Team TokuNet Writer Robin Caine shared his experience attending the Lupinranger VS Patranger stage show in Tokyo.
I was in Japan last week and was able to purchase tickets to the Lupinranger VS Patranger hero show at G-Rosso, which is a theater at Tokyo Dome that features live thirty minute plays featuring the Super Sentai of the year. The theater itself is rigged with special equipment, moving stages and props, and lighting just to create visually spectacular effects. From what I understand, the story of the show changes every other month.
Since this is a live show, it’s important to purchase tickets in advance to select your seats. It can be hard to enjoy the spectacle if you’re too far in the back. If you arrive too early, feel free to walk around the area, there are dozens of shops everywhere such as the JUMP shop or even the shop right next to G-Rosso which actually sells a lot of tokusatsu merchandise.
Besides the theater in G-Rosso, there’s actually a wall of Super Sentai posters to the left side.
At least 30 minutes before the show starts, I recommend you stand in line. You’ll get to see an entrance of Lupinred walking through the door and doing his roll call gesture and pose, as well as greeting the audience who patiently stands in line. While walking in you can shake his hand and even catch a photo of the suited actor. I unfortunately wasn’t able to get a nice photo. Speaking of photos, it’s important to know that when the show starts, photos and filming is strictly prohibited as with most theatrical shows.
Once settled in your seats, a staff member will be holding a box of caramel popcorn with a Lupinranger VS Patranger design. I opted not to purchase one, however. After waiting for a few more minutes, the show finally began!
The show opened with two characters, male and female, the former playing the guitar and the latter playing the tambourine, who sing in a happy tune about bringing joy to people all over the world. I honestly felt like I walked into the wrong play but then again, I’m sure everything would make sense in a few minutes. I’m glad I bet on that as all of a sudden, a Gangler, the monsters featured in the TV series, appears to disrupt the harmony. I could not hear a word he said because a few kids sitting in my aisle began to cry. The singing couple revealed that they used to be a part of this Gangler’s gang, but they want to stop hurting people and instead bring smiles to children everywhere.
The Gangler is then joined by his tiny minions who attacked the traveling musicians, but luckily the duo was skilled enough to defend themselves. The fight choreography was very organized and impressive in this scene, as we could see all the actors fight from the raised platform in the background to the lower front area, utilizing the entire area.
The musicians then looked cornered with no chance of escaping, looking like the Gangler will get his way. However, the Lupinrangers: Lupin Red, Lupin Blue, and Lupin Yellow, descended from the ceiling via a rope, an entrance that made the audience clap in awe. The fashionably caped thieves stole the show! Pun intended of course. Lupin Red announced that they’ll be taking the Gangler’s treasure, while fighting off the little minions, with sound effects of blasters and gun bullets, and lights, that helped illustrate the gun fight. During this fight scene, the musicians were able to exit the stage.
The fight continued, as the phantom thieves “dropped” enemies into hidden floors until only the Gangler was left. I believe what happened next was every character exited the stage in a fighting stance, meaning the scenery was about to change.
Once again, we met up with the two musicians who managed to escape the ambush, or did they? The Gangler managed to catch up with them and then absorbed the two characters to become a much more stronger monster. The three thieves then enter the scene but are overpowered by the much bigger and badder Gangler. But then, lights go dark and a spotlight is centered at the very middle of the stage! A short clip from a projector shows a silver hero entering the scene descending from the top as the sound of the helicopter accompanied the entrance: Noel, Lupin X. He helps even the odds against the new Gangler, managing to be able to fight the entire army of minions by himself.
While the new and improved Gangler looks like he’s about to be defeated, he brings out an instrument, a flute, that plays a sinister tune. X tells everyone to not listen, as this could mind control the entire team into doing the monster’s bidding. Only Lupin Red and X managed to avoid being subdued, while the other two thieves turn mindlessly against them.
While Lupin Red and X were occupied defending themselves against Lupin Blue and Yellow’s attack, the Gangler escaped. Red, who had mixed emotions, about fighting his team, could not bring himself to harm them, but doing so, he was injured during battle. Knowing this, X kicked Red into one of the floor holes, while the former followed him, jumping back first into the pit with his guns still firing back against Blue and Yellow. The scene ends and all actors exit the stage.
The lights then focused on the center aisle of the theater, where the Patrangers are seen investigating the events that went on. The suit actors inquired our help, asking if we’ve seen anything. I thought this was especially a nice touch as this allows the audience in the back to be a part of the show as they were too far from the front stage to see the action up close.
Speaking of the front stage, we see Lupin X helping an injured Lupin Red escape. We see a touching moment where the latter asks himself why he couldn’t bring himself to fight off, or rather, kill his comrades. The silver hero then tells him, it’s because they are his comrades that he can’t and instead of fighting them, the two should work together to break them out of Gangler’s spell. They are then spotted by the Patrangers, who of course rush into to apprehend the thief. They notice that Noel, X, is with them and begin to suspect his alignment between the two teams. The stunt actor walks into the center of the stage, and form changes into his Gold form. This transformation scene is pretty nifty, stage smoke masks the appearance of the actor, and a sliding door rises vertically from the ground after the sound effects of his transformation are finished, the door returns to the floor and reveals Patren X.
The Gold cop then helps out the Patrangers subdue an already weakened Lupin Red. Right before the cops can read him his rights, the sound of people in danger are heard and the faint laugh of the Gangler echo. Unable to ignore the cries for help, the Patrangers leave behind Patren X to apprehend the red thief as the Patrangers rush to help civilians.
We are then taken to a city background, where the Patrangers manage to arrive on time. Patren #1 rushes forward to take down the Gangler guns a blazing, but all of a sudden, he’s shot from behind by Patren #2 and Patren #3. What happened!? The Gangler brings down a projector screen and screens a short film for us. A logo that parodies the Toei Company waves and rock movie opening displays on the screen. It turns out that, moments ago Patren #2 and Patren #3 were investigating G-Rosso, but was then hit by the Gangler’s mind controlling flute. In other words, this whole time Patren #2 and Patren #3 were pretending to be investigating a crime scene alongside Patren #1 but it was just a ruse to destroy the red hero.
Patren #1 is cornered by his own teammates and can’t bring himself to fight back. But luckily, he is joined by Patren X and a reluctant Lupin Red. Of cours,e the brainwashed Patrangers are joined by the brainwashed Lupinrangers. In order to bring them back to their senses, Patren #1, Lupin Red, and Lupin X go to us, the audience for help. In order to bring back the Lupinrangers back to their senses, the red thief asks us to yell “Lupinranger!” as loud as we can. In contrast, Patren #1 asks us to do the same, but to shout “Patranger!” instead. Then lastly, they both asks us to pick one: Lupinranger or Patranger, and shout their team name as loud as we can. I find myself getting too into it, and yelling alongside the audience. I picked the Lupinrangers.
Alas, the spell is broken! We did it! We saved our heroes from their brainwashing. Commence awesome fight scene!
The two teams split up in order to take down the Gangler and his crew, and we are then given a really awesome roll call from the Lupinrangers, followed by the Patrengers. However, since Noel is the newly introduced character in the series, his roll call was extra special. From the top right of the stage, he swings on a rope down into the center of the bottom stage. It was really cool and fantastic.
Once again, the fight choreography for everyone was amazing. The action scenes involved solo stunts for each Sentai member, utilizing the top of the stage as well as the bottom of the stage. It was difficult to pay attention to all of them, but I ended up paying the most attention to LupinRed’s actor because his stunts involved so much parkour.
After all the minions were defeated, it was then time to finish the Gangler. The powered-up Gangler turned out to be way stronger than the entire team put together. Even after all the effort to bring the entire team back together, the monster just wouldn’t back down. But, then, two familiar voices somehow disrupt the movement of the evil-doer. The musicians, who are somehow able to stop the monster’s movements, allowed enough time for the Lupinranger to steal its treasure. Removing the treasure allowed the traveling duo to separate themselves from the monster’s control, allowing our heroes to end the monster. The Rangers called for the power of the audience, and together we made the shape of a gun with our hand, and on a count of three, we all shouted “bang,” ending the monster’s reign.
With the monster out of the way, the cops resume their chase of the phantom thieves. All is back to normal. Noel brings the two musicians to an island and actually put their wrists together, ready to be apprehended and taken into custody. Our silver hero tells them he’s not going to arrest them because he wants the two to continue spreading joys and laughter to the rest of the world.
The show ends with a Sentai-ish singing and dance. I honestly did not see that coming.
If you are ever in Japan and want to check out a live show, I highly recommend watching a Super Sentai show at G-Rosso. The experience is really great and it feels like watching Super Sentai on TV, and the use of live special effects really does enhance the feel of what “tokusatsu” means.