Shuriken Sentai Ninninger – Episode 45 Review

As much as I enjoyed this episode, I am slightly annoyed that they named it ‘Three Generations of Fathers and Sons! All Ninjas Gathered’ but the actual gathering only happened in the last few seconds. Still, at least it made for a good cliffhanger.

For two weeks in a row now, Shuriken Sentai Ninninger has been on amazing form. It looks as if they’ve been saving the best for last and given that there’s no more filler let to get through, they’ve been able to go to town on wrapping up the remaining plot threads in as satisfying a way as possible. Just like with last week’s, this episode was directed by Katsuya Watanabe and their work continues to impress here. The fight scenes in particular look stunning and there were a some absolutely gorgeous shots, like when Takaharu turned his head to reveal Kyuemon standing behind him. These last two episodes have been among the best-looking tokusatsu I’ve ever seen and it’s really made me realise how bland the camerawork has been up to now. I’d love to see this style carry over into the 40th anniversary series, particularly for the ineviatable big crossover movie with all 934893029390239 Sentai members there have been since 1975. And I hope each and every one of them gets a new ranger key.

Obviously the writers took the easy way out with regards to the Ninningers having to kill their own grandfather, where they refused to do it and yet all claimed to be the Last Ninja anyway. While I did expect it, I was still really disappointed. On one hand I knew they were never going to have a member of a Super Sentai team murder their close relative (nowadays at least. It might have happened in one of the earlier ones that I either haven’t seen or can’t remember), but on the other hand, if they weren’t going to do it, why did the show even bother bringing it up in the first place? If they didn’t have an interesting story idea long-term, why introduce such a drastic twist exactly one episode before it was debunked? One day I hope we get a Super Sentai series willing to do something as crazy as having the heroes kill their mentor, Zordon style. It’d just make such a nice change from having everything turning out perfectly. It might seem a little too dark for a Sentai series but then again it was a Sentai series that brought up the possibility of it happening in the first place. All they had to do was follow through.

Previously I said that if the show had made Kyuemon consistently interesting instead of forgetting about him for weeks at a time, he’d be by far the best villain in the series, and this week I was proven absolutely right. He was such a great character here because the fact that he was a former apprentice of the Last Ninja factored in to the plot. In the fight scenes, he was able to stop the Ninningers’ ninpo and predict their moves, making him a much more powerful opponent than more brute-force characters like Gabi Raizou (what was the point of bringing him back exactly?). I was expecting Kyuemon to die this week considering we got closure on his feud with StarNinger as well as with the Last Ninja’s son, allowing him to get his nintality back. Speaking of which, it would have been cool if the two mentor characters both had unique ranger colours other than just being variations on red, but I can see what they were going for with having three generations of the same family. Still, the possibility for a green, black, or white Ninninger was right there and they didn’t take it.

Other than the Kyuemon/Ninningers fight, the other big one was between the Last Ninja and Kibaoni Gengetsu himself. Just the idea of seeing the series’ mentor character fighting the big villain is already cool, but the fight itself was excellent. After the initial awkward slow-motion running shots, the action was very well shot and it truly felt like two immensely powerful characters fighting to the death. The only thing holding it back was the special effects which, to be fair, don’t look that bad when you consider how effects-heavy a show like Super Sentai is and how they have to make 50 episodes every year. What the special effects team were able to pull off still looked okay though and all the destruction around the two of them added a lot to the atmosphere.

The endgame of Ninninger is shaping up be spectacular. If they can sustain this high level of quality until the very end, my overall opinion of the series will probably go up quite a bit. Sometimes a good ending can retroactively improve the beginning, and certainly this episode has already given us a few hugely satisfying pay-offs, like the Last Ninja’s son getting his powers back from Kyuemon. I’m looking forward to seeing how the show concludes.

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