The Winter of Our (Dis)Content: Ogiue Maniax Status Update for January 2022

Happy New Year! As I say that, 2022 is off to an unusual start.

On the blog side, there’s been an issue with many of my older posts because the web hosting I used for many of the images has been down for the past month (and possibly more). I hope I can get it fixed sooner rather than later, but the hosting has been unresponsive. Fortunately, most of the content is primarily text, so even as many of the illustrative pictures are not displaying, there’s still plenty to read, if you want to check out the archives.

But of course, any and all web space woes pale in comparison to the unprecedented level of infection that the Omicron variant of COVID-19 has brought. Last month, I wondered if I might have to temper my expectations about seeing loved ones in this environment, and that has turned out to be a pretty big understatement. For those living in places with record spikes in infection, I hope you can stay safe and well. Please, please get vaccinated (and boosted if you can), wear a good mask (N95, KN95, KF94, FFP2), and exercise discretion (especially indoors). We can still live our lives, but we should cherish the health of the people around us. While Omicron seems to have a greater ability to infect vaccinated people, it can still be the difference between an unpleasant day and your final one.

I order my masks from Bonafide Masks, but you can get KN95s at a Staples or equivalent shop.

Thanks to my patrons here in 2022, especially the following.

General:

Ko Ransom

Diogo Prado

Alex

Sue Hopkins fans:

Serxeid

Hato Kenjirou fans:

Elizabeth

Yajima Mirei fans:

Machi-Kurada

Blog highlights from December:

Going Beyond Limits, for Better or for Worse: Anime NYC 2021

My review of Anime NYC 2021 and all its ups and downs. Also check out my convention review of Pompo the Cinephile!

Daitetsujin 17 and the Wonderful Clunkiness of Tokusatsu Soul of Chogokin

A preview of the next Soul of Chogokin figure turns into an analysis of how the toy line handles live-action series.

Fan vs. Fandom

Thoughts on the difference between being a fan of something and participating in a fandom, inspired by someone close to me.

Hashikko Ensemble

Chapter 47 turns out to be the second-to-last! Can’t wait for next month.

Kio Shimoku’s Twitter in December saw him reminiscing about older times.

Closing

In much lighter news, the winter anime season is starting up! I’m still trying to finish stuff from the fall, but in the meantime, I’ve decided on my favorite characters of 2021. Who do you think reigned supreme?

Daitetsujin 17 and the Wonderful Clunkiness of Tokusatsu Soul of Chogokin

The latest Soul of Chogokin figure was announced last month, and it’s Daitetsujin 17 (pronounced “One-Seven”) from the 1970s tokusatsu series by the same name. It was created by the very father of tokusatsu, Ishinomori Shotaro, and features the classic “little kid remote-controlling” giant robot motif that began with Tetsujin 28. Prior to its release, I never watched any Daitetsujin 17, but I decided to check out the first episode, and what I noticed is that the promo images for the SoC version really capture how the toy is designed with a kind of live-action clunkiness seen in the original program itself.

There’s no doubt that this is highly intentional, as the Soul of Chogokin line is famous for trying to get as close to “show-accurate” as possible. Japanese toy reviewer wotafa stated in his look at the POSE+ METAL Gaogaigar that one of the big things differentiating it from the earlier SoC release was that the latter is more faithful to the anime, while the former looks like “Gaogaigar came back from studying abroad in America.” But in contrast to the myriad anime-derived Soul of Chogokin figures, adapting tokusatsu giant robots like Daitetsujin 17 seems to present another sort of challenge. 

Whereas the anime robots have to reconcile the contradictions between the (mostly) two-dimensional drawings with the three-dimensional realities of the toys themselves, a different conflict is in play. Tokusatsu shows typically have their mecha appear in two different ways: as a model for transforming and such, and as a costume for a suit actor to fight in. A figure whose goal is to bring the source material to life has to balance these two dominating visuals, and from what I can tell, Daitetsujin 17 looks like it succeeds on that front.

But Daitetsujin 17 is not the only live-action robot to get the SoC treatment, and so I started looking at past instances to see if that characteristic tokusatsu-ness is still present. What I found is that, while not as strongly flavored as Daitetsujin 17, that feel is still present to varying degrees. 

The recently released Daileon from Juspion comes from a different era than Daitetsujin 17, but the premium it places on poseability goes to show just how important it is to capture that “guy-in-a-suit” element of the show. Comparing the 3DCG trailer they released to the live-action footage, you can see how much emphasis was put on making sure Daileon could strike all its signature poses, as if to say the very acting of posing defines the feel of Juspion as a whole:

A more popular SoC figure, at least among English-speaking countries, is the Megazord (or Daizyujin) from Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers. This one looks more like it emphasizes a cool, stocky appearance that’s a bit removed from how the Megazord usually looks in motion. 

However, when compared to a similar figure released around the same time—Voltron (aka Golion)—the contrast in proportions between the two really drive home how the Megazord was made with different considerations in mind. It’s notable that the SoC Voltron has lankier proportions than its original toy from the 1980s to be more in line with its iconic pose from the anime’s opening.

This trend continues all the way back, whether it’s Leopardon from Toei’s Spider-Man, Battle Fever Robo from Battle Fever J, or King Joe from Ultra Seven.

The Daitetsujin 17 figure seems to most greatly embody the concept of  tokusatsu-faithfulness, and I think that speaks to how far the Soul of Chogokin line has come. Every year, it seems to get more and more impressive, and I have to wonder what they’ll tackle next. Although the Daitetsujin 17 and many of the tokusatsu-based figures aren’t my priority, I find I can appreciate the lengths they’ll go to making the biggest nostalgia bombs possible.