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Apr 132016
 

As you might recall, the classic Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers contained Japanese footage within the episodes. But have you ever wondered exactly where that footage came from? It’s from a Sentai series called Super Sentai Zyuranger(1992-1993).

These rangers originally coexisted with the dinosaurs 170 million years ago. Each one was from a different tribe and put in suspended animation until they were awakened to defend Earth. Best part is that there is no identity secrecy. Everyone knows who the Zyurangers are and they befriend the many citizens, especially the kids. They are Geki (Yuta Mochizuki) as the Red Ranger, Goushi (Seiju Umon) as the Black Ranger, Dan (Hideki Fujiwara) as the Blue Ranger, Boi (Takumi Hashimoto) as the Yellow Ranger, and Mei (Reiko Chiba) as the Pink Ranger.

Later on, a sixth Zyuranger joins the team, Burai (Hisashi Sakai) as the Green Ranger. Like the Green Ranger on Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers, he’s not featured as frequently but for a completely different reason altogether.

The rangers also have zords, but they are featured as the Guardian Beasts and they actually talk. When the five Guardian Beasts combine they become Daizyuzin and Burai’s Guardian Beast is called Dragon Caesar. As interesting as that sounds, I still prefer to call them Megazord and Dragonzord. The same goes for King Brachion as Titanus the Ultrazord.

Instead of Zordon and Alpha 5, the Zyurangers’ wise mentor is a wizard named Barza (Jun Tatara) and he lives in an underground temple instead of a command center.

The villains have the same exact look to the ones on Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers. However, they are very different in comparison. Not just their names, but their personalities too. Let’s start with the leader who is the witch Bandora (Machiko Soga). If you thought Rita Repulsa was evil, Bandora is much worse. She hates children and often targets them as a way to conquer Earth, sometimes in a brutal manner. Now that’s just low. On the bright side, she is funny when defeated much like Rita.

Bandora’s group also consists of strong warriors Grifforzar and Lamy (Ami Kawai) who are actually husband and wife. That was certainly a surprise since Goldar and Scorpina were never a couple.

And let’s not forget the comedic Topat (Baboo) and Bookback (Squatt) who can take human form. As well as Pleprechaun (Finster) the unusual artist, who created the Golems (Putty Patrollers) and the various Dora Monsters.

Speaking of which, the names are very different but the monster is easy to recognize like Dora Goblin (Gnarly Gnome), Dora Sphinx (King Sphinx), Dora Ninja (Dark Warrior), Dora Cockatrice (Chunky Chicken), Dora Laygor (Madam Woe), and so on and so forth. Personally I prefer to identify the monsters by their names on Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers.

I’ll tell you, I really enjoyed this Sentai series. If you think it’s like Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers, it isn’t. Super Sentai Zyuranger is edgier and definitely not a kid show. It sure is nice to compare the two shows, especially if you’re a Power Rangers fan.

One last note: There are other Super Sentai shows that follow a similar premise. One I would also recommend is Gosei Sentai Dairanger, which contains footage of the Thunderzords, the White Ranger, and monsters from season two of Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers.

Jan 272016
 

LEGO toys have been around for a long time. I know because I used to play with LEGO when I was a kid. However, It wasn’t until about the late 2000s when LEGO took well known franchises and made video games, then eventually animated features with a cute style of humor.

One such feature is Lego Batman: The Movie – DC Super Heroes Unite. Apparently it’s about Lex Luthor trying to become President of the United States with help from the Joker by using destructive means to make it happen and it’s up to Batman to stop them.

Robin also helps out and so does Superman, despite how Batman only believes that he can only rely on himself. That’s a bit annoying but not nearly as annoying as Superman is when he talks in the third person. What’s the point of that?

The action is cool. As Joker disrupts an award ceremony, it gets real interesting when the other major Batman villains like Penguin, Catwoman, Two-Face, Riddler, and Harley Quinn help him out.

Steve BlumRob Paulsen

I met Steve Blum, who was the voice of the Penguin, at CollectiveCon 2015 and Rob Paulsen, the voice of the Riddler, at MegaCon 2014.

What’s real common in LEGO features is buildings and machinery falling to pieces as well as being put back together. Lex Luthor has a weapon called the De-Constructor that can tear powerful black objects apart like Batman’s vehicles and it’s powered by Kryptonite.

After Luthor breaks Joker out of Arkham Asylum, Joker frees the other Batman villains who even include Bane and Poison Ivy. It’s so cool how Batman and Robin keep them from escaping with exciting vehicle chases.

 

Then it all comes down to a giant Joker robot that runs on Kryptonite. As much as Batman hates to admit it, he needs help. That’s when the Justice League comes to the rescue. Wonder Woman, the Flash, Green Lantern, and Cyborg all make an appearance.

This was a good LEGO movie. Lately many of the modern straight-to-DVD Batman movies have been darker and more brutal. In comparison, it’s nice to see that this one is a least a little bit lighter for a change.

Jan 062016
 

Another classic superhero among the Super Friends to have his own series was Aquaman in The Adventures of Aquaman: The Complete Collection (DC Comics Classic Collection) (1967-1968). This show follows the adventures of the aquatic superhero protecting the ocean from all sorts of evildoers. Especially his home, the underwater city of Atlantis.

Unlike Superman and Batman, Aquaman has no secret identity, which is great because he never has to hide who he is from anyone. Also, whenever Aquaman needs assistance he uses his telepathic powers to summon other sea creatures. He always seems to know exactly which ones are needed for any kind of peril. What I don’t understand is why Aquaman never summons any seals. I could see plenty of ways they could help out.

Aquaman’s young sidekick is Aqualad, who is often nicknamed Tadpole, Minnow, or Sardine. He’s a good fighter but often gets knocked unconscious or ends up captured. If only Aqualad had Aquaman’s powers, then the two of them would be a more equal duo. The two of them also have faithful steeds like their seahorses Storm and Imp.

And of course let’s not forget their pet walrus Tusky. His curiosity tends to get him in a lot of trouble but you can’t stay mad at Tusky for long since he’s so darn cute.

Another reoccurring ally is Mera. Although she is Aquaman’s love interest, it’s not mentioned in this series. In fact, Mera was hardly featured at all. But when she is, it’s nice to see her. Though she’s often a damsel in distress.

There are a fair amount of arch villains in this series like Black Manta, Vassa the queen of the mermen, the Brain, Torpedo Man, and the Fisherman. As interesting as they are, these villains aren’t as memorable. No back stories are revealed and their goals are either to take over the sea or to destroy Aquaman.

As one-dimensional as that sounds, the story lines for each episode are kept simple and simple is good.

This is certainly a classic animated series that I remember watching years ago but was hard to keep track of. Thank you DVD releases.

Dec 022015
 

In Big Hero 6, 14-year-old Hiro Hamada is a robotics genius who enjoys participating in robot fights. But since robot fighting is illegal in the city of San Fransokyo, Hiro’s older brother Tadashi was able to guide his brother on a better path.

They go to a university called San Fransokyo Tech, where Hiro meets Tadashi’s friends that are all scientific geniuses. The inventions they create are nothing like what you’d see at an ordinary science fair.

Wasabi is a neat freak that invented plasma lasers that can slice through anything with ease. Apparently he got his nickname for spilling wasabi on his shirt once. It’s strange but it works.

Go Go Tamago uses electromagnets to invent speed wheels for a faster bike. Even though she has a rebellious attitude, Go Go is actually really friendly.

I just love Honey Lemon for her kind and sweet persona. She’s also excitable and has invented chemical balls that can stick things together. They can also build protective walls and come in many colors. They’re mostly pink, probably because Honey likes pink.

Then we have Fred the school mascot, who is a slacker and a comic book geek. He is also a science enthusiast and dreams that the knowledge will help him gain superpowers. Of course, the others don’t necessarily approve.

Last but not least there’s Tadashi’s invention, a super robot called Baymax. This robot was made to help people with the knowledge of many medical procedures. He has a soft inflatable body and a gentle voice, which would help his patients feel comfortable.

After seeing all this, Hiro is inspired to enroll at San Fransokyo Tech and invent microbots, which work together to create anything by just thinking of it. Suddenly, tragedy strikes and Hiro is motivated to upgrade Baymax into a crime fighting robot. I couldn’t help but notice that Baymax’s new suit seems to have a strong resemblance to Iron Man.

Apparently, a masked villain stole the microbots. So the other students help Hiro by turning their inventions into crime fighting gadgets, which also includes Fred’s monster costume. I’m sure Fred was real excited to make his dream a reality. Of course it was also made possible by the fact that Fred has a rich family.

I certainly enjoyed this movie more than I thought I would since the trailer did not feature Big Hero 6 as a superhero movie. I wonder if there will be a sequel or a TV series from it.

Oct 142015
 

Over the years, classic monsters like Dracula, Frankenstein’s Monster, and the Wolfman have been featured as horrifying creatures and as party animals. But who would think of them as superheroes? Well, it has happened in the animated series, Drak Pack: Complete Series (1980-1982).

The Drak Pack is a trio of teenage descendents of the classic monsters, Drak Jr., Frankie, and Howler. To atone for their ancestors’ wrongdoings, they devote their lives to fighting crime. The Drak Pack’s identities are kept a secret, but what’s the point of that? They go by the same names in both human and monster form, their enemies already know who they are, and they always drive the same vehicle, the Drakster, even while in human form.

Drak Jr. is the team leader. He can shape-shift into a variety of forms as well as a bat or mist and can walk up walls. Amazingly, Drak is unaffected by sunlight. Frankie has enormous strength, even more so when he gets mad. Sometimes he needs to be provoked when that level of strength is needed. Howler’s main power is his super breath. That’s definitely a useful skill to have in battle.

Dr. Dred

The Drak Pack’s arch nemesis is Dr. Dred, a criminal genius that uses cliched evil plots to become rich and powerful. Sometimes Dr. Dred summons Drak to a secret meeting to explain his evil plot and it always ends with Drak getting caught in a trap. Of course, Drak manages to escape every time.

Evil Henchmen

Dr. Dred’s henchmen include the overly loyal Toad, the sneaky humanoid Fly, the massive mumbling mummyman that has unlimited bandages, and Vampira a female vampire with the same shape-shifting abilities as Drak. Together the evil group is called ORGE, which stands for the Organization for Generally Rotten Enterprises. That’s an interesting acronym.

OGRE has an island headquarters called Dredquarters and an airship called the Dredgible. Both often end up destroyed when an evil plot backfires, but somehow is fully restored by the next episode.

When the Drak Pack needs counsel, they turn to Drak’s great uncle Count Dracula himself, who is nicknamed Big D. He is helpful sometimes, but often complains and tends to unknowingly slam the lid of his coffin on his hand. I’m just glad that Dracula is on the side of good.

I really enjoyed this series. I’m surprised that I didn’t know about it before since many of my favorite cartoons from the 80s were from Hanna Barbera. I would’ve enjoyed it just the same back then. Though I should point out that if you’re expecting this show to be a horror theme series, you might be disappointed. Scooby-Doo used more horror elements than this.