5. Creepy Children
Whether it's The Shining's Grady girls or The Omen's Damien, creepy kids pop up again and again in fiction, and Toei's no stranger to them either. With Super Sentai, Kamen Rider and Ultraman being marketed to children anyway, kid characters are a popular choice - and they can't always be heroes like Gosei Sentai Dairanger's Kou or the more recent Tensou Sentai Goseiger's Nozomu.
|Agito's OverLord of Darkness|
Or what about Kamen Rider Agito's OverLord of Darkness? A mysterious and powerful villain bent on genocide of the human race, who did Toei choose for the role? A tiny Kamiki Ryunosuke, who hadn't even hit the double digits at that point.
4. Awkward Setting Transitions
If by any chance, we were to hand over Toei's back catalogue to a spaceship full of aliens who knew nothing about Earth geography, it's very likely that those aliens would come away with the impression that Japan is full of cities with forests and empty quarries sitting in the middle of them. The kings of clumsy setting transitions, Toei loves forests and quarries. Never mind the fact that the majority of Toei tokusatsu is set in Tokyo, why not have the heroes chase a villain out of a busy city street only to find themselves smack bang in the middle of a sprawling forest? Watch just a handful of episodes of Super Sentai and you'll soon discover that in Tokyo, a gigantic quarry is only a backflip away.
3. Weird Families
At the beginning of this article I mentioned Magiranger's happy Ozu family. However the truth is that for every well-adjusted family in a Toei show, I can give you five utterly messed up ones. How about Kamen Rider Den-O's head-hurtingly confusing family dynamics? The Den-O movies see a teenaged Ryoutarou travelling around with his adult grandson, his pre-pubescent niece and, occasionally, her parents who haven't had her yet.
|W's Wakana and Philip|
Only in the world of tokusatsu can the fans rest in absolute certainty that they will be given at least one episode in which a character cross-dresses for the sake of humanity's continued existence. For Tokusou Sentai Dekaranger's Tetsu, cross-dressing to save the day happened so often that upon seeing him show up to save her in a dress in Magiranger vs Dekaranger, fellow team-mate Jasmine shrugged, "well, it's no different from a usual day". The Shinkenger OVA gave us the somewhat more rare example of a girl cross-dressing, with Kotoha and Mako decked out as schoolboys (and the boys as girls-pretending-to-be-boys, in some sort of strange re-enactment of a Blur single).
Just to prove that they can multi-task, Toei combined number three on this list with cross-dressing when Kiva's Otoya forced his son Wataru to dress up as a girl and walk around with him in public.
I thought a lot about what deserved the top spot on this list. I considered the apparently ubiquitous man-eating rivers littering Kamen Rider and the mandatory visits to Kyoto in Super Sentai, but if there's something that Toei loves more than anything else, it has to be puns. If Toei were a person, it would be that guy who constantly plays on the double-meaning of everything and then laughs at his own jokes.
If the currently airing OOO is anything to go by, Toei's obsession with puns is not showing any signs of dying: our new hero fights Yummys (pronounced "yami", the same as the Japanese for "darkness"), created by the Greeed. If that pun didn't make you groan, then Toei's not doing their job right.
Let's be fair: any franchise as old as Kamen Rider and Super Sentai is going to repeat itself. That doesn't have to be a bad thing, and for me, part of the fun of a Toei series is spotting the little elements that they just can't seem to resist adding again and again.