Azn Badger's Blog

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Garo Is Back!!!

It’s been more than 5 years now, but Garo is finally back on Japanese television!

For those who are unaware, (and I know there are lots of you) Garo was a tokusatsu series that came out back in 2005.

At the time, I had just entered college, discovered bit torrent, and was just beginning to rediscover my love for the genre via shows like Ultraman Nexus and Kamen Rider Kabuto.

I’d always loved tokusatsu, growing up with Godzilla movies and Power Rangers on TV, but it wasn’t until I got into college that I really began to understand how deep my love for the genre ran.

In many ways, you could call 2005 my own personal perfect storm of dorky self-discovery.

That being said, I think a lot of what got me to start following tokusatsu shows again, was the superb level of quality that many of the shows around the mid-2000’s represented.

In my eyes, other than the older shows like Ultraseven, Ultraman has never been as good as it was with Nexus.

Similarly, Kamen Rider V3 and Black will always be my favorite iterations of the character, however Kabuto and Den-Ou easily represent the best it’s been in the past decade or so.

You really expect me to watch a show about a motorcycle riding rocket shuttle-man? Try again Toei.

That being said, as much as I loved these shows at the time, in my eyes it was a brand new series, Garo; that represented the cream of the crop.

Boasting superior production values, a more serious tone, a strong cast, and a surprisingly deep universe; Garo was the show that kept me coming back to tokusatsu despite several consecutive years of less than stellar programming.

I guess you could say I kept wading through shit like Ultraseven X and Kamen Rider Kiba in the hopes that they could somehow live up to the benchmark set by Garo.

*Sigh* Few shows excelled in the realm of suck-age and melodrama than did Ultraseven X…

I think a large part of what made Garo so special, was the fact that it was the product of director/writer/artist Keita Amemiya’s truly wondrous imagination.

Over the years I’ve seen nearly all of Amemiya’s movies, and while many of them are poorly scripted and acted, the man’s art design remains some of my favorite in all of film.

Case in point, Zeiram, one of the most iconic characters in Amemiya's portfolio.

I’ve always said, if there was one director I’d like to see be given a chance to work with a Hollywood budget, it’d have to be Keita Amemiya.

That being said, Garo represented a rare occasion wherein the script, costuming, and effects all came together exceptionally well.

The characters were memorable and arched very nicely, and unlike many tokusatsu shows that run out of steam later in the series, the 25 episode length proved to be just about perfect, even if the last episode turned out to be 30 minutes of pure action.

Not that I have a problem with that sort of thing.

In the intervening years since Garo wrapped, a pair of movies have been released, but no series was announced until a few months ago.

The first of these movies, the 2007 Beast of the White Night, stands as perhaps the crowning achievement of the franchise.

It’s action-packed, accessible, concise, exceptionally imaginative in terms of effects and stunt work.

The second movie, the 2010 3D film Red Requiem, is currently on my hard drive, though I have yet to watch it.

I’ve heard it’s kind of a misstep when compared to the level of quality yielded by everything that’s come before it,

When everything else in the franchise is nothing short of “excellent” though, I’d be curious to see what a “misstep” looks like.

That being said, as of a few weeks ago, Garo has returned to Japanese television in the form of Garo Makai Senki AKA Garo Supernatural Chronicles.

I’ve only watched the first episode so far, but it appears the series is on track for greatness once again.

The original Garo hit it’s stride for me around episode 7, and then only continued to get better from there, especially in episode 9 when they finally gave the character a bad-ass theme song… And a horse:

So far Makai Senki is a little on the slow side, definitely making more use of the horror elements in it’s storytelling than the action, but time will tell if it ascends in quality from here or not.

Regardless, I’m just glad Garo’s back, as now I finally have something to fill the tokusatsu gap in my life.

I gave up on Kamen Rider after Den-Ou on account of every show sucking balls after that.

I gave up on Ultraman ’cause frankly, they don’t make Ultraman shows anymore, just silly, over-budgeted movies.

I never gave up on Garo though, so here’s hoping they didn’t give up on me.

Filed under: Movies, Tokusatsu, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

What Happened To Theme Songs?

Remember, back in the day, when every movie/TV series/cartoon had a cheesy self-titled theme song to go with it?

I miss those days.

I miss the days when (almost) every James Bond movie would have a goofy song of the same name as it’s theme.

I miss the days when the opening lyrics of my Saturday morning cartoons would remind me every .125 seconds of what the hell I was watching.

I miss the days when Kamen Rider would ride into battle to a triumphant theme song bearing his name.

Something happened to the traditional self-titled theme song in the past decade or so, and by golly; I’m upset.

Don’t get me wrong, theme songs still exist, especially for cartoons, it just makes me sad that culture has seemingly trended towards out-moding them in the mainstream.

Some time in the mid-80’s, a few years before I was born, it seemed like everything had a dumb self-titled theme song to go with it.

In example, I give you the (awesome) theme song for Cat’s Eye:

Cat’s Eye was an exceptionally shitty Stephen King movie by the way.

Not as bad as The Langoliers or anything, but nowhere near “good.”

Moving on, for the requisite sports drama; we have Sammy Hagar’s not quite named after the movie, but close enough theme song for Stallone’s¬†appropriately titled, Over The Top:

While many of the songs of this era were kind of shitty, I always found it kind of cool that they were obviously written specifically for the production they were used in.

It shows that someone cared enough about the production to make a song dedicated to it.

As silly as that sounds, I think that’s kind of neat.

These days it seems like, anime, tokusatsu, movies, and TV shows no longer have “traditional” theme songs, rather they simply have some sort of pop song in it’s place.

Kamen Rider used to have self-titled themes for all of it’s iterations up until the 2000’s, when the themes seemed to stop making mention of the title character.

To be fair though, Kamen Rider theme songs seem to have been produced specifically for the shows they’re used in, as evidenced by the lyrics typically being firmly rooted in the core themes of the show, as well as occasionally being sung by some of the cast members:

What really grinds my gears though, is when pop song themes don’t really have anything to do with the production they’re used in besides serving as a musical motif in the soundtrack.

My best guess is, across all aspects of the film medium; this is done for economic purposes, but I ask you:

Does fuckin’ Linkin Park really hold a candle to the old Transformers theme?

Didn’t think so.

And by the way, no, I’m not going to embed the Linkin Park song for you ’cause… Well, just ’cause.

If there was any one thing I could wish for in Transformers 3, it’d have to be the inclusion of the Gen 1 theme song in some form.

Well, that and I suppose it would be nice if the movie didn’t suck.

Anyway, this has been a retarded rant, hopefully you all aren’t confused and/or angered by it.

Filed under: Movies, Tokusatsu, Uncategorized, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

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