Uchu Sentai Kyuranger – Episode 16 Review

Kyuranger is a properly good Sentai series. I mean, I know I’ve been giving it largely positive reviews already on an episode-by-episode basis but I just have to say, overall, this is a good Super Sentai show. And it’s good not just because it does the typical Super Sentai stuff well, but because it subverts expectations and actively tries to find new twists on things. Never was that more apparent than at the start of this episode, when Scorpio ends his fight with Stinger by defeating Madako and telling Stinger to meet him later so he can tell him ‘the truth’. There’s nothing wrong with doing a Sentai story where one of the heroes’ close allies turns to the dark side, but it’s been done before. What’s also been done before is having a close ally to the heroes turn to the dark side and then get redeemed. This on the other hand is a similar story presented in a new way that plays on the question of ‘will the evil brother be redeemed?’. Rather than have Scorpio’s intentions outlined in a single evil rant at the start, we instead get a story that keeps us guessing and plays on Stinger’s faith in his brother and our own knowledge of tropes. It’s not the most intelligent bit of misdirection ever but it’s a hell of a lot more intriguing than I expected from last week’s cliffhanger.

After the twist at the start that made me rethink my expectations for the whole episode, my next thought ‘maybe it’s part of his plan to make them think Madako is dead’. But then we see Champ and Stinger talking about how Madako is obviously still alive because that’s her whole gimmick. And THEN we learn that Madako isn’t even in on it. I went into this episode expecting a standard story about a brother turned evil but this episode had me hooked. I genuinely had no idea where this was going to go, and my interest in the Stinger/Scorpio side-story doubled. Of course, I kinda guessed that Scorpio would turn out to actually be evil after all, but the fact that he isn’t working for the Emperor makes him a fun rogue element that could complicate the overall story a little. Scorpio is still evil, but he’s a way more interesting brand of evil than he was last week. More importantly, he’s now irredeemably evil. He hasn’t just been brainwashed to serve the dark side by the Emperor, he now wants to actually become the Emperor. I can’t really see how they can redeem him now without making it seem forced.

The return of the deathworm came out of nowhere at first but made a bit more sense when it was revealed that Scorpio was behind it. I hate that the main design of the deathworm has a humanoid shape just like every other Sentai monster, but overall I like the idea behind them and it’s nice to see some continuity between the alien species in Kyuranger’s universe. It was a cool opponent to keep the rest of the team busy during the dramatic stuff with Stinger and Scorpio.

The big moment of the episode though was obviously the ‘death’ of Champ. Despite him being a robot, meaning there’s always the chance of him being rebuilt, the fact that a main hero in a Super Sentai show got a death scene made it feel huge. What really got me though was Champ’s last words. Obviously it’s a cliché to give a dying hero a final inspirational speech, but it was really creepy to hear Champ talking with a broken robotic voice, where the movements of his jaw were audible. Obviously this is Super Sentai, and I’d never want this show to be depressing or cynical, but I kinda hope there’s some consequences to this, like Champ being rebuilt but without his memories. It’d make Scorpio an even more intimidating villain if he managed to permanently damage a main hero.

This was a really strong episode, and it may get stronger depending on whether or not Champ recovers from being blown to pieces. Again, I’m not sure a ranger permanently dying is what Sentai needs, but some sort of lasting effect would be cool. We’ll also need to wait and see what happens with Scorpio, because if he turns out to be a hero at the end after all, this whole episode will have been pretty pointless. Regardless, I had fun with this one and I’m looking forward to seeing how it develops.

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