Both the good stuff and the bad stuff from the first episode continue into Kyuranger‘s second episode. The good stuff includes inventive planets, some excellent universe-building, amazing mecha fights with top-notch practical effects, and characters who’s backstories are bursting with potential for expansion. The bad stuff basically boils down to Lucky.
Once all nine members of the team are active in the show, things are going to get very crowded, so the show needs to put some effort into spreading the focus to different members of the ensemble. The problem is, like with Blue in Episode 1, Silver in Episode 2 has a fascinating history that’s only briefly summed up in one line of dialogue so Red, by far the most unlikeable and obnoxious character in the show, can dominate the story. I understand the need to have a member of the ensemble who stands out as the audience identification character and I understand the logic in that character being the red ranger considering red is the most iconic ranger designation, but why did that character also have to be so loud and repetitive and…just…terrible? Not only is Lucky’s catchphrase a constant source of annoyance, but it’s also having a detrimental effect on the plot. As I said in my last review, luck and coincidence are a sign of sloppy storytelling unless there’s actually supposed to be some guiding will behind it that factors into the plot, like destiny or magic or something. Lucky throwing the dart into the hologram map to pick a planet was a cool visual but from a script point of view it’s so cheap and lazy.
In my last review I said that we can probably guess the archetype that Blue will be inhabiting: the angsty loner who wants no part in the fight. Turns out I was pleasantly surprised. We don’t get a lot from Garu in this episode but he seems much warmer and friendlier than I expected, particularly towards Lucky. I feel like he’s going to grow to be one of my favourites. Yellow and Black still haven’t been given much to do, and Green continues to make me wonder why she’s not the main character of this show. The main stars this time though, besides Lucky, are Gold and Silver. Gold is good fun to have around for wackier moments, and it’s nice to see more and more non-human Sentai members. Silver on the other hand is the character who really left an impression on me. The idea of a species who eradicated all emotion to achieve world peace is very Cybermen to me, and if done right could make for some great storytelling. Super Sentai is a very happy and optimistic show, so the idea that world peace can only be achieved by removing all human emotions is an amazingly sinister direction to take things. Obviously going too deep into it might make things too heavy and philosophical for a fun kids show, but still, the idea has potential if they ever wanted to go there. I’d be more interested in that than in whatever Lucky’s story turns into.
This episode also gave us some good universe-building stuff involving the hierarchy of the evil Galactic Empire. Knowing that there are many layers of bad guys between the stormtroopers and the Emperor adds a lot to the Emperor’s sense of mystery and his tyrannical control over the universe. I hope the writers involved in Zyuohger are watching Kyuranger and taking notes for the future; THIS is how you do villains. The episode overall was full of subtle little touches that make the universe feel alive and way more expansive than the settings for previous Sentai. For example, I like that the episode begins with the Galactic Empire broadcasting a piece on the news about how terrible the Rebel Alliance are, and it’s their bounty that introduces Gold and Silver into the story. This episode’s main planet, while basically being the sort of industrial area we’ve seen countless times before on Sentai, was still a big shift from last week and there were enough big establishing shots with special effects, including the wonderful mecha fight arena, to help the individual locations cohere together into something that could believably be an alien world.
I’m going to need to give it a few episodes before I start to form thoughts on the show overall, but this second episode, while continuing the stuff I didn’t like about the first, also continued the stuff I did like. In fact, if Lucky can learn to keep his mouth shut from time to time, Kyuranger has all it needs to become a favourite of mine. Two episodes in and I’m having a blast.
In other news, the intro is REALLY growing on me. I said before I didn’t think it had the epicness or scale that I’d want from the opening of a space adventure series but the more I hear it the more I’m convinced.