Monday, July 19, 2010

Manpuku Shoujo Dragonet

http://dragonet.jp/

Manpuku Shoujo Dragonet or Dragonette, the title literally meaning "Full Health Girl Dragonet", is a new toku series from the people who brought you Garo and Cutie Honey. Only problem? No one on the non-Japanese forums seems to have mentioned it yet. (Note: I could be wrong, and thus am making myself look like an idiot posting this, but hey, whatever.)

Just finished watching the first 2 episodes, and I thought I'd give you guys a character breakdown/impression of the show so far.

THE STORY:

Tsukasagi Maya (17), Tsukasagi Mei (16) and Tsukasa Runa (15) are 3 sisters of a high class. The three work as detectives in their Aunt's (Tuskasagi Tokuko) Detective Agency. At the same time, they help out their parents in a Chinese Restuaurant which they own. Cases for the girls range anywhere from solving mysterious accidents, to tracking down lost puppies.

But why are these 3 High School girls so good at what they do? It is because these 3 have a certain special power. The 3 are actually descendants of the RyuuZoku (Dragon Clan) and have the ability to transform into the "Ryuu Senshi (Dragon Warriors) Dragonette."

The 3 sisters who crack cases by using the maximum power of the RyuuZoku. However, a mysterious shadow has fallen over the 3 sisters...

CHARACTERS:

THE HEROES (RYUU ZOKU/DRAGON CLAN):

Tsukasagi Maya (17 years old):

played by Kubo Yurika http://www.jmo.co.jp/profile/kubo_yurika001.htm

The master woman. She is the facilitator of the 3 Tsukasagi sisters. Works for her aunt Tokuko's Detective Agency with her sisters. As a descendant of the RyuuZoku she is blessed with certain special abilities, and she uses these efficiently to bring solutions to the crime. Her abilities include being able to read an object's memory, and superhuman strength.

Tsukasagi Mei (16 years old):

played by Uchida Ayaka http://www.weblio.jp/content/%E5%86%85%E7%94%B0%E3%81%82%E3%82%84%E9%A6%99

The second daughter. She is the most active of the sisters. She fights by using a Kenpo known as "Pikaichi". She is cautious before acting on anything. It is possible that she has the most ability to use the powers of the RyuuZoku.

Tsukasagi Runa (15 years old):

played by Momose Misaki http://www.horipro.co.jp/talent/PF109/

The third daughter. Out of the 3 sisters, she is the most obedient. However, she is also the worst at combat. Because of this she is often angry, and does not hide it. She has the ability to read minds, along with superhuman strength, but her abilities have certain limitations.

Tsukasagi Tamiko:

played by Miho Junhttp://talent.yahoo.co.jp/pf/detail/pp2369

Co-Owner of the RyuuOh Manseki (Dragon King Over Capacity), the Chinese Restaurant that her and her husband manage, and in which her 3 daughters help out. Her food delivery restaurant was an overnight hit. She and her husband are never seen not smiling.

Tsukasagi Tokuko:

played by Erikahttp://www.co-aza.net/erika/index.html

Tamiko's sister, and the girls' Aunt. She is the Head Detective of the Detective Agency which includes her and the 3 sisters. She used to be part of the Tokyo Metropolitan Police Department's Criminal Investigation Division. A Super-Beauty who catches the eye of men and women alike. Has absolutely no monetary sense, and is a weakling for the words "Five Star." As such, she spends money likes its going out of style. And as a result, the Detective Agency is usually in some sort of debt, but she never seems concerned about that. She still makes the 3 sisters pay for things though...

THE VILLAINS (TORA ZOKU/TIGER CLAN):

Gamou Shigeru:

played by Yoshimura Takuyahttp://www.amuse.co.jp/artist/yoshimura_takuya/

Descendant of the Tora Zoku. His IQ is somewhere past 200. The leader of the 4 existing Tiger Clan members. He finds it intolerable that fools are running the world, when people with excellent genes, like the Tora Zoku, can do so much better. The Tora Zoku have the ability to manipulate people's minds, making them work for them in acts of crime...

Kurashina Kengo:

played by Kawabata Isshihttp://ameblo.jp/isshi-kawabata/

Another descendant of the Tora Zoku, and also has an IQ that exceeds the 200 mark. Bright person, and a Sportsman.

Jinguuji Asanobu:

played by Tanaka Shigetohttp://news.goo.ne.jp/entertainment/talent/M08-1140.html

Another Super-Genius of a 200+ IQ, and a descendant of Tora Zoku. He is cool throughout any situation, and neither Kengo or Tetsuma can really comprehend his thoughts.

Gamou Tetsuma

played by Uji Kiyotakahttp://www.stardust.co.jp/profile/ujikiyotaka.html

Like the others, a 200+ IQ genius. Shigeru's younger brother. Because of that, he is often underestimated and unnoticed by the other three, and often tries to make them notice him, going to uncessary lengths to do so.

NON-CLAN CHARACTERS:

Tsukasagi Daizaburou:

played by Mie Haruhttp://www.asaikikaku.co.jp/profile/mieharu/

Co-Owner of the RyuuOh restaurant along with his wife, Tamaki. Father of the 3 sisters. He is a man who is always smiling, and whose only problem is he cannot spend more time with his wife, because they are so busy.

Shimizu Takumi:

played by Kawamura Ryousukehttp://www.asaikikaku.co.jp/profile/kawamuraryousuke/

A young man who was impressed with Daizaburou's cooking, and was made a disciple of his by force, becoming their deliveryman. He is hot-blooded, and has a crush on Runa. Motorcyles are his hobby.

Miyasaka Kennosuke:

played by Hassei Takanohttp://roughgroup.com/management.html

Section chief of the Tokyo MPD's Criminal Investigation unit. He was Tokuko's former Supervisor. He is always on the scene of the crime in the girls' cases, usually at odds with them, sometimes even calling them the criminals.

Kaitou Dalmation (Phantom Thief Dalmation):

A Tuxedo Kamen esque thief, with a Dalmation-colored mask, wearing a weird comibination of white shorts and a black suit jacket. He is not allied with anyone, but his powers seem to show he has some sort of ties to the Tora Zoku.

STAFF:

Directors: Hara Masayuki, Sanoto Moki, Kaneda Ryuu, Konaka Kazuya, Honda Ryuuichi (have worked in Garo, Ultraman, Cutie Honey, etc.)

Stunt Coordinator: Oosashi Akira (AAC Stunts) (worked on Cutie Honey, Kamen Rider The First, The Next, Skullman, Garo, etc.)

Writers: Amasawa Akira, Tamura Ryu, Shirado Tsutomu

Character Design: Yoshizaki Mine (Keroro Gunsou), Amemiya Keita (Garo)

Production: Deep Side (name a non-sentai toku show, they probably produced it. Production team of Garo and Cutie Honey the Live)

Opening Theme: Hariken Love by Jurian Beat Crisis

http://www.avexnet.or.jp/juribe/index.html

Ending Theme: Joob Joob by Neko Jump

http://www.starchild.co.jp/artist/nekojump/

Now for the Review Part!:

A Disclaimer:

If you have a natural aversion to Kawaii Culture, Moeism, or anything of that sort, this may not be the show for you. If you live under the belief/dillusion that toku should, and is meant to be, serious, this show is not for you.

If however, you are like me, and enjoy some fun, please, watch. Fans of Cutie Honey and Sailor Moon (the animated or live versions) should deal well with this show. Warning, I don't think anyone's subbing this, so if you hate raws...sorry.

THE GOOD, aka, The Reasons you should watch this show-

(CASTING):

First up, merely on shallow ground, we have Erika and Hassei Takano in the same show. That's right, crazy Lesbian Jaguar woman from Panther Claw, and Kamen Rider Raia/updated Nigo in the same show. Merely on awesome points, this should make you at least want to check out the show.

Both of them are playing different kinds of characters, at least different from what I'm used to seeing them as. Erika is a mysterious ditz here, a woman who enjoys money and acts stupid, but really has it all figured out. Her playing Tokuko here reminds me of Yuko from xxxholic quite a bit.

Hassei is totally different for me, playing this show's Stottlemeyer (come on Monk fans, I know you're still out there!). He's almost an Anti-Shotaro, which could be the case, since this is out the same as double, and the production team behind it is the one behind Kamen Rider. Anyway, he's pretty entertaining, if a little bit awkward at times, but I'll get to that.

As for the other characters. Well, they're okay. The acting in general in this show is awkward, and it's probably meant to be. Sans the villains, the characters are in mock of anime, so everything is almost, animated. Only 2 episodes in, so I don't want to criticize acting ability quite yet.

ACTION:

If you know AAC stunts, you know what they can do. The action is fast paced, fun to watch, and like in Cutie Honey, is more often than not played for humor, and it tends to be semi-sexual. The attacks the girls use are very much a sentai spoof, and scream "Magical Girl". But the action makes up for it.

HUMOR:

There's some funny stuff. Not laugh-out-loud yet like Cutie Honey, but I'm sure it'll get there. (Can't really beat Mark Musashi screaming curses, now can you?). One funny moment from ep one was Runa trying to match her sisters in jumping over a cabinet, and smacking right into said cabinet.

MUSIC:

The opening and ending songs are great. Catchy as hell, and possibly annoying to some for that reason. The opening credits is done as mostly anime, and the animation is actually pretty good. Hariken Love is a good song, at least it fits.

The ending song is really cool, mostly because it's in Chinese, and it's something totally different from the opening. Main character walking down street, very Hibiki-esque, but a lot more upbeat.

MOE FACTOR:

Like I said above, if you are scared or angered by Moe situations, not the show for you. The Dragonet sisters, when not in their scantily-clad leather armor forms, are in scantily clad school girl outfits. We never see their school, or at least we haven't yet...but hey, I'm not going to complain.

VILLAINY:

The villains are cool. There, I said it. The descriptions make them sound quite bland, and they kind of are, but in a good way. Unlike the girls, who descend from the Dragon Clan, the all boys villain club descend from the Tiger Clan. Instead of the moe-fashion, their transformation gives them vampiric-esque Tiger-teeth, and slit-eyes. It's a little corny, but they are intimidating.

The group actually reminded me of the Grongi a bit, if you fused them with Queen Beryl's reverse-harem of lackies. But cool.

FAMILIARITY:

The show feels like something you've seen before, in a good way. The characters almost feel like grownup Power Puff Girls, or at least, that's the direction I think they are heading in. 2 was a Mei focus, 3 is a Runa focus, and we haven't gotten a Maya focus yet, but I'm assuming that's coming. If you're a fan of Cutie Honey, you'll like this, but it doesn't quite have the undertone Cutie did yet. I think it will though, it's got the same staff, and some good people behind it.

Dalmation, whose identity we may or may not found out in episode 1, is very much a spoof of Tuxedo Mask. There's a bunch of things.

THE BAD, aka, WHAT I DIDN'T LIKE BUT MAYBE YOU WILL:

THE PARENTS:

People who know my opinions on Toku know I like my slapstick. But the parents...the parents here are far too stiff and goofy for my liking, right now. I'm sure, like Cutie Honey, we're going to get some darker backstory, and I'll be singing their praises. But for right now, they just seemed kind of blah. They didn't make me hate the show, but they just felt stale.

THE EFFECTS:

The effects are crappy. Not gonna lie. The show seems low budget, and the effects reflect that. Luckily, as I said before, the action more than makes up for it, and besides the henshin sequence, things like attacks are usually silly-on-purpose. The practical parts of the Henshin are all right, but the cgi dragons are just not up to snuff.

EPISODIC POSSIBLY...MAYBE?:

The show seems to be going a case-by-case basis, like with Double. Unlike Double however, the bad guys seem to have nothing to do directly with the cases, at least not yet. (Dalmation was the antagonist in ep 1, and in 2, Tiger Clan-controlled civilians did the thievery). As such, right now the show has this seperated feeling. Not bad, but I'll have to wait and see.

FINAL ATTACK RIDE:

I'll give this show, based on episode 1 and 2, a 6.5/10. It's certainly not bad. Rather entertaining actually, but as I always say, Tokusatsu should never be judged until you've at least seen past episode 10, at least 5. The backstory, if fleshed out, could be really good.

It seems they are going with some sort of Kung Fu influence, I think. It'll be interesting to see where all the plots go, and if they explain anything in depth. This could after all, just be a show for entertainment's sake, and hey, why's that so wrong? I'll be watching 3 in a bit. I think the review part was sort of basic, but I didn't want to spoil anything. More on this, and other stuff soon.

-Dukemon Out

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