Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Uchu Sentai Kyuranger Episode 1

It's always odd to see how much can change overnight. Just a few days ago I was still trudging through snow, in desperate need of a haircut, and prepping for a visit to a new dentist, while contemplating the end of Zyuohger. Now it's sunny and warm, my head is probably a good 2 pounds lighter, I've got a series of appointments to repair my teeth, and I'm trying to get used to Kyuranger. Things sure can change fast but some of that change can be troubling. The new dentist is a huge improvement, the new Sentai however, I'm not so sure.

Let's lay out the basics first. Uchu Sentai Kyuranger is a big shift from the nature loving, moderately sized force that was Zyuohger. This year we're looking at a intergalactic group that will eventually balloon into the double digits battling an evil space empire. Thankfully the show's only introduced a handful of heroes and villains thus far so the audience isn't completely overwhelmed.

I want to address the positives of this premiere first. Namely the production quality. It's a rare treat to witness a tokusatsu show with this level of production value. We're talking costumes, sets, CG, lighting, action, and even photography that's a cut above the usual sentai. It's like watching someone just throw money at the screen, assured they'll make it all back plus some with toy and collectible sales down the road.

Unfortunately, the show so far is just lights and sounds with nothing much to back it up. The story is pretty standard. The evil organization, Jark Matter (yes like jerk and dark matter combined) rules over the galaxy. A rebel group forms to fight them based entirely around a legend of heroes imbued with constellation powers who will save the day. In all fairness, it is early and a twist could happen somewhere down the road, but for now, plot is not what you'd call unique.
Perhaps the characters have something more interesting to offer the audience. Honestly most of them are pretty flat too. Let's take Sparda, he's the yellow ranger and a cook so he makes lots of allegories and jokes relating to cooking. Champ is a giant bull robot who's all about being strong. Naturally he does strong guy stuff like work out and prattle on about justice. Raptor is a machine who's good with machines.....you see where this is going.
The worst offense of all is our new red ranger, Lucky. I'll give you one guess what he's all about. It's just constant loud statements about luck and it's tiresome from scene one. How he plays into the story is almost worse. He's out for a joyride in space, gets drawn into a fight, and decides he wants to be a Kyuranger. Guy has never even heard of Jark Matter even though they're the unquestioned evil overlords of the galaxy. Sure Lucky may have been oblivious to all the injustice in the universe for his entire life but you'd better believe he's serious about putting an end to it. Ugh, this guy.
Not all is lost however as there is some hint of actual personality with a few characters, mainly Hammy. She's our green ranger and a space ninja which granted is everything nine year old me wanted in a wife but that's not what makes her unique. Instead of being a disciplined warrior as her ninja background would suggest, she comes off as something of a goofy slacker. In short: MVP=Hammy. Affront to good taste=Lucky.

This is all coming across as rather negative isn't it? I'm sorry kiddies, I wish there was something better to be said about this premiere episode but really it's just shiny and dumb. Years of toku fandom have taught me that a series isn't set in stone from the start. Change is a constant after all. Let's stick with this one for a little while, folks. If we're lucky (there's that word again) we'll find ourselves watching a much better show in a few weeks.

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