Sunday 22 March 2015

Movie REVIEW: Ressha Sentai ToQger vs Kyoryuger

Ressha Sentai ToQger vs Kyoryuger

The beginning of a new year - and arguably the most important time for the Super Sentai franchise. A years' worth of adventures for one team reaches it's explosive conclusion while a brand new ones' begin (along with all the wonderful new toys that come with it). But before either of those happen, it's time for the annual versus series team up movie. Ressha Sentai ToQger vs. Kyoryuger sees the cast of Zyuden Sentai Kyoryuger return for one last roar, teaming up with the ToQgers against a rather large story thread left hanging from their own show.

The two teams together
Nice haircut Daigo

When a Galaxy Line station falls to Earth after being attacked by an unknown force, the ToQgers immediately go to investigate. There they are attacked by the legions of the Deboss Army, and find that their imagination-based powers have no effect on them. They are eventually saved by the Kyoryugers, who reveal that the great creator Debious has finally arrived on Earth and that they only have 24 hours before he's fully charged and ready to destroy humanity. The ToQgers offer to help, but are reminded that they are powerless against Debious' forces.

However it isn't long before the Kyoryugers face the same problem, as the Deboss High Priest Salamaz forges an alliance with the Shadow Line - a force that the Kyoryugers prove equally ineffective against. It isn't long before the imagination and bravery join forces to save the planet from destruction at the hands of Debious, but before that they have another problem to deal with. A spell from Clock Shadow has reverted the ToQgers back to their child forms, as well as having a rather adverse affect on Kyoryu Gold!

The child ToQgers
Not the team up the Kyoryugers were probably expecting

With these crossover movies happening every year without fail, it's not surprising that they've begun to feel a bit formulaic. The new series villains team up with the returning series' ones (usually involving some sort of resurrection), the two Sentai teams initially clash (with one sometimes temporarily being evil for one reason or another), there's a big flashy double roll call, the newest Sentai team shows up in a quick cameo to defeat a key monster and then it all ends with a gigantic mecha fight. Naturally the details vary here and there, but that's roughly how they've all worked. So although ToQger vs. Kyoryuger doesn't stray too far from the tried and tested formula, it's extremely refreshing to see things shaken up a bit. The crossover is built on a natural crossing of paths, the villain alliance is shakier than usual, the new team cameo happens near beginning and the mecha fight comes slap bang in the middle of the film. These may all sound like little things, but you'd be amazed how much a slight alteration in structure and narrative can do for film.

Debious arrives
Better late than never

As mentioned earlier, the end of Kyoryuger dropped a pretty big bombshell in terms of story that was left completely uncovered until now. It turned out Deboss - the leader of the force they had been fighting for the entire series, was simply the herald of a much larger threat. It's a pretty ballsy move to leave something as significant as that hanging for a whole year, but not only does the film ensure that everything is neatly wrapped up by the end of it (well, until Deboss returns 100 years later anyway) it also gives it the gravitas it deserves. The Shadow Line prove mostly to just be a means to an end - Debious is the real threat and the whole story revolves around just how big of a threat that is. It's a little disappointing to not see series big bads like Deboss or Chaos make a return as henchmen, but with resurrections rarely proving to be that satisfying going all-new was the best way to go.

ToQger vs Kyoryuger also marks one of the most prominent appearances of an extremely important plot point from ToQger - the fact that our heroes are in fact children. While the show had the younger versions appear on a number of occasions, these always appeared outside of the main action. Here we get to see them continue on as the ToQgers, including their own transformation sequence and pint-sized costumes! Fans have always argued about whether children as Sentai heroes works or not, but if anything ToQger made it one of it's best assets. You almost wish that they spend longer as children just because the cast do such a great job of it.

Salamaz' "Ultimate" form
Thank you ToQger for making this exist

In terms of tone, ToQger and Kyoryuger are a match made in heaven. In addition to the obvious parallels between their powers/ideology (bravery and imagination), they both a share a similar sense of humour as well as a penchant for loud noises and big explosions. So it's no surprise that the two teams gel together really well, with the "versus" element of the film more of a rivalry thing than any initial hostility. Daigo and Right have very similar personalities so it's no surprise that they work together in the way that they do. Being a crossover between two particularly red-focused shows the film predictably doesn't spend quite as much time seeing the rest of the teams bond, but it's fair to say each get their own little moments to shine - Akira and Utchy proving to be a particularly fun combination.

ToQ Rainbow and Gigant Kyoryuzin mix things up
Time to get modding those toys

There's a wonderful amount of surprises, laughs and cameos from both sides - from the return of fan favourites Candelira and Luckyero to some rather out of character behaviour from Barone Nero. The level of interactivity between the two teams' powers also proves to be particularly exhilarating. It's almost as if the two shows' featured similar collectible gimmicks purposely to showcase the weirdly wonderful things this film comes up with. Well, it would if the toys could do the same things anyway.

Finally there's the Shuriken Sentai Ninninger cameo, which feels like a massive step-up from the tacked-on ToQger debut in Kyoryuger vs. Go-Busters. Once again the new team doesn't cross paths with the starring Sentai, but this time they aren't even responsible for taking out the monster they encounter. But even though Clock Shadow manages to make a quick getaway, the sequence still proves a great opportunity to let the Nininngers strut their stuff. Impressive wirework, flashy ninja tricks and even a few surprises that viewers will likely never see them attempt in their own show.

The Ninninger cameo
Nin nin nin, nin ninin nin!

Despite the hype that usually surround them Super Sentai versus movies tend to be mostly flash with very little substance, with either a notable imbalance in team representation or lacking some key factor that brings everything down around it. Ressha Sentai ToQger vs. Kyoryuger is definitely one of the good ones though - the best vs. movie team up since 2011's Goseiger vs. Shinkenger and arguably one of the best in the franchise thus far. Neatly filling in all the blanks left by Kyoryuger's finale, it manages to bring out the best in both shows by embracing their similar sense of fun and optimism. For fans of both shows, either shows or just general Super Sentai fans that enjoy a good crossover, you're unlikely to find much better than what's on offer here.

1 comment:

Artriven said...

I like your review and your writing, this is just my request though but I will greatly appreciate if you do a review on Kamen rider Agito,Faiz, and kiva thanks