ToQger Starting Station Review: All Aboard the Imagination Express!

When the evil Shadow Line begins to use their evil train the Kleiner to kidnap children, a young man named Raito is amongst those nearly captured. He then sees the prismatic Rainbow Line and its Ressha trains appear, along with four of the ToQgers, inspiring him to help protect the children with them.

ToQ 1 (1)

I originally did not plan to watch and review this series, particularly because I wanted to focus more on my studies. But with the disappointment of Kyoryuger, I’ve decided to. Keep in mind because this episode is a first episode, this review will be more like first impressions and will somewhat differ from my usual style of reviews.

More on the review, we first get an explanation about imagination, which is the main source of power for the ToQgers. When I first heard about imagination as the power source, I am excited, as imaginations are infinite and if it can be used as a power source, then imagine how strong this team can be, despite their designs which I’ll get through later.

The episode starts with the Shadow Line army kidnapping children so they can cry and produce dark energies. Wow, this sounds too similar to the villain concept of Kyoryuger, particularly Aigallon. I guess they were his relatives or something 😛  I gotta say I really enjoyed the opening and ending themes of this series, the opening sold me out while the ending is a departure from the traditional Sentai dance, although I feel like it’s shorter compared to the previous EDs.

ToQ 1 (2)

One of the members, Bag Shadow, discovers that an adult is also in the train, which introduces us to Right or Light or Raito or Laito or whatever, I’m gonna go with the third option. Raito’s presence in the trains barely did anything to Shadow Line’s plans, as the Rainbow Line, which comprised of 5 colourful trains arrive and stops it.

More about the trains or rather the Zords used in this series, I enjoyed that they used miniatures to do the fight scenes, and it really looks well, thanks to the neon lights. While they did use CGIs for airborne railways, I preferred the traditional miniatures. After the Rainbow Line stops the Kuliner Ressha, they went ahead and go for a foot battle, which introduces us to the 4 ToQgers.

The first fight scene here sums up the personality of the ToQgers, including Raito who’s yet to transform as he’s currently not a member. The first one is Tokatti, who is ToQ 2. He is the nerdiest member of the group, and by nerdiest I meant that because he is WAY nerdier, or rather clumsier than any nerds/geeks we’ve known previously. He is intended to be the crappy comic relief of the show, and even though this is just the first episode I know that he is ‘crappier’ than KyoryuBlue were. Overall Tokatti may be my least favoriteToQger, as for now.

ToQ 1 (3)

The second one is Mio, who is the Yellow Ranger ToQ 3. Yellow makes a comeback for this series, and Mio is so far my favorite ToQger because of multiple reasons. First, she is the big sister of the team and as such, she looks like the representative for the team, as she has the most dialogue out of the 5 members in this episode. Second, she is the resident badass of the team due to her tomboyish attitude, although the tomboy aspect was only for fighting purpose, as she is quite feminine. Third, the fact that she has the most lines makes me rooting for her to be the leader of the team. While it’s obvious that Raito is the leader, I think Mio would make a better leader. Plus wouldn’t that be great? Yellow making a comeback and this time she gets to be leader? Fourth, she seems to be the Mao Ichimichi type of the group, because I found the two is very similar (short hair, hot pants) and mostly because the two are the most attractive members of their respective groups. Don’t worry Mao Ichimichi, I still prefer you hohohohohohohohohohohoho~

Third is Hikari, who is ToQ 4. This time the Green Ranger again is not the comic relief, thanks to the role already given to ToQ 2 (I find that in most Sentai involving a blue & green member, the blue would be the badass while green would be the comic relief or something like that, for example DekaRanger & Gokaiger) . Hikari is my second favorite ToQger simply because he’s the cool guy of the team. That being said he isthe least focused member in this episode, which I hoped that he doesn’t get sidelined in the future.

Fourth is Kagura, ToQ 5. She is obviously the little sister of the group, and she is the one that uses her imagination to aid her in battle the most. This is because she keeps imagining herself as a supergirl, and she ended being stronger than ever! Because on how the episode showcased this twice, I find that it will become a running gag through the series. Overall I find Kagura is also attractive, if it weren’t for that stupid hairstyle. A simple ponytail may be suffice.

ToQ 1 (4)

Last but not the least is Raito himself, and this episode focused on him though not as much as KyoryuRed did in Kyoryuger episode 1. When we first saw the promos people hated on Raito for being GoseiRed-like, mostly because he is more boyish than manly. However, as the show starts, Raito is WAY different than Alata, and looks more like a 17-18 year old youth rather than a boyish man. He is your typical Red Ranger, which is a reckless man. BUT, Raito here is even more reckless than KyoryuRed, and it’s not a good sign by my account. However, I do feel like his acting is a bit wobbly in this episode, but this is the first episode so I’m sure it’ll improve in the future. More about Raito, he is the one that has the strongest imagination power, even more than Kagura, which is why he is chosen to be a ToQger as well. I really, really love it when Raito did a Sherlock Holmes move to demonstrate his imagination power, and what a great reference that is!

Oh, did I tell you that these five are childhood friends? I wish we get to see their childhood backstory in the future, as it helps to strengthen their bond as a team. As for their mentor, Conductor and his puppet Ticket, they are very much like Kamen Rider Den-O‘s Owner but different. Like Raito, I have a little problem with Conductor’s acting, particularly when he shouts “IMAGINATION” or else, it feels off.

ToQ 1 (5)

As for the villains, Shadow Line army. Their design resembles the Victorian Era & American Prohibition Era, which is really cool. Also, what is weird is that a hot female monster, you know, for a monster she looks hot, has a ‘thing’ for a daughter. For some reason I think that the daughter will transform into something cunning and dangerous in the future. We’ll see about that.

Let’s talk about the designs. While I really liked the helmets, I’m not a fan of the overall simplistic design of the body. It’s just too plain for a suit, take a colored spandex and put the logo on the center and there you go, you got the suit. But I do find that the design is similar to Kyroyuger, as they both consists of two layers of spandex or lycra. The first layer is on the torso and the legs, and the second layer is the inner sleeve part of the suit. The major difference is that Kyoryuger produces a darker shade and some hexagon grid details while ToQger is just a plain color and no detail whatsoever. Had they put some detail it would make the suit more acceptable than it initially were.

ToQ 1 (6)

While I do love the design of the Resshas and the miniature set, I’m not a fan of the arsenal design. First, the morphers looks really weird for a brace. I understand that it serves a port for the Resshas and resembles a train dock, but it’s weird. And the weapons. With the exception of Yellow & Pink, they are a ripoff of Go-Onger‘s personal weapons. Go-OnRed’s Road Saber & ToQ 1’s Rail Slasher looked similar, except for the obvious rail motif. And ToQ 2’s Home Trigger is a ripoff of Go-OnBlue’s Garage Launcher, albeit smaller. ToQ 4’s Tunnel Axe is also a ripoff of Go-OnGreen’s Bridge Axe, but with tunnels instead of bridges.

Even though the design still takes time to get used to, the action sequence are good. They’re not Koichi Sakamoto, but it’s good. Besides, nowadays I prefer if they didn’t hire Koichi Sakamoto to direct episodes, since when he left and other director filled in, there’s a contrast between the quality of the action scenes. I’m not saying that the other directors are bad, but there’s an obvious difference. Koichi Sakamoto should’ve just direct Toku movies or better yet, go and direct & produce Power Rangers. While the Kalishplosions were a distraction, he has toned it down ever since he got back to Japan.

ToQ 1 (7)

Anyways one of the main attraction of ToQger is the Transfer Changes, which allows them to swap palettes with each other, basically their own version of Gokai Changes. I find that this is a really cool concept, and this is what draws me to the series. The changes are a nice reference on how the trains change stations. Also, it justifies the reason why the ToQgers are called ToQ 1, ToQ 2, etc. instead of ToQ Red, ToQ Blue, etc. That’s because they are designated by numbers, and their main colors are their default colors.

At first, when we saw the Transfer Changes, I thought that it was a result of the first time transforms, where the ToQgers, accidentally transformed into the wrong color because this is their first time, but no, it’s a gimmick and will be heavily used in the show. While it’s cool, I do hope they showed the advantages of assuming one’s color because as of now the only benefit they got from the Transfer Change is they can use other member’s weapons and that’s it. I hope each color provides its strengths and weaknesses and the default colors synchronizes with their respective users the most.

ToQ 1 (8)

For the team cannon, the Renketsu Bazooka, again it’s a direct ripoff of the Highway Buster of Go-Onger. But what’s cool about these team finisher is that it’s an homage to Gorenger where the finisher can transform into anything random, and this time the ToQgers imagine the finisher to transforms the finishing Ressha into a random object. It is a clever move and while I like it, I hope that it didn’t transform into something stupid that was meant to be funny.

As for the MegaZord, ToQ-Oh, while again I liked the train design, I HATED ToQ-Oh’s design. It’s just because of the tall shoulder and the blocky design. While the suit looked the most agile out of previous MegaZord suits, it just looked crappy. That being said though I do like the fact that when they did the finisher, they blocked the enemy, preventing them to attack ToQ-Oh and possible unable to block the finisher, while ToQ-Oh roller blades on the railways, making the fight scene looked cool despite the crappy design.

After the fight, the ToQgers are shocked to hear that the reason they are chosen to be ToQgers is because they are………………………………………………………………… DEAD. Wait, WHAT?!

ToQ 1 (9)

Overall, I find the episode to be a mediocre for a premiere, especially when compared to Kyoryuger and Gokaiger. It’s almost on the same level as Go-Busters, albeit a little lower. But it also means that they are playing it safe, as one of the reasons why I hated Kyoryuger is because it started with a BANG and gets me excited only to be disappointed and hated it by the end. However I can’t say that I enjoy ToQger completely for now, to me they need to offer more to get me excited. That’s mainly because this show is way, WAY lighter than Kyoryuger, which worries me because I’m not really that kind of guy who prefers extreme lighthearted tones. Regardless, it’s an okay start, and I’m eyeing on Mio because she’s so damn attractive. Although Mao Ichimichi is still on my top list. Please marry me Mao~


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