Doubutsu Sentai Zyuohger – Episode 20 Review
It’s nice to see that even now that we have a new ranger, Zyuohger continues its record of fleshing out its characters in half the time that other Sentai‘s manage it. Although some of the dialogue from Misao early on felt a bit like a plot dump (despite it being played for comic effect), overall the episode did a good job of finally putting some personality in the Zyuoh TheWorld suit. Mainly this is achieved by having the whole episode focus around him, with the villain scheme this week simply being to get him back.
This episode felt like it had a lot more weight to it in terms of the overall storyline of the show. Instead of sending yet another monster of the week to Earth, this time the leaders of the villain faction arrived with a very specific goal in mind and they personally targeted the Zyuohgers. The effect of this is that instead of the Zyuohgers being swept along into an adventure that has nothing to do with them, this week everything revolved completely around them and their relationship to Misao. Some of the best scenes in the episode were when his past was being discussed and I particularly liked the moment when Misao and Yamato, the two human-zyuman hybrids, talked about absorbing the power of zyumans. Those two relate to each other in a way that the purely zyuman members of the team can’t and it was a surprising and interesting use of the show’s main premise. Having a team comprised of different species means you can tell stories and create relationships between the characters that other Sentai series’ can’t and it was good to see the writers doing something creative with it. In fact, I’m almost ready to forgive the show for doing the quickest and easiest possible version of TheWorld turning good and joining the team if it was all meant to be a set up for some deeper character drama later on.
In the same way that this episode finally gave some personality to one of the best Sentai suit designs in recent memory, it also utilised some of the most memorable villain designs too. The villain faction has been seriously lacking in depth this year when compared to past shows like Ninninger and ToQger so it was good to see some of the leaders wading into combat. Having the leaders actually interact with the heroes instead of just standing around in their evil lair builds more of a personal ‘arch-nemesis’ relationship, like we had with Takaharu and Gabi Raizou, and just makes things more entertaining than seeing two suits (albeit two really, really cool suits) with no connection at all punch each other repeatedly. As far the villains are concerned, the weak link of the episode was obviously the Bowling Ball Org that appears right at the end for no reason other than to provide a mecha-scale opponent without killing any of the leader characters.
Just when you thought monsters of the week couldn’t get any more insubstantial, this arc of Zyuohger came along and made them all pretty much irrelevant, to the point that I actually forgot that Bowling Ball Org hadn’t been defeated already. This character is also the only part of the episode that isn’t really related to TheWorld’s story (although they do manage to get a joke out of TheWorld’s guilt over keeping him alive). As a result, his inclusion really sticks out as being something shoved awkwardly into what is otherwise a really tightly constructed character focus episode. It was an example of the tropes of Super Sentai working to make a storyline worse. “Hey, the rules say we need to end with a mecha battle! I know, let’s just force one in that isn’t actually related to this week’s conflict at all!” Still, if nothing else it provided an excuse for TheWorld to show off his cool mecha some more.
This episode was a big step up from previous weeks’ simply because TheWorld is an actual character with a personality now and he has a more complex relationship with both the heroes and villains. I’m looking forward to seeing how this will develop in future and whether or not we’ll learn anything about the three zyuman characters who had their powers taken to create him. Either way, Misao is a great character and I hope the show makes good use of him going forward.
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