Five weeks ago I set out to cover the entire team of Jetman, a decision that I have second guessed myself on everyday since. It’s not been the best experience I’ve had with writing in this column but it has been an enlightening one. I’ve come face to face with my limitations with spacing out my articles as well as to what extent I can draw from a single source. Finally, though, despite all of my mixed feelings on my decision to tackle a full Sentai team at once I have made it to the very last week. With it being the last week of this far too exaggerated feature I of course hoped that it could go out with a bang. While this may not exactly be a bang per say it does however feature one of the most important characters within Jetman.
Today’s character is one that definitely knows how to life to it’s fullest even through the darkest of times. You may not find him to be the most inspiring man amongst this team but he’s certainly got his charms about him. He’s the cool headed and ever so suave member of the Jetman team with a penchant for enjoying every facet of life be it risqué or even better. So enough stalling for space lets dive in to the analysis of Yuki Gai, Jetman’s Black Condor.
-Warning: There are things past this point that are spoilers. You’ve been warned, so don’t come complaining if something gets spoiled for you.-
Over the course of the series Gai is probably the one character to undergo the most change in his personality. Starting out he was your typical cool-headed renegade playboy with a habit of acting out against anyone who rubbed him the wrong way. He’s a man with no loyalties to anything or anyone but himself with a diehard love for music and any woman with a pretty face. Gai is definitely not what you would think to be the best choice as a protector of the people, nor did he ever intend on being such. If there’s one thing Gai knows, though, it’s how harsh this world can truly be.
When first approached by the team in order to join the team Gai’s rather opinionated and tough headed personality clashed with everyone else especially the moral upstanding Ryu. Gai quickly shows that his sense of justice is more or less self contained and he is less than enthusiastic about the idea of being bound to the duties of a team. Honor, duty, justice, they’re all just limitations in Gai’s eyes who’s philosophy on life usually revolves around having as much fun as possible. Be it to work or to his current girl Gai isn’t one to be attached to anything for long and is highly opposed to the idea of joining the team. Even after their first big battle Gai simply takes off and it’s only through heavy persuasion from the others that he stays on the team, though reluctantly so.
Since he is so opposed to the sense of attachment Gai’s loyalty to the team is pretty much nonexistent. He shows little interest in training and will often simply leave should he ever have to actually work. It’s established pretty quickly that Gai’s sole reason for staying with the team is to win over Kaori and shows no plans to stay once he does. In fact he will often take almost any excuse to leave the team for good and shows no heartbreak over the few times that the team appears to dissolve, instead only showing a sense of relief and cheerfulness. Still despite the numerous attempts to get out of his duties Gai always returns when the team really needs him, whether it be for their sake or his own.
Contributing to his distaste for being on the team Gai can often be rather hot headed especially in the presence of Ryu. The two often butt heads due mostly in part to Ryu’s upstanding and hardworking personality being in complete contrast to Gai’s laid back and somewhat selfish personality. This facet of his personality causes several rifts in his relationships with other characters with the exception of Kaori at times. Going hand in hand with his short temper Gai also has a severe lack of patience. Since Gai is the kind of person who likes to enjoy himself without much work or stress the need to focus on accomplishing a task causes him to grow impatient and there by fuels his temper. Gai has become far too comfortable with a life of instant gratification which has dampened his sense of responsibility. Of course much of this trait is due in part to his selfish behavior as he is not one to really worry over others, which once again detracts from his trustworthiness within the team.
This untrustworthy attitude that Gai receives from his team isn’t due solely to his lack of loyalty to the team. Rather, Gai is a fairly morally ambiguous person with a penchant for drinking even while on duty, gambling, and of course his frequent womanizing. Once again all of this is attributed to his more laid back demeanor, though, at times he will overextend himself with these habits simply out of rebellion toward Ryu or the team. Still while he may not be the most trustworthy person Gai is a very dedicated man when he does set his sights on a certain goal. When he expressed his love for Kaori he became more or less obsessed with winning her over and went to extreme lengths in order to do so. During this time his selfish attitude was usually put aside whenever she was around and he even risked his life on several occasions in order to protect her. Still while Gai’s dedication to her is very strong during his attempts to win her heart, afterward when they do finally become a couple his devotion to her wavers immensely as he still falls in to his woman chasing old habits.
Now when I mentioned last week that Ako stood out in terms of her social abilities I wasn’t really lying despite Gai‘s habitual activities. Gai does have a very charming demeanor and is able to coerce people should he feel like it but most of this charm really extends to woman. Beyond that he shows little interest in socializing, again showing off his more rebellious attitude towards society. While he’s not exactly a law breaker, and he will stick up for others if it suits him right, he’s still very averse to large group interaction which once again is attributed to his lack of interest in being dedicated to a certain way of doing things. Since Gai is so set in his ways of doing whatever he wants he overall contrasts with most social groups despite having a high potential for socializing.
As I stated earlier Gai does go through quite a bit of change over the course of the series. While his more habitual nature remains relatively unchanged he does still grow a bit more comfortable with and even protective of the team around him. In regards to Ryu specifically he becomes far kinder and even respectful after a mutually emotional encounter in which Gai actually managed to motivate Ryu into standing up to his position as leader and overcoming his depression. After this the two show a budding friendship something that is helped thanks mostly in part to Gai’s then current romantic relationship with Kaori. Past this Gai eventually accepts most of his responsibility to the team and begins to show a kinder demeanor towards the other members, so much so that he even becomes fairly protective of them and even enraged when a new team attempted to take their spot. Overall Gai slowly became not only concerned with his own happiness but also with seeing the happiness of his new found friends.
Over the course of the series Gai actually shows to be somewhat of a fatalist. Having nearly died on several occasions Gai’s initial views on death are pretty lax though always accepting. When the idea of the Vyram empire killing everyone on earth was presented to Gai in hopes that he would join the team he simply states that he had a fun life and if he dies then so be it. After this point Gai on numerous occasions comes face to face with death and often gives in and accepts his fate before really thinking over the alternatives. On one particularly painful encounter he does show a great deal of uncharacteristic fear at his impending death stating that he doesn’t really want to die, even going through most of the stages of grief during this time, though he does still accept it despite there being a way to save him. There are of course other times where he shows far more composure as with his sacrifice for Kaori during a time when she was captured.
“Look at that sky, it’s so beautiful it hurts.”
Interestingly enough Gai has more near death confrontations than anyone else on the team a fact that heavy implies his impending future. Three years after the defeat of Vyram Gai attempts to purchase a bouquet of flowers for Ryu and Kaori’s wedding. On his way he rescues a young woman from a mugger only too be stabbed in the process. As the wedding lets out Ryu finds an ill looking Gai on a bench outside asking what was wrong with him to which Gai states that it’s just a hangover in order to not worry anyone. Afterwards Gai sits appreciating the beauty of the world, takes one last drag on his cigarette and watches over the happiness of all of his friends before silently passing. Gai had rather died in peace than spoil such a happy and bright day.
Gai shares two rather strong if not tenuous relationships with a couple of the Jetman members. These two of course being Ryu and Kaori though his individual relationships with the two are fairly contrasting. To start off, it’s no secret that Gai held a deep love for Kaori to the extent that he showed a fierce level of dedication and sacrifice in order to win her over. Still despite this their relationship took a bit of a down hill turn as the two had such differing personalities. Unfortunately Gai fell back in to his womanizing ways as he began to spend more and more time away from Kaori and instead in the presence of other women. Gai’s change of heart could be attributed to a couple of things the most basic of which just being the fact that the two simply contrasted each other in terms of personality. The other possible reason being that Gai’s instant gratifying personality caused him to be more interested in the chase rather than sticking to a commitment. Since a commitment to one person would have been a large change for Gai it’s not unprecedented that he would’ve just retreated to habits that made him more comfortable. While the specifics of their dissolved relationship aren’t made apparent the previously mentions reasons could be strong possibilities. Still while the two no longer shared a romantic relationship they kept at least a strong friendship like that of the rest of the team.
“Is that all the current Red can muster? Talk about a step down! The Red I knew could put some heart into his punches!”
Gai’s relationship with Ryu is easily the most antagonistic amongst the team as the two frequently come to blows with each other, often literally. With Ryu maintaining his strong leadership over the team and Gai’s rebellious attitude the two were naturally drawn to conflict with each other. This stressful situation was only furthered when it became apparent that Kaori had feelings for Ryu. Gai’s intense jealousy was enough to cause him to compete with Ryu on almost every decision he made for the team, creating a somewhat pseudo struggle for power. This tenuous work relationship persisted for most of the series until the two, having faced individual crises of their own, shared with each other their mutual respects resolving the bad blood between the two. Afterward they managed to work together in many battles becoming a force to truly contend with. Overtime a very strong friendship began to form as the two would at times be seen spending time outside of work together even influencing each other’s personalities as Ryu began to ease up a bit and Gai even started to show a growth in responsibility. After the three years had passed since Vyram’s defeat Gai had even stated that it was his best friends marriage implying that the two had since then established and even closer bond. It was even Ryu that shared in Gai’s last moment and it was for his sake and the others that Gai chose to hide his injuries.
Most anyone who reads this would have known by now of Gai’s inclusion in Gokaiger as well as the role he plays during that short time. In true fashion Gai fights even in death in order to protect the normal lives that his friends are finally able to have. A feat that inspires the current Sentai team as well as stands to prove Gai’s eternally resilient and devoted nature. It’s shown that even in the afterlife Gai still has a love for the more pleasurable aspects of life even going so far as to seduce God.
Through it all while Gai may not be the perfect picture of heroism he still grows to stand as a pillar of the Jetman team. He’s a man that undeniably knows how to enjoy life to the fullest even in the face of stress and danger. While he wasn’t always the most willing person when it came to putting his life on the line for other people he still overtime developed into a far kinder person with a love and protective attitude for the happiness of his friends. He most certainly has his flaws and may not seem to be the most trustworthy person at times but when the time calls for it he’s a man that would even defy death should it mean protecting the peace and lives of his team. It’s true that Gai doesn’t carry with him a happy ending but in his own views if he’s going to die then he’s going to die but at least he had fun and enjoyed his life while it lasted. To Yuki Gai that’s really all he needs.