I originally started writing this post about a month or so ago and only ended up getting little over a paragraph into it. There’s a number of reasons I decided to abandon continuing it, the first and foremost being my utter frustration and annoyance over this show. The other reason was more of my own neurosis getting the better of me as my friend Shukuen Shinobi was likely to write up a post of his own about this specific show and I hate being a bandwagoner. When I brought all of this up in conversation I got the ever aggravating “cool story bro” response which, as you can clearly see, made me want to get up and finally finish the damned thing. So here it is.
When I went into Zyuranger I wasn’t honestly expecting much and unfortunately ‘not much’ is what I ended up with. It isn’t that I went into this with a negative outlook, in fact I had really hoped that I would like it, but sadly Sentai on a whole tends to be a pretty mixed bag. You either really dig the series you’re watching or you find yourself aggravated or even worse bored by it. Zyuranger for me was a mixture of both of the latter. A lot of what we got from it was just dull and mockingly repetitive. Not mockingly in the fun sense either, this shit definitely isn’t Liveman levels of hilariously bad. Instead what Zyuranger actually was turned out to be a mundane use of a fairly decent idea. That squandering of what it could have been is what ends up annoying me most about Zyuranger.
Allow me to back up a bit. I am not what you would deem as being a fantasy enthusiast. For one reason or another there are a lot of fantasy type stories that just don’t really grab me. A lot of it’s due to a simple problem that a lot of fantasy stories don’t seem overly willing to do anything about. This problem in question is basically the mindset of “It’s fantasy/magic/a creepy shaman curse, you don’t need to explain it” and quite frankly that’s just frustrating to see within a story, but I digress. While there are not a lot of fantasy stories that catch my interest, those that do tend to be some of my utmost favorite series. Magiranger is all magic and happens to be one of, if not my most favorite Sentai series to watch. I’m not saying that Magiranger is perfect by any means, but you at least have some explanation going on there. It doesn’t always have a tendency of being completely grounded, but even a bullshit reasoning is better than no reasoning.
“Aresol get on with it” OK well, Zyuranger is undoubtedly a fantasy and is actually a fantasy that could have easily done so much with the setting, aesthetic and back story that it had set up, but it didn’t. We spent various story arcs learning of the legend behind DaiZyuJin, the Zyuranger’s mythical weapons, ancient civilizations that were cursed by dino-god into being monkey people, million year old revenge stories, fuckin’ mcguffin dino-eggs and yet all of it was tossed aside for the sake of trying to force in some semblance of importance onto random civilian children.
Why? No, really? Why? The best that I can think of to rationalize this is that they were attempting to garner the favor of their younger crowd by introducing an overabundance of younger cast members. I mean, Sentai has had episodes of various series in the past that have focused on children, but the amount to which Zyuranger does so is almost sickeningly detrimental. And don’t get me wrong, I get it. Sentai is a kids show and pandering to kids is what these kinds of shows do. That’s fine, but there is such a thing as over-pandering and there is a limit to how much even little kids will sit through if a story or events within said story are not entertaining.
Unfortunately, it’s not just the story that suffers because of this. The characters are awful. All of them. Even my favorite character within the show, Bandora, is still a crappy character for the position of importance that she’s put in within the story. I’m in full support of a villain being fun to watch, but some kind of balance has to be struck. A villain character can be funny, quirky and threatening all at once without losing their validity as the antagonist. Hell, the fact that Bandora was goofy could have easy worked towards making her slightly redeemable in the eyes of the viewer once her back story was revealed, but that just isn’t how it worked out. With a lack of thought put behind her plans, an overall mission that was extremely vague and flimsy to boot, and a lack of reasoning behind any of it before episode 48 just all amounted to a character that was fun, but ultimately not worth worrying over.
Then there were the Zyurangers themselves. While not lacking in personality necessarily, they still aren’t anything more than a collection of paper thin character traits that even a brain dead vegetable could’ve devised. I’m honestly not even going to waste my time with them all individually as my fellow Zyu-hater Shuki had. There’s nothing there and the few episodes that any of them actually got to themselves were either squandered by it being filler or just simply would have been something that was better off in a completely different show. And yes, this includes Burai. Throughout my entire watch through of this series I kept being told to just wait until Burai showed up because then it would get better, then it would be a good show. No. The episode that led to Burai’s showing up was my breaking point on this series and while the subsequent episodes did see an increase in quality it was ultimately squandered by the show’s complete misuse of the character. Any interesting aspect of Burai was confined to the spirit room along with him only to be let out for a meager number episodes. For it being the big first appearance of a sixth warrior and for it supposedly establishing this meaningful bond between him and Geki it was in the end just another waste of time.
It’s like I said at the beginning, though. What annoys me most isn’t the children and it isn’t even the thinly written characters. Those sure as hell didn’t help, but regardless the thing that gets me is just that this show could have been better. It could have shown me that at least something decent could have come from the blind love that this series garners. It really could’ve been more, but sadly what could have been just isn’t enough.