Malunis’ Top TokuNet Picks of 2021
Tokusatsu Network writer Malunis shares some of the notable news that came from 2021, a year arguably filled with revivals in many forms, as well as promise of new endeavors.
As we close out the year, it’s a time to reflect. A thing I notice about 2021 is that the news is very much centered around bringing things back that you never quite expected to come back, or at least that’s my take.
No.1: Fuuto PI, the manga-to-anime sequel to Kamen Rider W
I love me some W. The series has shown its persistence. Maybe not on the same level as Den-O, but it certainly has merchandise that’s proven popular. Remember when there were new Legend Rider Gaia Memories during Wizard several years later? Not to mention that one Premium Bandai set with a bunch of content that came from the show’s backgrounds, the novel, and maybe even were made just for the set. They can justify it. It sells.
Fuuto PI – known to many of us as Fuuto Tantei before now – is a manga that serves as an official continuation. It always seemed odd to me that Bandai wasn’t really cashing in on its existence, not even so much as re-releasing figures with a new logo. And now that we have this anime adaptation on the horizon, I suspect things will change.
I’ve only read the first story of the manga because its availability was scarce. With an anime, I’m definitely more likely to be able to find a way to view it, and I’m interested to see how this studio handles it. The visuals seen so far seem fairly promising.
We’re currently in an odd transitional period on this one, as we know that Fuuto PI will be made available overseas, however we don’t know what’s going to be happening with the manga itself, or even the original show, save for the first two episodes on the Toei Tokusatsu World YouTube channel. Such an enigma, that.
No.2: Shout Factory delivers on more of the hits
Shout doesn’t pop up as often as I’d like, but when they do, it’s with full releases. By all accounts, it sounds like their subtitles for Kuuga and Ryuki are solid, so they are shows I definitely recommend checking out! With Zero-One, we get our most recent series out of Shout, and a highly recommended one at that!
The discussion of importing Kamen Rider shows is a discussion that I frustratingly always complicate because to me, Kamen Rider is not just a TV show. We get movies, home media exclusives as magazine pack-ins, and proper movies with limited theatrical screening. Their importance as viewing material is admittedly usually optional, but I find it fun there’s so much to watch. To me, they’re part of the deal. The discussion of importing starts to get more complicated once you factor in crossover movies, because then you obviously need to import the shows involved in the crossover. This is to say nothing of the silence on Super Sentai‘s overseas releases.
What they’re doing is completely reasonable on Zero-One. It features the show itself, the hiatus material that aired in place of episodes, and the REAL x TIME movie. No crossovers, just things readily available and directly tied to the show.
There’s a discussion to be had about who owns what rights with all of these extras, as I know Dragon Ball has that issue when it comes to certain specials that never got overseas releases, but… suffice it to say, it’s very cool we’re really getting major progress with a new home media release.
No.3: The fabled collectible makes a comeback
With the new movie Ten Gokaiger, it was inevitable we’d see the return of another old favorite; Ranger Keys! Being a legacy item, you’d wanna see them continue for as long as they can. And to Bandai’s credit, they did – for a while. The last time we saw them was with the set released for Zyuohger, which basically got us caught up on Ninninger… and 3 previous Rangers that the Gokaigers transformed into in the Zyuohger crossover. Bit anticlimactic since it meant they deliberately chose not to add the Zyuohgers to the roster.
With the Memorial Edition release of the Mobilates, not only do we get nice releases of the Gokaigers’ main keys, we also get a lineup of all the leaders up to Zenkaiger. There is a desire to fill in what’s missing, but for now it’s a hopeful set. It shows us that there’s still a market for these.
No.4: Bandai opens their eyes to merch potential
Something I love to talk about, when it comes to merchandise, is the odd time when Bandai chooses NOT to cash in. It raises questions we will probably never know about the process of it all, however there was somewhat of a hint when it came to the crossover between Ghost and Saber.
In the second installment, we get the return of Specter, as well as his sister Kanon who transforms into Kanon Specter – her Rider debut! Premium Bandai revealed a set that featured the Specter-related Wonder RideBook, along with Kanon Specter’s Ghost Eyecon, and the odd inclusion of the Yuujou Burst Ghost Eyecon from the Specter v-cinema from years ago. This was used by Necrom for a new form, and as Bandai admitted when talking about the set, the Sin Specter Ghost Eyecon ended up being the item they focused on at the time. It wasn’t until now that they had the opportunity to finally release it.
The discussion of Ghost itself is overshadowed by the larger discussion caused by Bandai’s decision. They acknowledged that they’ve let a lot of things go unreleased, and would make an effort to change that if there’s enough demand. It can sometimes be a debate whether they’re intentional when they happen, but thankfully the DX toy blog has been confirming them: The Kamen Rider Zaia key set was already planned for a release already, but the DX Nadeshiko Driver and DX Progrise Key Set 3 were a direct result of this initiative.
No.5: Happy birthday
And perhaps one of the bigger pieces of news for fans of the Heisei era: Kamen Rider OOO gets a new movie! It’s exactly the kind of thing you dream of: several returning actors, new forms, and the return of the bird. I’m excited for it. To be fair, it’s not that unusual to do revival movies. In fact Super Sentai coined the title “10 Years After” for several, but it feels like Rider usually reserves those for movie cameos, or, at best, brief revivals – Gaim Gaiden from last year, for example. Because of this, OOO 10th not only has the medal hype, it also opens the door to more things like this. I’m very excited to see what they do for Fourze.
No year is perfect. Some are mostly awful. Everyone’s experience is different. But for me, the offerings from my favorite superheroes have been pretty wonderful this year. I look forward to what it leads to in the coming year.