Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Doubutsu Sentai Zyuohger Episodes 45-48

Every year we fans of Japanese superheroes bare witness to the ending of one series and the beginning of another. It's a constant, not unlike the changing of seasons. Likewise, Zyuohger has been something of a constant, kinda like old faithful, never really going out of bounds or becoming too exciting, but never one to let it's audience down. I felt rather safe in the assumption the series would wrap up in much the same fashion, but then something happened. Something that's honestly a refreshingly nice surprise. In the eleventh hour, when all the show needed to do was blow up it's prime baddie, the writers actually took the time to tie some themes together and make a point. A legitimate, relevant, and well presented point. It's the sort of last minute play that may well earn the show a higher standing than it would have had under normal circumstances, but let's not get too far ahead of ourselves, we have to trace our path to this moment first.

Episodes 45 and 46 were primarily focused on the battle against Azald who is revealed to be the nearly indestructible monster that Cetis the Whale fought centuries ago. In a wise choice, this was mainly a fight for the four zyumen of the team. Sure, Misao healed out, but largely it was a more personal fight for these beings to complete a task their ancestor had started.
Where was Yamato during all of this? He was dealing with some major family issues. First we finally got to the heart of why he hates his dad so much. The guy was always very distant, leaving Yamato and his mother alone, and the last straw was when dad failed to reach the hospital before his wife passed, which Yamato took as proof his father never cared about them. When finally taking the time to confront his father, he learns that the reasons daddy was late to the hospital was the he was helping a wounded Bard the bird man who'd been shot by hunters. Discovering that his father missed saying goodbye to his mother for a good reason and that Bard has been his protector all these years in order to repay a life debt throws our hero into something of a rage dump.

The following episode played things rather safely. Yamato makes amends with his father, Master Genis kick starts his final plan to destroy Earth by injecting his genes into it, which finally explained why his ship looks like a bow and arrow (cause it is), and the team has to fight Naria, who after all this time didn't prove to be much of a threat. Mostly it was all set up for the final showdown, which is where things get good.

Throughout the whole series there had yet to be any revelations as to who Master Genis is or what his greater plan may entail. During the long final battle, the truth finally comes out that Genis is simply a mass of Moebas, those generic goons the team battles on a weekly basis. In a series which touted the strength that comes from different individuals being connected he was living proof, though that's not the way he looked at it. Instead, Genis is ashamed and insecure, feeling his true existence to be a weakness. That insecurity serves as the driving force for him to travel the stars, eliminating other beings in an attempt to prove his superiority. So deep is his self loathings that when Naria comes to his defense, he kills her for daring to show him compassion.

This revelation brings up another discovery, when Misao realizes he was chose by Genis to become a ranger because the villain recognized the same self-hatred within the young man, and hoped that understanding would make for a more successful partnership. His teammates remind him that he's better than that as since he understands emotions along with the importance of friendship and connection. Soon enough, the planet itself restores/boosts their powers, including Misao's ill-gotten ones. Finally, the guy feels truly accepted, not just by his friends but by the very planet itself.

I won't bore you with the details of the battle, suffice to say it involved plenty of explosions, and one last power-up for Yamato. Honestly it was fairly basic for a last battle, thankfully the show wasn't done with the twists just yet.

Having saved the world, the team decided it was time to reopen the portal that connects to zyuland so the four could return and attempt to convince their leaders to begin a peaceful coexistence with the human realm. The group shares in a hug, a moment that only further cemented Leo and Misao as the key characters from this show, and that's when something interesting happened. Instead of the portal reopening, zyuland was placed back on Earth as it had been eons ago. The friends were reunited with their families and given the chance to spend every day around each other with the responsibility of protecting and guiding this new world where humans and zyumans must try to get along.

While the series had a few lacking elements during it's run, Bard's small tenure as an extra hero for instance, this ending should secure it a pretty solid spot in Sentai history. Frankly, when the show began I never expected such a relevant point to be made from the adventure. It's a fine message though. Don't let some insecure turd on a thrown ruin everything in a vein attempt to prove their superiority. Actual strength comes from caring and a communal spirit. Well, superpowers and spandex help too.

So that's the show, kiddies. Don't fret too much though, Zyuohger will return in video specials and films to come, not to mention a few that have already been released. Unlike Ninninger, I'll actually be pretty eager to review these flicks as well.

Next week kicks off the next Sentai Series, Kyuranger. My current aim is to give this one a new kind of review format and see how things work out. Today though, let's just enjoy how well Zyuohger turned out. As a series, it proved that there was always another chance at making something special. That'll do, show, that'll do.

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