Thursday 17 April 2014

First Impressions: Kanpai Senshi After V

Kanpai Senshi After V

With sadly no Akibaranger around this year to fill the void of Super Sentai parody in our lives, a new contender has stepped up to the plate in 2014! While Kanpai Senshi After V (roughly translating as Cheers! Warriors After Five) may not have the official Toei backing that Akibaranger had, that doesn't make its influences any less clear. In fact, looking at this picture alone you'd think that the Showa era of Sentai had risen again.

The show follows the "Golden Warriors Treasure Five" team, Japan's top superhero defence team against the forces of evil. Although what the team are more well known for is their after hour exploits, making sure they clock off from work on time to get together for a few rounds of beers. This routine has earned them the nickname of "Kanpai Senshi After V"! The team has just received a brand new Red, a true tokusatsu hero who's not impressed by the team's blase attitude to saving the world. As he encourages them to talk more about their duty over their drinks, the team get discussing some common questions when it comes to Super Sentai tropes.

While Akibaranger was a crazy rush of meta-humour and characters fully aware that Super Sentai was a television show, After V offers a very different kind of comedy. Entirely filmed in bars and lacking any sort of action sequences (aside from those that appear in the 70s-tastic opening), this is a more slow-paced show reliant more on dialogue and interactions. The characters aren't aware they're in a television show so there's no fourth-wall breaking here (yet), but they aren't afraid to point out the sillier side of tokusatsu shows such as this. Burning questions in this episode included whether they'd ever noticed the zippers on the monsters' backs, why not just send the giant robot out first and get the battle over with and why the villains always seem insistent on attacking Japan?

And even though it isn't a Toei production, we do have a few alumni making an appearance. Not Sentai actors though, but in fact former Kamen Riders! Murai Ryota (Yusuke Onodera/Kuuga in Kamen Rider Decade) plays Treasure Red while Kato Kazuki (Daisuke Kazama/Drake in Kabuto and Shiro Kazami/V3 in The Next) is playing Blue. While the others (singer You Kikawwa and comedians Akihiro Kimura and Tsubasa Tobinaga) don't have any previous toku hero credits (to my knowledge), they all bring something different to the table and have a great dysfunctional team dynamic. This episode especially showed off Kimura as the aging Treasure Yellow. Meanwhile you really have to feel for Red - clearly he's joined the wrong superhero team.

After V is nothing like Akibaranger, and this is by no means a bad thing. It shows that there's plenty of room for more than one Sentai parody, and that the whole thing can be lovingly mocked from a number of different angles. This probably isn't the kind of show that will go down a storm, but if you like to see the genre poked fun at in the best way possible then this is likely to keep providing laughs each week.

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