Monday, May 5, 2014

Slogging Through Engine Sentai Go-Onger Part 4: Gold and Silver Linings?

Welcome back, everyone. We're almost halfway through Go-Onger and we're finally introducing two new characters! That's right, episode 16 sees the debut of the Go-On Wings: Go-On Gold and Go-On Silver. The following 5 episodes all have to deal with their development, as well as setting the stage for how they'll interact with the other Go-Ongers throughout the rest of the series. Will the Go-On Wings add some much needed life into this show or will they too fall victim to poor writing and acting? Let's GO-ON in and find out...

I apologize.


I don't understand. Hant is doing something useful. I can't find a use for Hanter...

I'll see you later, buddy.

The episode begins with the Engines and the Go-Ongers discussing what they saw last week: the two new Engines from the Wing Race. Everyone seems impressed except for the Engines and Saki. Saki is worried about their personalities while the Engines are simply being petty and jealous that their thunder was stolen. That's when Hant utters this line.

I would say "look who's talking" but I think it really goes without saying. Though I just said it. Shut up.

Carrigator explains that the Wing Race are, naturally, Engines born with the ability to fly but they're very rare. Meanwhile, Yogostein is reeling from the loss of Hiramekimedes when, lo and behold, it turns out Hiramekimedes is still alive! Yay, the competent villain survived! We flash back to Machine World as Hiramekimedes explains that Toripter and Jetras chased him through the portal. The other two generals mock Yogostein and Hiramekimedes for bringing new Engines to Human World as Kegalesia unveils her newest Banki Beast: Oil Banki. And yeah, it looks like a gas tank. Not really sure what else I expected.

Oil Banki attacks the city, leading the Go-Ongers to sortie. Saki insists on the Go-Ongers defeating the Banki Beast by themselves. This fires them up, but they get caught in a rather SLIPPERY situation when Oil Banki shoots oil at Engine-O G6's feet. Look, I would apologize for these puns but they're getting me through this so leave me be. We get a short educational lesson from Renn on what zero traction means because why not, this is a kid's show, and when all seems lost the Wing Race appears to save their butts again. We see that the two of them are, in fact, egocentric jerks which drives Saki nuts. Oil Banki flees after the Winged Engines set him on fire, and this is an understandable reaction. Makes me feel kinda bad for the thing.

The Go-Ongers regroup as the harsh words said by the Wing Race sting the Engines, and makes them wonder if they only beat Gaiark on Machine World because the Wing Race chased away Hiramekimedes. Meanwhile, the Gaiark generals are still upset at Hiramekimedes (still rough to type that every time) for bringing in the new Engines as Hiramekimedes comes up with an idea (and of course, this is conveyed through silly sound effects and the bulbs on his head lighting up).

Meanwhile again (I'll use a thesaurus later), the Go-Ongers are coming up with plans to nullify Oil Banki's attack. Of course, they're all just gags to fill in time and make all of the Go-Ongers look like doofuses. Sosuke tries to catch eels, Hant applies glue to his feet, Gunpei tries bobsledding (and we find out he's an especially awful artist in one of the episode's best gags) and so on and so on, all of which produce no results.

Just leave him there, guys. You're all better off.

An idea finally hits Sosuke after he knocks over some oil and is told to clean it up. Meanwhile (shhhh...), Oil Banki is powered up by Hiramekimedes. Now, he has the ability to fly and shoot flames! This troubles Toripter and Jetras when they fight again, leaving the Go-Ongers to take care of the situation. When Oil Banki sprays them again, they use what anyone would use....mops.

I couldn't make this up even if I tried.

You see, this is the type of goofy I like. Not bad actors cramming their faces into the camera, not comic-y sound and visual effects that are out of place in a live action production, and not slapstick just to have slapstick. But something like this: something so aware of its ridiculousness that it just runs with it. I can get behind that, and I really wish this show was more like that. If it was, I wouldn't want to rip it a new one with this blog and I would have finished the show long ago.

Back to the episode, the plan naturally works as they clean up the oil and use the mops to clog up Oil Banki's nozzles. The two mecha try to hold down Oil Banki so that the Wing Race could help finish him off in one of the show's best displays of actual teamwork yet. This episode is everything that Go-Onger should be, I say.

"I mean, I'd prefer if we didn't die. But that's just how driven we are! Just don't kill us, please."

The Go-Ongers celebrate, hoping the Wing Race will join them. But instead, they fly off. They are impressed by their teamwork, but that's more than what could be said about their mysterious partners that have been piloting them all along. Aw snap.

Anyways, this was an all right episode. We got a solid tease for the new Rangers, the plan the Go-Ongers concocted was clever and it's interesting to see Hiramekimedes retool these Banki Beasts into his favor. The slapstick was a bit much as always, but you can tell the actors are starting to have a little more fun and not just pretending to have fun. Let's hope the new Rangers don't screw up this growing chemistry.

One thing I should note is that every episode ends with a "Go-On Seminar". They don't add much except deliver some useless trivia, but every now and then we get a gem like this:

A mystery finally resolved.

Speaking of which, I wonder if Bomper will ever contribute to the plot in any way? Enough about that though, NEXT EPISODE!

GRAND PRIX 17 - "Wings of Justice"

Awwww snappity snap!

We begin this episode at a super secret hideout where the Wing Race lives with their partners. And by "super secret", I mean an extremely expensive villa on the ocean side. It's here that siblings Hiroto and Miu live, and these two are pricks right from the get-gp. They look down on the Go-Ongers for no reason even though they helped them out last week, and are absolutely self-absorbed. Freaking. Great. Look, Go-Onger writers. Introducing two new assholes to make the original five look more likable in comparison will not work. No, instead we'll wind up with just two more unlikable characters alongside a mostly unlikable cast who now has to interact and introduce poor dynamics with these two dicks. Fuck...

Although the actress playing Miu Suto/Go-On Silver, Yumi Sugimoto, was a newcomer when Go-Onger aired and reprised her role in Gokaiger twice, Hiroto Suto/Go-On Gold will be best recognized by Kamen Rider fans. Heidenori Tokuyama is most famous for playing Sou Yaguruma/Kamen Rider TheBee/Kamen Rider KickHopper in 2006's Kamen Rider Kabuto. He hasn't appeared in any tokusatsu since 2009, when he reprised his role of Kamen Rider KickHopper in Kamen Rider Decade The Movie: All Riders Vs. Great Shocker, but he's still active to this day. Here, he brings his trademark cockiness and bloated ego that made his character so loathsome in Kabuto, but this time we're supposed to root on him? That's entirely on the fault of the writing, since I can safely say having him here is a step-up from the acting we've seen thus far.

Well, back to the episode. The Go-Ongers are enjoying a meal as they're still celebrating their victory. That pointless scene and one gag about how that silly Sosuke is so impatient later, we cut to the Gaiark generals who are forced to rethink their entire operation because of the new threat. A new Banki Beast is introduced called Blasting Banki, which will just...blow stuff up. Hiramekimedes, please help these guys out.

This is definitely a pun that is probably not even worth trying to translate.

Get N or get out, Go-Ongers.

Blasting Banki attacks the city and the Go-Ongers arrive on the scene. Things turn south for them quickly, but the two new heroes appear. They have a flashy transformation and the battle is on. We spend a few minutes showing off how "WOW GEE-WHIZ" cool they are and their rocket-inspired weapon gimmick (which makes me really wish I was watching Kamen Rider Fourze instead). Blasting Banki retreats, and the other Go-Ongers praise them. They antagonize the Go-Ongers for no reason, insisting on calling themselves the Go-On Wings, and then fly off.

Come on. Tell them they're missing "Perfect Harmony" aka "kanzen chouwa".

The Go-Ongers are riled up by this encounter but are still impressed by their strength. While they ponder what to do next, Hiramekimedes explains to the Gaiark generals that he once fought the Wing Race in Human World before. He decides to retool Blasting Banki to accommodate this new threat after theorizing that the Go-On Wings must have met the Wing Race after he had seemingly defeated them and before they started chasing him again. Meanwhile (I know...), we discover that Hiroto and Miu are both psychics which is how they're able to tell when Gaiark attacks. They confront the Go-Ongers, warning them not to fight that Gaiark and explain that this psychic ability was how they met the Engines after Hiramekimedes shot them down. They went to Engine World to train alongside the Wing Race to become Go-On Wings and become more capable soldiers/dickwads. Of course, the Go-Ongers ignore their warning and rush in to help out hapless mountain climbers that are being attacked.

Huh, I expected more from Hiramekimedes' master plan.

Of course, it's all just a ruse to lure the Go-Ongers in. The trio of Hirakimedes, Yogostein, and Blasting Banki fight the Go-Ongers after a nice little parody of a Sentai roll call.

I'd watch it.

After the Go-Ongers look as if they're about to lose, the Go-On Wings arrive and proceed to kick all sorts of ass. The fight choreography these two have is solid, so watching them in action is pretty fun. After a while, Blasting Banki is the only one left after Hirakimedes and Yogostein retreat, and he tries to take on the Go-On Wings but to no avail. *sniff* Such a gallant lad, dying for his masters. Before he gets the chance to grow, Go-On Gold rips out his Surprisium and thus finishing him off. That's...badass. Why don't they ever think to do this more often?


The mountain climbers are saved, but the victory is hollow for the Go-Ongers when the Go-On Wings chastise them for ignoring their warning. They head back home, satisfied with themselves and full of hot air. Although the introduction for the Go-On Wings themselves is cool, what makes this episode a tough sit is that the Wings are complete assholes. There's a difference between being reclusive but powerful heroes, and just being selfish and obnoxious and these two cross that line. I imagine they'll grow to work with the Go-Ongers over time, but this is not a good start. NEXT EPISODE!

GRAND PRIX 18 - "Commoner Hero"

"Hiroto is training when..." is probably how a lot of scenes involving Hiroto are written. Seriously, he trains. A lot.

Speaking of obnoxious, we find out early on Miu has a bad habit of becoming obsessed with pathetic things and why they're so pathetic. So she decides to visit the Go-Ongers and see if she can't make them less pathetic. I would call this a sick burn, but I don't know if I want it from this character. Anyways, Kitaneidas decides to create a new Banki Beast that specifically targets the new Rangers: Vacuum Banki.

Back to Ginjiro-go, the Go-Ongers are still sulking about last week when Miu pops in and immediately starts criticizing their home, their diet, and their clothes.

 *sighs* I gotta say it. Look who's talking.


Anyways, Vacuum Banki targets Go-On Gold but Gold is too perceptive and ends up just making all of the Banki Beast's attempts backfire. Later, Miu is treating the Go-Ongers to a fancy meal and clothes shopping since she's incredibly rich (because of course she is) but Sosuke isn't buying into it. Miu drags Sosuke elsewhere while Saki, because she's a girl a-hyuck, gets caught up in shopping and drags Gunpei and Renn along.

I dunno, he's doing a good enough job if you ask me.

After Hiroto swiftly beats the crap out of Vacuum Banki, Saki, Renn, and Gunpei spot him and explain where Miu is. He in turn explains her bad habit and yadda yadda exposition exposition. Sosuke decides to quit following Miu around when Vacuum Banki uses this as a chance to target her. Of course, she gets kidnapped because she's a girl a-hyuck and Sosuke holds himself responsible while Hiroto puts it upon himself to rescue her.

Mmmm, yes. Overact some more, Yaruhisa.

Remember the good ol' days when tokusatsu wasn't afraid of sacrilege and would crucify its hostages?

Hiroto arrives and Vacuum Banki threatens that if he doesn't hand over his transformation items, his sister will die. The siblings communicate through telepathy as she warns him not to do it when Sosuke arrives. He offers up his items instead, which Vacuum Banki takes but still won't give Miu up. Sosuke gets irritated and distracts Vacuum Banki, allowing Hiroto to free her while Sosuke retrieves his and Miu's transformation items. The three all team up and defeat Vacuum Banki, which leads to the monster growing huge.

Dat $$$ shot.

The Go-On Wings agree to help out the Go-Ongers in the fight and the Winged Engines become armaments for Engine-O. They use an arrow from their finisher to finish off Vacuum Banki once and for all and the day is saved. So, does that mean the Go-On Wings now accept the Go-Ongers after all that teamwork? Of course not! They're still as self-centered at the end of the episode as they were in the beginning. Of course, there's some dialogue about them being all dishonest about how they actually feel about the heroes but this proves to mean nothing when they act exactly the same in the next two episodes. As for this episode? Just your typical auxiliary Ranger development episode except without the development part. NEXT EPISODE!

GRAND PRIX 19 - "Gunpei's True Motive"

Don't let that title fool you. This episode is just as much about Hant as Gunpei unfortunately.

This time, the Go-Ongers are waiting on the Go-On Wings in the middle of the woods after they have been issued a challenge by them. When the Go-On Wings do arrive, they reveal that they received an identical letter of challenge supposedly from the Go-Ongers. They first think it's a Gaiark trap which causes them to stand guard as the camera spins around them a la the famous lineup scene in The Avengers (pfft, eat your heart out, Marvel), it turns out Gunpei sent both letters in an attempt to get them to meet up and talk/train together.

Just stop narrating, Birca. You're literally throwing anything Italian-sounding into your sentences.

Of course, Hiroto and Miu run off in a huff after their oh-so-precious time was wasted and upsetting Gunpei that his plan failed. At the same time, a new Banki Beast is created by Hiramekimedes and Yogostein. Saw Banki's plan is simple: cut down buildings. Kay. Anyways, back at Ginjiro-go, Gunpei is trying to write another letter to the Go-On Wings but just can't bring himself to write kind words. Hant points out that a web site that ranks the Go-Ongers has him at dead last. Okay, first off, fucking bullshit. There is absolutely no way Hant is more popular than Gunpei. Yeah, Gunpei has done some questionable things, but at least he's not concerned about money or cute ladies over actually saving people like you, Hant. Secondly, really? A web site that ranks the Go-Ongers' popularity? That just seems like a colossal waste of time. And how can these people possibly rank the Go-Ongers when they only see them fleetingly? After all, there's rarely anyone around when they fight the Gaiark so how can they know each Go-Onger's personality, style of fighting, etc.

Our conflicted hero in a brief moment of inner peace as he practices his calligraphy.

Hant decides to boost Gunpei's popularity because that's exactly what a superhero should be concerned about. Their popularity. Ffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffff 

GO! HANTER! *throws Poké Ball, it pops open*

Saw Banki wreaks havoc, cutting down everything taller than it, and the Go-Ongers arrive to fight. The Go-On Wings arrive to steal their thunder since they're sooooooo much better than the Go-Ongers, but while the other Go-Ongers rush off to rescue people in a collapsing building, Hant INSISTS that Gunpei fight alongside the Go-On Wings, who have the situation handled, instead so that he could look cooler. You know, instead of rescuing people. Ugh.

You know they had it handled before you got here, right? Our new heroes, everybody.

Of course, Gunpei gets in the way of their maneuvers and Saw Banki runs away in the confusion. This infuriates the Go-On Wings, and Gunpei is infuriated at himself. The Go-Ongers manage to rescue about, oh, six people from what was probably a crowded office building all in one piece after the building literally collapsed around them. Seriously, there is nothing right about this scene. Every last aspect except the fight choreography was poorly thought out. Anyways, instead of Gunpei's popularity going up, it was Hant's instead (again, I'm calling B.S. on that) as Gunpei apologizes to the Go-Ongers for his failure. He starts training with intensity as Hant looks on. Hant comes up with an idea: to lure himself out as bait to make Gunpei look like a better hero. And this is how:

And Gunpei is less popular than this guy?

Saw Banki falls for it and tries to cut Hant down to size. Gunpei arrives and transforms. He's fighting him off, but when the others arrive, Hant insists he fights by himself. However, when they all find out Hant is the street performer, Gunpei is distracted and gets beaten by Saw Banki. Then Saw Banki succeeds in cutting off Hant's stilts. Good freaking job there, Hant.

Still the voice of reason.

Still, Sosuke tells Gunpei it's not being a pro or being an amateur, it's about being a Go-Onger. This is surprisingly good advice and it gets to Gunpei that maybe he should occasionally rush in like he did when he decided to become a Go-Onger. So, when Saw Banki strikes again, he rushes in to fight. He takes advantage of Saw Banki's weakness, literally a loose screw, and the Go-Ongers beat him and save children trapped in a lighthouse. A mecha fight breaks out, stuff happens, and Saw Banki is defeated. For now. Our competent villain, Hiramekimedes, concocts a plan to put Saw Banki to better use.

Gunpei shoots up to #1 on the poll somehow (seriously, there were only like 4 children at that lighthouse and they weren't really watching, they were crying) which of course makes Gunpei ecstatic. So THAT'S what's been bothering him. He's an egocentric jerk too! Thanks, Go-Onger. You really don't want me to root on these heroes, do you?

While Hiramekimedes prepares Saw Banki for revival, an ominous wind blows at the Go-On Wings' beach villa. This plan is totally gonna be a big one! It's so horrible, it makes one of Miu's flowers die.


Actually, Miu and Hiroto shrug it off. However, Hiroto receives a call from a mysterious sender. Looks like a new Engine is in town and it's gonna be a WHALE of a tale next time! Haw!

This episode sucked. The ranking site makes no sense, Hant is obnoxious, it makes Gunpei look shallow, and the Go-On Wings just look like bigger dicks. The fights are nice and the monster has a good design which is probably why they use it again next episode. Still, it's not enough to make this episode any less of a painful watch. Anyways, NEXT EPISODE!

GRAND PRIX 20 - "Sibling Battle!?"

Awww, where's that cocky demeanor now, Miu?

Saw Banki is revived as Chainsaw Banki and begins Hirakimedes' plan. Trust me when I say the set-up isn't worth it. Meanwhile, Miu is clothes shopping cuz she's a girl, but she's actually shopping for her brother. Turns out she thinks of him as "the shiniest brother in the world" which could probably be seen as creepy. Meanwhile again again, Hiroto is talking with a foreign lady and insists she leave him alone. She then proceeds to attack him with kisses and hugs, which Saki just so happens to witness. She reports this juicy news to the Go-Ongers, only for them to tell about different encounters they've witnessed him having with different women. Does this make Hiroto a playboy? Shocking!

No witty caption here. Just thought this drawing was worth sharing.

Chainsaw Banki attacks and the Go-Ongers arrive on the scene. However, the area is covered in smoke which leads them into a state of confusion. The Go-On Wings arrive as well and manage to hit the target, thereby avoiding a reenactment of the fog sequence from Insomnia, which is a shame since that would have meant one of the Go-Ongers would have died. The smoke clears and they find out that Saw Banki has been reborn, but Hiramekimedes orders him to retreat abruptly. There's in-fighting after Sosuke calls Hiroto a playboy, leading Miu to freak out that her older brother might be into women that are not her. Yeah, you can't fool me, show. I've seen enough anime with characters with big brother complexes to know exactly what she's thinking.

If any of you call this "WINcest", I will fucking end you.

Miu sees Hiroto cornered by all the foreign women that the Go-Ongers told her about earlier, but it turns out they don't love him. They're all trying to get him to become a famous movie star or athlete. This pleases Miu until one of them blames her for holding him back. Miu sulks about this and decides she's perfectly fine without him, while Hiroto gets a call from the Engine last time. It turns out he was their teacher on Machine World and he's finally arrived on Human World. How Bomper didn't notice this, I don't know and I don't care anymore.

It's a little known fact that I literally feed on bad foreign actors' acting skill, so this is pleasing my appetite.

We find out Hiramekimedes' plan in the next scene. He plans to use Chainsaw Banki to cut a bunch of wood in a warehouse, thus creating piles of sawdust. Since sawdust ignites, he hopes the Go-Ongers will fire at Chainsaw Banki and thus cause a big explosion. That's right, that's his big plan. Just a big boom. I remember when Hiramekimedes was cool, but clearly that couldn't last in this show.

I will admit I enjoy it whenever the show admits its characters are not...bright.

The Go-Ongers arrive, but Go-On Silver cuts in and attacks them all. She's completely lost her cool and, when Gold arrives, she pushes him away and insists he quit being a hero. These characters' priorities are so fucked up. Anyways, Miu's gun goes off and causes the big explosion. Gaiark celebrates as Hiramekimedes slips on a stool because SO GOOFY as the new Engine decides to head to the scene. However, as it turns out, EVERYONE IS FINE. That's right, the big explosion doesn't even faze our heroes. So this whole plan was one huge waste of time. Wait....this episode was co-written by Naruhisaw Arakawa. Wow, that's depressing.

Hiroto gets in a speech on why he chose to become a hero and GASP it wasn't about stardom! Gee whiz, who woulda thunk? Anyways, we get some weird misunderstanding where Miu thinks Hiroto is into combining mecha out of this conversation. I really don't get it at all because it's poorly explained and I'll just skip trying to understand it since it's just a gag. Anyways, the new Engine arrives on the scene and introduces himself. His name is Jumbowhale and, as his name implies, he's a jumbo jet whale. Clever. Anyways, he puts out the flame and the fight restarts between the Go-Ongers and Chainsaw Banki.

Man, this show can be so BOEING sometimes. Get it? Boring? Boeing? Haw!

Anyways, fighting goes on and Chainsaw Banki grows big. This time, however, Toripter, Jetras and Bowhale combine to form Seikuu-O. The design's not too bad, but he kinda clashes with the other mecha in my opinion. I can't quite put my finger on why but he looks as though he belongs in another Sentai. Anyways, Seikuu-O makes short work of Chainsaw Banki and the day is saved. Yay.

Spontaneously appearing logos are the best.

This episode's just dumb. Miu comes off as a creepy "onii-chan <3" type character this time, Hiroto's gag with combining makes no sense and the set-up for Hiramekimedes' big plan is a huge let-down. Seikuu-O is an okay mecha, and Jumbowhale might be a good character as long as he gets some actual screentime and is not just another mecha thrown to the wayside.

All right, so this whole group of episodes does not bode well. Not only do we have two new characters who are almost impossible to root for, but now the Go-Ongers are regressing back into the characters they were when this series started as a result. Well, tune in next time for episodes 21-25. Toei's getting ready for movie-shilling mode, we say goodbye to one of the Gaiark commanders and we enter that dreaded state every single Super Sentai suffers from.


Pray for me.

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