The Giraffe Bazooka is everything I hoped it would be and more. Is it too early to call this the Best Sentai Ever?
I really enjoyed this episode of Zyuohger for a number of different reasons, but mainly because it took the events of the first two episodes and used them to build momentum for the future. Instead of just sitting around and waiting for the monsters to attack, this week saw the team searching for the missing Champion Symbol that will allow them to get home. It’s a simple idea but it gives the group something to do while they’re in their default state and nothing else is happening, giving the overall plot of the show a sense of focus. Whether or not this continues for the rest of the series, right now the team have a clear goal: get home. It’s simple but effective in making us feel like they’re actually doing something with their time rather than just hanging around between episodes achieving nothing. This goal also allowed us to learn more about Amu this episode, who gained a lot of depth by demonstrating that just because she’s always optimistic doesn’t mean she’s naive.
The mystery of the bird-man who gave Yamato his henshin device as a child is also built upon with Yamato developing eagle-like vision. This is a thread that will likely continue in future episodes, possibly culminating in the reveal that Yamato is an eagle zyuman. Regardless of the explanation, I hope Yamato’s arc of learning how to use his powers is done as well as the training was in Ninninger. This episode also introduced us to the other animal cubes which the team will be collecting as the show goes on. Whereas Episodes 1 and 2 did a good job at establishing the basic premise of the series, Episode 3 was really all about setting up the team’s current objectives and the direction the show will be taking them for the foreseeable future, and it’s really got me excited to see where the story is heading.
My only real nitpick at this stage of the series is that the villains could do with a little more focus. The idea of the Blood Game as some sort of ritualistic tradition that’s part of the villains’ culture is a fascinating concept that I hope the show makes the most out of. Also despite the series having amazing monster designs, none of the villain characters have any real personality or memorable traits yet with the exception of Nalia, or as I call her, Green Toxica. Obviously this is only the third episode so it’s far too soon to make a judgement on them, but I hope the villains get some more attention soon because visually they look great and the basic idea behind them is one of the most original Sentai has had in years.
This episode had some really fantastic moments, my favourite being when Leo got a phone call from Amu who was standing right next to him just out of shot. Not only was it a good gag that got a genuine laugh out of me but looking back on it, I had no idea who I expected the call to be from. It made me realise that Zyuohger is fairly unusual so far in that the team doesn’t have a mentor or any sort of side character who knows about their mission. The fact that the team are trapped on Earth and facing these new challenges all on their own gives them a feeling of isolation and forces them to be more proactive instead of waiting for a Zordon-esque leader to tell them what to do. It’s a unique spin on a 40-year-old formula that I only just noticed in that tiny moment of Leo answering a phone call. Really, they only have each other to be in contact with.
Other great moments include the fight on the bus which, while some shots were obviously achieved using green screen, was still very well done and was a welcome change from the usual monster encounters. That being said, the first fight scene with the monster going up against yellow, blue, and green was really awkwardly done with the fake tension building up to when he’d fire the crossbow. It was only when it happened a second time and Yamato was able to dodge the arrows that I realised what they were trying to do by emphasising the speed it was happening at. The first time around, the rangers could have easily jumped in to attack him instead of standing around in poses waiting for him to fire.
Zyuohger has got off to a great start. The characters are already really memorable and likeable to the point that even the generic quirky optimistic one has a surprising amount of depth to them. The episode set up a lot of threads which will no doubt be followed up on in future episodes. I just hope they don’t do what they did with ToQger and set up a goal for the team to pursue (like finding their home town) but clog up the series with so much filler that it’s as if they aren’t even trying to find it. Now that the Zyuohgers have goals, I’d like to see these goals drive the story in the next few episodes instead of it all being pushed to one side for a meaningless subplot. Let’s see if the show manage to keep this momentum, and quality, going.