Shinesman Review

AKA: The Special Duty Combat Unit Shinesman, Tokumu Sentai Shinesman
Genre: Superhero Parody/Action
Year Released: 1996

Distributor: Unlicensed (DVD formally distributed by Anime Works
)
Origin: Japan
Running Time: OVA, 2 episodes, 28 minutes each
Rating/Recommended Audience: 3+
Related Films/Series: N/A
For Fans Of: Power Rangers, One Punch Man, Akibaranger, Excel Saga, The Office
Notes: This review reflects the original DVD release from Anime Works. The series starts playing once you pop the DVD in. I also watched both language dubs.
Fun Facts:



-All of the characters first names or surnames are identical to their Japanese voice actors.

-The name Shinesman is wordplay for the Japanese word “shain” which sounds like the English word “Shine”. If one translates that name it can be “corporate-man” or “company man” which works given the corporation satire that’s peppered throughout this anime. (Credit to THEM Anime for that fact)



-Actor Fact: Kyoko Sakakibara’s English dub voice actress (Traci Dinwiddie) plays a very similar role in another parody OVA series called Sailor Victory where she’s also responsible for leading a team to help save the world. Also, she’s been in Supernatural and The Notebook.


Contrary to what you might believe, I don’t just watch serious stuff out there. Don’t get me wrong, I like a lot of serious movies and series, but I also enjoy comedy when done right. After watching this little obscure OVA from the 90s after not watching it for almost a decade, I was surprised how much I laughed still.

As you can tell in this review, I’m detailing my thoughts on The Special Duty Combat Unit Shinesman.

Shinesman deals with a team of five multi-colored superheroes who all work for Right Trading Company. They look like a typical office, but they are responsible for defending the earth from alien invaders who want to take over the world through big business and corporate takeovers with a little bit of monster attacks from time to time. 

Yes, that’s the main gist of the plot and no, it’s not meant to be taken seriously. I mean the Shinesman are Power Ranger parodies led by Shinesman Red (he’s red, so of course he’s going to be the main one!) and the rest of them have gray, moss green, sepia, and salmon pink as their colors and even a bunch of kids make fun of them for their color choices. They use office themed weapons such as business card cutters, cuff beams, and tie clip bombs. To quote Shinesman Sepia: “Guys, we’ve got to do something about these lame weapons.”

It’s easy to talk about the obvious Power Rangers/Super Sentai parody elements, but there are also jokes that poke fun at anime, tokustatsu, commercials, and even corporate satire which works on so many levels. I watched it multiple times and there were so many jokes and stealth puns that I never realized until I replayed it.

The characters are quite hilarious in their own ways. Hiroya Matsumoto/Shinesman Red is a man who’s dedicated to be a company employee as he’s trying to follow his dead father’s footsteps to be a salaryman. There’s Shogo Yamadera/Shinesman Gray who is obsessed with his gray Mitsubishi Montero (or Montage) and talks about it as if it was his girlfriend or wife. Ryoichi Hayami/Shinesman Moss Green is a total ladies man who has his female co-workers fawning over him. We have Shotaro Ono/Shinesman Sepia who is a doting father and is a complete deadpan snarker in several situations. Riko Hidaka/Shinesman Salmon Pink is a feminist that takes no crap from anyone and has a little habit of destroying things in pure humor. 

Next are the villains. Prince Sasaki is this entitled alien prince who hates to be in human disguise and having to be a lowly corporate employee when doing some espionage against Right Trading Company. He even has a hilarious evil laugh in the final episode. His assistant Seki is the voice of reason who tells Sasaki to calm down and has a deadpan sense of humor. Lastly, there’s Princess Shiina who is this genki girl of a villain who’s incredibly air-headed. She even freaks out if men see her skin because she either has to kill them or make them her boyfriend. They are quite the funny bunch as they’re wreaking havoc in the business world.

The strongest aspect of Shinesman would have to be the English dub. It’s in my short list of anime series that have better English voice acting than the original Japanese tracks. The Japanese version is still funny, but the acting and dialog are way funnier in the dub. Shiina and Shinesman Red really stand out as being better in the English dub with some of their acting. Not to mention the little quips are just hilarious.

Examples:
Shinesman Sepia: You know what, she’s [Shiina] one OVA short of a series.
Shinesman Moss Green: I can’t die. I have a date…with Turkish twins!
Shiina: I’m gonna die in a Godzilla suit.
Seki: Shiina, get in the glowing green square.
Shinesman Gray: Gray is GOOOOOOOOOD!
…and that’s not even half of the jokes that show up in there.

The animation is dated, but in a weird way, it still works. You can definitely tell this was made in the 90s with the colors, reused transformation scenes, and effects. There’s a part of me that wants to bash Production I. G since their track record is so much better. Shoot, they made Ghost in the Shell the same year, for crying out loud. The animation style actually adds to the humor since from an American perspective, Power Rangers is a 90s icon and the vintage effects totally work here.

It’s not some cerebral anime by any stretch of the means, but the jokes are really witty as mentioned before, yet it’s not a perfect mini-series. It’s too short at only two episodes. I could see this done as a 12-13 episode series which would help since there are some plot holes. The biggest one would be the storyline with Hitomi, the secretary at Right Trading Company and her connection with Seki. It never got resolved. Also, you never see the real leader of Planet Voice who’s supposed to be Sasaki’s father. You can do a major arc around these plots.

Shinesman is a fun little romp that does clever satire with the tokusatsu and corporate tropes abound. It won’t change the world, but it certainly made me laugh after all these years. I’m not even a fan of most parodies since I find many of them to be pure garbage (I’m looking at you, Friedburg and Seltzer), but this is one of the better things I’ve seen as far as parodies are concerned. With that Power Rangers remake movie being released and with the business undertones that make the satire greater in hindsight in this day and age, I would highly recommend checking out this obscure OVA. I think fans and haters alike of superheroes and sentai-related things could find something to laugh about here

.


Adjustable Point System:


Add 1 point if you like parodies

Subtract 1-3 points if you are a sub-purist when it comes to anime.

Pros:


-Excellent English Dub
-Effective satirizing of tokusatsu, anime, and business related tropes
-High replay value to catch all the jokes

Cons:


-Plot holes especially with the Hitomi/Seki arc
-Some lazy animated scenes
-Way too short



Final Score: 9/10

 Points

Content Warnings: This is a pretty tame series. While this was listed as 3+ on the Anime Works DVD, I do question it a little when Shiina gets called a bimbo a few times. The action is typical Saturday morning cartoon fare. There is some brief fan service with Shiina, but it’s not that big a deal.

-Curtis Monroe

Photos property of their respective owners and used under US “Fair Use” laws.

5 comments

  1. I remember when you were first telling me about Shinesman. I’m so glad I have your blog now so I have all these great anime masterpieces written down somewhere so I don’t forget to add them to my list! Business jokes combined with Power Rangers parody sounds like a match made in heaven for my generation.

    Like

    • Sure thing. Back when I was in high school when I had the original DVD, I let all my otaku friends borrow it and all of them thought Shinesman was funny. Watching it again after all these years was great and was surprised how well the jokes still hold up in the English dub. Business satire + Power Rangers/Super Sentai parody elements=Pure win!

      Like

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