Lupinranger VS Patoranger – Episodes 5 + 6 Review
For me, this two-parter is the show really stretching its wings and showing how good the two team premise can allow it to be. Rather than focusing on one character per episode, these two are both ensemble pieces that show character development through the rangers’ interactions with each other both in and out of battle.
One of the best things the series is doing so far is the way the two teams meet each other in civilian form without the police recognising the thieves. The police aren’t actively looking for the thieves’ identities, so rather than a tedious farce where they’re all trying not to blow their cover, the Lupinrangers can instead learn from the Patorangers and wind them up a bit more subtly. Something that isn’t so subtle though is the love subplot between Pato Green and Lupin Yellow. It feels inevitable given the set-up for the series that there would be a love story between members of the two opposing teams, although I didn’t expect it to happen this quickly. Honestly, it’s such a predicable source of comic relief for the show to use, I think the most surprising and original idea would’ve been to play it completely seriously (if it had to be played at all). A serious love story between two rangers on opposing teams who don’t know each other’s secret identities would’ve been something more engaging than the predictable jokes we get.
The six main characters all feel more fully realised at this stage in the series than the Kyurangers ever did (as much as I’m a huge Kyuranger fan). As an example, Spada and Lupin Blue are both expert chefs, but Spada’s chef-ness comes across in constant 24/7 food puns and Lupin Blue’s chef-ness is conveyed through his actual day job as a chef, which we actually see him do from time to time. The only time attention is drawn to his cooking is when we learn his fiancé inspired him to cook. Details about the characters in this show are more subtle and complicated, probably because the set-up of the show itself is more complicated. The Kyurangers were fighting against an evil oppressive space empire, so they were clearly the goodies. In Lupinranger vs Patoranger, you have two sets of goodies pitted against each other, and it’s their mutual desire to help and save others that means they have to fight. As a result, the characters have to be more complex by design to make it work.
Speaking of which, there was a lot of amazing Lupin vs Pato action in these two episodes, including two slickly choreographed red ranger vs red ranger battles. The one from Episode 5 in the dark warehouse was stunning, and a real action highlight of the show so far. That whole warehouse fight was just excellent in general. There was so much going on, with the monsters, the Lupinrangers, and the Patorangers each having their own agenda and rivalries, making it much more personal than just a special effects display.
At last, we have a member of the villain faction who’s making an impression with me. The green cyclops guy, Destra, has by far the most memorable monster suit. His colour palette is clear, and the two safes and one big eye are distinct design elements that I can latch onto, unlike all the other monsters who look way too busy and complicated. Also, the heavy hammer gives him a unique fighting style. There was a bit of conflict among the villains in this two-parter that has me excited for future arcs. Maybe the rivalry between the generals to become the new boss could lead to some memorable subplots, something we haven’t had with Sentai villains for a while.
The two new mecha, the bike and the plane, both have cool designs and the fight between the two of them in Episode 5 was great. I can’t remember two auxiliary mech ever fighting before. That being said, I’m still not totally sold on the mecha for this series overall though. Having one big block that both teams use to attach smaller auxiliaries to feels like cheating. I miss properly complicated mecha combinations that were cleverly done and had a lot of moving parts. Still, the combinations look fine even if they’re overly similar due to sharing a body.
These were two great episodes that showed a lot of promise for the future. There are a lot of angles like the love story (explored more in Episode 7) and the rivalry between the villains that feel like they’re just getting started and could factor into things more later on. The two-team idea means there’s a lot of moving parts to this show and as a result none of these six episodes so far have felt like filler. Hopefully this continues as we get deeper into the show.
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