Doubutsu Sentai Zyuohger – Episode 48 (Finale) Review

Oh, you are KIDDING me! Naria is still alive?! Why? What are the writers going to do with her-Oh. Oh, I guess she’s dead again. Huh. Never mind.

Overall, Zyuohger has been a pretty average Super Sentai series for me. The suit designs were cool, I loved the main cast, and the ‘optimism versus cynicism’ thing that Yamato and Bunglay had is still my favourite hero/villain dynamic in Sentai, perfectly summing up why I love to watch tokusatsu. That being said, it was still kinda meh, and this impression hasn’t been helped by the incredibly lacklustre endgame the show got. Master Ginis is quite simply a bad villain. He has no sense of menace or any real presence at all. You can’t have a dude sitting on a throne looking like he’s about to fall sleep for 95% of a series and then suddenly make him into a credible threat during the last 5%. The villain faction of Zyuohger as a whole should have had more depth and complexity to it but the worst offender of all is the absolute failure to make Ginis, the final boss of the show, a villain that we want to see get blown up. Much like the show, there’s nothing overtly bad about him but he’s just so simplistic and lacking any sort of dramatic weight.

The twist that Ginis is actually a hivemind made up of millions of Moebas is such a bizarre idea. The only reason it slightly works is because the word ‘Moeba’ sounds like ‘Amoeba’. Beyond that pun, and the whole theme of life being connected I guess, this had basically no foreshadowing at all. But what really frustrates me about this twist is that it’s the sort of thing the show desperately needed in the 47 episodes leading up to this. This could have been foreshadowed, with little hints dropped here and there. Master Ginis’ insecurity over his own form and his insistence that he’s the highest evolved form of life in existence could have been used to give him memorable character traits as well as some truly menacing moments of unhinged evil ranting. If the writers had this idea cooking in the back of the minds, why didn’t they use it to make him a better villain? If nothing else, they should have written this idea into the previous episodes in such a way to make the emotional payoff of “Misao and Ginis are similar” into something a little more impactful, because when it happened it just had me sitting there thinking “Um…in what way?” Heroes and villains being dark reflections of each other is a trope as old as storytelling because it has huge dramatic potential to reveal hidden parts of a character’s personality. Here, it was used as a cheap and hollow way to throw what I’m sure on paper was a big character moment into the finale. Also, Ginis believes in reincarnation? That’s such a cool concept and it fits in with the whole ‘life is connected’ nonsense. Why wasn’t this mentioned before the finale?

Just as I predicted, the Zyuohgers did have a minor ‘power of love’ moment using the power of the Earth to restore their changers. Honestly, Super Sentai teams need to stop using poorly defined power sources like Earth power or darkness or nintality or “IMAGINATION!!!” because they can so obviously be abused by bad storytellers. Luckily it was only used as a way to restore their henshining abilities that had been taken away from them just as suddenly about a minute earlier, so it’s not a big deal. I’ll let it slide this time, Sentai. The final henshin was suitably epic but the lack of Bard felt extremely noticeable. I mean, it’s not as if the character was busy and couldn’t have easily been added to the scene. I simultaneously love the introduction of a seventh ranger to keep the show fresh as it started to head into the endgame and hate the fact that the show keeps denying him full ranger status. By treating Zyuoh Bird in the same way the show treats Zyuoh The World or any of the other Zyuohgers, it would have added more dramatic weight to Bard and made his arc feel less like filler. Instead, Bard feels like a side character rather than one of the main transforming heroes of the show.

The biggest thing about the finale for me was the merging of New Zyuland (home of Oscar-winning director, Peter Jackson) and Earth. It wasn’t a move I was expecting considering that such a major status quo shift seems a little drastic in the huge interconnected world all toku show take place in. I assume this merge is just going to go unmentioned by future Sentais but still, how crazy would it be if the presence of zyuman characters was just the new norm? It probably won’t affect anything going forward, but as far as an ending for this show goes, I think it fits. It adds to the whole ‘everything is connected’ gimmick and it was nice seeing those clips at the end of the Zyuohgers acting as ambassadors between the two species, bridging the gap and getting everyone acclimatised to this new way of life. It’s a fitting end for the characters and for the series as a whole.

So, Zyuohger then. A decent Sentai, nothing too special but nothing wildly offensive either. Ultimately, it was what any Super Sentai needs to be: fun. There was a lot to like about it, like the suit designs, the lack of a mentor figure forcing the team to be more responsible and proactive, and the likeable ensemble. If only the villains had been more memorable and there’d been enough story to carry my interest through 48 episodes, it could have been great. As it stands, this series, and this finale, was an okay way to spend half an hour each week. That being said, I’m ready for a change…

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