Saturday 9 January 2016

Series REVIEW: Shin Kanpai Senshi After V

Shin Kanpai Senshi After V

In 2014 tokusatsu fans were treated to a low-key parody series by the name of Kanpai Senshi After V (or Cheers Squadron After V if you prefer), which lampooned Super Sentai and various other superhero tropes through the exploits of the team Treasure V and their infamous after work drinking sessions. Though hardly revolutionary, the series came with its own unique charm and humour as well as a clear love for the genre it was mocking. Clearly its audience thought so too, as the series returned again in late 2015 for a second season - this time under the banner of Shin Kanpai Senshi After V. So for those on the lookout for more laughs and show that will make you want to hit the bars in Japan like no other, the further (mis)adventures of the Golden Warriors Treasure V are here to satisfy you. Cheers!

Golden Warriors Treasure V

At the end of the previous series, Treasure V had nobly donated their gemstones to the bankrupt Evil Organisation. A year later, the team have relocated to Fukuoka as the Organisation resumes their monster attacks. Of course the move hasn't stopped them from continuing their usual after work antics, and the Evil Commander Koh (along with his faithful combatant) are still up to their old tricks at the team's usual haunts. 

This time around the team has to not only struggle with one, but TWO replacement members as well as the latest threat to their jobs - the highly efficient hero Plasma-1. Meanwhile Koh has his own problems - as well as coming across as not that evil at all, his daughter has shown up out of the blue. And who is this mysterious combatant coming to help inspire his latest evil schemes? Even when they're off the clock its never a dull moment for Treasure V!

The Evil Organisation
The Evil Organisation enjoy a quiet drink
Despite a whole year having passed in-show and out as soon as the first episode hits it feels like these characters haven't been away that long at all. Despite the huge shakeup at the end of the first season, we jump straight into Shin feeling like nothing has changed before quickly catching up with what has been going on in the show's absence. The Evil Organisation has rebuilt itself through a legitimate chain of pubs and Treasure V are in the doghouse over "losing" their gemstones. Not being one to be indebted to heroes, Koh quickly (and subtly) returns them to the team and the status quo is restored. Despite the familiar territory and format, the location changes do help differentiate it from its predecessor and my ever increasing desire to have a pint at these places.

One thing notable about Shin Kanpai Senshi After V is the greater focus it places on continuity and an ongoing narrative. Not to say that the first season was in any way wholly episodic, but Shin features far more plot threads that carry throughout its entirety or progress into other things. While this certainly gives it a boost in overall storytelling, it does result in a few hiccups here and there. Early episodes feature similar formats and similar jokes repeated in different ways - usually ending with Koh carrying out some kind of good-hearted "evil deed" and being questioned over it. On top of that it also immediately revisits the plot point of having a character leave and subsequently replaced before quickly returning again. This time it's Red rather than Yellow, but then Yellow goes off again  too shortly afterward. Admittedly the circumstances are different so this doesn't feel like a complete retread, but all these things combined can be the first third or so feel like a little bit of a slog at times. 

Blue switches sides?!
Trust Blue

Things really pick up however when some of the newer plot threads begin to rear their heads, such as the aforementioned arrival of Koh's daughter, Blue's surprise double-life and the threat of Plasma-1. As well as providing some hilarious moments while lampooning other tokusatsu superhero types (local heroes and Metal Heroes being the two most prominent ones), this is where the characters truly shine. As well as both Treasure V and the Evil Organisation being very aware of the predicament of where if one goes the other will suffer, you really get the sense that they all care about each other but can't (and won't) admit it. For a parody series it has characters more memorable and endearing that a lot of straight-faced tokusatsu shows, and that is a pretty big achievement in itself. 

An enemy in silver boxes

Shin Kanpai Senshi After V isn't likely to win over those who were unsure of the original series, but it will appease though who were longing to see more of this dysfunctional but loveable team. Despite a bit of repetition at the beginning, it eventually progresses into the perfect follow-up. Once again it'll will be the characters that ensure you see the show through right until the end, proving to be just as heartwarming as they are funny. It was recently reported that After V achieved a fundraising goal of three million yen to announce not only a third season, but also a movie too. Just when these will hit screens are yet to be confirmed, but the fact that there's still plenty of Treasure V exploits to come is a rather comforting thought indeed.

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