Doubutsu Sentai Zyuohger – Episode 47 Review

So apparently there’s one more episode after this that I didn’t know about. That being said, why on Earth wasn’t this the finale?

Just like with last week, this was an episode that was okay to watch in isolation but absolutely failed to build any sort of momentum for the series overall. When Master Ginis walked out of the explosion at the end all I could think was “Oh, come on!” Killing Green Toxica (FINALLY!) and bringing the spaceship crashing down to Earth (in some conveniently uninhabited mountains rather than on the city the ship was directly above) felt like a pretty spectacular finale, cleaning up all the major plot threads and ensuring that the alien threat is unable to escape, regroup, and try again later. If Ginis had died in the explosion, this would have been a perfect final episode of the series, but yet again we have an episode that ends with the weakest cliffhanger ever to justify stretching this out more. It was a cliffhanger so weak I don’t even want to watch next week’s episode. Just start Kyuuranger already.

The biggest problem with Zyuohger when you get right down to it is a lack of plot momentum. There’s been no big overarching plot threads or character drama or really anything to keep me engaged with the series. The rangers have made no attempt to directly attack the aliens, instead choosing to hang around on Earth doing nothing except waiting for the aliens to come to them. At least when the series started they were actively hunting for a way back to their own world, but they’ve since completely forgotten about that. That’s what’s made the series so boring and the series as a whole so lifeless: it’s just a routine. It’s the standard Super Sentai formula, a gimmicky monster attacks once a week and the rangers blow it up, without any variation. Formulas for storytelling are not inherently bad; they provide a sense of status quo and continuity, something that’s particularly important in Super Sentai given that it essentially reboots every 50 episodes. But the thing about status quo and formula is that they’re only really interesting when they are subverted in some way. Formulas exist as the general guidelines you can build off of or twist in unexpected ways to shock the audience. There’s nothing technically wrong or offensive about sticking to formula, but there’s just absolutely no reason for me to keep watching.

I was so excited and engaged with Zyuohger when this series started but now I couldn’t care less. There’s only one thing that this series did to break the formula in some way, and that’s the introduction of Zyuoh Bird. Introducing a seventh ranger towards the end of the series is something that honestly should become the new norm as a way to spice things up (but then it would become the formula instead of breaking it, so whatever). The problem with Zyuoh Bird is that they didn’t go far enough with the idea. He was just a palette swap of Zyuoh Eagle and he didn’t get his own mecha. Making him a full ranger would have added a lot more weight to his first appearance. This, combined with a solid B story for Bard where things actually happened to him and we got more of an insight into zyuman culture would have saved the series in my mind. Instead, Zyuoh Bird provided just a brief bit of excitement before it all got boring again.

Anyway, enough about the series as a whole; what did I think of this specific episode? It was good. I liked Yamato reconciling with this father and the way his father accepted some of the blame too. I LOVED how the bow and arrow shape of the evil spaceship has been staring me in the face since Episode 1 and it only just came into play here. It retroactively made the constant reuse of That One Shot of the ship in orbit that bit more clever. I was really impressed by the reveal that the bow and arrow on the ship actually works like a bow and arrow, and was equally impressed when the rangers didn’t try to pull the arrow out of the Earth but instead used the arrow to pull the ship out of the sky. In real life that would have caused the extinction of the human race, Age of Ultron style. Luckily this is Super Sentai, and all that matters is that it was awesome. So awesome in fact that I genuinely don’t think the finale can top that in terms of sheer ‘WOW’ factor. If anything, I was expecting the ship to disappear into space at the end of the series, with the possible threat of the Dethgaliens returning for a future movie at some point. By the way, I almost laughed when Green Toxica died. The mecha and the rangers piloting it were busy doing something else, so they just casually killed her and got straight back to work as if nothing happened. What a pointless villain she was.

This was episode Zyuohger was enjoyable, just like the last one. But overall, Zyuohger‘s endgame has no sense of momentum or drive to it at all. The series doesn’t feel as if it’s slowly ramping up to a spectacular climax, it just feels like a series of episodes where they kill one major villain each week until there’s no more major villains left to kill. There’s no arc and there’s no excitement. The only remotely interesting plot thread from this week that I’d want to see next time is the idea of the Earth/Zyuland connection being severed, playing off of the whole ‘everything is connected’ motif. Other than that, all I can say is that I hope next week is an entertaining half-hour of Super Sentai.

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