The Phantom Thieves That Everyone's Talking About - LupinRanger VS PatRanger Episode 1 Review - Cebu X-Geeks


Friday, February 16, 2018

The Phantom Thieves That Everyone's Talking About - LupinRanger VS PatRanger Episode 1 Review

Last Sunday, February 11, 2018, one of the longest-running Tokusatsu franchises, Super Sentai, aired the 1st episode of its 42nd entry titled Kaitou Sentai LupinRanger VS Keisatsu Sentai PatRanger (Kanji: 快盗戦隊ルパンレンジャー VS 警察戦隊パトレンジャー , English: Phantom Thief Squad LupinRanger VS Police Squad PatRanger). The Power Rangers franchise is the series of adaptations of the Super Sentai franchise.

Unlike any of its predecessor teams, LVSP features two official teams in one season; a formula that has been in practice in the Super Sentai team up movies or specials and seen as a part of the storyline of some series like Ninpuu Sentai Hurricaneger where two of the teams' five rangers started off as a separate team but of similar themes. In LVSP, a common rivalry theme of cops and robbers is observed where the LupinRangers are the thieves and the PatRangers as the policemen.

WARNING: The following write-up below will contain information regarding LVSP's pilot episode, so if you haven't watched it, I suggest you stop right here and watch it first before proceeding to read the write-up. I apologize for this VERY LONG POST. 

Episode Run-through

A case of organ smuggling was happening at a casino where the patrons who couldn't pay their debts are threatened to have their organs extracted and sold on the black market. Just as one of these patrons was unable to pay after losing several times, he was about to be taken away by bodyguards. However, three masked people broke into the casino and caused an uproar. These masked people were the rumored thieves, Kaitou Sentai LupinRanger, and the boss of the bodyguards was actually Ruretta Gerou, a member of the Ganglers, while the bodyguards themselves were the grunts called Pordermen.

The LupinRangers' goal was to extract one of the artifacts of the Lupin Collection stored inside Gerou's personal vault. They then engaged in a fight with Gerou and his Pordermen. Just as the LupinRangers were about to finish the Gangler monster off, the three-man tactical unit of the Global Special Police Organization (Japan Branch) arrived in the scene but was unable to do anything about the situation, because at the time they do not have the means of transforming into PatRangers.

The following day, news about the incident spread around the cities of Japan like wildfire. People's opinions were mostly in favor of how the LupinRangers are able to take down one of the Gangler monsters and were disappointed in how the GSPO weren't able to do anything about it despite being the authorities in catching criminals. The news, of course, brought smiles to Kairi (blond-haired guy) and frustrations to Keiichiro. The two met in a plaza but only Kairi knows Keiichiro is from the GSPO.

Similar to superheroes, the LupinRangers disguise themselves as part-timers in a small diner called "Bistrot Jurer" where Touma serves as the chef, Umika as the wait staff, and Kairi as the errand boy.

The PatRangers, on the other hand, are authorities whose identities are exposed to the public. Their office is called the Tactical Unit Operations Room and seen there also are their comrades Commissioner Hilltop and Jim Carter (humanoid policeman).

In this very prestige-looking mansion resides the Inter-Dimensional Crime Group "Gangler", led by their leader Dogranio Yaboon alongside the very powerful bodyguard Destra Majjo and the resident doctor Goche Ru Medou. All the members of the Gangler were gathered to celebrate Dogranio's 999th birthday and they were presented with a challenge on who will become the successor to the crime group.

The LupinRangers were then provided information for the next artifact to retrieve and the enemy who has it, Garatt Nargo. Whenever they're given a new task, they will do their best to come up with excuses to close up the bistro.

The three youngsters then proceed to change their outfits from civilians to their Lupin personas and went ahead to do their mission.

While the LupinRangers are in combat, Jim Carter detects Gangler findings at the Kurehama Pier and informs the GSPO Tactical Unit about. As the impatient Keiichiro was about to lead his team towards the crime scene, the commissioner arrives in the office and hands them over the "new toys".

Garatt takes hold of Touma and Umika as hostages and Kairi was left with the choice of either destroying the monster alongside his comrades or attempt to save them risking all of their lives anyway. While Kairi looked like he was hesitating, the promise they made to each other where no matter who falls down, whoever is left makes their dreams come true. He then shoots his gun toward the ceiling, producing debris that falls over Garatt, Touma, and Umika.

But then again, no Super Sentai main characters die in their first episode! For purposes of the story, Touma and Umika shot their way down so they won't be stacked with the falling debris and shot their way back into where their red comrade was. They then initialize their transformation sequence.

Each LupinRanger starts their transformation sequence by sliding in their respective colored "Dial Fighter" (mini aircrafts) into their VS Changer, making the changer announce the name of the user. They will then turn the dials on their Dial Fighter to make their respective 3 digit code. Afterwards, they firmly twist the barrel of the changer so that their colored dial fighters are positioned on top and then they pull the trigger to commence the transformation. Just watch the episode for the transition, lol.

The LupinRangers start beating up Garatt to the point where Kairi was about to retrieve the artifact from him, but the GSPO Tactical Unit interferes their pursuit.

As the members of the unit came out and declare to have both Garatt and the LupinRangers arrested, the phantom thieves were surprised to see the policemen holding VS Changers. They then started their transformation sequence. While the LupinRangers had Dial Fighters to use, the PatRangers slide in Trigger Machines (mini police cars) to their VS Changers. A thorough transformation explanation will be narrated on the next episode since the first episode focuses on the LupinRangers.

The episode ends with the LupinRangers confused with what's happening while the PatRangers now have the means of taking down members of the Gangler and catching the LupinRangers.

Character Impressions

Team LupinRanger

The LupinRangers are composed of three teenagers hired by the mysterious butler, Kogure, to retrieve the Arsene Lupin's most treasured "Lupin Collection", which contains various dangerous artifacts, stolen by the Inter-Dimensional Crime Group "Gangler". What do these youngsters get in return for risking their lives?

Yano Kairi

My impression of Kairi, LupinRed, is that although he seems to be someone who goofs around, he is passionate enough to hold on to a promise made by both his teammates and Kogure. While he is the red ranger, it hasn't been clearly distinguished that he's the leader of the team.

Yoimachi Touma

Touma, LupinBlue, is the calm and reserved cool guy in the team. He seems to be the type to strictly uphold his own values and principles. This is observed when he asked Umika to switch places with him during their part-time work and when they escaped from getting trapped from the falling debris as a result of Kairi's last resort attack to Garatt Nargo. He refers to this as "those are our rules, after all."

Hayami Umika

Cheerful, energetic, and mischievous. This is how I see Umika, the team's LupinYellow. In this episode, it is observed how dexterous and nimble she can be in their Lupin tasks; something you would definitely expect from someone possessing these three qualities.

He is the Arsene Lupin's most-trusted butler and he is the one who assembled the LupinRangers. While he appears to be the usual well-mannered butler, he always keeps his guard on and makes sure the information he sents out is kept to a minimum. As he mentioned in the episode, he is grateful to the LupinRangers for retrieving the artifacts of the Lupin Collection, but he also reminded Kairi about the dangers of the artifacts when in the hands of the wrong people. Thus, asking him not to pry into further details about it.

The way he reacted to Kairi's question felt dodgy for me, making me think that there is more to it than just retrieving the collection.

As explained by Kairi in this episode, the Arsene Lupin is the infamous phantom thief from 100 years ago that has started collecting the mysterious artifacts forming the Lupin Collection in secret. Kogure then mentioned that ever since the collection got stolen by the Gangler, the current descendant of the Arsene Lupin has shut himself in and mentioned he can't face his great ancestor because of what happened. Nothing much to say about the man who started it all for now.

Team PatRanger

The PatRangers consist of a three-man squad from the Tactical Unit, which was established by the Global Special Police Organization (Japan Branch) to deal with Inter-Dimensional Crime Group "Gangler". While their utmost priority is to fight with the Gangler, they are also in pursuit of the LupinRangers because stealing is also a crime.

Asaka Keiichiro

Keiichiro, PatRan #1, is a hot-blooded man who is very passionate about catching criminals, particularly the Gangler and LupinRangers. In the whole episode, we never get a glimpse of him being calm and relaxed. It's as if he's always in a rage. He is most likely to be the center of command of the PatRangers.

Hikawa Sakuya

Sakuya, PatRan #2, is the team's happy-go-lucky guy and he seems to look up to his upperclassmen, Keiichiro and Tsukasa, with great respect. Aside from his cheerful presence, he has a tendency to be lax and dependent. This is observed in the episode where he's thankful to the LupinRangers for taking down Ruretta Gerou in the introduction.

Myoujin Tsukasa

The only female among the PatRangers, Tsukasa, PatRan #3, respects ranks as observed when Commissioner Hilltop arrived in their office, but at the same time, looks after both Keiichiro and Sakuya. I can assume that she's some sort of the team's sisterly figure.

The boss of the tactical unit and in-charge of the PatRangers, Commissioner Hilltop is not as strict as Keiichiro. While Sakuya and Tsukasa show their respect to him, he prefers them to just relax and not bother with honorifics. As far as I've watched Super Sentai, I think this is the first time that they've included a foreigner as part of the main cast of a series. The African-American comedian, Ike Nwala, fits perfectly into the role.

This adorable humanoid oversees all of GSPO Tactical Unit's desk work including the accounting as mentioned in the episode. He also serves as a tracker or navi for tracing Gangler locations and he provides information to the PatRangers whenever asked. In the first episode, I observed that he speaks highly of himself and compares his great hard work from his comrades.

Jim Carter is voiced by the anime voice actress, Kugimiya Rie, who is known for her role as Shana in Shakugan no Shana and various roles in Gintama.

Team Gangler

The Gangler is a crime syndicate coming from a different dimension. They are the ones who stole the artifacts of the Lupin Collection gathered by the Arsene Lupin. Each artifact was then bestowed upon the members and is stored in a vault that is located within their bodies. This syndicate is composed of grunts, Gangler monsters, generals, and the boss.

Dogranio is the boss of the Gangler that he founded 500 years ago. He led the pursuit in stealing the artifacts of the Lupin Collection, which the Arsene Lupin single-handedly gathered 100 years ago, shaming the current descendant of the Arsene Lupin. On his 999th birthday, he has given an interesting challenge to the members where the one who rules the human world becomes the next boss of the Gangler.

Nothing much is known from Dogranio, but I think he will likely be similar to Doubutsu Sentai Zyuohger's final boss, Ginis.

Destra is one of the Gangler generals where he's the bodyguard to the Gangler boss. In the character descriptions on the Power Ranger Wiki, he possesses both brute force and supreme intelligence. We don't see any of those qualities in today's episode but one thing is for sure; he never lets anyone lay their hands on the boss, except when asked by the boss.

Goche is the Gangler's female doctor who is very greedy. We can observe this behavior in the episode where she already knows that no one can easily approach the boss, yet she insisted to kiss his hand to greet him a happy birthday. She utilizes the artifacts of the Lupin Collection given to her to revive and enlarge fallen brethren.

Ruretta is a Gangler monster inspired by a frog theme. He possesses an artifact of the Lupin Collection that lets him manipulate the odds in gambling to always have it in favor of him. His appearance was short because the LupinRangers were able to destroy him after retrieving the artifact from his body. Just like any gambler would be, Ruretta has this greedy attitude due to the excess usage of the artifact.

After the Gangler boss declared his challenge for the Gangler successor, Garatt Nargo comes next after Ruretta. His artifact lets him manipulate the power of fire, burning establishments after he's stolen all of their goods. The way I look at him, he seems to be aggressive in making things work out since he's aiming to become Gangler's next boss.

Lastly are the foot soldiers of the Gangler, the Pordermen. These grunts wield katar-looking guns to fight the LupinRangers and the PatRangers in the succeeding episodes. Their design looks slick and stylish, but just like all the grunts in almost all the Super Sentai series, they really don't have minds of their own.

Final Thoughts

The actors and actresses did well in this episode although there were some moments I felt cringy about someone's acting, I won't mention the names.

In this week's episode, the focus of the story leans towards the LupinRangers and a bit of their backstory, alongside a fair screentime for the GSPO Japan Branch. The challenge imposed by the Gangler boss looks interesting and I wonder how the monsters are gonna do it since only one will emerge victoriously and become the next boss.

The GSPO members obtaining the VS Changers and transforming into the PatRangers towards the end was a great way of concluding the episode. It makes me look forward to the next one!

See you next time!

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