Doubutsu Sentai Zyuohger – Episode 11 Review

Immediately, this episode was a huge let down. There were two things I wanted to see after the end of last episode: Yamato talking to the eagle zyuman and G.I.F.T. continuing to destroy the Earth. Not only did Yamato instantly pass out before getting to say a word, but G.I.F.T. powered down out of nowhere and had to recharge. This was such a monumental anti-climax. And yes, I understand that they obviously weren’t going to destroy the Earth in an episode of Super Sentai, but if they knew they weren’t going to do it they shouldn’t have promised that they could have.

Massive cliffhangers are great but only when the resolution delivers, either by giving us some massive status quo-altering result (like the Earth actually being destroyed) or by coming up with a clever or fun way of getting out of the situation. Here, the massive alien super weapon just…stopped. And the Zyuohgers…went home. It wasn’t clever or fun or in any way entertaining to watch; it was just disappointing. The only particularly interesting thing about the way the cliffhanger was resolved came when Yamato put it together that because the eagle zyuman looks human now, he must have the Champion’s Symbol they’re looking for. That was a nice twist that I didn’t even think about, but the show set it up well by having Larry try and fail to become human several episodes previously, showing that you need to be bonded with a Champion’s Symbol to do it.

Despite the way the cliffhanger was handled, the rest of the episode was decent. There were some great human-scale battles and I particularly like how comparisons were highlighted between how Yamato fights and how the eagle zyuman fights. Having different zyuman characters fight each other made them feel more like their own species with their own problems instead of being a completely uniform race who all agree on everything. It was the first real moment of the series that in no way concerned humanity and instead was purely about these strange creatures that are trapped in our world. Other great fight scene moments include when Yamato got punched through a skyscraper by G.I.F.T. The CGI was typical Sentai quality (which I still say is really good considering they make 50 CGI-heavy episodes every single year) but the way it was directed and the accompanying sound effects really sold it for me. Oh, and the shot of the team transforming in front of the building with G.I.F.T. reflected in the glass was brilliant.

But for all the good things about this episode, the fact that the team didn’t just pick up the Champion’s Symbol before running to help Yamato was seriously frustrating and clearly something done to artificially give them a difficult moral dilemma. The problem is that Yamato wouldn’t have died if they took just five extra seconds to run over and put the cube in their pocket for later. Really, there’s absolutely no reason why that storyline couldn’t have ended in this episode, but instead after all this build up they all just walked away from the cube when it was right there. They later say that it’s because they chose to stay and help, but if that’s the case does that mean they just decided they never want to go home? Ever? That Champion’s Symbol would still be a pretty cool thing to have just lying around so at least they could have the option to travel between Zyuland and Earth. In fact, giving the team the ability to jump from world to world at will would have been an excellent way to shake up the status quo and start a second phase for the series, where the villains could be attacking both worlds. There’s so much potential there but instead they decided to just leave it lying on the ground.

Wild ZyuohKing was awesome and I really like its design but I’m also disappointed that it came out of nowhere. The team were only able to use it because their henshin thingies arbitrarily bleeped at them telling them they could. There wasn’t even the usual line of dialogue about how the power of friendship or love or teamwork or something unlocked a new ability for them. Literally no explanation was given, which only makes me wonder why their henshin thingies didn’t just bleep at them the first time they tried to fight G.I.F.T.

There were some nice moments in this episode and I did enjoy it overall, but there were just too many disappointments and anti-climaxes for it to live up the quality of part one. Some major plot developments were made, such as establishing that the eagle zyuman has the Champion’s Symbol, but it didn’t feel substantial enough. The team are still trying to get the Champion’s Symbol, but now they just know where it is. Other than that, this episode’s problems are the usual Sentai issues of unsatisfying cliffhangers, new power-ups coming out of nowhere, and far too many unnecessary flashbacks. Fortunately, the cast is still effortlessly likeable, the show’s designs are still beautiful, the soundtrack is still excellent, and the fight choreography still has enough going on to keep you hooked. It just could have been so much more.

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