It's over! Not only is this the end of twelve straight months of recaps but it also marks the completion of a small personal challenge to review one whole series Realistic goals, folks. As far as achievements, it's up there with snorting Pixie Stix for money only without the burning sensation. Now that I'm done flexing over slim accomplishments, let's take a look at the final episode of Shuriken Sentai Ninninger.
When we left off last week, the End Shruiken had been activated and our heroes powers had been diminished. Two big obstacles stand in the way of saving the world, Kyuuemon is his new jacked up form, and his papa Gangetsu. Sadly, neither battle proves to be all that big a challenge though the first offers up some solid emotional beats.
Alright, so round one against Kyuuemon is fairly basic other than an excess of explosions. The real meant of fight lies in the debate as to whether Grampa had ever cared about Mr. Fox. Takaharu and the team hold on to the belief that the despicable traitor could have returned to their clan. They also regain their powers while talking up the benefits of competing with each other and working together as a family. After winning this fight, they're proven right once it's found that one of grampa's shurikens was meant for Kyuuemon should he return and become a green ranger. Foxy and Kinji even wrap up their relationship by noting they had the same struggle of being orphans who found a place within the Igasaki clan.
Kyuuemon's death is stretched out a little further as his daddy absorbs his power and goes jumbo size for the final battle. The team summons their second-generation robots and continue to talk up the value of teamwork, friendship, etc. This allows Kyuuemon's spirit to escape, thus weakening Gangetsu which gives the team the chance they need to finish him off.
Beating the enemy isn't quite the end though as there's still the matter of what to do with the End Shuriken, oh and the thousands of yokai currently destroying Earth. As the entire team has become a new embodiment of the last ninja, they make a decision to fix the damage and wish away the end shuriken, removing any reason for there to ever be another last ninja.
Everything safe at least, the kids decide to part ways. Kasumi stars her career in science, Nagi goes back to school, Yakumo teaches a mix of ninpo and magic at wizard school (totally not Hogwarts), Fuuka tries to become an idol (thought she gave up on that after the Dracula episode), Kinji opens a food cart in Europe, and Takaharu starts teaching kids the art of ninjitsu.
And that's it. Ninninger leaves us in much the way it ran. Decent enough but not much more. It's a little sad since the show wasn't terrible, yet it never took any risks or veered further into drama or comedy. It just stayed a basic, fairly entertaining action series. It wasn't completely devoid of merit. Let's take a look at some of the ups and downs
Things that worked:
Action: Morso than other Sentai was the quality of fight scenes. Choreography was top notch, with a crew of stunt people fully capable of pulling it off. Even some of the robot sequences were a step-up from previous series. This lapsed a little towards the end with more battles involving pyrotechnics and CG. Still; for a show with a thin story, the fights were usually enough to hold everything together.
Fuuka/Yuka Yano: I've praised Fuuka for a while now and it's not that she's a particularly well-written character. She's not. Overall her characterization is pretty thin. What made her shine was a combination of some of the best episodes along with the enthusiasm of Yuka Yano. She's not what you'd call the best actress around. Some of her line delivery was a little weak, but through it all there was boundless enthusiasm that only comes from someone who enjoys their job.
Gramps: While a good share of the characters were fairly shallow, the old man provided the best emotional moments and always felt like a fully developed personality. Throughout the series he was judgmental, yet guilty. Crass, yet loving. If even half the team had this level of depth, the series would have been a serious contender.
Stuff that sorta worked:
Yakumo, just not his episodes: Yakumo was definitely one of the more rounded members of the team and his actor wasn't half bad either. However; for as good as the character could be, nearly all of his focused episodes rank as low points for the series. Remember the lawnmower? How about the one with the little girl who wanted to marry him? Poor guy couldn't catch a break.
Stuff that didn't work:
Villains not named Kyuuemon: Let's face it. Most of the baddies were more bark than bite. There were one note monsters who proved to be more terrifying threats than the main villain. None of them had compelling stories or hidden agendas. Only Kyuuemon offered anything more than empty threats, and even he seemed fairly aimless until about the halfway mark.
Theme: The concept of ninja who break from tradition by being loud and colorful had plenty of potential, yet the series failed to fully embrace this theme. More often than not, something odd would be tossed into the proceedings without any payoff. Like what was the point of the UFO and surfer robots? They didn't tie into any stylistic choice or story line. Or take Kinji for example. The idea of a cowboy ninja was fully in line with breaking tradition but it was all just empty window dressing right down to his hamburger transformation device. When you consider a series like Kamen Rider Gain where every element of theme relates to the storyline and characters, the antics of Ninninger were just confounding.
While the show may be over, Ninninger will return a few more times in the future. January saw the release of Ninninger vs. ToQger which should be subtitled this Summer. Around that time, there's going to be a straight to video special introducing another girl to the team. Next year will bring yet another movie as well. Fans of this franchise will be happy to know I plan to cover the next series at least once as I want to try out a new style of recaps. Whether I continue beyond that point is up in the air. Look for that sometime next month when the show has a few episodes under its belt.
Wrapping up Ninninger isn't the only change to the site this week. You may have noticed a few additions around the joint. First up is Disqus which I hope will make keeping up with comments much easier. I'd actually hoped installation would prove to be more difficult. After all, nothing quite matches up the feeling of success you get when overcoming a technical challenge. Instead it proved to be one of the easiest web projects I'v ever undertaken.
Now for the less popular part of running a website. I'm talking about ads. Finally went all the way and joined up with Adsense along with renewing the Amazon Associates widget. Don't worry folks, this isn't a doomsday siren for the blog. I like to use this space as an educational experience so it's a good idea to fiddle with these programs. Not to mention I've never asked for a penny in the close to three years I've been posting. Expanding my web development knowledge and setting up an opportunity to make a buck or two is only natural.
That's all for today. Mid-Michigan is in the midst of what could be the coldest weekend of the year. If you can think of a better reason to do nothing, I'd like to hear it.