Lupinranger VS Patoranger – Episode 2 Review

I’m relieved the slick choreography and camera work of the first episode continues into the second. Often, a new Sentai will make the first episode look fancy to give a good first impression without carrying any of the fanciness on through the rest of the show. Here, it seems the long takes and lateral camera movements used to show off the geography of fight scenes is going to be part of the show’s style rather than just a cool thing they did a few times to make the premiere memorable. The initial fight between the two teams of rangers was short but well done, and I like that the Lupinrangers flying away made it look like the fight had ended until the Patorangers revealed their mecha and chased them down.

The start of this episode gives us our first look at the opening for the show, and it’s fine. The rest of the music is really distinctive and jazzy, so it’s disappointing that the main theme doesn’t really do it for me. It’s an okay song but it doesn’t stick in my memory. It’s just kinda there.

The mecha chase scene once again showed off the show’s impressive camera work with long unbroken shots. The CGI is very obvious but I think it might be marginally better than usual Sentai effects. It was so refreshing to get an extended action sequence with individual non-combined mecha. The scene does a good job of showing off the main gimmick of all six vehicles while still having some genuinely cool moments. It didn’t feel totally like a toy commercial (just mostly).

The standout moment of this episode for me is the backstory we get for the three Lupinrangers. They were all the victims of a Monster of the Week attack that killed one of their loved ones, and they became the Lupinrangers to bring them back. That’s a surprisingly dark origin story but the shattering ice keeps it from looking as traumatic as it is on paper. It gives us a strong starting point for the three Lupinrangers with so many ways for their characters to grow, especially as we get to know who those three specific people were. I also love this backstory because it gives Lupin Red a reason to say traditional red ranger things. ‘Keeping promises’ had the potential to just be another annoying Sentai red thing that they go on and on about every episode, but here it’s actually rooted in something personal that makes sense instead of being a hollow and tiring moral lesson.

The fight with the Monster of the Week and both Sentai teams later in the episode was excellent, not only because of the energetic and original way the action in this show is shot, but because of the two teams’ relationship. I’ve always thought that rivalries are way more interesting if there’s more to it than just hate. It’s easy to have two people or groups hate each other, but it’d get a little boring after 50 episodes. It’s good to see that even this early on there’s some sympathy between the two teams.

The mecha fight was both really damn cool and a bit disheartening. The designs of the mecha, both as individual jets and in their combined form, look amazing. Unfortunately, it’s disheartening for me because both the Lupinranger and the Patoranger mecha use the same main core to combine onto. Not only does this make the mecha really unoriginal because they aren’t really combining with each other, they’re just clicking on to something that already looks like a body, it also means we can’t have mecha fights between the two Sentai teams or mecha fights with three factions (Lupinrangers, Patorangers, and monsters). Still, the fight itself was amazing. This was the main point in the episode that made me think the CGI budget has improved. Usually mecha CGI is used for the combination and then the rest of the fight plays out with practical effects. Here, we actually got a lengthy fight scene using CGI, with flips and explosions and proper robot fighting.

This series is turning into something really special. The only criticism I have at this stage is that the Lupinrangers are by far the most interesting characters, so much so that they make the Patorangers seem boring. The Lupinrangers, in my opinion, got the coolest suits, the coolest ranger colours, and the coolest backstories. The monster faction are also yet to leave any impact on me beyond the safes in the chests being a strong design element. All that aside, this has the potential to be a great show.

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