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Super Rescue Solbrain; Info on the series.
Topic Started: May 31 2008, 02:19 PM (1,709 Views)
UltramanSmythe
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Information on Tokkyu Shirei SORUBUREIN

Number of episodes: 53

Mecha: SOL-GALLOP (Solbraver's Car); SOLDWRECKER (Soljeanne & Soldozer's Transport Van); SOLID STATES-1 (Flying Rescue Carrier); KNIGHT CUSTOM (Knightfire's Car)

Enemy Force: Various criminals, cyborgs, mobsters, mad scientists

CAST:

Commander Nishio Daiki / Solbraver: NAKAYAMA KOHICHI
Medical Officer Higuchi Reiko / Soljeanne: MORI MITSUE
Soldozer (Voice): KATO DAIKI
Senior Commander Kagawa Ryoma / Knightfire: YAMASHITA MASARU
Captain Masaki Shunsuke: MIYAUCHI HIROSHI
Special Agent Masuda Jun: IURA HIDETOMO
Chief Engineer Togawa Kamekichi:
Solid States-1 Captain Yazawa Takeshi: KAWAI KANAME
Communications Officer Aikawa Midori: IRIE MAYUKO
Cross-8000 (Voice): TERANO MASAKI
Takaoka Ryuichi: JISEN MASANORI

PLOT:

With the success of WINSPECTOR, Interpol forges ahead with Captain Masaki Shunsuke's idea of armored police officers. Winspector is taken out of Japan and assigned to roam around the world as the prototype armored robotic police force while Captain Masaki assembles a larger group of Interpol agents to protect Japan.

Dubbed "SOLBRAIN", this new succeeding force of armored police officers and robots take over from Winspector in dealing with subversive enemy agents, rogue cyborgs, mad scientists, and mobsters out to utilize new technological advances for the cause of evil.

REVIEW:

The success of WINSPECTOR immediately demanded a sequel, and with returning veteran tokusatsu actor Miyachi Hiroshi (KAMEN RIDER V3) reprising his role as Captain Masaki Shunsuke from WINSPECTOR, this established Toei's second hit sub-genre in the Metal Heroes line of shows as well as a direct continuation of the previous show to maintain a cohesive one universe for the Rescue Police Heroes.

SOLBRAIN was a much larger force than WINSPECTOR due to two reasons: 1) Winspector was the prototype project for Captain Masaki, as he wanted to prove to his Interpol superiors that his plan was feasible, and 2) Toei's budget went up after WINSPECTOR sold more toys and garnered better ratings than they expected. Ratings for WINSPECTOR achieved near-Space Sheriff levels, so Toei planned for another trilogy of shows, starting from the beginning to not overuse the idea past three related programs.

While SOLBRAIN was indeed a higher budgeted show, the program did not achieve the success level of its predecessor in terms of both toys and ratings. The start of the show already distanced itself away from WINSPECTOR by introducing opponents that could have been on a more sci-fi oriented program, such as floating computer brains, mutant cyborgs, and evil dopplegangers. This moved SOLBRAIN away from the more realistic villains that WINSPECTOR combatted, losing some of its real-world effect.

Another problem was due to the unspectacular set of characters in the series. Commander Nishio Daiki was not as cool and calm as his senpai, Commander Kagawa Ryoma of Winspector. As Solbraver, the field commander of Solbrain, Daiki tended to be a bit more impulsive and more boisterous--not really by attitude, but by general voice alone. Played by actor Nakayama Kohichi, Solbraver, while a decent fighter, didn't have the charisma and the obvious fighting skills that viewers were expecting. While he was not a bad leader nor a bad fighter, his predecessor happened to have set a high bar that Solbraver could not match.

Actress Mori Mitsue played the lightly-armored field medic Soljeanne, who had an armored helmet and some armor on her chestplate, but essentially wore a silvery jumpsuit, which meant that she didn't really get into full fights because she lacked offensive weapons and was too lightly armored to take on the more brawny villains. This lead to almost all of the action scenes to be taken over by Solbraver, instead of spreading the sequence around to more than one character in a fight scene.

The lone robot in the series was the transformable Soldozer, who converted from a futuristic construction vehicle to humanoid robot. Possessing a rather gravelly voice, Soldozer was given the task of comedic relief along with his buddy, Togawa Kamekichi, who was a man that wore kids' styled & colored clothing, adding onto the silliness of the duo. The fact that Soldozer was also incredibly bulky in his humanoid form, which caused him to move in a haphazardous fashion. This made Soldozer visually silly, which once again brought some of the series' sensibility down.

Also assigned to the team was agent Masuda Jun, who was simply too boyish-looking to be considered by viewers to be an experienced special agent. That he was the only human on the field team not to have any armor also didn't help his image to viewers that he was simply preparing himself to be a hostage every various numbers of episodes throughout the series.

Bandai also dropped the ball on the merchandising of this program. Instead of mimicking the successful "Souchaku Henshin" line of diecast, super-poseable action figures and accessories used for WINSPECTOR, Bandai decided to start a new line for SOLBRAIN, which ruined the size scale for the entire line of Rescue Police shows. Bandai introduced the "Minute Brain" line of figures--similar in concept to Takara's MICROMAN line, but smaller and with less articulation, this thinly-painted line of toys was a flop. The accessories were so tiny that many kids lost the gear, and the lack of poseability didn't help the series' toy line. Bandai did try to make up for the failure of the "Minute Brain" line by putting out 12-inch, fully poseable Solbrain figures, but by not making Soljeanne (Because Bandai always feels that girl figures won't sell well, so why make them?), this also ruined the line eventually. The real-life size electronic weapons did sell very well, so that saved Bandai from a total mechandising mistake. The "Minute Brain" line started and ended with SOLBRAIN.

With ratings falling slightly, Toei decided to reinforce the link to the previous program by bringing back Winspector to team up with Solbrain in a three-part episode. This brought out yet another non-realistic, more sci-fi villain in Messiah, a shapeshifting robot who could mimic human beings. Messiah was played by tokusatsu veteran actor and special guest star Hotta Shinzou (General Monster on SKYRIDER) and his powers were vast enough to bring Winspector back to Japan briefly. These three episodes proved to be a ratings smash, as fans eagerly awaited the return of Winspector, and the three-parter proved to be well-acted and loaded with tons of action. Once Winspector left, the program began yet another ratings decline.

Seeing the ratings dropping, Toei made the decision to bring back Winspector Field Commander Kagawa Ryoma / Fire back to television, this time with an upgraded suit and a new codename. Now called "Knightfire", Fire got his upgraded costume (essentially a red-colored Solbraver suit with a new helmet design that looked more like his old Fire helmet) and was given an overall plot arc as the reason for his temporary return to Japan.

Kagawa returned to Japan to seek out mad scientist Takaoka Ryuichi, played by tokusatsu master villain performer Jisen Masanori (the voice of Shadow Moon on KAMEN RIDER BLACK, along with other guest tokusatsu roles), which gave the series a more serious overtone in the second half run of the program. Takaoka eluded capture for numerous episodes, always staying one step ahead of Kagawa and the Solbrain team. By this time, Kagawa as Knightfire essentially stole the program away from Daiki / Solbraver as the lone male hero on the show, allowing the spread of action scenes a bit more evenly than the first half of the program's run.

Takaoka also leaned heavily towards a more sci-fi tone rather than just being a cunning human criminal. Throughout the arc, Takaoka grafts cybernetic parts onto his body, giving him control over numerous mechanical items. By the end, Takaoka became somewhat of a Dr. Octopus from SPIDER-MAN 2, with many bionic tentacles and his nervous system grafted onto machinery. This very "fantasy tokusatsu" styled villain and ending didn't sit as well to viewers as Toei hoped for, as the fans really wanted more realism in this line rather than have the Rescue Police forces battle Sentai-like villains.

The slight pickup in ratings after Knightfire joined them on a permanent basis was enough for Toei to complete the trilogy of programs. Many have considered SOLBRAIN to be the weakest of the three Rescue Police shows, but this may have to do with not being able to match or surpass their immediate preceeding program, which left a much more indelible mark on viewers' minds than this one. Despite it being weaker overall to the other two Rescue Police shows, SOLBRAIN was quite imaginative at times with the villains and the rescue accesories and the action was brisk and exciting, despite the fact that they combatted more "non-realistic" opponents.

SIDE NOTES AND TRIVIA:

Tokusatsu veteran actor Haruta Junichi played a former agent who washed out of the Solbrain program, seeking revenge against the man who did win out for the job. Stealing a prototype Solbraver costume, he attempted to best the real Solbraver until being defeated. What is noteworthy about this role is that for the first time in his long association with tokusatsu, Haruta Junichi did NOT play a role that required him to wear a black costume. Normally playing characters such as Goggle-Black from GOGGLE-V, Dyna-Black from DYNAMAN, and Mad Gallant in JUSPION, he finally dons a non-black costume potraying the evil doppleganger of the heroic Solbraver.

Solbraver's special weapon, the Pile Tornado super gun, utilized one of Bandai's most ingeniously imaginative ideas for a weapon. Able to fire its twin barrels either simultaneously or at separate modes of speed, it also had a whirling siren at the rear and Solbraver could insert his Cerebus-Delta hand gun into the Pile Tornado to active a super blast. Bandai later stripped down this toy's siren and some features, re-streamlined some of the parts, and altered the hand gun insert chamber instead to accept a rectangular object. This re-furbished weapon, stripped down from the original Pile Tornado, became the D-Revolver weapons used by the SWAT Mode Deka-Rangers in "Tokusou Sentai DEKA-RANGER" over a decade later.
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solbrain was really best
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