Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Uchu Sentai Kyuranger Episodes 8-12

Way back when I started this site, I ad very little in the way of primary goals in mind. One thing I did understand however was that I wanted CosmicSparky to be a more upbeat, less complaint addled place than the majority of nerdy internet spots. Of course this means I have to be careful about which topics I chose to cover. Generally I try to pick items I'm passionate about so I can experience the fun of sharing what I love with others. Every so often somethings comes along that can't be treated nicely, think Iron Fist or one of the more lackluster Star Wars books. Generally, if I can't provide a positive take or something or at least have a great deal of fun tearing it down, then I simply don't write about it. With that explanation out of the way, you'll hopefully come to understand why Kyuranger has become such a difficult item to write about. Despite my usual enjoyment of Super Sentai, this series has provided almost nothing I crave from the franchise. I took time off from the show in April hoping upon my return that the initial growing pains would be taken care of. Has the show finally developed into something worthwhile? Let's take a peak.

We catch up with the team still trying to liberate Earth. The operation at hand is based on destroying various consumarz, the giant towers that suck up planetium and hollow out planets. The entire crew is needed for this task so naturally three of them have been sent off on some completely unrelated errand. The remaining six break up into smaller groups because Spada wants to stop the evil bosses and keep people from starving. I'd take his side on this matter if not for the giant evil towers that will soon destroy the Earth, making the plight of the people pretty much moot.

During the team's separation, several of them are beaten and taken hostage by squid and octopus themed assassin's whose names I failed to register. Even the rescue team fails in their efforts against this duo. Eventually it comes down to commander Xiao to reveal that he has his own shiny spandex suit and save the day. That is until the start of the following episode when it's discovered he can only stay in his superpowered form for a limited time. While most of the crew is rescued, Spada is captured when he once again refuses to follow orders.

This new hostage situation brings on some backstory for Xiao. Before he was the commander of the rebellion tasked with finding the nine saviors, he was just an underling who found a way to force transformation. His tenure as a purple warrior lead to a confrontation where the former commander, Big Bear losses his life. Decent sob story, right? Well don't get settled in for long term emotional struggle because it's just a few pep talks from Lucky before Xiao is made into an official Kyuranger with his own dragon robot and everything.

You'd think a show that had introduced ten heroes in almost as many episodes would be content to take a breather, maybe take some time to develop one or two of them into three-dimensional beings. You couldn't be more wrong. Before you even have time to make a sandwich, there's yet another ranger joining the team. This time it's Kotaro. Who's that you ask? Good question. Kotaro is one of the kids Stinger held captive back when he was undercover within Jark Matter. There's no shame in assuming the kid would be a simple one off character who'd never be heard from again but he kept popping back up. More than that he had a wish to become a kyuranger, and if we learned anything from the previous episode, heroism in this series is just a matter of wishing really hard.
Kotaro's powers are gifted to him by the ghost of Commander Big Bear. Why's he hanging around as a ghost? Why not? The kid gets the ability to grow large, beat people with his scarf, and generally annoy the audience. Both Sentai and Power Rangers took stabs at kid rangers in the 90's only to learn it's a horrible idea and move on. Why this concept has returned, let alone in a series already overflowing with characters and gimmicks, is beyond me.

While that kid is hanging out with Lucky and getting his powers, the rest of the team is stuck on the ship as it hurtles towards the sun. Is this the moment the show takes a shot at building a tense, contained storyline? Nah, they use imminent death as an opportunity for wacky slapstick. Over eighty percent of the cast is sidelined with an ineffective comedy subplot while Lucky and some new kid hog the spotlight.

Speaking of Lucky hogging the scene, the following two episodes focus on the team trying to defeat those two assassin's I mentioned earlier while Lucky struggles with a sudden onset of bad luck. Taking all bets on whether he handles the situation with dignity or opts to throw himself around like a petulant child. Yeah.....there's the smallest trace of some tragic backstory for this twit but I dare you to give a crap when he's throwing a fit and endangering his team in some vain effort to prove how lucky he is. Adding insult to this scenario is how the other ten rangers are incapable of taking down the one assassin as a group while Lucky pretty much takes out the guy in one move, sigh.

As it stands now, the team is on a quest to use that unnecessary treasure map to hunt down pieces of a ship that will allow them to take down Jark Matter. In response the villains have sent down Singer's brother, Scorpio to deal with the dogooders. The only major shift in tone or development during these episodes is a change to the ending credit dance which now includes significantly less pelvic thrusting.

I like to preach the beauty of this franchise, of the entire Japanese take on superheroes for that matter, but this show is failing on all fronts. I've seen great, good, and some awful Sentai in my time. Kyuranger is something else, it's just lame. Even poor series like Ninninger would have one or two elements to make it mildly interesting, be that great action or a couple of good characters. Nothing I want out of a Sentai series is on display here. The story is straightforward and lackluster, the action is weak, characters are as two dimensional as they come, the humor falls flat. A dozen episodes in and it's just an overproduced clump of nothing.

I've got a proposition for my readers. With the amount of stuff I have to do in life along with other topics I could write about, would you prefer that I bite down and continue with this lame show, so long as I find an interesting way to cover it? Or would you rather I use the updates usually marked for Sentai coverage to cover other parts of the franchise such as past series and movies? Or maybe you'd like me to simply cover other topics until a better Sentai comes along? I'm eager to hear some ideas. Of course I'll be thinking on it a bit myself over the next few days as I work yet another new schedule. 

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