Friday 12 April 2013

First Impressions: Hikōnin Sentai Akibaranger Season 2

Hikōnin Sentai Akibaranger Season 2 Toei Super Sentai Unofficial

The biggest problem with last year's fantastic Hikōnin Sentai Akibaranger was the it was simply too short. 12 episodes of delusion-filled Super Sentai parody just wasn't enough for fans, and they quickly went about campaigning to see more of the unofficial heroes. Thankfully roughly a year after Akibaranger began airing, Toei (and Bandai Tamashii Nations) have pulled through with a second season of the show. There's already been plenty of hype and teasing for the show, and we know it promises a new Akiba Blue (as Kyoko Hinami sadly had to leave the show), new villains, a super mode for Akiba Red and a whole new selection of official hero cameos.

We begin season two several months after the events of the previous season, with Nobou visiting Hakase and Kozkoz at the Super Sentai cafe. As they begin to reminiscence about the Akibarangers' adventures, it seems like this episode will be little more than a clip show recapping the events of the first season. However all is not as it seems, as viewers will quickly notice that these events have been mysteriously rewritten. Mitsuki (Akiba Blue) is now the one that was called away by the Pentagon instead of Nobou, and Delu Knight has been given a far more prominent role with no sign of the Delusion Empire. The Akibarangers embarked on a grueling fight against Malshina, Delu Knight and their forces, receiving help from the full Jetman, Dekaranger and Boukenger teams in the process.

As Nobou leaves the cafe and continues ordinary life as a delivery boy, he discovers a store selling Super Sentai goods - including official "Gosei Sentai Akibaranger" items. After talking with the store owner, he is shocked to discover that Akibaranger has somehow become an official show, replacing Gosei Sentai Dairanger as the 17th series in the franchise (which now never seemingly never existed). Is this the work of Hatte Saburo once again?

While Akibaranger certainly is trying to ease fans back in with a recap of events, this strange twist on their story ensures that the show hasn't lost any of it's meta-humour punch. At the very beginning Nobuo comments on how he hates "anime films that reuse footage with a few new scenes", launching the episode into exactly that. Hatte Saburo has clearly tried to rewrite Akibaranger at the lowest possible expense, using hilariously obvious cost cutting techniques such as choppy framerates, over dubbed voices and even stop motion battles using toys! If you haven't already bought the S.H. Figuarts Machine Itashar (and given it's price, like me I'm sure many have been on the fence for a while), let's just say you're certainly going to want one now...

There's the usual level of cameos, including the appearance of 3 full (well, minus their sixth rangers) Super Sentai teams. Although they sadly do not have their original actors reprising the voices, the voice cast (including Mobirates voice man Tomozaku Seki) do a great job of replicating them. There's also a great cameo from Yuu Kamio (who played Doctor Maki in Kamen Rider OOO), featuring a very familiar fly.

It's not quite as it was before, but Akibaranger is back and as good as ever. Careful not to give away any spoilers for future episodes (the opening includes mumbled lyrics and storyboards in the place of new characters), this first episode sets up brilliantly the alternate direction our delusion heroes are about to go in. Welcome back Hikōnin Sentai Akibaranger, you have been sorely missed.

(As has your ability to produce a butt load of Figuarts, if the end trailer is anything to go by. Just damn.)

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