Wednesday, January 18, 2012

How SOPA Affects Us

For my American readers, a controversial, and detrimental bill is set to be voted on in the US congress next week. Now, if you've been reading the news, SOPA, or Stop Online Piracy Act, is, like it's called, a bill to stop online piracy. Read about it here:

SOPA has the potential to threaten free speech, and the Internet.

Now, as fans of a genre of media from Japan, it's pretty hard to enjoy it without some people uploading it onto the Internet. We have no other way of watching it, other than buying DVDs. But not all of us speak Japanese, so we need subbers to do their magic and sub them for us. So even if we buy the DVDs, we probably won't understand them, and won't enjoy them.

So, let's say that possibly the juiciest episode of Gokaiger, or Gobusters comes out. And you need to watch it, because it looks epic. And not only that, but you probably need to have subs because there is a lot of dialogue and dramatic confrontations, so you need to understand Japanese to understand what they're saying, and why did Marvelous get so upset at what Joe just said. Well, you would usually download a sub from one of the more reliable sub sites. But, if SOPA is passed, you probably won't be able to access those sights. In fact, the bill could put the people behind the site in jeopardy. The bill poorly defines what they want to criminalize, that anyone could get penalized.

So the people who work so hard to upload, sub, time, and QC series could face penalties. And this goes for RAWs too.

And this doesn't just go for the current series. A bunch of the older series are really good. And the only way to get a hold of these series is, you guessed it, the internet.

And we, the viewers, could also get penalized as well.

So, if you have an urge to watch an episode of Battle Fever J, and you get hooked, so you download a half a season, and in a few months, there's a knock on your door, you're busted, and could be facing prison time. And all you wanted to do was to watch Battle Cossack (both ones) and Battle Kenya kick butts to disco music, because there was no other way to watch other than, you guessed it, downloading it.

So, for my American readers, sign this. Your zip-code is required, so you can't sign it if you don't live in the States:

And for my international readers, please support the actions of those protesting the bill, and protest the bill yourself. Because it affects not just us fans of an internationally obscure Japanese genre (come on, ask your neighbor if they're heard of Super Sentai) but pretty much everyone who enjoys using the internet.

Thank you!

Saturday, January 14, 2012

My Thoughts on Kamen Rider Den-O

Now, I know there have been a lack of updates, but that's because I've been working really hard on this post. So enjoy.

I recently finished watching Kamen Rider Den-O. It's an amazing series. I'm going to give you guys a basic run-down of my thoughts on the characters, plot, and anything else I can think of.

The Plot
In the near future, these creatures called Imagin destroy the world by going in the past. Imagins are creatures that thrive on the memories of humans. When an Imagin comes in contact with a human, they will gain a form based off of the human's memories, and then attempt to grant the human's greatest wish. Once they have granted that wish, they will use the human (or whom they call their contract holder) as a portal to travel back in time to a memory of the human, and reek havoc on that time. The only people who can resist the lure and influence are singularity points: people who have the ability to exist outside of time, and can't have their memories altered by changes in the past. One of them is Hana, who is from the future that the Imagins destroyed. She bears a strong hatred towards them. Hana now lives on the Den-liner, a train that travels through the sands of time. Hana was given a boarding pass by the mysterious owner of the train to save the future and preserve the flow of time. When the train makes a stop in 2007, she encounters another singularity point, Ryotaro Nogami, an optimistic yet severely unlucky man who dropped out of high school to help his older sister, Airi, run her coffee shop, the Milk Dipper. But his luck has changed because he has found the rider pass. Hana convinces him to become Den-O and join her to save the flow of time. At the same time, Ryotaro encounters the Imagin, Momotaros, who literally joins him in his fight by possessing him, due to the fact Ryotaro is too weak to fight on his own. Ryotaro uses his Den-O powers not only to defeat the Imagins bent on destroying time, but to make the future better for the contract holders, causing subtle changes in the past to happen.

Gradually, Ryotaro becomes possessed by three other Imagins, who like Momotaros, don't really seem to have an interest in destroying time. And a new Kamen Rider appears: Zeronos--who is really a younger version of Airi's former fiancee, Yuto Sakurai, who disappeared months before the series began. In fact, Airi doesn't even remember being engaged to Yuto Sakurai. And this Yuto is nothing like the Yuto Ryotaro has grown to bond with. Can Ryotaro work together with this incarnation of Yuto? Of course he can, but can Yuto work with this unlucky young man claiming to know who he is?

Later in the series, the true villain, the one controlling the Imagins appears. Is he an Imagin or not? And what is this junction point he's so obsessed with? And will Airi remember what she forgot? And not only that, but Ryotaro's Imagins are starting to disappear because of Ryotaro and Yuto's actions as Kamen Riders. Will they live to help Ryotaro during the final battle?

Ryotaro Nogami- Our Unlucky, yet Lucky Protagonist

Ryotaro is a genuinely nice guy who happens to have really bad luck. It's like the universe hates him. And most of the comedy on Den-O comes from it. But, he has one thing that cancels all of that out--he's a singularity point. That means that changes in time can't harm his memory, he can exist outside of time, and Imagins can't influence him. Albeit, he can still get possessed by them-- and Ryuutaros and Sieg are the only Imagins who can over-power him.

Ryotaro is a nice guy. He dropped out of school to help his older sister, Airi, he genuinely trusts people, he cares more about saving people, even if it does change time, and most importantly, even though he has bad luck, he deals with it, and he's optimistic.

Takeru Sato shines as Ryotaro. His acting chops really manifest when his character is possessed by the Imagins. He adopts different mannerisms for each one. And he can break-dance too. Also, he's pretty hot.

I also applaud Takuya Mizoguchi, who took over Takeru's role from Decade on. He is able to play a young man trapped inside his pre-teen self's body pretty nicely.

Yuto Sakurai-Don't You Forget About Me
Yuto was the antithesis of Ryotaro: Lucky, spoiled, and he cared more about saving time than saving people. But, now here's the shocker, Yuto is really a younger version of Airi's fiancee. The present Yuto gave the past Yuto the Zeronos belt and cards before he disappeared. Now past Yuto is in the present, where no one knows who he is--except Ryotaro, who figures out within the first few episodes of his debut, and Hana and the rest of the Denliner crew. Yuto obviously had a lot of growing up to do. The Yuto that Ryotaro knew was nicer. The Yuto that we see now is kind of a snot, and he still does a lot of childish things, even though he's the same age as Ryotaro, such as putting a lot of sugar in his coffee, and refusing to eat Shiitake mushrooms (okay, I love mushrooms, and Shiitake are some of the best mushrooms, so I'd get a little upset when someone refuses to eat Shiitake mushrooms). But he still has some of the qualities as the Yuto that Ryotaro knew: his interest in stars. In fact, Zeronos's motif is stars. When Yuto joins the series, he brings a lot of drama with him. Not only is he different from Ryotaro and has a different motivation, but there immense tragedy surrounding his character. He is without a time. He's stranded in the future (our present), where no one knows him. And if they do, it's his future self. Also, he uses cards to Henshin, and they gradually run out. And these cards also connected to him. They are based off of people's memories of his future self--the self that Airi was engaged to. And every time his Henshins, people gradually forget about his future self. But he runs out of cards. And he gets new cards, but now, every time he Henshins, they forget about him, the Yuto we see. The only people who remember him are Ryotaro, Hana, the Imagins, and the rest of the Den-o crew. But Yuto isn't this angsty, moping character. There is a lot of comedy surrounding his character. Most of this humor comes from his interaction with Deneb, the Imagin who is contracted to him. Deneb kind of spoils him, but he can't help it, Deneb's a very caring Imagin. And sometimes, when Deneb interferes with his life too much, including possessing him, or dotes on him too much, Yuto gets angry. And believe it or not, Yuto is very funny when he's angry with Deneb. Also, Yuto's actor, Yuichi Nakamura is just as talented as Takeru Satoh. He is able to portray Yuto's tragic circumstance with realism, and is able to take on the character of Deneb when he is possessed, and he can be extremely funny.

Hana- The Pint-size Big Sister Power House
Hana is a pretty interesting character. She is Ryotaro's guide to his power as a Kamen Rider, and acts like his big sister. Plus, she has enormous strength, both emotionally, and physically. She initially treats the imagins with disdain, because they destroyed her future. Her present, her place in time has disappeared because of them. But eventually, she learns to respect them. I think she is even unaware of how important she is. Hana, like Ryotaro, is a singularity point. So her mind wasn't affected when Ryotaro and Yuto's meddling in the past caused her own future to be changed, and caused her body to physically change into a child. Even as a child, she still acted like Ryotaro's older sister, and her strength against the Imagins looked more powerful. Both of her actresses were really good, especially Takumi Matsumoto, who had to play a young adult trapped in a child's body.

Airi-Did I Forget Something?
Airi is Ryotaro's older sister. She cares about him a lot, probably because their parents are dead, so she is not only his sister, but a mother-like figure as well. Airi has completely forgotten about her fiancee, Yuto Sakurai, after he disappeared, so Ryotaro has been watching out for her as well. Airi can be... well... airy. She is oblivious to the fact that most of the customers who come to the Milk Dipper are there to flirt with her. And she doesn't return their advances, because she isn't aware that they are flirting with her. Oh, and she hand grinds her coffee beans! She's a very important character.

The Owner-An Enigma
He's a pretty mysterious but funny character. I love the way the actor portrays him. In addition to being all-knowing, he's obsessed with eating either rice or flan with a flag on top, making sure it doesn't fall down. All and all, he's a pretty trippy character.

Naomi-The Hot Waitress who puts Wasabi in Coffee
Naomi was a funny character. She makes un-edible coffee (but if you ask me, putting Wasabi in Coffee is the perfect thing to wake you up in the morning). Besides being eye-candy, she was a funny character, and her interactions with the Imagin are hilarious. She's always doing something funny in the background so pay attention!

The Imagin
Let's face it, the Imagin are the true stars of the show. They are voiced by some talented Seiyuu's and portrayed by talented suit actors. And they make Den-O, Den-O.

Momotaros-The Badasss with a Heart of Gold

Momotaros was the first Imagin that Ryotaro came in contact with. Unlike the meek, and weak Ryotaro, he is extremely rash and strong. Despite this, he and Ryotaro gradually become best friends, with a few bumps in the road. Momotaros is kind of silly: he usually gets pwned by Hana, is afraid of dogs, can't swim, and announces his attacks, gradually forgetting the numbers. He's the main Imagin that Ryotaro uses, so you'll see a lot of him as Den-O.

Urataros-The Silver-Tongued Turtle
Urataros is the second Imagin that Ryotaro comes in contact with. Whereas Ryotaro is an honest, klutzy person, Urataros is smooth, cool, and an extremely talented liar. He is so good that the only person who can see through his lies is Hana. Urataros comes in handy whenever Ryotaro has to talk his way out of a jam. However, he can easily manipulate Ryotaro into letting him use his body. During these excursions in Ryotaro's body, he'll flirt with girls, resulting in Ryotaro waking up on the couch in a girl's apartment. Despite this, Urataros is a true friend.

Kintaros-The Noble Bear
Kintaros is a rather unique Imagin. Out of all of the Imagins, Kintaros is the most noble. When we first meet Kintaros, he isn't possessing Ryotaro, he's possessing a former karate master, who couldn't fight anymore, due to either a sickness or an injury, I forget which, to help him find the ultimate fighting style. After Kintaros is mortally wounded, protecting his contract holder and another Imagin's contract holder, Ryotaro allows him to possess him, and become one of his Imagins. Like I've said, Kintaros is noble. He didn't want to destroy time, or manipulate people, or truly hurt anyone. He cares the most about Ryotaro, which is especially evident in the New Year's episode. Kintaros is super strong, which can put Ryotaro at a disadvantage when Kintaros possesses him. Whenever Kintaros possesses Ryotaro, Ryotaro's mass increases, causing him to easily break things, even things he is standing on. Since Kintaros is like a bear, he's in hibernation mode most of the time, and can't be waken up, unless he hears any variation of the word "cry." That usually results in him instantly possessing Ryotaro. Kintaros speaks Kansai-Ben, giving him a rustic feel. If Kintaros's voice sounds familiar, his voice actor voiced Shadow Moon from Kamen Rider Black.

Ryuutaros-The Dancing Dragon

Ryuutaros possessed Ryotaro about the same time as Urataros. He lied dormant in him, and a few episodes later, he completely possesses Ryotaro. Ryuutaros was told if he killed Ryotaro, he would get to be the conductor on the Den-liner. But he decides to let Ryotaro live because he likes Airi, like a little brother, and if he kills Ryotaro, that means that Airi will be sad. Ryuutaros is mischievous, and child-like. He is a dancer, and even dances while he walks. He has a soft spot for animals, likes drawing, and spends most of his time on the Den-Liner with Naomi. When Ryuutaros possesses Ryotaro, he not only has the ability to dance, and to control people, but he also completely overtakes Ryotaro, and unlike the other Imagins, it's hard to get Ryuutaros to leave Ryotaro's body. When Yuto arrives, you can guess how Ryuutaros felt. Like a jealous little brother, he didn't like anyone taking his sister away. Honestly, Ryuutaros is the little brother you wish you had. He isn't one of those annoying little brothers who makes it his goal to ruin your life, but instead wants to protect you. Isn't that cute?

Deneb-The Butler
Deneb is a modest Imagin, and the only other Imagin, besides Kintaros, who had a noble goal. Deneb was contracted to Yuto in the present, and because he made a wish to aid his past self, Deneb is able to have a physical form in normal time, unlike the other Imagins, who can only exist in a physical form outside of time (i.e. on the Den-Liner). Deneb not only fights with Yuto, but dotes on him as well, like a parent. He cooks his meals, keeps him entertained, and protects him. He wants to make sure Yuto makes friends as well. Whenever Deneb will possess Yuto, it will result in Yuto getting pissed. Deneb hands out Deneb candy to everyone he meets. He's a friendly, sociable Imagin, and is a good foil for Yuto and vice versa.

I'm not going to reveal the force behind the Imagins. Because you guys should watch it. It's an awesome series.

My thoughts:

Kamen Rider Den-O will have you laugh, cry, and fall in love with Takeru Satoh. A lot of people don't like the fact that Kamen Riders lately have a lot of forms, but Den-O manages to balance it out, and it works.

Den-O can suck you in, due to the characters, the story, the twists and turns.

Before you watch Den-O, I highly recommend you watch a movie or TV show that has time travel in the plot. I recommend Back To the Future (I or III) Dr. Who (speaking of which I need to watch it) or, and this episode is a great example of changes in the timeline, the Futurama episode "Roswell that Ends Well." That way you'd be familiar with time travel.

Just to warn you, pay attention. This show can get confusing, which is one of the downsides. You might have to look at some previous episode summaries, or watch the episode, to remember something that happened.

One of the best things about Den-O is that there are no filler episodes. Every episode is important to the plot.

Now, there are two things that you may like or not like. First off, every episode ends with a cliff-hanger. Okay, not every episode. Usually the odd-numbered episode. So you have to watch two episodes to see a whole plot. Now, I don't mind this, but some people might. And the other thing that you may hate is that sometimes there is a lot of computer animation, especially the Denliner fight sequences (yes, the train can fight giant monsters that can sometimes be released by dead Imagins). But there's no other way to do those fight scenes without using a computer. Using miniatures might be a little hard.

One thing that a lot of people hate is Toei's milking of the series. After the series ended, there was another movie, a Kiva vs. movie (which is a given), a Decade vs. Movie (note: this is when Takeru Satoh was replaced, because by this time, he was starting to get more and more roles, and the producers understood that, Takeru Satoh doesn't hate being in Den-O, you can tell he's having fun, he wanted to move on, and the producers didn't want to hold him back), the Cho-Den-O trilogy (which doesn't even focus on Ryotaro) the OOO 40th anniversary crossover with W, and the Imagin anime. But that doesn't mean it's all bad.

So, watch Den-O. The future depends on it!