Woohoo! A team without Lucky! And yet, despite him not being in the away team, I have a feeling he’s going to worm his way into the spotlight somehow…
It’s incredibly refreshing to have an episode of a Super Sentai show where Group 1 send a small team down to planet Earth to pick a fight with Group 2 and Group 1 are actually the heroes. The Kyurangers continue to feel like a coordinated and resourceful team who make full use of their large number of members. And yet, it’s always Lucky who the focus gravitates towards. Having annoying characters is fine if annoying is what you’re aiming for, but Kyuranger seems to think Lucky isn’t as annoying as he is. If there’s one good thing about Lucky’s involvement in this episode, it’s the moment when Garu punches him in the face for sulking after one defeat. That is exactly what I hoped would happen all the way through Xiao Longbao’s pep talk. But still, even when the show finally did to Lucky what I wanted to do to him since he first appeared on screen, he’s still made to seem sympathetic. There’s a scene with sad music where he’s alone in the control room (with a completely unnecessary flashback to a scene that took place a minute ago) and we’re obviously supposed to feel sad for him. My issue with Lucky isn’t just that he’s annoying; it’s that both he and the show can’t admit that he’s flawed.
If Lucky’s story was a story about someone who was completely self-obsessed and entitled who learns that you need more than luck to save the day, his annoying moments would have a justification. The fact that we’re expected to feel sorry for him while he’s sulking means that the show genuinely believes that those annoying moments aren’t annoying and that he’s really as good and loveable as he thinks he is. It really doesn’t help that the big twist: that Ikagen can dodge any attack because he has ten eyes, means that Lucky is the only one who can jump in and save the day because he’s the 11th member of the team. This whole episode is structured around Lucky getting over himself and the team reuniting but the reason why he’s sad in the first place is utterly stupid. This episode just doesn’t have the same impact as other ‘the whole team assembles’ episodes that Super Sentai or even Kyuranger specifically has done in the past because the moment where the team assembles doesn’t feel satisfying. The team had already united by the start of this episode so the plot had to come up with a random reason to make Lucky sad and selfish enough to not help his team so that they could unite later on and make it feel like a big moment.
So if the core around which the whole episode is structured doesn’t work, did I even like this episode? Well actually, yeah, I kinda did. The story was dumb and contrived (Ikagen just so happens to have one less eye than the exact number of Kyurangers there are, Lucky just so happens to get really sad to delay the final fight until the exact moment in the average runtime of Super Sentai episode that a final fight would normally happen, etc.) but everything that wasn’t the story was just as entertaining as always. All those multi-coloured suits fighting Ikagen looked amazing, the move with the Gemini Kyutama was genuinely unexpected and clever without being over-explained like a lot of unexpected and clever twists in Sentai fight scenes, and the full henshin of all eleven Kyurangers was a neat moment no matter how stupid the story was to get there.
The mecha fight was easily the highlight for me. The first few mecha fights in Kyuranger were really inventive with their locations and practical effects, and while I’ve been noticing some nice-looking practical effects lately, nothing ever really reached that peak again. This mecha fight however is wonderful, easily the best the series has done so far. There’s some stunning model-work that’s gone into creating the cityscape the mecha fight in and the whole thing is given a bit of added visual flair by the torrential rain. I’m not as in to the big ridiculous combined form as I am with most big ridiculous combined forms in Sentai, mainly because only 8 combine rather than the full 11. If you’re going to have 11 mecha, you need to commit to making an absolute monstrosity of a final combination. Hopefully that’s still on the horizon.
The main plot with Lucky not being able to handle defeat really didn’t do much but the fun action finale saved this episode me. Usually huge battles with 11 rangers are something you’d only see in a team-up. It’s going to be really weird when we go back to a normal sized Sentai team next year.