Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Review: Hikounin Sentai Akibaranger

I wrote a preview for this series. Check it out here

Unofficial Sentai Akibaranger is Toei's official Super Sentai Parody. It's written, directed and produced by people that actually work in Super Sentai series. And it's aimed at adults, so, as they say at the end, good kids shouldn't watch it. Synopsis from The Morphing Grid:

Akibaranger tells the story of three people being part of an otaku club and living in the new "Electric-Town" Akihabara. They have to fight a mysterious malevolent entity that swore to conquer Earth with cool gadgets created by a brilliant genius. However, the Akibarangers' ultimate goal is to become an "official" sentai team. The Akibaranger's secret base/hideout is a "Sentai Cafe," a Super Sentai version of the popular maid cafe in Japan.

Nobuo Akagi, the AkibaRed (the aka in Akagi means red), is a 29 year old delivery boy from S.P.D (Sasaki PomPoko Delivery) and is a super sentai otaku. He's also a fan of Niiyome Academy Z-Cune Aoi (Aoi-tan, for the fans), a parody of mahou shoujo and mecha musume shows. AkibaBlue Mizuki Aoyagi (Aoi means blue) is a martial artist that joined the Akibarangers to become stronger. She is the "normal" member of the group, but not that "normal". AkibaYellow Yumeria Moegi (Yumeria is written with the characters for Yellow and Moe) is a female otaku, yaoi fangirl and a hardcore cosplayer, changing the way she speaks and acts according to her cosplay. Their boss is Hiroyo Hakase (Hakase means professor), the owner of the Secret Base Café. Finally we have KozuKozu, the cafe's waitress that always wears a female sentai member civilian uniform and the office lady Sayaka Honiden, Nobuo's crush. Overall, the characters were great and their interactions were very good.

They use a device called MMZ-01 to transform. MMZ-01 is a play with Moe Moe Z-Cune, since the device is a Aoi-tan figurine. Their car is an itasha (google it) car called Machine Itassher. And it becomes their mecha Robo Itassher. The thing is, there's a catch to their transformation. I won't really mention it because it'll ruin the 1st episode.

The Akibarangers fight the evil Sutema Otsu Corporation. The goal of the enemy's kaijin is to redevelop Akihabara, a district they consider rotten (because of the otaku), and and turn it into a mirror of another district. Each kaijin is based on a Tokyo district, which is also a form of making fun of the other districts other than Akiba. Their leader is a woman named MaruCna (maru means circle and her name is a reference to de copyright symbol) and their soldiers are the Shaciku, which are basically faceless salarymen.

The production value is pretty high, and even though it's a parody, everything is as well done as in a normal series. The fights are just ok, but they are great in the episodes they need to be. The soundtrack does its job well, but nothing more than that. The OP and ED themes work better as jokes than as music, even though the tunes are catchy. The actors did a great job of playing their characters and their comedic timing was very good. The suit actors were also great, capturing the essence of the characters. 

The plot is surprisingly good, considering it's a parody and the show makes jokes about almost all Super Sentai tropes. They even get to the point of making editing mistakes. In fact, being a parody is what makes the plot wrok so well. I liked the end of teh series very much. It's very coherent with the show's plot, even though it migh not let you with that feeling of satisfaction after your favourite series ends..

The tokusatsu fan will certainly like all the references to the Sentai franchise's series, characters and producers. There are some good cameos and homages to older series. The comedy is very good with tons of metalinguistic jokes and jokes that tear down the 4th wall. And the comedy isn't limited to making fun of Super Sentai. They are taking jabs at the otakus and the japanese otaku subculture. They don't even spare their own audience. The show is full of cute girls and they use that to make some pervy jokes and to do a little bit of fanservice, even though they didn't go far enough to make anyone complain.

This series was a very interesting initiative took by Toei. It's not only a tokusatsu for their adult fanbase, but also a parody. I hope Akiba's success can make Toei invest in more adult tokusatsu. I wouldn't mind another comedy series like Akiba or even a more serious one.

Akibaranger is an awesome series. It has a good plot, great characters and it's VERY funny. Toku fans just can't miss it.

Veredict: Must watch

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