February 21, 2011

Stats, Stat!

 I'm not going over my lines lol. I'm presenting the statistics of this very blog. 

 In the nearly year-and-a-half since I started this blog in the last truly summer days of 2009, I've found many surprises in the statistics of who visits, who comments, from where, and about what.

 Where are my visitors from? As of this posting, I've had over 3,000 visitors from the U.S., my near-second home, over 700 from my native Canada, nearly 400 from the U.K., over 200 each from Indonesia and Brazil, around 170 each from Germany and Russia, 145 from France, and nearly 110 each from Poland and Italy. I've also had many visitors from Spain, the Phillippines, the Netherlands, Malaysia, Portugal, Slovenia, and Singapore.

 Most of the referring URLS for my visitors are from Google, though quite a few come from my comments on Rangerboard, and some have clicked from Henshin Grid.

 Popular posts include the Columbo season reviews, Trademarks of Giallo Cinema, and my post on consumer product differences between Canada and the U.S.. But the most viewed post of all time on Straight From Chynna's Head is (drum machine roll)...

 I am immensely proud of this post. I spent many, many hours crafting a comprehensive comparison between the two very different series for those new to either can understand. Nailing down the main differences but being fair (hopefully) to both sides, this is probably the longest post I ever published. A couple have said that this comparison wasn't top to bottom, but that wasn't my intention anyway. The fact that the villain and fight footage taken from a very dark and serious show (save for "The Bandora Song", of course) was used for a light-hearted-but-still-awesome show is itself pretty amazing, since it all (and then some) worked out in the end. To this day this post still usually gets the most visits per month via Rangerboard.

 The best thing about the Zyuranger footage in MMPR is the late, great Machiko Soga as Bandora/Rita. Both voices are great, Soga's own voice being a dark take on the "grandmotherly" voice that works wonderfully with the character, and Barbara Goodson's putting the epicness into "Make my monster grow!", along with spawning the numerous jokes associated with the line. Just watching the Bandora footage with the sound off will give you an idea of how expressive Machiko Soga's face is. Ironically, Soga would overdub Goodson's voice when voicing Rita for the Japanese dub of MMPR. That's right, folks, Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers was dubbed back into Japanese with the American characters of Jason, Zack, Trini, Billy, Kimberly, Tommy, and even Bulk and Skull. From the Japanese perspective, though, it makes sense, considering Zyuranger was just another Sentai in Japan and not the smash hit MMPR was in America. Here is a snippet of the Japanese dub of the "Green with Evil" saga:

Thanks to Necroc for uploading this video.

And here's the pilot, "Day of the Dumpster" dubbed in Japanese as well. Enjoy!

Review - Power Rangers Samurai Episode 3 "Day Off"

 "Day Off" and its lesson of the day is something I take great joy in. Firstly, the setting at the amusement park is a shout out to the MMPR episode "No Clowning Around". That, and Bulk and Spike pigging out on their cotton candy (the original is in MMPR's first opening sequence!). I have said before that Spike doesn't seem to be a carbon copy of Skull. The scene with the Whack-a-Mole-like contraption sees Spike fly off the handle in trying to win the game. Skull, on the other hand, pretty much said what Bulk said and laughed all the time until the second season of MMPR, when Bulk and Skull, in an ongoing arc, try to discover the identities of the Power Rangers.

 The lesson of balance in life can very well resonate with myself. Being a workaholic who relaxes for a long time after long periods of work, I can pretty often find myself burnt out after a particularly long period of work. Like several Red Rangers before him, Jayden runs himself ragged trying to master a new power-up or weapon. With Jayden, however, his new beetle disc is the ultimate multitasker: a Cannon
Blast mode for his Fire Smasher, a new Beetle Zord, and therefore the Beetle megazord attachment to make the Beetle Zord. People have accused newer Sentai of mecha overload, but this case is quite a cutdown so far compared to numerous animal crystals of Wild Force, as well as the Power Spheres of Ninja Storm.

 Many fellow bloggers have commented that Samurai has followed Shinkenger very closely, though when we look at Wild Force staying close to the source material, there's such a thing as too close. Some of Power Rangers' most beloved seasons were those who created a whole new backstory and events than the original Sentai (Power Rangers in Space, Power Rangers Lost Galaxy, and even MMPR). Other greatly loved seasons, like Time Force, followed the basic story not too closely, and made changes that would befit American audiences (like letting Eric live even though his Timeranger counterpart Naoto was killed). Since Shinkenger was basically regarded as a more serious season in recent years, it'll be interesting to see what Power Rangers will do with the source material, especially considering how dark they went for RPM in taking the footage from one of the sillier Sentai series in years, Engine Sentai Go-Onger.

 With "Day Off", we see the series get in the groove of things, following the basic formula of any Power Rangers episode, and introduce a lesson never before brought up in the series.

February 19, 2011

Review - Power Rangers Samurai Episode 2 "Deal With a Nighlok"

 Episode 2 of Power Rangers Samurai is a good follow-up to "The Team Unites", this time putting its focus on Mia, the Pink Ranger, and Kevin, the Blue Ranger. The two take it upon themselves to keep the Nighlok of the week, Doubletone, from making a boy named Ryan give up on his baseball dreams. This episode introduces Kevin's dreams of swimming in the Olympics, which are put on hold for him to fight as a Power Ranger. Mia's bad cooking, in keeping with her Shinkenger counterpart Mako, is also introduced here. Mia's chopping of a squash with her Spin Sword doesn't prevent it from tasting awful, either.

 The bad puns present in the previous episode are lower in number here, thankfully. I noticed that the sake used to, in a way, "sedate" the leader of the bad guys was changed to medicine for this episode. Bulk and Spike had more scenes in this episode, and I found it a nice touch when Bulk cheered for Ryan near the end of the episode after Spike got hit on the head with Ryan's home run ball. Ryan's semi-hidden accent doesn't really bother me at all, it adds to the character quite a bit.

 The first half of the episode sees how the team and Mentor Ji are alerted of a Nighlok's presence in the living world, featuring a cool table map that shows where exactly the Nighlok is.

 Overall, this episode advanced the series well despite not yet detailing how the team came together. Happy trails!

February 9, 2011

Review - Power Rangers Samurai Episode 1 "The Team Unites"

 The first episode of Power Rangers Samurai is a mix of both the old and new. Rather than describe the plot, I'll just run down the list of my thoughts on the episode.

 Being based on the third episode of Samurai Sentai Shinkenger, the episode puts its main focus on Mike, the Green Ranger. This is understandable, as having seen the first two episodes of Shinkenger, they, like many early episodes of Sentai, don't immediately establish the series' hallmarks such as the megazord. This series has already established the team's formation and the acquiring of their megazord. This placement in time is quite a refreshing change, though. This would definitely allow for flashbacks and such later on.

 Most other seasons of Power Rangers start with its focus on the Red Ranger, who is usually the leader of the team. Some Red Rangers are like Mike, being the inexperienced newbie who's suddenly put on the team, often in place of the truly intended person. Jayden, the Red Ranger in this series, is serious and highly dedicated to the way of the Samurai, much like his Sentai counterpart Takeru. This, being only the first episode, doesn't look that much into the rangers' personalities, but hopefully this series will delve more as the series goes on.

 Bulk and his nephew Spike only have a short scene, which made me think a bungee cord (that accidentally attached a shelf to Bulk's robe) would take off the robe. Instead, the cord pulls that shelf down, and the bowling ball that was on it falls on a skateboard. The skateboard, acting as a seesaw, launches a paint tray into the air, and throwing paint on Bulk's face. Bulk's underwear is not comically shown, however. That honor goes to Kevin, the Blue Ranger.

 With Spike, it's the voice that gets me, but not in a good way. I don't want to unfairly compare him to Skull, but Spike seems a little too old to have a cracking, high-pitched voice that usually indicates the early onset of puberty. That said, since this is only the first episode, I'll let it slide just this once.

 The villains are, like many in Power Rangers, mainly courtesy of redubbed footage from the original Sentai. Master Xandred and the Nighloks are pretty close to the original (at least so far), intending to generate tears from human misery to flood the Sanzu River and allow them to enter the living world. The choice in voices are rather interesting to hear after years of Disney ownership had rendered most of the villain voices to be generic, since those voice actors were New Zealand natives trying to hide their native accent. The lone female of the group, Dayu, speaks with an airy tone that will remind many die-hard fans of Astronema from Power Rangers in Space, while Octoroo, the elder of Xandred's followers, has a voice that is incredibly close to Finster from MMPR.

 On the subject of Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers, the same iconic theme song, with some minor alterations, makes a triumphant return here. Zeo was the last time the theme got a facelift, and let's face it, as much as we love the song, it would have to be updated again for it to be used here. Thankfully, Noam Kaniel, the composer for this series, did the near-impossible to recharge Ron Wasserman's theme, and IT KICKS ASS!

 Kaniel plays a large hand in establishing a similar feel to the early days of MMPR, mainly in the background music. The villain scene after the opening has the music from Rita Repulsa's plotting scenes on the moon. The MMPR theme has a firm place in the background music as well, but Kaniel also introduces new incidental music that goes well with the show and the older theme, not making that look older by comparison.

 MMPR (aw hell, Power Rangers in general), is infamous for over-the-top bad puns in battle. The first encounter between Mike and Rofer, the series' first Nighlok, is riddled with these, an obscene amount even by Power Rangers standards (though I gotta admit, it's not everyday a monster-of-the-week tells his footmen to "get their daily greens"). These are more or less ditched in the latter part of the episode. Hopefully, they'll cut down on those.

 With the episode's pacing and light-hearted humor, this is about as close as it gets to the tone of MMPR. You can tell Saban, after doing the impossible in buying back Power Rangers, has made a real effort in putting its famous stamp back on the franchise. To those unfamiliar with the good ol' days of the franchise, these homages are all-new, but to us, the die-hard fans, it's a sign that things ought to be looking up from here.