The basic set up of Zyuohger lends itself really well to holiday specials. With two third of the team being from another world, it gives the show a good excuse to make Yamato and/or Misao explain the meaning of such and such holiday while the zyuman characters, in an attempt to fit in with Earth culture, go to different places around the city to figure out how to celebrate it properly. Holiday specials always come a little close to being gimmicky but with Zyuohger they can get away with a bit more than other shows.
There were a few small continuity references to last week’s plot-heavy episode, like Misao getting out of hospital and Ginis discussing Kubar’s attempt at rebellion, but things very quickly slot back into a comfortable status quo, which makes sense for a nice simple Christmas special. With only five episodes left after this, I wouldn’t be surprised if this was the last moment of calm before the storm. Because of the opening I was expecting a pretty standard episode with not much happening, but as it went on I was surprised by how good it was. It was nice to see the zyuman characters still adjusting to life on Earth and the scenes between Yamato and Mario were a welcome change of pace. Using Christmas as a way into talking about how Yamato and the zyumans won’t/can’t go home for the holidays was very effective and allowed this episode to have some quieter and more thoughtful moments in amongst the traditional Christmas-themed antics. Speaking of which, the Christmas-themed antics were actually quite lovely. Seeing a Super Sentai team doing something genuinely nice for their community like helping the baker were kinda heart-warming and Yamato’s comment about zyumans and humans working together was yet another surprisingly effective emotional moment for an episode I expected to be 100% fun hijinks. Not that there’s anything wrong with fun hijinks on a kids’ TV show at Christmas time, but still, it was nice to see it had something a little deeper to it.
The episode culminates in Mario finding out that the group of six teenagers in attitude who are in his house every single day dressed in colour-coded outfits are actually a Super Sentai team. I’ve always thought that secret identities were pretty tiresome plot devices that are only used to generate awkward comic relief farce situations rather than any real drama. Honestly, I don’t understand why Mario wasn’t told about everything from the very beginning. That being said, the reveal moment itself was well done, and for once I actually liked the overuse of flashbacks in a Super Sentai episode. Seeing all the times that Mario almost found out made the reveal oddly satisfying. There’s only one problem with this whole subplot, and that’s the baffling move to make Mario get on a plane and leave immediately after he finds out, meaning there’s no confrontation. It’s like the writers wanted to do something big but didn’t want to change the status quo at all. Luckily, according to the next time trailer, we are getting the confrontation scene next episode. At least they aren’t outright avoiding it and I guess it gives us something to look forward to. I’m also glad Mario found out a little bit before the finale rather than in the finale itself so we actually have a few episodes to enjoy this new status quo. In other news, I’m glad Super Sentai has finally figured out how to show the smoking crater that’s created when the ground in front of the rangers blows up.
This episode wasn’t anything too special but it was certainly a much better half hour of Super Sentai than I expected a Christmas special to be. It provided a nice breather for the series which I assume will be going straight into heavy endgame stuff next week. Zyuohger on the whole hasn’t done a particularly good job at providing enough story to fill almost 50 episodes but I’m looking forward to the seeing whether or not it manages to wrap up in a satisfying way. Mario’s first meeting with Yamato after finding out who he is should bring something new to their relationship and I’m excited to see Bard’s side story resume. Bard’s lack of a signature mecha for himself unfortunately makes him seem less like a full Sentai hero (along with his costume being an obvious palette swap) and I’m too much of a fan of his character for him to just be an ‘almost’ Zyuohger. Hopefully his arc with Blue Box McGee will end with him having ownership over those four Cube Animals he collected so at least he can contribute something to mecha battles. Despite Zyuohger‘s reliance on pointless gimmicky filler in its second half, every now and then we’ll get an episode like this that doesn’t necessary move the plot forward in a substantial way but it makes me care about the series again by showing how good the character stuff can be when they’re trying.