On the whole, I’ve enjoyed watching Zyuohger. It hasn’t been perfect by any stretch of the imagination but it hasn’t been bad either. The biggest crime of Zyuohger‘s storytelling is just that it didn’t have enough to hook me for 47 episodes, and never was that more apparent than in this, the penultimate episode. The episode ends with Azald, a threatening villain who is actually significant to the show’s mythology, being killed by the rangers. Then, Master Ginis, the most boring villain in the show, decides to stick around and attack the Earth because, and I quote, “Since we’re here…”
I am in no way enthusiastic about next week’s finale. Honestly, I just want Kyuranger to start. There’s no major plot strand or villain threat that we need to see cleared up. The fact that there’s even a next episode at all is because one of the only two evil aliens left said, “Eh, we might as well. It’ll give us something to do I guess.” There’s no tension and no drama, and that’s really disappointing, because on the whole this episode was excellent. It was a really strong end to Azald’s character and to Bard’s arc. Also, surprisingly, this episode delivered an amazing pay-off to Yamato’s “All life is connected” mantra by revealing that Bard knows Yamato’s dad and is the reason why his dad missed his mother passing away. It also elegantly explained why Bard has been watching over Yamato for years. The fact that the series even thought to make something out of a Sentai red’s stereotypical optimistic philosophy nonsense is one thing, but the fact that they pulled it off in such a way that made sense and actually added to the series is another entirely. That whole thing was easily the most impressive part of this episode.
And that’s saying a lot, because this episode was full of impressive moments. I love that Azald was destroyed, not by the rangers believing in the power of love or the heart of the cards or “IMAGINATION!!!” to anything like that, but instead by them just being smart, figuring out his weak spot, and exploiting it. The fights against Azald looked stunning, and highlighted some unique choices in the direction of this episode. The fight scene that made use of head-mounted cameras is something I don’t think Sentai has ever done before and there’s so much more that could be done with that idea. For a TV show where the story is primarily told through fight scenes, experimenting with how to film fight scenes is vital to keep the audience awake. Similarly, that mecha fight with the rangers jumping across the buildings to deliver the final blow was spectacular. Super Sentai‘s CGI is good considering how many episodes they make but it generally doesn’t hold up to other superhero stuff. That being said, that mecha sequence still looked cool and unique, making full use of the practical model city Sentai shows use.
This was a strong episode of Zyuohger. It gave us more insight into Yamato’s character, it expanded on the mythology of the show, it provided a surprisingly satisfying pay-off to one of the main themes of the series, and has some wonderful action. What makes it disappointing though is that it absolutely failed on every level to set up the finale. I’m not excited for next week at all. I hope next week is good and provides a fitting send-off for the series without resorting to “IMAGINATION!!!” to save the day, but I also just want to get it over with. I’ve had fun with Doubutsu Sentai Zyuohger and overall I think it was a good Sentai, but the lack of a good villain faction and the overabundance of filler just made it boring.