First Impressions: Ressha Sentai Tokkyuger

First things first, with the "official spelling"?  I can't, with Japan sometimes.  I'll let Engrish go but first Konmai was telling me "Xyz" is pronounced "ik-seez", now Toei is making stupid puns regarding the English alphabet.  No thank you.  Now onto the actual article.

Going into this there’s something I have to point out: I have a theory that for Super Sentai, there’s a sort of one-on, one-off deal.  One series will be excellent, the next will be either garbage or possibly just mediocre.   For instance:  Gekiranger?  Good.  Go-Onger?  Terrible. Shinkenger?  Great.  Goseiger?  Meh.  Gokaiger, awesome.  Go-Buster…*falls asleep*   

See where I’m going with this?  So after finishing up the largely impressive Kyoryuger, I had my doubts about Tokkyuger as a series.    Having watched the first episode...they’re still kind of there, but I’m hopeful, at least.  Let’s just run down the positives and negatives for the episode.  I like to do good news last, so we’ll lead with the bad.

- Those costumes don’t look any better than before.  Usually we all bitch and moan about the costumes when we first see them, but then later when they’re in motion most people change their minds.   That certainly happened with me for Kyoryuger at least.   But this first episode pretty much proves it: those suits are just going to look like garbage and there’s no saving them.

- The mecha look even worse.  This is actually even more of an insult, because I'm not sure how they even figured out a way to fuck up trains. Take a look at some of the previous times Sentai has used trains in the past:


The Magical Iron-God Travelion!
Both glorious, right?  And now we get...this.

 Bleh.  And the base mecha is usually the best looking one.  Imagine what things will look like when we get to the annual ClusterfuckRobo.

- I don’t REALLY know where to put this, but I’m going to file this under negative even though it does amuse me a bit.  Did Kobayashi really convince Toei to use trains in two different franchises in less than ten years?  Because that is impressive.   If it’s a Toei thing though, fuck off—I saw this in ’07.  Do better.

 - We're back to a team of n00bs.  One of the reasons it feels like a “one on, one off” sort of deal is that the “off team” tends to be a group of weaklings who couldn’t, as someone once put it, “bust a grape in a fruit fight”.   And they dress and look like a bunch of scrubs too, which doesn’t help their image.  

- I get why it was done, but the fact that they all happened to know each other irked me to no end.  It reminded me of my least favorite plot twist from FF8.  Still, it expedited things and got us to move on from their learning to be a team and got to them just being a team.

Still and all, I'd be lying if I said there weren't bright spots.

- The Red is delightfully bold and stupid.  He’s got that broken level of shonen power that endears me to characters while simultaneously keeping a very positive we're going to win "Because We're The Good Guys, Fuck You" attitude that makes him endearing to me.  Watching him knock the villain back without transforming, then jumping onto the Shadow Line train without even thinking about it is the level of entertaining I’ll need to keep watching this series.   

- The central concept of the team using imagination and transforming it into power means this team really should be "the strongest Sentai team in history".  Case in point:

 They shouldn't even need to find power-ups, they can literally just "think up" some.  It really is a shame they got stuck with a somewhat played-out theme (what with Den-O being the most over-exposed Rider to date).

- The villain design and headquarters is pretty boss—it’s the right combination of creepy and moody without going overboard.  I haven’t been this impressed since Magiranger.   Now Kobayashi villains have an awful habit of being terrible threats, but if they can get over that this go-around we may be onto something here.

- While I'm sure people are complaining about her already, I find Tokkyu GoGou both charming and adorable.  She's terrified, but she's still finding a way to wreck shop, and she's actually more creative about doing it than the rest of the team.  If Sentai was a place where character development was a thing that happened, she would turn into brokesauce Pink somewhere in the 30's.   We'll see what actually happens, though.

- There's a fairly decent hook at the end of the episode to push us into watching the next one.

Overall, I can't really call Tokkyuger 1 terrible.  It's got all the signature elements of a weaker/mediocre series, but it hasn't yet done enough to piss me off and make me write it off entirely.  I give every season a chance to break the streak started by Geki/Go-On.  Personal prediction: This series will be decent, maybe around Goseiger-tier or better....only for next year's Sentai to come along and blow this out of the water and prove my point all over again.  

Last thing before I go.  This, I'm fairly certain, will be an internet meme before 2015.  I hate you all for it already.

If Toei really had this, this season wouldn't be about trains...


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