Wow. They actually did kill off the Last Ninja. And now that we’ve seen the finale, we know did actually stay dead. I’m legitimately impressed that the series had a permanent death right at the end. Also, the reveal that he’d technically been dead the whole time was a nice call-back to his introduction to the series at the end of the first episode when his family all assumed he’d died. So, if nothing else, this episode did have a surprising amount of guts, something we need to see more of in Sentai. I’m not saying that this fun kids show needs to turn into Game of Thrones. I’m just saying that any type of adventure fiction, no matter how light-hearted, needs drama and stakes. There need to be terrible things that happen to the main characters so they can triumph over them later and the death of the team’s mentor certainly provided that. Sure we see him again as a recording (you have no idea how hard I laughed when he did the Doctor Who thing of the Ninth Doctor’s hologram turning to speak directly to Rose), but personally I thought it was a good way of providing some closure without bringing the character back to life.
Episode 46 opened by delivering on 45’s promise of an amazing action scene with all three generations of the Igasaki clan. It was fun seeing them all work together and the evil laugh that cut short their celebration, indicating that Gengetsu was still alive, was surprisingly effective and chilling. Although this sequence did make me realise just how sick and tired I am of Takaharu’s catchphrase. At first it was fine, then it became boring, and now it’s actively annoying. Giving characters catchphrases is a very difficult thing to do because it needs to sound natural and flow into conversation every time it’s said or else it’ll just sound forced. Takaharu’s catchphrase has always sounded forced, ever since day one, but now it has actually crossed the boundaries into being hard to listen to.
Unexpectedly, Kyuemon seems to be the real final villain instead of Gengetsu. I understand why they did this given that we have more of a connection to Kyuemon, but after all this build up to Gengetsu’s arrival it really should’ve been him who killed the Last Ninja. Regardless, the moment itself was well handled and as I’ve already said, it’s nice to see a meaningful character death. After seeing the Ninningers’ struggle to find their own path and stop relying on their grandfather’s teachings, it’s logical that the next step should be that they have to deal with their grandfather not being there at all. The death made sense within the story being told and I’m so glad the writers committed to it.
I can’t really decide what I think about the decision to bring Gabi Raizou back to life and then kill him again in his next significant fight. On one hand he’s a recognisable face who has history with the Ninningers, adding more weight to their final battles and showing how far they’ve come since they first got rid of him. But on the other, it just seems a bit cheap to bring him back for a single fight and it undermines the progress the team made in the past. It was also slightly disappointing that after his long rivalry with Takaharu, it was actually Yakumo who single-handedly defeated him for the final time. The fight itself was alright and the Last Ninja’s narration was an excellent way to show how far the team had come, but I just feel like an equally epic fight scene could have taken place with a different villain.
The direction in this episode wasn’t as mind-blowingly amazing as it had been in the last few but there were still some visually stunning moments, mostly during the fight scenes. The final cliffhanger leading into the last episode was really well handled and had a suitably apocalyptic vibe running through it. Ending the episode on a moment of triumph with Takaharu continuing to fight slightly defused the tension but it was effective in creating the promise of great action next week. Overall, despite not being entirely as solid as the last few instalments, Ninninger‘s endgame continues to be very strong. It’s great to see this show ending on such a strong note.