Brian’s Super Sentai Shenanigans!
Ressha Sentai ToQger
“It’s about IMAGINATION!”
Greetings everyone! Yellow Ranger Brian here again! Last time, we discussed the main characters of the show, and a little bit about the happenings and the “who, what, where, why,” of 2014’s Super Sentai offering from Japan (which, well, will probably NEVER get a proper Power Rangers adaptation…it-its fine. I’m fine, carry on, me). Now, let’s talk a little more about the bad guys and the “how” of the show, namely, “how does the story flow from beginning to end?”
I might have mentioned it briefly in the first half of this article, but there is a uniquely childlike innocence and nature to this show. Watching it, I can’t explain, except to say that it reminded me of how I felt when I first discovered MMPR as a kid. It reminded me of that feeling of wanting to be a hero in primary color spandex, fighting for good, standing up against evil. It could be I felt this way because this was the first Sentai series I watched beginning to end, but, in talking to people on Discord, I’ve found that a lot of other people also really love this series despite its propensity to be joke fodder on a variety of imgboards and online communities.
Before we get into the story, I do have a few more characters to talk about. We’re gonna get to the main villains in just a second, but first, I have one last ally from the Rainbow Line to introduce, and from here on out, there will be spoilers aplenty!
If you do not want the show to be spoiled, this is your final warning!
The Rainbow Line
Rainbow Line President: As the only name is given, he is a mystery rabbit-head-hat wearing man that has incredible imagination powers and is the Conductor’s, Ticket’s, and Wagon’s superior. His true face, as well as the nature of Ticket, are open for the viewer’s imagination.
The President is the reason why the ToQgers even exist in the first place, as he simply imagined our heroes as adults/teens so that they could fight the Shadow Line.
The Shadow Line
The Shadow Line works to gather the darkness in human hearts to complete the railway so they can grant the Emperor Z entry into the world and make Earth habitable for him. In their ranks are members of both nobility and military:
Baron Nero: The main villain of ToQger (for the first half of the show) and one of the Shadow Line’s generals. You might recognize his costume from Power Rangers Ninja Steel, as his main body suit was used for the villain “Cosmo Royale,” but with a different face. He is often at odds with Madame Noir and General Schwartz, who are trying, in secret, to get Miss Gritta on the throne. He would prefer to have Emperor Z on the throne, and feels as though they’re wasting time and resources. His main weapon, the Gun Stick, can be used as a fencing sword with great precision as well as a long range gun.
His name is the Italian word for “Black.”
Madame Noir: One of the main generals of the Shadow Line, she is grooming her only daughter, Miss Gritta, to be wed to Emperor Z. As a mother, Madame Noir devotes herself to caring for her daughter, Gritta, and grooming her to be the Emperor’s wife, insisting that it take priority, and putting her at odds with Baron Nero who believes that all efforts should be focused on expanding the Shadow Line so the Emperor will come.
Her name is the French word for “Black.” Following this motif, her style is French Victorian.
Miss Gritta: Daughter and only child to Madame Noir, Miss Gritta is being groomed to be wed to Emperor Z, despite her harboring feelings of affection for General Schwarz. She constantly clings to a handkerchief of his that he dropped and said that she could keep. She wishes to escape her fate of being wed to Z, and wants to live freely, away from her mother’s doting. While the other members of the Shadow Line view the ToQgers as sworn enemies, she shows no malice or hatred toward them, and only sends monsters down to fight when General Schwarz is in danger or if she’s told to, against her will.
General Schwarz: The Black Iron General of the Evil Army Shadow Line, he serves as its military leader. He is obsessed with creating the Shadow Ressha forces to take over the Rainbow Line. Miss Gritta notes Schwarz’s presence whenever he enters or leaves a room. He’s in love with Miss Gritta
After Gritta’s supposed death at the hands of Z, Schwarz was banished from the Shadow Line.
Schwarz has been known to team up once in a while with the ToQgers, and still wishes to maintain his friendship with Zaram (Akira), despite his turning coat and joining the Rainbow Line.
Emperor of Darkness, Z, or Zed: The main villain overall of the story, and probably one of the more interesting villains I’ve come across in either Super Sentai OR Power Rangers. His name is pronounced as “Zetto,” and, I will be honest, I initially figured that his name was a reference to Lord Zedd from MMPR Season 2. He has a Shadow Monster form, a Human form, and a “Z Shin” form, which is him at his most powerful. Unlike his subordinates, Z hates living in darkness and wants to live in the light, but unfortunately light is toxic to Z and he can only survive a few hours before it starts to make him sick. Due to his desire to live in the light, Z is obsessed with everything that shines, be it literally or figuratively.
As time goes on, we find out that Zed and Light’s destinies are intertwined, and that both end up getting dangerously close to that which they are fighting, which threatens both of their lives (Zed toward the light, Light toward the darkness).
Ressha Sentai ToQger, like many stories, has a beginning, middle, and end, and like many Sentai stories, has many story arcs throughout the season. Given that the typical Sentai lasts about 50 episodes and begins/ends in February, there tends to be a lot of potential for stories, yet if it goes wrong, it can derail a whole season.
This is not an issue that ToQger faces. There are three main parts of this story:
- Introduction/Lost Memories
- Connecting the Lines/New Allies, New Enemies
The first episode of ToQger finds all of this season’s Rangers coming to on a train with no memory of how they got there, OR most of their adolescence. While Tokatti, Mio, Hikari and Kagura all wake up on the Rainbow Line and are met by the Conductor, Wagon, and Ticket, Light wakes up on a Shadow Line train that is transporting children in an effort to gather their darkness. The four hop over, transform, and try to rescue Light, who gets knocked unconscious. He eventually comes to, and all five of them are told that because of their high imaginations, they were chosen by the Rainbow Line to become the ToQgers in order to stop the Shadow Line.
In their first big fight, the ToQgers manage to gain access to their special weapons, and learn that they can do a line change with any other member, simply by pressing a button on their ToQChanger and swapping Resshas with each other (which the Conductor is initially against and undoes at first).
They fight our putty equivalents this season, the Kuros, and Shadow Monster “Bag Shadow;” a mixture of Grim Reaper and… um… purse. He makes quick work of them at first, but then quickly enlarges, making the ToQgers call their main and first mecha this season, “ToQ-Oh,” a mecha made up of 5 individual trains (that just happen to be the trains that they ride on during the show. They use their sword and final attack, the “Fumikiriken Ressha Slash.” At the end of the first episode, the ToQgers inquire about their lost memories and their hometown. Ticket lets slip that the main reason for them being chosen to become the ToQgers is because they are as good as dead.
As the first main arc of this story goes on, we begin to see the inner machinations of the Shadow Line, which seems to be on a unified front at first, but is ultimately a fractured group of villains who are vying for very different goals, and can’t agree on who should be the one in charge.
Baron Nero is a steadfast believer in Emperor Z, and wants nothing more than for him to rule over all of the universe and keep it in darkness. Madame Noir, who on the surface wants her daughter, Miss Gritta, to be betrothed to Zed, actually wants her daughter to ascend to the throne so that she can then implement her agenda for ruling over the universe. Miss Gritta and General Schwarz want nothing to do with that and simply wish to live their lives however they see fit, yet find themselves chained to their duties and imprisoned by those who think they know what is best for them.
Meanwhile, as time goes on in this arc, the ToQgers begin to try and find their hometown, free towns from the influence of the Shadow Line and reconnect them to the Rainbow Line, and begin to add more and more Resshas and weapons to their arsenal. By the time they add a sixth member to their ranks, they have the Diesel Ressha, Car Carrier Ressha, Tank Ressha, Police, Fire, and Shield Resshas in their arsenals, are able to summon a second mecha, Diesel-Oh, and can combine both ToQ-Oh and Diesel-Oh together to form “Cho Ressha Gattai Cho ToQ-Oh” (rolls off the tongue, I know).
Favorite episodes from this arc:
Starting Station: “Let’s Ride the Limited Express Train”: Intro Episode, lots of fun.
Station 3: “Desperate once Convinced,” aka “Kagura is a bada$$.”
Station 10: “Tokatti Dies at Sunset”: Tokatti is doomed to die due to a typewriter monster that writes people’s fates.
Station 14: “Lost Cop, Great Detective”: an incompetent cop arrests four of the five ToQgers for a crime they didn’t commit, and Hikari has to prove their innocence. Debut of the “Kendama Deka!”
Connecting the Lines/New Allies, New Enemies
Around episode 17, we are introduced to Zaram, a former Shadow Line army member and colleague of General Schwarz, who is tasked with maintaining the railroads that the Rainbow Line runs on. Light takes a liking to him, and eventually Zaram becomes friends with the other ToQgers, gets a new name, “Akira,” becomes the Orange Ranger, ToQ Roku-Gou, and has access to the third major mecha in the show, the Build Ressha, which can transform into “Ressha Gattai Build Dai-Oh,” and can combine with ToQ-Oh and Diesel-Oh to become “Cho Cho Ressha Gattai Cho Cho ToQ-Dai-Oh.”
Akira also happens to have another of the missing Resshas, the Drill Ressha, which allows the Rangers to access towns that have been so heavily hit by the Shadow Line that they’ve been frozen in place, lost to the real world, and are off any existing map. Around this time too, we are introduced to Emperor Z, who at first seems like someone who honestly is curious about the world around him. He has an over fascination with things that shine, and is drawn to the light, despite it being lethal to him. (He literally installs a disco ball in the main throne hall as a way to have more light around him and the others.
As the story progresses and Z becomes more and more of a threat, the ToQgers find it increasingly harder to win their fights, free enslaved towns, and begin to lose their childhood memories as well. Light begins losing his innocent childlike demeanor and begins to feel the effect of the darkness that Z tries to instill in him.
Eventually, the wedding of Z and Gritta proceeds as planned, however, Gritta, in “Kirby” fashion, eats Z, taking her place as Empress of Darkness. At the end of this arc, she tells Schwarz she loves him and is about to return his handkerchief, when Z literally breaks out of her and absorbs Gritta into himself to obtain her light. She is later freed by the combined efforts of General Schwarz and Madame Noir; however, this results in Z transforming into Z Shin, who promptly kills them both.
Favorite episodes from this arc:
Station 17: “The Sky after the Rain”: Akira’s debut, one of my favorite 6th Rangers ever.
Station 19: “Now Departing! Build-Dai-Oh”: Tokatti and Akira are forced to work together to find Akira’s Ressha.
Station 25: “Right out of a Fairy Tail”: In their next station stop, the ToQgers come across various fictional characters, including Tokatti’s favorite superhero ‘Ryo Knight,’ but not all is as it seems.
Station 30: “The Birthday Celebration”: Kagura remembers that it’s Mio’s birthday, so she learns how to bake a cake. Meanwhile, the other Rangers are cursed by a shadow monster, and are forced to care for a baby bird that lives in ghastly wigs they are forced to wear. If the bird dies, they die.
As the series begins to wrap up toward the finale, we finally learn of the location of the ToQgers hometown! It turns out that their hometown is actually under the Terminal Castle that the Shadow Line calls home. We also find out that Light starts to have darkness coming out from his body as he remembers that he was the first one to touch darkness and the reason that Light teleports into the Kleiner, rather than the Rainbow Line with his team at the beginning.
It is revealed that the same light that haunts Z during the series is actually Light himself, and that the two left imprints on one another, which ultimately could prove fatal for the two.
After the ToQgers make a pit stop at the main HQ of the Rainbow Line, they find out that they were never really adults or teens to begin with, but instead have been kids the whole time. They also are told that they can no longer be ToQgers by the Rainbow Line President, who explains that, if they continue fighting, they risk not being able to become kids ever again, and their families and friends would no longer know who they are, despite their town being saved.
Light decides to face the Shadow Line alone without having his team involved. He takes their Rainbow Passes and has them destroyed, which causes the team to return to their true forms, but without any memories of Light and being ToQgers.
His friends manage to remember him thanks to the photos that Akira places back in their secret hideout, however, and they are able to join Light as part of the final battle, being led to the Terminal Castle by Miss Gritta, who returns to help take out Z once and for all.
Light ends up being controlled by the darkness, despite still fighting for the light, and his suit is covered in the same darkness that permeates the Shadow Line’s home base. Once his friends come to and they combine their power in the final showdown against Z, however, he is given the Rainbow Ressha, a combination of all the Resshas powers (which gives Light a really cool looking rainbow suit too).
Light and the others win the day, but they’re seemingly trapped in their adult forms. Happily though, their families were able to remember them due to their imaginations and they are finally returned to their child forms. Akira and the other Rainbow Line personnel depart, while the children continue their regular lives, and go back to school, with their memories intact and the Shadow Line defeated (seemingly).
Favorite episodes from this arc:
Station 38: “Lets make a movie”: The Ressha stops at a station under the power of Film Shadow, leading the ToQgers to help produce a rival movie to defeat the monster.
Station 41: “The Christmas Battle”: The ToQgers attempt an assault on the castle in order to free their hometown.
Station 46: “The Final Destination”: Akira stops Light from taking on Emperor Z as Dark ToQ 1gou on his own as he fears for his safety and promises to fight by Light’s side. Elsewhere, the other ToQgers, as children once more, go to their secret base and find something completely unexpected.
Terminal Station: “The Shining Ones”: The massive monster’s darkness has engulfed Light, the other ToQgers on the Resshas, and the whole city. Light cannot face Zed even using the darkness and he is unable to imagine himself being victorious. Just when he has run out of options, the other ToQgers appear to save him. Then, among the darkness they can see the lights of the lamps for the Star Festival.
Ressha Sentai ToQger is a show with many turns, twists, and wonderful elements that made it a must watch for me. Light is, admittedly, one of the many Super Sentai Red Rangers that seemingly cannot lose, and is the “God’s perfect, lovable idiot” type to some degree, but I love him. I love all of these Rangers. They’re all wonderfully written, have their own personalities, likes and dislikes, and the Shadow Line is a considerable threat.
I would highly recommend this as an intro series for anyone curious about watching their first Super Sentai series, and, while yes, Gokaiger might be the go to recommendation for ‘baby’s first Super Sentai show,’ ToQger comes highly recommended from me. Be sure to check out the movies and the crossovers with Kamen Rider Gaim once you’ve completed this series as a whole too. Those are a lot of fun to watch (and speaking of Kamen Rider Gaim, I MIGHT be talking about that in a future installment).
On behalf of all of us at Voices from the Grid, may the power protect you all!
-Yellow Ranger signing out.
PS: You can follow me on social media!
Check out my other podcasts at www.castwavestudios.com
Follow me on twitter at www.twitter.com/onedrunkgeek
Follow my Instagram at www.instagram.com/drakken22