Thursday 20 January 2022

TOP 5: Tokusatsu I'd like to see Rebooted/Revived

Top 5 Tokusatsu I'd like to see Rebooted/Revived

In an attempt to add a bit more variety to the content of the site this year, one of the things I've planned are monthly top five lists - covering everything from what figures I'd like to see in certain toy lines to my favourite characters from specific series. The first topic I've chosen for this new section is a subject I'm sure many will be divided on - reboots. Like it or not, reboots are just as much a part of tokusatsu these days as they are the Hollywood landscape - from gritty reimaginings (that may play fast and loose with the core concepts) like Kamen Rider Amazons or the forthcoming Kamen Rider Black Sun to more straightforward ones like Kikaider REBOOT or last year's Ganbareiwa!! Robocon. While these productions aren't always a rousing success, they can at the very least introduce these classic heroes/characters to a whole new generation.

So without further ado, here are the five tokusatsu productions I'd like to see rebooted or, to use a more specific term for some of them, revived. Not all of them are necessarily that old, but all of them still have plenty of potential that feels untapped. 

(Please note that the following list may contain SPOILERS for some of the shows/films/franchises mentioned. You have been warned!)

5. Inazuman

Technically Inazuman has already seen a reboot of sorts - a version of the character first appeared in Kamen Rider x Kamen Rider Wizard & Fourze: Movie Wars Ultimatum, and then again in Super Hero Taisen Z. But in both movies he was sharing the screen with various other Ishinomori heroes, and there's plenty of scope to explore this version on his own as well. Not necessarily with the same cast, but a more manga-inspired take on the character (both in appearance and origins) would be a great way to revive the character and reintroduce him to a modern audience. The high-schooler aspect of the character can make him a lot more relatable, as well as the obvious parallels you could get with him being both a mutant and potentially an outcast in school. We did get a glimpse of a more direct manga version in the animated Kikaider vs Inazuman OVA, so that might give you an idea what potential a more fleshed out version could have. Ultimately though Inazuman is just a super cool hero that deserves another shot - a psychic-powered moth mutant that lends itself to all sorts of trippy and imaginative visuals. 

4. Kikaider 01
Kikaider 01

This entry is a little self-indulgence on my part, but I maintain that it's completely unfair that Kikaider REBOOT ended the way it did. Kikaider was killed, and the Defense Minister had escaped with the brain of Dr. Kohmyoji. With nearly eight years having passed since the release of REBOOT it's fair to say that any hopes of a sequel are futile, but with so many other projects getting green-lit after decades off the air why not have some hope that this story might one day get some closure? And with Kikaider dead and the world in need of a new android hero, what better time and place than to reintroduce Kikaider 01? While some of the details would need to be changed to fit in with what REBOOT already accomplished (most notably the prior use of Gill Hakaider), the broad strokes of the story are still ripe for the taking. The Defense Minister clearly has his own agenda, so how about revealing that Project DARK was orchestrated by a secret organisation implanted in the Government and working in the SHADOW? Similarly Mari is already part of the story, so what better time to bring Binjinder into the story as well? With Mitsuko having vowed to rebuild Kikaider at the end of the film, she could move on into a mentor-like role - discovering and reawakening Ichiro/Kikaider 01 as part of her attempts to bring the fallen hero back to life. Of course the film would then end with a revived Kikaider teaming up with his older brother and a reformed Mari/Bijinder (much like the end of the original series) to fight a new take on the Hakaider Squad, who are either working as SHADOW operatives or betrayed them to pursue their own goals. Either way, it would be an absolute waste never to see that REBOOT Hakaider suit again.

3. Zone Fighter
Zone Fighter

For many Zone Fighter will be seen as little more than an Ultraman rip-off and for good reason too, but that link it has to the Godzilla franchise continues to make it a particularly fascinating piece of tokusatsu history. While I understand the need to make the hero stand out on his own, the fact the original series didn't capitalise on that link more was absolutely criminal. Now a modern take on Zone Fighter would have to be very different given that the world has largely moved past the more light-hearted hero Godzilla of the Showa era, however his portrayal in the Monsterverse trilogy suggests this is still a very viable take.  But even if you were to drop Godzilla completely, there's still plenty of story potential that can come from the other legion of kaiju in the Toho universe. The original Zone Fighter series sees the Zone family arrive on Earth after their own planet was destroyed by the evil Garogans - what if their means of destroying was Ghidorah, Gigan or any of the other numerous space-faring monsters? Admittedly the show loosely played with this idea by having both Ghidorah and Gigan appear, but having them more closely linked to the core story is a very interesting prospect. It's also worth noting that while Zone Fighter is mainly remembered for its Kyodai hero elements, it also has its own Sentai-esque dynamic too with all three Zone children transforming (at human size) to fight against Garoga. If Godzilla: Singular Point can make audiences see Jet Jaguar in a whole new light, why not the same for Zone Fighter?

2. Kaiketsu Zubat
Kaiketsu Zubat

Kaiketsu Zubat is a perfect series for a reboot because the concept is so simple. There's no monsters involved here, just a man with a vendetta taking down every criminal organisation in his way until he finds  the man responsible for the death of his best friend. If anything the vigilante aspect of Kaiketsu Zubat might actually have more broad appeal then the Henshin hero works, especially since there's multiple ways you could play it. While Ken Hayakawa's cocky attitude and remarkable prowess and pretty much everything are an intrinsic part of the show and it just wouldn't be the same without it, if Toei did choose to go down a more "dark and gritty" route for a reboot it still wouldn't necessarily be terrible. If anything the biggest catch would be finding someone who could fill Hiroshi Miyauchi's VERY large shoes in the title role. Kaiketsu Zubat IS Hiroshi Miyauchi, so finding someone who could live up to such a tokusatsu legend is a very tall order. With a relatively straightforward plot that doesn't need a ton of padding (even the original series could have perhaps done with shaving a few episodes here and there, and even that was apparently cut short), a reboot would probably work best as a movie but a limited web series ala Kamen Rider Amazons or Black Sun seems a pretty viable option too.

1. Space Squad (or just Metal Heroes in general)
Space Squad

The number one spot for this list feels like a bit of a cheat entry given that Super Sentai is still going strong and that Space Squad as a movie series has only had two instalments (the second of which is as recent as 2018), but my god were Toei onto something good when they came up with this concept. The combination of science/sci-fi based Super Sentai and the Metal Heroes franchise was a match made in heaven, and something that could have easily spun out into annual films. The Space Sheriff reboot films were fine, but it wasn't really until these films came around that it was really clear just how much potential they had - Geki became a far more likeable character, and could act as the perfect linchpin for a series of films where the strength would be its rotating cast. The combination of Super Sentai and Metal Heroes under one banner also gives some fans the one thing they seem to crave more than anything - continuity and a shared universe. You only have to look as far as the teaser at the end of the first film to see just how much potential this series has and the amount of characters they can bring into it. Legacy characters, new heroes, torch passing -  it's all possible here and absolutely nothing is being done with it. Metal Heroes deserves some sort of revival, and with two of the best films Toei have produced in the last decade or so Space Squad definitely feels like the way to do it.


Want to share your top five tokusatsu productions you'd like to see rebooted or have an idea for a future piece on the site? Please let me know in the comment section below!


Lucas said...

I would pick Byclosser.

Hibiki OS said...

I would take anything Metal Heroes. Toei please!

TokufanZ said...

Totally agree with the Space Squad brand. Toei is missing a golden opportunity. I would also love to see Dennou Keisatsu Cybercop rescued from obscurity and given a revival of some sort. That`s an amazing toku show no one ever talks about. You sure give it a try, Alex.

TokufanZ said...

* you should give it a try, a mean.

TheBeastAR said...

In terms of Metal Heroes specifically, I would love to see Metalder and Blue Swat given another chance.