Monday 9 November 2015

Movie REVIEW: Tokusou Sentai Dekaranger: 10 Years After

Tokusou Sentai Dekaranger; 10 Years After

There are few Super Sentai series that can say they were so popular that they supposedly almost got a second series. In fact, Tokusou Sentai Dekaranger may in fact be the only one that can. After a handful of the cast made a brief return for a cameo appearance in Kaizoku Sentai Gokaiger, the alien-busting police themed Sentai celebrate their 10th anniversary with a one-off V-cinema release. In the same vein as the Ninpuu Sentai Hurricaneger: 10 Years After special released back in 2013, Tokusou Sentai Dekaranger: 10 Years After reunites the cast of the beloved show for a brand new case. Roll back the clocks and pretend for a moment it's still 2005, because it's judgement time once again.

The cast of Dekaranger, 10 years on
How they've grown

Just as the title of the movie suggests, the film picks up ten years after the Dekarangers defeated Agent Abrella and Ban left the team to join the Fire Squad. A lot has happened in those ten years, and now most of the team seem to have gone their separate ways. Jasmine has gotten married and had a child, Hoji seems to have become a shell of his former professional self while Tetsu has become acting commander of SPD’s Earth branch in Doggie Kruger’s absence. Sen and Umeko continue on in their roles as Deka Green and Pink, as newcomers Assam Asimov and Mugi Grafton join them as Neo Deka Red and Neo Deka Yellow respectively.

When an alien named Carrie is rescued by the Dekarangers, they discover she is actually a witness to a Space Mafia crime in which Doggie was seen to murder witnesses before being shot and hospitalised (remaining in a coma since). As Carrie refuses to discuss the events with anyone other than the Space Public Prosecutor’s Office, Ban rejoins the team once more as they rush to discover the truth behind Doggie’s supposed crimes.

Assam and Mugi, Neo Deka Red & Yellow
Meet the new guys

Although technically this is a movie that could easily be enjoyed by those unfamiliar with Dekaranger, it probably goes without saying that it’s production mainly aimed at those who have already seen the series. There isn’t a whole lot here that will confuse newcomers (in fact the narration will bring you up to speed pretty quickly if you REALLY don't care about show spoilers), but not only is 10 Years After a continuation - it also features some nice nods to previous events and payoff on things that were always there but never quite blossomed. One quick example being that Jasmine's husband is Hikaru Hiwatari, they ESPer that appeared in episode seven of the series. However despite the large time jump the film doesn't make any reference to events that happened post-Dekaranger (such as their appearances in Vs. Magiranger or involvement in the Legend War), so if you were hoping for any hints that might tie the world of Super Sentai closer together you may end up a little disappointed. But hey - there's nothing here to suggest that they didn't happen either.

One of the best things about Dekaranger is just how big it felt. Though a lot of the action stayed on the planet Earth, the fact it featured so many different alien species, no singular threat and some moments of planet hopping made it feel much bigger in scale than your average Super Sentai series. 10 Years After keeps that momentum going with a story that takes place on multiple planets - even if most of them naturally bare an extremely close similarity to Earth. There are also other nice tidbits that expand the universe, such as a further look at Ban's Fire Squad Deka Red uniform with its recoloured license and modded SWAT team vest. They may only be little things, but they help keep the idea that things have changed over time while also feeling nostalgic and familiar. Despite some of a few of them being away from the roles for ten whole years the cast have slipped back into their roles with ease, also bringing some new-found maturity to the characters as well.

Unimpressed Carrie is unimpressed

While ultimately short-lived due to the role they play in the film, the characters of Assam and Mugi are also a welcome addition to the Dekaranger fold. Corruption within the SPD itself was one of the few things that the original series didn't tackle in any great detail, so getting it finally here makes for a more unique viewing experience. Certainly some will be out there arguing that this is just Dekaranger borrowing from its Power Rangers SPD adaptation once again and that certainly is possible. After all, they did it in Magiranger vs. Dekaranger once before and having Neo Deka Red/Yellow stay in SWAT modes is somewhat reminiscent of SPD's A Squad. On the other hand, such a storyline is hardly a unique concept - the recent Sharivan movie did a similar thing and Dekaranger features plenty of homages to the Space Sheriff trilogy. Whichever way you want to slice it - it's a great story and features some rare ranger on ranger fighting that doesn't end in some sort of team up.

The villains of Ten Years After
Still better than Emperor Grumm

10 Years After like any good Super Sentai story features some mecha action, however this is actually the area the movie suffers the most. Deka Robo’s inclusion is horribly shoehorned in, battling a rather out of place Abrella clone who seems to serve little purpose other than to be a pointless cameo and opponent for the robot to fight. What’s worst of all though is that Toei opted to use stock footage from the Dekaranger series for all of the CGI sequences, and when said CGI is ten years old and being pasted into a shiny new HD film the end result isn’t especially attractive. Thankfully the sequence is short so the pain doesn’t last too long, and while a focus on the characters is far more important it is a shame that one of the more popular Sentai robos couldn’t have gotten treatment more befitting of it.

Dekaranger Robo

Tokusou Sentai Dekaranger: 10 Years After offers pretty much everything you could want from a reunion special. The show's more episodic format allows the cast to slip back into their roles with ease, and the end result is another Dekaranger case that feels just as fresh and exhilarating as they did ten years ago. With Dekaranger being one of the few Super Sentai series to enjoy the rare benefit of not having a definitive ending, this just proves that the team are just as enjoyable as they were back then and that any future returns would be just as welcomed as this. However if this is the last time we see the Dekarangers outside of some cameos here and there, this was a pretty damn good note to go out on.

1 comment:

shaider84 said...

I'm only familiar with the American version but I enjoyed watching this.