It's that time of the year once again. One team of spandex clad superheroes have gone into retirement and a fresh faced crew has taken their place. Yes folks it's time for a new Super Sentai series. I tried to keep up with last years installment but that miserable cunt known as 2014 sidetracked the endeavor. Of course a new year brings another chance at doing things right. Now let's get one with the show and talk about the first episode of Shuriken Sentai Ninninger.
You may recall that last years entry, ToQger ran on the concepts of Trains and imagination, this year we're working with ninjas and a “so what” attitude. The first shines through pretty well so far though the show has yet to sell a carefree viewpoint just yet. That may simply be a byproduct of this first part being almost entirely action. We don't even get the usual opening segment since we're treated to the team leader, Takaharu facing off with some grunts who destroyed the family dojo. Guy fits the pretty standard role of a sentai leader. He's upbeat and energetic and has an enthusiasm for heroics that is refreshing. No mopey cry baby heroes here. Reluctance in a sentai setting usually stems from self-doubt rather some tortured psyche.
After the opening melee we get to meet the other team members. There's Yakumo, a emotionally vacant magician. Nagi is supposed to be some trouble making man-child though he failed to cause much in the way of mischief. Kasumi.....I guess she's supposed to be interested in technology. So far she has about as much personality as my soundbar. Finally there's Fuka, whose primary skill is being adorable.
This collection of relatives are supposed to live up to their grandfathers legacy and defeat a Sengoku Era general who swore to return as a Yokai (that's a demon). Lo and behold, said general indeed returns and uses the 48 shurikens that sealed his grave as a means of turning everyday objects into monsters. Today we get a chainsaw guy. Can't say much else about the main baddies as they stayed mostly hidden for this round. Guess that means I won't have to complain about them having the same conversation every week like last year.
With everything in place we move on to a big swath of action. Most of it was decent though not as crazy and over the top as ToQger. Also there were a few instances of things like really visible wires that aren't usually a problem for these shows. One saving grace came with the giant robots. Takaharu has a robot that's actually fast! It's a revelation to watch a giant monster fight that isn't dreadfully slow. It even does some weird ninja stuff like hiding inside buildings and using the pavement as a shield before disappearing. Major points to the show for that.
After the tussle, our group settles in and finds out that their grandfather is still alive despite being monstrously old. He's also a sassy old bastard. I forgot to mention Takaharu and Fuka's dad who brings the team together. Very little details on him but he seems like a decent ditzy guy.
If it sounds like I'm a little disinterested in the whole affair it's cause it was a pretty generic beginning for a tokusatsu series. I was stoked going in being a fan of the franchise and lover of ninjas but we barely got to know the characters, never even met the big bad. There's no overarching mystery or story element other than knowing at least 48 monsters have to be brought down before the general can be sealed up again.
All is not lost though. In fact, I'm feeling rather optimistic. As energized and pumped up as I was by the awesome first episode of ToQger, things quickly settled down and got a little predictable. By starting off in the predictable area, Ninninger has a huge opportunity to build itself up rather than fall apart. It has some nice flash to it and it has cute ninja girls which when I was a kid was the only item on my wish list for future girlfriends. So I'm gonna stick with this thing and see where it takes us. Maybe it'll surprise us.