Ramble Reviews: Kyoryu Sentai Zyuranger
Author’s Note: These are my opinions. My opinions are vastly different than most of the fandom 90% of the time. I also wrote this late at night where my mind was certainly in an incredibly satirical mood. If you disagree with what I’m saying below, hurray! Let me know your thoughts on the show in the comments.
There WILL BE SPOILERS. I sum up the show, reveal the fates of characters, and several other things. If you don’t wish to be spoiled, close the review, go watch the show, and come back when you’re ready. I REPEAT: THERE ARE SPOILERS HERE.
Anyway, spoiler warning completed. Enjoy the review, and look forward to more reviews as I watch new Toku in 2013. This is really fun to do.
After Jetman, I was ready to move on to something new, and the book club decided to move onto Kyoryu Sentai Zyuranger. Like most people in this fandom, I was introduced to Tokusatsu through Mighty Morphin Power Rangers. Now I actually really hate MMPR. While I respect it for what it did at the time, and bringing me into this wonderful franchise, I find watching MMPR, particularly Season 1 incredibly grating and difficult to do. I was hoping Zyuranger would bring these suits back into my life and let me enjoy seeing them again. I even heard quite a few good things about Zyuranger, so I was really looking forward to watching it. Unfortunately, I was disappointed with the end result.
Let’s talk story.
Now let’s talk characters. Okay, I’m kidding. A little. Zyuranger’s story was basically this: Bandora is a crazed bitch that really hates children, love, and anything the Powerpuff Girls are made out of. At the beginning of the show she’s basically made out to be a huge witch bitch. It’s later revealed (by later I mean the end of the freaking show) that a dinosaur killed her kid, so she sold her soul to Satan to become the greatest witch ever and kill all the dinosaurs or something to that degree. Barza and the other clans didn’t take any of her shit and the rest is history. Now that the stupid astronauts released Bandora, the Zyurangers are reawakened from their sleep to defeat her. Outside of that there is only two other main plot points this show carries. One is Burai, Dragon Ranger, who is revealed to be Geki (Tyranno Ranger’s) brother. Poor Burai only has a certain amount of time to live (because he’s already dead and was revived to fight Bandora and restore Ultimate Daizyujin) and every moment spent outside his little Timeless Cave burns his candle away until it runs out and he dies. The second continuous plot point involves two dinosaur eggs. They’re found, lost, found, lost, found, lost, and found again multiple times before they finally keep them for good and are stored inside King Brachion. While it is stated multiple times that these are the last remaining dinosaur eggs (a male and female so that dinosaurs can apparently repopulate the Earth) it isn’t revealed until the end of the show that if these eggs are destroyed and don’t hatch, the Zyurangers lose Daizyujin, the Guardian Beasts, and their powers. Yeah.
Those of you that know me know I love serial story lines. I know Sentai is primarily an episodic show, but things like Blajira’s series long infiltration plot, Enter’s plot to become the next Messiah, and even something as simple as the Gokaiger’s collecting the Grand Powers are all serial story lines that were relevant in most of the episodic episodes of their respective series. Zyuranger’s format was basically a few story telling episodes about Burai or the eggs sprinkled into about 35 episodes of filler about children being in danger. To top it off, one of the continuing story lines, the eggs, ended up becoming so increasingly annoying that they couldn’t keep a hold of the damn things that every time they appeared at the beginning of the episodes, I could basically predict that they’d lose them again. The other story line, Burai’s, was far more engaging. Unfortunately Burai being glued to his man cave pretty much made it so his character was hardly in the show at all, only showing up at the end of episodes to summon Dragon Caesar to help the struggling Zyurangers because they can’t do it without Niisan. It hurts even more knowing that this show’s sense of time was really weird. One mecha fight would cut absurd amounts of time from his candle. I would have rather seen this story be more flushed out, as I found Burai’s struggle to balance his remaining time and his need to help the Zyuranger. While the internal struggle was certainly there, it didn’t feel as pressing of a matter when it was overshadowed by children. In the end they leave dinosaur babies with a small Japanese child (who I assume was eaten when they grew up) and fly away on a cloud .
The characters of the show don’t really help much either. Geki of the Yamato Tribe is the leader of the Zyurangers. He fights for the glory of justice and children. Actually that pretty much describes all of the Zyurangers. Goushi is the senior and full of wisdom. Dan is apparently full of courage. Boi is full of hope. Mei is full of love and caring and all that. They’re all fairly cookie cutter characters to create a diverse team of archetypes. Burai is introduced as a villain, having a grudge against Geki because Geki’s adopted father killed their actual father. After Geki hands Burai his ass on a silver platter Burai realizes he doesn’t want to die again, so he makes up with Geki and they unlock a new mecha combination. I felt like Burai could have been a very dynamic character, as I mentioned earlier, but he sort of fell flat. After being evil, he fell into the role of overprotective older brother to Geki (and the entire team). While that’s not a bad role for him, I guess I’m a little harsh on Burai because his story line pretty much sucked. Barza exists too, but I’m pretty sure he’s just a pedophile with big ears. One thing I want to nitpick on is how easy these guys fit into society. They went to sleep 170 million years ago. That’s a long ass time. Yet, the Zyurangers wake up, and instantly adapt into today’s society, know how to drive motorcycles, and aren’t bothered by the fact that what used to be temples and jungles is now concrete and skyscrapers. While I basically self-argued that their chambers could have been beaming Earth data to them so they were learning what was going on with the Earth. It just bothers me that such ancient people don’t have a problem fitting in with today’s society. They’re also stuck in their ancient tribe clothes, meaning they don’t fit in at all. At least it gives the civilians an excuse to know who the Zyurangers are instantly. It’s kind of hard to miss them. Boi is wearing a basket over his shoulders.
The villains…yeah. Bandora’s story I covered already. She’s actually incredibly non threatening. She’s a witch with cone boobs that lives on the moon and abducts children. I actually think her and Barza probably had competition to see who could abduct the most children. Her crew consists of Grifforzor, a big gold monkey that only grunts through a quarter of the show before Bandora grants him the power to speak. He teams up his wife, Lami and attacks the Zyurangers constantly. Totpat and Bukbak are a vampire bat and…goblin thing that do nothing of importance ever. Their human forms are kinda freaks and they just bounce around all the time being weird. Finally we have Puripurikan who I guess is a really polite leprechaun thing that sculpts all the DoraMonsters for Bandora. That’s all he does too. None of these villains have any development except for Grifforzor reuniting with Lami and Bandora’s final few episodes of back story. They’re pretty much there to give the Zyurangers someone to fight. The final villain of the show is actually Satan, or rather Great Satan. He comes into the show at a little over the halfway point to introduce Ultimate Daizyujin. He’s defeated, then comes back at the end with Bandora’s dead kid and gets defeated again. Great job there Satan.
While Jetman was filled with mecha fights that were either short, boring, or both, Daizyujin actually got a lot of screen time. The fights weren’t long by any means, but there was a lot more action in them, so I always felt the fights in the robots were worth watching. It could be a bit of the nostalgia talking, but I did always like Zyuranger’s robot designs. It’s Japan’s first take on the dinosaur motif (even though two of them aren’t remotely close to dinosaurs) and the end product is something that looks relatively dynamic for the Sentai robo norm at the time. What makes Daizyujin unique is that he is basically God. Yes folks, God is formed by five prehistoric creatures. I forgot to mention that God is actually part of a larger God that is essentially him using two other pieces as armor and a chair. Daizyujin has his own voice and personality, and he’s basically a giant prick. He basically counters the Zyurangers at every turn and even tries to get Geki to kill Burai. Apparently Daizyujin felt he didn’t need Burai to control Dragon Caesar and could just bitch slap him until Caesar obeyed. Regardless, Daizyujin did help when it meant reuniting with his chair and forming Ultimate Daizyujin. I mean, he’s the one that brought Burai back to life, only to try and force Geki to kill him. Don’t try to spring that “it was a test!” shit on me. Bitch was being serious, you could tell it in his eyes. He’s also the one that imprisoned Bandora at the end of the show. While this is fine and dandy, Bandora had lost her magic in the finale because she cried over the second loss of her only son. Satan doesn’t like tears. A now defenseless and grieving Bandora is now imprisoned in an urn with five henchmen and a baby. Honestly, what a douche.
The suits are something I always loved, mostly due to nostalgia, but they’re simple and work really well. Not to mention Dragon Ranger started the “armored up sixth hero” trend which is something I generally like in my heroes. While everything is basic (right down to the weapons) I do enjoy them and don’t really have any complaints. Speaking of the weapons, the team cannon is pretty nifty, even if it doesn’t seem very solid. The sword form of their sidearm is called the Ranger Stick, and for some reason I really enjoy that. The Zyurangers also had motorcycles! Well, Geki, Dan, and Goushi had motorcycles. Boi and Mei were designated sidecar buddies.
The music was…interesting. I can’t speak much for the background music of the show, but the Ending Theme is one of the greatest things ever. The first thing you see is Goushi dancing on top of a mammoth like he’s drunk and trying to go down on the air. With an axe. You can’t not love that. The ending theme also sounds like something out of Gullah Gullah Island. That is also fantastic. The opening theme is very archaic, but it gets stuck in your head really easy. It’s calm and relatively boring, just like the show that follows it. Bravo opening theme.
This paragraph is dedicated to MMPR. I don’t like MMPR. I went into Zyuranger hoping to find a show that would replace MMPR when I see these suits. Zyuranger actually gave me more respect for MMPR than I ever had before. MMPR took what was essentially a 50 episode show filled with very little story and little character development and turned it into a 40 episode show filled with very little story and little character development. While it sounds awful when I phrase it like that, there was very little crossover. A lot of MMPR’s plots were either loosely based on or entirely independent of Zyuranger’s story. While they were often just as bad, I have to give credit for at least coming up with original story elements. I’m also pretty sure Zordon was based off of Daizyujin and not Barza. Anyway, what I’m saying is that Zyuranger left me enjoying MMPR’s slight originality more. Knowing what source footage they had to work with, I can’t really fault them for making a fairly awful show. I still don’t like MMPR, but at least I respect it a bit more.
And there we have it. Zyuranger wasn’t nearly as hyped for me as Jetman. To top it off, MMPR wasn’t huge shoes to fill, so I went into Zyuranger with an entirely open slate. Unfortunately it didn’t really fill that slate any. During the middle portion of the show it felt like a chore to watch, and by the time the end rolled around and some plot points were finally revealed, I just didn’t care about it. While Zyuranger did a lot of things I like, and certainly amped up the world of Sentai robo designs, I just can’t really say all too many good things about it. I really want to chalk it up to me not enjoying 90s Sentai, I’m actually enjoying Dairanger quite a bit at the moment, so I’m not really sure anymore. Leave your feedback in the comments below. I’d love to hear from someone who actually enjoyed the show. See everyone later. I have a cloud to catch.