on his own in search of the end shuriken. Anyhow he's got a rodeo robot amongst other tacky shit. So he beats the monster and shouts a bunch of nonsesne about how cool he is. Let's just say I was more than a little turned off by his appearance. Even so, the show's still smart enough to give us something to keep things interesting. After the wrap up where Yakumo's mom lets him know she's proud and it's revealed that her end shuriken was also a fake, we get one more scene wherein our new gold ranger finds grandpa and attacks him. Now that's a none too shabby cliffhanger.

(This is where I took a break at 2AM to do some banking and mother's day shopping. Have you ever stabilized a glass globe between your legs while riding a moped? Wouldn't recommend it.)

Episode 10

Picking up immediately where we left off, the new guy attacks grandfather at his food cart. The wiley old bastard escapes to the dojo where the kids nurse him back to health. The next morning a threesome of Taka, Fuuka, and Yakumo stake out the park in an attempt to draw out the assailant. That's when the cowboy show up. You heard that right, a cowboy. Our newest hero hails from the American southwest and has all the obnoxious themes to show that fact off. Outside of his cowpoke attire he has an electric guitar sword that also functions as a gun, oh and least I forget to mention that his transformation device is a hamburger. Also his ninja star is more in line with a sheriffs badge and he's big on party night. Really? If you're so into parties does it make much sense to designate a night for it?

Eventually we get the back story on the newbie. While the old man was traveling the globe he met Kinji on a ranch. The kid instantly fell head over heals for the way of the ninja. Gramps didn't want to teach him though so he offered him a challenge; if Kinji could defeat him, then he could become a student of ninjitsu. Old fool thought that would be the end of it. Instead the kid took it all to heart and become a yokai hunter who's really into his work. He makes casts of monster footprints, takes selfies with a creature before killing it. If nothing else the guy loves his work. It's actually an enduring quality, especially when he's disappointed over missing out on the previous fights in the series.

It's not too long before everybody works together to stop some bulldozer monster and things almost seem like they might work out until grandad issues a new challenge. If Kinji can defeat the ninningers, he'll officially become a student of the last ninja. As for the main team; their current training mission is to defeat Kinji which looks like the basis for the next few episode starting with a Kinji/Yakumo dual next week.

I'll admit when Kinji showed up in ep 9 it was worrisome. The writers made the mistake of showing all his obnoxious novelties before giving us a character proper. Episode ten helped to turn that around by giving him an interesting story and placing him in conflict with the team. Very much like the show itself, he's gone from a loud goon that makes you scratch your head to a decent diversion with the potential to be something more.

Phew. Now that I'm caught up on recaps there should be no reason for falling behind again. Now let's just see if I can finish up The Crossing before the next one. Peace!