Superhero squad reunites in new film ‘Ten Gokaiger’

© 2021 TEN GOKAIGER Production Committee. © ISHIMORI PRODUCTION INC. and TOEI COMPANY, LTD. All Rights Reserved.
Two superheroes strike a pose in a scene from “Ten Gokaiger.”

The other day I watched a preview of the film “Ten Gokaiger,” a sequel to the Super Sentai series tokusatsu sci-fi superhero TV show “Kaizoku Sentai Gokaiger.” The film, directed by Shojiro Nakazawa, opens in theaters today, Nov. 12, for a limited time release.

“Kaizoku Sentai Gokaiger,” the 35th entry into the series that was broadcast in 2011, features a team of six superheroes: Gokai Red (aka Captain Marvelous), Gokai Blue, Gokai Green, Gokai Yellow, Gokai Pink and Gokai Silver. They used the pretty outrageous strategy of transforming into heroes from past shows in the series to fight evil. I remember they were really encouraging in the year when the nation was devastated by the Great East Japan Earthquake. I can’t believe 10 years have already passed since then.

The new film is set on Earth 10 years from the TV show’s conclusion and features public gambling on bouts between Super Sentai superheroes. The colorful heroes agree to participate because they are led to believe most of the profits are spent on defense expenses for Earth. Marvelous, who opposes gambling, visits Earth for the first time in ages and immediately throws down the gauntlet against the betting management. The one who ultimately stands in his way turns out to be Gai Ikari, aka Gokai Silver.

The film’s main draw is that all six actors who portrayed the human personae of the Gokaiger on TV also appear on the big screen.

Most actors who play tokusatsu superheroes before their transformation are up-and-coming young actors in their teens or 20s. To those actors, the first 10 years after making their names in a tokusatsu TV show are a turbulent and busy time, and not all of them find it smooth sailing. Some may quit showbiz and take up another career path, while a few of them quickly rise to stardom and become big stars who have no control over their schedules. So, having all of the young actors reprise their roles for a film 10 years later is almost a miracle.

All six of the actors have matured nicely. Junya Ikeda (Gokai Silver), who now also directs and writes scripts for popular theater productions, showcases his famous stage combat in the film. His sharp and speedy movements have impressively gained some weighty solidness. Kazuki Shimizu (Gokai Green) still shines with his dry humor as Hakase (professor), his nickname from the TV show, as though its final episode was only yesterday. Mao Ichimichi (Gokai Yellow), now a famous voice actor, still looks cool. Her lines after transforming sounded very clear and resonant, and showed the accumulation of her artistic talent over 10 years, whereas Yui Koike (Gokai Pink) is still cute and sweet, even though she now has an air of maturity as well. Her pin-straight posture is gorgeous, powerful and beautiful. Ryota Ozawa (Gokai Red) plays Marvelous with dignity. I find the new mature Marvelous sometimes showing glimpses of the same hot and youthful naivety from 10 years ago to be irresistible.

And Yuki Yamada, one of the hottest actors on the big and small screens right now, commendably portrays Gokai Blue. He never deviates from Gokai Blue’s position in the team while boasting an overwhelming presence on screen. He pours everything he has learned as an actor in the past 10 years into this role, which was his very first. Yamada’s performance shows that he really loves this character and this work, and I appreciate that as a longtime tokusatsu fan.

The film even featured the same six suit actors, people who play the superheroes in full-body suits and masks, as the TV version. Some of the suit actors had retired from the series but came back for this film.

I won’t reveal any spoilers, but Marvelous’ lines toward the end are particularly tear-jerking. Ten years can change many things, but there are important and precious things that never change, even after 10 or 20 years. I really felt that idea from this film. I hope you will see it in theaters to meet the heroes 10 years later and think about what is important to you.