Here we are, 26 episodes into Zyuranger and it’s time once again for another quarterly review. This quarter of the show has given us Burai, a new Guardian Beast, and a new villain in the form of Lami. In the last 13 episodes, we’ve seen serious episodes, silly episodes, downright bizarre episodes, and a few other cool things. How have they fared compared to the first 13 and on their own? Let’s find out!

This part of Zyuranger started out with a couple of one offs, one of which I was really fond of. I’ve always enjoyed the idea that Sentai (and really tokusatsu as a whole) can transcend demographics and find itself capable of presenting something people in different age groups can take to heart and learn a lesson or two from. Having this quarter of the show start off with an episode like that was a great way to get things going and it ended up being my favorite episode of the quarter.

Episode 14 basically deals with a kid who gets unneeded pressure from his mother and school. The kid befriends a would-be member of Bandora’s Gang who didn’t get the job. The two have fun and eventually go giant and battle DaiZyuJin – when the kid’s mother appears and tells the Rangers to beat her kid. At this point, it becomes perfectly clear that the real villain is the mother who put all of this pressure on the kid that he didn’t really need. It’s a not so subtle way of telling parents to go easy on their kids when they don’t live up to expectations since…well, they’re kids. This is one of the more interesting ways of targeting the adults in the audience that doesn’t fall back on a darker story or whatever the usual trick is. As you may have noticed, this is also an episode that highlights the weirdness of this show by having a little kid…er, giant kid, face a giant robot.

Skipping ahead to episode 16, we arrive at the only episode this quarter that I wasn’t fond of at all. It’s written by Sentai vet Takaku Susumu, someone whose writing on Zyuranger I have not been particularly fond of. The writer goes from okay episodes to episodes that really make you scratch your head. This one in particular deals with a bratty kid being used in one of Bandora’s plots. In the end, everything is smiles and sunshine, cool, right? Well, no. You see, there is never anything presented to make us feel bad for the kid. There is no attempt at humanizing him beyond that he’s a bratty kid and I feel like it drags down the entire episode.

That said, yeah, episode 16 is the only episode in this quarter I disliked. The Burai arc kicks in after this and it’s nonstop greatness all the way through. I feel like you could consider it one giant six-parter because everything from the end of one episode leads into the next so seamlessly. This is definitely the highlight of the arc and the moment I know tons of people were waiting for. When you think of Zyuranger, you think of Burai the Dragon Ranger, the first regular sixth member on a Sentai team.

Up to this point, Zyuranger had not contained anything that gave our heroes too great of a challenge. As you watched the episodes, you always knew the heroes were going to come out on top, with the exception of stuff like the Delos island episodes. The Burai arc changes everything and though you don’t expect a Ranger to die or anything along the lines of that, you have to wonder how they’re going to get out of these scrapes they find themselves in time after time.

Bandora ups her game during these episodes and teams up with Burai, or rather starts using him. This is a Bandora who comes off like a scary witch. There are a ton of occultish scenes and we even see hints that she isn’t the strongest villain in this series as she tries to contact something called Great Satan. Lami is also introduced here and she is a ton of fun in her first two episodes, playing the ever faithful wife to Griffozer – who talks now! You don’t realize that the guy has never spoken until he says his first words in the series. Getting back to Lami, she’s the sort of character you want to get some more focus. Granted, she does get a decent share of focus when she’s introduced but after a while she becomes another regular member of Bandora’s Gang. I guess I wanted a late arrival villain to be a little more active even after her introduction is over.

Burai eventually joins the team and makes amends with his brother in a pretty powerful scene and then he…kind of fades off into the background. Burai finds out he only has 30something hours left to live. The hours are counted on a candle, but there’s a catch! The hours only waste away when he leaves a special room where time doesn’t really exist. This keeps him in the background, often relegating him to appearances at the end of episodes. This is one of the few things I find myself not enjoying about the second quarter of the show at all.

When he first appeared, Burai was this force to be reckoned with and he took so much of the spotlight. To have the guy relegated to end-of-episode appearances feels off to me. I’ve always felt like he might have been written into the show a little too early. I think Zyuranger could have sustained itself rather nicely by expanding upon its worldview and maybe wait to introduce Burai until episode 27, the start of the third quarter. Zyuranger and Dairanger both do pretty odd jobs of handling their sixth Rangers after their introduction arcs, though I think Zyuranger handles it better. There’s at least a reason for Burai only appearing a handful of minutes per episode but you kind of feel like they could do more with it.

Of course, doing more with Burai would mean reaching his ultimate story very early on, which again goes back to my hope they he be introduced a little over halfway into the series. Other than that? The series continues to be fairly strong. Even when it doesn’t feel like any grand story is building, you have so much fun with the stand-alone episodes that it doesn’t matter. I think the only other thing that could help the show at this point is getting the cast to do more. These guys shine when they’re given the chance to, but that doesn’t happen as often as I would like. I think this is where the idea that they’re rather bland heroes comes from. They’re just not given the chance to be individuals and stand out as often as one would like.

After this, we’re moving on to the third quarter of the show! I’ve loved this second quarter more than the first and you just hope that keeps building as the show moves on. There are some pretty big revelations and even more new toys coming up soon in the show, so things are going to be far from boring.

SOURCE: Rising Sun Tokusatsu


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