Doubutsu Sentai Zyuohger – Episode 7 Review

I really thought I’d be used to it by now but no: the tails the zyuman characters have still look stupid.

Although there are times when the amount of crossovers per series can go slightly overboard (I’m looking at you, Ninninger), I do quite like the recent tradition of having Sentai and Rider team-up episodes every year. Part of the appeal of tokusatsu for me is that it all takes place in one big crazy shared universe, like the MCU except it’s been going since the 70s. Because Sentais tend to start after a Rider series has already been established, having the crossover early on sort of feels like the new team being welcomed into the larger toku club. Also, it’s a nice opportunity for fans of only one of the shows to get a brief introduction to the other.

I suspect introducing new audiences to other shows was the main creative force behind this particular team-up as unlike previous ones which have dropped us straight into the action, this episode starts with a comedy sequence introducing the main Zyuohger cast. To people who hadn’t been watching the show up to this point, it gives them a nice single-sentence summary of what each character is like (Leo is lazy and sleeps a lot, Amu is carefree and likes interacting with human society, etc). In fact, it isn’t until around the 8-minute mark when anything remotely crossover-y happens, and when it does, Ghost just turns up out of nowhere.

This episode reminded me a lot of the way new Sentai teams are introduced in crossover movies: while the main plot is happening elsewhere, a few members of the main cast witness a mysterious stranger transforming and demonstrating their powers in a clear attempt to get established toku fans to watch their series before vanishing into thin air. It’s quite a bizarre way of doing things for a crossover with an established character and means that there’s no real substance to this team-up besides getting to see the suits pose next to each other. And yes, it is cool to see the suits pose next to each other, but that shouldn’t be all a crossover has to offer. It does add to the idea of all tokusatsu shows taking place in one crazy shared universe given how casually they run into Ghost, but other than that it doesn’t really do much.

Despite what the trailer says, the main storyline here is about Tusk and Amu which was unfortunately pretty disappointing. The reason I’ve enjoyed Zyuohger so much before now is that it’s always had the guts to not take the easy way out, but here they make Tusk turn Amu back to normal with The Power of Love(TM). I was honestly so happy when she pulled the trigger on Tusk a second time because I thought the show had once again refused to solve a problem with “IMAGINATION!!!” Sadly, this was the show’s first big cop out. When Tusk claimed he “pretended to die”, I got serious ToQger flashbacks. Zyuohger, I thought you were better than this. I’m not angry, I’m just disappointed.

I suppose if this crossover was an attempt to introduce audiences to a new series, I should be judging it on how successful it was. I’d say as an introduction to Ghost, it gives enough to intrigue you about his powers but it doesn’t delve into anything about his personality or what his show is about. That being said, having this crossover be an introduction to Ghost seems pointless, considering Ghost has been around for longer than Zyuohger has and the main people who’d want to see the two shows crossover are people already watching both shows. Therefore, they probably should have done a crossover with a bit more depth to it instead of just giving Ghost an extended cameo in what is ultimately a Tusk/Amu focus episode. It might help to get Ghost fans into Zyuohger given that Zyuohger is the newer of the two, but that raises the question of why this wasn’t an episode of Kamen Rider Ghost instead of Doubutsu Sentai Zyuohger. And yes, Episode 24 of Ghost was a crossover with Zyuohger as well, but I don’t know if there’s enough of Ghost in this to get people who wouldn’t normally watch both shows to tune in. The actual team-up fight between him and Zyuoh Eagle, Shark, and Lion is fairly bland and he of course can’t play any role in the final mecha battle (although Nalia having to awkwardly shove the coin in the dead monster’s mouth was pretty funny). So while this episode was perfectly enjoyable to watch, I don’t think it succeeded in what it set out to do.

Amazingly, this ended up being both a crossover “event” episode and a filler episode at the same time, and I didn’t even think that was possible. Seeing Ghost have a cameo was fun but the trailer and even the title of the episode made it seem like it would be more than it actually was. This episode would have worked way better if the cameo was a secret and the trailer focused on Amu being possessed, so we could have been surprised instead of disappointed. What we ended up with was harmless enough but it could have been so much more.

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