Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Marvel Collector Corps February Deadpool Unboxing.

There are two things I've found that make a long-awaited delivery all the more spectacular. First is as a reward for finishing something important. Second is as bandage for disappointment. Imagine my surprise then when Marvel Collector Corps arrived right after finishing a project that may lead to a side-job and mere hours before the absolutely rubbish ending of The X-Files. Brief aside on that, how the fuck can you fail to end a story properly by the third try? Oh well, I'll take my solace/triumph with this box full of goodies that like so much of pop-culture this month is all about Deadpool.

As usual for these Funko boxes things kick off with both a patch and pin. There's only so much you can say about these but they're still a nice touch. This pair also has some better quality art than the Groot & Rocket from December's box. The pin goes right to my lampshade but I still have no clue what to do with these patches other than wait and make a boy scout style sash. Anybody out there with decent decorative patch ideas drop me a line, please.

This installment marks a return to normal after the holiday items of the Guardians box. That means it's time for my first experience with Pop Tees. Seeing as I'm a wee bit heavyand I'd heard odd remarks about sizing, I opted for XXL to be on the safe side. I'd say it was a good call because even though there's ample body room, the arms were initially snug.. Not sure which factory sets out to make tailored clothing for fat men with baby arms but it seems Funko has em on contract. Don't take this as too much of a criticism though. My caveman body is the scourge of modern garments, and the shirt is still pretty comfortable.
As for the design, it's decent if a tad basic with Mr. Pool posing within an almost card like display of bullets,and the like. Turns out there were 4 variations possible with each offering a different costume coloration. All said, I'm pretty satisfied with getting the X-Force version.

I neglected to read the comic before writing the last boxing, but this time I wanted to cover everything in full. Kinda regret that decision cause this book kinda sucks. Now I'm no master of Deadpool comics. I've got a few in the longbox and even cherish my complete set of “The Circle Chase.” Otherwise I'm unable to say how well this story stack up against it's peers. Still what is here is an indecisive mixture of light comedy and boredom that struggles to introduce far too many plot threads without the ever providing much entertainment. It's odd to read a first issue from a new volume that's so deep in continuity as to be utterly baffling. It absolutely failed to interest me. As for the variant's good but doesn't compete with that awesome Guardians Christmas cover from last time.

With all the fluff outta the way it's time to get into the meat of any Funko box, the toys. Folks were having a hell of a time guessing what might be included in this box due to the sheer glut of Deadpool items already on the market. So I imagine most were surprised at such a solid offering of exclusives. Personally, I did not expect to find a Mopeez since Funko has so far neglected to included any of their plush lines within subscription boxes. Gotta say the lil guy is kinda neat. He's got this faux-vinyl material for parts of his costume that mesh well with his otherwise soft body. On the downside I just know he's going to be a magnet for corgi fur.

Next up was another entry in the Dorbz line which I'm very happy about. Dorbz have really started to come into their own lately. Go check out the the great figures from the horror line or some of the TMNT entries if you don't believe me. Cowboy Deadpool may be a somewhat lazy variation but I ain't complaining. The paint-job is great, and he's nicely weighted and well built.

Last up is the big item most people are interested in, the exclusive Pop. There had been a lot of discussion as to whether Funko would cheap out with a simple color change or hat. Instead we're treated to part of their attempt at Pop diversity with leaping Deadpool. It's a neat effect to see this character in something other than the standard Pop pose. He's supported by a clear base that slides under his sword sheaths. I found handling him out of the box was sort of a pain thanks to both the base sliding out and him being a bubblehead. It's like a toothpick & Jell-O situation. That level of built-in instability means he's staying in the box until I've got a more sturdy perch for my collection.

Overall, I'm very satisfied with this box. The only disappointing item was the comic which is far from a big deal. If you're like me, the point of getting Collector Corps is because you like Funko toys and could maybe use a boost to your t-shirt selection. On those fronts this is still a worthwhile investment. Of course if you're not into Funko toys you should probably devote yourself to a nice healthy hobby like jogging...or puzzles.
If you are interested if giving it a shot, the cut-off for the next box is mid-April. The theme is Captain America: Civil War which has me wiggling with anticipation. For anyone who likes the idea of this box but isn't big into Marvel, there's a Star Wars box in March along with the launch of a DC service. If you're aiming to get all three I suggest you sell a family member into slavery to cover the costs.

That's all for today, kiddies. Michigan's getting hit with some late-season Winter storm. The view from my bedroom window looks like one of those naturescape lamps right now. Time to go out and frolic.

Saturday, February 20, 2016

Star Wars Book Club: The Rise of the Empire

I've not much of a Star Wars guy. Rather direct way of opening this article, I know but I've already rewritten this paragraph three times so let's go with the open and honest method. Now I'm not saying I dislike Star Wars, that's impossible for a properly bread nerd. Like so many, the Skywalker saga was part of my upbringing. I bought toys, played a few of the games, and yes even read three or four books, and I never lost interest in debating theories and ideas for the where the franchise could go. After the prequels though, the whole series became more of a passing interest sidelined by a greater dedication to the likes of Star Trek, Marvel comics, and horror movies. Recently that's started to change.

It's no news that Star Wars has returned in a big way. The Force Awakens is still raking in cash and I think most of us were satisfied with what it had to offer. I enjoyed the film enough that it actually rekindled the part of me that loves this universe. Since then I've started sorting through the newly streamlined continuity, first by watching The Clone Wars which has been better than I imagined it would be. Next on the agenda was getting around to the new novels. In the past, my experience with such books was pretty spotty. For as much as I enjoyed Shadows of the Empire, other titles failed to grab my attention. This was due in no small part to elements that simply didn't mesh with what I wanted from the series. I mean nothing's gonna convince me that the Solo twins weren't horribly lame. Since they aren't a problem anymore....hopefully, I'm free to dive into these new stories.

Truth be told, there was another factor contributing to my decision to begin a whole franchise worth of material. Seeing as I wanted to read them anyway, why not turn that interest into a recurring feature for the site? With that on mind, let's start with Rise of the Empire, a collection of the first two new cannon novels along with three short stories. So without further ado, let us commence the first meeting of the Star Wars Book Club.

Mercy Mission by Melissa Scott

Fair warning, this collection does not kick things off in the best fashion. “Mercy Mission” was such a lackluster opening that before writing this article, I struggled to even remember what it was about. The Plot concerns a young Hera (of the Rebels TV series) attempting to smuggle medicine to the populace of her home planet. That's it.
The writing was passable but utterly uninteresting. On multiple occasions I caught myself halfway through a page with no clue of what I'd read as my mind had drifted off to matters like what to make for dinner. Nothing of major importance occurs and the whole tale is so bland I actually couldn't tell you whether the mission was a success. Absolutely can't remember.
If you're a huge Hera fan looking for more details on her past, this may provide some entertainment, for the rest of us I'd say skip ahead.

Tarkin by James Luceno

Now's our chance to get into some meaty material. This was the second novel published within the new cannon but is presented first for the sake of time line. As the title implies it's all about Grand Moff Tarkin whom you should remember from A New Hope as played by the wonderful Peter Cushing. Something I never put together as a kid was how underdeveloped this character was in the original movie. It's obvious he's a high-ranking official but as you grew up it seems odd that he's about the only person in the galaxy with an almost casual relationship with Darth Vader. For anyone who loved the report between these two villains there's a good deal of entertainment to be fond in these pages.
The story itself is a little haphazard. It begins with the station overseeing construction of the Deathstar suffering an attack from insurgents utilizing faked holocommunications. This event makes The Emperor assign Tarkin and Vader to hunt down those responsible. The troublemakers true plan is to steal Tarkin's flagship and destroy key outposts throughout the galaxy. Interspersed with all of this are tales of the Grand Moff's upbringing on his home world. It's not a bad story, tghough it lacks a certain flow and urgency. Those issues are not helped by the chapters focusing on the rebel group all of whom are pretty bland.
The true strength of this book lies in the depiction of Tarkin himself and his relationship with both Vader and the Emperor. Every thought and word feels incredibly accurate to these characters to the extent that you can actually hear their actors deliver each line. Any scene between Tarkin and Vader is a delight as the two of them administer cruel treatments with a mutual respect. Likewise, it's very entertaining to read how the Emperor set both of these men up as his primary underlings, Tarkin as the military leader, and Vader as the junkyard dog.
As far as overall importance, this isn't a tale of shattering events so much as a window into details we've never seen. One element I'm interested to hear more about is that the Jedi Temple on Coruscant was built atop a Sith Shrine. This apparently contributed to the Jedi's weakened connection to the force during the clone wars. Hopefully this small thread will be expanded in a later story.
Even though it may not be incredibly important, or the most tightly paced, I'd say this is a worthwhile read for SW nuts with a fascination for the bad guys.
Bottleneck by John Jackson Miller

Taking a breather from the heavy stuff we turn to another short story. This one I'm glad to report is honestly fun reading. To top that off, it's placement within this collection actually makes sense as it introduces us to the villain of the next novel along with their Imperial lackey, Rae Sloane.
The plot concerns Tarkin being forced to work alongside the Empire's number one business efficiency guy, Count Vidian on a mission to investigate lagging troop armor production. Being a short, there's no deep mystery to be found but similar to Tarkin before it there's plenty of fun in reading about how these villains work together to solve a problem.
I can't help but rave about Count Vidian. He's an inspired creation. Imagine a mixture of General Grevious, Donald Trump, and Tony Robbins. The result is a crazed, robotic business executive who'll stoop to any low to achieve his goals. There's only a lite teasing of his antics within this short, just enough to get me primed for the next novel.

New Dawn by John Jackson Miller

At last we arrive at the very first book in this new continuity. Fans of the Rebels TV series should take note as this one's all about the events that brought Hera Syndulla and Kanan Jarrus together.
Plotwise this is classic Star Wars. We've got a group of odd strangers who are brought together to stop the evil cyborg, Count Vidian and his plans to destroy a heavenly body. What is it exactly with Imperials and blowing shit up anyway? Alright, there is a little more depth to it than that. I just don't want to spoil things for you fine folks. I will assure you that this tale is faster paced and feels more substantial than Tarkin's.
One issue I did have with this offering relates to characterization. Granted I've only seen a few episodes of Rebels but I can't help but feel that this rendition of Kanan is more wild & fun than his televised counterpart. Hera on the other hand comes across as somewhat dry and one-dimensional. She's just a skilled woman who likes to do the right thing. She doesn't have any odd behaviors or personal issues to set her apart within this story. Thankfully the supporting cast along with the diabolical Count Vidian make for plenty of additional entertainment.
Fans of Rebels should absolutely check this one out. Likewise, I think most Star Wars fans will find this to be a worthwhile addition to the franchise.

Levers of Power by Jason Fry

The final piece of this collection is a short tale focusing on Rae Slone's role during the end of Return of the Jedi. A rather simple affair that showcases the number of Imperial ships that fled from the battle of Endor in the hopes of fighting another day. As you can probably guess, this marks the beginnings of the First Order who will eventually spread their own brand of terror. It also serves as a segway into the first entry in the Aftermath trilogy, a snippet of which is included in this collection. Seeing as I'm planing on reading the book anyway that brief segment was skipped.

One issue I forgot to mention are the moments where authors rely too much on the readers presumed knowledge of this franchise. The most common example are moments where characters are described in relation to their species with little else to back it up. Whenever that species is a well known one it's not so bad. I can summon up a Wookie in my head mighty quick but there are other characters I had to turn to the internet to even get a clue of what they were supposed to look like. This same issue arises with vehicles and I'm a little surprised since this new continuity was supposed to increase the accessibility of this franchise.

All in all I'm pretty satisfied with my first trip this expanded lore. Nothing in this collection qualifies as great reading mind you. It's just fun entertainment with a few missteps. The kind of things that pairs well with a nice afternoon in the sun. Speaking of which, there's actual sunlight and decent temperatures for the first time this year. Talk about a good excuse to settle in with another book.

Friday, February 12, 2016

Shuriken Sentai Ninninger Episode 47. The End

It's over! Not only is this the end of twelve straight months of recaps but it also marks the completion of a small personal challenge to review one whole series Realistic goals, folks. As far as achievements, it's up there with snorting Pixie Stix for money only without the burning sensation. Now that I'm done flexing over slim accomplishments, let's take a look at the final episode of Shuriken Sentai Ninninger.

When we left off last week, the End Shruiken had been activated and our heroes powers had been diminished. Two big obstacles stand in the way of saving the world, Kyuuemon is his new jacked up form, and his papa Gangetsu. Sadly, neither battle proves to be all that big a challenge though the first offers up some solid emotional beats.

Alright, so round one against Kyuuemon is fairly basic other than an excess of explosions. The real meant of fight lies in the debate as to whether Grampa had ever cared about Mr. Fox. Takaharu and the team hold on to the belief that the despicable traitor could have returned to their clan. They also regain their powers while talking up the benefits of competing with each other and working together as a family. After winning this fight, they're proven right once it's found that one of grampa's shurikens was meant for Kyuuemon should he return and become a green ranger. Foxy and Kinji even wrap up their relationship by noting they had the same struggle of being orphans who found a place within the Igasaki clan.

Kyuuemon's death is stretched out a little further as his daddy absorbs his power and goes jumbo size for the final battle. The team summons their second-generation robots and continue to talk up the value of teamwork, friendship, etc. This allows Kyuuemon's spirit to escape, thus weakening Gangetsu which gives the team the chance they need to finish him off.

Beating the enemy isn't quite the end though as there's still the matter of what to do with the End Shuriken, oh and the thousands of yokai currently destroying Earth. As the entire team has become a new embodiment of the last ninja, they make a decision to fix the damage and wish away the end shuriken, removing any reason for there to ever be another last ninja.

Everything safe at least, the kids decide to part ways. Kasumi stars her career in science, Nagi goes back to school, Yakumo teaches a mix of ninpo and magic at wizard school (totally not Hogwarts), Fuuka tries to become an idol (thought she gave up on that after the Dracula episode), Kinji opens a food cart in Europe, and Takaharu starts teaching kids the art of ninjitsu.

And that's it. Ninninger leaves us in much the way it ran. Decent enough but not much more. It's a little sad since the show wasn't terrible, yet it never took any risks or veered further into drama or comedy. It just stayed a basic, fairly entertaining action series. It wasn't completely devoid of merit. Let's take a look at some of the ups and downs

Things that worked:

Action: Morso than other Sentai was the quality of fight scenes. Choreography was top notch, with a crew of stunt people fully capable of pulling it off. Even some of the robot sequences were a step-up from previous series. This lapsed a little towards the end with more battles involving pyrotechnics and CG. Still; for a show with a thin story, the fights were usually enough to hold everything together.

Fuuka/Yuka Yano: I've praised Fuuka for a while now and it's not that she's a particularly well-written character. She's not. Overall her characterization is pretty thin. What made her shine was a combination of some of the best episodes along with the enthusiasm of Yuka Yano. She's not what you'd call the best actress around. Some of her line delivery was a little weak, but through it all there was boundless enthusiasm that only comes from someone who enjoys their job.

Gramps: While a good share of the characters were fairly shallow, the old man provided the best emotional moments and always felt like a fully developed personality. Throughout the series he was judgmental, yet guilty. Crass, yet loving. If even half the team had this level of depth, the series would have been a serious contender.

Stuff that sorta worked:
Yakumo, just not his episodes: Yakumo was definitely one of the more rounded members of the team and his actor wasn't half bad either. However; for as good as the character could be, nearly all of his focused episodes rank as low points for the series. Remember the lawnmower? How about the one with the little girl who wanted to marry him? Poor guy couldn't catch a break.

Stuff that didn't work:

Villains not named Kyuuemon: Let's face it. Most of the baddies were more bark than bite. There were one note monsters who proved to be more terrifying threats than the main villain. None of them had compelling stories or hidden agendas. Only Kyuuemon offered anything more than empty threats, and even he seemed fairly aimless until about the halfway mark.

Theme: The concept of ninja who break from tradition by being loud and colorful had plenty of potential, yet the series failed to fully embrace this theme. More often than not, something odd would be tossed into the proceedings without any payoff. Like what was the point of the UFO and surfer robots? They didn't tie into any stylistic choice or story line. Or take Kinji for example. The idea of a cowboy ninja was fully in line with breaking tradition but it was all just empty window dressing right down to his hamburger transformation device. When you consider a series like Kamen Rider Gain where every element of theme relates to the storyline and characters, the antics of Ninninger were just confounding.

While the show may be over, Ninninger will return a few more times in the future. January saw the release of Ninninger vs. ToQger which should be subtitled this Summer. Around that time, there's going to be a straight to video special introducing another girl to the team. Next year will bring yet another movie as well. Fans of this franchise will be happy to know I plan to cover the next series at least once as I want to try out a new style of recaps. Whether I continue beyond that point is up in the air. Look for that sometime next month when the show has a few episodes under its belt.

Wrapping up Ninninger isn't the only change to the site this week. You may have noticed a few additions around the joint. First up is Disqus which I hope will make keeping up with comments much easier. I'd actually hoped installation would prove to be more difficult. After all, nothing quite matches up the feeling of success you get when overcoming a technical challenge. Instead it proved to be one of the easiest web projects I'v ever undertaken.
Now for the less popular part of running a website. I'm talking about ads. Finally went all the way and joined up with Adsense along with renewing the Amazon Associates widget. Don't worry folks, this isn't a doomsday siren for the blog. I like to use this space as an educational experience so it's a good idea to fiddle with these programs. Not to mention I've never asked for a penny in the close to three years I've been posting. Expanding my web development knowledge and setting up an opportunity to make a buck or two is only natural.

That's all for today. Mid-Michigan is in the midst of what could be the coldest weekend of the year. If you can think of a better reason to do nothing, I'd like to hear it.

Monday, February 8, 2016

Velveeta Bold Chipotle and Mtn Dew Energizing Midnight Grape Kickstart

Odd fact; this is the third article I've commenced writing within the past week. What can I say, I'm in the mood to write, only I have zero clue what about. What this means is that February will either be a month packed full of posts, or I'll discover a clump of word files sometime this Summer with no clue to my original intent. So what's the focal point of this one? Comfort food, of course.
There's been a plentiful amount of developments around here. The household is planing out a multistage process for some major home improvements which, if fruitful will provide me with some much needed space and privacy. Also I'm waiting on news from different jobs, along with with close to six other projects like returning to work on my novel. Times like this can get a tad overbearing if you fail to take the necessary steps toward relaxation. Part of how I unwind is culinary adventures. Let's take a gander at what's been festering within my gut.

Velveeta Bold Chipotle Mac and Cheese

I'm a big fan of both cheesy and spicy foods, yet I'm only a fan of their combination on rare occasions. For example, I despise any nearly every variation of jalapeno cheddar, yet those Chipotle Cheese-It Zingers are a beloved weekend staple. Perhaps that association is what inspired me to grab a box of this new Velveeta Bold stuff.

I'd originally planed on trying this over a weekend so everyone could have a bite. Instead it became a solo late night pig out. Irresponsible? Probably, but when you're up at 2 A.M. Drinking whiskey and Watching shows about time-traveling superheroes, there's hardly a responsible choice to be made.
Much like their competition, Velveeta doesn't bother to actually change their cheese sauce, offering up a pack of dry spices to mix into the pot. Mine was so well hidden it nearly ended up in the boiling water. Other than my slight difficulty in finding that pouch, the cooking procedure is pretty standard.
Once it was finished there oddly wasn't much of a smell, and what litter there was edged closer to leftover tacos or moderately spicy chips than a pasta dish. The scent didn't linger either which is a blessing when you're not in the mood to explain late night dietary decisions with family.

As for the flavor, I was pleasantly surprised to find something akin to chili-mac just with a little more spice, and less geese. The spice factor is fairly balanced with the heat slowly sneaking up but not going completely overboard.

While I definitely wouldn't recommend this as a cheap meal, I feel fairly confident in suggesting it as a side dish for something bland like fish. There's enough spice to warm you up without resulting in sweaty spasms which allows the normal comforts of mac and cheese to work their magic. Overall it was a decent, if unhealthy treat.

Mtn. Dew Kickstart Energizing Midnight Grape

The night before gorging on Velveeta, I'd been out on a sizable stroll through town that left me remarkably parched despite the swampy late-winter weather. Luckily a trip to the party store was lined up upon my return. The selection wasn't much to get excited about but I did remember there were several new kickstart flavors. Not being much of a fan of the Kickstart line, I didn't get my hopes up too much but there was a chance they'd have something worthwhile. Neither the Blueberry Pomegranate or Watermelon varieties sounded potent enough to suite my needs, then I saw Midnight Grape. Certain that this would be the perfect flavor to accompany such a dark, wet night, I grabbed a can and headed home, where an unwanted surprise awaited me.

Let me ask you a question. If you're looking at a dark purple can with the words midnight grape, what do you expect? My bet would be strong, maybe Concord grape flavor, right? The folks at Dew don't seem to share the same point of view as the rest of us cause this drink is white grape flavored. Everything about the presentation screams dark grapes, even the drink itself is purple colored, so why the hell is the drink white grape? This isn't even false advertising so much as it is confounding misdirection. The worst thing is I really enjoy white grape, but that was not what I was craving at the time.

Confusing packaging aside, was this stuff any good? Hmmmm, sorta. The flavor is light, resting comfortably between soda and energy drink. There's a distinct note of Flintstone chewables which struck me as odd given the lack of a vitamin chart on the can. It's an odd mix as you find yourself refreshed while craving something else to wash out the vitamin aftertaste. The choice of white grape flavor gives this an edge in a crowded market but it's just no balanced. Not awful, mind you, just weak.

It's not all bad, though. The sugar content is relatively low for this type of beverage. Also, the energy mix perked me up while avoiding that blood-sugar rollercoaster other brands can bestow. Can't really comment on how long that boost lasted since I've been staying up extra late for the past few weeks.
For a final recommendation I'd still suggest interested parties to give it a shot so long as they know to expect a much lighter drink than the packaging implies. Who knows, it might be more up your alley, just keep an eye out for coupons or a sale.

That's all for today folks. Gotta get back to my other projects like the job hunt. I tell ya, waiting is for a response is killer. Never thought I'd reach a point in life where Pop Tarts became a tool for curbing anxiety. See you folks later this week. I'm off to visit the toaster.

Monday, February 1, 2016

Shuriken Sentai Ninninger Episodes 44-46

In my experience, February is often one of, if not the worst month of the year. Ugly scenery, lackluster holidays, and some of the most horrid weather in existence help to make this month a gauntlet of pure crap. This year is looking a tad brighter than most thanks to a few items I've got in the air. Even if it does all turn to shit, there's one constant that acts as something of a Chinese New year for nerds, the Super Sentai switch-out. Every February brings the end of one sentai followed immediately by the bringing of the next. Now here we stand just a couple weeks away from this changing of the guard which means this is the penultimate installment of Ninninger recaps.

Episode 44

There's a fairly even split to this tale with the most important half revolving around Takaharu's final exam in the form of a duel with his grandfather. The old man wants to battle this kids one at a time to test their resolve because he's naturally been holding back an important detail through the whole series. See, the final transfer of power to become the last ninja comes from striking down the previous title holder. Thous one of our kids has to kill grandpappy in order to take his place. Takaharu thinks this is total bunk which as you might imagine earns him a proper kick to the ass.
Meanwhile, the rest of the team deals with Tsugomori who's first in line for a series of final battles. The chief strategist has a plan that involves manipulating memories of people who relay on others for emotional support. Using this method he sways Kinji, Nagi, and Kasumi over to his side by taking the place of Takaharu in their minds. He tricks plenty of other twits to look upon him as some sort of superman until making the damn fool mistake of trying to brainwash Yakumo and Fuuka. If you ever needed proof that villains pay zero attention to their own narrative, this is it. I mean even for a show where the heroes emerge victorious in 90% of the episodes, attacking Fuuka is basically a death sentence, and this time she's got back up. As expected, our girl in white works with Yakumo to overcome the memory replacement attack by remembering all the times Taka was just plain awful and placing Tsugomori in those situations.
Now here's a part that had me just slightly confused. Once the team gets their shit together and completely goes on the defensive, a last minute revelation is made. Turns out that during the whole series, they've never really fought Tsugomori because he's like 6 inches tall and pilots a human sized robot. For some reason this makes him harder to kill than other baddies, but why? They've fought man sized robots before and won. What makes this one so special that the pilot needs to be cast out and destroyed on his own?
In the end, Taka is laid out by his grandfather, and the evil little strategist is destroyed. All told it's a middle of the road episode with some solid action and a few decent character beats to see it through to the end.

Episode 45

It's probably bad form to complain about an abundance of activity but this one's gonna be a little tough to cover. We've got a spread of fights from most of the team vs Gabi, all of the team vs Kyuuemon round 1, round 2, and grampa vs Gangetsu. They're good battles too, with some damn fine choreography and energy to spare.
On the story front there aren't many important beats. Kyuuemon reveals his origins as Gangetsu's son from a concubine to our heroes before sealing off their ninpo abilities. They eventually find a way around by creating their own ninpo. With their foe on the ropes, Tsumuji's powers are finally recovered. It's one of those moments that helps to make the show seem better than it really is. Seeing this character regain a lost part of himself and finally be able to help out these children directly, it's such a fine sight to behold. Weird to think this sub-plot began long ago in a corny throwaway episode and now it's a key moment.
Still; there's plenty to of little character bits and cool action moves to make this one a winner. We're left with an awesome ending as the team grows by two members, with gramps and Tsumuji becoming two extra red rangers. Good stuff right there.

Episode 46

Being this close to the ending can only mean one thing; explosions. So many explosions. We're talking enough pyrotechnics to make Michael Bay feel overstimulated. It's understandable given the sheer quantity of fight scenes, the first of which brings the major twist of the week. The whole Igasaki clan faces off against the big bad. The tide of battle seems to be going their way until their super finishing attack leaves him with nothing more than a case of the giggles. During a last ditch attempt to win the day, gramps is totally stabbed in the back by Kyuuemon who then steals the end shuriken. His daddy also sees fit to jack him up with the remaining sealing shurikens which grants him a new, extremely gaudy form.
As some viewers may have guessed, grampa was living on borrowed time anyway. We get some details as to how he died way back when he sealed Gangetsu away, but the power of the end shuriken allowed him to keep his human form all these years. With the shiny bauble in the hands of the enemy, the old dude finally passes. Must admit seeing him go was kind of touching. More than most of the other characters, he had a great deal of growth throughout the series and contributed to some of the finest scenes. Continuing that trend, Tsumuji digs out a last will video where the old guy praises the kids and pushes them on toward victory.
As we're treated to a few more fight sequences, some new plot developments occur. Yakumo takes out Gabi Raizo while Kasumi and Kinji waste that evil bitch who's name always slips my mind. Add them to the pile of Sentai villains who never lived up to their potential.
Oh, and it's time for the last cliffhanger. Kyuuemon triggers the end shuriken which unleashes a horde of monsters to destroy the world. In the process, all the kids are depowered in the midst of different battles.

So here we are, just a week away from the ending of both this series and my goal of reviewing one complete Sentai. Will these kids go out like punks? Or will we bare witness to an ending capable of lifting this series above the crowd, into the heights of tokusatsu? IF nothing else, I hope the writers stay on point and send these characters off in their own unique way rather than relying on tired old concepts. Tune in next week to find out how it all ends.