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Thread: Tokusatsu

  1. #1
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    Tokusatsu

    Anyone here have any experience with tokusatsu? It's a genre of live action (typically Japanese) television that's heavily reliant on special effects. Most of us in the West would probably be familiar with it through Power Rangers, which is an adaptation of a Japanese tokusatsu called Super Sentai. Other popular franchises in the genre are Ultraman, Kamen Rider, and Godzilla. An approximation of the genre in the West might be stuff like the Arrowverse, Dr. Who, and Star Trek.

    Anyways last year I got deep into the anime SSSS.Gridman which sent me down the genre rabbit hole and I still haven't come out. I've plowed through Jetman, Dairanger, Ultraman Nexus, Ultraman Mebius, and about half the Godzilla movies. Currently making my way through Kamen Rider W, Go-Busters, and a Korean series called Legend Heroes.

    What draws me to the genre is partly camp, partly an appreciation for the work that goes into the effect and costumes. Mostly the costumes. Look at some of these:

    https://imgur.com/7ORXx6h
    https://imgur.com/fDjdlUc
    https://imgur.com/rOKtxmj
    https://imgur.com/hcDIbhd
    https://i.imgtc.com/8ePXf9B.webm
    https://imgur.com/wW00laT

    The effects themselves range from bad, to low budget but interesting, to great. Depending on the show/movie it's a lot of fun to see how creative they can get. Sometimes they get a little over ambitious and throw in effects or cgi that their production clearly doesn't have the budget to do well (an early episode of Kamen Rider W has a hilariously terrible T-Rex model chasing the hero lol).

    The stories and mythlogy behind a lot of these can be downright compelling, too. Gosei Sentai Dairanger, for instance, is a martial arts fantasy that is constantly building upon it's lore to tell interesting tales about its supporting cast. The Ultraman franchise can be pretty moving by exploring different themes with usually episodic sci-fi stories. (Ultra Q, the first in the franchise before even Ultraman showed up, was basically what would happen if The Twilight Zone and the X-Files had a kid). In Ultraman Mebius, at episode 40, the action even takes a back seat (the monster battle is less then a minute long) to a pretty somber, but ultimately uplifting story about the nature of loneliness.

    I've been rambling a lot lol. If you haven't touched this stuff before you should definitely check it out. Especially if you're already into animated stuff like Avatar or Voltron. It's not far removed from that kind of thing in terms of tone and story-telling. There's a couple of cheap and/or free legal streaming options for most of this stuff, and if not a local video store is probably sleeping on some great dvds in the discount bin. (If you like kaiju movies you NEED to watch the 1990's Gamera trilogy. Whenever I see it it's never more than ten bucks.)

    My personal favorite show so far is Chojin Sentai Jetman. But I'm also really partial to the classic Ultra series. Something about 60's sci fi programming is just so fun and comfy.
    Life is demanding, without understanding.

  2. #2
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    I have never gotten into the genre outside from America's adaptation of the Power Rangers from when I was a kid. I might check some of it out in the future. I personally like the corny low-budget effects as they add a bit of humor for me. Are movies better than the TV series?

  3. #3
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    Depends on what you mean by better. The budget is obviously a lot better in movies. In terms of over all quality, it just depends on the series and the entry in question.
    Life is demanding, without understanding.

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