My Personal Picks For Toei's Most Ambitious Toku Shows From Showa To Heisei
As the Reiwa era is about to enter -- I'd like to talk about a couple of shows where Toei just got overly ambitious one way or another. Here's my personal opinion and some of them may actually be true. So just read on and feel free to add your personal picks or to disagree with me...
Super Sentai is what I'd call a series where innovation really either hits or miss because you gotta sell more robots and weapons, right? Well, there was a time I actually enjoyed Super Sentai for actually getting THAT ambitious. Now it's time to consider Super Sentai along with some Metal Hero and Kamen Rider shows that I thought got too ambitious and perhaps too ambitious for its own good.
Dengeki Sentai Changeman
This series could be considered to be a hugely ambitious series for this reason -- CGI special effects was still at its infancy. Remember all the stop-motion and sketches used from Gavan, Sharivan and Shaider? Changeman really was bound by the constraints of lower class special effects since it was still 1985 and Bioman's CGI wasn't so good either. Remember when they had to use a real fire sword in contrast to today where CGI flames are now used? Changeman took the ambition quite far with both the space and military theme. While special effects were not yet that developed but I believe it actually allowed Super Sentai to pursue newer stuff. One of them had to be the rather frightening rubber suit monster designs for many of its monsters, the nightmare fuel and insane action. Should I mention how Star King Bazoo can be that scary? The villains were pretty much scary such as Commander Giluke, Bubba, Shiima and not to mention game changer Ahames. This was just the start of Hirohisa Soda's desire for higher ambition -- something he already was cultivating from Goggle V up to Bioman.
Not satisfied with Changeman -- the series decided to actually well have a bit more spacey theme with Flashman. Five children were rescued by inhabitants in the Flash Solar system which I love to call as a "lost galaxy". 20 years later these children would return to Earth as Flashmen to defend it from Mess -- the very same organization that caused them to be separated from their parents in the first place. So it's the late 80s and CGI was starting to develop but not enough for that time -- it was actualy trying to exceed limitations yet again! Tons of really good action and I say very good action. The five children did end up having civilian superpowers such as unusual leadership, super strength, wall scaling, a sharper mind and gravitational control. The monsters were also pretty creepy-designed and the villains had very impressive designs where they be suit villains (such as the Zorors are that scary with their bug eyes) or the human villains. There were also plenty of good fight scenes such Sir Kaura living through the fatal exchange of blows with Red Flash!
Kamen Rider Black, Hikari Sentai Maskman and Metalder
These three shows belong to 1987 -- one year that had three overly ambitious shows. Maskman aired first, Metalder aired next and Kamen Rider Black aired third during that year. So how do these three show stand?
Maskman is yet another ambitious show and I heard there's some mixed reception. The show featured the first love story (but sorry I still think Jetman's Ryu and Rie were better written, no offense) between Takeru and Ial. For me, the superior Takeru will always be Red Mask though newer fans prefer Shinken Red. The show started to feature what I'd call the martial arts trilogy which would be followed up by the two heavily Chinese Kung Fu inspired Dairanger and Gekiranger. This series also had more complex villains such as Igam who was raised to be a man and Emperor Zeba who has extremely strong nightmare fuel going on.
Metalder was basically rethinking Metal Hero after both Juspion and Spielban didn't do as well as the first three space sheriffs. I admit, I didn't even find Spielban that good in contrast to Sharivan and Gavan. Heck, I don't even find Shaider that good. Juspion was okay though but not as good. But Metalder? Well it's a hugely ambitious reimagination and perhaps too ambitious for its own good. It featured darker plots, a reverse identity (since Ryusei Tsurugi is but a disguise to Metalder's true form) and some really darker villains such as Emperor God Neros. I heard that the show didn't click so well which resulted to the show getting rushed up to 39 episodes rather than a whole year run. There was much it could have developed but sigh. At least it got vindicated by history!
Kamen Rider Black should be considered an ambitious remake -- so ambitious that its sequel Black RX tends to get too much unfair hate. Okay, I do think Black RX is an inferior sequel (and it has several loose ends to tie) but come on you gotta cut it some slack especially it's still miles better than Saban's biggest old shame Mashed Rider! Black itself was trying to be self-contained, tried to have really scary designs but there was some midseason changes that were for better or for worse. I still think that Bilgenia was a cool villain whose concept just got written off in favor of the more boring Shadow Moon. Shadow Moon is the first evil Kamen Rider (I'll give him that) but Kamen Rider Ouja (who's basically Bilgenia with the Kingstone) puts him to shame if you ask me. For me this (and Black RX) are the only Showa-era Riders I actually like. Somehow, I'd still rather be watching new school Kamen Rider over old school Showa era Kamen Rider
Sekai Ninja Sen Jiraiya
Not really your typical Tokusatsu now is it? Jiraiya tries to do something new to break the mold. Okay, I've seen at least three episodes and I think I think I want to see more. Jiraiya seeks to stop the Sorcerers Clan while facing other ninjas. Now I wonder will Jiraiya please inspire Toei to create a full season ninja Kamen Rider? Ninninger should've had a two-parter with Jiraiya if you ask me!
Choju Sentai Liveman
It's no secret that I'm really a fan of Liveman even when I could go ahead and name some weaknesses like the show's rather weaker finale. But there's one thing Liveman tries to do -- it makes you think about not just the battle of good science vs. evil science but also all about what life is all about. There's also that really good plot of Gou's redemption (and Bias' death before a cross was really a symbol of his own moral decay) in the final episodes which really makes it even more fun to watch. It makes you think of how the Livemen find meaning in their lives in contrast to Volt where they only care about power. It does summarize Hirohisa Soda's first two shows Bioman and Flashman about science -- science without conscience is meaningless!
Mobile Cop Jiban
The success of Robocop can be considered to be the very reason why Jiban was born. Okay, Jiban fights monsters of the week -- something Robocop doesn't do. The story has Naoto Tamura a rookie cop who gets murdered by a Bioron and becomes a Robocop himself. Difference is Jiban has a lighter tone than Robocop ever will have. Jiban uses his former human self as a disguise and sheds it off when he fights the Bioron monsters.
Kosoku Sentai Turboranger
Yeah I know I may raise some eyebrows and some praise here, right? Turboranger has to be one show I'd say is absolutely highly ambitious. Soda not willing to get stuck with the science theme from Goggle V up to Liveman decided to try teenagers with attitude fighting evil forces. The premise is pretty much where an ancient evil is released after 20,000 years and decide it's time to conquer Earth. The Turborangers are but teenagers who must fight the Bouma while doing their homework. The show did suffer from some issues such as Real Life Writes Plot (which resulted to the Three Bouma write-off) and the arrival of the Nagare Bouma. The show was also were Soda was said to have started to burn out and well we know how Fiveman turned out -- it nearly ended Super Sentai!
Chojin Sentai Jetman
I wonder how true is it that Jetman was supposed to be the final Super Sentai series? If so then why is it that hugely ambitious? Toshiki Inoue finally got assigned his first headwriting job before Kamen Rider Agito. He went as far as to create an atypical team where Ryu a brave soldier must team up with four random strangers to defeat the Vyram. The Vyram didn't have much backstory but made up with the intensity of issues like Radiguet himself has to be one of the most evil Super Sentai villains or the love story of Ryu with Rie. The team has some dynamic conflict and chemistry such as Ryu's dilemma, Kaori's unrequited feelings for Ryu, Gai's unrequired feelings for Kaori -- these were plenty of character development right there! The show got so popular that anything else that followed felt like it was overshadowed for some time.
Kyoryu Sentai Zyuranger
I would dare call Zyuranger to be very ambitious for this reason -- Jetman was a tough act to follow. Noboru Sugimura was one involved with Jiban now wanted to make a Super Sentai more appealing to children. I know some people complain that Zyuranger has too much "child of the week" but the series itself is still hugely ambitious. It was trying to get out of the mold of Jetman and started introducing more cool-looking animal-like mecha, cooler weapons, the first sixth ranger that would have a bigger impact in Burai and rangers who are not typical. The Zyurangers aren't military, civilians or teenagers with attitude (like the Turborangers) -- they ARE warriors of Ancient Mankind who must adjust to this current day. While it was once overshadowed by Mighty Morphin' but it did get some vindication later in history -- the success of Zyuranger DVD sales allowed Shout! Factory (and Haim Saban) to sell more Super Sentai DVDs! Sure, it's not solid gold but you can't deny that no Zyuranger no Shout! Factory Super Sentai DVDs and no Mighty Morphin' either!
Winspector, Solbrain, Exceedraft and Janperson
This is what I'd call the "overly ambitious Metal Hero series" that made everything else a tough act to follow! Yup when you innovate something so good -- just expect a lot of new school innovative thinking not to click immediately! So how did these shows kick off?
Winspector aired alongside Fiveman in 1991. Fiveman nearly ended Super Sentai due to lower ratings and toy sales and Jetman saved the franchise. Winspector was so good that Solbrain became its sequel. Then it was followed by a third installment called Exceedraft. So how did these shows become overly ambitious? They weren't your typical Metal Hero series. They were more of shows that would ignore having a central villain organization, most of the episodes focused on crimes of the week (and sometimes the supernatural kicks in in all three shows) and the heroes aren't really all that powerful. Remember how Winspector introduced the six-limit break that's potentially fatal to the protagonist Ryoma? Solbrain and Exceedraft somehow corrected that mistake.
Exceedraft can also be considered hugely ambitious too. The series started putting more of the supernatural than Winspector and Solbrain can ever do. In fact, it was supposed to be its own continuity yet Captain Masaki was later made a last-minute guest for some reason. Exceedraft would later have aliens and then the arrival of Iwao Daimon who I'd dub as Satan disguised as a very handsome businessman. The whole team also tried doing a literal lightspeed rescue when they actually try to defy time by running like Flash in DC Comics in their suits.
Then we have Janperson which is considerably dark for a child's show. Sure, Jiban was the first Robocop inspired Metal Hero but I'd pick Janperson any day. There's a new guy in town and his name is Janperson -- serve the public trust, protect the innocent and uphold the law! Visually, he's obviously inspired by Robocop except he's got no human past. There's also obvious references to Hollywood films such as Terminator (first episode), Reiko is obviously a promoted Juliette Faxx and Tatewaki is obviously Clarence Boddicker promoted from secondary to main antagonist.
Gosei Sentai Dairanger
Yet another ambitious series which I say was trying to improve Maskman's martial arts and aura power concept. This time it was using mythical animals and the second series written by Sugimura. Sugimura also had help from Inoue (Jin arc), Naruhisa Arakawa (Three Idiots) and Kunio Fuji (Ah My Goddess arc). The series has plenty of good choreography and badass moments whether it'd be the main cast or the stuntmen. They were doing plenty of their fight scenes which I think had a bigger budget than usual. Special effects were also well-spent on. The show also explored mystery after mystery though the way it ended seems to have audiences left to their imagination. Yet I can't deny how this series continued the Super Sentai DVD releases!
Choriki Sentai Ohranger
The series was meant to be the darkest, most serious Super Sentai though this series practically got hit by Real Life Writes Plot. The first episode showed how it had all its potential to be one serious series but we know what happened. The Sarin Gas incident happened and the show had severe mood swings -- happy in one episode and serious in another! The ratings were getting low due to that. However, said show just got vindicated by history as Super Sentai DVD sales were still successful.
Gekisou Sentai Carranger
One shot parody anyone? Well the head writer Yoshio Urasawa wasn't really well-received and the show did little to improve ratings. It just went up from 4.4 to 4.8 but like Ohranger -- toy sales were well-received so the show still managed to do something. The show had several cool-looking merchandise and really badass car designs. The villains were pretty atypical considering how they were usually even more brainless than regular superhero villain shows. Their only task is to blow the Earth up yet they never figure out a good plan -- couldn't they just gather uranium and blow the Earth up?! Fortunately, Carranger DVD sales kept everything going forward making it a series Vindicated By History.
Denji Sentai Megaranger
The series that supposedly saved Super Sentai by normalizing the ratings. The team of Junki Takegami, Yasuko Kobayashi and Arakawa as its major writers. The show was trying to sum up everything during Hirohisa Soda's era such as teenagers with attitude to the science theme. The show tried to improve on Turborangers' teenagers theme except they weren't fighting an ancient menace. Instead, they were fighting extradimensional beings who happen to have a human in Dr. Hinelar as its second-in-command. The show also tries to expound more on life like Liveman did. Super Sentai's ratings were normalized after this show!
Kyukyu Sentai GoGoFive
What do you get when Winspector and Fiveman get together? You have GoGoFive! The show is what I'd call trying to correct almost everything wrong with Fiveman while making Matoi more of a Drill Sergeant Nasty than your typical calm-headed red ranger like Gaku was in Fiveman. The show had the rescue theme inserted into Super Sentai in such a way though the sibling theme tends to overshadow it. The show tried to show how mature Super Sentai can get, presented really badass looking mecha (which may have given good toy sales) and the unity of a family.
Kamen Rider Kuuga
We know where Black RX ended -- the longest hiatus that Kamen Rider ever had was 11 years! We know that Kamen Rider Super-1 caused a six year hiatus before Black arrived. We know that it took four years before Kamen Rider Skyrider came after Kamen Rider Stronger. But Kuuga actually succeeded where the one-shots didn't -- REVIVE KAMEN RIDER! Shotaro Ishinomori had died in 1998 and two years later his creation would be revived. What was truly amazing was that writing Kamen Rider in a whole new mold (J-Drama style) did wonders. At first, I didn't like the idea of the monster usually getting destroyed in the second half (which was the case of Den-O) and I didn't immediately like Kamen Rider Decade (which was composed of mostly two-parters as if Dairanger didn't have a lower monster count) but this show revived the long-dead franchise. Also, it was Arakawa's time to shine as a head writer and Inoue was also involved too!
Mirai Sentai Timeranger
I would always call this the Magnum Opus of Kobayashi in one way or another. Sure, I'm a fan of Shinkenger, I've warmed up to ToQGer a few years later, Gingaman is a fantastic series all the while I think Kobayashi did her best with Timeranger. The show was pretty much atypical in one way or another such as how the show was more of making fate itself the main villain more than anything. The villains and the heroes are quite atypical. The heroes want to fight for a better tomorrow all the while the villains have their own agendas. The show has plenty of drama going on and I heard that younger children didn't like it as much as the older audience. Toy sales weren't good. Hmmm I guess this show also proved that good reviews doesn't automatically equal to toy sales? In my case what I somewhat dislike about later Super Sentai is the writing styles though most of them still do good! I just wonder why Inoue didn't get to write more episodes here too?!
Kamen Rider Agito
I know there's a lot of hate for this show later on due to "Duh it's Inoue so it sucks!" But let me tell you that this is what I'd call a sprawling, ambitious tapestry that deserves respect! Yeah, I know there's issues like Hojo (yes him) who I thought should've been acted by Shinji Kasahara who acted as Naoto/Time Fire in Timeranger. The show was atypical since it was yet again more of a fight against fate than anything else. The Lords are villains but not really villains -- they end up murdering people with the Agito Seed since they felt like that human evolution shouldn't allow humans to evolve into Agito. The show also has the very question of both sides of the two Overlords -- Light and Darkness represent day and night. The Darkness Overlord is not evil -- he's rather only concerned with how humanity could fall down if they evolve into Agito. The Light Overlord is pretty much Prometheus who gave the forbidden gift to mankind. For me this is Inoue's best series!
Hyajakuu Sentai Gaoranger
Growl! Basically the very series that started to redefine Super Sentai after Timeranger ended. Timeranger is probably hailed as a masterpiece by older fans yet not so much by the younger fans. Gaoranger started to introduce the multi-gattai formula that redefined Super Sentai mecha. Rather than having primary and secondary robots -- the Gao Animals would serve as replacement limbs for several robots to come. The concept got so successful that multi-gattai has been the new nearly perfect winning formula for Super Sentai toy sales for quite some time!
Kamen Rider Ryuki
This series had a lot of potential if it wasn't for those meddling executives! Yes, it's obvious that Kobayashi wanted to kill everyone and the ending was obviously altered? WHY DID YOU DO THAT EXECUTIVES? The series featured the Rider War (and some way it was a Writer War between Kobayashi and Inoue) where the survivor gets the wish. It seems that Inoue introducing Megumi felt more like executives forcing him to write her in than anything else! The series has potential for a lot of cool villains such as Gai and Ouja -- though I wish Gai lasted longer. Then the series has you questioning a lot of stuff. So seriously executives why did you forcibly press the Reset Button huh?! It's better if all the dead characters stayed dead to show how bad the war was. Hmmm did parents riot at Toei HQ and force the reset button which was probably NOT Kobayashi's original plan? I guess Inoue too wanted to do the same thing but was denied the privilege.
Ninpuu Sentai Hurricanger
Hurricanger is basically Liveman meets ninjas, right? The formula did try to return to a more basic premise with the mecha while introducing those "Pokeballs" that served as additional toys for the franchise. The show also has some really good cast such as Nao Nagasawa whose stuntwork I really admire a LOT -- not especially when she shows she's not mere eye candy! The show also has several flashy mecha to brag about. While the formula for the mecha isn't a win that much for toys -- I can't deny Hurricanger was trying to get intense action back as much as possible!
Kamen Rider Faiz
All episodes written by Inoue. After some time I think Faiz still deserves some merit for one thing -- Inoue wanted to make it his darkest series ever! I know it's got some critics such as sudden twists and turns. However, I think that it also makes you question the morality of mankind and Orphnochs as both sides show how fallen they are. You have Kusaka who manipulates everyone for his convenience -- making him more evil than the Orphnochs he hates while Takumi who is an Orphnoch has been more human! I always felt Kusaka himself is Inoue's attempt at improving Timeranger's Captain Ryuya. Kohei Murakami makes Kusaka come alive in such a way he's a villain you'd love to hate!
Bakuryu Sentai Abaranger
Rather than ride on the success of Zyuranger -- Abaranger was trying to be its own dinosaur Super Sentai! The show itself is Arakawa's first try on Super Sentai after he successfully pulled off Kamen Rider Agito. The show was now trying new stuff by mixing dinosaurs with the multi-gattai formula. The show's success really managed to win Arakawa more headwriting responsibilities such as Dekaranger, Gokaiger and the mini-series Akibaranger. Now this makes me wonder why in the world wasn't Arakawa assigned to ToQGer instead?
Kamen Rider Blade
A series that really tried to maximize nightmare fuel at its highest. The idea of a battle royale was once again revived with this series. The series features the Undead which must be collected in order to set the world back in order. However, plenty of situations here such as good and evil Kamen Riders together with the Undead further complicate the story. I know Sho Aikawa tends to get hit or miss. For me, Aikawa here managed to write an interesting story -- in fact way more interesting than the rather overrated Boukenger.
Tokosou Sentai Dekaranger
A series that gives tribute to Metal Hero in many ways such as the Rescue Police and Space Sheriffs. The show deviates yet again from the Super Sentai writing formula by actually doing this -- monsters of the week are more of criminals of the week you seek to eliminate! The main villain Abrella doesn't hold an organization -- he's more of that overarching villain like Takaoka in Solbrain and Daimon in Exceedraft. The show's narrator does remind you of how stupid the Space Sheriff narrators are and I still want to shout, "SHUT UP!" Other than that -- Dekaranger is a pretty great show! So great that it had 10 Years After followed up by an appearance in Kyuranger as well as Dekaranger vs. Gavan.
Kamen Rider Den-O
A convoluted time travel plot? Maybe but Den-O itself may be called as "succeeding where Changerion failed". Both Den-O and Changerion had losers suddenly becoming heroes to fight a threat that's attacking Earth. There's some complex time travels. I remembered watching this and I always wondered why the Kamen Rider formula changed to mostly two-part arcs -- I was in denial that I actually did like it. Except that time I was actually still low on Toku sparks to fully appreciate the change. Still, it was nice to see Takeru Satoh's skills put to use whenever he becomes four different persons because of four different Imagins.
Kamen Rider Kabuto
Shoji Yomenura's one shot wonder anyone? I remembered watching bits and pieces of the Tagalog dub before I got stuck with Chinese and Korean series for a time. What really interested me one way or another was the Independence Day movie reference with the Harvester-looking like Worm aliens. Yup, I wonder if this guy was all it took to finish the Independence Day film. It also introduced some concepts such as some worms who have more humanity than humans and a villain whose human but proves himself lower than the Worms in terms of morality.
Gougou Sentai Boukenger
I know I've had shifts of moods with this show because some people actually dare to drag it down while others praise it too much. The show has a lot of adventuring to do and some major factions to fight during the 30th Super Sentai anniversary. Plenty of the enemies are designed after Super Sentai past mecha (and enemies) such as Ryuwon is obviously Daizyujin, Gaja is obviously a homage to Black Cross Fuehrer and the Questers are quite a throwback to Jetman's two guest villains. Well it's a show that's not afraid to be reckless as evidenced by the Boukengers getting into adventures while seemingly high on alcohol!
Jyuken Sentai Gekiranger
I may be a fan of Boukenger's wacky antics but I don't think it's as ambitious as this show. Gekiragner like Dairanger is a kung fu based show. Dairanger was giving tribute to the Chinese mythologies and kung fu. Now Gekiranger is giving tribute to kung fu cinema one way or another. How ambitious is this series? The show tries to do some kung fu with lots of Bandai merchandise, give us heroes who have to keep learning their power-ups and the rivalry of both Gen Juken and Rin Juken is a very interesting approach. It's too bad that the Michiko Yokote trio just couldn't do Goseiger as good as this series if you ask me!
Samurai Sentai Shinkenger
My opinion on it changes a lot. I used to think it was Kobayashi's best Super Sentai series but it was only because of the dumb and I mean VERY DUMB reason because Mako and Kotoha are hotter than Saya and Yuuri from Gingaman and Timeranger. It was many years before a samurai Super Sentai happened but it happened. Finally, the first samurai Super Sentai show and it has got to be one of the best. It was so good that I think Kamen Rider Decade's crossover with it was just an attempt to ride on Shinkenger's success but failed -- though said crossover is WAY BETTER than Mighty Morphin's crossover with Saban's Mashed Rider! The series itself has a lot of sword fights from both cast and stuntmen -- so I wonder why didn't Kazuo Niibori become Shinken Red for some selected scenes?
Kamen Rider Decade
Okay, I know I REALLY hate this series and I've called it a pseudo-sequel to Saban's Mashed Rider. However, Saban's Mashed Rider makes this series look like a masterpiece even if it had problems like sudden cancellation (episode 31) and I find the whole idea of Alternate Reality Kamen Riders a HEADACHE! Yet I can't deny that it really still put Saban's Mashed Rider to shame with its budget, Kamen Rider Decade still appears in later series (showing that he's nowhere near as trashworthy as Dex in Saban's Mashed Rider) and the crossover with Shinkenger puts "A Friend in Need" to shame even after Saban declared Mashed Rider to be an old shame.
Kamen Rider W
Kamen Rider Decade was really a wreck and lasted for only 31 episodes -- then you had to wait for months later for the movie and its finale crossover with Kamen Rider W called Movie War 2010. This was the show where Riku Sanjo first became its headwriter. The show surprisingly got the intended episode run and I'm glad it it did. It started introducing concepts such as Kamen Rider monsters that don't die after they are defeated. There are various guests of the week though I do still feel WTFed at Nao Nagasawa's role as a sexy magician -- perhaps the only thing I consider to be really weak in an otherwise strong show!
Kamen Rider Fourze
It's SPACE TIME! Yes, I really am a fan of this show. I don't care if some people didn't like it but I'm a fan of said show. Fourze itself is what I'd call succeeding where Kamen Rider Super-1 failed! Did a hiatus happen after Fourze? No! The show itself features the first high schooler Kamen Rider which just causes Saban's Mashed Rider to be further Rider Kicked into oblivion. The show did have some elements borrowed from Kamen Rider W while adding some lessons for teenagers. It's not your typical Kamen Rider but I'm a fan of it!
Kaizoku Sentai Gokaiger
Okay I don't like it whenever people feel like the show "instantaneously gives them knowledge" or calls it "the best series ever" but I'm still a fan of said show nonetheless. It brings a lot of nostalgia one way or another with bringing in past cast members from different era. I really love how Gokaiger really and I mean REALLY gives proper tribute. It's so diligently done that years later it still stands! Gokaiger has had future appearances such as Zyuohger's tribute (and recently I don't find myself rewatching said show in contrast to Gokaiger), the rather flawed Super Hero Taisen movie and Super Sentai Strongest Battle. If anything I think it's the best anniversary ever though I was in denial because some people just tend to praise it too much. Now I can be a fan of this show WITHOUT riding the bandwagon, get it?
Tokumei Sentai Go-Busters
Gokaiger is obviously a hard act to follow. This is where Kobayashi was more or less like Inoue -- she started showing signs of burning out. Also, I hate to admit it but as much as I like Naomi Takebe's job as a Kamen Rider producer BUT she just SUCKS with Super Sentai for most of her run! I also wish that this series had a little more ambition to actually become a Doomsday Super Sentai. Kobayashi was trying to return to darker and edgier with this show. The show had some forced comedy (such as Hiromu's fear of chickens) all the while there were really serious moments. So I wonder was the plan to make it a Doomsday Super Sentai shelved because 2012 was rumored to be the end of the world and they didn't want panic? Maybe. But still I'd regard this as Kobayashi getting highly ambitious to return more serious seasons back!
Kamen Rider Gaim
Kamen Rider Ryuki got ruined and yet Toei decided to bring back the concept of a Battle Royale in one way or another. So how did it turn out? Kamen Rider Gaim was the answer and while fruits x Kamen Rider is a rather weird mix -- it still created a good show because of Gen Urobuchi. I remembered I just felt like Super Sentai was going downhill for my taste. Kamen Rider Gaim came to the rescue with a really good show. I'm still looking forward to rewatching this show! I just love how the show may have some weak points yet it's really that enjoyable over all!
Zyuden Sentai Kyoryuger
Okay I'm not a fan of its writing style and I don't think that Sanjo did such a good job here. I always tend to complain about Daigo Kiryu becoming too focused by the writers and I'm not such a fan of the mecha design here either. I know I've had issues with Daigo Kiryu himself but WTF. I admit, the show is very heavy on its action scenes all thanks to Koichi Sakamoto's action directing. While I did say, "Not another dinosaur Sentai -- give me something else!" here but I do love the action-driven choreography the whole cast gets into. I can still honor a series I don't like personally for its merits!
Kamen Rider Drive
Yet another ambitious show and I don't really care what some people say. I'm a fan of Drive and I'm actually glad that Kamen Rider got a police season after some time! We had several police Metal Heroes, a police-based Super Sentai in Dekaranger so why not a Kamen Rider? I was fearful of how writer Sanjo would end up with it considering I'm not a fan of Kyoryuger (due to its writing) in spite of its really good action scenes. But what I'd say about this show? Not really as good as Gaim but still a decent follow-up. Plus, said crossover with Ninninger is pretty decent actually! Was Ninninger trying to ride on Drive's popularity?
Ressha Sentai ToQGer
Okay it's no secret that I initially disliked the series but the characters' likability always rubs on me one way or another! It's no secret that Kobayashi was really overworked at this point and it was basically turning into Kamen Rider Kiva 2.0. However, the series had one ambition that I believe is very important -- teaching Japanese children the importance of trains! That's why it won the Railroad Day Award. Still, I respect people who like it and don't like it. I may have grown warm to the series a few years later but I won't call it a flawless masterpiece either!
Ucchu Sentai Kyuranger
So I admit I don't find myself too fond of Kyoryuger, ToQGer (though I'm starting to like it now to a certain extent), Ninninger (which is only slightly better than Ninja Steel because of the absence of Victor and Monty, no summer break and its crossover with Kamen Rider Drive is pretty decent) and I have no intention to rewatch Zyuohger. Kyuranger itself is ambitious and has high toy sales. It takes place 300 years into some alternate future in a Universe ruled by Don Armage. I know it's not really as good as I wanted it to be but I do think Lucky is still an okay character -- I feel like he tends to get too much unfair hate because of the writers' tendency to focus too much on him. But still, Kyuranger decided to do a space theme Super Sentai after so many years!
Kamen Rider Build
I admit I wasn't exactly too happy with Kamen Rider EX-AID even if I do like it. Build happens to have some very heavy ambition going on. It takes place in a reality where Japan hits a somewhat post-apocalyptic scenario thanks to the Pandora's Box. Now Japan is divided into three countries and the whole world is at the risk of getting taken over by Evolt. I almost feel the vibes of the 80s movie Total Recall or Doom during the 90s because of the Mars expedition. It has a lot of political conflict and somehow the ultimate sacrifice that has to be made for the greater good!
Kaito Sentai Lupinranger vs. Keisatsu Sentai Patranger
Two Super Sentai seasons in one? You've got to be one ambitious person to do that! Sadly, the toy sales weren't as good as expected so again it proves that good audience reception (which is most likely by older fans who care more about the franchise and some of them don't bother about the toys) doesn't always translate to toy sales. The show was trying to deviate from the typical by doing a three vs. three match between two teams -- all the while they have a common enemy in the Ganglers. I would say that this show has a lot of good action scenes, two Net movies, one summer movie and you have to admit an upcoming mouthful crossover with Kyuranger. I just hope that the toys will get a surplus buying this time to make up for last year's lower toy sales -- which was most likely caused by surplus buying of Kyuranger toys!
What are your picks for the most ambitious Toku entries by Toei during the Showa to Heisei era before we enter the Reiwa era?