Doubutsu Sentai Zyuohger – Episode 4 Review

Batman v Superman? Pfft! Zyuoh Shark v Zyuoh Lion is where it’s at. There’s no way Civil War can top this.

Credit where credit is due: we actually did see the characters fight each other instead of trying to find some cheap ‘power of love’ solution. Of course the other three jumped in to save the day and stop them before they seriously hurt each other but the fact that we saw them fight at all, even to the point where Sela drew blood from Leo, added so much more weight to the situation and made the characters seem way more like real people. If they had both refused, the episode would have been very dull and the characters would have seemed too much like unrealistic heroes with flawless morals, whereas seeing them fight for survival (even if Leo was holding back slightly) made them seem more desperate and genuine. Four episodes in and the Zyuohger team are already three-dimensional characters with goals, morals, hopes, and fears. Unlike Ninninger which spent its first half focusing on red and blue more than the others, Zyuohger doesn’t have a single weak link in terms of characterisation.

I know it’s a bit too early to judge them overall but I really love this team, and part of it I think is due to the lack of a mentor character. Because nobody’s telling them what to do, the main five are the ones making all the decisions so they seem smarter and more proactive than previous Sentai. Also, deciding to basically fight to the death is something that the ToQgers and Ninningers would never have agreed to in a million years. Not that there’s anything wrong with those two teams or any of the characters within those teams, but I have to admit that it feels refreshing to have a group who aren’t like the usual naive goody two-shoes’.

The music continues to be excellent this week. From the battle theme that played when the five Zyuohgers left the arena, to the slow menacing electric guitar track immediately after the opening theme, to the opening theme itself, the soundtrack this series has a great sense of energy to it. It reminds me of classic 70s Sentai which is quite fitting for the 40th anniversary series. That being said, I really wish weapons and mecha in modern Sentai series didn’t have their own jingles and themes. Or more specifically, I wish those jingles and themes didn’t play at the same time as the background music. It isn’t as distracting here and it was in certain episodes ofNinninger but it still sticks out and bugs me every time it happens. Either mute the background music when a weapon jingle happens or don’t do the jingle while background music is playing, because when both are playing it’s really annoying to listen to. It kinda saps the momentum and energy out of an intense battle scene when the tempo and melody of the soundtrack abruptly changes while they do their finisher. Now THERE’S a nitpick for you.

It was good to see all the mecha being put to good use at the end of the episode, even the ones not involved in the mecha combination. Seeing combined mecha fight alongside individual component mecha rarely happens in Sentai but it makes the battle so much more dynamic and interesting than just having two giant humanoids punching each other. Also, Cube Giraffe continues to be delightful. I hope in future episodes we start to see different ZyuohKing combinations other than 1-2-3 and 1-5-4. So far the combinations have been based on which characters have the spotlight in the story that week, which is a logical way to do things, but they could make future filler episodes feel more special by throwing in alternate combinations like 1-5-3 or 1-2-4 as a way to give us something different without actually introducing anything new.

I can’t tell if I’m just getting caught up in the ‘new-ness’ of it or if the show is really just that good, but so far I adore Zyuohger. The characters have more depth and complexity after four episodes than most recent Sentai teams had after ten, the music is fantastic, the suit and monster designs continue to be memorable and cool, and it even manages to make filler exciting by creating a real feeling of dramatic tension. Of course when this episode started I knew that Zyuoh Shark and Zyuoh Lion were never going to kill one another, but then again that was before I thought they’d even start fighting in the first place. After that happened, I was genuinely intrigued as to what was going to happen. So far, Zyuohger has had four hits out of four. I can’t wait to see where the show goes from here.

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